Max's Redemption(5)

By: L. Wilder



He rolled his eyes as he started for the door. “Grab your stuff and let’s get out of here. I want to get to the house before the others do.”

“Others?”

“Harper talked Mom into letting her bring Nat, and Dad has some people from work coming by the beach later.”

“You sure it’s okay for me to—”

“You know it is. Now, get your ass in the car.”

I grabbed my bag and tossed it into Brody’s trunk. I was just about to get in the car when I noticed Harper in the front yard. She was staring up into their big, old oak tree with a worried look on her face. I turned to Brody and said, “Hold up a minute.”

As soon as I started walking towards Harper, he whined, “Come on, man.”

“I’ll just be a minute.”

When I reached Harper, she was still staring up at something in the tree and talking to it. “It’s okay. You can do it.”

I looked up and spotted Ditto sitting on the edge of a branch, then laughed as I told her, “You know … if she got up there on her own, she can get back down on her own.”

“But she’s up so high. What if she falls?” she asked, never taking her eyes off her cat. “We’ll be leaving soon, and I don’t want to leave her up there all alone.”

“She’ll be fine. A cat always lands on its feet.”

She turned to me with a hopeful expression. “Are you sure?”

“I’m positive, but if it’d make you feel better, I’ll get her down for you.”

“Really?”

“I’ll be right back.” I ran over to the garage and ignored Brody’s grumbling as I grabbed the ladder. Leaning it against the tree, I started up the first rung and turned to her, teasing. “Catch me if I fall.”

With a serious expression on her face, she replied, “Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She’d said stuff like that before, but something about the way she said those words made me believe her. I knew it was crazy. I was older and twice her size, but I liked the idea of Harper having my back. I reached for the growling cat, grabbing her even though she scared the hell out of me with those fangs and sharp claws, and lowered her down to Harper. “There you go. All safe and sound.”

“Thanks, Max.”

After I put the ladder away, I jumped in the car with Brody. As we pulled out of the garage, I found myself staring over at Harper. A smile spread across my face as I watched her hold Ditto close to her chest. As she noticed we were driving by, her eyes searched for mine, and when they met, she smiled. It was the kind of smile that would stay with me for a lifetime.





CHAPTER 2





Harper


Two years later

“T hat’s it. I’m not going,” I grumbled to my best friend, Natalie. She’d been on the phone with me for the past hour while I tried to decide what to wear on our first day of school.

“It’s the first day of school. Of course, you’re going.”

“Nope. I’m not going.”

“Would you just relax? It’s going to be awesome. We’re officially upperclassmen now,” she tried to assure me.

“We’re just sophomores, Natalie. It’s not like it’s going to be that much different.” I had my reasons for not wanting to go back to school. I’d never been one of those girlie types, but over time, that slowly started to change. When I started high school, I found myself wanting to be more like the senior girls with their great bodies and fancy clothes, but between my acne and non-existent boobs, I didn’t stand a chance. Mom blamed it on the awkward stages of puberty, but it had been two years and I’d just turned sixteen. I should’ve grown out of it, but now that I actually cared, it only seemed to be getting worse. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Natalie was going through it with me, but Natalie’s body looked nothing like mine. With her gorgeous red hair, flawless skin, and great boobs, she had nothing to worry about.

“Well, at least we won’t get booed at the pep rallies anymore … and have popcorn thrown at us at all the games.”

“True.”

“And we’ll actually know how to get to our classes and where to eat lunch.”

“I guess.”

“Hey … What about that cute little navy-striped shirt you bought last week at the mall? You could wear it with those jeans that make your butt look good.”

I grabbed the shirt out of the closet and held it in front of me as I stared in the mirror. Even though it was one of my favorite shirts, I sulked. “I don’t know.”

“What’s wrong with it? It looks great on you.”

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