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Authors: L.L. Collins

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Breaking Free: A Living Again Novella (11 page)

BOOK: Breaking Free: A Living Again Novella
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When her fingers gently touched his face, he felt something surprising. He had no idea when the last time was that he cried, but he felt tears running out of his eyes. He was so confused.

She began crying harder as his tears hit her fingers, leaning her forehead gently against his. “You scared me to death,” she whispered, her tears mixing with his. “When they came to get me…”

Wait. They had come to get her? How had they known? “How?”

“When they found you and they got you to wake up, you were saying my name over and over.”

Greer looked away. God, he was such an idiot.

“Hey, what’s that for? I would’ve never known where you went had they not found me. Now tell me who beat the crap out of you and left you for dead inside the football stadium. They have video cameras, so it’s only a matter of time before they figure it out. The police aren’t going to let this go, and neither are you. This bullying thing is
over
, Greer. I won’t allow this to continue.”

He watched as she linked his free hand with hers and leaned back close to him. “I’ll give you a kiss if you tell me,” she smiled.

A kiss. He loved her kisses. He knew he had no choice but to tell; the police weren’t going to be that nice. He reached up and touched those lips that he loved so much, trying to get the nerve to say the one name she would probably never guess.

“I swear if the cheerleaders had anything to do with it…”

“Luke.”

He watched as her face changed from caring and concern to what he could only assume was disbelief and rage. “
What?
Luke did this?” She stood, her hands balled into fists at her sides. “Why?”

Greer watched her, making sure she wasn’t mad at him. God, he hated not understanding. “He said I didn’t deserve you. That you felt sorry for me and that you needed someone who could be a real man. He said I shouldn’t be alive.”

A noise he had never heard came from her throat, and she crumpled into the chair next to his bed. She shook her head, her chest heaving as she sobbed. Before either of them could say something else, his mom and dad came into the room. When his mom saw Alexis, she hurried over to her.

“What happened, honey?” Her eyes looked wildly back and forth between them.

“I-it was Luke,” she cried. Greer knew that his parents had no idea who Luke was, so that didn’t help them. “It’s all my fault. Everything is my fault. He would be fine if it wasn’t for me.”

“Greer, tell me what she’s talking about.”

“You need to call the police in here,” Alexis sobbed out. “He can’t spend one more second walking around in freedom.”

His mom and dad both swung their eyes to him and he nodded. “Luke did this. He punched me, then threw me on the ground and kicked me. When I tried to get away, he pushed me down the stairs.”

Alexis squealed, covering her eyes with her hands. She rocked back and forth, and his mom wrapped her arms around her. “It’s not your, fault, Alexis. It’s going to be okay, honey.”

“It
is
my fault,” she cried. “Luke is—was—my friend! He’s seen me with Greer. I’ve told him about him! He wanted to be serious with me and I told him no! He
did this to him!

His dad’s mouth was set in a thin line, which Greer knew meant that he was angry. He hoped he wasn’t angry at Alexis. It wasn’t her fault. “I’m going to call the police.”

 

 

“How are you doing?” Alexis perched carefully on the side of his bed, where he had spent the last four weeks. While he knew it would’ve been impossible for anyone, it was especially challenging for him. Greer liked his routine and the predictability of knowing what was coming every day. Now that his days consisted of napping, reading, and watching television, he thought he might go crazy.

The best part of his week was when Alexis came to visit. She tried to come over at least three times a week. His professors had been very understanding, especially when the story had hit every major news channel both locally and nationally. Alexis joked that he was a celebrity. Just what he wanted to be known nationally for: being the freak that got beat up and pushed down the stairs at a FSU football game.

The day that he had admitted who it was, the Tallahassee Police had arrested Luke for aggravated assault and battery, plus attempted murder. He had been denied bail and was awaiting trial, which was in a few months. After the story had broken, Alexis had gone and told her coach all about the girls who had also been part of bullying Greer, and all six of them had been removed from the team and kicked out of the university. The news coverage on FSU hadn’t put things in a good light for them having a bully attacking someone, so they were prosecuting to the fullest extent. There were also signs around the school about preventing bullying, and they had even set up a hotline to report it. Alexis was at the head of the campus campaign to stop bullying, and had quite a group of supporters helping her.

Florida State had been wonderful since it happened, offering to allow him to put his classes on hold or do them from home. They had also paid all of his medical bills and would help him with the therapy he would need after he finished healing. He had chosen to do his classes from home until he could return. They had even offered to help him transfer to another school if that made him feel more comfortable, but he liked his school. Alexis was there.

Greer’s injuries had been extensive, but it could’ve been a lot worse. He had suffered from a concussion, a broken eye socket, nose, and jaw. He had lost two teeth in the attack. He also had six cracked ribs, a bruised liver, a broken arm and leg. He was a mess.

The one good thing that had come from all of this was his relationship with Alexis. Even his mom said that Alexis had done something for him that no amount of therapy had ever done: she had opened him up. He loved sitting in his room and talking to her. They had spent so much time together, he now felt like he knew so much about her. He had also talked a lot about himself, and she had helped him through some of the feelings he was having about not being good enough for her.

There was never a time when Alexis touched him that he didn’t like it. In fact, if he was feeling anxious or irritable, her touch calmed him. And he really, really liked her kisses. He thought the best moment in his life might’ve been the night that she called him her boyfriend out loud for the first time. He was getting better about reading between the lines with her, and every time he did it, she grinned and said how proud she was. With Alexis, he had way more than he ever thought he would.

 

 

 

It was Greer’s birthday, and she was preparing what she hoped would be a fun time for him. She had gotten help from his parents and his friend Camden, whom she had met over Christmas break. He was a great guy and genuinely cared for Greer, which was refreshing to see. Her parents and a very close friend of theirs had also been instrumental in the birthday planning. Greer was mostly healed, only having residual pain sometimes. He had returned to class two weeks ago when the spring semester had started, having finished his classes at home for fall. They were now taking Microbiology together, and she loved having a reason to be with him even more.

Luke’s trial was next week. Greer wasn’t required to go, since they had video recordings of the attack from the stadium, but she almost wanted to attend just to see what happened. When she thought about it, she was still shocked that Luke had done that. From what she knew of him, she would’ve never thought him capable of such hatred.

When Greer returned to school, things for him had immediately been different. Everyone knew who he was. Everyone. They would all call him by name with smiles on their faces when they walked through the quad. At first he hadn’t known how to handle that extra attention, but Alexis had urged him to give the people a chance. Since then, Greer actually felt like he had made a few friends in his classes. Best of all, the bullying had stopped. There wasn’t any more snide comments or rude names. Greer could be Greer.

“You ready?” Hailey interrupted her thoughts. Alexis turned and smiled.

“I hope he likes it.” She lifted her small suitcase. They had a rare weekend off, since football season was over and there weren’t any basketball games yet.

Hailey hugged her. “You are seriously the best girlfriend ever. He’ll love it.”

She was nervous about it. Surprising Greer wasn’t always the best idea, though his mom seemed to feel that he was going to be okay. “You ready? We’ve got to get on the road.” Hailey was coming also, and Cate was going to meet them there. Cate had met Greer over Christmas break when he had visited Sunset Beach, and Alexis had gotten to meet her boyfriend, Michael. He was a great guy, and Greer liked them both.

Hailey grabbed her bag. “Ready. Let’s do this. Operation Greer Birthday Surprise. Oh, I can’t wait to see his face when he sees what you’ve done.”

 

 

“We’re driving to Sunset Beach?” Greer asked. He had been trying to guess what they were doing ever since they got on the road. When Alexis had arrived, his mom had packed him a suitcase so he didn’t know at all what was happening. When she had told him that they were going away for his birthday weekend, he had been excited, but she was worried how much he could handle being off routine. Ever since the attack, he had some setbacks that he’d had to work through but she didn’t blame him. Even she had found herself looking everywhere she went, afraid of someone stepping out to hurt her or him.

“Don’t try and ruin it,” Hailey teased.

“Is this too much?” Alexis asked quietly, putting her hand over his. He stroked her finger with his thumb, which was new for Greer. He had come so far. Every time he did that, butterflies took flight in her stomach.

He grinned. “No. I like it! You surprised me. It’s my birthday, and my girlfriend did something cool for me.”

She nodded, turning the radio up. “Yes. Now sit back and relax. It’s going to be worth the wait.”

“I
love
this song!” Greer said, using his fingers to follow the beat. Alexis smiled into the rear view mirror at Hailey, and they exchanged a knowing look. It was Samantha Warner’s new hit,
No One But You
. Sam was one of her mom’s best friends and a huge country star. She was also one of the most generous people Alexis had ever met, and a tremendous part of what was going to happen this weekend.

 

BOOK: Breaking Free: A Living Again Novella
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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