"Have you told him yet?"I startle, drawing my gaze from the pitch to Jude, who's suddenly sitting beside me. It's Saturday and we are at a football match.It's the last match of the season, after which comes a three-month break. But the football team won't be getting any break from school. For the coming twelve weeks of the long holiday, they'll spend ten in training, with a majority taking classes too."What are you doing here?" I ask, eyes flickering from the other players to him. He is supposed to be at the bench with the other substitute players."Talking to you, obviously. You're still good at avoiding people, I've realised."It's true, I've done my best to avoid him these past few days. I needed time to think about things without him trying to mess with my feelings more than he already has.I stare back at the pitch. "Go back to the bench.""Why have you not told him yet?""It's none of your business.""I know you haven't agreed to be his girlfriend yet."My eyes swing back to
The next evening, at around eight o'clock, I stand outside Eli's dorm, feet nervously tapping the floor.Two hours ago, he sent me a message asking whether we could meet and talk in his room. He said Jude wasn't going to be around for the evening, which is why I agreed to his plan.Now, here I am. The truth is finally going to be revealed, and I'm unable to think past the nerves plaguing me right now. I've tried to think of ways to make the truth less harsh, but I cannot even think past the thought that I'm going to hurt his feelings, and I have no idea how to fix that.Taking a feel breath, I lift my hand and knock on the door.A few seconds later, the door opens, revealing Eli on the other side. His lips curl into a smile when he sees me. "Hey. You’re here."I nod, returning his smile and walking into the room when he steps aside. I remove my shoes while he closes the door, and then follow him into the living room.I take a seat on one end of the couch and grab a throw pillow, huggi
"I'll leave now," Eli says when we come to my apartment building. "Won't you come up for a while?" He shakes his head. "You go." "Oh, okay. Thanks for bringing me." He nods and lifts his hand in a small wave. "Goodnight." "Yeah, uh..." I lean forward and give him a peck on the lips. "Goodnight." He looks startled at my action, but quickly covers it with a small smile. All the progress we had made before Jude showed up seems to have evaporated. But I can only wait until he makes up his mind about us. Oh, how the tables have turned. A couple minutes later, I'm standing at my door when I realise I don't have my keys with me. I must have left them at Eli's! I groan, realising the bag I brought is not the one I keep my spare key in. I bring out my phone so I can call Eli and let him know I have to go back with him when the door opens. "Oh," I mumble when I see Tori. "You're back!" When I left to go see Eli, she hadn't gotten back yet. She stares at me, her gaze somewhat stran
"Eli?" Isaac's voice floats into the room. "Eli?" Simon echoes him, giving me a bewildered look. There's no time to think, so I hurry over to the door. "Let's talk outside," I tell him, stepping up beside Isaac.Isaac gives me a worried look before retreating into the living room.Eli looks at me, his eyebrows drawing together. "I'm sorry. I had no idea she would do something like that."I shrug and cast a worried look over my shoulder. Thankfully, Jude is out of sight. If we leave now, everything will be fine. "It's fine. Let's talk outside," I repeat."Oh, ok..." he trails off, and I realise his gaze has shifted from me to somewhere behind me. My stomach twists. The look on his face is enough. I don't need to turn to see that he's looking at Jude. "What is he doing here?" Eli asks, his face morphing into a tense expression. Then his eyes come back to me, and the hurt I see in them is too much. "Are you here with him?"I shake my head instantly and wave my hands in denial. "No!"
'I'm sorry. I didn't know he would be at Simon's.'I send the text a few minutes into the ride, hoping to clear everything up before we get to Trey. I've sneaked a peek at Eli a couple of times in the rearview mirror, and the faraway look on his face unsettles me.A few seconds later, my phone beeps with a text notification.Eli ♥: It's fine. I believe you.This time, when I look in the rearview mirror, I find him looking back at me. He gives me a tight-lipped smile, and I reciprocate it. Still, it doesn't make me feel better because I'm worrying that he took Jude's words to heart.Also, I never would have expected him to lash out the way he did. For the two years I've known him, he has never fought with anyone or reacted violently. So, after what just happened, it's hard for that smile to be reassuring in any way.All my calls to Trey's phone go unanswered, but a few minutes before we can get to his school, Grace calls me on her phone.She lets me know that he's not at his dorm. Inst
"He needs to get into surgery right away, but the substances he took might interfere with anaesthesia, so we have to carry out some tests to find out what he took first. While we wait for that, we'll try to stabilise him from the drug effect and take measures against infection and further blood loss. It might be a while before we are done with him. But don't worry, his outlook is good."I nod, relieved to hear that. "Okay.""Just hang around the waiting area, and I'll come to you when we are ready to proceed," the doctor instructs."Okay, thank you," I say as he walks away.With a deep inhale, I walk back to the others. They all gather around me."What did he say?" Eli asks."They need to carry out some tests to find out what he took before they can operate on him. But he said he's going to be okay.""That's good," Simon mumbles.We all settle around the waiting room, waiting. It's crazy how this night has turned out. It feels like so long ago when my biggest worry was Eli and Jude fi
It's half-past two when we are finally able to see Trey. He came out of surgery a while back, but they kept him in the recovery room for about half an hour. The doctor lets me know that he can leave later in the day if he remains stable.I go in to see him first while the others wait outside."You didn't tell Mum, right?" is the first thing he asks when I walk into the room.I scoff. "If this happens again, you'll have no energy to worry about Mum once I'm done with you."He rolls his eyes and sighs. "I guess that's a no."I'm glad he has enough energy to roll his eyes. I go to his side and feel his forehead. "Your fever is gone," I note."Yeah.""Are you sober now?""Yeah.""Are you in pain?"He lifts his arm, where an IV line is stuck. "Painkillers.""Oh."I jerk my thumb towards the door. "Can I let the others in now? Doc said we have to let you rest up, so they have to go soon.""Wait, I..." His eyes become downcast as he stares at the bedcover. "I'm sorry.""It's fine. We can tal
"That was the end of our friendship," Eli continues. "I haven't talked to him in years. Then tonight happened." He shoots to his feet and paces in front of the bench. "I almost forgot about him. The thought of him made me so angry, that I would instantly shut him out of my mind as soon as my thoughts went in his direction. It's been a while since I thought about him." "It must have been hard seeing him tonight," I say. "Yeah, well, yeah. Especially because I can't even be angry at him anymore." He sits back down. "When he followed me outside earlier, he broke down." "Why?" "He told me why he fought with your brother. Will got suspended from the school's football team a few weeks ago, and your brother took his place. When he saw Trey getting high last night, he got mad. He couldn't stand it that the guy who had taken his spot was getting away with the same thing that ruined his life." He scrubs a hand down his face. "And then he started crying, saying how he has lost everything a