Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 92
I realize I’m explaining myself to her as if I’m in trouble. When she’s the one seeming shady all of a sudden.
“Do you know something I don’t?” I suddenly ask her.
“No. I mean. Maybe. Chelsea, just hurry to practice so we can concentrate on the cheerleading routine, and then we can talk about all of this afterwards.”
“What is it?” I demand, ignoring her suggestion. Or maybe it was a command. “What do you know?”
She sighs, audibly.
“Look, Chelsea, please don’t be mad at me.”
She pauses. I wait.
“That girl you saw Wesley with was his math tutor.”
“His math tutor?”
What the fuck.
She didn’t look like any math tutor I’d ever seen.
“I… hired her,” Taylor says.
Nothing is making any sense. Maybe I’m still in my meditative pose under the tree, dreaming all of this up while I sleep.
“I just thought that I should step in and put this whole matter to rest once and for all. I was trying to be helpful, but I realize now that it might not have been the best idea to…”
“To interfere?” I ask, and the question comes out more explosively than I’d meant it to.
“I mean, I just wanted to…”
“Help,” I fill in. “You said that already. And you’re right. It wasn’t your place to step in, to meddle in my business without even telling me. Somehow your help hasn’t ended up being very helpful. It’s just done more harm than good actually.”
My tone is full of anger but my eyes are welling up with tears. The memory of my dad asking us if we knew any math tutors— and Taylor answering that she might— floods through my brain so strongly that it is not a thought I can put on a leaf and let float by.
I’d thought that Taylor had said she’d look for math tutors just as a way of trying to steer my dad off the trail of Wesley and me. But she’d obviously gotten the idea then and there to hire some girl to tutor Wesley.
She’d wanted me to find out— to see him with her— and get him out of my head for good. But she hadn’t even consulted me.
“I know Chelsea. But please just hear me out,” she pleads.
“I don’t want to hear you out,” I tell her. “I need a break.”
I hear Wesley’s voice in my head telling me that Taylor is like a mother figure to me. He was right, and not in a good way. I need to break away from her and do my own thing for a while. Make my own decisions. She can’t replace my mother, and my mother never would have done anything like this.
“A break from what?” Taylor asks. “From us ?”
The way she says “us” grates on my already strained emotions. Maybe Taylor thinks she had good intentions. To rip off the Band-Aid and help me move on more quickly. But maybe, whether she knows it or not, she’s happy that I have to move on from Wesley. She was never a fan of me finally having a boyfriend.
Not that he was my boyfriend .
But she was probably jealous that he took time away from her. So she’s happy it didn’t work out and wants to hurry me back along to just concentrating on “us,” on her and me and our friendship, without any guy to steal my heart and get in the way.
He didn’t steal my heart.
But I don’t even want to explain it to her. I don’t want to fight. I just want some alone time.
“A break from everything,” I finally answer her. “I’m tired.”
“You’re not going to come to practice?” she asks. “Everyone’s waiting on you…”
“Well, they’ll just have to make do without me. Practice the spirit cheers for the upcoming game. Or tell everyone to take a rest. It’s okay to do once in awhile, even intentionally.”
“Chelsea, I’m worried about you…”
“Well don’t be. I’m just fine.”
Even though I’ve realized some hard truths about my best friend. And even though I’ve lost the guy I’m really into.
I’m not really into him .
I’m fine. I just need more sleep. And then I can figure out how to make decisions on my own, without Taylor. Starting with how to move on from Wesley for good.
Chapter 44 – Wesley
“Blah blah blah blah, Chelsea’s birthday,” announces Coach Thompson, and I look up and say, “Huh?”
I’ve barely been able to pay attention to anything lately. All I think about is how to get Chelsea back.
We’re in the locker room for a wrap-up talk after football practice and the coach’s words are mostly a blur to me, like everything else these days. But I certainly heard her name, which snapped me out of my mental slumber.
“Yes, Mr. Reynolds,” Coach Thompson says, as if calling on a kindergartner. “Do you have a question?”
“I just, um, missed what you said,” I tell him. “Sorry. Can you repeat?”
“I said that next weekend is my daughter’s birthday and I’m taking her on a father- daughter fishing trip, so don’t bug me. I hope all of you heard it this time, because I mean it,” he says, looking around at everyone. “Don’t bother me.”
I hadn’t known that Chelsea’s birthday was coming up.
This is the perfect time to do what I’ve been thinking of doing for a long time now: something drastic to win her heart once again. I know I had it before and now I just have to get it back.
Even if it makes me look like a fool, I need to declare my love for her. I know it could cost me my football career, but I don’t even care anymore. All I care about is Chelsea.
As we walk out of the locker room, I tell Christian, “Wish me luck, Dude. I’m about to make the pass of my life.”
“What are you talking about?” he asks.
“Chelsea. I’m going after her.”
“You’re definitely crazy,” he says. “Haven’t you learned anything?”
“I’m not good at learning lessons,” I tell him. “Aren’t you going to wish me luck?”
He shrugs, shakes his head, and then says, “Whatever, Man. Good luck. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Unfortunately I’ve never been one to heed warnings, either,” I tell him.
He saunters off and once again I’m left wondering what’s up his ass. I just don’t get the guy. I guess Coach is right that he’s jealous. If I get Chelsea back, I’ll just rub it in to fuck with him since he’s obviously been fucking with me.
As I head to my car, I send a text message to Taylor, hoping she’s as desperate to get back into Chelsea’s good graces as I am. Desperate enough to work with me instead of against me.
I think you and I could help each other out.
Chapter 45 – Chelsea
When I get out of class the next day, I’m feeling much better. My dad had left me a nice card and roses that morning, instructing me to meet him at the lake house later tonight because we need father- daughter bonding time over my birthday weekend.
At least with everything else going on in my life, I always have my dad.
But as I round the corner to head to my car, I see Christian Lewis waiting for me.
“Chelsea,” he says, with a strange grin on his face.
“Christian. How you doing?”
I’m surprised that he wants to talk to me, but I figure why not hear what he has to say. I know it won’t be good but I’m ready to get Wesley out of my system forever.
Leave it to Christian to come to deliver the final blow to any relationship I thought Wesley and I might have.
“I know you like to leave notes in your lover boy’s locker,” he says, grinning that awful grin still.
“So?” I shrug.
Who cares? Is this the best he’s got?
“But do you know what else is in his locker?”
Now I glare at him.
“Follow me and I’ll show you.”
“Fine,” I spit back.
Let’s get this ov
As soon as we get to the locker room, Christian triumphantly marches to Wesley’s locker. He slips a key in the lock and then opens up the locker door with gusto, as if he’s a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
There are clear bags full of drugs. I’m no expert, but it looks like some weed and some pills and some coke or maybe heroin— little baggies full of white powder.
“I’m sure that Daddy Dearest will be interested in knowing what Wesley has been doing. Both with his daughter and with these drugs.”
My mouth is still agape, and I’m still horrified. But something doesn’t seem right.
I think about Wesley’s strong hands on my shoulders, giving me a back massage. And then the openness and vulnerability that he shared with me. Suddenly, even though things don’t make total sense, all I want is to believe in him. To be with him.
“Why do you care so much about what Wesley’s doing?” I ask Christian.
His mouth turns into an ugly sneer as he squints at me before he answers.
“I just like to keep my teammates safe. I care about what happens at this school.”
“That’s funny,” I tell him. “Because I’ve never known you to care about anyone but yourself.”
I walk out of the locker room, leaving a flabbergasted Christian before he can stomp out after me.
I decide to contact Wesley and see if he wants to try to really give this this— us — a go. But that’ll have to wait until next week. Because there’s another man who’s already claimed my attention this weekend. And I have a lot of explaining to do to him.
I head to my car, which is mostly packed for the weekend trip. I have to go home and pack a bit more before heading out, but I can’t wait to get the hell out of here. It will be refreshing to spend time at the lake house after how these past few weeks have gone.
I send my dad a text message before starting my car.
Dad- I’m leaving early for the cabin. See you when you get there, and let’s talk. If you hear anything about Wesley allegedly selling drugs, please hold off judgment until then. Love you. Chelsea.
Hopefully if I tell him that I dated Wesley and he’s a nice guy and that I think Christian is setting him up, he’ll believe me. I know I risk my dad’s wrath but at this point I’m sick of hiding the truth and I don’t want Wesley to get in trouble.
Chapter 46 – Chelsea
As usual, it takes me longer to finish packing than I’d expected. I’m not really getting much more of an early start than when my dad will probably leave, after his practice gets out. But at least I’m finally on my way.
On my drive up to the cabin, I have a gut feeling that this weekend is it. It’s when my dad is going to tell me he’s going to propose to Taylor’s mom. But I’m honestly going to try my best to be happy for him. At least someone I know is happy. And Wesley was right— it’s always good when one’s parents are happy, as opposed to the alternative.
When I get to the cabin, I park in front and get out of my car. I swear I hear whistling coming from the back of the cabin. That’s odd, because the place is deserted. No one has been here since Taylor and Wesley and I were, after the party.
Then as I get closer to the sound, I realize it’s the same tune that Dad always whistles. And it dawns on me. Dad probably left for the cabin once he received my text.
It’s rare of him to skip practice, but the assistant coaches can handle it and he was probably ready to get an early start on the weekend once he found out that I wanted to. And it doesn’t take him nearly as long as it takes me to pack and get on the road.
I hadn’t gotten a response text from him letting me know that he had left early too, but his reception is always spotty so far out here in the woods, as is mine on the long drive up here.
He probably parked in the back, near his small shed with the fishing equipment. Leave it to Dad to want to get a head start on getting things ready before I arrived.
He probably wants to surprise me by having it all set up by the time I get here, so we can fish now before the sun goes down instead of having to wait until the morning to start. That explains the lack of a text as well.
I head down the slight hill to the back of the cabin and freeze.
Because it’s not my dad who’s whistling.
It’s Christian Lewis.
I scream without meaning to, and he turns around calmly, since he was clearly expecting me.
“Lovely to see you again, Chelsea,” he says.
His light gray eyes pierce into mine, resembling a predator stalking its prey.
I try to run back to my car, but it’s like one of those bad dreams where everything goes in slow motion just when everything should be speeding up instead. My legs feel like lead. And I’m no match for a running back.
He quickly catches up to me and grabs my wrists, holding them behind my back.
I scream some more, although the closest cabin is half a mile away and I doubt anyone is around to hear me. He pulls tape out of his pocket— he’s obviously well prepared to do whatever it is he plans to do to me— and puts it over my mouth. I struggle to escape as he does it, but he pushes me down onto a chair and ties my wrists behind it.
“Don’t think you can escape,” he says. “There’s no way out.”
I’m tied to the same chair I was sitting in while Wesley and I prepared the fish for cooking.
That memory flashes before my eyes, as does my entire life. I can’t believe that just a short while ago, everything was great and I was falling in love with Wesley Reynolds.
Yes, it’s true. I was falling in love.
I am in love.
Only now when it appears that my life might be ending do I have the honesty to admit my feelings to myself. And it’s too late. I’ll never get to admit them to Wesley.
Chapter 47 – Wesley
I can’t believe I’ve been called into Coach Thompson’s office again.
Last time this happened, it wasn’t good. I’m hoping he might just want to call me out for being in fantasy land during practice. There can’t possibly be any more bad news, since I’ve been studying my ass off and walking the straight and narrow.
Taylor had found me a new tutor after the one she’d set up to test me with obviously hadn’t worked out. She’d told me she was sorry for not believing me but that she was glad I’d passed her test because a big part of her had always thought that Chelsea and I made a great couple.
But by then it was too late, as Chelsea was fed up with both of us. Hopefully our plan to win Chelsea back will work.
I can’t get with Chelsea until I convince her I’m not the monster she thinks I am. Which I have a plan for. It just takes time, and patience. And not being hassled any further by her father.
In the meantime, I’ve been studying my ass off and not missing a minute of class.
“Come on in,” Coach Thompson says, as soon as I knock on his office door.
“Hi Coach,” I say, rather nervously, sitting back down in what I’ve come to consider the “hot seat” on the other side of his desk
“Wesley. Thanks for coming in.”
Today he looks all business, but also kind of friendly— not menacing like he did the last time I was here.
“No problem, Coach. What’s up?”
“Well. A couple things. I got the result of your algebra retest and you did very well.”
I can’t help but exhale with relief. I was pretty sure I’d done well on it, but that’s what I’d thought the last time too. And, fuck, had I been wrong about that.
“Guess your new tutor is working out better for you than studying with Christian, huh?” Coach asks.
“Sure seems that way.”
“About that. It appears we have a problem on our hands.”
I look up at him, trying to decipher how serious this problem is. From the look on his face it’s a pretty big one.
“What is it, Coach?”
“I received an anonymous tip th
“What?” I practically spring up out of my chair. “Coach. That’s ridiculous. I did no such thing. I can explain about the former charge on my record…”
“I know,” Coach says, the creases in his forehead becoming even more prominent. “And there’s no need to explain.”
I look at him, dumbfounded.
“My daughter vouched for you. And while I’m not entirely pleased with why or how that may have come to pass, that’s good enough for me.”
“Chelsea… did what?”
I’m still confused.
“How did Chelsea even know about these allegations?” I ask, incredulous.
“I don’t know,” Coach Thompson responds, scratching his head. “I guess word gets around fast. And I’m sure that Christian Lewis is behind all of this.”
I feel like such an idiot. I knew that Christian had been acting strangely but I’d just chalked it up to good old fashioned jealousy.
“Do you really think he’s capable of trying to sabotage me to this extent?”
Coach Thompson shrugs.
“Don’t know. But who else could it be? Seems to me he’s the only one who has shown any inclination or motivation to hurt you, and who knows how far he could take it?”
He scratches his chin before continuing.
“I’ve seen a dark side of him this season that I have to admit scares me. I don’t know what he’s capable of. But right now my main concern is figuring out what to do about this accusation.”
“Just ignore it?” I suggest. “Maybe once he figures out that nothing’s being done, he’ll escalate it and then we’ll have proof that it’s him behind it.”
“I thought about that,” Coach Thompson admits. “But the next logical step would be for him to go to the administration. And if the administration hears the allegations and finds out that I knew about them, they’re going to wonder why I didn’t fill them in. And there goes our agreement. They won’t let me let you play if I don’t stay on the up and up myself.”
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