Max's Redemption(9)

By: L. Wilder


As soon as I reached them, Natalie looked up at me and groaned, “Hey, Max.”

“Hey, Red. How’s it going with you two?”

“Fine, I guess. It would be better if Harper would stop being stupid.”

“I’m not being stupid, Nat,” Harper argued. “Now, drop it.”

“There’s no reason for you to get your panties in a wad,” Natalie argued. “I was just trying to help.”

“Thanks, but you’re not helping,” Harper snapped back as she rolled her eyes.

While I was amused by their little argument, I had no idea what they were talking about. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on here or am I supposed to just guess?”

“You know Homecoming is—” Natalie started.

Before she could continue, Harper stopped her by hissing, “Nat!”

“What? I was just going to tell him that we have Homecoming next week.”

“Yeah? What about it?” I asked.

“You know how the cheerleaders have escorts to walk them out on the field before the game?” Natalie asked as Harper stared daggers at her. “Well, Tanner is walking me out, and I was telling Harper that she should ask—”

“Can we please not talk about this?” Harper cut in as she crossed her arms. So damn cute.

I looked over to her and smiled as I asked, “Who are you thinking about asking?”

“No one.”

Natalie put her hands on her hips as she turned to me. “I told her she should ask Luke Mansfield.”

“I’m not asking Luke. We’ve barely said three words to each other all year. He would think I was an idiot,” Harper grumbled.

Luke was a good enough guy, and I had no doubt that he’d jump at the chance to escort her. Maybe, I should’ve encouraged her to talk to him, but I didn’t. Instead, I said, “I’ll do it.”

Harper’s eyes widened with surprise as she mumbled, “What?”

“I’ll be your escort.” Both girls stood there staring at me like I was talking out of the side of my head. “I mean, if you want me to. Either way, it’s no skin off my back.”

I was trying to play it cool, like I didn’t really care, but the fact was, I did. By the way she was looking at me I wasn’t sure she felt the same way, so I was relieved when she finally replied, “Really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“Oh, okay.” She smiled nervously. “Thanks. That would be great.”

Natalie’s eyebrows furrowed as she stood there studying me. I couldn’t figure out if she was pissed that I’d ruined her plan for Harper to hook up with Luke or if she knew I had my own selfish reasons for volunteering to be her escort. Ignoring her, I said, “I’ll call you, and we can work out the details later.”

“Okay.”

Natalie was still glaring at me when I heard Brody calling out to me. “Yo, Max! Get your ass over here.”

When I turned in his direction, Brody was sitting on a piece of driftwood with Penny in his lap, and Alexa was sitting next to them, watching me as she waited on my return. Knowing Brody would just keep bugging me until I came back, I looked back over to Harper and said, “I guess I better get back over there.”

“Okay.”

I gave her a playful wink and said, “Stay out of trouble, Freckles.”

“I’ll do my best.”

No sooner had I left, I looked over my shoulder and found Harper staring back at me. There was something about the way she looked at me that filled my chest with an unexpected tightness. That feeling stayed with me as I headed over to Brody. As soon as I reached him, he held up his empty beer and said, “Looks like it’s time for another beer run.”

He lifted Penny out of his lap and started towards the car. As I followed him, Alexa slipped her arm through mine and smiled. I stopped dead in my tracks. I had every intention of blowing her off, but when I turned to look at her, I noticed Harper standing just a few feet away. The smile she was wearing earlier was gone, and her eyes were filled with hurt as she watched Alexa inch closer. Before I had a chance to set Alexa straight, she wrapped her arms around my waist and purred, “What’s the hold up, baby?”

“Fuck.” I pushed Alexa off me. Knowing I needed to set things right, I looked back over to Harper, but she was no longer there. I quickly glanced around the crowd, but she was nowhere to be found. I wanted to go after her, but in Brody’s drunken state, there was no way I was going to let him drive.

Having no other choice, I walked over to the car and took the keys from Brody’s hand. “I’m driving.”

“That’s good with me.” He snickered as he climbed into the backseat with Penny.

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