Max's Redemption(10)

By: L. Wilder

I hadn’t noticed that Alexa had joined us until I closed the door and found her sitting next to me. I knew then she wasn’t going to be an easy one to shake. I glanced in the rearview mirror, hoping to find some backup, but quickly realized I was out of luck. Brody and Penny were already going at it, and neither of them had a clue about the clusterfuck of thoughts that were racing through my head. As I started the engine I looked over at Alexa, and knowing she was one problem I could do without, I decided it was time for us to have a talk.



I t wasn’t like I hadn’t seen Max with other girls before. I had, plenty of times, but watching Alexa get in the car with him after the party got to me, especially since he’d just agreed to be my escort on Homecoming. Just thinking about it made me doubt everything. I couldn’t help but wonder if he offered out of pity, thinking I’d never find anyone else to do it. The more I thought about it, the more hurt I became. I was a complete wreck, and was even considering telling him to forget the whole thing, until I overheard Alexa and Lisa talking in the bathroom. They had no idea I was in one of the stalls when they walked in.

“I can’t believe he said that,” Lisa squawked.

“I know! I mean, who does that?”

“So, he tells you he isn’t into you, and then pulls up at your house?”

“Yep, and then, he just sat there without saying a word and waited for me to get out,” Alexa whined.

“Oh my God. What a jerk! He could’ve at least taken you back to the party.”

“I know!”

“Don’t even worry about it. There are tons of guys who would kill for a chance to go out with you. You can do better than Max Lanheart.”

When I heard his name, my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Suddenly all was right in the world, and a week later, I found myself at the Homecoming football game with Max at my side. There was no better feeling on Earth than having my arm wrapped around his as we walked out onto that football field. It was the perfect night. Max was the perfect gentleman—sweet and funny, making my sides hurt from laughing so much, and I had a great time. Apparently, he did too.

There was no defining moment, no kiss or hidden innuendo, but something changed between us. After that night, we started spending more and more time together. At first it was just fleeting moments, like a brief conversation on the front porch steps or sitting together at lunch, but as time progressed, it seemed like we were always finding excuses to be together. We’d spend hours studying for tests, running errands for Mom, or watching TV—like the night we started watching Lost together.

I was sitting at the end of the sofa, flipping through the channels, when he walked up behind me. “Is it on?”

While I knew he liked the show, I didn’t expect him to leave his pool game with Brody to watch it with me. “Not yet. I think we still have five more minutes.”

“Cool.” He disappeared into the kitchen, only to return with a couple of drinks and a bag of chips. He plopped down on the other end of the sofa, and after he handed me a soda, he reached for my feet, pulling them into his lap. I couldn’t help but smile. I felt so at ease with him, like he was just Max , not the guy who haunted my every thought. “So, what do you think happened to Claire?”

“I have no idea, but that Ethan guy gives me the creeps. I bet he knows something.”

I reached for a handful of chips as he nodded. “Yeah, there’s definitely something up with that guy.” He offered me the bag, and after I grabbed another handful of my own, he said, “I wanna know what’s up with Jack. There’s something going on with him, too.”

“Maybe Kate will help him figure it out.”

“Kate is awesome,” he smirked, and I suddenly felt a little jealous of a character from a stupid show.

“Yeah, I think Hurley is, too.” Hurley was far from awesome. He was a big guy with long, curly hair, but he was sweet and I liked his smile.

“Hurley is the man,” Max agreed.

Seconds later, the theme music started to play, and our focus was drawn to the television. It became our Wednesday night ritual to pile up on the sofa and spend the night debating our theories of who or what was on that island with them. Each time we were together, I fell for him a little more. Without even trying, he made me laugh. I felt special when I was with him, like I meant something to him, and even though I tried my best to hide it, I often wondered if he knew how he made me feel.

It was the one thing we never talked about. A part of me didn’t want to know what was going on with us. Not knowing meant I could keep fantasizing that we were something more, so I left it alone. I convinced myself that just being with him was enough. I cherished every moment, every laugh, every touch, and over the next few months, those little moments became more and more frequent. By the time Christmas came around, I no longer had to wonder how Max felt about me. His gift said it all.