After the Game(6)

By: Abbi Glines

Fact was, Riley had a kid now and the little girl was cute. She appeared to be a good mom, but then I’d barely seen them together. She could be a terrible mom for all I knew.

The whole experience with Riley and Bryony stayed with me the rest of the evening. I didn’t tell anyone I’d given her a ride simply because I didn’t want to explain myself. I shouldn’t have to. I’d like to think any of my friends would have done the same. She’d had a baby and it was storming. But I wasn’t so sure. The hate they all had for her ran deep.

Although I had seen an ugly side to Rhett recently. He clearly wasn’t above being an ass, especially to Gunner. I wondered if Gunner could believe Riley now that he knows the kind of person Rhett really is.

The idea that it was possible Riley hadn’t been lying was there. But I just couldn’t bring myself to accept that Rhett was so twisted and sick he’d actually rape her and lie about it. He had his issues, but he wasn’t cruel. Not like that.

Shaking my head and wishing I could get all this out of it and think about something else, I headed for the attic stairs to escape to my bedroom, which was now up there.

My old bedroom door was open, and my cousin Maggie was sitting on the bed with a book in her hand. I paused and stopped at the door.

“Where’s West?”

She glanced up. “He’s spending the afternoon with his mom.”

He was good about that. Making sure his mother was okay and staying stable. After his father’s death, they had been through some rough patches.

“That’s good,” I said, still standing there.

Maggie folded the page and closed the book in her lap. “You need to talk about something, Brady?” She tilted her head and studied me like she already knew the answer to this.

Maybe I did need to talk.

I shrugged. “Not sure.”

She sighed and held up her book. “Might as well talk. You’ve interrupted my reading.”

I knew if anyone would keep their mouth shut, it was Maggie. She didn’t stir drama or participate in it. She also paid more attention to people than most, and I trusted her opinion.

I walked into the room and sat across from her in the chair that was placed in the corner.

“I gave Riley Young a ride home in the storm. She had a kid with her. A little girl not much older than a baby, really.” There. I had admitted it.

Maggie stared at me a moment and said nothing. “Is that it? You gave a girl a ride and you feel the need to open up about it?”

I thought Maggie had heard the story of Riley Young already. “Did you miss the part where I said Riley Young? As in the girl who accused Rhett of rape and almost lost him his scholarship?”

“I know who Riley Young is. Y’all have bashed her enough. I’m aware of the story. But she had a small child with her, there was a storm, and she was out in it with the child. I would think anyone would offer her a ride. If you hadn’t, then you should feel bad. But you did, so I’m not getting what this whole conversation is about.”

Sighing, I leaned back in the chair and stared out the window a moment. How could I explain this to Maggie? She didn’t jump on the team of hating anyone. She was patient and forgiving.

“The little girl called Riley Momma,” I said, hoping to get more of a response from her.

Maggie’s eyes widened. “Oh, so she has come back with a baby. Could it be Rhett’s?”

Finally she was getting it. “That’s what has me thinking. She lied on Rhett to get money out of him when she found out she was pregnant. That is all that makes sense. And when Gunner finds out about this, his life is going to get even more complicated. He has enough on him as it is.”

The frown on Maggie’s face looked firmly directed at me. As if I had done something wrong. “Or Riley could have been telling the truth. From the little I saw of Rhett Lawton, I don’t rank him high up there in moral standards. Why are you all so sure she lied?”

The same exact thing that had been plaguing me came so easily out of her mouth. But then, she wasn’t talking about a guy who had been like an older brother to her. She didn’t know Rhett. Not like I did.

“Rhett was a talented athlete. His family was the wealthiest in town. He was powerful, and the town made him feel that way. Is it so hard to believe he could take something that wasn’t his? If he was everything all of you claim, then why did Riley try and pin it, as you say, on Rhett? Wouldn’t she have known that it wasn’t going to end well if she did? If it had been me I would have been terrified to lie on Rhett Lawton. Just seems she took a very scary route to make things easier on herself.”

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