When I woke up this morning, I had made the choice to go to the clinic. I didn’t feel like I needed to stay away anymore. As I sat up in bed I had forgotten about my hand, and pushed off the corner of the mattress. Quickly jerking it to my chest, I examined the crazy bandaging Gavin had worked on it last night trying to stop the bleeding. My cheeks flushed. It was already embarrassing enough letting myself be hit with a door. Did I have to fall over and cut my hand too?
When I arrived at the clinic, Hayden wasn’t there. I didn’t blame him though; he probably thought I was a freak who bled a lot. What if he thought I was doing it for attention? The whole time I spent making reminder calls, I hurried trying to finish so that I could go say hi to Count before leaving for IHOP. As if hearing my thoughts, I heard paws brushing again tile floors, and then felt the familiar nudge of a cold wet nose on my leg. It was Count. “Hey handsome.” I smiled and scratched behind his ears. “How did you get out?”
Just then Count jumped up, and sat on my lap. “Hey, what did I say?” Hayden’s voice came from the hallway now, and as he stepped into the office our eyes met. His icy blue’s like frostbite, I shivered suddenly cold. “Get down.”
Count plopped to the ground. Trotted over to Hayden, and sat down. “Good boy, now give me five.” With an enthusiastic yip, Count jumped up and placed his paw against Hayden’s hand.
“Wow, that’s really good.” I smiled, and then stood up. “How did you teach him that?”
Hayden knelt down, and patted Counts head. Shrugged, and then said, “I left practice early a couple nights last week. I knew you couldn’t come so I thought I would step in for a bit.”
Joining Hayden on the floor, I tried not to sound confused as I said, “I thought it was just Wednesday you came, I didn’t know you were leaving practice to come.”
For a second he hesitated looking back at me, and then stood up. He was acting all weird again but, I wasn’t sure if it was because of me or because just before he did, his eyes shifted to the cut on my hand. He sighed. “Well, now you do.”
After that, I watched as he turned over on his foot, and walked back down the hall. He paused shortly halfway down, and called Count to him. With a lick, Count said goodbye, and then hurried after him. I didn’t move until the sound of Counts paws brushing the tile had faded.
“So Ree, how does it feel to be the only girl in a group of guys? At least most of the time I mean; the few times Kali decides to grace us with her presence doesn’t count.” Jason asked.
“Exhausted,” Gavin was quick to answer. “We are a lot to handle.” Playfully I pushed him.
“Shut up, you know I love ya’ll.” I smiled.
“I love you too.” Jason grinned. Kali, who was sitting quietly beside me before now, threw a fry at him. It hit perfectly between his raised brows, and then plopped down on his plate.
“Down boy,” she said. “She doesn’t love you like that.”
“Maybe.” Jason laughed.
“Yeah, if hell froze over.” She smiled, and then took another bite of her chicken strips. Still chewing, she added, “Plus, I’m here now so shut up. Sorry, some of us have a life outside of you losers.” She looked at me, and then to Hayden. “Of course, that wasn’t directed to ya’ll.”
I nodded, and smiled. We all went back to eating shortly after, and after a few minutes, I glanced over to Hayden. He had been continuously checking his phone since we arrived, and was now busily texting someone back. At first, I hadn’t let it bother me because let’s face it; I was still in shock that he had decided to come in the first place. Although now, it was just annoying me. Why had he wanted to come if he was going to be too distracted to carry on a conversation with anyone? And why was he acting so dang weird around me? Seriously, I was pissed.
“You didn’t have to come.” I said, and then wished I hadnt. His eyes shot in my direction, I hadn’t even said his name but, he already knew I was referring to him. “I mean, if you have other plans we’ll understand.”
“I don’t have plans?” his tone was plain but, I could hear the hesitation in his words.
“Okay.” I left it at that. I didn’t want the others to start wondering if something was going on, which there wasn’t but, I knew if I continued to press Hayden about it they would think differently. No matter what I told them, especially Gavin. Who apparently hadn’t noticed anything other than his plate full if bacon because without asking he turned to Hayden and asked, “So did you fix everything with that Laurie chick last night?”
Hayden choked on his water, and then looked to see if I had heard the question. I had. “Yeah,” he finally said. “I guess.”
“According to Becky, I would say it was more than a guess.” Kali winked at Hayden and waved a perfectly plucked brow at him. I gave her a look, and made a note to ask her what she had meant by saying that later. Becky was Janis’s friend, and she was also Kali’s. They have English together, and as of lately they have become close. Sure at first I was a little jealous of their friendship but, then Hayden showed up and started distracting me so I hadn’t really thought about it until now.
“Becky is a liar.” Hayden snapped.
“uh-huh. Hey we don’t judge.” Kali smiled, and that had been the end of it because then Raymond had changed the subject.
“Hey the carnival is coming next month.” He smiled. “I am so excited. Remember, I missed it last year.”
“Sounds good to me.” Gavin smiled. Then, surprising me. He took my hand in his, and pulled me under his arm. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hayden shift uncomfortably. “I call dibs on the Ferris wheel with Airee first!”
“You’re terrible.” I laughed, and slapped his arm playfully. Untangling myself from him, I then leaned over to Kali, and pulled her into a hug. “I already have my ride buddy.”
Kali draped her arm around me, and smiled. Jason instantly perked up in his chair. “I knew it!” he yelled across the room. “Oh, please let me watch.”
At that everyone started laughing, even Hayden paused from texting long enough to look up and add, “Count me in, I want to see that!”
Two weeks passed faster than I expected. In school Hayden had stopped sitting by me, and returned to his normal spot over by Kyle, and that really pretty Maura girl with raven colored hair. I could hear the two guys flirting with her during class but, from what I heard he was still with Laurie. Which, speaking of, I finally had asked Kali what shemeant back at IHOP that Saturday, when she said from what Becky told her, she thought Hayden had more than guessed they made up. It was exactly what I had guessed it meant, I just didn’t want to believe it.
Apparently after we left the school, Hayden hadn’t been so upset with her as he led on because not even an hour later they were doing the dirty in his truck. AT SCHOOL. Well, technically it was in the parking lot but, still it was gross. What if someone had seen? After she told me I felt a little silly standing up for Laurie to him, she obviously didn’t need my help. Anyways, after I found out it made more sense as to why Hayden had been acting all weird. So, rather than making him feel awkward, I set up a schedule for things for him to do at the clinic. That way, he could do his own thing, and I didn’t have to picture him and Laurie having sex every time I accidentally bumped into him while working. I was starting to worry I had a porn star imagination.
Another thing that changed is Hayden and I had stopped meeting at Wal-Mart every morning before riding together to the clinic. Now he either rides his motorcycle, or drives his truck. He even comes to IHOP and Joe’s with us afterwards, and is now an official member of Gavin’s softball team. Before he hadn’t committed to playing every week. Sometimes we talk but, most of the time he ignores me, and though I know I haven’t done anything to him. I can’t help but, to think that he is doing it because of something I’ve done.
And that brings us back to the now, which is fifteen minutes away from us all headed to another party. This one not a bonfire but, still at the lake so of course there will be a fire but, its not going to be called a bonfire. Why? I have no freaking clue. “Want to stop for a soda before we get there?” I asked Gavin as we turned onto Eldorado, and went past another 7-eleven.
“Are you not going to be drinking at the party?” he asked me, and then made a quick U-turn and pulled in.
“I am, I just want something before. Is that okay?”
We pulled into the camp grounds, and instantly I saw Hayden, and his friends gathered around one of the drink stations. Typical. We got out, and went to join our friends. I hadn’t even bothered to try and talk to him. Instead I danced with Jason to the music coming from some radios of close parked cars. There were a lot of people at the party, and most of them probably didn’t even go to our school. When the song ended Jason bowed, and joined our group. I laughed, and thanked him but, instead of walking with him I turned around and went to grab a drink. “Here goes nothing.” I whispered to myself