Friday came faster than I thought that it would. My week had been long and I realized that as I laid in bed, wide awake and looking at my ceiling. The rain was pouring hard and Axton had climbed in my bed and curled up beside me. I had been lying low for past couple of days. Not seeing Mike for a couple of days was exactly what I needed. Mainly, all I could work on was Cynthia and try my hardest to fix her. We had been going about things discreetly. She texted me in code - which was weird, but it made her feel better.
Angie and I had been doing a lot of dress shopping, but nothing sparked our fancy, so we decided to go the day before and try to figure everything out. Sam, Sean, and James did a lot of research on what we were getting to and I guess that helped, but I just couldn’t cut the idea that we were in over our heads at this moment with all of this.
Sure, I helped and fixed a lot of people, but my problems were more major than I let on.
I turned over on my side and stared as the rain began to pour. Axton’s body adjusted across mine and I heard him sigh.
"I know buddy," I muttered. "I’m tired too and I still have a lot to do today."
"You look like crap." I got into the passenger side of Sean’s car and glared at him. He handed me a Styrofoam cup.
"I don’t drink coffee," I muttered. He forcefully placed the cup into my hands and then started down the street. The cup was warm in my hand.
"It’s not coffee." He looked at me briefly and then back at the road. "It’s tea." I raised an eyebrow and leaned down to sniff the cup. "I know you love that tea crap and the barista at the place said that Lemon Balm helps with stress and I know you’ve been stressed for past couple of days."
I tasted the tea and nodded. "It’s good tea." I sat it down in the cup holder and sighed. "So where are we with everything?"
Sean looked at me as we stopped at a stop sign. "We are here, in the car." I glared at him. "Before you start worrying about other people, you need to worry about you. You look like death. I’ve never in my life seen you wear your hair in a ponytail that has no shine to it nor have I ever seen you without earrings so maybe you should think about you."
"I’ve been thinking about me." He continued on to school. "But I don’t matter right now because I have Adam who is still training and has his first game next week, I’m worried about my dad who I haven’t seen that often because of work and I’m worried about Cynthia who was just raped by her brother’s best friend." Sean’s mouth snapped closed. "So, if I took the time to worry about myself then nothing would get done."
Sean sighed and I leaned back into my seat. "Look." I looked over at him. "I know you’ve had a plate full this week, but you’re important too. You can’t chip yourself away Bri."
I clenched my jaw as we pulled into a parking spot in front of the school. Sean cut the car off and looked at me. I bit my lip and sighed. "If I can get through this week then I can get through anything. That’s what I tell myself."
Sean smiled, but I could see the worry in his eyes. Before I could open my mouth, he began to speak. "We’ve decided that we can start meeting at the study lounge down the street from school. They have rooms that you can book so we are trying to book a room a couple of times a week."
"Great," I said. "One less thing off my worry chart." He handed me a folder and I began to look through it. There were different clippings of newspaper articles for Aiden Roswell, some of a guy in a jersey, hugging a girl in a cheerleading outfit. I went through all the newspaper clippings of Aiden Roswell and his family and sighed.
"And Aiden Roswell is super clean. He is just an amazing judge with amazing credentials. Clay Matthews - the accused rapist - goes to Evermount and he is the star on the basketball team. He has recruits coming to look at him and he has the perfect life. His girlfriend is Amy Childers. She’s hot." I cut him a look and he continued. "That family - the Roswell’s - have nothing Briana. That’s the worst part. They are squeaky clean."
I sighed some and closed my eyes. I could handle this. I’ve been able to handle most things, but rape was never in my list of things to handle. And you can’t really handle rape, you can just help and I didn’t even know how I could do that.
"I have to talk to this Clay guy somehow and I have to get in deeper with this family and figure out the major root." I looked at Sean. "There’s no way that this can just be it. There has to be more to it, right?"
Sean picked up my cup and handed it to me. "It’ll be a long day for you so just keep drinking this, okay?"
He got out of the car and I followed in suit. I glanced down at my outfit and tilted my head to the side. It wasn’t that bad of an outfit nor was it my signature. A long thermal shirt and jeans went a long way when the weather was beginning to change.
"And I look fine," I muttered.
Sean met me and sighed. "We can handle the logistics and everything else and we can go to the study room after school."
"Sounds good." I looked past him and then at the field where I could see two tiny specks in the middle of it and I knew who those two people were. I turned back to Sean who had already made his way towards the school doors. He glanced back at me. "I’m going to go…"
"Check on Mike?" A creepy smile began to creep upon his face.
I felt my cheeks get hot. "I’m going to check on Adam because he…" The look on Sean’s face made me realize that he was not believing any word that I was saying, he just had that creep smile growing on his face. I clenched my jaw and held up my cup. "Thanks for the tea Sean."
I took a turn and walked towards the field where the two tiny specks turned into blobs which turned into actual people who were standing in the middle of the field and looked as if they were arguing. I sped up my walking, walked through the gate and listened as their argument became more clear to me. I continued up toward the field.
"This is bullshit man," Adam said. "I’ve been doing the same crap this whole week."
"It’s been five days and five days isn’t going to make you a star athlete!" Mike yelled, veins popping out his neck.
"What seems to be the problem?" I asked. They both finally noticed I was there and turned towards me. Their arguing came to an abrupt stop and I became the center of attention.
Adam’s hard face turned soft and Mike’s veins went back into his neck. "You must have a problem that is way bigger than mine," Adam scoffed.
I rolled my eyes and turned to Mike. He cleared his throat. "Smart guy here thinks that he’s done with me and all of my help."
"Well, man-bun thinks that I am not done when I work out two times a day for a solid 6-hour workout each day. I think that I’m doing great," Adam shot back.
"Oh yeah?" I asked, crossing my arms.
"Hell yeah," Adam said.
"What’s your average on your mile?"
"8 minutes solid. I’ve improved."
"And how many pushups can you do in a minute?"
I looked at Mike who had already had his eyes placed on me. I looked back at Adam. "You asked me to help you, right?" Adam opened his mouth, but I wasn’t finished. "I know you did because you called me at specifically 2 am. on a good night’s rest."
"But Briana," he pleaded. "I can handle this. I can do this."
"I’ve read up on you Adam." He stopped abruptly. "I know that on a bad day, your mile is 8 minutes and 14 seconds and on a good day your mile is 6 minutes and 42 seconds. I know that you can also - or could - do 42 pushups in under a minute." His face began to fall. "So no, I don’t think you’re ready for the first game and I think you should let me help you, but that’s your call."
I glanced at Mike and he continued on. "It’s your call. You can fire me or you can start on your mile and impress us."
Adam contemplated his predicament. I looked at Mike who was sternly looking at Adam and waiting for him to make a decision. His hair was in a bun at the name of his neck and he had a few flyaway hair that were blowing with the wind. Adam had his hands on his hips and was staring off into nowhere. He looked back at me, sighed and then turned around and began to run towards the track.
"Right decision," I muttered. I looked down at my cup and began to drink more as Mike and I watched Adam race around the track. I drank some more and felt the minty-ness consume me.
"You hate coffee." I looked over at Mike who had glanced at me and then back at the track. "You hate coffee because it’s bitter and even with sugar and crème, you hate it because it’s too sweet."
"It’s not coffee. It’s lemon balm tea that helps with stress." I looked at him and he had already placed his eyes on me. "Says some barista who gave it to Sean."
Mike smiled and I began to smile too. He walked a little bit closer to me and that’s when I began to tense up. "Tell me how bad it is."
I bit my lip and looked away. At times like this, it would be very easy to confide in Mike because he knew that I had a hard time with the fixing and he knew that I usually put a lot on my plate and that I tried my hardest to eat it all. He knew many things about me, but I couldn’t let him in.
"That’s not really your concern anymore Mike."
"Listen to me." I looked at him. He stood in front of me, green eyes boring into mine and his jaw clenched. "You might hate me and I’ll give you that. I’ll let you hate me for a little bit longer because I know you and I know that you said you forgave me a year ago, but that’s when you didn’t think that you would have to see me every day so I’ll let you hate me." I searched his eyes, trying to look for something. "But you can’t make me stop caring about you. I won’t stop. So tell me what it is and I’ll tell you what I usually tell you when you need someone, but you won’t admit it to anyone - not even yourself."
I looked at Mike and every feeling that I had for him came to me at one time so I had to look away. I couldn’t look at him anymore. I turned and glanced back at the track and he turned and stood beside me. He crossed his arms and we stood like that for a minute.
I lifted the cup to my mouth and sighed. "Rape." He looked at me. "This girl was raped by her brother’s best friend and I said that I would help her, but I think I took on more than I can handle Mike." I looked at him briefly and then faced forward.
It was quiet for a while as Mike soaked up all of my information. "You can handle this because you’ve handled everything else. You can find resources to help you, which I’m sure that you have. And you can make this better."
For a second, it felt like old times. For a second, I forgot that I was upset at Mike for hurting me. For a second, I realized what drew me to him in the first place. Mike Sutter had my best interests in mind and he would do anything to make me smile and he would also tell me what I wanted to hear in dire situations.
"Thank you," I muttered. I looked at him and he was looking at me. "Tell Adam that he’s doing great." I smiled a little and turned in the opposite direction to leave because I couldn’t stay.
I couldn’t let Mike Sutter see me cry.
Classes all day began to blend together. Physics turned into Literature and Art turned into a bunch of big red blobs that described my life. Walking up and down the hall was too much for me to handle. I knew that something was wrong with today and I knew that something was wrong with me, but like Mike said, I couldn’t let anyone know that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t that person who put their problems on everyone else, I was everyone’s safe haven.
As the bell rang, Amelia met me outside the class with a smile. "Cynthia tells me that you’re going to the gala tomorrow night."
"With my friend Angie," I said. She followed me down the hallway. "I have to go in and figure out where I stand and she wants me to be there."
"I’ll be there," she said, smile on her face. "My date will be there and so will I since it is my date and all, so…"I looked at her and she stopped speaking.
"I’m going to try to help Cynthia," I muttered. "I’m going to try my hardest to help her and that means you can’t be in the middle of this anymore."
"In the middle of this?" I sighed. "I am her best friend so her business is my business."
"And as her best friend, you couldn’t do the right thing which was go to the police when you first found out about this a month ago. Instead you came to me because I handle everyone’s problems, right?" Amelia gulped and looked down, defeated, which is when I knew. "You barely found out too, didn’t you?"
Amelia looked up at me, tears brimming her eyes. Grabbing her arm, I pulled her into the nearest empty classroom. The moment I shut the door is when the water works started. I turned slowly and glared at her. She was crying her eyes out and all I could do was watch because I had caused this with my carelessness of words. So the least I could do was let her cry it out.
She looked at me at the same time that the second bell rung, signaling our lunch period. "She didn’t tell me until last week. I insisted we went to the police, but she knew that there would be a huge investigation." She shrugged and paced the room. "So I suggested you and she said no because she didn’t want anyone else to be in her business, but I knew." She turned and glared at me. "I knew that she needed some help, some closure because what happened to her was terrible. She’s not the same bright person that she had been and I know there will be a while before she is. She’s broken. She’s broken and I know you specialize in broken because I was broken once upon a time as well. So that’s why I came to you because you do handle everyone’s problems." She approached me and I could feel the heat radiate off her. "And you do a damn good job, but don’t tell me that I didn’t do the right thing because this is the right thing to her."
She took one last look at me and then walked out of the classroom, slamming the door right behind her. I stood beside the desk and sighed. I turned around and opened the door, my intents were to follow her out and apologize, but I ran straight into Ethan.
All my problems, one after another.
Ethan grabbed my shoulder and pushed me back into the classroom. He shut the door behind him and I stood there, arms crossed.
"Ethan, I don’t have time to talk right now."
"I wasn’t going to do much talking anyway."
I crinkled my eyebrows at him and he walked over to me slowly. He placed his arm around my waist swiftly, and lifted me high enough to where our faces were leveled. He pressed his lips against mine slowly and I felt myself buckling up. He used his free hand to press against my face.
The kiss was over faster than it started and I could feel my face burning as he pulled me away from him. He looked into my eyes and smiled, the same smile that still haunts me. "I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to kiss you."
He let me go and walked out of the room as if nothing had just happened, leaving me there questioning what actually did just happen.
Anonymous: I really enjoy revenge plans, so I'm conjuring something good up! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Jasmine Charms: Thank you! I really do think that characters are important because they tell their stories themselves and a part of what is so fun is how I get to play with my characters since I know them so well. I just look to my friends for inspiration and it's very easy that way because my friends are different and wacky in their own way. So thank you for loving this story! I hope this chapter was something else that you enjoyed!
Miha: Thank you! My favorite parts are when I sprinkle a little bit of Mike and Briana here and there just to get everyone's tongue wet a bit. They have a great relationship and I'm so glad that you love this story as much as I like writing it.
K: This story and 'Being Beautiful' are two totally different stories, but wouldn't it be cool to just mix the both of them somehow? I don't know. I'll have to think about it.