After the Game(2)

By: Abbi Glines



Instead of reminding her of all this, though, I had found just going along with it was easier. If I told her Sandra was dead or that Miller’s was closed, she’d go into a fit of hysteria. That was what she knew and remembered today. So I ignored her comment and cleaned up the floor before getting a pot of oats on the stove cooking properly, then disposed of the burned toast out the back door.

“Do you know where I put Lyla’s applesauce? She needs to eat some this morning. I made it fresh yesterday from the apples I got at Miller’s.”

Lyla was my mother. That was another thing that Grandmamma confused. She often thought Bryony was my mother when she was a baby. Again lost in the past.

“I’ll get her some applesauce. You just sit there and relax. I’ll get you some juice. Watch the pretty birds outside. They’re eating the birdseed we put out yesterday.” That got her attention, and she began watching out the large bay window for the birds.

Mom only worked until noon today at the hospital. I would be able to take Bryony out for a walk and to the park after lunch. I needed to get them fed and start the morning chores so we would have plenty of time later to go play. The sun was shining and the warm days were behind us. The cool autumn air was perfect for being outside. And Bryony loved to pick up the different-colored leaves on the ground. She called them her “cowection.”





Don’t Let Your Good-Guy Complex Make You Crack





CHAPTER 2


BRADY

Week two of life without Ivy, and the drama was still going strong. I had thought finally cutting her free would make both of us happier, especially me. But Ivy crying in the halls and leaving me sad texts about being lost without me wasn’t easier. I didn’t like knowing I’d hurt her. But I couldn’t help it. It was either end it or continue letting her pretend we were something we weren’t.

Truth was, if I had really loved her I wouldn’t have wanted another girl. I may not have gotten the other girl, but I’d wanted her. That right there was me not treating Ivy right. Breaking up with her had been the fair thing to do. But to watch her carry on, you’d think otherwise.

“Be strong. Don’t let your good-guy complex make you crack,” West Ashby said as he walked up beside me in the hallway. He was one of my best friends. Possibly my only best friend. Since I may have been in love with my other best friend’s girlfriend at some point. I wasn’t sure about that, really.

“She’s not taking this well,” I replied, refusing to look toward Ivy and her group of friends, who were all watching me. I could feel every eye on me like hot daggers. I wasn’t the guy who got angry glares. That was the sort of thing West or Gunner would get. Not me. I was the good guy.

“It was time. You’d suffered long enough for the sake of being nice. Sometimes you need to learn to say fuck this and move on.”

“I don’t want your reputation,” I said, cutting my eyes at him.

He chuckled as if that was amusing. “My reputation is that of a man in love. All my previous transgressions have been washed away.”

He was right. My cousin Maggie had changed him. He no longer used girls and tossed them away. Seeing him with Maggie made me want that too. A girl who I wanted to be near. A girl who made me smile just at the sight of her. A girl like Willa, who was now with Gunner, and I didn’t stand a chance. Nor would I even try because they were happy together. I had never really seen Gunner happy before. Willa seemed to make him that way.

“Ivy isn’t it, you know? She deserves to be that girl for some guy. I’m just not that guy. Getting her to see that, however, seems impossible.”

“Ivy is the purest case of clingy there is,” West said, then slapped me on the back. “This is my stop. Be tough. She’ll move on eventually.”

I felt like that was my fault too. The way people looked at Ivy as a desperate girl unable to let go. I had let her hang on so long she had become just that, and it was all on me. If I had been fair months ago, this wouldn’t be an issue. But I had made the situation worse by letting her still believe there was an us.

Gunner’s laughter caught my attention, and I turned to see him with his arm around Willa’s shoulder, smiling down at her like she was his only source of sunshine. I should be happy for them. But I wasn’t. I wanted that. I had thought Willa would be that for me. Again, though, my fault. I hadn’t really made a move with Willa and had let go of Ivy. Had I expected Willa to just hang around while I figured out what to do with my girlfriend? Apparently. I was a dumbass.

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