15: Franny

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15. Franny

Two hours later the races are over. Ethan comes bounding over to us, easily slipping past the mass of people leaving the stadium. He's decked out in a full biker suit with a helmet covering his face. He reaches up and pulls off the helmet, hooking it under his arm.

"So?" He spreads his arms wide, nearly knocking a random person out with his helmet. "Impressed yet?"

"Don't get cocky," Tyler mutters.

Ethan just grins at him and then turns to me. He raises his eyebrows and awaits my answer. I blink rapidly. "Oh! Um, yeah. It was great, really."

"Okay, maybe Ginge will have a better reaction," Ethan says and winks at Tally. "So? Were you impressed with my display of perfectness?"

"I wouldn't exactly call it perfect . . . " Tally trails off.

"Man, is it that hard to get a compliment around here?" Ethan huffs.

I refrain from mentioning that I did give him a compliment (despite that it was a little delayed and confused) and instead just stand there silently. People pile out of the stadium idly, some going faster and others just taking their sweet time.

The four of us stand and talk a little longer. Mostly, Ethan is trying to impress Tally, and Tyler apologizes profusely whenever he accidentally touches my shoulder or my arm, which only makes me smile.

He's funny when he's flustered.

Eventually Ethan walks off to change his clothes and get his bike put away with the rest of the teams'. Tyler gestures towards the main exit, so we slowly head out with the remaining few people.

"So, did you like it?" he asks.

I nod. "Yeah. I never thought I would see anything like that."

"I'll never admit it to the bastard, but he wasn't bad," Tally says, smiling a little. I grin at her.

"You've only just met Ethan and you're practically killing him," I comment.

Tyler laughs and my own smile widens a little. I like it when he laughs, it just sounds so carefree and happy that I can't help but smile along with him. It's one of those moments when the Tyler that everyone knows—the one who threw away football and popularity—is not the one I get to see. I get to see another part of him, a hidden little gem of the boy that no one else understands.

We make it out of the stadium and into the night air. The sky is completely clear of clouds, and full of stars. The sound of cars driving away and bikes revving fills the silence outside.

I'm too distracted by everything around me to realize that Tyler's stopped dead in his tracks, until I bump into his back. I place a hand on his shoulder.

His eyes are looking right ahead at something and I follow his gaze. "Tyler . . .?"

I stop talking when I take in what he sees. Tyler's truck is parked in front of us but standing beside the red vehicle are two men. They look much older than any of us, maybe in their late thirties or early forties. I take a step back, my hand still on Tyler's arm.

"Tyler?" I whisper. "Who are they?"

He doesn't answer, and I glance beside me to see Tally there, frozen to the spot and seemingly just as confused as I am. Ethan comes running up behind us and steps into the gap between my best friend and me.

"The fuck are you doing here?" Ethan spits.

One of the men takes a step forward as the other runs a finger down the window of Tyler's truck. "This hasn't got anything to do with you, Ethan. Stay out of things you don't know."

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