Chapter Sixteen-HaydenMature

The past few days have come and gone like a dream. No, wait, a nightmare. I'm not sure what or who Kyle had to kill in order for this miracle to happen but, ever since that last night Airee and I spoke, her and Kyle have been inseperable. I'm not even sure how to react when I see the two of them together. At first, I was angry but, now I just dont know. Is it jealousy, betrayal I'm feeling, or what? All I know for sure is that I am not a fan.

At first they kept their moments secluded in the halls. Then just three days ago, it was like they shed some strange veil and became public. In class, I force myself to ignore them. Which, for a while, worked. Then, last night, he showed up to the softball game with her. The two of them watching from the sidelines, laughing and cheering together. It was enough to make me want to throw up. My stomach literally knotted as if I had been punched repeditivley in the gut, and for the first time since t-ball, I struck out. Three swings where the only thing I made contact with was the bat against my back as I swung, missed, and the force drove it around as if to add pain to my misery, and slammed into my back. If my father were here, I would never live this down.

To make things worse, when I turned back to the dugout, I could see it on my teams faces the disappointment that their Zeus had missed. I had let them down, I had let myself down. "Ooo, tough break bro!" I heard Kyle call from the stands. Airee beside him kept quiet.

Throwing the bat at the grated fence behind the dugout, I threw my hands through my hair in defeat. I had hit an all time low. When the game had ended I decided to skip going to Joe's and instead went for a long drive with no destination or purpose other than trying to get back to my life before all of this. Before Airee.

When morning rolled around, I decided to skip school and go to the clinic. On the days Airee couldnt make it in, back when she had gotten hurt, I had come in to check up on Count. I guess over that time, the little dude had grown on me. That, and the fact that no matter what, I knew he woldnt leave me for Kyle. At least, I would hope not. Hours passed after I arrived. During that time we had played fetch and laid out in the sun. I bathed him and even showed him off to some of the new female arrivals. He loved that. Hey- he may be a dog but, the guy still has needs, I told myself. I saw the way he strut by their cages- he ate it up, and just because I was alone didnt mean he had to be. It wasnt until a few minutes ago, one of the kennel staff members, Forney, came and told me Airee had just arrived. Kyle with her.

"Alright buddy, I guess thats my que." I scratched the soft fur atop his head. He panted, and licked me. Jumped onto my lap, and whined. "Oh dont even, you know better than anyone after today why I have to leave." At that, Count started barking. Then his head tilted and a low growl started radiating from somewhere deep inside of him, as I looked up  just in time to see Kyle opening the door.

"So this is the new girl? What- Laurie aint cutting it anymore?" He laughed and stepped inside. Count's hackles instantly rising.

"Count is a boy." I corrected. "What are you doing in here? Dont you and Airee have things to do?""Airee sent me in here so that I could meet her dog. We had no clue you were even here." He said. The corners of his mouth curled up into a smirk just then, as he eased towards us.

"I wouldnt do that if I were you." I said, as Kyle began reaching to pet Count. "He doesnt seem to like you, and unless you want to get bit, I would back off."As if agreeing with what I said, Count bit off a loud bark. His jaws snapping shut with an intensity I'd never heard before.

"For once, I'll take your advice." he said, and took a step back.

"Kyle?" A voice cut through the tension, and blew through the room. "How did it go?" she asked? Just then, I turned and caught myself looking dead on at a pair of emerald green eyes.

"Shit," I whispered under my breath as the smell of coconuts and summer came upon me. I held my breath.

"Oh," she said, as she jumped back surprised to see me. Quickly I caught her elbow to steady her. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," I smiled. "I-"

For a moment, I let my hands linger for a little while longer. The feeling of just being this close to her, already almsot too much to handle. It stirrs up a part up me, that longs to be closer to her. Closer, than I can allow. In that instance, I dropped my hand. I cant go back there again, I thought to myself. I made the choice that last night we spoke to leave her alone. I made the choice because in earnest, I don't deserve someone like her. So without another word, I stepped around her, and walked out. 

"Hayden, wait!" I could hear her calling out behind me. "Hayden?"

I opened the door and stepped out. I could hear the panic in her voice then, but I couldn't turn back. If I did I would never leave her again. I would pick her up, carefully of course, and hold her in my arms, and kiss her. To hell with Kyle and whatever this mess with him was. He could watch, me take my girl. He could try to stop me. Seconds later, I found my car, started it and peeled out of the lot.

The End

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