Chapter 23: Teenagers
"Who all knows?" I asked through gritted teeth. My friends and I were grouped up in the girls
bathroom like we were having a business meeting. "Quite a few people," Jamie answered quickly.
"No teachers though." Mel asked. I covered my face with my hands and groaned in frustration.
Being pregnant at this school was showing me even more how ridiculous people were. The news
that Sydney Trent was carrying Danny Connor's baby had flown around the county ever since the
incident at lunch with Kelsey. "Ryan and Jada don't even know yet." I was more nervous for them
to find out than anyone else. They were Danny's family and I didn't know them that well to know
how they would react. Jada already made it very clear that she isn't happy about me even being
in Danny's life.
"Candace still isn't speaking to us," Rachel chimed in, folding her arms across her chest. "She can
get the fuck over herself already! I'm so fucking sick of that self centered bitch!" I shouted. It
was killing me that Candace was distancing herself from us. It was beginning to feel like a never ending battle and yet again, I was getting sick of it. This week it was because she was pissed off because I was always cooped up in Danny's apartment and she was basically wanting me to choose between her or him. I loved and cared about Danny and he made me happy, but now she wanted him out of the picture. Even though I was carrying his baby, she was still pissed off. I loved him more and at this point, he came before her, but I still felt torn between the two of them.
I turned around so my back was facing them. I looked up into the mirror and saw stress and
frustration all over my face. I could see the reflection of Mel coming up behind me, placing her
hand on my shoulder. I held onto the sink until my knuckles were turning white. "Syd, you guys
just need to sit down and talk things out. We're all close, but you two are like sisters. This just feels unnatural." She was right and that was exactly what I wanted to do, but I was afraid of who she would be. Her addiction was becoming worse and worse every single day. When I saw her a few days ago, Danny had dropped me off in the school parking lot and from the corner of my eye, I saw Candace stumbling between the parked buses. I would have helped her if I hadn't been so pissed off.
"Drugs can turn a loved one into a complete stranger. I can't sit here and say that I know who she
is anymore," I said as I hung my head. "People have been talking about that too," Rachel added.
Great. That's probably why she didn't give a shit anymore. Her business was already out in the
streets so there was no point in hiding it anymore. My biggest fear was her getting caught. She
might have been a bitch at times, but I didn't want her to throw her entire life away when it was
just getting started.
The bell rang, which meant that lunch was over and any minute the bathroom would be flooded
with girls rushing to class. "Meet us in the parking lot when eighth is over," Jamie said. I nodded
and kept my grip on the sink. I felt like I was spinning in circles and I didn't know whether I was
coming or going. I didn't want to admit it, but I was afraid of the news of my pregnancy getting
back to Dean. There's no telling what he would say or do and I wasn't in the right condition to
fight back and that would make me an easy target.
More than a few minutes had passed when I realized that the bathroom remained empty. That
was incredibly odd seeing as though this was one of the busiest bathrooms on the high school
"Congratulations, Sydney Gayle." My heart sank into my ass. I didn't even notice the sound of
the door opening and closing. I could recognize that voice anywhere. On the inside, I started to panic and my anxiety went into overdrive. This was my boss battle. On the outside, I kept my gaze down at the sink, still holding onto it for support. "What do you want?" I asked, trying to mask the fear in my voice. I heard his footsteps grow closer to me. "Just came to spread some well wishes. I heard through the grapevine that your babysitter got you pregnant." Here we go with the babysitter bullshit. "I know you can be more original than that," I scoffed, turning around to face him.
It looked like I had come face to face with the Crypt Keeper. He looked terrible. His frame was
much skinnier than I remembered. He didn't have much weight on him in the past, but seeing
him now was a dramatic difference. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes were sunken in. They
almost looked black and they were as dark and as cold as ever. I didn't even try to hide my
expression. I knew my face would be contorted by how disgusted I was. "Yeah, just like I know
you can keep your legs closed," he said with a smirk. "You don't scare me," I replied through
gritted teeth. "I'm not here to scare you. I'm just curious about why you decided to kill one baby
and get pregnant with another one." My chest felt like it was burning and without even thinking about it, I had taken a step toward him, chest out, trying to intimidate him. "Yeah, people are talking about that too," he said, hinting that everyone speculated that I had an abortion last year. My greatest fear."Your best bet is to get the hell out of my face and stay the hell away from me."
"Or what? You'll call your boyfriend? That's fine, but keep in mind that your life is and always will
be hell without me in it. I'll make sure of it, even after I'm dead and gone. You killed my baby and I
will make you suffer."
"You won't do shit," I snapped. I was livid. I wanted to crack his jaw, but he was taunting me
because he knew that I wouldn't. I learned a long time ago that Dean was the type of boyfriend
that you would have to physically fight to get away from. It probably wouldn't have taken even
the slightest breath from his lips to make me take a swing at him. "Get out. Before I bash your
head between these fucking sinks," I growled. With a wink, he turned on his heels and slipped out
My emotions hit me like a coal truck. My eyes burned and then tears were streaming down my
face. I hated not being able to defend myself the way I really wanted to. I knew that Danny would
want to break his neck and the thought of it pissed me off even more. I was never the type that
wanted people to fight my battles.
School couldn't have ended fast enough. As soon as I hit the doors, I nearly sprinted to Danny's car and I almost dove through the window. I couldn't wait to get a start on my weekend. I wasn't sure if I could have survived another second in that school.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," he said, sounding concerned. "I did. His name is Dean fucking Johnson," I said as I maneuvered my body in the seat to buckle my seat belt comfortably. He threw the car in drive and clenched his jaw. "He didn't hurt you did he?" he asked, ready to jump out of the car and run after him. He put the car back in park and unbuckled his seat belt. I was confused until I looked through the windshield and saw him leaning against a large black truck. "Danny don't! I'm alright!" I shouted, hoping he would calm down before he got too carried away.
His eyes locked with mine and slowly but surely, he pulled the seat belt around again and put the car back in drive. "Well next time I won't stop. We've got some business to attend to," he said, changing his expression from angry to nervous. I smiled thinking about the first time he said we had business to attend to. "Not that kind, you perv," he said with a chuckle. "Well what?" I asked, sounding a little disappointed. "We have to tell Ryan that he's going to be an uncle." I froze and my heart started to race. I became a little nauseous and it was probably because of my nerves. I had never spoken to Ryan before, so I wasn't even sure if he liked me or not. "It'll be fine. He's a big teddy bear," Danny said, grinning from ear to ear.
He was right. Jada and Ryan nearly jumped for joy when we finally broke the news. Jada was actually in tears. Just when I thought that things were about to go south and turn into a nightmare, I was proven wrong. It was everything I needed after having such a fucked up week at school. For the second time, we spent the night at their house, just sitting on the porch curled up in each others arms. I felt like I added another branch onto the small list of people that I considered my family. Just like my friends and Danny, the two of them vowed to do whatever it took to protect me and the baby and keep us safe. No one had to tell me that McDowell County was proof that this was a cold and cruel world in it with people rooting for you to fail, but luckily, I had more than a few people to remind me that I didn't have to go at it alone.
Like a little glass slipper, I was beginning to fit in right where I belonged.