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As I approach our lunch table I hear Tyler say, "Dude, she's totally using you. How can you not see that?!"
Tyler is standing but Mike is sitting down and giving Tyler a death glare. "You don't know what you're talking about. She is not to blame here! If anyone is, it's Finn!"
"How can you say..." They both see me approach and immediately their mouths zip. Tyler sits down and not another word is spoken.
"What's going on here?"
"Nothing." They nearly said the word in unison. Yet once they said it, it caused them to turn on one another, each giving their own hard-edged stare.
"Yeah, I can see that," I say sarcastically.
Tyler obviously wished to distract me from the problem at hand by changing the topic of conversation. I, however, didn't want to be distracted but now I have the undivided attention of everyone at my lunch table, so I take a seat.
"She's got a nasty gash on her arm, her leg and she's bruising pretty bad near her temple. The nurse said, however, no stitches, no broken bones, and no concussion. So, despite appearances, she'll be alright."
I can see Tyler's jaw clenching as I'm rattling off the results of what has happened to Brynn. He glares again at Mike, but this time Mike's features had softened.
"Sorry, that's happened to her. I imagine now that your Mom has been alerted you won't have to worry about this happening again."
When I look at Mike I wonder why he suddenly looks guilty, almost apologetic.
"I hope so but you know how these things go, Mike. There is not a whole lot that can be done if parents don't escalate it to the next level and Brynn doesn't exactly have that kind of support at home. Not to mention, we have no idea who this kid is or if he was acting on his own.
The soft look went away and the hard edge immediately returned. "What's that suppose to mean?!"
His voice actually rose for a moment but he reined himself in. "Sometimes things are as they appear. There's no reason to get all... forensic about it. Some guys are stupid. He may have been put up to it as a prank or a dare, not realizing she'd actually fall and get hurt."
I narrow my gaze. "Perhaps, or someone else could have put him up to it so that they would be free of the blame."
Mike appears visibly angry all over again. "NOT everything is a conspiracy, Finn!"
"Why are you so worked up about all this? No one is blaming you?"
He blinks for a second and I see he's struggling with something. He's staring at Tyler again but he isn't saying a word.
I look at Tyler. "What am I missing here?"
Mike and Tyler are now locked in an impromptu staring contest and it would seem neither one had any intention of backing down, but I still wanted my question answered. My gaze turns to take in the other end of the table. Koby and Terrance look at me uncomfortably as they realize what's coming next.
"Seriously, is no one going to clue me in? I've got enough drama right now. Can we dial it down a bit here?"
Terrance and Koby were obviously waiting for Tyler or Mike to speak up but when they didn't, Terrance must have decided he had enough of their nonsense.
"Oh for cryin' out loud. Tyler told us all what happened to Brynn and accused Jessica of being behind and it. Mike got all bent out of shape because he and Jessica are BFF's or something like that, now."
Mike threw his hands up in the air with a 'what the f ' expression on his face and Terrance shrugs. "You needed to grow a pair, Bro. It's not like he wouldn't find out eventually."
It took me a second or two to process this new information. "You're dating Jessica?"
Tyler snorts. "He wishes!"
Mike looks like he just wants to throw down right now, but I draw his attention back to me. "Care to fill in the blanks?"
"You and Jessica are ... friends." The way we both said it, it didn't sound like either of us believed it.
"Yeah. Look, Finn, say what you want about Jessica but she's not all bad. She was really hurt by you. Believe it or not she, she loves you."
Mike says that last part like it was painful for him to say and a broader picture is being painted. "How long have you had feelings for Jessica?"
The entire table seemed to collectively hold their breath. I'm guessing out of surprise that I either figured it out that quickly or that I'm calling Mike out on it.
"A long time," he admits looking down at the table unable to look at any of us at the moment.
"While I was dating her?" I know it was wrong to press but the shock of what I was hearing clouded my better judgment.
"Why didn't you say something? I would have never... You know me, Dude. I wouldn't have dated her if I'd known you had feelings for her."
Mike shrugs, "Didn't matter much, back then. She wanted you not me and you seemed interested at the time so I wasn't going to stand in your way."
"Noble of you. Obviously, things have changed. Why are you so certain Jessica had nothing to do with what happened to Brynn?"
"After our game against Central, I came out of the locker room. Nearly everyone left to go celebrating and I found Jessica in the hall, crying. She tried to pull herself together when she'd seen me, but she couldn't. She was devastated over seeing you and Brynn kiss on the court. She really believed you'd get back together with her."