I could just feel his eyes watching me, even though my own eyes were trained on the brick building in front of us. I sat in the passenger’s seat of Brent’s unmoving Grand Am with my knees pulled up to my chest in a pathetic attempt to hold onto something since my head was spinning. The only sound between us was his steady breathing and my gasping, unstable whimpers. He was an unmoving statue in the driver’s seat; the only indication he was in fact real was his hands clenching around the gray steering wheel to the point where his knuckles were slowly turning a snowy color. Well, that and the glances he kept shooting my way.

“We should be in class, Brent,” I murmured, cautiously sneaking a peek at him.

His face was a blank mask, which I couldn’t seem to penetrate. I hated how he could know my exact mood with one eye closed, but I could never read him. As my voice echoed in the air, he turned to face me. In response, I downcast my eyes, too embarrassed to meet his gaze. I thought the silence would take over again, but Brent's clear voice cut through it.

“Ry, something’s going on with you.” I opened my mouth to protest, the words already planned out in my head, but he held up a hand. “Don’t you dare tell me you’re fine. People who are fine don’t break down in the high school bathrooms.”

I bit down on my lip, resting my chin against my knees as I tried to take a few steadying breaths. I had no tears left to cry, but I could still feel the remnants of the last fit, warm against my cheeks. I could feel my nose transforming into a bright red hue as all the different emotions coursed through me. I loathed crying, let alone crying in front of people. I hated the weakness I thought it portrayed, I hated the sounds that escaped my quivering lips, I hated the salty taste of the tears, and I hated how ugly it made me feel.

Tearless sobs choked in my throat, and I could feel my whole body begin to shake again. I couldn't handle all of this right now; I shouldn't have gone to school at all. I felt Brent’s hand grabbing my own, warming my skin despite the early November chill. I inhaled deeply through my nose and slowly tilted my face up so that my eyes connected with his. His lips curled into a soft, encouraging smile, and I let the air gush out of my mouth. My throat felt dry and scratchy as I swallowed, trying to think of anything I could say to explain the situation when I could barely understand or accept it myself.

“You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to. I just want you to know, I’m here for you, Ry. No matter what happens, okay?”

“I wanna tell you,” I said, my voice grainy to my own ears. The words were true, though. The way he hadn't forced me to say anything just made me feel all the more guilty for not telling him as soon as I found out last night, or at least once I regained some sort of composure.

Brent nodded, stroking the back of my hand with his thumb. I couldn't bring myself to look at him just yet; instead I stared right past him, out the window at nothing as I gathered my thoughts. He didn’t say a word, didn’t pressure or question me. He just held my hand and waited. I loved him for it. It gave me the strength to say the words out loud; I knew once I did it would be real, and things would never be the same.

“Mom and Dad called us to a ‘family meeting’ last night. It was the main reason they wanted Aven home,” I started quietly while watching the falling leaves scatter around the empty campus. “I guess Mom hadn’t been feeling well, because she went to the doctor’s office. I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed; I feel so stupid…

“We sat in the living room, and no one said a thing for a long time. Then, once they did, I really wished they hadn’t. They sat there, looked us in the eyes, and told us she has cancer! They brushed off any questions I asked, but Brent, she’s dying, I know it! I can barely bring myself to look at her, because I know I’ll start bawling or wonder how much longer she’ll be there. This shouldn’t be happening to her, she’s too good a person; I don’t wanna lose her!”

I could hear the wavering and hysteria in my voice, and I know he could too. Brent gave my hand a squeeze before leaning over the center console. His arms enveloped me, holding me as close as physically possible in the tiny car. Even more tears managed to find their way to my eyes, and for the second time within an hour, I found herself weeping into Brent’s shoulder. He didn’t say anything, which I was actually thankful for. I was sick of people lying and telling me things were going to be okay. Nothing about this situation was okay.

Once my cries stifled into sniffles, Brent released me, his hands fumbling with the keys. The roar of the engine reverberated through the air, and I looked at him curiously, sweeping a thin, shaking finger beneath my eyes to catch the tears. He said nothing as he skillfully backed out of the parking space. I had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask any questions as the school parking lot became just a tiny blur behind us.

Once we were a safe distance away, Brent glanced over at me for a quick moment. I was leaning against my seat belt as I switched absentmindedly through radio stations. Strands of misplaced hair brushed against my cheeks, which probably still had spots of ebony smudged against them from my makeup. My nose had finally stopped running, and my mind was in a million different places. I felt him looking and turned to him, my face contorting as my lips formed the question.

“Where are you taking me?” I asked softly, my voice still a bit rough, but getting better. Brent smirked, turning onto the freeway.

“Away,” he shrugged, and my eyes hardened into a faux-glare. He knew I hated vague answers, even though I handed them out more than anyone else I knew. Surprises were right up there on the list as well.

“This is insane you know. We’re gonna get in trouble. We should be in class!” I rambled, leaning back against my chair once I was satisfied with the music. My mind ran free with different situations and possible consequences for skipping class. If I was good at being vague, I was a professional at worrying.

Brent chuckled as I huffed, crossing my arms at him. He didn't even look, just watched the road with a very amused expression. At least one of us was getting a kick out of this.

“Ry, you’ve been following the books since you were born. You of all people deserve a chance to clear your head, and just be a kid,” he argued, giving me a pointed glance.

“I don’t always follow the rules,” I protested feebly, slouching against the seat. Brent laughed, shaking his head as he turned onto the exit.

“Ry, have you ever pretended to be sick to miss school?”

“This is ridiculous…”

“Just answer the question.”


“Have you ever snuck out past curfew?”


“Have you ever handed in an assignment late?”

“No. What does this have to do with anything, anyway?” I snapped, raising my eyebrows expectantly. I could feel the blush spreading across my cheeks. I knew I was the definition of a goody-two-shoes, but that didn't mean I had to admit it. It was just imbedded into me, just as much as my grey eyes or so-pale-it's-glowing skin.

My expression only transformed from irritated into more annoyed once I saw Brent’s cocky grin.

“I’m just trying to show you that you deserve to have some fun. Besides, breaking the rules is what teenagers are supposed to do.”

He unclasped his seat belt and started to open the car door, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. I watched him, suddenly aware the car hadn’t moved for a good minute and we had indeed parked. I blinked a few times before common sense kicked in.

“Wait, where are we?” I called, struggling to unfasten my own seat belt. Brent turned again to me, cobalt eyes glimmering as he rested his hands against the door frame and leaned in.

“Just a place. Why don’t you see for yourself?” he suggested.

The echo of the car door shutting rang through my head for a few moments before I could escape the grips of the safety restraint. As I scrambled out of the car, the quietness hit me like a wave. My eyes fell upon Brent, who was sprawled out on the hood, elbows propping him up. He moved over when he saw me coming, and I didn't hesitate as I hopped up to join him.

I rested against the windshield and finally got a chance to glance around for the first time. We were on a ledge overlooking nearly all of Roseno, and from far away it looked quiet and sorta beautiful. I just took everything in from the deep colors of the leaves to the warm metal against my back. Even though the sunshine bounced off my exposed skin, the crisp fall air stung at my cheeks. I didn't mind though, it was a good sting. I l warily eyed the worn wooden fence about a foot away from the drop and couldn't help but notice it was a long way down.

“Here,” Brent murmured, snapping me out of the daze.

I looked only to see him shrugging off the white and red letter jacket. My eyes followed the curve of the word 'basketball' across the back of it lazily, and he held it out to me. I blinked a few times before realizing my whole body was trembling from the cold and he wanted me to take it. As always, I had picked a lovely day to forget my sweater.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, slipping my arms into the too-long sleeves. I managed to push them up and leaned back against the windshield.

Silence drifted over us again and before long I saw Brent rummaging through his bag. I cocked an eyebrow but remained silent as he pursed his lips in determination. When he finally turned to face me again, a triumphant beam plastered on his face. My eyes slowly traveled to his hands, which held two king-sized candy bars. I gracefully accepted the one he offered to me; I mean, chocolate does help everything. I thanked him softly as I picked at the metallic wrapping.

“What else do you have in there?” I joked, nibbling at the corner of the chocolate. Brent broke off a piece of his, chewing it as he seriously considered her question.

“Well, at the moment, a half written chemistry paper, a pen cap, my calculator, and that paper football Nick flicked at my head in Latin yesterday. The one you tried to confiscate,” he teased. I responded with an exaggerated eye-roll.

“You were distracting me. I needed to get those review questions,” I accused, taking another bite.

“See, Ry! This is what I meant when I said you need to relax,” Brent retorted. I gasped, pushing his shoulder gently. He watched me incredulously before breaking into a grin.

“I’m sorry, was that supposed to do anything? I think the wind could’ve hurt worse than that,” he snorted. I crinkled her nose, hitting him slightly harder this time. He didn't even flinch.

“You’re such a jerk,” I grumbled, trying to hide the way my mouth was twitching upward with my remaining chocolate.

“At least I’m not a nerd,” Brent mocked.



“You’re such an ass sometimes,” I groaned, flipping onto my back and watching the wispy clouds. Brent followed suit soon after, and I waited until his silent chuckles stopped before speaking.

“Hey Brent?”

“Yeah,” he asked, tilting his head toward me.

“Thank you.” Brent smiled, finding my fingers with his own and giving them a quick, reassuring squeeze.

“You’re welcome. I told you, I’m not going anywhere.”

I nodded, turning back to the endless sky. I didn't want to worry or question that vow, so I fought the urge and just focused on the colors above me and the feel of his hand in mine. I leaned my head against his shoulders and relaxed, tracing the patterns of the clouds against the clear blue backdrop.
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So, updates will be scarce this week. Basically, I work from 6-1 all week, and I've been exhausted but wanted to get this up :/ Anywho, thank you for all the support, I love you guys <3

xxxo, Sara