After the Game(9)

By: Abbi Glines



“I gave them a ride. It was storming and they looked to be out for a walk.”

“Oh yes, they walk to the park every day when I get off work. Riley stays with her grandmother until I can get home to take care of her. Bryony loves the outdoors, so Riley likes to get her out every day.”

Even though everything in me hadn’t believed Riley two years ago, right now I believed her mother. Riley did appear to be a good mom. And the little girl had loved her. She was taking care of her grandmother, too. The doubt was there now. What if we’d all been wrong?

“You take care, now. I’ve got to get home and start supper. It’s time for Riley to do her online schooling, so I’ll need to watch Bryony for her. Don’t forget to tell your mother I said hello,” she said with a wave, then went past me.

I didn’t move right away. My brain was going in several directions. More than that, though, there was a sick knot in my stomach. The person who had suffered hadn’t deserved to at all.

Finally I turned and headed for the checkout with my milk. I had a football game to concentrate on, but how could I? When Riley Young was taking online courses, raising her daughter, and caring for her grandmother while the town shunned her?

I needed to go talk to Riley. I had to clear my head and my conscience. Maybe she was ready to tell the truth. She’d changed, obviously. This new Riley might just tell me we were right. That she’d accused Rhett unfairly.

Pulling out my phone, I sent a text to Nash letting him know I needed to cancel tonight’s plans to watch game clips. We needed the whole team together anyway for it to do any good. I’d get them all together tomorrow night.

Then I scrolled through my contacts to see if Riley’s number was still there. It was. Chances were the number had changed, but I thought I’d give it a chance. I paid for the milk, then headed outside with the phone pressed to my ear.

The “number you are trying to reach is no longer in service” message came through like I’d expected, and I ended the call and put the phone back in my pocket. Only other option was to go by her grandmother’s. I’d do that after dinner.

Worst that could happen would be that she wouldn’t want to talk to me. But knowing Riley, I doubted it. Confrontation was obviously something she handled well. She’d taken on the whole town when she’d accused Rhett.

Words my mom had said when it all happened still rang in my head. It sure takes a lot of guts for a girl to accuse a guy of rape. Especially a Lawton. Don’t see why she’d tell that if it wasn’t the truth. Think about that before you jump to his defense.

I had chalked it up to my mother liking Lyla. But there was a truth to her words. They made sense. So if she was right—if Riley wasn’t lying—then what?

The guilt of that possibly being true almost kept me from going. Almost.

My need to know the truth outweighed my fear we could have all been wrong.

If I didn’t have the milk, I would go talk to her now. But it was time for Mom to cook dinner, and she needed milk. I’d have to wait.





Want to Take a Drive?





CHAPTER 7


RILEY

I had just tucked Bryony into bed when the doorbell rang. This was the only time of the day I got to take a break. I didn’t have to take care of Grandmamma, and my schoolwork was finished. I would have a few hours to myself before I went to sleep. So the doorbell ringing meant company, and I didn’t want anyone visiting.

Yes, that sounded selfish, because it was probably someone here to check on Grandmamma, but I was just being honest. I wanted peace and quiet. It was what helped me unwind.

“Riley, it’s for you,” my mother’s voice called out. That I hadn’t been expecting. I never got company. Ever.

“What?” I replied, thinking I had heard her wrong.

“You have a visitor,” she replied.

Okay, well, then maybe I had heard her correctly. Who in the world would visit me? I knew it wasn’t a Lawton, because if it were, my mother wouldn’t be so calm. They’d never get through the door. I was almost positive there would be yelling. I headed for the door, trying to guess who this could be, but no one came to mind. When I turned the corner and saw Brady Higgens standing in the living room, I froze. Why was Brady here?

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