"I see that you left my room exactly the way it was." Riley smiled, admiring the blue, cotton sheets that made up his bed.
"I knew you would come back to visit." His father replied, wiping the tears of happiness from his eyes.
"Dad, come on, you don't have to cry." He chuckled.
"It's just so weird not having you around every day, son. I really miss you."
"I miss you too."
Riley laid his duffle bag down and sat on his bed.
"Hey," Travis greeted as he stepped in the room "Hope I'm not interrupting."
"Not at all," Riley's father assured, making his way to the bedroom doorway "I'm going to go order a couple of pizzas."
"That sounds good."
Travis sighed and sat beside his boyfriend.
"Are you ready?"
"Yeah, ready to get it over with at least."
"Do you want me to ride with you?"
"No, I better go alone," Riley answered "Stay here and keep my dad company, he needs it."
"Alright," Travis agreed, accepting a small kiss "I'll be waiting."
Riley nodded before leaving the room and house.
"I don't even know what I'm going to say." He mumbled while backing out the driveway.
The ten minute drive didn't give him much time to think, but talking to Alexis was something Riley knew he had to do. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
"Oh…hey." Eric greeted.
"Hey," Riley responded awkwardly while shoving his hands in his jean pockets "May I come in?"
"Sure, I just didn't expect you."
"Thanks," He murmured, shutting the door behind him "She didn't know I was coming over, but I was hoping to talk to Alexis."
"If she knew you were coming I'm sure she would have stayed awake," Eric announced "She's in her room. I'm almost positive she will be okay with you waking her up."
Eric's comment made him feel a little less nervous about finally breaking the ice with Alexis. Riley carefully pushed the bedroom door open and made his way in.
"Always so beautiful." He smiled, kneeling by the bed.
Alexis's long dark hair framed her face as she slept. With his fingers, Riley gently brushed Alexis's hair behind her ear and reached for her hand.
"Eric," She mumbled groggily "It's not morning yet, is it?"
"No," Riley whispered "It's not and I'm not Eric."
Alexis simply groaned into the pillow, obviously too tired to recognize the voice.
"Hey," Riley spoke softly "Open your eyes."
It took a minute, but she managed to pry her tired eyes open from the darkness that consumed them.
"Riley, I-I," She sputtered "What are you doing here?"
He sighed and rose to his feet.
"Is it okay that I'm here?"
"Yeah," She answered softly while sitting up in bed with the cover wrapped around her body "After what you said, I wasn't sure you'd ever be ready to talk to me."
He smiled lightly and took a seat on the edge of the bed.
"That's something I shouldn't of ever said," Riley began "I was just so angry, beyond angry."
"You had every right to be."
"No, not like that," He protested while shaking his head "I should have let you explain what it was that you were trying to accomplish by being there with Blaine."
"Do you really want to know?" Alexis asked sincerely.
"Yeah," He hesitated "I guess I do."
"Do you remember the day we had lunch with Allee and I left?"
The man simply nodded.
"When I left I stopped by a convenient store," She continued "And there Blaine was, standing behind the cash register."
Curious, Riley urged her to go on.
"I ran out and he followed me, saying he wanted to talk. I was reluctant at first but finally gave in."
"And that's the night you slapped me," Riley interrupted calmly "So, Blaine is the one who told you about the bet?"
"Yeah, he assumed that I had known," She confirmed softly while looking down "I know you thought you were doing me a favor by not telling me, but my virginity was something I had always imagined giving to someone I loved, not to be taken away by a fifty dollar bet."
"I guess we all kind of assumed that Logan and you had-."
"I know," Alexis spoke firmly while turning back to him "But that didn't make it any better."
Riley sighed heavily and reached for Alexis's hand.
"I was blind to Zach's abuse. I heard how he talked to you but I never thought it went any farther than that." He confessed "I guess I didn't want to believe that it did."
"I only felt comfortable when you were around," She spoke quietly "If you weren't there I knew something bad was bound to happen, depending on Zach's mood at the time."
Alexis closed her eyes and smiled slightly.
"I was always relieved when our school won the football game," She recalled while reopening her eyes "Zach was always in the best mood. He didn't hurt me or let Blaine."
"And if we lost?" Riley wondered.
"Then it would be bad, Ry," Alexis answered, wincing at the memories "I knew that if Zach didn't ask you to come over after losing a game, then he had something planned. I always prayed so hard."
"I didn't mean to make you bring up bad memories," He assured "I guess I've just always been a bit curious about what went on behind closed doors."
Alexis sighed slightly and looked down. She and Riley had only talked a little bit about what happened in those few months. It was just too painful to recall.
"Do you remember that one game when Zach threw the ball and someone from the other team caught it?" She questioned "And we lost."
"Yeah, he was so mad."
"Mad wasn't the word to describe it. He kept on and on about it so I asked him if he was going to be alright," Alexis remembered "He told me to shut-up. Then, I made the comment that it was just a stupid game and he should get over it."
Riley nodded, wanting her to continue.
"Needless to say, I found out exactly how passionate Zach felt about football. I don't know which one he did more that weekend, rape or hit me," She confessed softly "Next the night in the park, that was probably the worst."
"All because of that one comment?"
"I know that's what set him off, but I don't think it had much to do with it. He had a lot of repressed anger and unfortunately for my body, I was how he dealt with his pain," Alexis recalled "But, it wasn't always bad. I do have a few good memories of Zach and those are the ones that I like to remember."
"That's a little more comforting to know," He sighed, shifting slightly more toward her "I want to tell you about that night in the park. I think it's only fair, right?"
Alexis nodded. She wanted to know but wasn't sure if she could handle it.
"Before I left school that Friday, there was a note in my locker and I had seen Zach's handwriting enough to immediately know that it was from him. He made it pretty clear that it would be in mine and your best interest if I showed up at the park by nine," He began "That's why I told you to go home and make sure every door and window were locked. I didn't tell you about the note because I knew you would worry and you didn't need anything else to worry about."
"Neither did you."
"No, but that wasn't important. Protecting you was important."
Alexis smiled and hesitantly reached for his hand.
"I knew Zach had something planned and I knew that wasn't good, but never once did I think it would be as violent and horrible as it turned out to be." Riley stated strongly "I figured they would hurt me for defending you and then that would be it or at least that's what I was praying it would be."
He closed his eyes briefly, replaying the night in his head before continuing.
"Zach punched me and it hurt. It hurt like hell." He admitted "But the fact that made me the angriest was knowing he had hit you probably a lot harder than he had me. I tried to fight back but you seen how many of the guys were there. It wasn't any where near fair."
"No, It wasn't."
"I could of called you to come out there and they wouldn't have beat me like they did. I couldn't do that though and I didn't want to. I kept thinking if I could make it through one more punch or kick then they would all leave and you would be okay." He continued as water began forming in his sad eyes "I was near passing out when Zach pulled me up from the ground and put the gun to my temple, but even then I thought about telling him to pull the trigger if it meant you not getting hurt."
Alexis was speechless and in awe. It had never occurred to her how serious Riley was about saving her. The thought of him caring so much made her own eyes tear up.
"But I began thinking about my dad and I couldn't leave him," Riley sobbed "Even though part of me was convinced I was going to die from being beaten as bad as I was, I couldn't bare the thought of my dad being alone. That's why I had to call you but it was the last thing I wanted to do, Alexis."
"I'm glad you did, Riley," She admitted quietly "I would of never been able to forgive myself if you had died for me."
"It would have been worth it," He smiled through tears "More than."
Alexis dried her cheeks.
"Thank you for telling me," She spoke gratefully, scooting closer "Maybe we can begin to overcome that night and look forward to the future."
"That would be nice," He agreed, wiping his eyes "But no more secrets, Alexis. I'm your friend, hopefully still your best friend and I want you to come to me with anything."
"You're the best friend I've ever had and ever will have," Alexis confirmed thankfully "But…I do have one more secret."
Riley frowned slightly.
"Alright," He sighed heavily "Let's hear it."
"It's nothing like that." She laughed lightly, finally removing the blue and brown cover from her body.
His kind, hazel eyes widened in shock and mouth hung open slightly.
"You-you're pregnant," Riley stuttered in amazement "H-how far along?"
"Just over three months," She answered "I found out shortly after I moved back home."
"How do you feel about having a baby?" He asked concerned.
"At first, I was freaked out and upset," Alexis admitted, rubbing her belly "But now I'm really excited. This is the best thing Logan and I could have ever created."
"That's why you didn't want him to come until tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I figured it would buy me some more time. I know I should of already told him but it's been a rough couple of months," She confessed "I can only pray that he will understand."
"I'm sure he will. Logan is too ready to see you."
Alexis nodded gratefully.
"Can I touch it?" Riley questioned curiously "Your belly I mean."
"Yeah," She chuckled "Everyone else does."
He laughed and placed his hand gently on her slightly protruding stomach.
"That's going to be one lucky kid to have you as a mom," Riley sincerely stated "You're going to be wonderful."
"Thank you," Alexis smiled as Riley's strong arms embraced her "I missed you so much."
"I missed you too." He whispered, kissing her cheek softly.