Miles to Go

Chapter 17: The Other One

“So here’s the thing. I know you feel like we’re rushing things, and I get where you’re coming from. But at the same time, we must be doing something right if we’re so miserable without each other. And I know you’re miserable, don’t try denying it. So… I’ll understand if you don’t agree, but can we please end this break? If it doesn’t work out this time, I’ll let you call the shots, whether or not I agree. Deal?” I asked, finishing my monologue that I’d begun as soon as I had gotten in the car, not even bothering with greetings.

Charlotte smiled, slowly nodding. “Deal.”

I stared at her in disbelief. “Really?”

“Yes, really. I need to clear something up, though. I told my friend about what happened, and she advised that I clear up the fact I’m not in love with you. So… I’m not in love with you.”

I laughed. “That’s okay with me.”

“Good. And one more thing… I just… I don’t want things to change. Everything’s still…?”

“Everything’s still the same,” I promised, leaning over the armrest and kissing her forehead. “I’m so, so sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

And then the door opened, and Rylie-Moment-Killer-Miles stuck her head inside.

But, to be honest, I didn’t really care. Because even though the moment had been technically ruined, it hadn’t, not really.
Either I’d been hallucinating, or during passing period between fourth and fifth, Rylie had actually made contact with someone else. Desmond, to be specific, without flinching away.

“Seth? Hello,” Charlotte sang, waving her hand in my face.

I caught her fingers in mine, smiling down at her. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. What were you thinking about?” she asked, leaning against the wall.

“Rylie. And…” I shook my head. “No one. Nothing. Never mind.”

She laughed, pushing herself off the wall and hugging me, her body fitting perfectly against my own. “Rylie and Desmond?”

I pulled away slightly so I could see her face. “What do you know?”

“What do I know? About them? Absolutely nothing. But there’s clearly something going on there. It’s like the most obviously thing in the world, even if they haven’t realized it yet.”

I laughed, and the sound was surprised, unable to get the thought of Rylie and… well, anyone really, out of my head.

I didn’t think she’d been single her entire life, but I knew she didn’t really have a lot of boyfriends, either. Just the guys she met at parties or wherever, and that was one night of flirting and teasing, maybe kissing. She’d had three actual boyfriends, all of whom she’d dumped after two weeks.

Unknown to her, even while we hadn’t gotten along, I’d heard about her, the things she did and who she associated with. Whereas she was the quiet girl, I was always the popular one, and therefore I always knew someone who told me about her and what she was doing—or who.

“I can find out for you, if you want. Or I could try, at the least,” Charlotte offered suddenly, bringing me out of my thoughts. “I mean, maybe Desmond could tell me something. Just… whatever we find out, if anything, don’t… you know, act like you know.”

“I won’t,” I promised. “I just… I need to make sure she’s not doing anything stupid again.”

She nodded. “I think it’s nice that you care so much about her. Will I ever find out about you two and your childhood?”

I threw an arm around her shoulders, guiding her in the direction of her next class. “Maybe. Probably. One day.”

Hr eyebrow rose as she asked, “One day, huh? Not vague at all, Seth.”

“Hey, take it or leave it,” I joked, laughing as we stopped outside her class. “But seriously, thank you for trying. I’ll talk to Rylie about it too, but I’ll probably get less out of her than you will from Desmond.”

She laughed. “That is very true. And it’s no problem. I’ve been pretty curious too.” She moved to the tips of her toes, using me to steady herself as she pressed our lips together. “See you by the car, Seth,” she called, stepping into the classroom.

And as I walked to my class, I honestly had to make an effort to keep from smiling like a moron.
“So, what exactly happened between you and Charlotte?” Rylie asked later that day, during study hall, which was really more of a free period. “I get it has to do with... you know, whatever, but… it kind of doesn’t make sense.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. It was just… it doesn’t feel real because of how smoothly things are going between us and how quickly we’re… you know. It doesn’t usually work like that in real life.” Or our lives, I thought, but kept the words to myself.

She shrugged. “I think it’s just because you two are good for each other. Your other girlfriends were morons and your relationships sucked. Now look at you, while you’re with a girl that actually has a brain.”

I glared at her. “They were not. Shut up, Rylie. But, uh,” I jiggled my leg, “speaking of relationships… what’s going on with you and Desmond?”

She looked up, eyebrows drawn together in confusion. “What do you mean, what’s going on with Desmond and I?”

“I don’t know. You guys just seem… surprisingly close.”

“Yeah,” she said, and I was sure I detected a hint of defensiveness in her voice, “because we’re friends.”

“I know that. But… you know, is there anything more going on there?”

She stared me, blank look in place, and flatly said, “You’re an idiot.”

“I didn’t do anything!” I exclaimed, eyes widening. “I’m just asking. Why are you getting so defensive if there’s nothing going on?”

“Because you’re being stupid,” she answered, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, which it probably was, according to her anyway.

“I’m not stupid, okay? I was just wondering. And it’s not like I’m the only one wondering.”

“Oh, really?” Her eyebrow rose. “Who else is wondering, besides your girlfriend?”

I hesitated, and that was enough of an answer for her.


“I’m sure there are others that are wondering… maybe they just don’t want to ask, since… well, you aren’t really the most welcoming person, Rile,” I said uncomfortably, relaxing only when her lips twitched.

“Just let it go, Seth.”

“I thought you said there wasn’t anything going on?”

“There isn’t. That’s why I’m telling you to drop it.”

“What?” I asked, honestly confused. “That makes no sense!”

“Nothing makes sense to you, Seth. We’ve already established this.”

I frowned as my eyes danced with humor, not actually offended. “That was completely unnecessary.”

“It usually is.”
“I got nothing,” Charlotte said secretively, eyes darting around as we stood outside, waiting for Rylie and Desmond by the car. Well, she waited. I had practice.

I laughed. “Why exactly are you whispering?”

“Well, I’m not anymore, since you decided to kill it for me.” She rolled her eyes. “Did she tell you anything?”

“Nothing at all,” I admitted. “But I was half expecting it.”

She shrugged. “I guess. Desmond was all oh, I have no idea what you’re talking about. What made you suddenly think of it anyway?”

I hesitated. “Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Rylie’s kind of… anti-everything. She hates being touched. But… I don’t know, I was sure I saw Desmond…” I shook my head. “I must’ve been seeing things.”

“Things like what, exactly? You saw Desmond…?”

“I thought he held her hand. Just for a second, when he was walking past her.”

Her brow furrowed. “Okay, maybe you were right. You were probably seeing things.”

I smiled. “Exactly. It’s too crazy to even be considered real—”

“Are you skipping practice again? The coach is going to kick you off the team,” Rylie warned, stopping beside us. “Hey, Charlotte.”

“Hey, Rylie,” Charlotte responded warmly, smiling. “Where’s Desmond?”

She shrugged. “No idea. I don’t have last with him.”

“Huh. He’s usually the first one here...”

“You two figure that out,” I said, glancing at my phone for the time, “I have to get to practice. Which, by the way, I am going to,” I told Rylie before kissing my girlfriend goodbye and heading in the direction of the field, stopping only when I saw Desmond seated on the bleachers. “Hey.”

He looked up at me, squinting against the sun. “Hey.”

“Charlotte and Rylie are waiting for you by the car.”

“I told Charlotte I was going to be late. Guess she must’ve been distracted.”

I grinned. “Must’ve been. So… uhm, what are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you. I’m guessing it was your idea to have Charlotte ask me about Rylie?”

I bashfully dropped my gaze to my feet. “I—uhm.”

“Did it ever occur to you to ask her?”

“She’s not always the most responsive person,” I said quickly, hoping to somewhat redeem myself.

“Yeah, but—”

“Yo, Seth! Let’s go, man,” Brent called, sending me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing look.

I turned to Desmond again, frowning. “Listen, man, I got to go. Sorry! I’ll stop at your place before going home, okay?”

I didn’t hear his response on account of the fact that I was already running to the field, making it there just before my coach.

When I glanced over a couple of minutes later, he was already gone.


“Seth,” my coach called after practice, causing me stop and fall behind as the rest of the team made their way to the locker room. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Nervous, I slowly made my way to him, wondering what he could have to talk to me about.

“Listen, you’re a good player, Seth. And I hate to sound like a cliché, but you’ve got a lot of potential.”


“I’m not done. You’ve got a lot of potential… but your head doesn’t seem to be in the game these days. I can’t have you on the team if all you do is goof off, no matter how good you are. And you’re actually one of the few players that can keep up with practice and school, so I don’t understand what’s going on here.”

I sighed, running a hand through my hair. “Just a lot of family drama. You know how it is. I mean—that’s no excuse. Sorry, coach.”

He nodded. “It’s no problem, Seth. Anything you need to talk about?”

Shoulders shaking with silent laughter, I shook my head. “No, that’s okay.”

“You sure? Because I know English teachers take all the credit for having students come to them and spill their guts, but it happens to coaches just as often.”

I full out laughed this time, not even trying to hide it. “Thanks, Mr. B, but I’m okay, really.”

“Okay, if you insist. Now get the hell off my field, Owens.”

I only grinned, turning and jogging to the parking lot, picking up speed when my eyes landed on the bright yellow car already waiting for me.

“Hi,” she greeted as I got in shot gun, wincing at the loud pop music and turning down the volume just slightly.


“How was practice?”

“Good. Coach said I need to focus more.” I glanced in the rearview mirror as she expertly pulled out of the spot. “Were you waiting long?”

“Nope.” She grinned cheekily. “I was actually late.”

I laughed, observing her from the corner on my eye. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want her to have to leave so soon, right after she dropped me off. Hell, I didn’t even care if she stayed for dinner with my entire wack family.

But I knew I couldn’t even consider the idea. We’d just gotten back together after thinking we were moving too fast. There was no casual way to ask her to hang around for a while longer, even if I’d only really spent a grand total of an hour with her.

And then I was jolted to reality as I became aware of my thoughts.

What the hell was wrong with me? There had to be something wrong there if I was honestly considering inviting her to dinner at my place… with my family around and—

Okay. I was just going to stop that train of thought right there.
♠ ♠ ♠
So I had a soccer coach (named Mr. B!) who I based this coach on and he was literally the sweetest. Just a little fun fact.

I don’t love Charlotte here, but that’s okay.

Also... I’m thinking of changing the day I update this story. Thursday doesn’t seem to be working, but it’s probably the best day in terms of scheduling. I’m giving Thursday another week and then we’ll see.

Comments would be THE BEST.