Rylie glance down at the gauze wrapped around her left knuckles. The blood was already staining through. Last night, Luke had cleaned her up while applauding her on the outstanding nose job she gave Thea. Niall was wasn't talking to her, however. He was upset that Rylie had banished his first real girlfriend. Rylie didn't feel bad, though, because she didn't understand what Niall saw in Thea in the first place.
When they had arrived in Tennessee that night, Rylie was excited to get some fresh air and she immediately searched for Michael. She loved the late night chats they had, and she hadn't spent as much time as they should together lately.
She rotated towards the hotel room she knew him and Luke were in, and knocked gently on the door, alerting them to stop anything bad. She initially heard the aching sounds of continuous gunshots and shouting, indicating they were on the Xbox. Again. She sighed at the hanus remark of boys she made in her head, and smiled at them, shifting her awkward stance in the doorway.
"Hey guys..." she held her throbbing hand to her side as she sat down beside Luke on the corner of the bed, and admired how focused he was. Did he even realize of his lady's presence?
He shot a quick glance her way, and smiled through his lip bite. "Hey babe.." he furrowed his brows as he dodged something on the TV, and Rylie shook her head as she bit back a smile. She peeked her head behind Luke's broad shoulders, and nudged Michael with her good hand. "Michael..." she cooed, attempting to coax him out of his entertainment. "Come walking with me."
Michael's eyes darted from the screen, and met her own. "Right now?" he asked, already putting down his controller.
Rylie nodded, and felt Luke's body shift in uncertainty against her own. She then realized how horrible the whole predicament seemed. Luke was right there, and she had invited Michael instead. It's not that she didn't want Luke to come too, but Michael and him always seemed to carry tension when it was the three of them. She felt her heart leap for Luke, but she would comfort him later.
Michael got up quickly, and reached for his coat, but Luke's voice rang throughout the room. "No, Mikey, I don't want you going with her." his voice was almost strict, disregarding the fact Michael was older.
"C'mon man, she's my friend."
"No." Luke didn't hesitate for his voice to grow even louder in a feverous intensity.
Michael threw his hands up in exasperation. "I thought we were past this!"
Rylie bit down on her lip, wishing she could just disappear. There was definitely something going on that Luke hadn't informed her on. It irritated her how Luke was sometimes so secretive. Rylie, on the other hand, was an open book. If only Luke would open up about the things that were bothering him.
"Past what?" Rylie asked.
Luke peeked his head over his shoulder, and shot her a glance. "Ry, just stay out of this. You don't even know what's going on."
"Then tell me!" Rylie felt her frustration get the best of her.
Luke shook his head, and quickly got up to block Michael from the door. "You're not going anywhere mate." his eyes were demented and held too much of a strong gaze. Rylie knew his body language well and she watched his shoulders cast a shadow against the beige wall. His body was tense, and his fists were clenched, holding back the opportunity to make a foolish mistake.
For once, Rylie was on the opposing side of Luke. He was making a mountain our of a mole hill, and she had had enough. It was a simple walk, and Luke was being too overprotective.
She got up, and pushed Luke away from Michael with as much force as she could muster. As he stood taken aback, his eyes shifted from dark to realization. Rylie shot him a glance that she couldn't explain, and grabbed Michael's wrist, pulling him out the door with herself. She caught Luke's last glance before she closed the door, and felt her heart break at the look of loss and regret as he realized she had chosen Michael for once.
Rylie turned to Michael, and sighed, finding his triumphed face almost comical. She felt so bad that the pain was eating away at her bones. That was her Luke...and she had made him so sad. She would lose her mind if he had a female friend that he went on walks with. She made a mental note to treat him extra special when they got back.
"I want to go on an adventure." Michael stated, trailing along beside her after they had gotten out of the elevator and strode towards the lobby doors.
Michael shrugged, stumped at her question. "We'll find a place."
Rylie smiled weakly, and allowed Michael to take her wherever he wanted to go.
They walked under the moonlight, having the street lamps light their way. Eventually, the busy city vanished from view as Rylie found herself climbing up a hill with Michael. There was no longer any light to guide them, and no noise to comfort their idea of solitude. They were basing their steps on luck, and by the time her legs started to give way before her, Michael stopped, and she slammed into him.
She watched a blurry Michael sit down in the damp grass, and she crouched down with him, crossing her legs, and feeling his body leaned against hers.
They both looked out at the city before them, and Rylie gasped at how far they must have gone. Multi-colored lights leaped all around the city, glittering in the clear air, and the faint bustling of activity was heard. Cars were specks in the distance, travelling between fancy restaurants, shops, and markets. The landscape continued to switch from wealth to poverty as luxurious, six foot buildings transformed into run-down houses, feeding off of the dirt in their cracks.
Rylie didn't miss the sickening fumes of the cars, and she inhaled the light scent of dandelions all around her. It was honestly so peaceful where they sat, and she was thankful she had Michael's heat beside her to keep her warm from the sudden chill in the air. The grass was even colder against the fabric of her jeans, and she clung to Michael's body for warmth. She chucked at him stiff up like he always did.
They sat in silence for the longest time, enjoying the quiet atmosphere. It was so nice that Rylie hadn't realized how much she needed to get away from civilization. Having the city of Nashville look like an ant gave her an indescribably feeling of relief.
"It's magnificent, isn't it?" Michael remarked, snapping Rylie from her thoughts. He looked at her. "The city, the lights; it's beautiful."
Rylie shook her head in disagreement. "It looks beautiful from far away...until you see the deeper meaning."
"And what is the 'deeper meaning'?" Michael raised his eyebrows, Rylie assumed, and she shifted even closer to him, turning her body to face his.
"Look at it." she commanded, and he did so. She watched him intently, admiring the city lights flash in the pupils of his eyes. "It's plastic people...doing plastic things. People get dragged along in life that they forget how messed up they become. The lack of meaning in this world perplexes me...and I'm no exception."
"So you're saying sometimes people should just sit back and take a good look at the world like we are now?" Michael asked, and Rylie mumbled a yes. He smiled faintly, eyeing her intensely. "I admire you."
Rylie blushed, thankful he wouldn't see. She met his eyes, and even though the stars shone insufficient light on their dusted complexions, she could still the electrified green of his gaze.
"Do you believe in love?" he asked, his tone almost a whisper.
Rylie, caught off guard by his question, slowly nodded. "What do you mean? Of course I believe in love."
"I mean like a bigger love...," Michael paused, his eyes trailing off to the grass, "Like how everything else doesn't seem to matter except that person. Everything fades away like the city before us. You would do anything, be anything for that one person."
Rylie immediate thought was of Luke, and how that's exactly how he made her feel. "I understand. Luke makes me feel things I didn't even imagine I was capable of feeling."
Michael's eyes snapped up to meet hers, and she could see the despair and discomfort behind them at the mention of Luke's name.
"What?" she asked.
Michael sighed, and Rylie's eyes scanned to the vein throbbing in his throat.
"I can't tell you."
Rylie rolled her eyes, feeling her blood boil. That's all she ever heard, and she was beyond pissed at it. She inhaled slowly. "You can tell me anything, Mikey, you know that." she clasped to the hand resting in his lap, and held onto it tight, admiring the roughness of his palm against her smooth one.
She made sure Michael was meeting her eyes, and nodded for him to just let everything out. They were best friends. They could tell each other anything.
Michael gave in to her pleading eyes, and continued to look at the grass. "Why do you think Luke's mad at me?" he asked, contemplating finishing.
Michael exhaled as he finished. "Because I like his girlfriend."
At first, Rylie nodded quickly, not coherently indulging what he meant. Then, the pieces added up in her head, and she shot a quick fearful glance at Michael's pink cheeks. The tension dragged in the air, and she shifted her body, suddenly uncomfortable with the proximity of their bodies. She removed her hands from his. The temperature seemed to rise rapidly in the cold air.
She had no idea how to react. She looked to Michael, and instantly saw him differently. He liked her...the thought never occurred to her. Now every time he tensed up at her touch made sense.
"So you like me? As-as more than a friend?" Rylie gulped back the lump in her throat, not sure why she was so nervous.
"Yes..." Michael whispered shyly, his hot breath fanning out onto her face. "I'm sorry I just changed everything."
"N-no." Rylie stammered, regaining her sense back. She pushed the words out. "This doesn't change anything." she assured him. She tried to believe it herself. She didn't want her and Michael's relationship to be affected by a silly crush. They were good friends, and they would continue to be. Michael would move on as soon as he saw how serious Rylie was about Luke.
"So you're not mad?" Michael asked, his voice resembling a small child's. Rylie felt his eyes burning like lasers in her skin, and she forcefully met them with an apologetic expression.
She stifled a chuckle. "No, how could I be mad? You're my best friend." He was so innocent and embarrassed and she could never be mad at him for such a small thing.
She gripped the sides of his shoulders, and pulled him in, wrapping her arms around his back lovingly. At first, he rejected her hug in hesitation, but he soon returned the favor by doing the same. Rylie breathed in his scent of driftwood and apricots, and rested her chin on his shoulder. She felt his heart beating so fast against her chest as there was no way air could seep through the cracks of their bodies.
Rylie looked at Michael like a little brother, even though he was a tad older than her. She vowed not to let his feelings ruin their close relationship.
Michael pulled away, and cringed his nose in a depressed expression. "Luke was so mad at me when I told him."
"When did you tell Luke?" Rylie asked, the curiosity clear in her voice.
"I don't know actually. It's been a while though."
"A while?" Rylie sighed bitterly. Luke had known about Michael's crush basically the entire time they were dating, and yet, he continued to rub their relationship in Michael's face. It was petty of him to do such a thing to his best friend. Michael must have been hurting so bad every time he was in the room with them. He was forced to watch them kiss, and cuddle.
"Yeah, but don't tell him I told you!" Michael added, his eyes wide with fear.
Rylie nodded because if she said she wouldn't, she would be lying. She was going to have a serious conversation with Luke about keeping things from her. Now that she had learned this new information, it still didn't satisfy the constant feeling she had in her gut that Luke was keeping something else.
Rylie was lost in thought, but suddenly remembered Michael's presence, and smiled weakly at him, trying to reassure him that everything was going to be okay.
The rest of the walk home, Michael was telling stories of his childhood, and Rylie faintly listened, and occasionally nodded, but she couldn't get the burden off her shoulders that she needed to talk to Luke. She planned out the words in her head but it just wouldn't sound right coming out.
They got to the lobby, and took the elevator upstairs where Rylie planned to express her goodbye to Michael and make her way to Luke's room where she would dismiss whoever was with him so they could have a civil conversation. Luke was probably already mad at her, and they would most likely end up yelling at each other in the end.
The doors slid open, and Rylie and Michael said goodbye, and they turned opposite directions. Rylie walked slowly to Luke's room, and didn't even bother to knock as she turned the doorknob, and opened it slightly.
Before she moved another muscle, she heard yelling behind the door, and she stopped her actions. She eavesdropped, and she knew it was wrong, but if Luke could keep a secret, so could she.
"I'm not doing it, sir." she recognized Luke's voice, and she could sense him violently shaking his head.
"You have to!" another male voice answered, and she was surprised to notify it as her father, Paul.
"I can't! There's never a right time, and I feel wrong now."
"Don't tell me you've grown soft!" Paul's voice grimaced at him.
Luke was interrupted by a raging Paul. "If you don't do it soon, then you can forget about 5 Seconds of Summer. Your band will be history before you can even say its name."
Rylie heard footsteps coming her way, and she quickly ran down the hallway, and hid behind a corner. She peeked over the side, and watched her father slam the door behind him, and breathe out a heavy sigh before leaving abruptly.
Rylie waited a second before she moved from her hiding place and treaded lightly to the big, brown door that had a lot of pain behind it. She opened it wide, and stood cautiously in the doorway. Luke held his face in his hands, letting out soft sobs, and Rylie dropped her current matters, and ran over to him.
"Luke!" she kneeled by him at the edge of the bed, and forced his head up to meet her eyes. "Baby, what's wrong?" she cooed, rubbing her thumb up and down his jawline.
"I don't know what to do!" he yelled, and Rylie knew he was too upset to even acknowledge her presence or explain the reasons behind his tears.
"Luke..." Rylie brushed his locks of blonde hair with her gentle fingers. She had no idea why he was conflicted, and whatever Paul was talking about, but the least she could was offer her support. "Whatever you decide...I'm here for you." She tried to calm him, but her statement only made him cry more. The cries slowly started to turn into laughter, and Rylie was bewildered why he would laugh at such an inappropriate time. She furrowed her brows at him, and started to consider he was at the stage of utter distraught that he was going mad. That was not the case. His laughter was bitter, and it was the laugh an evil scientist would make in those movies.
"Luke, why are you laughing?" Rylie finally raised her voice at him, trying to shut him up. The laughter had started to overtake her, and make her feel dejected inside.
Luke looked down at her from the bed, and his eyes were soft and longing, but deep behind them, she saw a small vile of hatred. She knew it wasn't for her, but it still shrunk her self-esteem a little.
"If only you knew..." Luke smiled weakly, and he didn't mean to sound so horrible and selfish, but that was the full blow of emotions that Rylie felt when he said those words.