Redemption Pt. 01

25 Şubat 2021 0 Yazar: admin


The graduation party was at Paul Ford’s. There were three things you could count on at Paul’s parties- loud music, warm beer and a bonfire. Yep, even in the summer. Bonfire’s were Paul’s specialty.

This party was no different. The temperature hovered around a hundred by the fire but most were too drunk to care. The guys had shed their shirts long ago, even the ones that shouldn’t have. The girls were barely dressed to begin with but soon that might go further too. That’s what happens when you mix heat and alcohol.

The entire senior class had shown up- as was expected. Half the junior class and a smattering of sophomores had crashed earlier but Paul had run most of them off. No point giving parents a reason to stop the fun.

It was tradition to party all night after getting your diploma. One last big blow out before college, jobs, and adult responsibilities. Parents, and the local cops, overlooked the excess for this one night. Barely.

Paul’s place was perfect. It was so far out in the country that no one could hear the loud music or the buzz of hundreds of voices. Paul’s parents had agreed to take everyone’s keys to ensure no one drove home drunk. It was an arrangement that had pleased most everyone. If nothing else it gave people the impression that it was a chaperoned party.

Like most teenage parties, high school hierarchy still applied. The cheerleaders were being overly excited and hanging out with the loud, obnoxious jocks. The nerds and such were huddled together around one beer, making faces and watching the cheerleaders with looks of longing. The wannabe Goth’s were over by themselves, rolling their heavily lined eyes and sipping from a bottle of red wine. Everyone who’s ever been a teenager understands- like with like. No one crosses the lines. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

Brenna McLeod and her friends, Nicola Warren and Jackson Brandt were those exceptions. Brenna’s Dad owned his own company and that made her rich in most people’s eyes, instant inclusion to any group. Nicola and Jackson were her best friend’s since kindergarten and so they were also automatically included. They mostly stayed together, but always got invited to all the parties and functions any group came up with.

Jackson and Nicola were a couple. They’d been dating off and on, mostly on, since eighth grade. The dynamic confused most of the other teenagers, but it made perfect sense to the threesome. They were all friends before any romantic notions had come along.

Still, the arrangement had its ups and downs. Brenna often felt like a third wheel on their dates, and she hated having to go back and forth with her friends when they were on an off cycle. Making it all worse was the fact that Brenna had been in love with Jackson since kindergarten. It had strained their relationship when Jackson had first started dating Nicola but she thought she had done a pretty good job of hiding her feelings. Only her Dad was clued in as far as she knew.

Tonight was one of those nights when Brenna was tuning them out. They weren’t fighting, there was just a lot of silence and tension in the air that Brenna did not want to be part of.

Never one to be a big partier, Brenna was going for broke tonight. Her life had been more than stressful the past year since her Mom had gotten sick and she just wanted one night where she could be a typical teenager.

She’d let Nicola dress her in what she considered skank wear, super short mini skirt, tank top and cowboy boots. She had on very little makeup, her skin much too sensitive for the stuff. She’d also had three beers already and was feeling it down to her toes.

Oblivious, Brenna let her body sway to the music, unaware that she was getting some pretty serious attention from boys that had never seen her looking like that. Even Jackson couldn’t look away.

Nicola noticed however, and took her chance to make things right. She loved Jackson, but not the way that most people thought she did. Actually, she’d been dating Ryan Murphy on the sly since the beginning of their senior year. Jackson knew and had agreed to keep it secret from their far too sensitive friend Brenna. Now was the time to change all that though. Pulling on Jackson’s arm to get his attention, Nic motioned him away from the crowd where they could talk privately.

“She looks good tonight doesn’t she?” Nic asked quietly.

Jackson startled, looking away and down at his former girlfriend and shaking his head. “She needs to put some clothes on,” he grumbled, unable to stop himself from looking back over to where she was dancing.

“Don’t be stupid Jackson. She looks good and you know it.” Nic crossed her arms and gave him the eyebrow. “How long are you going to act like you two don’t belong together? That you’re ‘just friends’?”

That shocked him. His mouth dropped open and he immediately began to shake his head no. “It isn’t like that Nic and you know it. We’re friends. Best friends. Her parents took me in when I poker oyna needed a place and helped me find a real home. I love her, but not the way you’re thinking.”

“You know something that I’ve learned being around you for so long? You’re cheek twitches when you’re lying. And right now you’re cheek is doing some serious dancing.”

“Knock it off Nic, really. It isn’t like that-” Nicola cut his words off with a harsh laugh that doubled her over. “What’s so funny?”

“The two of you. Really. It’s hilarious. You’ve been in love with Brenna forever and she’s been in love with you since forever and both of you claim that the other doesn’t feel the same way. It’s really quite tragic.”

“Are you drunk too?” Jackson asked caustically. “You’ve lost your mind, Brenna loves me as a friend, a brother even, but nothing more.”

“You’re both as blind as you are stubborn. Hell, even Brenna’s Dad knows. So, why don’t you take a chance and see if I’m right. If worse comes to worse you can pretend to be drunk and say it was all a mistake. No harm, no foul.”

“Brenna’s drunk. I won’t take advantage of her while she’s blitzed out of her normal straight-laced gourd.”

“Excuses, excuses, excuses. Brenna’s buzzed but far from drunk. She’s had three beers in two hours.” With a huff, Nic shook her head, getting frustrated with all the hard-headed people in her life. “Look, honestly, I’m getting real tired of playing pretend with you Jackson. I love you, but not like that. I want Ryan and tonight is my big night. I don’t want to have to sneak around anymore. And I don’t want Brenna to get her panties in a twist thinking she has to defend you to me. I want our breakup to be out in the open so I can make out with Ryan. ‘K?”

“That doesn’t mean I have to make a play for Brenna. Look, I’ll break the news to her. You go on and be with Ryan. Just be careful. Promise?”

“Cross my heart and hope to die,” she said, making the motions. “And Jackson? Just give it a shot. Just one. That’s all I’m asking.” She said the words over her shoulder, skipping happily away to where Ryan waited for her.

“Yeah, right.” Jackson muttered. “Make a total fool out of myself. No problem.” Sighing, he moved quickly across the field and looked towards his very sexy best friend dancing alone in the crowd.

Why couldn’t she have worn one of her big t-shirts and jeans tonight? She looked too good for words. He hadn’t seen her legs in years, since they used to go swimming at his old house. Back then they hadn’t looked quite so long or so perfect. Her skin had always amazed him. So perfectly milk pale and soft. Tonight there was far too much of it on display. In fact, her entire body was far too much on display for his taste. Not that his body was complaining, just making his jeans feel tight in a certain spot. Still, he had to get this over with.

More than a little tipsy, Brenna jerked and almost fell when Jackson tapped her on the shoulder. She grabbed hold of him to keep from falling, her body pressing back into his for a long moment before she righted herself and moved away. She heard Jackson groan and automatically assumed she’d hurt him. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry Jackson!”

Jackson shook his head, “Stop apologizing, you didn’t hurt me. I need to talk to you for a minute. Can we go somewhere quieter?”

Brenna knew that tone. Something had obviously happened between Jackson and Nicola- again. So much for her night of stress-free fun. “Sure. Uh, we could go sit over by the pond.”

Nodding his head, Jackson waited while she pulled on her boots. As they walked he pondered the best way to break the news to her without upsetting her too much. She was so sensitive, too caring. It would probably break her heart to find out that they had been lying to her for so long. Oh, well, he could take the brunt of that. It was something he could do for Nic.

“So, what did she do this time?” Brenna asked as they neared the trees. She couldn’t quite hide the frustrated tone of her voice, but she hoped he wouldn’t notice.

“Nothing. I just need to tell you some stuff and well, maybe you should sit down.”

“I don’t want to sit down Jackson. Just tell me what’s going on. You’re starting to worry me.”

Jackson watched her shove her hands into her pockets, swallowing hard at the way it pulled the skirt down enough for him to see the smooth skin of her belly. And the glint of something sparkly- a belly ring? No way, Brenna was too straight-laced for body piercing. Right? “Uh, I don’t mean to worry you but I don’t want you to get upset either.” He shoved his hands down into his pockets too, subconsciously mirroring her movements. “Nic and I broke up at the beginning of the school year,” he finally blurted out.

Brenna felt her head spin once, then twice. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. “What? What did you just say?”

“I’m sorry Brenna. Nic wanted to tell you but I convinced her that we shouldn’t. I didn’t want you to spend your senior year worried that you’d have to choose canlı poker oyna between us.”

“Why would I have to choose between you? Are you two mad at each other? How the hell have you hidden this for so long? Why the hell did you hide this for so long?” She was yelling but it didn’t matter. She was so mad she could spit bullets.

Jackson had never in his life heard Brenna curse. Hell was a pretty tame curse word but still, it was a first. He was so shocked that he didn’t say anything for a long moment. “Nic and I were pretty sure that we weren’t right for each other last year but we didn’t know what to do about it. Then she met Ryan and we talked about how we felt and realized that we were more friends than a couple.”

“So you two decided you weren’t going to keep dating and then came to the harebrained idea to hide that from me? Why?” Brenna was so mad that she began to pace back and forth, long legs making angry jerky steps.

Ouch, that stung. “Look, Brenna, every time that Nic and I have had a fight or broken up or had issues, you’ve had to hear about it, try to smooth things over and make it right. We didn’t want you to have to go through that this time. She was happy with Ryan and I didn’t want to ruin that for her either.”

“So the two of you thought that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And that I’d give Nic flak about being with Ryan. I see. You two really gave me a lot of credit there. I’m not as fragile and unstable as the two of you try to make me out to be.” Mad, Brenna stopped pacing and started walking away. When she reached the edge of the pond she picked up several heavy stones and began tossing them into the still water. She was so busy being pissed that she didn’t hear Jackson move up behind her.

“Bren, it wasn’t like that. You’ve had so much to deal with this year already that we didn’t want to add to that stress. We were trying to protect you. Really. We knew that your Mom being sick and you having to help out in your Dad’s business was a lot already. I’m sorry if we were wrong. I truly am.”

Brenna’s numb fingers let the last rock hit the ground with a thud. She’d overreacted. She could see now that they had tried to help. If only they’d just been honest with her. She could have handled it. How tiresome it was to be coddled all the time. Her Dad, her Mom, now her friends too. Why couldn’t anyone just tell her the truth?

“Bren, really, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking straight I guess. If you want to hit me-” he let the sentence hang, waiting to see what she’d do.

Brenna huffed, thinking it over. It would be nice to knock some sense into him, but it went against everything in her to hurt someone. Still, he did deserve it. They both did.

Turning quickly before she could change her mind, Brenna balled up her fist and slugged Jackson right in the middle of his gut. Hard.

Damn, she was stronger than he’d given her credit for. For a moment he couldn’t make his lungs pull any air in. He stood there, mouth open, eyes wide with shock and tried to remember who the stranger in front of him was.

“I would say I’m sorry, but I just can’t. That felt pretty damn good.” Brenna crossed her arms and smiled innocently.

“I just don’t know you anymore,” Jackson wheezed out, rubbing his stomach where she’d nearly gutted him. “The Brenna I know doesn’t hit or cuss. What’s gotten into you?’

What had gotten into her? Honestly, it felt good to let go a little bit. She was always so controlled, always trying to keep things together and be the perfect daughter, the perfect friend. Why? Would they love her any less if she wasn’t perfect? She didn’t know. It just seemed like ever since her eighteenth birthday six weeks ago her feelings had changed when it came to other people’s opinions of her. “I guess I’m just tired of everyone thinking I’m so fragile and backwards. I’m not, you know. I don’t want to be protected anymore. I want people to tell me the truth, not hide things from me. Everyone does it. Even my Mom. She used to always tell me everything. Now she lies to me every time I’m around her. I just hate it so much!”

Seeing her like this was more hurtful than a punch to the gut. This hit somewhere around the heart. He owed her so much and he’d lied to her like everyone else in her life. He didn’t know how to fix it. The least he could do was be honest with her. Well, mostly. “I promise you that I will never lie to you again. In fact I’ll swear it. Spill my blood if I have to. I promise to be honest no matter what you ask from now on.” He crossed is heart and made the boy scout sign for good measure.

Brenna laughed to hide the sudden tears that stung her eyes. She was going to miss him so much when he was gone. How was she going to get through the next four years without him? “I’ll take that seriously Brandt. I expect full disclosure from now on. Deal?” She stuck out her hand, waiting for him to accept it.

“Deal.” Jackson said seriously, taking her hand in his and squeezing it gently. He tried internet casino to ignore how good it felt to have her skin touching his. Even if it was just her hand. “Ready to go back to the party?”

She thought about that for a moment. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to go back now. “You know what? I don’t think that I honestly want to go back. I think I want to cool off and get away from all this.” She motioned towards the roar of the party and all the heat radiating off the fire. “Take me for a ride Jackson. I want some time to think, away from all this. Will you?”

He would have shoved glass under his fingernails if she’d asked at that point. Something in her eyes was different. He couldn’t quite place what it was. “Of course we can get out of here. Come on.”

On their way back from the pond they passed Nic and Ryan dancing so close that it should be illegal. Nic glanced up and smiled hesitantly at Brenna. Brenna gave her a quick thumbs up and turned to keep following Jackson into the house.

Nic grabbed her arm just as she was about to head up the steps and pulled her away from everyone and into a dark part of the yard. “Jackson told you?”

“Yeah, and before you ask, I’m not mad. Not really. Well, okay I am a little bit. About the lying part anyway. Please, don’t lie to me anymore Nic. I’m tired of people lying to me ‘for my own good’.”

“I can do that. It wasn’t my idea, just so you know. At the time I agreed because you were going through so much. What’s going on with Jackson? Is he leaving?”

“We both are. I don’t feel much like partying anymore. We’re going road tripping. I need to think about some stuff right now. You going to be okay here or do you want to come along?”

Nicola looked at her friend for a long moment, making Brenna wonder what was going on in her head. “No, I’m staying here with Ryan. I’m not drinking so I’m good to drive home. You two go.” She turned to go then paused, turning back around. “Hey Bren? Be careful okay?”

Confused, Brenna smiled and nodded her head. “I will. We will. You be careful too.”

Smiling broadly, Nicola waved and practically skipped back to Ryan, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him loudly on the lips. They both laughed and something that felt a little like jealousy stabbed at Brenna’s chest painfully.

“I guess you two are okay?” Jackson asked from behind her, his body relaxed as he leaned on the porch railing.

“Yeah, of course. I can’t be mad at her when she looks so happy.”

Jackson narrowed his eyes and studied his friend a little more closely. She didn’t look happy. She looked like something hurt inside. Maybe it would do her some good to get out of here for awhile. “You ready to go?”


“Well then, let’s roll.”

Brenna laughed, the sound throaty, lush. “You’re so corny.”

“Like you’d have me any other way,” he teased, flicking his finger gently over the tip of her nose.

No, Brenna thought to herself, I wouldn’t want you any other way.

It took both of them nearly ten minutes to get the top and doors off the Jeep, wanting it open to get as much air as possible, then another ten to get out of the maze of cars and trucks and onto the road. The minute they hit pavement, Jackson opened it up and they roared off onto the back roads, no place in particular in mind at the moment.

They rode in silence for awhile, both lost in their own thoughts. Brenna’s were starting to get depressing so she decided that it was time to find something good to listen to. Taking off her seat belt, she rose up and leaned over her seat to search the backseat for Jackson’s CD case. She didn’t notice how high her skirt rode up when she did that. Jackson did though. He forced himself to look away before she caught him looking.

“Jackson, I can’t find the CD case. I want to listen to the Fabulous Thunderbirds.”

Jackson groaned. “I hid it. You’re driving me nuts with that crap.”

“You bought it for me!”

“I didn’t think you were going to fall in love and marry the darn thing!”

Brenna turned back around and flounced down into her seat, crossing her arms and pouting prettily. “Please?”

His sigh was long suffering and loud. “Fine. It’s under my seat. I’ll pull over and get it-” His words were cut off on a strangled moan as Brenna reached down between his legs, her head lying on his right thigh and reached for the case. It took her too long to get it and before she was done, he’d had to swallow hard several times and think of every football player he’d ever known to keep from embarrassing them both.

“Got it!” she called out triumphantly, opening it as she settled back down into her seat and buckling her seat belt back in place. She took the silver disk out, loaded it into the CD player and turned it up. She ignored Jackson’s sigh and the rolling of his eyes.

She listened to her favorites then turned the volume back down to let the others play in the background. She knew that Jackson really didn’t hate the CD, it was just another thing he liked to tease her about. He called it stripper music. She was going to miss him so much. Things wouldn’t be the same when he was gone. She wouldn’t be the same when he was gone.