Status: co-write!

In the Company

Old Fears and Hurting Hearts

“…Not all guys are going to be like Nathan.”

Rose’s words bounced around in my head, causing me to feel nauseous all over again. I’d worked so hard to try and shove Nathan out of my memory, that the abrupt reminder of him sent me reeling.

Senior year of high school he’d been all I’d been able to think about. He was your stereotypical, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, bad boy. Everything about him, from his hazel eyes to his sandy brown hair, had drawn me in from the get go. He was a year older – he worked at the local garage – and had a mean-ass muscle card.

It wasn’t until right before my graduation that I’d found out everybody had been right. That he was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me – I’d caught him with another girl, one he’d knocked up while they’d both been in high school, and when I tried to confront him he’d slapped me, and taken off. I suffered through the humiliation that was my last week of school and graduation, and then took off for New York.

I understood why Rose had mentioned him. I’d been single since graduating and leaving my small hometown – I wasn’t interested in men at this point in time. I figured that with school I’d been too busy, and now trying to move up and make a name for myself at work I was also too busy for a relationship. So I kept people at arm’s length – save for a select few – and went about my business.

But Brayden was throwing a wrench in things. Somehow, the quiet Canadian boy with bright blue eyes was working his way closer and closer to me and it scared the hell out of me. Especially when there was so much I didn’t know about him. It always scared me, knowing that someone could have a totally opposite, secret side to them, just like Nathan had. But for some dumb reason whenever Brayden was around I seemed to forget that. And as much as I tried to remind myself of it Brayden’s little half smile and quiet demeanor seemed to clear all doubts from my head, and had me curious to know who he was beyond his soft words. Then as soon as I was by myself it frustrated me that I’d done the same thing once again. It was like I never learned.

“Hey… you okay?” I jumped at the sound of Rose’s voice as she walked into my bedroom. I’d heard her leave for a run this morning – nothing out of the ordinary for her – but the noise coming from further in our apartment had me curious. I still felt like death warmed over, but I was feeling good enough to wonder about it.

“Better,” I allowed, and sat up, adjusting my hoodie as I wrapped my comforter around me. Rose gave me a concerned look before sitting on the edge of my bed, hovering like she was afraid my sickness would jump and infect her.

“That’s good. Um, Patrick’s here – he wanted to check in on you… and Brayden texted me too to see if you felt any better,” she explained, and I swallowed hard. Brayden had texted me a few times but I hadn’t found it in me to reply. Not while I was trying to sort through my thoughts and emotions and had Rose’s words from last night echoing around in my head.

“Oh, okay,” I mumbled, throwing my hair into a ponytail and pulling the newly-acquired Flyers hoodie over my head to go out to the living room in. I needed some more cold medicine and possibly a cup of tea anyway.

“Hey, how are you?” as soon as I was in sight Patrick was talking to me, some of his blonde curls plastered to his neck. It looked like maybe he’d accompanied Rose on her run this morning.

“Still feeling gross,” I admitted, and was caught a little off guard when he pulled me in for a quick hug.

“That’s the worst. Did you go to the doctor?”


“Ryleigh doesn’t really go to the doctor,” Rose smirked. I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at her, my head hurting too much for any retorts to come to my lips.

“Well you’re going to go to the doctor, even if I have to drag you there,” Patrick decided, and after much complaining and arguing I found myself in the passenger seat of his rented car, on the way to the walk-in clinic. Rose had opted to stay home, deciding on showering instead, and I knew that nothing would convince Patrick to turn around and let me crawl back into my comfortable bed.
“Come on, don’t be stubborn,” he sighed, taking me by the arm and leading me inside. Patrick sat with me in the waiting room and accompanied me into the treatment room, and a whopping two hours later we were on our way back to my apartment, antibiotics in hand.

“Thanks Patrick – you didn’t have to do that,” I mumbled as I pulled him in for another quick hug before making my way to the fridge to get a glass of water to down my pill with.

“Not a problem – you needed to go,” he shrugged, before staring at his feet and toeing the floor.

“What is it?”

“Schenn likes you,” he blurted, making my face turn a deep, deep shade of red.


“Come on Ry, you have to have noticed. The kid’s stuck so far in his shell that he probably doesn’t know what it’s like to come out of it. But he’s trying really, really hard for you,” Patrick explained, making the heat in my cheeks get exponentially worse.

I thought back to the text messages that he’d sent me, the ones I hadn’t been able to bring myself to reply to. Even seeing his name come up on my phone’s display was enough to make a few butterflies erupt in my stomach, and that had me worried.

‘Hey Ry – hope you’re feeling better. Give me a call if you need anything. – Brayden’

‘Hey Ry, just wondering if you’re feeling okay. Seems weird not having you around all the time, Max and Claude are losing it lol – Brayden’

‘You sure you’re okay? Sorry for texting so much but uh… I’m just a little worried cuz you seemed pretty sick yesterday. Give me a text when you’re up to it. – Brayden’

And there was a few more texts just like the first three, ones that had my cheeks heating up, my heart beating all over the place, and my thoughts all muddled together. That made it even harder to answer Patrick with my brain running overtime with thoughts of the shaggy-haired Canadian.

“I… I…”

“Like him too, but you’re scared. I get it,” he assured me, making me wonder just how he seemed to be in my head like this. “I was talking with Claude and Max yesterday – Brayden’s pretty close with them – and I guess he’s just scared about it. If he knew for sure how you felt it would probably make a huge difference. He might not pussyfoot around so much if he knew.”

Patrick’s choice of words almost had me laughing, had my head not hurt so much. But the feeling quickly subsided as I let my thoughts catch up to me.

“It can’t happen Patrick,” I quietly told him, and saw his big blue eyes become even wider. “He’s going to be gone at the end of the summer, and I hardly know him, and I’m just not looking to be in a relationship right now.”

“Ry, you know that Brayden’s not like that; if he cares as much as I’m sure he does he’ll do everything in his power to make the distance not matter,” Patrick insisted, but I shook my head.

“It can’t and won’t happen Pat – besides, it’s not really appropriate for me to have a relationship with a client; I’m already closer with all of you guys than I should be anyway. It’s just not logical, and like I said, I’m not looking for a relationship. I’m too busy as it is with work,”

“Come on Ry, don’t do this,” he whispered as I turned to walk back to my bedroom. He probably thought that my exiting the kitchen was being rude, but in truth it was because there was moisture starting to pool in my eyes and I wasn’t about to let anyone see.

“It’s true Pat. Trust me, it’s… it’s better this way,” I insisted, before shutting myself in my room and letting a few rogue tears spill down my cheeks.
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Ta-da!! I'm right about to go into Finals... so I wanted to get this one up here now rather than God only knows when. I also just started a new job, so I'm stressed out of my gourd right now - so let me know what you think!!