Home > The Field Party #2 - Under the Lights(3)

The Field Party #2 - Under the Lights(3)
Author: Abbi Glines

My heart sped up as I tried to put the faint memory I had of a young boy’s voice to the deeper voice I was hearing behind me. Could it be Gunner? And was I ready to face him?

“You better speak up or I’m calling the police,” the guy warned.

I’d seen the headlights coming down the mile-long drive that led to the Lawtons’ house a few minutes ago. They had slowed, and I thought then that I might have to explain myself. I wasn’t sure who knew I was back here. Had my nonna told anyone yet? From the sound of his voice, I was thinking my presence was still a secret.

The door opened to the cottage and my nonna appeared. Our eyes met, and then she glanced over my head to the guy behind me. I saw her face soften before she smiled. “Thank you, Brady, for watching out for me, but Willa belongs here. She’s moved back to live with me for a while. You remember Willa. Y’all played together as kids.”

Brady Higgens. I wished I could remember his face more clearly. The only feeling that I did remember was the flutter in my stomach when he was near me. Slowly I turned around to see the kid from my youth who had played such an important part.

The soft glow from the porch light touched his face, and my breath caught a little. The beautiful boy I’d left behind was tall, muscular, and even more perfect than he’d been when we were eleven. His gaze was locked on mine, and I couldn’t seem to form words. I wanted to look away, but then I never wanted to stop looking at him either. It was completely confusing.

“Willa?” His voice was a husky sound that made me shiver.

I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak just yet. All those silly butterflies he’d caused as a kid were back and more intense.

A smile broke across his face as he took a step toward me. He looked happy, pleased, and something else. Something that I understood. Something that as much as I liked it, I knew I couldn’t act on it—he looked interested.

“Willa, come on inside, now.” Nonna’s voice was stern and held no room for argument. “Thank you again, Brady, for checking up on me. You get yourself home now so Coralee don’t worry about you.”

I tore my gaze off him and hurried up the steps, keeping my head down so I wouldn’t have to meet my nonna’s eyes. She had noticed that look in his eyes too. And she didn’t trust me. No one did.

If Brady only knew, he wouldn’t have looked at me that way.

“Anytime, Ms. Ames. Y’all have a good night,” he called out. I kept walking to the bedroom that belonged to me.

I didn’t want to hear the lecture to stay away from Brady that I knew was coming. When the front door clicked shut, I cringed and grabbed for my bedroom door.

“Not so fast.” Nonna’s voice stopped me, and I wanted to growl in frustration. I didn’t need her to tell me what I already knew. “Brady Higgens is a good boy, Willa. He’s turning into a fine young man. He is quarterback of the football team, and college scouts are already trying to recruit him. He’ll make this town proud. You’ve seen more than that boy has. You know more about the world than he does. He sees that you’ve turned into a beautiful young woman. That’s all he knows. I don’t intend on telling folks what happened with you. Ain’t their business. But until . . . until you heal from this—until you’re better—boys aren’t something you need to be spending your time on.”

It was hard to hear. Nonna had taken me in when no one else wanted me, but she didn’t trust me or believe me either. That hurt. So much so that my chest ached. All I could do was nod. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied before hurrying into my bedroom and closing the door to any more hurtful words that she might say. I just needed someone to ask me what had really happened and believe me when I told them.

Just like every night since the accident that changed my life . . . I didn’t get much sleep.

Registering for a new high school your senior year was intimidating. Nonna reassuring the principal and counselor that I would cause no trouble had only added to it. I was required to go to the counselor every Tuesday and Friday during my last-period class to discuss how I was feeling. I knew I should be thankful that was the only thing I had to do, but I dreaded it all the same.

Nonna had squeezed my arm and looked me firmly in the eyes while she told me to work hard and make her proud. If she only knew that was exactly what I intended to do. I’d lost too much at this point to lose her, too. I was going to earn her trust. I had to.

The first bell had already rung while I was meeting the counselor and Nonna was explaining my situation. Which meant I was going to have to walk into my first period of the day late. Everyone would stare at me. The teacher would stop talking, and he would also stare at me.

I glanced down at my schedule. Mr. Hawks was my US Government teacher, and I’d be facing him first. I walked down the empty hallway lined with lockers until I found room 203. I could hear who I assumed was Mr. Hawks talking through the door. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that I had faced things far scarier than this. I had lived through six months with girls who deserved to be in a correctional facility. That had been truly terrifying. This was just a classroom of kids who would never understand me. Who didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I made the best grades I could and stayed completely out of trouble.

My hand touched the cool metal of the door handle, and I twisted it before I could delay this any longer and entered the room. Just as I predicted, every eye swung toward me. I didn’t make eye contact though. I kept my gaze on the balding older man in the front of the room with a button-up shirt on that barely covered his belly.

“You must be Willa Ames,” he said with a smile that didn’t meet his eyes. “Please take a seat, Willa. We were just going over last week’s notes. There will be a test on them two days from now. I will expect you to ask a fellow classmate for a copy of their notes and prepare yourself. No time like the present to get caught up with the lessons. Just be careful whose notes you ask for. Not everyone in here is a passing student.” He finished that last bit by scanning the room as he looked over his half-moon glasses.

“Yes, sir,” I replied before turning to go to the only empty desk in the room. I didn’t look at anyone around me. I kept my gaze focused on that desk like it was a raft and I was on a sinking ship.



The Tree House Looks the Same


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