Home > After the Game (The Field Party #3)(6)

After the Game (The Field Party #3)(6)
Author: Abbi Glines

I had chalked it up to my mother liking Lyla. But there was a truth to her words. They made sense. So if she was right—if Riley wasn’t lying—then what?

The guilt of that possibly being true almost kept me from going. Almost.

My need to know the truth outweighed my fear we could have all been wrong.

If I didn’t have the milk, I would go talk to her now. But it was time for Mom to cook dinner, and she needed milk. I’d have to wait.

Want to Take a Drive?

CHAPTER 7

RILEY

I had just tucked Bryony into bed when the doorbell rang. This was the only time of the day I got to take a break. I didn’t have to take care of Grandmamma, and my schoolwork was finished. I would have a few hours to myself before I went to sleep. So the doorbell ringing meant company, and I didn’t want anyone visiting.

Yes, that sounded selfish, because it was probably someone here to check on Grandmamma, but I was just being honest. I wanted peace and quiet. It was what helped me unwind.

“Riley, it’s for you,” my mother’s voice called out. That I hadn’t been expecting. I never got company. Ever.

“What?” I replied, thinking I had heard her wrong.

“You have a visitor,” she replied.

Okay, well, then maybe I had heard her correctly. Who in the world would visit me? I knew it wasn’t a Lawton, because if it were, my mother wouldn’t be so calm. They’d never get through the door. I was almost positive there would be yelling. I headed for the door, trying to guess who this could be, but no one came to mind. When I turned the corner and saw Brady Higgens standing in the living room, I froze. Why was Brady here?

“Look how tall he’s gotten,” Mom said, smiling as if his visit were the best thing in the world. She didn’t realize he was here to talk about Bryony and what he had heard. She thought he was being friendly. Everyone always thought Brady was just being the nice guy.

“Why are you here?” I asked, not wanting to do the small-talk thing.

“Riley.” Mother’s tone was that of a warning. But I just didn’t care.

“I’d like to talk, about things,” he said in his I’m nice, just trust me voice.

“It’s not your concern,” I snapped back at him. He was Gunner Lawton’s friend. They were tight, and I didn’t trust him at all.

“Riley,” Mother said, trying to get my attention. I was ignoring her. This was my problem. She needed to back out of it.

“It’s okay, Mrs. Young. I deserve this. I wasn’t nice to Riley two years ago, and I took the Lawtons’ side,” he said, glancing at my mom, then back to me. “But I’d like to talk to you now. Understand. Listen.”

I didn’t need him to understand or listen. Who the hell did he think he was? I would ask him just that if it wouldn’t send my mother into a fit.

“My life is good. I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks or believes. I stopped trying to convince anyone of anything a long time ago. Just leave. Let me be.”

“Riley, that’s enough. I’d like to speak to you in the kitchen,” my mother said in a stern voice. I wanted to tell her no, but I wasn’t stupid.

I spun around on my heel and stalked to the kitchen. She whispered something to Brady and I rolled my eyes. She was buying his nice-guy shit just like everyone else. Ugh. It made me sick.

“I cannot believe the way you are acting. That boy came here because he believes you. He saw Bryony and he wants to talk to you. Make amends. Why can’t you let him? He could be a good friend. You say you don’t need friends, but you do! You more than anyone I know needs a friend. That boy in there is a good one.”

My face felt hot from the anger boiling inside me. “That boy in there,” I snarled, pointing my finger in the direction of the living room, “turned on me and called me a liar two years ago. He was supposed to be my friend, but he never listened to me. No one here did. Why would you think I’d give him a chance now? Because he wants his conscience cleared? Well, boo-freaking-hoo. I do not feel bad for him.”

Mom shook her head and dropped her hands from her hips, but there was a softness in her eyes. “Honestly, Riley, when are you going to let all this pain and bitterness go? Yes, you were hurt in the worst possible way, and it breaks my heart to think about it. But you were given a beautiful gift from it all. You know that. You’re a wonderful mom and you are so strong. But you are holding on to this pain and keeping others out. That’s not a good example for Bryony. You need a friend, sweetheart. It’s time to let someone in, and from all I know of Brady Higgens, he’s a really good kid.”

Well, crap. That was low. Bringing Bryony into it. I made sure never to let her ears hear about the past and what I went through. I wanted her safe from all that. I did everything I could to make her life happy and complete.

“That’s not fair. Bryony doesn’t know any of this.”

Mom shrugged. “Maybe not, but she sees your body language. She will one day realize that you’re carrying bitterness and hurt. And that you build walls around yourself. She’ll learn to do the same.”

That was what broke me. If she was right, and my mother was rarely wrong, I couldn’t live with myself. I was in self-preserve mode. It wasn’t an easy life, but after what I’d been through, it was the only way I could deal. I didn’t trust easily. Or at all. But that didn’t mean I wanted Bryony to live like me.

“But why Brady? How does my telling him anything change that? He’s not going to become my buddy. He’s got a football team to worry about, and a college scholarship. My talking to him does nothing.”

But ease his guilt, I finished in my head. Which I still thought was unfair. I wanted him to feel guilty. He should.

“You don’t know that. Give him a chance,” my mother replied.

I’d go listen to him simply because if I didn’t, my mother wouldn’t shut up about it for weeks. Possibly months. I didn’t want to hear Brady Higgens’s name again after tonight. He might not be at the top of the list of the people I hated, but he was on the list.

“Fine,” I sighed in defeat and turned to go back to the living room, hoping Brady had just left.

He hadn’t.

There he stood with his hands in his jeans pockets, looking my way. Our eyes locked, and I saw uncertainty there. He still wasn’t sure if he believed me. I didn’t care if he did. I didn’t care if anyone did. That was all history.

“We can talk, but not here. I don’t want Bryony waking up and hearing anything.”

He nodded. “Understood. Want to take a drive?”

No. I wanted to go soak in a bath and forget he had come over.

Continue On with Your Crown of Sainthood

CHAPTER 8

BRADY

Riley looked like she was preparing to walk through a fire. She did not want to be out here with me, and she definitely didn’t want to be getting in my truck. I’d heard most of their conversation through the thin walls. Not that I was trying to, but Riley was talking loud, and she had been pissed.

The way she had talked made me believe her even more. That had been as convincing as it got. She had moved on and wanted to put this behind her. The fact that her mother said she needed a friend made my chest hurt. I’d never been without a friend. But Riley had lived the past two years without one.

I went to open her door for her, and she jerked around and glared at me. “I can open it.”

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