After the Game(7)

By: Abbi Glines



Everything she said made sense. All of it. But I couldn’t just believe Riley or reach out to her. She was still the enemy. But what if she was innocent?

I stood up. “It’s not that easy,” was all I could say.

Maggie shrugged. “No, it’s not. Especially for Riley.”





Have You Seen Thomas?





CHAPTER 5


RILEY

No Lawton had shown up at my door to demand I leave town. That was a good sign. It was possible Brady was being the good guy that he liked to wear as his label and keeping his mouth shut. The last thing I wanted was a Lawton to show up and demand to see Bryony.

I wish I’d never told anyone the truth. If I had just kept quiet about the father and left town quietly, then this wouldn’t be a problem. Bryony never needed to know who her father was. I dreaded the day she’d ask me about him, because I knew it was coming. When she started school and realized the other kids had two parents, she was going to want to know.

Right now she had my dad, and her pops was good enough. She wasn’t lacking for attention and love. I was thankful for my parents and their support through all of this. Not once did they question my story. When everyone else had called me a liar, I had feared that they might too. But they hadn’t.

Instead, they quit their jobs, found work far away from here, and moved us out of this town. All for me. I’d never forget that sacrifice. Because of them I had never felt alone through the process. Many girls weren’t as lucky. I had met several at the teen pregnancy support group I went to once a week. I’d fought the idea at first when my mother brought home the pamphlet. But one day I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.

Those meetings gave me the courage to become a mother. They helped me realize I wasn’t the only girl out there in this situation. They saved me in ways my parents couldn’t. One day I intended to start my own facility for teen moms.

“Momma, samich.” Bryony was tugging on my jeans asking for her favorite snack. Two pieces of toast with ketchup in the middle, cut up into four small squares, with no crust.

I bent down and pulled her close to me in a tight hug. “I love you,” I told her.

“Okay,” was her reply, followed by a wet kiss to my cheek.

I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I didn’t want to. The pain that Rhett put my family and me through was all worth it for this. My daughter. I’d live through it all again if I could have this.

“Where is Thomas?” Grandmamma asked, walking into the living room with a confused frown on her face. Thomas was the cat she had when I was a little girl, and he had passed away from cancer when I was nine.

“Around here somewhere,” I replied. There was no use telling her he was dead. It would upset her, and she’d just start asking for him again in thirty minutes.

“I’m going to fix Bryony a snack. Come to the kitchen with us and I’ll slice you up a pear with some cottage cheese.”

She paused, still searching the room with her eyes for Thomas. “Do I like that?” she asked me.

Pears and cottage cheese had been her favorite snack for as long as I could remember. “You love it.”

She nodded then sighed with a sag to her shoulders. She would start looking for Thomas again soon. But for now it seemed like she might be letting it go.

“Okay,” she replied, and I took Bryony’s hand and led them both toward the kitchen.

Mom was taking a nap. When Bryony and I got home from the park, she often went directly to bed for an hour. She needed it with her work schedule. Dad would get home from work at six, and she liked to be cooking dinner by the time he walked in the house.

“Let’s turn on the television and see if one of your afternoon shows is on,” I told Grandmamma. Mom had left Grandmamma’s television in the kitchen. She said we needed to keep things as they were to avoid confusion. Mom had always been against having TVs in the house, but she kept this one around for Grandmamma.

“Okay,” she agreed, still frowning.

Coming back here had been scary. My only other option had been to raise Bryony alone. I wasn’t ready for that. Not yet. I was still homeschooling on the Internet to get through high school. I wanted to give Bryony a good life. One where I had a real job and could support us.

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