That night I'd dreamed about the first time Bryce gave me the circular pendant for my birthday. When I woke the next morning I felt as if I could still hear us laughing. I'd immediately fallen in love with it and although we'd still been just best friends at the time I cherished it.
Still half asleep and smiling over the memory I reached up to touch the necklace only to find that it wasn't there. The shock had me fully awake as if someone had slapped me in the face. To add insult to injury, memories of the previous night assaulted me in those initial moments of me fully waking. Just like that, once again my joy was stolen, the blissful flashback was gone, replaced by harsh reality.
I hadn't even opened my eyes yet my heart rate rose and panic started to set in as I felt my chest again for the pendant. When it wasn't there I quickly got up and began furiously checking the bed to see if the chain had simply broken, again, as I slept. I searched my room frantically for the pendant and the more I couldn't seem to find it the more my search range widened. As I looked under my bed I tried thinking of the last time I saw it and when that might have been to make sure it wasn't just anywhere.
I remembered having it when I got home but I couldn't account for when or where it had gotten lost. Knowing it had to be somewhere in the house I retraced my steps from the night before but couldn't find it. Knowing the perimeters of my search were small I was slowly going insane with every second that passed and ended up flipping my room upside down in frustration. I was so consumed with finding the necklace, nearly ripping my hair out in the process, I almost didn't notice that someone had come into the house.
"Hey girl," Angie greeted me when she walked into my house, "you guys were cute yesterday," catching me off guard.
"You think so?" I asked, momentarily distracted.
"Obviously," she paused to examine me a second, "why do you look like that? What happened?"
"We broke up again last night…" I prepared myself for the worst knowing she would be upset.
"What happen?" she inquired with concern.
"We spent the rest of the day together after the party. Everything was great yesterday..." thinking of it again reminded me of my dream and search for the necklace. "I just- I don't know anymore," all of my emotions from the previous night collided with the ones from this morning.
Angie seemed confused but was still trying to comfort me.
"I can't believe I lost it again," I tossed my hands in defeat.
In that moment it was as if Angie had just seen my room for the first time as she finally took notice of how it was in disarray.
"Try to calm down, okay?" she encouraged, rubbing my back. "What did you lose?" I was too upset to answer.
"Just try to calm down and tell me what happened when you're ready."
I told her about how Bryce gave me the necklace again and about the text messages and phone calls with Emy. She listened intently as she always did but when I was done she didn't say anything. I found myself being irritated by her silence serenity when I felt so unhinged.
"It's alright, Alyssa, no matter what happens you're going to be okay," she said soothingly but it just infuriated me further and I just knew the next word that would come out of her mouth would probably be something about 'everything'll work itself out eventually in the end' or 'before you know it this'll pass and it'll be over'. She could say that only because it wasn't her life but from what I could tell this didn't seem like some 'phase' that would pass so I didn't feel like hearing her philosophy crap right now. If I let her go on she would start making excuses for Bryce saying, 'maybe this' or 'maybe that' but I wasn't interested in letting it get that far. The more I thought about it frustration built upon that which was already there and I just came unglued.
"Just stop it, Angie. You're always trying to force feed me your philosophy when I'm vulnerable but it doesn't work and you know that. You always think you're right and want to tell me what to do but now I just feel like you were trying to sabotage my relationship," I exclaimed.
"I didn't come here to fight you, Alyssa," she started, "It was never my intention to tear you down and make you feel like I'm always right and you have to do what I say. When I speak it is only out of concern for you because I want you to be happy. I don't understand why you're trying to make me out to be the bad guy but I've only ever tried to help. When I give you advice I'm telling you what I would do in that situation. I'm not aiming to set you up and I'm certainly not trying to force you."
"I'm done listening to you, Angie. You always take Bryce's side but I'm not you and one thing that I absolutely cannot stand is the fact that he still talks to Emy. I don't know why it bothers me so much but it does so when Emy text him 'is Alyssa still with you?' I lost it, okay? And you want to tell me, 'it's alright'? No, it's not alright. 'You'll be okay'? When?! Because right now I'm not okay, Angie, I'm not! I'm a mess and I don't know what I'm doing but I do know there's no need for you shoving your 'advice' down my throat because there is no relationship for you to ruin anymore."
"I'll give you time to come back to your senses," exasperated, she stormed out.
After Angie left I felt I'd just lost a friend and my necklace too. I just felt defeated as I stared blankly until something caught my eye from across the room. There was something in wrapping paper I'd never seen before, I carefully unwrapped it to find a card with my name written in Bryce's handwriting explaining this to be my third and final birthday gift. Under the card was a book, all it took was one look at the title to steal the air from my lungs leaving me speechless. Bryce knew it was a book that would always have sentimental value for me.
For a long moment I struggled to keep my composure but eventually I managed to text Skylar, determined to start sorting things out. Skylar and I met up at a cafe for lunch to talk about yesterday.
"I honestly don't know why you're trying to fight me on this when you're almost always telling me about how you fight with Angelica because she's wants you to stay so I don't think I'm saying anything that you don't already know. In situations like this it's better to leave the guy alone especially if you haven't really made a decision," she said looking at me pointedly.
"I had made a decision," I refuted.
"Maybe but not a solid one, and you know I'm right," she returned. "You made a decision in the heat of the moment and you were planning on going full steam ahead so that you didn't have time to really think twice about it. That might work out while he's here but what about after he's gone and you're by yourself you can't tell me that you don't think about things like that. Like how he insists on remaining close friends with his ex-girlfriend, Emy Hickens, you've told me many times about how it bothers you. You've never accepted any interaction between the two, so you're telling me that you've made the decision to finally fully trust him about their relationship status? Are you also ready to accept that you have no control over whether he talks to her when you're not around? If you couldn't find it in yourself to trust him when he was living in the same town within walking distance do you really think you can magically trust him when he's miles away. You used to see him every day, he was a big portion of you life and vice versa but now he's going to be living a completely separate life away from you with people you don't know and have never met. Realistically I just feel that's too much of a risk for a person who already has trust issues like you. The way that I see it you need to be more realistic, take a step back and look at the situation objectively."
"But you didn't have to threaten me to take your advice," I said accusingly.
"Look at it this way, before yesterday were planning on taking him back?"
"Well…" I started nervously, "no but-" I tried to explain but she cut me off.
"That's exactly what I'm talking about. And you probably even had your reasons all outlined too," she paused to let that soak in and I couldn't really say anything because she was right.
"I know what you're probably thinking, he manipulated me and talked me into taking him back and that's not what happened I changed my mind yesterday. Is it a crime to change my mind?"
"No, but why do you think that was?"
"I finally realized something that made me see things differently," I explained.
"And what's that? What you were saying yesterday about you not speaking up?" I nodded but she just sighed heavily. "Does a bully need their prey to speak for them to know what they're doing is wrong? And even if they do, do you think the situation will change?"
"Bryce and I aren't like that," I defended.
"Let me say it this way then. You said that you didn't tell him anything that you thought he did wrong, correct?" I nodded. "But I'm pretty sure since you first broke up with him he's known that there were things between you that weren't right. He's your 'best friend' he must have realized when you were acting strangely towards him, like when you were angry."
"He noticed, he just didn't know what was wrong and I hadn't wanted to talk about it," I told her.
"But he had to know that not talking about it wasn't good for your relationship," she reasoned.
"He was scared…"
"Of what? Talking to you? A healthy relationship? What is there to be afraid of? It would've just been a conversation and you talk all the time anyway so why couldn't you talk about your relationship?"
"But you didn't have to threaten me into doing what you wanted," I reiterated.
"If I hadn't, would you have listened?"
"You can't force me to do what you want me to," I asserted, adamantly.
"Of course not, you make your own decisions," she sounded like she was mocking me. "I can't make you do anything that you don't want to. I can only try to guide you along but you'll do what you want in the end," she laughed cryptically. "But I have realized that we seem to think alike so I'm sure you'll eventually come around. Anyway, it's getting late we should get going. We don't want to be late, you know, the alpha doesn't like that," she said, standing up.
We left straight from the cafe and luckily made it to the pack house with not much time to spare before the pack meeting started. As we were going in to find a place to sit Skylar noticed Angie nearby and pointed her out, at that very same moment, it seemed, the girls standing with Angie saw us as well.
"I didn't know Alyssa hung out with Skylar," I heard one of our friends saying.
I felt a little guilty because I'd only just befriended Sklyar this past year during a time when I was avoiding my friends so it had never occurred to me to invite her to hang out with my other friends because I was used to hanging out with her separately. Now that I thought about it I realized how that must have appeared as though I was purposely hiding our friendship.
With the way it was being portrayed it felt as if we were finally revealing some dirty little secret and especially given the way the girls were 'whispering' about it I knew they were going to blow this out of proportion. There was no way that Skylar hadn't heard what they were saying about her as well but if she had her face didn't show it.
"You're not sitting with Angelica today?" Skylar asked, seemingly not offended in the least.
"No," I answered offering her what I hoped was an assuring smile.
"Are you sure?" she inquired, incredulously, "I don't mind, you always sit with her," she added with a shrug.
"It's fine, don't worry about it," I told her as we were passing by the group to get to two empty seats. I avoided looking in the direction of the gossiping group of girls and I especially refrained from making any eye contact with Angie. I felt it would be better this way especially considering I'd just seen Angie hours earlier and we'd left off on a bad note anyway. It wasn't long before the meeting started and everybody went to their seats. By the time it was over I couldn't have repeated a word of what was said because I'd been so distracted by my own preoccupied thoughts not to mention the girls from earlier kept trying to burn holes in the back of my head.
Skylar and I were getting ready to leave when out of the corner of my eye I happened to notice a familiar figure and when I heard laughing I turned to look.
"What are you looking at?" Skylar questioned pulling my attention back.
"No, it's nothing," despite my response I had a smile on my face as I took one last glance.
The sight before my eyes was heartwarming, my uncle Sev was standing amongst a group of adults with aunt Mabel beaming at his side. Given how tall my uncle was and his stocky build it was hard to miss him. He had been animatedly telling the group something that had them all laughing with a smile on his face that made him look exactly like my dad. While everyone was laughing he and aunt Mabel shared a smile, it'd been sweet how they'd gotten so caught up in their own little world. I felt like I was intruding on a private moment so I happily turned my eyes away.
I'm glad they were finally happy because I know they'd been through a lot together and by the way aunt Mabel was smiling I could tell this wasn't just a fleeting moment of sobriety, uncle Sev was really back.
I went home hopeful that at some point Bryce and I could get back on track too. I was exhausted and once again just as I was crawling into bed to go to sleep I got a text message. With a pang of guilt I reached for my phone, knowing it was Bryce and feeling like I needed to say something. I simply typed 'I'm sorry' but before I could send it another message came in, except this one was from Skylar, telling me that she had my necklace.