Chapter 16. Life in the Balance
Walking down the street, only wearing my cheer jacket to keep me from freezing. Every once in a while, I spotted cars driving pass me with their headlights super bright. Each time it happened, I kept hoping it was Bram, coming to pick me up. I had been walking for a long time, and I was ready to get off of these dark, unfamiliar streets.
To my disappointment the cars driving by were only random drivers getting to their destinations with no worries.
I thought the worst things. I kept thinking: Someone would kidnap me, strangle me, murder me and leave my body lying somewhere in the grass. I quickened my steps getting scared and paranoid.
I was very skeptical. Keeping my eyes watching behind me. Paying close attention to cars and license plates. Making sure no cars were circling around twice. When you see the same car twice it is a predator after you. (I was once told.)
Minutes of weariness and paranoia later, I made it to where stores, restaurants, and other places lit up the night. The strip of buildings smashed side by side, gave me less fear. There were crowds of people walking in and out of stores talking merrily to each other.
It was nice to see humans again. Being in the hyper state of fear, and darkness, was uncomfortable. It made me lose thought of the more common things in life.
What was Bram's issue? Why didn't he tell me, he wouldn't be able to take me home?
If this was Bram's idea of a joke, it wasn't funny! This was sick!
Right then, I passed the strip of buildings, people and lights. I was then turning a corner heading down a street, only lit by a few orange street lights.
The unsafe, feeling started to seep back into my nerves. I was not at ease in these dark places. I had enough trouble for one night. I have to get home. When I do that, I will find a way to deal with Bram.
`I can make it home.' `I can make it home.' `I can make it home'... I reassured myself, taking sharp breaths, fast walking through the street.
Walk. Walk. Walk. Don't stop for anything.
I went through that street in one piece. I wanted to wipe my brows but I had another street to get off of. This one was darker than the last.
I did my regular check to see if anyone was behind me. No cars had passed by, so I was on my own.
That's when I saw a man!
A man who wore a hat and some rugged looking clothes. Where he came from, I don't know.
I started to think maybe he had somewhere to be just like I did. I thought maybe I should ignore him, but I couldn't. I had to keep looking over my shoulder to make sure.
The man's footsteps quickened. He was behind me, getting closer.
I could hear every step he took. He began to get so close that I could see that he was smoking a cigarette.
I started to panic! I wanted to walk faster but I didn't want to give him an idea that I was on to him...
He could be a killer! He could have a gun! He could take advantage of me! That's all I was thinking, as the older man walked closer to me.
When he got closer to the back of me, I turned around this time to see him putting his hands in his blue coat pockets and began to rummage.
I tried ignoring him, and walking faster, but he was changing the speed of his steps too.
I tried changing the direction I walked, and he started to change his direction just to keep track of me.
That is exactly when I knew this was not good.
He headed straight for me. I wasn't able to lose him at all.
Before I knew it, the man was directly beside me. His cigarette in mouth and a long gray beard under his hat.
`Get away from this man!' Was all I knew to do.
He followed beside me. Giving me sly eyes. It was a sneaky murderous look.
Then he reached an arm out, "Hey!" stopping me with one hand on my shoulder.
"Y-y-yes." He could tell I was scared. Which was a bad sign. When people know you are scared, it gives them more power.
I watched his other hand still stuffed in his coat pocket, "Do you know where a lady named Amy lives?" he gave his sneaky eyes again. Then a smirk that made me feel like I was dead already.
Before I could answer, he started to pull something from his pocket.
"No!" I quickly answered, eyes watering in a panicking state. I twisted out of his grip and kept moving. I was hoping to lose him, or at least get to a place where people could see.
... Before I could run, his heavy hand grabbed me!
"Did I say you could go anywhere yet, little kid?" He angrily said, pressing his hand down on my collar.
"Let me go!" I warned him. Knowing if he didn't, nothing would happen.
"Don't go anywhere yet!"
What did he mean? I shrugged to get him off of me, but his slimy hand would not move. "What do you want? Get off of me!"
As he reached for the object in his pocket, his dry skin wrinkled with a deadly smile. "You will see what I want. You are coming with-"
There was a swerve, and then I heard tires streaking down the road. A Blinding flash of lights shined on both of us right where we stood.
The car distracted the old creep. I didn't know who it was but I silently thanked them for the distraction and turned my legs to run far away.
"Brice!" a voice yelled out at me. The man was running after me, until the voice came again, "Is that you?" The strange old creep looked back at the spot light of the car and ran into the woods.
I heard the car door slam behind the head lights. I could not see who was coming because their car light was so bright.
When he got closer, I saw no one other than...
"I have been looking everywhere for you." Kenton desperately stated, walking to me. By this time, I'm sure the old man was probably gone or watching us.
All I could say was, `Thank God for sending Kenton.' That ugly old man was crazy. There was no telling what he was about to do to me. I feel sorry for anyone who comes on this street alone. Who else would he try that trick on?
"What are you doing way out here?" Kenton came over to see if I was really okay.
"I was walking home." My breathing was heavy. I was halfway in shock, and halfway in tears.
"Don't ever walk home." Kenton sounded protective. "This is a bad street to be on. Especially at this hour."
"I didn't have a choice! I didn't see Bram after the game, and Levi... well you know what happened with us." I stood there stiff and still, hugging myself trying to re-warm my body. My cheer jacket wasn't giving me enough heat, now that I was feeling like I had no blood.
Kenton put a tender hand on my back. "Come on, we can talk in the car." He led me, looking around with curious intent.
"Are you okay, man?" He asked in concern when we got inside the car. I just nodded knowing in my head everything I believed was breaking to pieces. "You don't look too well. What is bothering you?"
I stared out the passenger's window never answering him. When he started driving out of the dark street he broke the quiet between us. "Don't ever walk by yourself again." he shook his head.
I took his words for value. I could have been killed. If Kenton would not have come, I didn't know what my fate would be.
"Listen, Brice." he brought up with reasonable care. "You can always ask me for a ride. I will never leave you stranded."
His words began to unravel the fear from me. I started to feel the charm working. It also started to warm my bones. The more he talked, it brought me to life. It made me feel like he had my back. I slowly began to open up to him about the old creep.
His cute face went into a fury. "Where is that pervert!" Kenton stopped his car. "Let's go back and find him! He is a dead man! I promise you that!"
"No Kenton! I want to go home. I don't ever want to see that maniac again." As much as I wanted that man to get what was coming to him, I didn't want to go there tonight.
"I don't care. That creep should be dead!" Kenton would not let it rest. "So that was the person that was behind you running?" Kenton twisted his keys in the ignition, putting his car in reverse. Looking behind him for a second and he hit the gas.
"Whoa. Kent no... I will deal with this another way." He wasn't hearing me. He was really trying to go back. "Kenton, stop!" my hand seized his. It was a reflex, something did without thinking.
I had his attention. He hit the brakes, staring at my hand. "Okay." He settled his temper. "Home you go." He tried to smile but what I told him about the man still disturbed him.
Through the ride I caught myself quivering from the fright of the whole situation. I could have died! I could have never seen Kent again! My mom, my little sister, Varsity cheerleading, all of those things would be nothing.
Kenton switched the topic to a lighter note. There was too much going on. He began talking about tonight's game. He would stop in-between our conversation and apologize about the near death experience. I told him it wasn't his fault but for some reason he felt like he was responsible.
Out of nowhere I got a text. When I pulled my phone from my pocket I saw it was from Bram:
What's up. You enjoy the game?
`Enjoy the game?' Really Bram? How could he send me something like that? I almost died tonight and the only person who cared was Kenton. Having the nerve to send a text to rub something in my face...Bad move Bram, really bad move.
At first I wasn't going to reply, but I angrily texted him back anyway:
I enjoyed the game. I enjoyed the game so much that I almost died walking home! J
I sarcastically added a smiley face. Bram played with my life today. I can forgive you for breaking my heart. I can forgive you for not speaking to me. I can forgive you for putting your hands on me, but... I can NOT forgive you for gambling with my life! Then he wants to send me a cute text message after leaving me at the stadium, in the dark, with no way home... No Sir.
"Who text you, your mom?" Kent looked over at me.
"It was Bram... no one important." Kenton laughed at what I said. I knew he agreed with me without even having to say so.
Kenton took one hand from the steering wheel to give me warm comforting rubs on the back. He sympathetically promised me, "You will be okay. You still have me. This just proves that you don't need him."
To be quite honest I did feel safe around Kenton. He saved me once again. This time he did it right.
"You know, now that I think about it," Kenton began to get cocky, "I saved you twice." He gave his light chuckle. His grapefruit colored lips curving with smiles.
"I know right." I gazed at him in a dream state almost. Dying to touch his silky long braided hair or to run my fingers over his hazelnut skin. He was looking sexy, and strong. It was the perfect time for a kiss.
"Does that make me your hero, or your guardian angel?"
Just when I was about to answer him, Bram started to call my phone. I hit ignore. I will let him know about his dire mistake later. As for now, I want this one-on-one time with Kenton.
He parked in front of my apartment building. His braided greased hair was drawn back in a long pony tail. Under the lights of the apartment complex Kenton's unique beautiful face, and all of his soft pretty well shaped features were visible.
There was a stare in his eyes that I had not seen before. It made me think something more was on his heart. Not knowing what else to do, I talked. "Thank you so much for finding me. I will repay you one day." I grabbed the handle of the car door to get out.
"Brice," he called stopping me from leaving too soon.
When I looked at him. He put a hand over his lovely charming face. "Oh nothing... nothing." he sighed.
"Oookay?" I confusedly said about to open the door.
"Wait, wait, hold on." He stopped me again. "I have something I want to tell you." His face sunk a little.
"Tell me." I could feel myself blushing.
"Um...uh...welll..." he definitely wanted to tell me something, but nothing was coming out. "Ok, ok... I think I..." he choked tight there.
"You think you what?" Mr. Cocky being speechless was a new thing for me.
"Nevermind. I'm sorry for wasting your time." He muttered low, laying his head on his steering wheel frustrated.
"Okay then, I will see you Monday. Maybe you can think of it then." I dismissed myself from his car. He waved me goodbye when I stepped out to walk to the apartment door.
I got to my house, raising my arm to knock. I will be so happy to see my evil little sister and my mom. Something I didn't think I would ever say.
I heard footsteps behind me. When I turned, I noticed Kenton came shuffling behind me.
"Before you go inside, can I talk to you in private?" he requested. "Somewhere no one can see or hear me." His words were slow and his head was drooping. It was unlike him.
"Sure." I then led him behind the apartment building, where no eyes could see and no ears could hear.
He glanced round to make sure no one was listening. When he felt secure he clanged his car keys around in his letterman. "Okay," His eyes were glossy looking. We made eye contact and he moved his eyes away from mine. "Here is what I wanted to tell you..." a sad expression slid on his face. Whatever he wanted to tell me was beating him up inside.
He started over. "I think this season..." he hesitated. "This season showed me a lot about you. Before this football stuff I didn't know who you were, but I am happy that we met." He stopped again. Building up for his next words. "I wanted to say, I...I slowly started developing..." he fell silent again. He grabbed his face in frustration looking at the deep purple sky overhead.
"Kent just spit it out, whatever it is." I wanted to know. My heart started to dream, and sing. If this was what I thought then I am in heaven. "I can handle it. I am ready to hear it."
He gazed at me for a long minute. "Dang you aren't making this easy." He told me, "I know you are ready to hear it, but I don't know if I am ready to say it. I wish it would just flow out like everything else but it won't."
"Can I guess what it is?" I tried.
"I don't know why it's so hard to say. It's in my head but it won't come out of my mouth." He coolly told me. "If you guessed it, it would not mean the same. I have to say this."
My heart and mind stuttered. Now, he has to say it! I can't wait!
He stepped back staring directly into my eyes. "I will tell you soon." He looked around again. "It's getting late anyway." He stretched his body, getting the exhaustion from the game out. He walked away, leaving with the information I needed so badly.
As I watched him get in his car I mentally bit my nails wanting to know what he wanted to say, and if it was what I wanted to hear.
The cocky football player. The guy who saved my life. My personal hero, had something to tell me but couldn't. Maybe one day he will bring himself to say it.
Something in my conscious told me, `Maybe he never will.' and at that single thought. My anxious fluttering heart sank. I left what he said as it was, and gave up on guessing.
Goodbye, number 27.
His car pulled out slowly. Suddenly he let down his window, "Brice," he yelled so loud I'm sure the neighborhood could hear him. After all he was in the middle of the street.
"Yes?" hope sprang up again. Was this my star moment?
"I saw how you have been checking out my hair." I could see his gleaming white smile from here. "You can touch it if you like."
My world lit up. It was like I was receiving an academy award. "Really?"
"Yeah... I wouldn't just tell you that." I heard how serious he was.
"Is that what you wanted to tell me?"
"No." he said without a pause. "That will come soon... I just ask that you wait for me."
"I think I can do that." my cheeks burned from blushing and smiling overbearingly.
"Later!" he yelled and his tires rolled down the street. Leaving behind a boy with a hunger and a hope of being something more with him.
It took me several minutes to pull myself together.
I didn't want to go in my house glowing from Kenton's charm. I know my mom would question me to no end. I need a good night's sleep after tonight. In the morning, I will feel totally better.
Before I could take two steps, there was an engine roaring down the street. I was just about to come from behind the apartment building when a car emitting intense light shined.
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