A/N: Ok just a warning, the beginning is written like I'm rushing, and retelling a story. It's supposed to be like that because it's in the past. Halfway through the chapter when it goes to present day it will be written like a normal story. Please give it a chance! I know I've been terrible with updating for IILWY but this will be better I promise because I'm a bit ahead in writing it!

Chapter 1

It was a beautiful sunny day. The kind of day you'd take your child to the park, or hang out on the beach. It was not the kind of day that you'd abandon your child. But then again, what sort of day is ever right for that?

Emily Hale-Scott, expertly picked up the car seat from her car and swung the baby bag on the other shoulder. From the outside she would look like any young mother enjoying motherhood and quickly getting the hang of things, and from the inside, as many people would later come to say, they thought the exact same thing.

You see if you were going to root for anybody not to fall into the 'young teenage mother who would inevitably screw things up', stereotype it was Emily Hale-Scott. She'd always been the responsible one, who'd had her head screwed on straight. She seemed to have the caring, motherly instinct ever since she was young. When she got married to Ryan Scott at sixteen there was never a couple more mature of ready to be man and wife.

All of this of course came into question on 28th September when the one in question, Emily Hale-Scott walked up the seven stone steps to Holly Wilder's dorm room apartment and knocked on the door.

A few seconds after she knocked, the door flew open to reveal Holly Wilder with a smile on her face.

She was dressed in navy blue sweats and a black tank top, a complete turnaround from the miniskirts and halter's that dominated her wardrobe in high school.

"Hey Em," she said taking the bag from Emily, as she walked in.

"How is my favourite goddaughter today?" Holly said kicking the door closed behind them with her foot.

"Sleeping," Emily said. "Can I put her down in your room?"

"Sure," Holly said, clearing away some of her books from the coffee table, evidence of late night studying.

You see even though back in Carrington Falls, Holly was the head cheerleader and resident party girl, ever since coming to Duke university she'd toned down a bit and been intent on proving her parents wrong who had automatically assumed she would be needing them to send a very large cheque to a college just to accept her, and didn't even think it a possibility for her to be smart enough to get in by herself.

Emily walked into Holly's bedroom, grateful that Holly had stayed in the living room, and unclipped Alyssa from her car seat and put her down on the bed, making sure to support her with pillows to make sure she didn't fall.

Emily slowly stroked the soft hair on her daughters head, the same colour as her husbands and slowly bent down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

"I'm sorry baby," she whispered. "Always remember Mommy loves you."

Before she could change her mind, Emily walked out the room, slowly wiping away a tear.

"So can I get you anything?" Holly called out from the kitchen.

"No thanks, I'm good. I should probably get going," Emily said.

"Ok, sure. Good luck," Holly said.

"Thanks," Emily said feeling slightly guilty for the lie she told her best friend about having a meeting with the college advisor about what classes she could take part time with a baby. "Hey Holly?"

"Yeah Em?" Holly said to Emily who was standing in the doorway about to leave.

"Thanks for babysitting," Emily said feeling slightly comforted at leaving her baby with her old friend, and only other person at Duke from Carrington Falls other than Ryan. They had known each other from grade school sure, but Emily and Brooke travelled in different worlds. Emily belonged to the world of studying and working hard to survive high school, and Holly pretty much got popularity handed to her with the rest of her friends. It was only in junior year when Emily started dating Ryan, basketball captain that she'd been brought into Holly's world. Somehow over the years the two had become great friends, which only got better once they moved away to college. If anyone had told Emily back when they were freshman that she would trust Holly Wilder with her daughter she would have thought that person insane; but now the situation allowed that to happen Emily couldn't have trusted anyone more. She knew Holly would take care of Alyssa until Ryan came by later.

"It's not exactly selfless! I love hanging out with Alyssa. Don't hurry back," Holly said winking, in typical Holly fashion. At least some things never change.

Emily weakly smiled, pushing her sunglasses onto her face as she walked out the apartment and back to her car to protect her eyes from the light as well as letting anyone see the tears threatening to fall.

It was exactly four hours later when Holly heard banging on her door, startling both her and the baby in her arms.

"Maybe that's your Mommy," Holly said in a sing-song voice, walking over to the door.

The door was barely unlocked when it came flying open and Ryan walked into her apartment.

"Jeez Ry," Holly said glaring at him. "No need to break down my door."

"Where is she?" he said, his eyes frantically searching the room.

"Alyssa's right here," Holly said, referring to the gurgling angel against her chest thinking Ryan had missed her in his haste to come in.

"No, not Alyssa. Emily."


"Yes Emily! Is it true?" he rushed out.

"Is what true? Ryan you're not making any sense."

Ryan thrust a piece of manuscript paper at her, and rushed off to the look on the rest of Holly's apartment.

Holly left him too it, hoping the paper would fill her in. Once her eyes landed on the words, she had to read it again to make sure she hadn't fabricated the contents herself.

I'm sorry Ryan. I thought I could do this but I can't be the wife and mother you and Alyssa need me to be. Alyssa is with Holly. Always, and forever, E.

Holly felt the contents of her stomach churn as she was a complete loss of words. The thought that her own feelings were probably felt threefold by Ryan himself made her feel worse.

Holly gripped the sheet in her hand and looked down at the beautiful baby looking up at her smiling. How could Emily just disappear leaving her two month old baby? Holly already felt a connection with this little girl as her god mother, and considering Emily was her mother had no idea how she could just choose to abandon her.

Ryan reappeared with tears in his eyes and Holly's heart broke knowing she had no way to console or make him feel better.

"She's really gone?" he said, not bothering to hide his tears.

All Holly could do was hold him. She wrapped one arm around him trying to convey her feelings, and clutched Alyssa in her other arm, who seemed oblivious to the fact her mother was gone, a feeling no child should ever have to endure.

Holly's own parents left her alone to fend for herself with a monthly cheque when she was fifteen but at least her mother had been there when she was growing up. Alyssa wouldn't even have that.

Holly immediately chastised herself for thinking that Emily wouldn't be back .This was Emily they were talking about. She was the most responsible person they knew! She just probably had a temporary lapse in judgement but would probably be back tomorrow with a perfectly logical explanation in hand.

"She really left us?" Ryan mumbled into her hair, not pulling away. "Again?"

"It's all going to be ok," she said to Ryan rubbing his back slowly, but also trying to get herself to believe the same thing.

Ryan spent that night in a semi-conscious state on her couch while she took care of Alyssa. While Alyssa was sleeping she alternated between calling Emily's cell phone, which was switched off and calling everyone else Emily may have contacted, not caring about the hour. She had never seen Ryan this broken before and knew she had to do something.

The next week she skipped all her classes to keep an eye on Alyssa and watch over Ryan who was in no state to take care of himself let alone a baby.

It was exactly a week later when Nate seemed to snap out of it, just as Holly was about to take Josh up on his offer to come down from Yale to help. Ryan's half-brother and one of her best friends had immediately offered to drop everything when he had heard Emily had left. He was the most shocked of all considering he was Emily's best friend growing up. Up until now holly had kept him away with the reassurance that she could 'handle it', not wanting him to miss school.

Holly woke up one morning to see Ryan looking more composed than she'd seen him all week and burping Alyssa in the kitchen. He had thanked her for the past week and gone back to him apartment with Ally.

He claimed he had to deal with it like an adult. It wasn't like the first time Emily had left when he had nobody else to be responsible for, but this time he had to be there for Alyssa.

After that it seemed like the past week had never happened. Holly settled back into normal life and so did Ryan. The only difference was she would call to check in on him more often she would call him before and always felt a slight sense of concern when it came to the father and daughter.

Any sympathy she had for Emily had long disappeared when three weeks later she'd been handed a flyer for a concert from some guy in her Business management class about a gig in the next state for Jonah Pitts. It wasn't the mention of Pitts that brought out annoyance in Holly, although she could not stand the man for all he was worth. It was the small print that read 'supported by Emily Hale', accompanies by a big smiling picture of Emily herself.

In that second it had become clear what had happened. Two years ago Emily had been living her dream of being a singer on tour with Jonah Pitts who had promised her fame and success just as long as she left Ryan behind. Fortunately she soon realised it wasn't what she wanted and came back. Knowing Emily had gone back on tour filled her with anger, even though it might have not been her place to be angry. She didn't even slightly look sad or remorseful at her choice.

As much as she didn't want to, she knew she had to tell Ryan. If she didn't, someone else would, and it would hurt regardless but it would be better coming from her than a random stranger at their school.

She walked over to Ryan and Emi- , no just Ryan's apartment and found she didn't need to knock on the door because it was already open. The doorway and living room was piled with brown boxes, some empty, some sloppily half filled.

"What's going on?" Holly said, confusion written on her face.

"I'm going back to Carrington Falls," Ryan said, not stopping to put his books in a box.

Alyssa was lying on her play mat on the other side of the room, and Holly went and picked her up.

"What are you talking about? You can't just leave mid semester Ryan, you'd never catch up."

"I don't need to catch up, because I'm not coming back Holly. "

Holly didn't know what to say. She knew Ryan was hurting but dropping out of college was not going to help either him or Alyssa.

"Ryan, I know you think it will make things better—"

"It's not that. I literally can't do it. Alyssa is in day care during the day when I'm at class but after class when basketball practice is, they can't take her."

"Then why don't you just give basketball a break," Holly said, it seeming like the perfect option.

"I can't. I tried. I went down there today. I'm here on a basketball scholarship and unless I turn up to practice I don't have that scholarship. I have no choice. I have to go home."

It was that moment that Holly couldn't stand by and watch this.

"Ryan. You have to stay—"

"There is no way that's possi—"

"I'll take care of her," Holly said, coming up with the perfect solution.

"That's nice of you Holly, but I can't ask you to do that."

"Yes you can Ry," She insisted.

"Holly it's a big responsibility that isn't yours. You're at college, I'm sure you want to have fun—"

"There will be plenty of time for fun later," she said. Holly had never been so sure about something in her whole life, and for some reason it felt right.

"Holly, I have practice every day," he said, thinking she didn't realise how much work it entailed.

"EVERY day," he repeated, but she didn't seem fazed. "Why would you do this for me Holly?"

"Because it's not fair!" she said swapping Alyssa to the other hip. "It's not fair that you have to give up your dream whilst Emily is out chasing hers."

Holly pulled the folded flyer out her back pocked and handed it to him. Ryan opened it and sighed, seeing the image smiling up at him.

"You can't let her win Ryan," Holly said quietly and Ryan looked up to meet her eyes. "You need to stay here not for the basketball but to get yourself a secure future. Do it for Alyssa."

Ryan looked at his baby girl playing with Holly's necklace, and knew he had to keep her safe, and the only way he could do that would be to provide her with a secure future that he could provide only by getting a good job from going to college. But at the same time, he couldn't ask someone to give up a large portion of her day for him. The school year was only one month in, and this was only the first year of college.

"Holly, I really appreciate your offer—"

"Then take it," she said.

"Are you sure Holly? This is a huge thing to ask of you. And if I take it, it's only for this semester then I'll try to find a job to pay for day care."

"It's fine. Nate, I love hanging out with Alyssa, and she won't be in my way. I can watch over her while I study."

"I would understand if you change your mind now," Ryan said, giving her chance to back out.

"I don't need to change my mind. You're going to be ok Ryan. Everything will work out."

" I really hope you're right Holly."

What the pair would soon find out was when Holly told Emily not to hurry back, she meant it. But nobody would have guessed that Emily would have taken her words literally because Emily James didn't come back that day. Or the day after that. Or even the day after that.


Sixteen years, eleven months, and two days later.

"Lyssa! I bought you an alarm clock to wake you up! Not so I could run in here every two minutes to hit snooze for you!" Holly said coming into my room at her house in her pyjamas.

"Two more minutes," I mumbled, rolling over.

"Lyssa! You're going to be late for school, and your Dad will kill me!" she said opening my curtains and I groaned at the intrusion of light. I never was a morning person. Something I got from my Dad. Whenever we made plans with Holly that started relatively early in the morning, we all it would be a recipe for disaster, when more often than not Holly would end up at the designated meeting spot all alone, and she'd turn up at our house completely fuming.

"I made pancakes…" Holly said teasingly.

"Ok, ok, I'm up," I said slipping out of bed and heading toward the bathroom.

"I swear, you're just like a mini Ryan sometimes! You'd do anything for pancakes!" she said grinning as she walked back into the kitchen, and I smiled at the comparison to my Dad.

After throwing on some ripped jeans and a white tank and running my fingers through my hair I walked into the kitchen.

I helped myself to some orange juice from the fridge and out of the corner of my eye saw Holly put a bowl of cereal on the table.

" I thought you said you made pancakes!"

"I lied," she shrugged, and winked.

"Well played."

"I promise I'll make you pancakes this weekend," she said.

"This weekend?"

"Your Dad's got an away game at Chester," she said, pouring herself some coffee. "So I was thinking a movie marathon weekend. I'll ask your Aunt Kat and see if her, Ella and Jimmy want to come over too. You can ask Austin and your friends if you want."

"Sounds great," I said.

"What's with the tone?" She said raising an eyebrow.

"I just wish he would trust me to stay home alone for the weekend. I'm not exactly a kid anymore," I said, finishing off my cereal.

"Thanks kiddo, I love you too," she said pretending to look hurt.

"Come on Holly, you know I love you, but Dad's just a little over protective sometimes. "

"He just loves you a lot Lyss. It's coming from a good place," she said, taking a sip of her coffee.

"Yeah, I know," I sighed knowing she was right.

"And plus. He has plenty of memories of himself when he was your age and his girlfriend's parents were out of town and their house was empty," she said casually.

"Ok, firstly: ewwww, and secondly, considering Aunt Kat was one of his girlfriends and she lived alone pretty much all the time, double eww."

"Yeah you're right the thought of your Dad and Kat is pretty eeww,"she said scrunching up her nose."

"And he does realise Austin will be with him in Chester right?" I said, pointing out the obvious.

Holly just shrugged. "It's your Dad's rule sweetie."

"Yeah, well it's a stupid rule," I mumbled, putting my bowl in the dishwasher and making a mental note to ask him about it later.

"Ok, you grab your board and put it in the car. Let me go get dressed and I'll give you a ride on my way to work," she said walking to her bedroom with her coffee cup in hand.

By the time I put all my books in my backpack and picked up my skateboard from the front porch, Holly ran down the stairs wearing a short black skirt and a deep blue sleeveless silk vest, heels in hand.

As I got out the car as we drove in front of school , Danny just finished locking up his bike and noticed us.

"Hey," I said handing him my backpack to hold while I got my board out the back.

"Hi Holly," Harry said, ignoring me, but taking the bag.

"Hi Daniel," Holly said smiling. "Long time no see."

"I know it's been way too long," he said, and I rolled my eyes, at his lack of subtlety about his obsession with Holly.

"Hey! Lyss is coming over this weekend for a movie marathon, want to join?" she said, thinking she was being helpful. I would have asked Danny anyway, but the invitation coming straight from her would probably just encourage him.

"Most definitely! I'm there!" he said, without even considering it.

"Great! I'll see you then."

"Come on hotshot, we've got to get to class," I said pulling his elbow, and Holly giggled. "Can you ask Dad about the FX concert for my birthday again please?"

"I can try honey," she said. "Good luck on your story today!"

"Thanks," I said as she drove away.

"That was so humiliating Ally!" Danny said as we walked over to Lisa, who was doing last minute homework at one of the tables.

"Oh please, she's too old for you," I said scoffing.

"What's going on?" Lisa said.

"Holly was inviting me over this weekend, and Ally totally cramped my style," he said sitting down.

"Holly invited you over?" she said disbelievingly.

"Yeah she did. Movie and dinner," I said.

Lisa just looked shocked.

"With me, Aunt Kat, Ella, Jimmy, Maybe Rachel," I said adding on the extra details after a pause for effect.

Lisa just burst out laughing.

"Hey! It's a step in the right direction!" he insisted.

"Whatever you say loverboy!" I said, then turned to Lisa. " You can make it right?"

"I'll let you know," she said.

"So I'll catch up with you guys later. I have creative writing," I said pulling my notebook out my backpack and walking toward the main building as they both said bye and good luck, and went their own direction.

As I walked into class, it was already pretty full as I headed to my seat, the seat beside it already taken, and I sighed. Why was he always at school? Even though I knew he'd skip class here and there, he always seemed to be here for this class, much to my annoyance.

"Look what the wind blew in," he said without taking his eyes off his page.

"Look what the cat dragged in," I fought back.

"Scott," he said as I sank down into my seat.

"Taylor," I said playing his game.

"Why do you insist on making my life a misery?" I said.

"Business is slow this week," he said smirking, and I rolled my eyes.

"Why'd you choose this class anyway?" I said finding it hard to believe he would have voluntarily chosen to attend a creative writing class when there were other options like sport or Woodwork or Mechanics. "Asshole 101 full?"

"Actually it was. So I guess you get the pleasure of my company for the rest of the year," he said.

"Great. That's just great," I muttered.

First period we all had extra-curricular classes of our own choice that we had to choose, and it was the one class that I looked forward to each week. I was ecstatic when I found out they were offering creative writing since it was the one hobby I had, and loved. Whenever I got the chance I'd get lost in a book or write short stories of my own. My happiness was quickly deflated though when I arrived to class on the first day and the only empty seat was next to Alex Taylor. It also sucked for me that Mrs Garcia had a sBeatst no changing seats policy throughout the year.

"Ok, kids. Good morning. Let's get right to it," Mrs Garcia said walking into the room and putting her folder down on the desk. "Alyssa, if you're ready for your presentation."

I stood up, and slipped my story out of my folder.

"Good luck," he said, and I stopped in surprise. "Don't trip on your way up." There it was. The Alex Taylor we all knew and loved.

I walked up to the front of the class and read out the story that it had taken me all weekend to write in preparation for this.

X x x x-

Ryan pov

"Hey Josh," I said picking up my cell phone, seeing my brother's name flash up on the screen.

"Hey. How was the game?"

"A complete disaster."

"That bad huh?"

"We lost by forty points Josh! Forty points! Carrington supporters actually left at half time, that's how bad it was!" I said, walking into my office and putting down my coffee on my desk.

"Ouch," Josh said and I could picture him wincing.

"The reputation we built up for the team when we were in the team back in high school is seriously on the line here."

"Maybe you just need to get some new players?" Josh suggested.

"I've tried. I held three try outs at the end of last year and one in the first week of school but, it's the same kids coming, and I already have the best ones available on the team. I'm running out of options here. I know as coach I have some responsibility in training them, but give me something to start with," I complained. I felt half bad about putting down my boys, but I knew they needed something to spice up their team. Their recent losses were if possible making them worse, as they got more and more demotivated.

"I don't know what to say man," Josh said. "How about I come down to practice today. I'm not going to get any more writing down anyway," he said.

"That would be great. Maybe a fresh pair of eyes will be good, for them and me."

"Cool. I'm still seeing you for lunch right?"

"Yeah. We'll see you then, I have a class to teach."



Alyssa POV

"And it was then, that she knew that her life had changed forever."

I looked up from my paper to the class full of teenagers, blankly staring back at me like they were forced to be in this class. Half of class were trying to do their homework for their next period or texting into their phone. One of the girls in the front row wasn't even trying to hide the fact that she was flipping through a magazine. Was I seriously the only one that wanted to be here?

"Ok. Thank you Miss Scott. Before you return to your seat, let's see…" Mrs Garcia said scanning the classroom. "Mr Taylor? How about you give Miss Scott over here some feedback?"

Seriously? Of all the people?

I looked up to Alex who was already looking at me straight in the eye.

"Sure Mrs Garcia. I'd love to," he said sitting up slightly. "It was very nice."

Nice? Did he just call my story nice? A story about a girl whose family was brutally murdered before her eyes.

"Don't be afraid to go deeper Alex," Mrs Garcia urged, but I'd come to wish she didn't.

"Ok. It was flat."

"Excuse me?" I spat out, unable to help myself.

"Alyssa dear, we're all here to each other some constructive criticism. Please go on Alex," She said, looking at me disapprovingly, and Alex didn't need to be told twice to continue. I'm sure he enjoyed watching me squirm up here.

"It was flat. It's like you're writing about the emotions you think you should have rather than what you actually do have. Your feelings and the descriptions you use to describe them seem too generic. It's like you set up this big depth for her character but you never fill it."

I was left speechless, as I gripped paper in irritation. Like he even knew anything about writing. He was just looking for a way to get a rise out of me. How did he even come up with that little speech?

"Ok, thank you Alex. Alyssa, you may take your seat. Ok, Michelle, I believe you're next?"

I walked backed to my seat and sat down heavily, being stubborn, and threw my story onto my desk, but it slid straight off and fell on the floor. Alex smirked as I had to stand up and go and pick it up and sit back down again.

As I opened my folder to put it inside, the flyer about the annual Carrington Falls High writing competition fell out.

"Don't think you should waste your time, Scott. Leave the writing to the big boys," Alex whispered, and I gritted my teeth to stop myself saying anything.

Alyssa POV

I walked into the gym after Math slightly calmer than after Creative Writing, giving Austin a wave after not seeing him all summer. We both seemed to be so busy, and with him away at basketball camp for three weeks and me working with Holly for the summer we never seemed to cross paths. Even though we had both been back in school a week our schedule never seemed to cross over. He saw me and nodded, before gesturing that he was going to the locker room to get his stuff.

I nodded back and sat down on the bench, just as Dad spotted me, and came over.

"Hey Buddy," he said giving me a hug.

"Hey Dad," I said.

"Sorry I got back so late last night, and you had to stay another night," he said.

"That's ok, me and Holly had fun."

"That's good. So you wouldn't mind completely if I was away next weekend too?"

"Talking about next wee—" I tried.

"You're staying with Holly, Lyss. I'd just feel better when I'm not in town to know you weren't all alone."

"Fine," I said crossing my arms, and dropping it for now. I didn't want to push the subject when I could be convincing him to let me go to the FX concert. "How was the game anyway? Austin already told me you guys lost."

"Yeah, it was pretty brutal. Thank god for Austin, without him all hope really would be lost. He's my star player."

Before I could reply, Austin came over with his bag in hand.

"Ready to go?"

"See you tonight?" I asked Dad.

"Yeah. Have fun kids."

I waved goodbye and we headed over to the courtyard.

"So I was thinking after school we could go to the beach?" I asked, needing a break from my crappy review in english, and needing to catch up with my boyfriend.

"Oh yeah, babe, I know we made plans to do something together but I have this thing with the team and the cheerleaders," he said.

"Oh that's ok," I insisted, even though I was disappointed, considering I hadn't seen Austin in a while.

"You can come if you want?" he said, but that was the last thing I wanted to do; Spend my afternoon with the 'popular' crowd. I still found it crazy that of all the girls in school, it was me that Austin wanted to go out with. I wasn't what could be classed as his usual type. I wasn't one of those girls who would 'stand out from the crowd', and I was pretty much the complete opposite of popular. I think everyone else thought he was completely nuts to go out with me and I had a big feeling his friends didn't like me much, or at least the girls didn't do anything to make me feel welcome, or act like they liked me being around.

"That's ok. I have a history paper to write anyway," I lied.

"You're the best babe," he said kissing me on my forehead, and I frowned. He seriously thought I had a history paper to write only the second week back in school?

"So today in writing class, I finally got to read out something I'd writ—" I began.

"You'll never guess what happened in practice today…" he interrupted and I concluded that he probably hadn't heard me, and I listened to his story.

X xx x

Ryan POV

"Hey guys, sorry I'm late, the store was crazy," Holly said sliding into chair beside me, and taking a sip from my soda.

"Hey Holly," Kat said from across me.

"How is the store?" Josh said from opposite her.

"It's going great, I'm actually thinking of expanding. It died down a bit down and I left Millie there to watch over the rest of the staff."

"That's great. Where do you want the other store to be?" Kat asked.

"I don't know. I was thinking I'd go to New York and check stuff out. My Mom keeps calling and mentioning business opportunities down there," she said, and for some reason I got a strange feeling in my stomach at the thought of her going to New York, even though she hadn't even said anything about staying there.

Just then the waitress came over with a tray of food, and put a plate in front of each of us.

"Oh, I ordered for you by the way," I told her.

"Thanks," she said taking a bite of her Mediterranean salad.

"So are you coming to Beats tomorrow night? Kat's got a few bands set up," Josh asked me.

"We'll be there," I told him.

"Alyssa said she'll babysit Jimmy and Ella so you guys don't have to take shifts in coming," Holly said stealing a fry off my plate.

"She's a star!" Kat said.

"I think she's just trying to get brownie points for her birthday next week," I said thinking about how much baby was turning seventeen, and trying not to think about it.

"She wants tickets to some FX concert for birthday, but Nate isn't too keen," Holly told Kat and Josh, then turned to me, "which reminds me, she asked me to ask you again."

"Why not? It's just a concert," Kat said. "I can probably get you tickets."

"Kat, you of all people know what sort of stuff goes down at concerts like that. Have you even seen this FX band?," I explained thinking about the punk rock band that's posters were filling up my daughters room.

"Well she's a smart girl Nate, I think she could handle it," Kat said.

"I agree with you Kat, but we're still trying to compromise with that one," Holly said, "But she's trying her luck."

"Well it's still not up for discussion."

"Wow, she's going to be seventeen huh?" Josh said.

"Does it freak you out that you were already married by that age, and extremely close to conceiving her?" Kat said grinning.

"Nah, I haven't really thought about it," I lied.

Holly scoffed. "Oh please, Nate's been even more protective than usual, trying to stop her from growing up and doing things for herself."

"I have not!" I insisted.

"Have too!"

"Nate, when she told you she's going out with Austin this week you told her to be home by seven and you told her you'd pick her up from wherever she was going with him!"

"You didn't!" Kat said.

"I thought you liked Austin?" Josh said.

"I do like Austin. I don't know what I'd do without him on the team, but I just don't see why they can't just sit on my couch and watch and movie and go to bowling parties like kids used to!"

"Ry!" Holly said hitting me on the arm. "Don't be such a meany! She's going to grow up whether you want her to or not."

"I'm not being a meany," I said flicking water on her.

"Hey!" she said giggling and flicking me back.

I flicked her back with more water, and she squealed protecting her hair.

Before I could retaliate her cell phone buzzed, and she looked at the screen and groaned.

"That's Dina. She's drowning in customers at the store. I got to go guys. Thanks for lunch," she said picking up her bag and walking out.

"It's not over Scott! I'll get you back," she promised and winked.

I smiled watching her leave.

Kat and Josh waited all of three seconds before exploding.

"What the hell was that?" Josh said.

"What?" I said confused.

"The whole water flicking thing! You were acting like teenagers!" Josh said.

"No we weren't" I said, even though I knew whenever I was with Holly she made me feel like I was a teenager.

"That was flirting right there!" Kat said.

"Flirting? Me and Holly?" I said confused to if they were witnessing the same scene.

"Yes! The tension is so hot between the two of you, it's driving me nuts," Kat said. "I just want to push you together already!"

"Kat! Me and Holly and are just friends! We have been for years! That's all it is!"

"Oh come on, there was the water thing, the casually stealing your food. Nate, you don't share food with anyone! You like her!" Kat said.

"Guys, just because I let her eat a fry, that doesn't mean I like Holly!"

"You used the word 'meany' Ryan!" Josh said smirking.

"I did?"

"You did," he confirmed.

"Look me and Holly are friends, just like me and you Kat, so can we just drop it please?"

"Ok, fine," she agreed.

"So what time do you want me at practi-?" Josh asked changing the subject but was cut off.

"Did you notice how you said 'we' for everything?" Kat interrupted and I groaned at her failure at promising to leave it alone.

"No I didn't."

"It was like you were speaking for her, it was so cute. Like you were a little family," Kat said.

"I have no idea what you guys were talking about," I said playing dumb.

"I asked you if you were coming to Beats and you answered with a 'we'," Josh said.

"That was just because we'd discussed it earlier in the week," I said.

"You guys also said 'we' when you were talking about Alyssa. Everything you both said was 'we' like you were jointly discussing stuff to do with Lyss," Kat added.

"Well Holly is a big part of Lyssa's life," I said stating the truth. She had always been there for Alyssa, and we'd practically raised her together. It felt natural to discuss stuff about Alyssa together.

"There's more to it than that Ryan. You know you like her as more than a best friend."

"I know you guys want everything to work out for everyone like it did for the two of you but real life isn't like that. Maybe we're just meant to be friends?"

"It's obvious to anybody that the two of you were meant to be together," Josh said. "If you told me back in high school that I'd be saying this now I never would have believed you but it's true. You've both grown up so much, and you've done it together."

"Say, hypothetically I did have some feelings for Holly," I said.

"I knew it!" Kat shouted, and the elderly couple on the table behind us glared at us.

"I said hypothetically Kat," I said.

"Go on…" she said in a quieter voice but with a grin on her face.

"How do you think Alyssa would feel about it?" I asked their opinion. The biggest factor in all of this is how Alyssa would feel. I didn't want to ever do anything she wasn't one hundred per cent happy with.

"Seriously? She loves Holly. I think she'd be fine with it." Josh said.

I would be completely lying to myself if I said I didn't feel anything for Holly Wilder. In the last sixteen years we'd gone from friends to closer friends, to best friends. I didn't know if being with her was love, but I knew I didn't feel the feeling I felt with her with anyone else. When I was with her it was like I was young and carefree all over again.

I was so thankful to have her in my life, and Alyssa's, and I have no idea how I could have raised Alyssa on my own. She definitely needed a girl in her life and Holly Wilder was one of the best choices I could have had.

I knew I liked her, but love? That was a whole different story. Getting together with Holly would be the most logical choice. She'd been in mine and Alyssa's life for years and we knew she'd fit right in. She was there for me when I had nobody. I hadn't been on a date since Emily. For a while part of me still believed one day she would come back. I wasn't naïve enough to carry on believing that sixteen years on, but I still didn't know if I was ready to completely let go of that part of my life.

"I don't know guys," I said. "What if it just screws things up between us? I don't want to put Alyssa in the middle of that, or do I want to hurt her by making her lose Holly."

"Holly is never going to desert Alyssa despite what happens between the two of you. She's not her Ryan," Kat said , not mentioning the unspeakable name in our group.

"What if she doesn't feel the same way?" I asked them actually considering this.

"Well she seemed to be participating in the water flicking too if I remember correctly," Josh said.

"Just promise me you'll think about it?" Kat said.

"Ok, I'll think about it."


Ok, I know it's a bit confusing with all the character introductions and snippets of info, but if I get enough interest in this I will post a guide basically saying who everyone is and their basic background info to keep you up to date. I'll do that with the next update, it will really help.

Review, x