My whole childhood had gone by in a haze. Now, at the age of 16, I felt as if it was over altogether. I didn’t know what was going to happen the next second, but as our car flipped over, the only thing I could hear was my family’s screaming and my little sister’s crying. I couldn’t move; I was frozen. The black Audi sedan that had crashed into us burst into fire when we landed on the roof. Pain, pain, pain. Suddenly everything was hurting, my ears were hooting, and I started vomiting. Once the fire spread around us and my skin started burning too, I knew I was dead.
My eyes blinked open in panic, revealing a plain white ceiling. My breathing accelerated, hand trying to shoot up to my throat, only to realize it was restrained against the hard bed I was lying on. My throat started to get thicker and thicker, and with every breath I took, I was able to catch less and less air. Until there was none. I wasn’t getting enough air—it felt as if the room was a plastic bag—and I could feel my face getting paler with every second.
My brother’s panicking face came into my view, and his hand caught mine on the bed, holding it tightly, his mouth moving as if he would’ve been talking. I was trying to talk back, but I could only move my mouth as he did; nothing came out of it. His face was red, and his eyes were bloodshot as if he had been crying before.
Two pairs of hands pulled him away, and another man started working on me, moving his mouth and staring into my eyes as if I was supposed to understand anything he was saying. At this point, my eyes were falling shut again from the lack of air.
The visual plastic bag around my head was removed as he pushed something into my nose, his face hopeful, but eyes big and scared. Was he scared for me? Who even was he? A new amount of oxygen sprung into my throat, through my nose, as my brother’s warm hand landed on my shoulder. When I turned my head, I could see his angry face, his mouth opening way too much for him to be just talking. He was shouting. And I couldn’t hear.
That’s the moment I understood that I lost my hearing. And everything went black all over again.
The next time I woke, there was a different kind of lighting in the room. It was the same ceiling, but the lamps weren’t turned on over my head, instead, the strays of light were shining from the windows, noting it was a day. I couldn’t open my eyes just yet, but I wasn’t deaf this time. There was a quiet murmuring in the room, voices I didn’t recognize were talking in a hushed tone, just like someone was sleeping. Some kind of machine was beeping next to my ear.
My eyes flickered open and I tried to move my hands again. The left hand was still restrained against the bed, but the right one I was able to move, only to be stopped by someone’s hand on my wrist. On the moment that happened, my head whipped to the right, and the world started rolling in front of my eyes. I could hear myself groan quietly as I pressed my eyes together, and then blinked them opened again. The dizziness from the rapid move disappeared with a few seconds, and I saw an oddly familiar face in front of me.
I hadn’t seen him for years. We had kept talking on social media—sharing posts with each other that we both found funny—but other than that I hadn’t seen him for… 4 years? He had changed. His face had slimmed down, he was still skinny, but his arm had muscles. His lips and hair and eyes were still the same. He was still wearing the same old comforting beanie on his head. I couldn’t remember him ever taking it off.
I wanted to pull my arm away, to keep moving it, but his greenish-blue eyes were staring into mine and they comforted me enough to let him keep touching me. He didn’t smile. Not once.
“Betty?” I heard my older brother’s voice. I looked at him, but because I had already learned from my mistake of moving too fast, I did it slowly, and the turn of my head took a few more seconds than it should have in normal circumstances. My eyes met his. They were still red like he had been crying and hadn’t slept for a long time. “Betty,” he breathed, relieved. “You can hear me, yeah?”
I blinked in confusion, observing my little sister sleeping on his lap. Her tiny face was covered in bruises and she had an oxygen mask on. Other than that, she looked fine. Relief washed over my body as I sank more into the mattress. She was alive, I was alive. But where were Polly and my mom? Were they attached to hospital beds like I was? They must’ve been.
“Where’s mom?” I asked slowly, and then frowned, trying to understand why my mouth didn’t want to move well, and why my tongue was so numb. I looked at my brother for an explanation of why I couldn’t talk normally and also for an answer to my question. His eyes filled with tears immediately, and I couldn’t do anything else than to look away.
He was crying. Mom was dead. “And Polly?” I asked as good as I could, pressing my eyes together as the waterworks started.
Charles’ hand landed on my arm and he started moving it up and down slowly. “You’re gonna be okay,” he said with a choked-up voice.
Knowing I couldn’t get an answer from him, I opened my hurtful eyes again and observed Jughead’s reaction instead. He wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were down on his lap, a tear rolling down the side of his face. His dad was sitting next to him, and I could see him getting up slowly. “I’ll get the doctor,” he said and left. The door shut with a quiet click as I closed my eyes.
My mom was dead. My sister was dead. My brother and my little sister were sitting next to me. As was the boy I used to have a crush on when we were younger. Why was he here? I didn’t know.
My breathing got heavier and faster, the tears wouldn’t stop, and when the same man who was here before—the doctor, probably—ran into the room after Charles shouted something inaudible, a syringe entered the arm I couldn’t move, and I fell into slumber with a few seconds. Jughead’s hand slid down my wrist, into mine, and he gave it a light squeeze before intertwining his fingers with mine.
My older sister was screaming. My mom’s dead face came into the view, and as I whipped myself around, my sister was there too. I jerked at her burned face, her arms that were stretched out, and her dead-looking eyes, mouth fallen open. She was dead, too, but she was screaming. Why was she doing that? I tried to click my ears to focus on the words instead of the voice.
“You killed us!” she screeched.
“You’re a murderer, Elizabeth!” my mom screamed. “You’re a murderer! Just like your father!”
“It was your fault!” Polly cried. “It is your fault! You deserved death, not me! You unbuckled my seatbelt! You were the one supposed to die, not me!”
“No,” I whispered, tears falling down my cold face. “No!” I shouted back.
“You’re a murderer!” mom cried again. “You’re a murderer just like your father!”
“No!” I screamed, my voice breaking. “No!” I kept repeating the word as I pressed my hands onto my ears, trying to block their screams and cries out, my little sister’s cry joining them. “Leave me alone!” I sobbed. “Stop!”
“Betty!” Charles shouted as I felt my body shaking. “Betty! Wake up!”
My eyes shot open as I tried to sit up, choking on my own screams. “Hey, hey,” FP said, his hand landing on my shoulder comfortingly. My eyes moved onto his face in panic. “Calm down,” he said strongly. “Calm down. It’s just a dream.”
My mouth fell open as I tried to talk, but only heartbreaking sobs left it—all which hurt my throat more than anything else would’ve. “Betty,” Charles’ voice said somewhere when my eyes went blank. “Breathe. Come on. Slowly.”
I tried to follow the instructions as FP’s hand started rubbing my arm up and down gently, helping me with the rhythm. With ten minutes, my vision was back, and I was staring at the white ceiling with a blank look.
“Betty?” the doctor asked, sitting on the place FP was before, both Jug and him standing, staring at me worriedly. I moved my eyes on the man, attempting to move my left arm that had never been tied against the bed as I had thought, but instead was in a cast. Why I couldn’t move it, I still didn’t understand. “How are you feeling?”
I turned my face away with a small roll of my eyes, back to staring at the ceiling. He kept talking softly, explaining to me why I needed to answer. “Do you remember the crash? Do you know why you’re here?”
“Someone saved me,” I said, and were surprisingly happy to find that the numbness in my mouth had gone away. Which explained why the ache in my head had tenfold.
“They did,” he agreed, getting my attention again, my head turning to look back at him involuntarily. “Do you remember anything from that?”
“The crash?” I asked carefully, finding that it was painful to raise my eyebrows like I was used to doing.
“The road was slippery. There was smoke coming from the woods. Cars were honking somewhere in front of us. There were two cars in fire in front of us and the black car who had already crashed kept driving. Mom tried to turn away,” I whispered the last sentence, my jaw starting to shake, chills running over my body. “But the Audi was faster, and we crashed…” I explained quietly, looking at the doctor in confusion, trying to ignore all the eyes on me. “My mom let go of the steering wheel and we flipped onto the roof,” I explained, my breathing slow like before, jaw stiffened, and head aching. “I tried to keep my sister alive. But the smoke was hot. And I… I thought I was dead.”
Charles breathed out sharply on the other side of my bed, the doctor looked happy (probably because I remembered), and FP had obvious tears in his eyes that he was trying to hold back, but my eyes stayed on Jughead. He looked sorry. Sad and worried, but overall, he was just sorry. I wanted to hear his voice. I needed to.
“Alright,” the doctor said finally, and I was forced to pull my eyes away from the boy’s face, moving them onto the doctor, Cabello, as his nametag stated. “Do you remember what you did before that or where you were headed to?”
“Competition,” I whispered, my eyes moving onto my legs on the bed that I wasn’t able to move for some reason. I gulped my tears back. “A skiing competition.”
The doctor looked shocked, his eyes moving onto my brother’s as did mine. Charles gave him a nod, knowing that my story was right. Suddenly the doctor looked in more pain than I did, and he stood up with a small nod. “You need to get some more rest. I’ll bring you some food and after that, we’ll have to put you back on the medicine.” I didn’t say or do anything, just stared at his face as he observed my legs painfully. “We’ll have to talk later.”
The next time I woke up was when the medicine faded away. My eyes flickered open, there was a lot less pain in my body, and I found my little sister awake as well. She was sitting on Charles’ lap and smiled at me when she noticed my eyes were open. She tilted her head to look at me like I was looking at her, which made me smile a bit. She smiled back, reaching for me.
Charles’ head moved, looking at what she was doing, and then smiled at me softly as well. It was another day, he looked better, he had changed his clothes. His eyes weren’t as tired as before but were still red. “Betty,” Olive said quietly and kept reaching for me.
“Can you move your arm?” Charles asked me.
I gulped, ready to be disappointed, as I tried to lift my left arm. My eyes went wide as I actually could do it and looked at him in shock. He smiled at me softly, placing our little sister onto the bed. There was more room than I thought, and the small girl crawled up to my face, touching my cheek with an excited smile on her face. She was about to get two. Or…
I frowned, which didn’t hurt to my surprise, and I also couldn’t feel the bandage on my eyebrows or forehead anymore. “Chaz?” I asked quietly.
“Yeah?” he asked softly when my hand moved onto Olive’s blond hair, starting to stroke it as she lied down next to me, looking up at me with her big blue eyes.
“What day is it?”
He cleared his throat uncomfortably, my eyes burning into his. “Uh… You remember what day it was when… You know.”
He nodded with a small smile. “It’s the 12th now. November.” My eyes widened in shock, my brain trying to calculate the days that have passed. “You first woke up on the 4th. I don’t know if you remember it, but they had to put you back asleep. And then you’ve occasionally been up throughout some days.”
“But what…” I breathed out sharply and turned my head, not finding neither Jughead nor FP there.
“They’re getting food,” he explained. “Olive’s not allowed to leave the hospital just yet, but they told us that instead of soup you should be able to eat something else now. They went to get pizza.”
I smiled a bit sadly. “But… Why are they here?”
He sighed. “Somebody needs to take care of you two,” he said quietly. “I’m 20, they didn’t let me do anything. So, it’s either grandma or FP. I thought you’d prefer him.”
I gulped while giving him a nod and turned my eyes back onto my little sister who had closed her eyes, wanting to sleep probably. “I’m going to live with them?” I asked quietly.
“We don’t know yet. They’ll be here for a while though. Might as well start talking to them. And if you have questions, which I know you do, ask as well.”
“When did Olive wake up?”
“A day after,” he said. “She’s been tested. She can still walk and run like before, nothing’s broken. She keeps having nightmares and crying herself up though… Just like you.”
I shuttered at the thought of seeing the same thing all over again every night. “And um… What about mom and Polly?” I asked with a shaky voice, too tired to cry again.
“The front of the car burned,” Charles whispered. “The firefighters got you and Olive out, but as the police said, Polly’s neck had broken in the crash, the death was immediate, and mom was unconscious. She was brought to hospital with you two, but her skin was burned. They didn’t even let me see her.”
I stared at my brother who was crying again and tried to hold back the tears in my eyes as I looked down at my little sister. Did she know all that? I really hoped she didn’t.
“You’re gonna fall down,” I told Olive who kept moving in the bed next to me, not able to stay in the same place for a long time. The little girl giggled, rolling onto her tummy to look up at me. “I’m serious, Ollie,” I said with a small smile.
“Where mommy?” Olive asked for the hundredth time. My heart kept pounding hurtfully every time she did that. I didn’t know what to say. Charles had lied something about her going away for some time. I didn’t want to lie. But there was no way to tell it either. She wouldn’t have understood anyway.
“She went on a trip, baby,” Charles said, earning both of our attention. His eyes moved onto mine, wordlessly warning me not to start crying, and then back to her. “We’ll have to be without her for now.”
“Want mommy,” she murmured sadly, returning to her previous position. Tears crept in my eyes, but as the door opened, I turned my head away for a moment, wiping my tears away with the hand that I was free to move easily.
“Hey,” I heard FP say, which made me look back at him and Jughead, both carrying two boxes of pizza. I gave him a small smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. He seemed to be happy to at least have gotten that. “You hungry?” he asked me.
“Yeah, kind of,” I said with a raspy voice, swallowing at the idea of having to start talking with them. During the few days that I had actually woken up, I had never spoken to either of them, or even heard Jughead talking.
As my eyes moved to his face, his quickly turned away from mine and looked at my sister instead. “Hey kid,” he said, voice lower than I remembered. “Look what I got you.” He placed the pizzas down on a chair as Olive’s face was half-hidden in my hospital gown, peeking out of it curiously. His hands worked to open the dark backpack he had been wearing, and when he pulled out a small cute grey teddy bear with a blue shirt on, Olive raised her head fully, smiling at it.
The corners of my mouth lifted when I saw how happy she got while accepting the toy, and then hugged it while placing her head back against my stomach. “Thank you,” she said with her baby accent.
“You’re welcome,” Jughead chuckled. His eyes glimpsed at me for a moment before pulling out a pack of Jolly Ranchers and holding them up with a smirk, observing my happy face. “Still your favorite?”
When we were little and used to meet a few times in a year, I used to be obsessed with these candies. Still, am. How did he remember, I’m not sure? “Yeah,” I said. He placed them on the empty place next to my pillows and pulled out a few more packs of them, plus some Sour Patch Kids and a few bars of Snickers. I raised my eyebrows while he walked to the table in the room and placed them on it. Seeing my surprise, he just winked at me, returning to the pizzas.
“What did you get?” Charles asked the two guys he had become used to with the two weeks they had spent here.
“We have a… Margherita, a Chicken-Bacon Parmesan, Pepperoni, and a Garden Veggie,” FP explained. “You were vegetarian years ago, so we weren’t sure…”
“Yeah, I’ll take a slice from the last one,” I smiled gratefully, happy that they had remembered.
“The doctor will be here in a minute,” FP said carefully. “You need to sit up, he needs to make sure it doesn’t hurt.”
I nodded with a sad smile, understanding that. Doctor Cabello entered the room a few minutes later and FP lifted Olive onto his lap, off the bed. My little sister had never really been the one to cry or care about who was holding her, so she stayed quiet and accepted the slice of Margherita pizza that FP helped her to eat.
“Alright, Betty. How are you doing right now?”
“Okay I guess,” I said timidly.
He gave me a small smile. “The oxygen helps you?”
“Yeah, I think so.” He was referring to the nasal cannula that was in my nose and connected to a big machine under the high bed.
“Alright. I’ll try to get you to sit more up, okay? If anything hurts, you have to tell me immediately.”
I nodded, taking the information in just as he pressed the button, his index finger firmly on it. The bed started moving slowly and I kept waiting for the pain to come, but there wasn’t any more of it than usual. Which meant that my back, head and arms still hurt, but the moving neither helped nor made it worse. Some moments later he stopped, smiling at me reassuringly. “Everything okay?”
I nodded. “Can we… Take that out?” I asked doubtfully, pointing at the IV in my arm.
“No, I’m sorry, that has to stay in. When you’re tired and ready to go to sleep, press the red button.”
“Wait, can I… Go to the bathroom?” I asked quietly.
The doctor sighed quietly. “You’re not able to move right now, Ms. Cooper.”
“Yeah, but how…” I shut up by myself when I understood how I was supposed to do it. Suddenly I was really interested if I had a canister under my bed or something. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom ever since I woke up weeks ago and kept sleeping for days.
“You see, you were in a coma for a bit over a week,” he explained softly. “It works differently. The last time you woke up was a few days ago. You—don’t panic—have a tube inside you.”
My breathing accelerated involuntarily, and I started shaking, the tears forming in my eyes all over again. “Betty, calm down,” Charles said, placing his hand on my shoulder. “You’ll get a better room soon; you’ll be able to sit up at least. You won’t even notice anything.”
“No. What the fuck,” I protested, and turned my head to look at my doctor. “I want it out. Now.”
Of course, nobody listened to me and the man repeated to call him when I was ready to go back to sleep. Fucking idiots.
At least the pizza was good. Idiots.
“Hey,” Jughead said with a small smile, sliding his phone back into his pocket. I looked at him while frowning, which made him raise his eyebrows for a second. “Your sister’s getting tested mentally if I’m not wrong,” he explained to me. “So, Charles and my dad are there.”
I nodded slowly, looking around the room weakly. This was not the same room I had been in previously. “What’s the date?” I mumbled before turning my attention back on him.
“I slept the whole day?” I sighed. “What time is it?”
He glanced at the clock on the wall which I hadn’t discovered yet. “4 pm.”
“A day and a half,” I muttered, correcting myself.
“You were under medicine,” he said. “Some of your friends and relatives had sent you stuff,” he nudged his head towards the table under the window where were some toys and sweets and all the stuff that was supposed to make us happier.
I nodded plainly. “Can you answer my questions?”
At that, he smirked the same way he used to when we were little; his lips raised, only the left side crooking up in a smile, making a small dimple appeared on his cheek. “Sure. Shoot.”
“Why are you here?”
“Your brother didn’t tell you?”
“He told me I’m probably going to live with you… So, I understand that FP came. But why are you here?”
The boy frowned in confusion. “My dad wouldn’t let me stay home alone for months or however long it is.”
“Did you want to come?”
He shrugged. “I’ve wanted to see you again for years now,” he confessed, making the heart in my chest jump. “I didn’t want to see you like that and under these circumstances, but… I wasn’t just going to stay home while you’re in a hospital.”
I gave him a small sincere smile and he smiled back at me for a moment before turning his head to face the ground under his feet. “Do you know anything about what’s wrong with me?”
At that, he didn’t look up either. “I’m not supposed to tell you.”
“Please?” I moved my arm, my hand landing on his on the edge of my bed. I could feel the air on my neck that was produced by the sudden move of his head. It made me shiver for a second while he intertwined our fingers like he had all those days ago when I was half unconscious.
“They’re saying you were moved into this room here earlier than they hoped. They weren’t sure if you can move your arms, but you obviously can. The legs take longer times if…”
“If they’ll work at all,” he continued in a whisper, his deep bluish-green eyes burning into my face.
I turned my head to face the wall that was on the other side of me, tears forming in my eyes as my throat got dry as if I’d been crying for a long time already. “I hate my life,” I whispered. Jughead had no objections which was why I continued. “My dad’s a murderer,” I whispered. “My mom and sister are dead. And I can’t even fucking keep doing the only thing that I actually enjoyed,” I cried. If I wasn’t going to be able to walk, there was no way I was going to be skiing or doing biathlon ever again.
“Betts,” he said with a broken voice, his thumb starting to brush over my knuckles to get me to breathe in a normal rhythm again. “I’m not gonna lie and say it’s going to be okay, but it is going to get better. You’ll work on it. If you practice enough and go to therapy or whatever they’re getting for you, you’ll be able to walk soon enough.” He turned my red face to face him gently, and I noticed a tear sliding down his cheek. “You’re going to get better. And you will be able to walk. Eventually.”
“I worked for Olympics,” I cried. “They said I’ll have the chances if I try. Fuck I’ve been working on it ever since I was 6. I just fucked up. Everything’s fucked up.”
“Betty,” he sighed, not knowing what to say. His eyes reflected my pain as he leaned down and pressed his forehead against mine gently, calming me down slowly. “You’ll get there. I promise.”
Three days later after mastering the art of sitting up by myself with the help of my hands, the horrible tube was removed from inside me. Charles had brought me some clothes from home, and I learned how to get my sweatpants on. It was one of the best days of my new life when I finally felt that I had pants on. Seriously.
I had spoken with FP who I noticed was incredibly scared and worried for me. He was so supportive and asked me about things that made me happy. He even bought me a new phone as the old one had been destroyed in the accident. I had contact with my friends again who had written to me all over social media. Even my coach had written to me many times, worried about my wellbeing. When I told her yesterday I couldn’t walk and had to start studying how to do that thing that once was so simple, she was devastated.
I was sleeping 12 hours a day now, which was an accomplishment. Charles, FP, and Jughead had been thought how to help me onto a wheelchair when needed. And today was the day I was going to be tested. So, even though I wasn’t religious and had never been, while I was being wheeled through the huge hospital, on my way to the right floor, I was praying under my breath.
When I was taken there, only my doctor and the physical therapist were allowed to stay. There were more people in the room, and I observed the way they used different machines to either learn how to move their arms or neck, or how to open their mouth. And suddenly I felt blessed. I had problems with my legs. These people couldn’t even talk. I was such a needy bitch that for a moment I hated myself. That was until I remembered I wasn’t able to do biathlon anymore, which made me want to cry all over again.
Charles and the others went out of the huge room, staying behind the glass wall where many other people were at, looking as their loved ones were trying to recover from strokes or other tragic accidents.
“Hi,” a young woman smiled at me. “What’s your name?”
She nodded. “I was waiting for you. I’m Brenda. I’ll be working with you until you can go back home.”
I gulped but smiled at her a little, understanding she didn’t know I wasn’t going to go home anymore. The woman continued, “How old are you?”
“And… Can you tell me what happened? And do you know what we’re going to do here?”
“I was in a car accident. On the 24th. And I was in a coma until 4th or something similar. Two days ago, I was able to sit up by myself. But I don’t think I feel my legs.”
She nodded. “Alright. Have you done any type of sport for your legs? Especially lately?”
“I do—did biathlon. For ten years now. We were actually on our way to a competition when…” I looked down, taking a deep breath—something one of the doctors had shown me. It helped when I felt like panicking and not getting out of it. So, after a few moments, I looked back at Brenda. She put on a brave face for me, her smile not outing any pity, even though I could see she was sad.
After she took some of her papers, we started. She told me to follow her instructions, and so I did. “Put your hands on your knees.” I did it and kept doing what she asked me to. “Hands on your thighs. On your stomach… Hold them there… Alright, try to lift them to the opposite shoulders… Good, now on the same shoulders.”
The last thing hurt a bit, and I got tired within about ten seconds, but she looked really happy that I had been able to hold them for a bit over ten seconds, which made me feel proud too.
“Can you try to lift your left leg up?” she asked me.
“Like off the wheelchair?” I asked with a frown.
The woman agreed with a nod. “But don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s your first day; the fact that you can move your arms is amazing.”
I nodded with a sigh and tried to focus on my legs and feet. At least the left one right now. But no matter how hard I tried, or how tightly I squeezed the handles of the chair, I couldn’t do it. After a few minutes when I was about to start crying from disappointment, the woman smiled at me and asked me to try with the other one, both of us not waiting much from it.
When I was wheeled back to my room about an hour later, I asked to be alone for a while. They knew I was mad and disappointed and extremely shocked, still, but they also knew what I was like. At least they used to know. So, they left me alone for a while.
I cried. This was becoming all too much at once. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t feel or move my legs. Half of my family was dead. I had a crush on a boy who was going to be my brother in some weird way.
And when they later at night told me the police wanted to talk to me too, I felt even worse. Worse enough that when I woke up during the night and everybody was asleep, I kept shivering, probably from my new formed fever, afraid to wake anybody up. Until my sobbing got too loud and Jughead woke up on one of the beds for the families. He managed to calm me down and gave me one of his hoodies, helping me pull it on. And he stayed there, stroking my hair, while I fell back asleep, into the dark nothingness.
“Look. Before you talk with them you need to know something,” Charles started when I was sitting up on the bed, while the doctor was putting some kind of medicine on the open infected cut on my leg. I couldn’t feel it much, but the fact that there was some pain relaxed me. The doctor had told me I wasn’t paralyzed in that case. I still had hopes. Apparently, I had “a good 40% chance of walking”. If 40% was what they had hoped for, I must’ve been an idiot, hoping for a 50/50 chance. I had a bit more than 5 months to recover. And after a year of the accident, if I still couldn’t move great, it was going to be permanent. No pressure, right?
“Yeah?” I asked carefully.
“The man who was driving… You said there were two more car wrecks on the highway. If I understood right then the guy had driven on the wrong side of the road, so another car tried to turn away in panic. But the woman driving that car turned into some other car who was also trying to avoid conflict… The black car you talked about kept driving until he crashed into you guys.”
My eyes widened as I opened my mouth in shock, wanting to ask something but not sure what it was. “So… Other people were hurt too?”
Charles nodded. “That wasn’t as bad as your crash, but they were all taken to the hospital, and about a 7-year-old kid choked on one of the airbags.”
I got goosebumps all over my body as the doctor stopped working with the medicine and calmly wrapped my leg into a new bandage. “Is he dead?”
My brother gave me a few small nods, which made my heart hurt even more than it had before. I lowered my head and pressed my eyes shut, taking small and shaky breaths. “And? Why did I need to know that?” I asked quietly a few moments later when the doctor had left the room, leaving the two of us to be.
“At first the police want to talk about what you saw and what happened—if everyone’s versions fit together. But…” he sighed and continued, “The other victims are going to go to court. I talked to FP about it… We’d like to stand with them.”
I moved my eyes back onto his face questioningly, “Like how?”
“You’d have to repeat your words in the court. You’d have to talk about what happened to you and all the bad incomes. The parents of the small boy are the main ones doing it. They’re suing the man. We don’t know if he was drunk or high or just stupid, but he’s a murderer. Everybody wants to get compensation for losing that much. And also… the government is paying your hospital bills, but we still need money for physical therapy. FP doesn’t have loads of money. If you’re going to stand in the court with the others, you’re going to win. And everybody needs that right now.”
I stayed quiet for a while, confused about my own thoughts, but eventually talked up. “You should become a motivational speaker…”
“A black Audi?” Officer Gagnon asked in disbelief. “How do you know it was an Audi?”
“I used to help my dad fix cars when I was little,” I explained quietly. “And everything seemed to happen in slow motion, so I can pretty much say that there was a gaggle flying over us.”
The man nodded worriedly, and I observed at his notebook upside down when he wrote down something similar to ‘hyper-aware of the situation’. It made me get a bit nervous when his long fingers started tapping the pen between them against the table and his dark brown eyes met mine again, his other hand reaching out scratch his beard for a moment. The tapping and the scratching made me want to vomit, which was when I realize I was hyper-aware of everything, indeed.
“How many people were there in your car?”
I realized that he probably already knew all of that but was just testing my mental stability and if my memory was still as good as before the crash. “4. My mom, me, and my two sisters.”
“And do you know what happened to all of them?”
“They said my mom had a serious head wound and her skin had burned all over,” I explained quietly with a shaky voice, observing his pen as he was writing it all down absentmindedly. “My sister died immediately because her neck broke. My little sister is here with me. She’s fine now, but she had been under medicine before I woke up. She still has bruises that haven’t healed and she’s quieter, but physically nothing’s broken.”
I didn’t dare to look up as I reached my hand to wipe away the tears on my face. My throat was starting to hurt from the amount of crying that needed to be done soon. I kept holding it inside, but it wasn’t healthy.
“And you, Ms. Cooper? Can you tell me what your injuries are like?”
“I have a spinal cord injury. My legs won’t move—I don’t feel the left one at all. I have a broken arm,” I said, staring at the cast around it. “My head hurts all the time. I have a wound that is infected. I was in a coma for about a week.”
The officer nodded, writing some more things down. “And have you gotten a court invite?”
I gulped when I met his eyes, nodding a little.
My eyes opened slowly once I woke up. Sleeping during days was comfortable and never made me have nightmares, which helped a lot. During nights I always had to have somebody close to me just in case I was choking or panicking because of my dreams or just something happened, but during the day they could all go somewhere and not just sit in the hospital room. Of course, Jughead was still sitting here, reading what I thought was the 4th book that he had brought.
“Jug?” I asked tiredly, looking at him through my half-closed eyes. The boy turned to look at me and smiled softly.
“Hey,” he said simply before turning back to the book.
“I’m hungry,” I murmured, making him look at me again with his eyebrows raised up. “Pass me the candy?”
He nodded, placing a small piece of paper between the pages, and dropped the book onto a chair. He grabbed me a pack of Jolly Ranchers and opened them, grabbing a few before handing it to me. “They’re mine,” I mumbled with a smile, making him smirk as well.
“They said you have to eat healthy. I’m helping you with that,” he said, sitting down on the chair he was previously on, observing me as I made my bed move to a sitting position. “I want a bed like that at home,” he mentioned.
“It’s kind of stiff…” I popped the watermelon candy into my mouth and turned my head to face him normally. “Where are the others?”
“Oh, uh… They went to get some more stuff. And to you know… pack it,” he said carefully.
I nodded. The moving was going to be the least painful part. Riverdale was smaller than Saratoga Springs, and in another state, but there was snow too, and my mom used to own a house there. I think it was Charles’ now.
FP and my mom used to be best friends. They knew each other from the age of 5 when they started going to kindergarten together. Then, throughout the years, they joined a gang, eventually got out of it… When my mom fell in love with Harold Cooper and got pregnant, she moved to his home city. So, here we were, in Saratoga Springs, upstate New York. I had gotten into doing biathlon because of FP, actually. He had always wanted to try and when we were little, we used to go on skiing trips with the two families. Using a gun professionally while skiing just added to the drill. That’s why I joined a skiing club when I was 6, and with a few years started competing. When I turned 12, we started practicing with the rifles too.
Now, mom was dead. Polly was dead. My dad was in jail for being a fucking serial killer. FP and Alice hadn’t talked for a while, after a big fight about something unknown. My life was shit. And the older man was regretting all of their fights and words, especially when he found out that my mom had signed him as the one to look over us when something happened to her. Now it had. He was so kind and funny. I wasn’t even scared of living with them. Olive seemed to love them too.
“Can I eat some of your chocolates?” Jughead sighed, observing the sweets on my table with longing and loving eyes.
“Sure, it’s not like I can do it all by myself anyway,” I said, making him grin big as he got up again. He grabbed a Snickers bar and a huge milk chocolate one of my best friends (from the biathlon competitions) had sent from Finland. Fazer.
“Leave half of that for me, please,” I said. He nodded questioningly, making me add, “It’s from Finland. One of the best chocolates I’ve ever eaten.”
Jughead’s eyes widened a little. “Oh. I shouldn’t be eating—”
“No, it’s fine,” I said. “Just leave half of it for me.”
I smiled tiredly and nodded, popping a candy into my mouth. “You should leave some for yourself for later as well. It’s amazing with milk.”
He got up, exchanging the bar for a regular American one. “I’ll take a row from it when we have milk,” he said, winking at me and making me smile all over again.
I observed the way his long fingers opened the paper around the chocolate, how he folded it down and then bit into the corner. I giggled, earning his attention, his eyes happy as he looked at me. “You bite it just like that?”
“Are you one of the persons who starts vomiting at it?” he asked with his mouth full.
“No,” I giggled.
He smiled again as he swallowed, looking happy and adoring as his eyes burned into mine. “You have a cute laugh.”
I smiled again, lowering my head a little as I tried not to blush. We sat in a comfortable silence for a while until I had eaten more than half of the pack of candies I had, and he was already eating the Snickers.
“Hey, your sister had markers here, right?” he asked suddenly, forcing me to make eye contact.
“Uhh, yeah…?” I nudged my head towards the table, and he smiled again, fetching himself a few basic colors. Once he came back, he moved the chair to face my bed and carefully took my hand, moving my arm into the right position.
After half an hour, we were both talking about stupid things and giggling while having the conversation. The cast on my arm had weird drawings on them, a dark blue “Jughead Jones waz here” with a crown, dominating all of it.
“Ready, honey?” FP asked quietly.
“No,” I answered in a whisper. My right-hand fingers were tapping against the armrest of my wheelchair restlessly, and I kept moving my ankle making sure it wasn’t just a dream that I was able to do that again.
After a few days of doing physical therapy, I woke up able to move my toes. When that happened, my throat got all choked up and I started sobbing happy tears. My left hand continued in the cast and my left foot wasn’t able to move or feel anything. Maybe never would be.
“Do you think you’re going to win?” I asked, looking at FP who was sitting on the seat next to me, my grandma from my dad’s side sitting a few chairs away. I had never talked to her often. She never liked me or my siblings much either. I couldn’t understand why she wanted me and Olive to stay with her. I definitely didn’t want to go with her. Even now, she had only given me a quick hug and said she was sorry. That was it.
“I hope so,” FP answered quietly and turned his head to peek at me. “Do you?”
I breathed out shakily. “I hope so, too,” I mumbled quietly. Grandma had a blood relationship with us while FP had a teenage kid, a car, and a lot of experience that hadn’t expired 20 years ago. It could’ve gone one of two ways.
When FP pushed my chair into the hospital room, both of the boys’ heads turned to look at us with exciting faces. “So?” Jughead asked in a hushed tone, my little sister sleeping in the crib next to my hospital bed, an oxygen mask added. I frowned at the last fact, but knowing she had problems with the breathing after the accident, I didn’t question it.
“Come on, tell us. FP?” Charles asked.
“Yeah, I guess you’re gonna have to drive even longer now to see your sisters,” the man grinned. At that, both of the guys’ faces lit up, making me giggle as they abandoned the cards they had been playing with, and hurried to me, leaning down and hugging me tightly, together.
“Ow,” I murmured with a smile, which made them both let go immediately. No one wanted to hurt me, so instead, I managed to push my chair to the machine next to my bed and got myself the nasal cannula. It made the oxygen catching easier, and I was used to it already. It was okay.
“So,” Jughead started, sitting down on the edge of my bed. “When are we going home?”
“The other council will be in three days,” FP said. “But we’ll never know how that goes. I’m pretty sure it will be longer than just one day. The police are going to be questioned, too.”
I nodded a little, as did the boys. FP was the best person to ask these things from; he was a sheriff himself. “And Betty?” I turned to look at him, rolling the wheels all by myself—my hands had gotten stronger over the days. “Do you want your old furniture? Or are you going to keep it in there for the new people?”
“Uh… I don’t really care. If you have an extra bed in Riverdale, it’s fine too.”
The man rolled his eyes. “I’m asking you if you want to get new furniture for your room or are we going to keep the old one.”
I sighed. “I really don’t care. If you have a guest room—”
“Betts, you’re gonna be living with us. You won’t just get a guest room, it’ll be yours,” Jughead said softly. “Dad would never let you just sleep in an empty room.”
“I mean if you have money for it…” I asked carefully.
FP nodded with a smile. “We’ll get you a new one.” I gave him a small thankful smile and looked at my sister sleeping. She was so tiny and adorable. It still fucked with my mind how she was an orphan now. I was, too. How stupid and idiotic was that?
“Betts?” Charles asked, using the nickname Jughead had given me. I turned my head to look at him, making the wheelchair turn a bit automatically. He was staring at my feet in shock as were FP and Jughead. I frowned, looking down at it as well. No fucking way. I was tapping my right foot against the wheelchair, nice rock music blasting somewhere near us in the hospital. I hadn’t even realized I could move more than my toes. Fuck. Now I was afraid to stop.
“Take me there, okay?” I asked, panicking. “Before it stops. Fuck.”
My brother laughed at me, still in shock, but quickly came to me as I pulled the oxygen out and let him push me into the elevator in the hall.
In three weeks, the whole court process was over. The man went to jail for a longer time than he should’ve gone before, everybody got a fair amount of money, and even my car knowing skills became helpful in the process. Charles had had to go back to college in New York a few days ago, which left me and Olive with the Jones men. Luckily, the two guys were the best ones I had ever met, and FP remembered surprisingly much about me when I was a child. It just made everything so much easier.
The five of us skipped Thanksgiving this year since it was a hurtful topic for me and my brother, and instead got a whole lot of takeout and watched movies in our hospital room. It was funny and even though the morning before I cried a huge number of hurtful tears, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought.
My physical therapy was being treated heavily right now since I actually showed signs of getting better. I was able to move my right leg now, still with difficulties, but it was a big step. My ankle was perfectly fine as were my toes, but the knee movement was very hard to learn. But, because with my left one, I was only able to move my toes up and down and I felt a strong pain every time I did it, I couldn’t try the walking machines just yet. The cast around my arm was taken away, which was positive (and also a little sad, because I missed the part of Jughead’s drawings one them).
Today was the 10th of December and we were going home—to Riverdale. Jughead let me sit in the front while he was on the backseat with my little sister who he was trying to entertain, making her giggle all the time. I wished I was able to do it too. In reality, I was gripping the handle, sitting back in the seat, and keeping my eyes right forward, on the road. FP was making it as easy as possible, driving safe and at a normal speed. Whenever some cars passed us, I was at unease. He could notice it.
“Hey, Betts?” Jughead asked, leaning towards, his head resting against the side of my seat.
“Yeah?” I asked with a shaky voice.
His hand reached out, rubbing my shoulder gently. “You want to sit in the back?”
“No,” I said far too fast and breathed out after that, squeezing my eyes together. “No,” I said again, a bit more relaxed.
I knew it wasn’t making sense since my sister died on the first seat and I stayed alive in the back, but I felt more in control in the front where I could see everything. “You want a break, hon?” FP asked as we passed a sign that said there’ll be a fast food place and a gas station in 500 meters.
“Yes please,” I whispered, calming down a little thanks to Jughead’s hand that was drawing circles against my purple hoodie.
FP pulled over in a minute, and the two got out, at first helping me into the chair (lifting me there as always), and then he picked Olive up from her seat. I was jealous of all the people who were able to walk. I hoped I could do that soon, too. I had been training my arms for a while now, lifting small weights to make them stronger, etc., which was why I could at least now move the wheelchair myself. It wasn’t as hard after a few weeks of practicing.
We went into the fast-food place and Jughead’s face lit up immediately when he saw the long list of burgers. I smiled at his excitement and we all ordered food before FP took Olive to the restrooms to change her. Jughead took that time to make sure I was fine. “You okay?” he asked softly.
“I’ll be better once I get my coke,” I mentioned, making him smile big as we both stared towards the counter where one of the waitresses was placing ice into the glasses, bottles of soda next to them.
“Are you feeling okay, I meant,” he said, forcing me to look at him again. “It’s all a lot; I can’t even imagine moving away from home.”
I shrugged. “I’m just gonna miss my friends at my club, but it’s not like I could do biathlon without legs anyway… I feel like I prefer getting away from it for a while than just having to watch them do it every day while I’m unable to even walk.”
Jug sighed, but we both smiled at the waitress once she brought our drinks. When she left, his deep bluish-green eyes were on me again, staring as I took a few sips from the cold coke with a smile. “You know you have a really good attitude about all of this,” he said quietly. “I would be screaming my head off all the time if that had happened to me…”
“And that’s exactly why I’m smarter than you,” I smiled, making him smirk, the smile not reaching his eyes. “If I’d scream, it’d hurt more, and it wouldn’t help.”
“Still… I’d be dead already.”
I gulped at that, not about to confess I had thought about that. “What did you order?” I asked, changing the topic. Fortunately, he got it and didn’t start questioning me about it.
After all of us had eaten—Jughead the most as always—we got back into the car. I was more relaxed this time but still kept gripping the handle of the door just in case. Only about 1.5 hours more. Jughead kept me entertained, making me sing for them and singing himself, too. He had a great voice while mine was a disaster. Which didn’t mean I held anything back. Let’s just say the two guys got to laugh. A lot.
“Welcome home, girls.”
The first few days were pretty hard. I didn’t know how to act or feel in the new house. I didn’t want to be annoying; I didn’t want them to think I was being needy. I was just so grateful that I could have a normal bed and a normal home again. I was so thankful for FP and I was happy to be out of the hospital. Only that I didn’t have the courage to keep asking different questions from him or Jughead, that I was dying to know. I knew Gladys, Jughead’s mom, had been living with them a while back. I knew she had left, but I had no idea why. I also knew that his little sister, Jellybean, had had SIDS when she was 3 months old. I wondered that probably had something to do with it. But I wasn’t brave enough to ask.
The first complication was getting up and down the stairs. One of them had to carry me, which was embarrassing enough. So, on the first day, I kind of just stayed in my new room, lying on my bed, earbuds in, and thought about everything. Since my arms were getting stronger, I was able to lift myself into the wheelchair when needed. I could go to the bathroom by myself which was a major plus now.
I found out FP cooked amazing food. Even though Jughead said they mostly get takeout since his dad works a lot, he was like a professional. He made a huge amount of food since Jughead was literally able to eat as much as I could in a week.
During the first night, I had quite a few panic attacks. The nightmares were suffocating my mind and every time I woke up, I was a sobbing mess. So, neither I nor FP could get much sleep. Every time I fell asleep, he stayed in the armchair in my room just in case. I woke up so many times I’m not even sure I could count.
On the second day, he had to go back to work. He was incredibly worried about me and Olive, and it was adorable to see a grown man worry like that, but Jughead promised not to go anywhere, so he was able to go to work in peace. Taking care of my little sister never used to be as hard as it was now. She was a toddler now. And god did she like to explore everything. So, while Jughead tried to handle it, knowing I couldn’t move too well inside the house, he was so tired when I managed to put her down for a nap.
We just watched movies and talked most of the time after that. As we did the day after that. But I never asked him the important questions that were haunting me. I finally did it on the fourth day.
“Hey Jug?” I asked as casually as possible as I was half sitting-half lying on the couch, looking at him making some sandwiches in the opened kitchen area.
“How come you’re not in school right now?”
I couldn’t see his reaction because his back was towards me, but I could almost hear the smirk in his answer, “Who else could take care of you?”
I held back my eye roll at that. “I mean… Aren’t you falling behind?”
“Aren’t you?” he asked, setting my plate down on my lap and handing me a glass of juice.
“I mean, yeah, but… I’m kind of, you know.”
“Mh-hmm. I have to sleep like 11 hours a day, I can’t go to school right now…”
He swallowed the big bite of his sandwich and started talking, letting me eat mine. “I’ve been studying online right now,” he said. “Even though Riverdale looks really nostalgic and old, the school has an online system, too. It’s a small town, everyone knows everyone. A lot of people get bullied. So, I know a few kids from the school who do it at home.”
“So, you’re not staying behind because of me?” I asked in relief.
He smiled softly. “Just a bit. I still have to do all the tests I’ve missed when I go back to school.”
“And when is that?” I asked carefully.
“January. With you.”
I took a small shaky breath. “I’m going to school in January?”
He frowned worriedly. “You have to finish school, Betts. It’s just half of the junior year and then the senior one. It’s not that bad.”
“You said many people get bullied. What if somebody hurts me? I mean I can’t defend myself or anything.”
I was slowly starting spiraling until his hand touched mine, sending fire up my veins and relaxing my breathing. “Calm down,” he said with his calm and deep voice. “Nobody will hurt you. I’ll be there. And once my friends meet you, they’ll be there too. You have nothing to worry about.”
“Do you think I’ll be able to walk? Just a little?” I asked hopefully.
He sighed. “Betts…”
“Please. Do you?”
He swallowed quietly, staring into my teary green eyes as he shook his head just a bit. “Not in January. Maybe a few months after that.”
“April?” I asked carefully.
He nodded. “Maybe.” At least he was honest. “Look, Betts, the school here isn’t that bad. I’m kind of a nerd, but I have a lot of different friends and they’re all really nice. I won’t leave you alone at school. Plus, dad’s the sheriff of this town… When he tells the school secretary to get us into the same classes, they will.”
I smiled at that a little, blinking away the last tears I had. “Will you help me catch up?”
He sighed. “Right now?”
“I don’t know, whenever you feel like it.”
“In January?” he asked with a smirk.
“Juggie,” I chuckled.
“Alright alright. I’ll get some stuff for tomorrow. What grades do you have?”
“B in math, C in English. Most of the others are A-s.”
“Oh wow,” he chuckled. “I can help you with English. What about literature, you like that?”
“Yeah, it’s alright,” I shrugged. “I read books. I like to study new things. Just I have really bad handwriting and I can’t form sentences on paper.”
He nodded slowly. “I have a D in History,” he said. “You can help me with that.”
A day later Jughead found out he’ll have to do the tests before December 22nd, which was kind of a shitty move from the school, but we all understood why it was like that. He needed to get his grades before the Christmas break. While he was studying, trying to memorize the stuff, I was too. I was helping him, asking him different questions, showing him my methods. He only had a week.
Meanwhile, I was going to physical therapy for a few hours every day. FP would drive me, in the police car which kind of sucked, but I understood since he had to work at the same time. The hospital was a lot smaller and there weren’t many people, but their equipment was amazing. My physical therapists were very kind to me and looked really sorry when I told them about what happened. They asked me about what I had learned to do so far and were super impressed that I was able to move my right leg and bend it from my knee, holding it up straight for a few seconds before my muscles gave up.
They kept bending my legs and helping me stretch them. Both of the men promised that at least my right leg was going to be ready for walking by February if I kept practicing and if my mind was strong enough.
The first time we went to the hospital, there were a few other kids in the huge room. Two little boys, an older woman, an old man, and a boy about my age. His hair was piercing red, and his eyes were brown and sympathetic when he saw me. I could see him giving a small wave to FP who probably did the same, and then a small smile to me. I didn’t know why he was there or what was wrong with him, but he looked perfectly normal for me.
On the 20th, Wednesday, when dad drove me home from the appointment, the same redheaded guy was sitting in the living room with Jug, both of them studying. I frowned in confusion and looked at FP, who just shrugged in response. “Hey baby,” he said, picking up Olive who ran to us. “How’s your day?” he asked.
“I play,” she announced with her cute baby accent, making me smile as I removed my boots, leaning down a lot.
“And did you get something to eat?”
“Macaroni?” FP chuckled.
“And cheese!” Jughead added from the living room, leaning back on the couch to see us around the corner. He gave me a smile, nudging his head invitingly, and then waved at dad, disappearing again.
“I’m going back to work, I’ll be back soon, okay?” he asked both me and Olive. I gave him a slight smile and a nod while my sister answered with okay. “Jug, make Betty some food!” he shouted when placing my little sister down.
“I can take care of myself,” I protested.
The man ruffled my hair and pulled his hand away before I had the chance to push it off, a smile on my face. “I know you can. So, go and study with the boys.”
I sighed. “I swear to god if I’m not out of this thing soon enough, I’ll sue whoever invented car crashes and wheelchairs and spinal cords,” I mumbled as I went, making FP laugh.
“Bye,” we all said as I reached the couch that the boys were sitting on, their books and notebooks all over the floor. “Well, that’s a productive way to study,” I murmured.
“Do you believe in God?” the redhead asked me. I frowned deeply, looking at him in confusion as did Jughead. “I’m pretty sure you’d have to sue God if you’re looking for the person who invented spinal cords…”
At that both me and Jughead chuckled. “He’d be glad to do it with you,” Jughead said.
“Right…” I started slowly. “Why are you in the hospital sometimes?”
“I broke my elbow during a football practice,” the redhead explained. “I got the cast off a month ago, but I can’t move my hand.”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” I said sadly. “Can you still play?”
“No. Not until it’ll heal.”
“What do the doctors say?”
“That it’ll take time. Some more months. But so far I can’t even grab stuff with my fingers, so I’m not sure if I believe them. My nerves are damaged… I’m sorry about your legs. And your family.”
I gave him a small smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. Jughead cleared his throat quietly, “Well this isn’t at all as awkward as I thought it would be.” I smiled at him, and this time it was a genuine one. “Betts, this is Archie. The one I told you about, remember?”
I nodded, all of it fitting itself together now. “What are you two studying?” I asked.
“History,” Archie said. “I have a test tomorrow and Jughead has like 8.”
“4 tomorrow, 4 the day after that,” Jug murmured, looking at me. “Help me make cheat sheets? Please?”
“Like for what?”
“Spanish. Math. History. Science.”
“And for Friday—”
“Juggie,” I chuckled, making Archie laugh as well as the boy with the old grey beanie on his head looked sheepish. “You’ve studied so much; I don’t think it’s possible to fail. Even I know all these things by heart now.”
He sighed and changed the topic. “You wanna get on the couch?”
“Yes,” I said, making him get up. “I swear if my legs aren’t going to work soon enough—”
“We know; you’re going to court and suing God, got it,” Jug said, moving my chair to the right place, right next to the couch. “Ready?”
“Yep,” I replied, using the abs under my stomach not to get hurt as his arms wrapped themselves around me, under the armpits, hands clenching together right under my boobs. He got me off the chair and helped me to sit down as carefully as he could. I gave him a thankful smile afterward and ignored the way his hand brushed against my bra as he pulled his hands away.
I helped myself to sit back on the couch and while the boys talked, I got my left leg pulled up on the couch with the help of my hands and smiled big when I was able to do it by myself with the right one. It was a process. And I was proud of myself.
Jug had it in his nature by now to help us, which was why when Olive started climbing onto the couch to get onto my lap, he lifted her up on it immediately, without even stopping talking with Archie. I smirked at him, seeing that he didn’t even notice. My little sister set herself between the couch and my thighs, managing to make some more room for herself and lie down in a very weird position.
I chuckled when she smiled up at me but tried to get up again. “Is that comfortable?”
“Yeah,” she lied, trying to pull herself up. I rolled my eyes, sitting her up again and helped her sit normally so that she could cuddle with me like she apparently wanted to do. I didn’t mind either. Ever since I woke up in that white plain room, I had needed more of the touching and caring part. I just wanted people to hug me now. It felt comforting.
“Jug, go back to sleep,” I mumbled, wiping the new hot tears away from my face.
“What?” he sighed. “No. I’ll wait until you fall asleep.” His hand didn’t leave my blond hair alone as he kept sitting on the edge of my bed, stroking it.
“You have the tests tomorrow…”
“I had the tests today as well and I was perfectly fine to stay up with you last night.”
“Last night was different,” I murmured.
“Different how? You had a panic attack, I calmed you down, now you’re crying.”
“I’m not tired anymore,” I lied. He raised his eyebrows at me in the dim light of the room, a big balloon-like white moon shining in the sky, through my window. He knew me well enough to know I was lying. So, just in case, I turned my eyes away. “Go to sleep, Jug. I’ll just read or something.”
The guy sighed, his hand gently grabbing my chin, tilting my head upwards carefully. He wasn’t stupid; he could see the look in my eyes and feel the way I was gripping his hand. Of course, he knew I was scared.
“You wanna tell me what the dream was about?” he asked.
I turned my eyes away, shaking my head unnoticeably. I think he nodded and stood up. My eyes met his again as I let go of his hand, thinking he was going back to his room. Instead, his hands lifted the thick duvet up a bit. “Scoot over if you can,” he ordered.
I gulped and made my body move backward, dragging my left leg with the right foot to get them both into the right position. The boy climbed into my bed, under the duvet, and wordlessly wrapped me up in his arms. I couldn’t breathe normally, the only thing I felt was his arm around me as I raised my head a bit, allowing him to slide the other one under it. God, it was heaven to have my head resting on his biceps, not even talking about his scent. It was all natural. He reminded me of the smell the trees had during fall. Fresh, safe, and a little bit broken.
I ignored the fact that I could feel his eyes on me, and instead lifted my right leg over his torso, pulling myself closer, remaining the position. I heard his chuckles leaving his mouth as small amounts of air, and smiled sheepishly, holding my eyes closed. “You know you’re like a little koala bear,” he mumbled, his hand starting to fondle my hair once again. “You really like hugging, huh?”
“Lately,” I said back quietly. “I just feel lonely most of the time, so I try to hug people as much as possible until it is still possible…”
“I’m not going anywhere, Betts… You keep holding onto me like I’d disappear every second now.”
“Who says you won’t?”
“I do,” he sighed. “I know you’re hurt, and you feel lonely, but that’s not the case here. What happened to you was an accident. Nobody could ever think that would happen to them or their families. But stuff like this does happen. And nobody can keep away from it no matter how hard they try.”
I kept quiet for a while, almost falling asleep when I decided that I should tell him. “My dad and I were never close,” I started quietly. “I helped him with cars when I was little, but I don’t remember any time we actually had a conversation that wasn’t about asking money or asking for a signature or something. He was always working. When I got 8, he started not coming home for the night. I couldn’t sleep many of those, because when he did come home, he and my mom would scream at each other. I wasn’t really sure what ‘cheating’ meant at that time, but I knew he was doing it…
“When I got 12, he half moved out. My mom was too harsh on my opinion when she threw his stuff out, but I understood by that time. He had had so many affairs with different women that I wasn’t even sure how it was possible. That’s when the articles started coming out. Different women, all blonde, all over 18 but under 40 had started disappearing. They didn’t go to work, their families couldn’t reach them, the doors were always locked, windows open.
“I remember that my mom was scared. The women were all found dead in their apartments, having signs of rough sex. They were all naked and had been choked to death with different ties,” I whispered.
I could feel Jughead’s worried eyes on me when I started shaking in his arms. “It was all everyone was talking about. How all blonde women in our city had started dying. I remember the headlines about a ‘sadistic murderer’ and an ‘old rapist’, only completing their murders during nights…
“Then one night when I was 13 and another news channel was on, my dad came home. Me and my mom were in the living room. I was folding the laundry while she was ironing it… My dad asked me to go upstairs so that he could talk to my mom. So, I did… I was old enough to know all about sex and all about the rapist stuff. But um, when I heard the banging and I heard my mom moaning, I just thought they were having sex. The fact that it started after about an hour just showed me that you know, maybe they had made up. I thought it was gross, but I was starting to get hopeful. Of course, I was wrong…
“The murders stopped for a while. My mom got pregnant. And then, when my mom was half-way through it and like really fucking emotional, they started fighting again. And, guess what, the murders started, too.”
I could feel Jughead shuddering under me, but he was waiting for me to continue, obviously having read about it, but not knowing anything from my point of view. “I had just turned 14, Olive was due in the middle of November, so we still had three months until the birth. My best friend’s mom had just died. Or best friend from school anyway… She had found her naked, tortured, strangled. I was still thinking about it when once again folding the laundry, mom there next to me. Polly was there too, helping me while watching the TV. My dad came home.
“And suddenly I saw it. I had one of his ties in my hands. One of the new ones, because he had ‘thrown away’ the old ones as they had been too worn out. He smiled at me and Polly while asking us to go upstairs again. The news channel was on. I heard my friend’s mom's name being said, and I saw a picture of the tie on there on the ground. I was 100% sure it was my dad’s. So, suddenly, everything made sense. He wasn’t at home and he was having affairs. He was the murderer.
“Polly got up and she pulled me up, too. Only that my dad stopped me when we were about to go out of the room. He gave me a cold smile when he took the tie from my hands that I was still holding. And I knew exactly what he was planning on doing next. So, when we got upstairs, I quickly ran into my room, my sister followed in confusion, and I called the police. When they arrived minutes later, my dad was already trying to get his tie around my mom’s neck. He screamed and he saw me on the stairs… He screamed for help, but he had this stupid smile on his face like he was proud to be discovered, finally.”
I kept shaking as I sniffled, trying to hold my tears back. “I lost all my friends at school. Fortunately, I still had the real ones at my skiing club. The school was hell after that. I was being bullied and even most of the teachers hated me… Mom told me she’ll always be there for me and that she won’t leave,” I cried. “And now she did. She fucking did.”
“Betty, you do realize that wasn’t her fault, right?” Jughead asked quietly, his voice drowning in sadness. “She didn’t want to leave you.”
“I know that,” I cried, raising my eyes to meet his. “But I feel so lonely. I feel like I don’t have anybody left and I keep seeing these dreams with me killing people like my dad did or my mom and sister’s dead bodies screaming at me for killing them.”
“Baby,” he sighed deeply, pulling me flush against his body as he pressed a kiss onto my forehead. “Why haven’t you told anyone about that? Maybe you need a therapist…”
“That’s exactly why I haven’t told you or FP about it,” I whimpered. “I need to feel safe and healthy. At least in one way. I used to be strong and sport was my life… Now I don’t even know how to walk, and I can’t make food without depending on anybody. I need to feel healthy and able to take care of myself at least in one fucking way.”
“Betty, that’s not being healthy,” he said softly, sounding really worried. “You’re paranoid. Your brain won’t shut down even after you fall asleep. You need to get some rest from that. Just talk to someone professional. No pills or anything, just let them help you… Let me help you,” he added in a whisper, hugging me close.
“It’s not like you’re talking or being honest to me either,” I murmured into his arm.
“Oh yeah? What do you wanna know?”
I gulped, meeting his curious eyes. “What happened to your mom? You told me she got a job and moved, but that’s definitely not all there was.”
Jughead sighed at that. “I was 10. My sister died when she was 3 months old. My parents’ relationship wasn’t good anymore. So, instead of trying to fix it, my mother started drinking in a bar on the Southside. She would come home drunk every night. My dad would give her their bed and make sure she was okay when she woke up alone and with a headache. He always slept in the guest’s room… He was always a gentleman.
“Shortly, my mom started becoming aggressive. My dad couldn’t hold her back when she threw plates when drunk or grabbed knives, even threatening me with them. My dad got me to stay with Archie when he wasn’t home. Archie’s dad, Fred, was like a second father to me. Always has been. And uh… My mom started doing drugs. And before we knew it, her job was gone by far and she was selling them instead. My dad knew, but he didn’t do anything. He wanted me to be safe, but he knew Gladys was hurting because of Jelly’s death. So, he just tried to make things better and wait. It didn’t work.
“By the time I was 12. About around the time the two of us never saw each other again, my dad finally got his shit together and arrested my mom. She went to rehab. He got a small apartment and paid for it when she got out. I was hoping to see her, but when I did, she was just a homeless woman who looked and acted nothing like my mom used to.
“She was yelling on the streets and she was half-naked. She became a sex worker… She spent a few years in rehab after that and when your dad went to jail, my dad rented an apartment for mom in Toledo. She had gotten a job offer…”
The boy ran his hand through his hair anxiously, meaning his arm wasn’t around me anymore. “I haven’t seen her ever since. She hasn’t contacted us. I think she’s doing fine, but… I still feel guilty and sad about my sister you know,” he said with a broken voice. “I would have a mom and a little sister if that sickness didn’t exist.”
“I’m sorry, Juggie,” I whispered sadly.
When his eyes met mine again, he smiled a little, and surprisingly I discovered he wasn’t mad at me at all when he placed his arm back around me and nuzzled his nose into my hair. “You just have to ask,” he whispered. “I know you have a lot of going on behind that pretty face of yours, but don’t be afraid to ask anything you want to know about. It’ll help you to get away from the worries and thoughts you must be having.”
“I just don’t want to be rude…” I murmured tiredly.
“It’s not being rude. We live in the same house now, Betts. Your little sister is kind of like mine, and we share a dad in some odd way,” he explained quietly, still talking against my scalp.
“Sucks sharing a dad,” I murmured.
He hummed questioningly, not having heard what I said. I just shook my head a little and felt him sigh. “Shall we sleep now?”
“Shall you keep me away from the monsters when I close my eyes?” I asked back.
“Was that a sarcastic no?”
“Just shut up, Juggie,” I sighed.
“Hey kids,” FP said when Jughead pushed my chair into the kitchen.
“Morning,” I murmured, still half asleep and in my pajamas, while Jug gave him a small wave, dressed in his regular clothes and carrying his school bag.
FP smirked at me, “Why didn’t you stay in bed?”
“I can’t stay in bed for 6 hours,” I murmured. “And I can’t get up by myself.”
He sighed at that. “I’ll take Olive to the daycare again, okay? Jug will have to pick her up after school.”
I nodded, and so did Jug. “Pass me the cereal, please,” I told him quietly and kept my eyes on my sister as he did so, his hand brushing against mine. My cheeks got a bit heated up as I poured some of it into my bowl. I felt embarrassed because of last night and because of the position I was in. We had literally woken up with my leg still around him and his arms holding me so close I never thought was even possible. I had told him everything and he told me everything; this connection was hard to ignore. And now, in the morning light, I was feeling really shy. I had just cuddled with my… stepbrother? He had called me baby.
Once FP had eaten, he took Olive upstairs to get her ready. That left me and Jughead sitting there, in awkward silence. In a few minutes, I felt his head move and his eyes on me. “We don’t have to talk about it, y’know,” he stated, making me look at him from the corner of my eyes. “I’m sorry I slept in your bed. And I won’t tell anybody about what you told me. I promise.”
I nodded a little and dropped my eyes back onto my breakfast, taking another spoonful of it. “It’s okay,” I said once I had swallowed it. I raised my shoulders up a bit and looked at him a bit shyly. “I’m not regretting that I told you. I trust you. And uh… I wasn’t really uncomfortable,” I murmured the last part, turning my head away a bit but observing his reaction with my eyes. He got this stupid grin on his face which made me smile a little too as I took another bite.
“Let’s just not tell dad, okay?” Jug asked. “He’d think it’s weird.”
“I think it’s weird.”
He nodded, still wearing the grin. “So do I.” I giggled at that and kept eating until he spoke up again. “So, we’re all good?”
“We’re good,” I said with a small smile.
Jughead nodded again. “Good.”
I sighed deeply as the doorbell rang. This must’ve been the worst scenario ever. I somehow got myself from the couch to the wheelchair with a few moments and pushed myself to the door. I hated that I couldn’t see who it was. I couldn’t reach the peephole. So, as carefully as possible, I opened the door just a little bit. My whole body relaxed as I saw a delivery guy.
The man looked surprised when he saw me in a wheelchair but kept doing his work. “Elizabeth Cooper?”
“Yeah?” I asked.
He nodded. “There’s a signed letter for you. We need a signature in affirmation of you getting the letter.” I nodded in confusion but signed the paper at which he gave me the envelope. “Have a nice day.”
“You too,” I said politely before he turned around and went back to the van, checking out the big packages.
I closed the door and eyed the letter suspiciously. It had this address on it, my name, the postal code, and a weird-looking stamp. As I flipped it over, I unconsciously already knew, but my mind couldn’t put two and two together, trying to lie to myself. It was from one of the New York state prisons. Fuck my life.
My throat couldn’t catch enough air as hot tears started streaming down my face. My hands shook as I ripped the envelope open and somehow managed to stay alive while reading the letter my dad had sent me.
I heard what happened. I’m sorry about the accident, and I really hope you and your siblings are okay. The police told me you were in a car accident, and that your mom and Polly died? I need to know if this is true before I go even more crazy here. They told me you and your sister were now living in Riverdale, with FP. Why didn’t my mom take you? Are you okay? Is everything okay with Charles? They won’t tell me anything besides that you’re alive. I really need to know more details.
I don’t know how much your mom told me about me or what really happened, but I want you to know that I was sentenced for 287 years. I’m sorry for not writing or calling earlier, but I knew you didn’t want to talk to me. Please change your mind. I need to know if everything is okay now. And I’d really like to know my youngest daughter’s name.
So, Elizabeth. If you would send me a letter or a voice message on this number … I’d be very grateful. The phone is opened from 2-5 every day. I’ll wait.
I took a sharp breath as I tried to calm down. My hands took me to the living room, and I grabbed my phone, dialing FP immediately.
“What would you do if you were me?” I asked quietly, sitting on the couch next to FP, his arm around me, hand rubbing my upper arm gently in order to keep me calm from now on.
“I can’t… I shouldn’t tell you that.”
“Yes, you should,” I protested. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Do you want to talk to him?”
“I wanted to talk to him when he first went away… I needed to know why he did all of it. But now, I don’t feel the need anymore. He’s a psychopath. He enjoys torturing people… But he’s still my dad. Maybe he- Maybe he should have the right to know.”
FP nodded a little. “Writing a letter or sending a voicemail won’t let you hear his voice,” he said. “That way you won’t have to talk to him, but you can tell him what happened.”
“You think I should do that?”
“It’s your decision, Betty. Whatever you decide to do is the right way to do it. And… Maybe he has the right to know his daughter’s name, no? I didn’t know Alice didn’t tell him that.”
I nodded slowly and shut up for a while, working on keeping my breathing even. “When is Jughead coming home?”
The man looked at the time. “Should be in about 20 minutes. If he remembers to pick Olive up.”
“Do you need to go?”
He shook his head. “No, I’ll call the guys, tell them I’ll take the day off. Nothing interesting is happening in this town anyway.”
“Don’t curse it,” I sighed.
He smiled at that a little but changed the topic. “Do you still want to go to therapy today? If you have it hard to stay calm, you don’t have to go.”
“No, I should go. If something calms me down it’s the idea of getting to walk again.”
He sighed. “Alright. We still have an hour and a half till that. Want something to eat?”
“No thanks, I’m not hungry right now,” I mumbled.
He sighed at that but kissed the top of my head before he got up, handing me the remote from the coffee table. “Keep watching the movie. Try to get your thoughts away.”
I nodded and pressed play as I observed him going to the kitchen to make some food. I smiled to myself sadly. I wished I had had a dad like him when I was younger. He was so supportive and caring. Even more so than my mom usually was.
“Hey, Betts!” I heard Jug’s voice, the door shutting a few moments after. There were other people talking.
FP looked at me as I stiffened up a bit but cleared my throat quietly. “Hey,” I said back with a weak voice, hoping he heard me. The next moment, he poked his head out from behind the corner, his face looking worried and eyes narrowed. When he saw FP sitting there with me, it grew even more worried.
“Jug, get Olive undressed,” FP said, making the boy disappear into the hallway once more. “You want me to tell him?” FP asked quietly. I nodded. “Have you told him about your dad? I only told him why he went to jail, I never explained anything…”
“He knows,” I whispered. The man nodded and got up.
“Hey,” Archie said, walking into the living room, a short about my age pink-haired girl following him.
“Hi,” I said quietly while FP answered too.
“Dad, why are you—” Jughead started.
“I need to talk to you,” FP cut him off, grabbing the opened letter from the coffee table. “Come on. In private.”
Jughead looked at me worriedly before following his dad into the small office. “Hey, you okay?” the girl asked with a frown. I met her eyes, but never answered anything, not knowing what to say. “Okay,” she sighed. “I’m Toni.”
“Betty,” I said quietly and helped my little sister get onto the couch as she was smiling big, probably wanting to hug me now. “Hey, you,” I smiled a little, lifting her to sit on my lap, and hugged her tightly, holding her small body against mine.
“Betty,” she giggled.
“Hm?” She looked up at me with a smile and brought her hands to my face, squeezing my cheeks together. I smiled, pushing them away, making her giggle again. “How was your day? You like it there?”
“That’s good,” I breathed and hugged her close again, resting my forehead against the top of her head. I could still feel Jughead’s friends watching me, so I kept my head down while holding my sister and crying quietly. I really didn’t want them to know or see.
“Let’s go make some food, come on Arch,” Toni said quietly, and I could hear from her voice that she was pulling the boy with her. I already liked her.
Jughead and FP came back a few minutes later and I could feel somebody sinking into the couch as the boy’s arms wrapped around me. I leaned against him but kept holding my sister who didn’t like it anymore. “Ollie, why don’t you go into the kitchen and see what they’re making, huh?” Jughead asked quietly with the baby voice he used with her. The girl nodded and he lifted her onto the ground, watching her go. “You okay?” he whispered right after that, squeezing me even stronger.
“I don’t know,” I said with a shaky voice, wiping my tears away. “I’m scared.”
“What if he gets my number and starts calling me?”
“Betts, he’s in jail,” he said quietly as I met his beautiful deep eyes. “You can tell them not to let him call you. I’ve read about it when I was doing research for a book I’m writing. The guards will usually listen to the message as well.”
I nodded slowly. “Do you think I should contact him? Should I tell him what happened?”
“I think you should,” he agreed. “But only if you feel comfortable. I think it’d help with your nightmares too. You can choose what to tell him and what not to tell him. Tell him everything you’ve ever wanted to. Tell him what you felt after he went away, or when he was still living with you. Just tell him everything you need to. And then you’ll never have to talk to him ever again.”
“Betty, you ready to go?” FP asked.
“Go where?” Jughead asked, his arm draped over my shoulders, Toni and Archie sitting on the ground in front of us.
“The hospital,” I said. “Yeah, I’m ready.”
“Wait, you’re still going?” Jughead asked. “Don’t you want a day off?”
“And waste the possibility to stand up for the first time in months? No thanks.”
“Stand up?” FP asked in surprise when they helped me into the chair.
“You can stand up?” Toni asked the same way.
“I’ve been training my legs. The left one I can’t even move good, but the right one I’ve tried to lift with weights and bandages and stuff,” I said. “They promised to get me to stand up on at least one leg today.”
“That’s great, hon,” FP smiled. I nodded excitedly and ruffled my sister’s hair, making her giggle, before I wheeled myself out of the room with a sigh.
I stood with the help of my doctors that day. And the day after that. By Sunday, I was able to stand up with crutches and stand on my tiptoes. With just one leg—the other one wasn’t able to move from the knee just yet. But my hopes rose.
On the day of the 24th, I finally did it. I typed the number from the letter into my phone—the one that FP had gotten me—and with shaky hands pressed the button to dial.
"You have reached the Clinton State Prison telephone. Please wait."
I took a shaky breath in, staring at my closed door, waiting for somebody to answer or to tell me what to do next. In a few minutes, a woman came on the line. "Hello. Do you accept the outgoing charges?"
"How can we help you?"
"Hi," I said nervously. "I'd like to leave a voice message to my dad."
"Yes, and what's your name, miss?"
"And the prisoner's?"
"Harold Cooper," I breathed, my heart starting thumping in my chest as the phone grew quiet for a moment.
"Harold won't hear this message until tomorrow, and we'll have to listen to it to make sure it is safe, is that approved by you?"
"I'll put you on the waiting line. You should be able to do it in a few minutes. The maximum length to send is ten."
"One more thing. Could you ensure me that he won't call me back? I don't want to talk to him, but I need to tell him something."
"Of course, miss, I'll just put the number on the list. Good luck."
"Thanks," I breathed. And just like that, I was put on another line where classical music was playing. It was driving me crazy.
In three minutes, I heard a voice. "Leave your message after the peep." A buzzer-like voice rang in the phone and I breathed out shakily at that.
"Hey, dad," I said. "It's me, Betty. I got your letter a few days ago, but I wasn't sure what to do. I'm sorry I haven't talked to you either. I just didn't know what to say or how to do it anymore... I called to let you know that we're fine. We were on our way to my biathlon competition. I've been doing pretty good the last few years, I've won a lot of competitions... And uh, there was a black Audi that had caused some more crashes. The man didn't see us clearly and we crashed. The car caught on fire. I woke up in a hospital room.
"Charles was in New York at that time. But he was there when I woke up. I had been in a coma for a week or so, and I gradually made my way out of it. Polly broke her neck and died on the spot." I sniffled quietly, hands shaking as I continued. "Mom had a big head wound and she was burned by the fire and unconscious. She didn't make it... And my little sister was fine. She had trouble breathing at first, but now she's fine and happy, so..."
I took another deep breath before going on with the story. "I'm in a wheelchair. I couldn't move my legs or arms at first. Now my arms have fully healed, and I lift weights to get them back to normal, but I still have trouble with my legs. The right one is healing better than anyone would've thought, and I've been able to stand up at my therapy sessions for the last few days. I'm too weak to move my left knee or to lean on the leg, so that's fucked up...
"We're living in Riverdale with FP and Jughead, you remember them, right? They're nice. And Jughead's friends are nice, too, so it's already better than at home. Now here's why I actually called you..." I took a shaky deep breath as the hot tears streamed down my face. "Mom told me everything. And I wasn't a baby anymore, I could understand what happened and why... When you came home that night and sent us upstairs, I put two and two together. You took the tie from me. I ran upstairs. I called the police, dad.
"I was too scared to tell Polly or even ask help from her or Chic. So, I did it all by myself. When they dragged you out of there, you were screaming at me. And your eyes looked so creepy and cold that moment, that I finally understood why you did it. You're a psychopath, dad. And I'm scared of you."
I let out one sob before taking a few deep breaths and calming myself down. "I see your face every night when I try to sleep. I'm afraid to become like you. I have your genes and I don't know what to do to make sure I'll never be like you." I cried. "Everyone started hating on me at home after they got to know it was you. They started bullying me at school and everyone hit me and called me names just because you were my father.
"So, I had no friends left... Because of you." I gulped, wiping my tears away. "I hate you, dad," I whispered. "I never want to talk to you again. I really hope you burn in hell. Never write or call me again. You got to know all you needed."
I was planning on just cutting off the call, not saying goodbye, but something stopped me. "Her name's Olive. Olive Hazel Smith." And with that, I stopped the torture, ended the call, and broke down on my bed.
"There you go," Dr. Lee said, a smile on his face. "Does it hurt?"
"Nope," I breathed. "But I'm out of shape."
He chuckled at that, noticing my panting. "Do you want to try it by yourself?"
"Can I?" I asked excitedly.
"I think you can," he nodded, making me smile. We carefully removed my crutches and I grinned big as I stood on my own feet—mostly the right one—feeling free, finally. "Maybe you can try raising onto your tiptoes?"
I opened my eyes again and while concentrating, made myself raise on them, only with the right foot this time. The balance kind of sucked though, which was why I lowered myself back down.
"That's good," the doctor said when I looked disappointed. "That means your body hasn't forgotten the presence of your other leg. You still need it for standing. That could help you learn faster."
"Do you think I'll get to walk soon?" I asked hopefully.
"You're able to use crutches and one leg after two months," he stated. "That gives you pretty good chances of trying to walk in a few months."
I smiled big, making him smile as well as he handed me the crutches back and I leaned on them immediately, my leg getting a bit tired. "I think we can soon try the treadmill. When you know how to lean on your left leg and it stops hurting as bad as it does right now, we can try with me helping you move the left one while you work with the right."
"Can I... Take the crutches with me?" I asked carefully.
"Of course. You can walk with them at home. Just short distances. Don't try to take the stairs with them. I don't think you're ready for that yet." I nodded a little, eyeing my wheelchair for a moment. "Is FP here yet? I want to talk to him."
"Uh, yeah, he should be in the lobby."
"Alright. You want to try getting there while standing up?"
I nodded with a smile and he opened the door for me, pushing the wheelchair behind me. FP's face was priceless when he saw me up on my feet. He looked shocked and his eyes reflected proudness in them when he hugged me and pressed a kiss onto my head.
"Mr. Jones, can we talk for a second?" my doctor asked when we pulled away and I managed to sit down by myself, basically falling into the chair.
"Sure," FP said and followed the doctor a bit further away so that I wouldn't hear. I sighed, not knowing what it was about. Definitely me. I just hoped not money.
I hadn't had many nightmares after I called my dad. But occasionally, Jughead slept in my bed. He came after he was sure that FP was asleep (sometimes I was too).
Today when we finished our movie night downstairs, he was already been asleep. So, we said goodnight, and both went to our rooms. Obviously, I needed to go to the bathroom, so I did, brushing my teeth and all. And when I exited, Jug was there, smirking at me, his arms crossed. I gave him a small smile, passing him to go to my room. Once I sat down on the bed, I threw my crutches onto the ground and climbed under the sheets.
I was on my phone, texting with one of my best friends from Germany when he entered my room. I held back my smirk and kept my eyes on the screen when he climbed into the bed and close to me. His arm drooped over me, pulling me closer, and I raised myself automatically, letting him push his other arm under my neck.
For a while, I kept texting while he just stared at the ceiling, but when I put it away, his head turned to look at me. "Shouldn't your friends be asleep?"
"Time zones. She lives in Germany."
He nodded. "You have many international friends?"
I shrugged. "I met most of them when we were training in Canada. And I keep seeing them in the competitions. The ones who are actually friendly and don't hate you because you're good... They're my friends."
"You miss it, huh?"
"Yeah... I need to start walking, then I need to start running. And then skiing. So, I'll be back to the level I was on when I was 6."
"You'll still be great using the rifle," he said, making me smile. I finally met his eyes and nodded a bit before closing mine and relaxing into his body.
"You know..." Jughead said soon, stroking my hair as I was cuddled up to him. "You look a lot smaller in bed. Max 4 feet. And now I found out you're 5'5?"
"Shut up," I chuckled, making him smile too. "You're free to leave if you want to."
"Am I really?"
"Yes, I never invited you," I grinned, looking up at him, my Christmas lights still on even though it was the 2nd of January now.
"Hm, then what was that look you gave me when you came out of the bathroom?" he asked, poking my cheek softly.
"That look meant that I didn't know you were waiting there," I smirked.
"Okay, well... I'm gonna go then," he said.
I raised my eyebrows in the dimly lit room. "I don't see you moving?"
The boy rolled his eyes before closing them and nuzzling his nose into my hair. "You're too warm to leave."
I smiled, closing my eyes as well.
Hey guys! Hope you're enjoying the story so far :) This is kind of a fun chapter, and I really loved writing it, so I hope you like it. Xx
“Hey,” Jughead said happily, flopping down onto the couch next to me, making me bounce on it.
“Hi,” I murmured, keeping my eyes on the book.
“What are you doing?” he asked, resting his chin over my shoulder to look at it.
I could feel him roll his eyes. “You don’t even have to do the tests. And you’ve studied so hard already. I’m sure you’re like at the top of the class.”
“School starts tomorrow, Jug. I’ll feel like such an idiot if I can’t even understand what you’re talking about in math.”
“Neither can I,” he said. “Neither can anybody, really.”
I sighed, looking at how he slowly closed the book on my lap and then pushed it onto the coffee table, looking at me with a big smile. “You wanna go outside?”
I raised my eyebrows, looked down at my legs, then at my crutches, and back to him. “No thanks.”
“Come on,” he said. “It’s snowing. Let’s just go and have fun.”
I smirked at that. “I’ll fall on the ice.”
“No, the doctor said you can move small distances, right? I have a sled…” he smirked at the last part. “You can sit on it.”
“Oh, shut up,” I giggled.
“I’m serious, Betts. You get tired or just want to sit, I’ll pull you on the sled.”
“You’ll get tired. And then we’ll be stuck.”
He groaned at my excuses. “No, I won’t. Just because I’m not an athlete doesn’t mean Archie doesn’t make me go to the gym with him.”
“I haven’t seen you going anywhere…”
“We usually go when we have school, like twice a week at 8 pm.”
I sighed. “I don’t know, Jug…”
“We have to pick Olive up anyways,” he said, looking at me with puppy eyes. “We can go to Pop’s. And we can go to the hill to slide…”
“Fine. But only because I haven’t had fun in a while, and I miss snow.”
“Yessss,” he said happily, giving me a hug. “Need a lift upstairs to change your clothes?”
I sighed and nodded, wrapping my arms around his neck. He lifted me up bridal style and kept grinning all the way upstairs. “My crutches,” I murmured when he wanted to place me down. He met my eyes and winked, carrying me to my room where the wheelchair was in anyway. “Come on, I’m trying to get out of this shit,” I whined.
“Just get dressed. If you need help—”
He raised his eyebrows. “If you need help, call me.”
“I won’t,” I mumbled again.
The boy rolled his eyes at me, knowing I was trying to be independent and closed the door behind him. It was almost unreal how happy he was to get out of the house with me, to “play in the snow”.
“This is so stupid,” I chuckled when he locked the door behind us. He just chuckled, grabbing the dark blue sled that looked old, but surprisingly was in one piece. He, Archie and Toni had told me all about the hills there were in Riverdale and the bumps they had built on it that made their butts hurt.
“So, what’s the first stop?” Jughead smirked. “Pop’s? Or let’s go get your sister so that she could eat too?”
“Helping me on the sled,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Oh, so now you want to?” he chuckled.
“I miss the snow,” I said. “And I haven’t gotten out of the house by myself in months.”
“Technically you did it on Thursday…”
“In a car with you,” I said. “I miss nature and fresh air. So, help me to sit down.”
He nodded, placing his foot onto the sled so that it wouldn’t move, and took my crutches. With the last week, I had learned how to shift the balance from one foot to another, which meant that my left leg was slowly starting to catch up. I could sit and stand by myself now, but squatting was still difficult. That’s why Jughead gave me his hand, helping me lower myself down.
Once I was comfortably sitting on the sled, both of us grinning, he gave me the crutches that he made as short as possible, and we placed them in between my legs. “You know you’re lucky,” he said, looking down at me with a smile. “Nobody ever wants to be the one who pulls. You have privileges.”
I smiled at that. “The others pull you too? Aren’t you like too heavy?” I teased.
He flickered his tongue. “You don’t want to mess with me, Elizabeth Cooper.”
“Try me, Forsythe Pendleton Jones the third.”
His face mocked a shock and I giggled before it turned into a grin. “First stop, getting your sister,” he said, and just like that, he turned around and pulled me with a sharp yank, starting to run immediately.
“Jug!” I shrieked, but a few moments later started laughing, holding my eyes half shut so that the falling slow wouldn’t go into my eyes. He stopped about half a minute later, pulling his arm in a knot as he made me stop moving with a spin, which made me shriek again and him laugh.
“Like it, m’lady?” he teased.
“Love it. Keep going,” I giggled.
When we picked Olive up, our jeans were already wet, and I thanked myself for being smart and wearing black tights under it. During our way there, I had thrown snowballs at him which ended in him pushing snow into my thick scarf and into my hood.
My sister was so happy when she saw both of us and not only Jug or FP as usual. She was even more happy when we told her we’re going sledding afterward, even though I was pretty sure she didn’t know what it meant. “Ride, ride,” she giggled, running onto the sled when she saw it.
“You want a ride?” Jughead chuckled.
“Yeah,” the girl said excitedly.
“Go ahead,” I smiled. Jug took the rope and started running after making sure Olive was holding on and wouldn’t fly off of it. I smiled at the two of them as I kept going in the same direction, Jughead turning around all the time to run back and forth. Until he was tired.
“My turn,” I announced then. He sighed but didn’t protest, helping me with it. “Come on, baby,” I said, lifting Olive to sit between my legs.
Jughead sighed with a smirk and squatted down, his gloves against the ground as he hovered over my sister, his face right in front of mine. I kept the smile on my face and held my cheeks back from blushing, knowing they were pink from the cold anyway. “I’m going to get back at you next winter,” he whispered.
“Can’t wait,” I teased back.
He narrowed his eyes a little, a soft look in them when he made the decision and leaned over, kissing my cheek. His hot lips remained on my frozen skin for a second before he pulled away, ruffled Olive’s hat on her head, and got up, grabbing the rope. There was a stupid grin on both of our faces when he started pulling the sled and when I put the hat back onto my sister’s head normally.
“Hey Pea, we’re outside,” Jughead said into his phone while I was sitting on the sled, making a snowball with bare hands. “Okay, nice,” he chuckled and ended the call.
I raised my eyebrows. “He’s pulling his boots on.
“They’re nice, right?”
“One of the best, don’t worry.” He smirked, seeing the snowball in my hands. “What do you got there?”
“Oh nothing,” I said the same way, grabbing more snow after placing this one onto the sled in between my legs where I had put the rest of them.
“Can I take one?”
He narrowed his eyes at me but got interrupted by a loud whoop as a boy ran out of his house, his little sister behind him. This had to be Fangs. He was the one who said was going to take his sister. “Hey dude,” he smiled, bro hugging Jughead before looking at me. “Hey. I’m Fangs.”
“Betty,” I smiled and shook his hand, having to lift my arm up in order to do so.
“I’m Sami,” the girl told me. She was about 10 or 11. “What’s your name?” she asked my sister, as everybody that age, probably thinking that toddlers were adorable.
I observed Olive as she was looking at the two new kids, then ran to me, climbing onto my lap and hiding her face into my scarf. I chuckled. “Olive,” I replied to Sami. “Baby, you know you just broke all the snowballs I made?” I asked.
My little sister turned her head and looked at the snow between my legs, before giggling and turning back to hide. I narrowed my eyes at Jughead who was laughing. “I swear if you controlled her mind or some shit like that…” I joked.
“If I could control somebody’s mind—”
“Alright we get it, you’re either being siblings or flirting. You can stop now,” another guy said, coming to us. He was the tallest 17-year-old I had seen in a long time. “Sweet Pea,” he told me.
“Are you single?” he asked me.
I smirked, my eyes moving onto Jughead’s clenched jaw, and then back at him. “Yep. But you might want to look for somebody else if you want a girl who’s able to walk,” I said with a small smile.
“Hey, guys! Sorry, I did as fast as I could,” Toni said from behind me, making me wince in surprise. She had already been at our place a few times and Olive already liked her, so she at least lifted her head to smile at her. “Hey kid,” the short girl smiled, waving at my sister who waved back. “You want a ride?”
At that, Ollie got off my lap and sat down on Toni’s sled with a huge smile. “Thanks,” I chuckled and threw the rope of my sled to Jughead who smirked, tying it around his hand. “Wait wait wait wait. I need to get this out,” I said as he got ready to start running. Rapidly, I scooped the snow out of the sled, “accidentally” throwing some of it into his face and making the others laugh.
We went to their favorite place which many people didn’t know about apparently. It was deep inside some woods and they called it a bowl because there was a hollow between two hills. “This way, if you’re heavy enough and go fast enough, you won’t have to climb up again, you’ll just go almost to the top of the other side and then the other way again,” Fangs explained to me.
It was fun. We went in pairs and alone. Jughead pushed me strong enough that I got up the other hill by myself, only once sliding back backward and rolling off. While I started laughing, it still kind of hurt and he had to pull me back up the hill which sucked.
“You wanna go?” Jug asked me soon when he had sat down on Sweet Pea’s sled which was a bit bigger than his.
“Together?” I asked, currently standing up, leaning against a tree and trying to make warmth for myself. My ass hurt from sitting.
“Yeah, come on,” he said, reaching for my hand. He helped me sit down and then moved his legs away, letting me take a good position before placing them back so that I was sat between them. “Hold on,” he whispered into my ear, making me shiver.
I let my arms loose, holding onto his thighs as he pushed us down the hill. I sank into his body, going faster than before with the girls, and I could feel him laughing, arms wrapped around my waist, holding me close. The stupid thing was that he kept changing the course with his feet, touching the ground, and the snow that burst up from the ground flew into my face.
“I am so pissed right now,” I said, looking at Jughead behind me, thinking he was going to turn us around to slide back to the others on the other hill. Instead, he kissed my cheek and pushed us back with his feet, making me scream so loudly I didn’t even know was possible. So, there we were, going backward, with him laughing and me screaming, gripping his arms that were still around me.
When we flipped over about halfway up, at least he pulled me onto my back so that I could breathe, his arm under my neck, both of us laughing.
I smirked, leaning against the bathroom door as I watched Jughead text somebody on his phone. “You are living in my room now?” I asked.
He looked up and smiled tiredly. “Morning.” His eyes moved onto my bathrobe and back. “Damn I hoped you’d be in a towel,” he joked, sitting up on my bed.
“Unfortunately for you I don’t have enough hands that would hold it up for me,” I said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed, my hands still slippery on the crutches. “You gotta go now.”
“Mph, your bed’s comfier than mine,” he groaned, closing his eyes again.
“FP’s downstairs making breakfast. I could smell the bacon. So, hurry up and get dressed.”
“We still have 20 minutes before going downstairs.”
“Yes, and I still need to get dressed, dry my hair, get some notebooks, and—”
“I get it. You want me to leave,” he sighed, getting up from the bed.
I raised my eyebrows. “I wanted you to leave last night already.”
“Oh really? I don’t think I heard you when your face was buried into my chest,” he winked, leaving the room.
I smiled to myself and watched how he closed the door. He was cute. He probably waited until I came out of the bathroom to tell me good morning. He was that kind of guy.
“I’ll see you after school,” I said to Olive with a wave.
“Betty,” she whimpered, reaching out to me. I sighed, looking at FP for a moment who looked worried.
“Ollie, you’re going to daycare, remember? Betty has to go to school,” he explained.
“Don’t go,” she cried.
I sighed and hobbled back to her, letting her grab some of my fingers into her small hand. I ripped a piece of pancake from hers, making her shut up as she observed me eating it. That always made her giggle. “Why won’t you finish eating as much food as possible, then go and play with your friends, and when you come back home, I’ll already be here,” I smiled.
She looked at me with a sad face, but I touched my index finger to her plate, scooping some of the syrup up with it, and then wiped it onto her nose, making her giggle again. “Okay?”
“Okay,” she giggled.
I smiled and kissed her forehead before looking back at FP who was smiling now too. “Does Jug drive normally?” I asked.
“He’s a great driver, don’t worry.”
I nodded, trying to make myself believe that, and waved to him before adjusting the crutches and moving out of the house. Jughead had already carried my bag to the car.
“Ready?” Jughead mumbled, observing me as I kept looking at the school and at the teenagers talking and laughing.
“No,” I said, not moving my eyes away from the window. He gave my hand a tight squeeze before letting go of it and getting out of the car. I sighed and pushed my door open as well. He took my hand again and helped me out, handing me the crutches. I could already feel eyes on me as I smiled at him and shut the door while he got both of our bags from the backseat and threw them over his shoulders.
“Here goes nothing,” I mumbled and glanced at his face once again before starting to move towards the entrance. Jughead walked next to me as slowly as I did, staying just a few inches behind so that if I slipped or something, he could catch me. I heard teens whispering when we passed them, but kept my eyes on the ground, focused on not falling down.
Fortunately, the stairs weren’t as hard to climb for me as a few weeks ago, so even if it took time and a lot of thinking, I could still get upstairs without Jughead dying from boredom at first. “Locker?” the boy asked when we entered the school. I nodded, looking around. Pretty nice.
I followed him through the crowded hallways, everybody making room for me thankfully. “That should be yours,” he told me, tapping against a locker in the middle row. “You have the code?”
“Uh, yeah,” I said and rested one of my crutches against the lockers, pulling out the folded papers from my coat pocket. He got it opened and told me to memorize the code, which I obviously was planning on doing anyway. He helped me get my hat and scarf into the locker before leading me to our first class. Science. Ugh.
I frowned as yet another person bumped into me. “Sorry,” the younger girl giggled and hit her friend’s head as they passed.
“Why do they keep doing that?” I murmured to Jughead, keeping close to his side.
“You’re new. They want to see what you’re like. I’ve seen many people start fights on their first day because of that,” he explained, lifting his arm so that it was resting over my shoulders, around me. I looked up at him to get an explanation, but apparently, he did it casually while keeping tapping his foot and waiting to get our food.
The next time a jock bumped into me, Jughead pulled me closer to his side (or stepped in front of me, because I couldn’t move like this), and glared at the guy. That one didn’t even apologize, just walked away with a smirk. “Hey, why don’t you go and sit down?” Jug asked me quietly. I looked up at him, raising my eyebrows in question. “I’ll get our food, what do you want?”
“A salad,” I said.
He looked unimpressed. “I’m not getting you rabbit food.”
I giggled at that. “Please? And one of those and a grilled cheese please.”
“Okay,” he sighed. “Soda?”
I nodded, “Fanta.” I stood onto my tiptoes with the right foot and kissed his cheek, earning a goofy grin from him as I hobbled towards his friends’ table, unsure about it, but wondering we were going to sit there anyway. About halfway there, somebody bumped into me again, this time stronger than before. I almost fell, but his arm wrapped around my waist painfully, squeezing my ass as he held me on my feet.
When his hand wanted to move into my pants, I wiggled weirdly to get out of his grasp and ended up hitting his leg with my crutch, dropping it afterward to push him off of me. “Dude what the fuck,” he hissed at me, falling to sit down on the bench.
Archie and Sweet Pea reached me a moment later than Jughead who stood in front of me, letting me grab his arm to remain standing up. “Piece of shit,” he muttered, glaring at the guy who was now trying to see if his leg moved normally.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the dude hissed at me.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Sweet Pea basically screamed at him as Archie handed me the crutch back.
“This bitch hit me—”
“Call her a bitch one more time,” Jughead growled.
“Guys. Guys,” Toni came between us, pushing Jughead off of the guy, the two about to fight. “Chuck keep the fuck away from her,” she ordered. “And you calm down, idiot,” she said to Jug, hitting his arm. “Betty, you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I said shakily. Never ever would I have thought that these fucking crutches I need for walking would make me a target for sexual harassment.
“Apologize,” Jughead ordered from the guy—Chuck—as I leaned against his side a bit.
Chuck snorted. “Yeah. As if.”
“Apologize right the hell now!”
“Juggie,” I said quietly, getting his attention. I nodded towards the entrance, making both of the boys look there. The principal was there with a man who looked like a coach. “Come on, go get our food,” I said.
Jug sighed and waited until I was at his friends’ table before hurrying back to pay for our food. “First day not going too great?” Toni asked.
I sighed, shaking my head before lowering myself onto a chair. “You okay? What did he do to you?” Fangs asked another boy who I didn’t know sitting next to him.
“Pushed his hand into my pants,” I murmured.
“That jerk—” Toni said, starting to stand up, but I pulled her back down.
“Calm down. It won’t help. I just want some food.”
“If he thinks he can do that—”
“He’s a fucking jerk who thinks objectifying women is normal,” I said, leaving them all by shock. “I know that. Just saying something won’t help. Jug will just end up punching him and that wouldn’t help either…”
“I wish I had punched him,” Jughead said from behind me, placing the trays onto the table and dropping our bags.
“What’s that?” I asked, lifting the chips up and waiting for an explanation when he sat down.
“That is your food,” he said.
“No thanks,” I said, pushing it to him.
“I can eat them if neither of you wants them,” the guy I didn’t know said.
“No thanks, Kev, they’re for her.”
“Take them,” I said, sliding them to him. “Kev?”
“Kevin,” he nodded.
“Betty,” I said.
“Oh, everybody knows your name.”
I rolled my eyes, “Of course they do,” I muttered.
“Hey, did you see the other new girl?” Archie asked quietly, looking at all of us in excitement. “She’s totally my type.”
Jughead rolled his eyes. “No offense, Arch, but don’t you think you should wait for a bit to get over Josie or something?”
“Oh, I’ve been over her for weeks already,” the redhead said. “She has black hair, she looks expensive.”
“There we go with the objectifying again,” Toni huffed.
“That girl is a rich one,” Sweet Pea agreed with their carrot-topped friend. “She wears pearls, dresses, only dark colors… And her last name is Lodge.”
“Dude,” Fangs gasped. “Hiram Lodge’s daughter?”
“Yep,” Archie grinned.
“Who’s Hiram Lodge?” I asked Jughead quietly as the others kept discussing the new girl apparently.
“Like a huge investor,” he explained. “He’s building a prison on the Southside where we went yesterday, remember? And he’s like filthy rich. A mansion and all.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise as Kevin kept on going with Jughead’s story, looking directly at me. “Dude has his own limo and servants. The girl’s name is Veronica. She lived in New York with her dad but now that they moved back to his hometown to build the prison, she has to go to a public school.”
“She’s probably just a bitchy rich girl,” Toni shrugged.
“You’re gonna be okay?” Jughead asked me quietly, his arms around me, hugging me close.
“It’s just PE… I’ll get somebody to show me the way.”
He nodded with a sigh as we pulled away. “Okay. If you need anything, just yell my name or something, okay?”
I chuckled. “Fine, as long as you promise to actually keep doing your PE without having to check on me every second.”
“Alright,” he smiled, getting lost in my eyes. When some girls passed us, he waited until they were inside the locker rooms and kissed my cheek before going to his, a smile on his face.
I sighed and went to the girls. They didn’t notice me, and I found out that my locker was in the very back where was only one girl, getting changed. I pressed in my code and opened the small space with a sigh, placing the backpack in it and somehow fitting my coat into it as well.
“Sucks to have those, huh?” a girl asked.
I looked up at her, just about to open my phone. She had white pearls around her neck and her gym outfit looked expensive. I knew almost immediately who this was. “Uh, yeah…” She was referring to my crutches.
“Are you new here?” she asked. I raised my eyebrows and got a reply without even asking my question. “Just girls usually are in small groups… And you’re back here, alone.”
“It’s my first day,” I said.
She smiled a bit. “Same girl. This school kind of sucks. Even though the guys are pretty cute.”
I smiled. “You’re Veronica, right?”
She nodded. “So, you still know who I am?”
“Oh, no, not really. My friends were just—you know what, never mind.”
“Your friends were just what?” she giggled.
I smirked, “One of them said you were hot and totally his type.” We both giggled at that and she took a seat on the bench in front of me, our lockers facing each other.
“What’s his name? Is he handsome?”
“I shouldn’t make it easy for him…”
“That’s true,” Veronica smiled. “Wait, what’s your name?”
She nodded. “Well, Betty, is that guy you were hugging with outside your boyfriend?”
My cheeks turned a bit pink as I smiled down at my lap. “I live with him, actually.” When I looked up, I was met with a very confused face. “You see, those things…” I said, hitting my crutches with my right leg. “I’m actually lucky to have them. My family had a car accident, so my mom died and now I… Well, I’m living with her best friend. Jughead, the guy you saw outside, is his son.”
Her face reflected pure shock. “Oh god, girl, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I gave her a small smile before continuing, “They’re nice.”
“And Jughead’s cute,” Veronica smirked.
I lowered my head with a smile of my own. “Jughead’s cute,” I stated, making her laugh.
“Oh, you’re so in it,” she giggled. “This is pure drama, and I love it. Can I get your number?”
“Hey,” Jughead breathed, stopping in front of me. I looked up at him with an annoyed face, making him raise his eyebrows. His face got all worried and soft when he saw the tears in my eyes, which made him sit down on the bleachers, right next to me. “Betts, what’s wrong?” he asked, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.
“I miss it.”
“Moving,” I breathed out shakily, meeting his eyes. “I used to be so good. I love sports. Now I can’t even fucking walk,” I cried. “It hurts to see everybody just playing soccer or running. I want to do that.”
“Hey,” he said softly, pulling me against his side as the other arm wrapped around me as well. “You’ll get to do it soon. Really, you’re doing so great already.”
“My favorite subject just changed into the worst one,” I sniffled, looking down at my lap. “I hate English and my PE just changed into that. I have to write down everything they’re doing so that I could pass the class.”
“So, what does he suppose you’re doing, writing down how many laps everybody has run?” he chuckled, making me do the same.
“I’m literally doing that,” I mumbled, looking down at the paper on my lap.
I felt his lips press against my temple and he kept holding me for a while until the coach yelled at him to get back onto the field. “Gotta go,” he sighed and with another kiss onto my cheek, got up. “Meet me at your locker?” I nodded with a sad smile, making him sigh again. “Betts… You’re going to be better soon enough. I promise.”
I nodded tears in my eyes again. “I’ll try.”
“So what? You literally just got through PE with sitting and listening to music?” Veronica asked as she walked next to me slowly, trying to get through the crowded hallways.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “I just want to run and sweat.”
“You’re so different from me, it’s actually funny,” she chuckled, making me smile as well. “Look at that. Your stepbrother slash lover is there,” she mumbled as we were reaching my locker.
“Shut up,” I rolled my eyes and smiled when we reached Jug. “Hey.”
“Hey,” he said and leaned down to kiss my cheek when I opened the locker. “Veronica, right?” he asked the raven-haired beauty next to me.
“Yes,” she smiled, putting out her hand. “Veronica Lodge.”
“Jughead Jones,” Jug chuckled, shaking it.
“Well, I gotta go, my driver’s waiting,” Veronica smiled.
I chuckled. “Right. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“See you tomorrow,” she smiled and gave a small wave to Jughead before elegantly walking down the hallway.
“What was that?” Jughead chuckled.
“Don’t ask,” I smiled.
“You two friends? Is she nice? She still looks kind of snobby.”
“She’s fine, Juggie,” I said, pulling my coat on. “We’re together in PE and English so far, and she’s not as bad as you guys were making her during lunch.”
“We weren’t making her bad,” he said, popping a Dorito into his mouth. “She’s rich, that’s all. She has a driver.”
“And you have a car. Don’t be a hypocrite.”
“I am not a hypocrite,” he smirked, poking my stomach gently, making me giggle.
“Right,” I said and looked up at his face while biting my lower lip. “A break at Pop’s?” I asked.
He nodded. “Let’s take it to go and have a movie night?”
“More like movie day… We still gotta study tonight.”
“What’s that?” I asked Jughead who placed one of his notebooks into my lap.
“The English thing you asked for?”
“Oh. Veronica already showed me, but thank you,” I smiled, giving it back to him. He raised his eyebrows but took it and stuffed it back into his bag before sitting down next to me.
I smirked. “Are you being jealous?”
“Phh. No.” His arm moved around my waist, pulling me into him. I giggled, kissing his cheek before laying my head onto his chest so that he could play with my hair like he liked to do.
“I just need my own friends, Jug,” I explained quietly. “Yours are nice and they accept me and all, but I really just need to feel like my own person again.” When I peeked up at him, he was frowning while staring out of the window, like he hadn’t thought about that.
“Is she nice at least?”
“She’s great,” I smiled to myself. “She has a whole different look at the world and is my total opposite, but that’s what makes it fun y’know. Plus, I don’t need for your friends to sit alone just because you’ve told them one of them has to sit with me when you’re not around,” I smirked.
“I haven’t said that,” he lied, a smile heard in his voice.
I turned my head and formed an eye contact with him. “Really, Juggie, you’re sweet and it helped during the first week, but now I just feel like I’m annoying everybody.”
“You’re not,” he said, lowering his nose against mine for a second.
“I am. We’re friends too, but I’ve known them for exactly two weeks now. And they’re always in a group, so I’ve really only talked to Kevin alone. In class.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“That I need to make my friends. Veronica’s nice, I like her a lot. So just… Don’t be offended if I stay with her during lunch tomorrow.”
He sighed at that. “And where does she stay during lunch?”
“I’m not sure, probably the study hall. But her driver brings her food every day and I ordered Taco Bell, so I really already promised to join,” I smiled, making him chuckle.
“Fine,” he said as I lied down on the couch to look at him better, moving my head onto his lap. “As long as you stay away from the jocks. They’re all jerks.”
“Your best friend is a jock.”
“I’ll stay away from Chuck and Reggie,” I nodded. “I promise.”
He nodded a little and started to run his hand through my hair again. I didn’t know what to do or say, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from his. They were so blue and deep, and when his head moved a bit towards the backrest, new light hit them, the color changing to a greenish shade. And they were staring right back at me.
Once his eyes broke the contact and moved onto my lips instead, mine did the same. And it was fucking frustrating. I knew we couldn’t kiss and I knew it wasn’t okay to keep doing whatever we had been doing for over a month already, but I couldn’t keep it away. The only thing I could really do was just to turn my head towards the black tv screen so that I didn’t have to look at him anymore.
I could hear and feel him sigh, but the next second his fingers brushed hair away from my face and he leaned down, kissing my temple longer than usually. I smiled to myself a little when he planted another kiss against my cheek, and then sighed again, sitting back up normally.
“Game of Thrones?” he asked quietly.
I grinned when I went out of the class and Veronica was already waiting for me, a smile on her face. “Come on, Smithers is waiting with food.”
“Is his name actually Smithers, or is that just something everybody calls their butlers?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Veronica asked.
“Mr. Burns has Smithers in Simpsons,” I said, making her laugh.
“His name is actually Smithers. Hubert Smithers,” Veronica assured. I nodded, happy with that. When we reached the front door of the high school, we were met with an older grey-headed man who was holding a paper bag from Taco Bell, a cup of coffee in his other hand. “Hi Smithers,” Veronica smiled.
“Ms. Veronica,” the man greeted and handed her the cup and the bag. “And you must be Betty.”
I smiled and nodded, not having to argue with myself about if I should shake his hand or not. Crutches saved me sometimes. It felt kind of nice not to have to worry about things like that.
“Thanks, Smithers,” Veronica said. “I’ll see you after school.” And just like that, we were walking down the hallway again, me having no idea where she was leading me.
“Where are we going?” I asked. The girl pointed at the student lounge at the other end of the hallway. “That place is packed. And I mean like always,” I said.
“We’ll get them to move,” she said, looking confident. I smirked and when we got there, she did do that. “Guys,” she said to a nerdy couple who were making out on a couch, on top of each other. The two didn’t react, so she tapped the girl’s shoulder, making her pull away and look at us. “Move.”
I guess Veronica’s bitchy attitude helped because they actually did go. The girl smiled at me and sat down, patting the place next to her. I chuckled, moved my crutches to rest on the couch and lowered myself to sit next to her.
“You seem to be getting a lot better every day,” she mentioned when we divided our food.
“Yeah, I think so. I can even move the left one now without as much pain, so they promised to try walking on a treadmill today.”
She smiled at my excitement. “I’m happy. Maybe you’ll get to come to yoga classes with me soon enough.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You do yoga?”
“My dad has a professional trainer, so whenever she’s around, she helps me too.”
“Oh, that’s amazing,” I chuckled.
“Actually, she’s having an affair with my dad, so not as amazing as you think,” she said.
I frowned. “Seriously? What about your mom? Does she know? How do you know anyway?”
“It’s not hard to notice. My mom knows too. They’re kind of arguing because of it at the moment. But, both of them have had their lovers. At least twice a year they have a fling with somebody.”
“Mm-hmm. My parents don’t love each other. But they have me. And they have all the businesses and money. So, they won’t ever separate. At least I don’t think so… What about your dad? Why aren’t you living with him?”
There it was. Somebody finally asked. Now the moment of truth. I cleared my throat uncomfortably, feeling her eyes burning into me. “My dad’s in jail,” I said quietly. “He’s a serial killer. Harold Cooper.”
“Harold Cooper?” she asked, eyes huge. “Oh my god, I saw so many news about that. The guy who has affairs and kills his—” I cleared my throat again, making her shut up. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I really am. But damn,” she breathed in shock, arms around me now. “Harold Cooper.”
“He was trying to kill my mom when I called the police,” I murmured. “He’s a psycho.”
“I totally agree. Fuck. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
I gave her a small smile after swallowing the sip of coke I had just taken. “It’s fine now. Just don’t tell anybody, okay?”
“I swear I won’t.”
Darkness. I was in a small gym, a boxing bag in front of me, moving back and forth, back and forth. I couldn’t breathe well; everything was suffocating me. The room was brightly lit, but all around me was darkness. There were huge windows behind what there were other rooms, all the lights shut. Somebody’s hand moved onto my mouth. I tried to kick and punch, but suddenly they started shaking me and I started screaming, never to be heard again as the tie moved around my neck, making me choke. I saw his grin before falling onto the ground, dead.
“Betty,” Jughead’s voice sounded quiet as my body kept shaking. “Betts,” he whispered. My eyes shot open and I sat up quickly, my hands shaking as I tried to see into the darkness around me. When the lights turned on, I winced, the nightmare becoming real as I couldn’t see anything at first. “Betty,” I heard his soft voice which made my head flip to look at him, eyes big and full of fear.
The next moment I knew it, my arms automatically wrapped around his waist and I basically climbed onto his lap as I tried to pull him as close to me as possible. “Hey,” he breathed, panicking a bit as his arms answered the same way, rubbing my back with one hand while the other was holding the back of my head against the crook of his neck. “It’s not real. You’re okay. You’re okay,” he whispered again when I let out a heartbreaking sob.
“Hey,” he whispered when I kept crying loudly. “Come on, breathe with me.” I felt his shoulders starting to rise and fall, my head with them just a bit. He was still rubbing my back and holding me against him protectively, so I tried to calm myself and shakily started to breathe in the same rhythm as he. “There you go.”
When I wasn’t shaking and sobbing anymore, he slowly lied us down in the bed again, pulling me normally into his arms and not saying anything when my leg moved over his torso. “Betts, are you okay?” he asked quietly, stroking my hair as I kept my face in the crook of his neck, breathing in his scent. I shook my head, keeping my arms wrapped around him. “I’m not going to let anybody hurt you,” he mumbled, making tears escape my eyes again. “Never again.”
I nodded against his neck and kept my eyes closed, his fingers drawing soft patterns onto my back and the other hand still in my hair, both of them relaxing me. “Do you want me to keep on the light?” he asked. I shook my head again and felt one of his arms disappearing for a moment as he shut it off, and then when it was dark again, it returned. “Come here,” he murmured, pulling me back into his arms and shifting my leg for me. “Better?” I nodded, keeping the slow breathing going.
He got quiet after that, but his hands kept moving, so he had to be still awake when I swallowed. “Juggie?” I mumbled against his neck, understanding my mistake, pulled it away for a moment.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
His lips landed on my forehead. “Don’t thank me.” With that, I moved my head back onto his shoulder but left my face a bit out from his skin so that I could actually breathe. “I’d do anything for you.”
I groaned quietly when I heard the door shut quietly. “Hey sleepyhead,” Jug chuckled, making me open my eyes. He was still in the bed, holding me, even though a bit more loosely.
“Morning,” I sighed, snuggling up to him better than before.
He was smiling when I looked up at him and he leaned down, kissing my nose. I smiled at that too before moving my head onto his chest. “Are you hungry?” he asked, running his hand through my hair. I shook my head no. “Dad made waffles. They’re gonna get cold if we don’t go during the next three minutes.”
“You have a microwave,” I murmured.
“I’m hungry, baby. I want to eat.”
I smiled to myself at the nickname but kept on going with it. “And I want to cuddle.”
“Why don’t we go eat breakfast, and then later cuddle?” he asked with a smile, looking at my tired eyes.
“You promise?” He nodded, making me smile again as I sat up slowly. “Wait, and dad? He saw that you were here?”
“I told him you had a nightmare. Even though he did look a bit skeptical about our position and me in the bed with you.”
“I honestly don’t need one of those talks,” I murmured, pulling my hoodie on and leaving it zipped open.
“Me neither. So why won’t we stick with the story that I fell asleep while calming you down?”
“Didn’t you?” I smirked, pulling my socks on and accepting the crutches from him.
“No, I chose to stay here,” he breathed as he exited the room, making my mouth fall open. This was the first time he admitted it without joking or trying to lie to me.
The one many of you have been waiting for. Hope you like it! I can't wait to share more of my stories and chapters with you guys! Lots of love ❤️
It was March 2nd when I took my first steps over a very long time. After that, I kept practicing and doing the necessary exercises at home, which made me able to walk from my bed to the bathroom slowly by mid-March. This made all the difference and I finally started feeling more independent again, not needing everybody to hand me the crutches or help me to the wheelchair. Even though I still missed Jughead carrying me upstairs. That was always kind of embarrassing but cute at the same time.
Now, on March 24th, I was walking on the treadmill 2mph and feeling fantastic. It still took some effort, but I had now managed to let go of the edges of the machine and actually walk normally. Life was getting better with every second. Less painful memories of skiing and the best friends I left at my biathlon club.
“Betty, lower the speed and hold your back straight,” my doctor sighed, peeping the numbers on the screen downward.
I frowned, looking at him. “I have never walked as straight as I do right now,” I complained. “And I was fine.”
“You’re overworking yourself,” he said, staying quiet about my first statement. “That could lead to worse injuries than you had. If something happens—”
“Nothing will happen.”
“If something happens,” he continued, “You could be immobile for the rest of your life. So, keep it down.” I sighed when he walked away but didn’t even plan on turning the speed up again.
After about ten more minutes of slowly walking, the treadmill started slowing down, showing that my thirty minutes were up. I got off of it by myself and made my way to the chairs where my things were.
When I sat down, I pulled out my phone, waiting for my doctor to come back from another patient. I smiled a bit, seeing that Jughead had written to me, and read it.
Jug: Hey baby, I’m outside
Jug: If you hurry up your milkshake won’t be warm
I chuckled, typing back to him quickly.
Me: I should be done in a few minutes. DON’T EAT MY CHEESEBURGER! And don’t touch any of the other food either.
Jug: Why would I want to eat a burger that has fake meat in it? I mean I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand why Pop started making it…
Me: Because people are turning into vegetarians and vegans slowly. Live with it.
“Hey. How did it go?” Jughead asked, smiling at me as I handed him the crutches I still was taking with me everywhere but never using.
“Great,” I said when he kissed my temple. “I can walk almost at a normal speed, but he wouldn’t let me do that and turned it down,” I complained with a frown.
“Makes sense,” he said. “Wait till I tell dad you’re trying to do things out of your capability.”
“Why do you think that?” he smirked.
“Because I say so,” I answered with a smile and stood onto my tiptoes to kiss his cheek before climbing into the car. Once I buckled myself in and he got onto the driver’s seat, I smiled at all of the food, lifting the bag onto my lap.
“Vanilla, fries, onion rings and a vegan.”
“Vegetarian,” I corrected him. “You better not order me a burger with fake cheese in it.”
“See?” he chuckled.
“I never said I understood why people would stop eating cheese and milkshakes and ice cream,” I said, taking a huge bite from the burger and smiling while doing that.
“That’s my girl,” he said, kissing my cheek while I was chewing. I gave him a look at that, making him laugh. “Home?”
He nodded, starting the car. I had gotten over the fear mostly. I didn’t have to look out all the time anymore and I could do my things as long as one of my hands was holding onto something.
“Are we going to the drive-in tomorrow?” I asked, looking at him. This small town had a cute little tradition. On the last Sunday of the month, there would be a drive-in on the south side of the town. I had never gone because it only existed when the snow had melted. The white beautiful thing had been gone a few weeks ago already, making everything icy and rainy now. Tomorrow was the last Sunday of March, no snow, not too cold… so the drive-in was finally happening.
“Of course. Not a chance I’m not taking the chance to eat, watch old movies, and cuddle with you.”
“Who says we’re cuddling?” I asked with a teasing tone.
“Aah, well, we’ll see who’s cuddling who first.”
“Maybe if we bring blankets…”
He rolled his eyes at the road in front of him. “I’m not just letting you freeze to death.”
“I won’t if you’ll cuddle with me.”
“See? You’re already the one using it.”
We both smiled, shutting up. The truth was that by that time we were far beyond the phase of teasing each other with things like that. Me sitting on his lap was normal now, him kissing my face, us holding hands. Even FP couldn’t say anything about it. (He didn’t know we were sharing a bed every night, though.)
Jug kept teasing me about sex and everything dirty now. It was kind of funny, but I never had anything clever to say back to him, so it also kind of sucked at the same time.
“This place nice?” Jug asked. I nodded with a smile and held onto the edge of my seat when he parked us there, and then turned the car off, grinning at me. “So, what first?”
“Food?” I asked, guessing he was hungry from not eating for ten minutes straight.
He smiled big, grabbing his wallet, and came to my side, helping me out. It was still hard to take big steps and step down and up the stairs, so I wasn’t sure if I was able to get out of the car by myself yet or not.
When I pushed the door closed, I kept my hand in his and intertwined our fingers, looking around to find somebody who we were friends with. Finally, we found Archie and Veronica (who had become a couple just a week after Ronnie started to sit with us during lunch).
“Hey, you guys,” Archie smiled at us as we got angry looks from people behind them—obviously, we cut the line to our friends.
“Hi,” I said when Jug hugged him—never letting go of me—and Veronica kissed my cheek with a smile.
“You guys came together?” the redhead asked.
“Yep,” I said. Both of the two narrowed their eyes a little, observing our position until a guy handed them their food. “I’ll see you later?” I asked Veronica before they could go.
“If not later, then tomorrow for sure,” she winked.
I rolled my eyes when they started going. “Be safe!” Jughead shouted after them, making me giggle.
“Seriously Ronnie, why won’t they get together already?” I heard Archie asking.
“They just live in a world where they think this is normal,” the raven-haired beauty said back in a sigh, making me look at Jughead who was already looking at me. I turned my eyes onto the ground as he tugged me a bit forward, our turn to give the orders.
“I need a refill,” Jughead murmured as we were cuddled up under blankets in the trunk of the truck.
“You’ve had your stomach refilled twice already,” I said, rolling my eyes at the empty popcorn carton that had been refilled four times in total.
“You’re just pouting because I left you alone for a minute,” he whispered.
“No,” I said, smiling when he planted a kiss onto my cheek that was pink from the cold. I was already in two hoodies, a thick scarf, and in the arms of Jughead, two blankets thrown over us, but I was still cold.
“You want to come with me?”
“No, because you’re not going,” I said, tightening my arms around him sadly, my eyes on the big screen. He sighed, feeling that my body had tensed up a bit, and started to run his palm up and down on my waist, over the hoodies.
“Do you have candies left?” he murmured. I took the half-eaten pack from my pocket and handed it to him, peeking up for a moment. He smiled at me, placing two into his mouth and then smirking. “Close your eyes.”
I rolled them instead. “Just give me the candy.”
“How do you know I’m gonna give you the candy?” he smirked. I rolled my eyes again, managing to grab one before he had the time to stop me. “Unfaair.”
“I don’t caaare,” I sand back the same way.
“Come on, close your eyes,” he said again.
“Promise not to put a spider in there?”
“Into your eyes? No, why?”
“Juggie,” I giggled.
“I promise,” he chuckled, making me sigh as I did it. I felt his eyes on me as I smiled, not showing teeth, waiting for him to say to open my mouth next. He didn’t do that though. Instead, the very next moment, I felt his hot breath hitting my nose and lips, before his captured mine.
He was so warm and tasted like the candy he had just eaten. I really hope I tasted like that too, not like the onion rings from earlier. He didn’t seem to care though, pulling away just a few seconds before starting the kiss, and then leaning back in again, me doing the same this time.
I leaned into him even more than before, this time turning around just a little bit more. My cold hand found his neck and I felt him breathing against my mouth when I pulled away to get some more air, going right back in a short moment.
After a few more short kisses, we pulled away, breathing in and out as quietly as possible. There was still noise around us, the movie playing loudly, etc., but I felt like this moment was just for us to be in our quiet little bubble, enjoying ourselves.
I recovered faster than he did. I moved my head back, laying it on his chest as I sank into his body. He got out of the trans a few seconds later, plated two kisses onto my cold cheek, and wordlessly reached for my hands in order to warm them up. They ended up in the pocket of his hoodie, both of us grinning at each other.
I had no idea what was the second movie we watched after that. The kisses we kept stealing from each other and his arms around me, both of us eating the candies we still had; that all distracted me. But I felt safe. Safer than I had in a very very long time.
I woke up at the sound of the birds chirping outside my window, a cold breeze of air in my hair, moving a stray of it to my face. The sun was reflecting against my face, right into my eyelid. I huffed quietly, and turned myself a bit, hiding my face into his neck. His warm hand moved up to my face, pushing away the hair that had fallen there. I felt his chest and shoulders shaking in his quiet airy laugh, eyes definitely observing me.
“Morning sleepyhead,” he said quietly—the nickname was a normal part of my morning by then. He always managed to wake up before me.
“Good morning,” I mumbled, leaving some drool onto his neck by accident. “What’s the time?” I asked the same way.
“Ten past ten.”
“Mhh,” I said, turning my head a bit and opening my eyes to glare at the opened window and the half-opened curtains.
“We needed fresh oxygen is what dad told me,” he smirked, making me frown again as my head moved again, meeting his eyes.
“He was here? Fuck. What did you tell him?”
“That we were both sick.”
I raised my eyebrows tiredly. “And he believed that? What happened with the plan to sleep alone tonight and make sure it would actually be credible?”
“Well, you kind of fell asleep here last night, so… And you actually have a fever so, it wasn’t hard to make him believe that.”
I frowned at the last statement and moved my hand from his chest to my head, touching it. “No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.” He lifted the duvet up a bit, making me shiver as I looked at my wet shirt. I whined quietly, pulling the covers back down, and cuddled more into him. “Aw, are you one of those who likes to just stay in bed and snuggle when they’re sick?” he asked softly and kissed my forehead.
“Probably,” I murmured.
“I’m hungry,” he sighed but didn’t say anything about leaving. His hand kept moving against my hair, cradling my head as every night. I sighed against his shoulder and moved my face back into his neck, needing to be closer to him. “Baby?”
“Do you want anything to eat?”
“Can I go and make myself something?”
He sighed, turning onto his side from the previous lying-on-the-back position. “Can you look at me?”
He chuckled at that and I smiled too but moved my head out as he asked for. Our noses were already touching, so it was just a casual short kiss that he gave me, but it still made both of us grin afterward. “I’m gonna make myself sandwiches and I’ll make some broth or something,” he said.
I sighed. “I really don’t want to eat, Jug. I feel like I’m gonna throw up all the crap we ate yesterday.”
“That’s why you need soup,” he said, planting a kiss onto my nose before gently untangling me from his body and getting up.
“I’m cold,” I whined.
He grabbed his sweatshirt and handed it to me, helping me sit up slowly. “You even look sick,” he said. I rolled my eyes at that tiredly and let him help with the sweatshirt. Once it was on, he lied me back down and caressed my cheek with his thumb as he sat on the edge of the bed. “You look cute,” he said softly.
I smiled tiredly, pulling his side of the duvet into my arms to hug something. He leaned down, kissed my forehead, and then got up and left the room. This was so unfair. We were supposed to pretend to be sick not actually be sick. Ugh.
“Hey, you,” Jughead said to Olive when she ran into his room.
“Hi,” she said happily, climbing onto the bed. I smiled when she climbed next to me and hugged me. “Are you sick?”
“Daddy got medicine,” she said adorably.
I nodded with a small smile. “You should go before you get sick too,” I said.
“I am sick,” she announced before sniffling.
“You have a cold, Betty has a fever,” Jughead smirked, tickling her tummy which made her giggle while wiggling away from his hand. “Why don’t you go and play,” he said, lifting her off the bed. She pouted at that, but fortunately, FP walked into the room at that moment.
“Hey, guys. How you two feeling?” he sighed.
“Well, dad, comes out that I’m not sick,” Jughead said, earning a look from him. “I thought I had a fever, but she was the one who was sweating and giving all the heat, so it wasn’t me…”
FP sighed at that, turning his eyes on me. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired,” I mumbled. “I need to go to—”
“No,” both of the guys said in unison. “If you’re tired that means you’re weak right now.”
“But I need to keep practicing,” I argued.
“You walk as good as I do,” Jughead said. “A bit slower, maybe, but that’s normal too.”
“He’s right you know,” FP nodded. “Here. Try this again.” He handed me a thermometer which I accepted with a sigh, moving it under my armpit. “Do you just feel tired?”
“She doesn’t eat, and she keeps saying she’s going to throw up, but when she’s in the bathroom, she won’t,” Jughead explained.
“I’m fine,” I said, turning my face into his side because he was sitting up and I was lying down.
“If you’re fine, would you mind answering another question for me?” FP asked. I hummed as an answer. “Why were you sleeping in here tonight? And why are you still in his bed?”
I gulped, meeting Jughead’s eyes for a second before facing the older man. “I was just cold…”
“Right, so you came here instead of getting more clothes.”
“I woke up because of a nightmare, so I couldn’t fall asleep anyway and I was shivering, so I came here because I was cold and didn’t want to be alone.”
He raised his eyebrows and for a moment I thought he believed me until he spoke up. “So why did Jughead tell me you fell asleep in here last night and he didn’t want to move you?”
I gulped again, looking at the boy whose face was in his hands in frustration, before looking back at his dad. “Uh… Well—”
“I don’t want you to lie again, Betty,” FP said, making me sad. I couldn’t tell him, but he had always been so good to me and I really didn’t want to lie nor to make him mad.
“I just…” I had no idea what to say, but I felt like I was going to cry anyway, so I just shut up and only raised my eyes again when the thermometer beeped. I looked at it and sighed in frustration before handing it to FP and dropping my hands on my face so that they wouldn’t see the tears that were for some reason forming in my eyes.
“I’m gonna get the medicine. Jug come on; I need to talk to you.”
I felt the boy’s hand on mine for a second, but I didn’t move mine from my face, waiting until they had both left the room. That’s when I dropped them and curled up under the covers, letting the tears fall.
About five minutes later, my phone started ringing. I sighed, sniffling once, and reached out for it. Veronica. After a few deep breaths, I answered. “Hey V, what’s up?”
“What’s up? Why do I need to text your brother slash boyfriend in order to know why neither of you were at school?”
“Sorry, Veronica, I’m sick, I was away from my phone.”
“And I was worried. You could’ve texted me in the morning before school.”
“I was asleep… And I’m sorry I wasn’t at school; I know you waited for me.”
“That’s fine,” she sighed. “How are you feeling? Jughead said you sleep all the time.”
“I’m exhausted,” I sighed.
“I have a fever…”
“Oh, come on girl, I might be different from you, but I can tell when my best friend has something on her mind. What is it? Spill.”
I sighed, cursing myself for answering the call in the first place. “I’m just so confused,” I breathed.
“About what?” she asked worriedly.
“Everything. School, my body, my legs, my friends, Jughead…”
“Jughead?” she asked. “What about Jughead makes you confused?”
“Oh, come on, you’re the first one to notice everything,” I protested. “You know.”
“I know that what’s going on between you is not a normal sibling-dynamic. And that you keep sleeping in his bed from what you’ve told me. What about that makes you confused?”
“He kissed me yesterday,” I sighed.
There was a silence on the other line until a loud happy squeak was heard. “Oh my god. Finally.” But for some reason, her happiness didn’t make me smile or excited. I just started crying all over again. “At the movies? Oh god, did you have sex?”
“No,” I sniffled.
“Aw, honey. What’s wrong?”
“I just don’t know what to do,” I cried.
“You like him, no?”
“Yeah, but… We live together. It’s weird.”
“B, if you feel like this could be something more than just friendship, go for it. If you don’t, just tell him. He’ll understand.”
“I just don’t want him to hate me after we break up,” I whispered, still crying at the same time.
“Why would you break up?”
“Everybody breaks up. I’m 16. And even if we wouldn’t as teenagers, we would as grownups. Nobody stays. Ever.”
“Oh honey, you have your head so messed up,” Veronica chuckled sadly. “Just because many people break up eventually doesn’t mean that you will. If there’s love and passion, it’s all going to be great.”
“I’m not just talking about breaking up, V,” I said quietly. “Just leaving.”
She stayed quiet for a minute until asking, “What do you mean?”
“I just… I got these amazing people to live with who look after me and I can’t mess that up by dating one of them.”
“Why would that mess it up?”
“Because Veronica,” I sighed. “If we would break up, that means something happened. But I’d still have to keep sharing a home with him. And I’m just a girl who lives with them, It’d be so uncomfortable and weird to stay here, especially with his dad.”
“So, you’re not afraid of the relationship, you’re afraid of what would happen if—”
“They’re the only family I have, V,” I cried. “I can’t mess that up too.”
I heard steps coming slowly and as I turned my head, FP walked into the room with a frown on his face. I breathed out quietly, knowing from his face that he had heard some of it. “Look, I have to go,” I said quietly to my best friend on the phone.
“Betty, just talk to them,” she replied to me. “I think you’ll be surprised about what they feel or think about you. You’re not just a girl who lives with them, believe me.” I stayed quiet at that, my face still wet and salty as I ignored FP’s eyes when I tried to wipe all of it away. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“I’m pretty sure I won’t feel better by tomorrow…”
“I’ll come over. Then we can talk, okay?”
“Feel better, B. Love you.”
“Yeah me too,” I sighed. “Bye.” When I ended the call, I kept my eyes on my phone, placing it onto the nightstand and hooked it into the charger again.
“Here,” FP said quietly, making me raise my eyes to his face. He was holding a glass of water and a small white pill which I accepted and took, drinking some of the water with it. When I handed the glass back to him, I made the mistake of looking into his eyes. He looked confused and sad and I couldn’t help myself but to turn my head away again and wipe my eyes, new tears starting to fall.
“Look,” he started quietly. “I know all about you two.” Okay, that did make me look back at him. “I wasn’t going to do or say anything until you were ready to tell me or until you actually knew what it was yourself. I’m not sure you do yet, but… I don’t want you to think like you just said you are. I don’t care that he’s my real son and you’re my best friend’s daughter. You’re both living with me and I would never prefer one of you over the other.
“You’re my daughter too, Betty. I don’t know what you feel because you never talk about things like that, but I really really love you, okay?”
My hands were shaking when I stretched my arms out, wrapping them around his neck to hug him. I was still crying, more so than before, but I felt so happy and so sad at the same time. “I love you too.”
While I was sick, I kept sleeping in Jughead’s bed, with him by my side. The next mornings when he had to go to school were filled with him drowning me in kisses, telling me to feel better, and—if there was enough time—snuggling with me in the bed until he was almost late. He made no effort to kiss me on the lips after my talk with FP and his (I had still no idea what that had been about, exactly), probably understanding I was stressed and confused, he just gave me some time to figure things out.
When the fever, headache, and weakness were gone by Thursday, FP still made sure I’d stay home but allowed me to go to the hospital, Jughead dropping me off and picking me up. On Friday, I did go to school.
Now, it was Saturday morning, I had just woken up in my own bed, alone. It was still warm and very comfortable, but I missed Jughead’s arms around me, his scent, his hands, or just his presence, really. So, I grabbed my phone that was still charging from the night and pulled on some warm socks before exiting my room and crossing the small hallway to Jughead’s.
I could hear that FP was talking with my sister who had probably slept in his bed since she kept climbing in there at nights, either claiming she had a nightmare or just doing it for fun. FP didn’t have the heart to stop her either, especially after a month of her calling him her daddy, not remembering any other parents she ever had. It was sad, but I was happy that my sister could have a dad who gave her attention and had some spare time.
When I pushed Jughead’s door open a bit, I saw him on his phone, his back turned towards the door. A smile appeared on my face when I closed the door as quietly as possible and tiptoed my way to his bed before basically jumping on it, making him drop his phone as he flinched. I giggled when his shocked face turned into an annoyed-but-not-really grin when I cuddled up to him.
“Morning Jug,” I said, kissing his cheek.
“You almost gave me a heart attack,” he replied to that, sliding his arm under my head so that I would be comfortable.
“Almost?” I teased.
He rolled his eyes and nuzzled his nose into my cheek comfortably, forgetting his phone as I did with mine, just enjoying the rainy morning. We lied there in silence, just happy to be breathing the same air and share a bed. No words were needed. Until the arm that had been dropped over my stomach made a move, gripping my waist carefully as he tugged me closer. It was a sweet movement, but something kept poking my thigh and I knew far too well what that was to keep calm.
“What are your plans for today?” the boy asked, oblivious to the situation that I was in, my heart pounding, skin covered in goosebumps, and brain moving a hundred miles a minute. I couldn’t answer, and after a few moments of silence, he pulled his face out of my neck, looking at me worriedly. “Everything okay?”
I breathed out in order to calm myself when I met his worried blue eyes. I think he saw panic and mild feelings in mine but didn’t know how to express all of that. So, to give him a hint, I moved my hips towards him and then towards the right side of the bed, observing his face as it turned bright red.
He was speechless as well and quickly moved to lie on his back, turning his face to face the window and not me. It was awkward enough for me, but he was so embarrassed that it actually made the situation better. He looked cute when for once he didn’t know what to say.
“It’s okay,” I mumbled quietly as I didn’t know what else to say to make the situation better.
“It’s not okay,” he breathed. “Fuck, Betts, I swear I don’t have control over it.”
I bit my lower lip to hold back the laugh forming in my chest as I reached for his face, turning it to face me carefully. “I know what a dick is and how it functions, Jug,” I said, making his eyes widen just a bit over the fact that I had the courage to speak about it with him. “You’re hard in the mornings, I get it.”
His face got red all over again, hands playfully pushing me towards the edge of the bed. “Don’t speak to me ever again.” I was about to protest, but when he turned his back at me, I actually pouted. I tugged on his hair for a while, but when I still got no answer or a reaction, I huffed, sitting up and throwing my arms over his shoulder, pulling him to lie back like he was before.
His eyes were closed, but now he found me comedic, a small smirk playing on his lips. I knew he couldn’t see me, but I made a face at him just for the effect, before falling back down on the bed, moving his arms back to the right places.
“Have you ever had a boyfriend?” he asked eventually, quietly running his hand through my hair and twirling the strands of it.
“3.” He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “What?” I giggled. “From your dirty jokes, I’m almost certain you’ve had a girlfriend of your own.”
“Hm, at least I didn’t move my dick to your—”
“Hey, you,” I said to my sister who came inside the room, still holding her teddy bear.
“Morning kid,” Jughead said the same way. “If she heard, dad will kill me,” he murmured to me, making me laugh.
“FP?” I asked when I sat down next to him on the couch. He showed me to wait as he was reading some police files about a robbery. I waited for a few moments until he sighed and took the glasses off, looking at me.
“Veronica invited me to a sleepover tonight. Can I go?”
“Have you studied?”
“Most of the things,” I nodded. “We have a test in history on Monday, but we’re gonna study together, so…”
“Yeah, you’re not gonna study,” he said with a small smirk.
“Probably not,” I smiled.
He sighed. “Will there be boys?”
“Nope, just me, or Jug would’ve been invited.”
“Fine, okay. But you need to be home for… let’s say lunch tomorrow. You need to study.”
“Okay, thank youu,” I smiled and kissed his cheek, getting up.
He pointed at me. “Where are your crutches.”
I gulped. “Uh, upstairs?” I made it a question.
“Betty,” he sighed.
“I’m fine. I walk almost as normally as everybody else and I take the steps slowly; nothing’s gonna happen.”
He sighed once again, “Just be careful, okay? And really, take it slow. You need time.”
I nodded and ruffled my sister’s blond hair before going back to the stairs and slowly went upstairs.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Jughead asked when he handed me my duffel bag and I threw it over my shoulder with a smile and a nod.
“Now be honest, are her parents horrible?” I asked as I had been for the whole ride.
“I’ve only met them twice and they’re kind of bad,” he finally said. I sighed at that, wrapping my arms around his waist. “You’re okay, just be nice,” he chuckled, hugging me back and giving my back a soft rub before pulling away. That’s when I cupped his face in my hands and leaned onto my tiptoes, rising up from the ground a bit as I gave him a soft kiss.
He kissed me back, but when I pulled away he looked surprised, a smile still on his face. “What was that for?”
“For dropping me off,” I said simply and with one more peck, let go of him. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said.
“Can’t wait,” he said quietly, making me smile even bigger as I walked up to the huge gate and rang the doorbell.
The answer came a few seconds later. “Hey, B! Come to the door on the left, daddy’s having guests.”
“Okay,” I chuckled, taken aback from all of this. The gate closed behind me and I took one more look over my shoulder at Jughead who gave me a wave, before walking towards the mansion. The house was big and old-fashioned, the garden was amazing, with different sets of fountains and fruit trees. I couldn’t imagine growing up here.
I avoided the main entrance as Veronica had asked and found another door about fifty feet away. It was left ajar, so I knocked on it softly twice before opening it by myself. Veronica was sitting there, in far more casual clothing that I had ever seen her. “Hey, girl,” she smiled.
“Hi,” I smiled back and gave her a hug after closing the door. “This place is so big,” I told her. She shrugged like it was nothing. “I’ll take the shoes off, right?” I asked just in case. My mom never cared about it during warmer months but living with FP I always took them off as did everybody else.
“Yes please,” she said with a smile. “We are going to have so much fun,” she gushed once I was facing her again, grins on both of our faces. “I have everything prepared.”
“As in doing what?” I asked, looking around while I followed her through the endless hallways and a huge amount of free-time rooms.
“You’ll see,” she smirked looking at me and as in she had understood I was struggling to keep up, started walking a bit slower, still an excited bounce in her every step.
“So, what have you decided about Jughead after our talk today?” Veronica asked as it was 3 am and we were sitting on Veronica’s bed, not tired, but having told by her mom to turn our volumes down. So, now we were in our pajamas, ready to go to sleep, our second glasses of mojito—something that her parents didn’t know about—on the nightstands, a plate of nachos between us.
“I think I’m gonna try,” I said, earning an excited bouncing and a squeal from her. “Calm down, “I chuckled. “I’m gonna have to talk to him. Maybe like write a contract and get him to sign the promise that he will never hate me if we should break up.”
Both of us giggled at that, but she leaned over and hugged me which I was thankful for. “I’m so happy for you two. I know it will work out.”
“How? I’m not even 17 yet.”
“The age doesn’t matter, B. I see the way he looks at you. That boy is so in love with him that he’s a mess,” she chuckled.
“Oh wow, have you ever seen what Archie’s like around you, then?” I asked with a raise of my eyebrows, taking the cheesiest part of the nachos. “He looks like he wants to eat you all the time, and that’s gross.”
The girl smiled at me smugly. “Sex, Betty. That’s what he wants. And of course, there are feelings too, but they’re not as strong as the sexual attraction between us.”
“Okay, say no more, I don’t want to hear it again,” I whined, having heard all about that shit during our manis and pedis which she actually had gotten a professional for.
She chuckled. “I’m not going to drown you in details again, don’t worry… I just wanted to say that for us it’s more physical than emotional. For you guys… I don’t know, he looks at you like you hung the moon and he’s literally so whipped, he’d do anything if you asked.”
“You really think so?” We had had a long talk that night (or the evening before, I suppose) about boys and relationships and just what we wanted to do with our lives in the future. The girl talk was really needed for me, and for her, too. At the end of the night, she had promised to start going to the gym with me once I’m allowed to, to support me with my dreams of becoming an Olympic medalist, and I had promised to try on every dress and costume she had made (she wanted to become a fashion designer).
“I guarantee. If you’d call him right now and tell him to pick you up, he’d do it.”
“He’d at first eat all our food,” I smirked, making her laugh.
“That he would.”
Sorry if this chapter is a bit weird. I needed to make this interaction happen in order to let you guys know they are related :) Enjoy! xx
“Come on, it can’t be that bad,” Veronica rolled her eyes at Jughead when me and Toni joined them and the others.
“What can’t be bad?” Toni asked as we took our seats. I gave Jughead a peck on the lips and he smiled adoringly before I looked at the food he had gotten us.
“My dad wants to sit down with his partners,” Veronica sighed, making the other girl make faces as well.
“And…?” I asked, confused about what he was going on about now.
“That means dinner. With FP, the town sheriff, with Fred, his business partner and the head of all the construction, and with the town mayor.”
“Okay, and why is it that bad?” I asked, dipping two fries into Jughead’s ketchup and placing them into my mouth.
“Because,” Kevin sighed, rolling his eyes. “Dinner isn’t just business partners, it’s families. And they’re going to talk dirty. If Hiram Lodge wants to sit down and talk, that means trouble.”
“It’s not that bad,” Jughead said calmingly, his hand casually resting on my thigh under the table. “We’re all going to have dinner, we can talk our stuff while Veronica’s dad makes sure to criticize everybody and scream enough at Mayor McCoy and your dad, Kev.”
“My dad hates the plan already,” Kevin sighs. “He doesn’t understand why he would even be called.”
“Because he’s the head of the town council,” Veronica said pointedly.
“No offense, Ronnie, but I think the idea sucks too,” Archie said with a frown.
“I personally think it’s quite funny,” Jughead stated, making me roll my eyes as I kept eating calmly. “I mean if that many people are invited, we’re going to have dinner at your mansion, which means if we want to run away from being eaten ourselves, we should climb over the walls where you probably have snipers.”
I giggled quietly while everybody just looked at him like he was crazy. “Will there be food at least?” I asked them.
“Lots,” Jughead confirmed. “I’ve been twice. The food is to die for.”
“I’ve had two sleepovers there, I think I know a thing or two about after-midnight nachos and cheese, Juggie,” I smiled.
“Oh really,” he smiled adorably, his face really close to mine. “Then why am I the one who can’t eat after midnight, huh?”
He poked my side, making me welp as I caught his hand in mine, intertwining our fingers and dropping it onto my thigh. “Maybe because if you eat like bologna sandwiches every night, you stink.”
“Why would you care, you haven’t slept in my bed for a while…”
“Maybe if you’d stop, I would…”
“Really?” he asked with a smile. Yep, he was whipped.
“If FP wasn’t at home.”
He groaned at that, making me smile again. “Why do you care about that? He knows already, he doesn’t care.”
“Well, I do.”
He sighed, but kept quiet, trailing his thumb over my lower lip instead. He pulled it ajar from the upper and leaned in, kissing me. I smiled into it and giggled when we got a comment from some kid walking by to get a room.
“What about this?” I asked Jughead who was lying on his bed, already fully dressed, entertaining himself with watching me whine over clothes and playing with dolls with my—or our—little sister.
He shook his head. “Nah, Betts, too festive.”
“Everyone’s going to be festive. Look at her,” I whined, nudging my head towards my sister.
“I’m pretty,” she said.
“You look like a princess,” I agreed, making her smile big.
“Really?” she asked excitedly. I nodded to her and looked back at Jughead.
“She’s a kid,” Jughead said. I whined, flopping down onto the bed, and lied on my back, placing my head onto his lap. Jug smiled at that, starting to run his hands through my damp hair. “You’re so beautiful,” he said quietly and when I smiled, he did the same.
“Help me?” I asked.
He sighed. “What would you want to wear?”
“I mean… sweats, but it’s a dinner at the Lodge mansion, so like not going to happen…”
“Why won’t you put jeans and a blouse or something?” he suggested.
“Because everyone’s going to be all dressed up.”
“I’m not,” he shrugged. He was right; his outfit was clean black jeans and a dark blue dress shirt, the first buttons left open.
“I swear Kevin’s going to come in a suit,” I said, making him chuckle.
“Hiram is going to be in a suit. But he’s always in a suit… Come on, let’s pick you something out,” Jug sighed and got up, holding my hand to yank me off the bed with a grin on his face. “Hm, let’s see,” he teased as we got into my room, opening my laundry drawer.
My face turned pink, but a smirk took it over when Jughead’s eyes widened at my underwear (bras probably). “Why don’t we pick the clothes before,” I suggested with a smirk, closing the drawer.
He looked at me, his eyes dropping at my boobs for a moment, covered by the fluffy white bathrobe. “See Juggie?” I teased. “That’s why you don’t go through my drawers.” I patted his cheek twice.
“Are you wearing one of these?” he asked carefully. “Right now?”
“God,” he breathed. “Fuck, I’ve seen girls in bras and none of them were… Like that.”
“My mom just wanted to make sure I was comfortable in my body,” I said quietly. “These were the only ones that made me feel beautiful when I had boobs and others were only just starting their periods,” I told him with a sad smile.
“I’d hug you, but I’m like extremely hard right now…” he said seriously, making me turn red once again and him smirk this time. “Got ya.”
I huffed and hit his arm.
“FP Jones,” FP said when someone asked his name through a speaker behind the gate. The gate was buzzed open and he was given directions about where to park. I smirked at Jughead who was sitting on the back seat, me in the passenger’s one. He gave me a goofy grin back and a small nod.
“Stop communicating with looks and tell me what you’re talking about,” FP said absentmindedly while parking the car in front of the mansion, right next to all the others.
“That’s the Blossoms’ car, dad,” Jughead pointed out a red limo. I eyed FP as his jaw clenched and the car stopped. “Betty was asking me about them earlier. Cheryl’s a bitch, and she has enough stories from Veronica and practice from Cheryl to know she’s going to be questioned tonight, too.”
FP breathed out sharply and then turned to me. “Look, honey, they’re going to make sure you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s better than them keeping ongoing.”
“Are they really that bad?” I wondered out loud. “I mean sure Cheryl’s kind of a bully and thinks everything is allowed for her, but the parents can’t be as bad as Veronica is telling me, right?”
“Oh, believe me, they’re worse,” Jughead said. “Just, baby, when they ask you something, be sure to show them your personality, okay?”
“I have a personality?” I asked with raised eyebrows, making both of them smile.
“They want to see if you have the guts your mom did. They just want to know if you’re capable of… protecting yourself. They do this to everybody. Jughead got it when he was thirteen.”
“Okay okay, can we just go? I’m sure they’re not that bad and we’re already late,” I stated.
Dad nodded with a small sigh and we all got out of the car, he picked Olive up as well. And even though I would’ve loved to look confident and feel that way too, I still got close to Jughead and held onto his hand when we entered through the main doors, leading us to a reception which was ridiculous considering this was a private house.
We all greeted the two security guards in the front, and I held my breath when they checked our pockets with their hands. “Is this because of the Lodges or because of the mayor?” I asked Jughead quietly when we were led to the huge wardrobe-room.
We got our clothes off and were helped to hang them up before following a man in a black suit through the wide expensive hallways. Even though I was still holding Jughead’s hand, I felt better and more secure as I now knew where we were. They were leading us to the bigger dining room. I had never been there before.
There was a familiar face waiting for us at the entrance of the big room everybody was at, quiet voices talking. “Hi Smithers,” I greeted with a smile, not having seen him for a week while the Lodges were at the ski resort in Norway, for business.
“Ms. Betty, how lovely to see you again,” he smiled back warmly before greeting dad and Jughead. I found Veronica with my eyes as the room was quiet now. She was beaming at me excitedly, probably waiting to drown me in details of the trip. I wouldn’t mind as long as it was all in relation to snow and skiing. I smiled back at my best friend and waited patiently for everybody to shake hands with FP.
The reality was that I had already met everybody excluded Mayor McCoy and the Blossoms. The redheaded family didn’t get up, but I could feel their eyes burning into me as we were told to take a seat. Veronica got up rapidly after that and I basically skipped to her, extending my arms out wide just before our bodies met and we hugged each other tightly.
“I missed you,” I said to her while still holding her in my arms.
“I missed you too,” she whispered before pulling away and grabbing my hand. “I saved you a seat.” She pulled me down with herself, making me giggle as I looked at Jughead’s annoyed face when he had to sit by Cheryl.
“Well well well, look at who it is,” the redhead gave him a fake smile when he took a seat.
“You have a pimple,” Jughead said back casually, knowing exactly how to make her mad. And it worked; the girl clenched her jaw at him.
“Hard to get all these kids ready for the right time, FP?” Cheryl’s mom, a woman with absolutely no style and a weird accent asked dad.
“Actually, these kids are more independent than yours,” he said as casually as Jughead had before. “I was working long. Questioning a prisoner about a drug dealer yet to be found.” His eyes moved at the man sitting next to the woman. He seemed to be wearing a wig, his eyes still burning into my face.
When I finally met his, I stopped breathing for a moment before sharply letting all the air out, making many people look at me. “How’s your father, Elizabeth, dear?” he asked with a friendly fake smile.
“Which one?” I questioned with a blank impression, trying to avoid the deep cold blue eyes that looked so similar to Hal’s and all my siblings when they didn’t smile.
“Oh. So, your mother was a whore who made you choose between two dads.”
I clenched my jaw. FP was clearly biting his tongue and faking a smile once the appetizers were placed in front of each one of us, a scary number of waiters coming out of nowhere.”
I kept eye contact with the man on the other side of the table. “The biological one. Harold Cooper, was it?” he asked, taking a bite from a shrimp in front of him, dipping it into the sauce. I gulped as Cheryl gasped and her brother raised his eyebrows, suddenly all the eyes on me.
“So… How is he doing? Is the jail life treating him good, Elizabeth?”
“I think you should know that better than I do, Clifford,” I stated, earning a smirk from him.
“Oh. So, you remember.”
“You were the only uncle I was ever introduced to that asked me to ask my mom if she wanted to let you fuck her in the bathroom,” I told him with a cold smile.
He laughed at that as did Penelope while Mr. Lodge looked amused and the others purely disgusted. “That was a great joke. How old were you, thirteen?”
“Eleven,” I stated, burying away the memory of the end of that night. My mom threw a plate at him and my dad had to drag him out of the house after he had sexually insulted Polly by sliding his hand into her underwear. My sister had to go through months of therapy to get over this.
“Alright,” Mayor McCoy said with her calm voice. “Why won’t we go over why we’re all here tonight, shall we? Hermione?”
“Yes,” Veronica’s mom smiled, looking confused and taken back from the interaction between me and Clifford. None of them seemed to know that he was my dad’s cousin.
“You okay?” Veronica asked me quietly when I had closed my eyes, looking down as the grownups started arguing over business instead. I nodded wordlessly and took a deep breath before opening my eyes again to smile at her. I was thankful she was there, and I was thankful my appetizer wasn’t shrimps like everybody else’s. She had probably let that be changed.
“Elizabeth,” I heard a low voice once I exited the bathroom.
“Get away from me,” I told my relative, bumping into his shoulder as I walked back into the lounge room everybody was at, the grownups still discussing business.
He came after me. “I really want to know if you know how your dad is doing,” he said, following on my heel. I felt so uncomfortable with him that close to me, so I kept speeding up my steps, and by the time we got to everybody else, I practically ran into the room, him behind me.
Jughead, seeing my state, got up when FP couldn’t, and came to me immediately, embracing me in a hug. I was shaking a bit as I pulled him against me and only imagined what his face looked like with the glare that was probably on his face already, directed to Clifford.
“You okay, baby?” he asked louder than necessary, probably wanting for the man to and some others to hear, letting them know he was nothing similar to a brother for me.
“Fine,” I breathed, finally letting go of him.
“Ugh, can you two keep the incest to yourself?” Cheryl complained, looking at us with a disgusted face.
“You’re sitting on your biological brother’s lap, Cheryl,” Jughead stated.
“There’s a big difference between sitting on his lap or him calling me by awful pet names.”
“Okay,” I smiled and pushed Jughead to sit down again before planting myself onto his lap, looking directly at Cheryl. She clenched her jaw while her twin brother, Jason, looked unbothered and calm. “Is that better?”
“You, serial killer freak shouldn’t ever open your mouth,” the redhead rolled her eyes. “Who knows what your daddy thought you. Wouldn’t want you to kill anybody by accident.”
“Cheryl,” Josie said in shock, her eyes wide as she looked at me apologizingly.
I chuckled quietly. “The only relation I have with a serial killer was the fact that I called the police when he tried to kill my mother,” I said, staring at Cheryl’s disgusted face. She was putting on a mask, I could tell that. “The only thing he ever thought me was how to fix cars. And how to hate ties.”
“I don’t own any,” Jughead mumbled to me quietly after what Cheryl continued.
“Still. Who knows what you’re capable of. Killing your bully would put you to jail for… how long? FP?” Dad looked at us at the mention of his name as did everybody else. “For… Thirty years? Sixty with a good lawyer?”
“No matter how angry you made me, Cheryl, I would never do anything to hurt anybody,” I stated. “Even a bitch like you.”
She huffed, getting up at that, ready to fight. I just pulled my legs up on Jughead’s lap and cuddled more into him, closing my eyes. I could hear Fred Andrews and Veronica quietly laughing behind us when Cheryl huffed, forced to sit back down.
“Nice job,” Jughead whispered, nuzzling his nose into my hair.
Smut warning, even though I know that's what most of you actually enjoy reading lmao xx Enjoy and hope you like it! :)
“Let’s spend the day together,” Jughead whispered against my neck, busy kissing it tenderly, his hands under my shirt, caressing my sides.
“Yes,” I breathed, keeping my head up to grant him better access and a bigger territory.
“Mhmm,” I moaned, pulling his head against my skin, my body needing him to be closer.
“What shall we do?” he asked chuckling, pulling away and untangling my hands from his hair.
“Juggie,” I whined and tried to move them back there, but he kept them in his and plopped down on the bed next to me as previously. “Did you kiss me just to get me to be with you the whole day?” I pouted.
“I kissed you because you’re the prettiest, warmest and the most adorable girlfriend I’ve ever had,” he whispered against my cheek, planting kisses there now.
I smiled at that and bit my lower lip when I turned his head to face mine, planting a quick kiss onto his lips. That was a thing that had happened two weeks ago. He asked me to be his girlfriend on one of our first official dates. I was so in love with him. And he knew that.
“Jug,” I giggled when he held me close and didn’t let me pull away from his lips. I felt him smile against my mouth. Eventually, the smiles worn out as I climbed on top of him, my knees sinking into the mattress, hands in his hair. He started kissing down my neck again, but this time with more power than before, leaving soft red marks before they disappeared a few seconds later.
I quickly pulled away and rolled off, hiding my now red face into his warm neck. I was so fucking embarrassed as I heard FP clearing his throat awkwardly while Jughead pressed his lips together, holding back the laughter instead.
“Sorry, uh… We’re going now. I’ll be back at 8, make sure to get Olive at 3,” he said. I could feel Jughead nodding. “Behave you two,” he warned before going away, the door closing behind him.
We waited for a while, but when we heard the front door shutting, Jughead tapped the back of my neck in order to get me to look at him. When I did though, his face was full of amusement. “You look like a strawberry.”
That got me to smile a bit and relax as he booped my nose. “I need to call Veronica,” I murmured.
“Because obviously, I’m not going to the gym with her if you want to spend the whole day in bed.”
He grinned at that and played with my hair until I made the call. My best friend was surprised to hear I didn’t want to go, since a week ago when I was able to start again, I had wanted to be there the whole time.
We ended up making popcorn and doing a High School Musical marathon, with the occasional making out. By the time we needed to pick up my sister, the movies had ended. “I can go by myself,” he offered quietly, kissing my temple after I had whined about it.
“Really?” I sighed. “Thank you.”
The boy smiled at me softly. “Get some more sleep, I woke you up far too early for a Saturday.”
I nodded and accepted the kiss from him before snuggling up with his pillow, my back turned to the window where the bright light was coming from.
The next thing I knew, somebody was shaking me carefully. “Baby,” I heard Jughead’s voice whispering, his nose nudging my cheek as if we were lions or something similar. I hummed quietly, pulling the hand that was shaking me to my chest, hugging it. I heard soft chuckles escape his lips which made me smile a bit as he pressed a kiss onto my cheek.
“Ollie said she wants you to eat with us…”
I sighed and opened my eyes, smiling as I found his face close to mine. “What did you make?”
“As in macaroni or like with something?” I asked carefully, getting out of the bed, in my sweatpants and one of his sweatshirts.
“Tomato sauce, garlic, cheese, herbs. I made chicken too but didn’t mix it in since I hoped you’d be hungry.”
I kissed his cheek before going out of the room, him following. Olive ran into my arms—something she liked to do now that I had fully recovered and wasn’t going to fall. “Hey baby,” I groaned while picking her up. She gave me a kiss before I even could, which made me chuckle. “Had a nice day?”
“Uh-huh,” she nodded. “I missed you.”
I smiled softly and kissed her head. “I love you.”
“Love you,” she said back, looking happy. Jughead smiled at both of us as I placed my sister into her booster, and he served all of us food.
“Do you love me too?” he asked Olive.
She giggled. “Yeah.”
“Can I get a kiss?” The little girl smiled, leaning up to peck his cheek. “I love you too,” she answered now, making her giggle.
“Chicken,” she said, pointing on it.
“You want chicken?” I chuckled.
“Hm?” I met his eyes slowly, dragging mine off of the hickey on his collarbone, feeling such power inside my chest, knowing I had made that the very same morning, only 10 hours earlier.
“What are you doing?” he smiled, making me blush as I dropped my eyes on it again. “You like that?” he teased unnoticeably, his fingers brushing over the mark on his neck. I bit my lower lip, nodding. His thumb was suddenly on my lip and I looked up at him rapidly as he pulled it out carefully. “If you want your clothes to stay on, don’t do that,” he whispered.
My whole body tingled in a pleasurable sensation as I noticed the dark look in his eyes. He was never really shy, but he was awkward sometimes with other people. Seeing a side of him where he could tease me so easily still came as a surprise for me.
I clenched my thighs together as I kept my green eyes on his blue ones, feeling a bit uneasy. “Do you have condoms?” I asked quietly.
“Fuck,” he muttered under his breath, his thumb that had been resting on my chin pulling my lip out of my mouth again. He gave me a silent look, telling me not to move, as his body made a twist and he opened his drawer. I had no idea what he had seen there that he shut it so quickly, but when his eyes met mine again, he gave me a nod before attacking my lips, my arms tangling themselves around his neck.
We made out in a wet kid of too-much-tongue way, but it felt incredible. He slid off the bed for a moment, making me whine quietly, but fortunately, he helped me to get back into his arms, my legs wrapping themselves around his hips this time. He carried be somewhere, but his hands and lips were too distracting for me to notice. Only as I heard the sound of the door locking, I understood.
The next moment I knew, I was seated back on the bed. His lustful eyes met mine for a moment and I think I managed a quick smile, my breathing far too fast to try to do anything else. “Off off off off off,” he murmured quickly as he pulled the sweatshirt off of me, followed by my shirt.
When I got his lips back against mine, his warm hands started running back and forth on my stomach, waist, and back, making me shiver even further. “Jug,” I said against his lips. Once he pulled away, I took my chance and pulled his shirt off as well. We goofily grinned at each other for a moment before smashing our lips together again, him climbing on top of me.
I got goosebumps all over when his mouth left mine, moving down my neck and towards my breasts. My own hands were on his slight abs, our hips rolling together, having found the right rhythm. Even though our sweatpants I could tell he was hard. The thought filled me with jitters.
“Baby?” he murmured once his mouth was on my bra line. I made some kind of questioning noise through my breathing. “Can I?” he asked, looking up at me eyes full of desire. I nodded immediately, shivering as his fingers opened the bra on my back and then carefully slid it off of my arms.
I was waiting for more kisses as I wrapped my legs back around him, shifting my hips up so that they were against his, my hands tugging his shoulders downward. He was just frozen, staring at my naked boobs, thumbs caressing the sides of them. I huffed quietly and let go of him quickly only to move my hands on his hands and then place them onto my boobs.
His eyes met mine in amusement. “Come on. I need you. Hurry up,” I breathed, pulling him back close to me. As much as I tried to get his pants off though, he wouldn’t let me yet. He was busy kissing my boobs, sucking on my nipples and nuzzling his face into them. He kept telling me all these beautiful things which made my desire even bigger, especially when I saw how calm he looked while kissing my body.
“Jug,” I said, my hands moving to his pants again.
“Not yet,” he murmured, moving them away.
“I’m done waiting. I need you to fuck me.”
His eyes shot up onto mine and mouth turned upwards as I gave him a pissed look while pushing down his pants. “You are so hot right now, baby.”
“No shit, Forsythe. Move,” I demanded, flipping us over so that I was on top now.
He chuckled at me but helped me push off both of our pants and his boxers. I kind of froze when his member popped out though, which made him laugh quietly, rolling me off of him to me on top of me again. I looked up at him, biting my lip again, which made him groan. “Stop that,” he said, pulling it out of there as his lips started moving from my breasts to my stomach. Just like that, he was in control again. I didn’t exactly hate it. At least he was naked, and I was almost naked, meaning we were closer to sex than before. I had done my part and was proud of myself for it.
“Help me out here,” I heard him breathe. I did as I was told, lifting my hips up for him to get my damp panties off as well. “Oh god,” he groaned, lips moving there instantly, making me wince a bit, not having waited for that.
His eyes shot up apologizingly, asking me to stop. I breathed hazily and pushed his head down again, almost crying his name in pleasure. He got me off pretty quick. “Jugh—” I started when it was happening, but he kept doing it, so I wondered it was fine, and came on his tongue, making some kind of ridiculous voice with the other part of his name that I hadn’t even known I was capable of.
“Shh,” he whispered as I whimpered quietly, cheeks red and eyes pressed together. I felt his lips on my forehead which made me open my eyes. “Was that good?” he asked carefully.
“Yes,” I cried, pulling him in for a really really tight hug. Somehow, he moved his head, so we started kissing again, and I swear I could feel the taste of myself on his lips. It turned both of us on more than before, our now bare hips rolling together again, his dick almost against my entrance.
“Do you…” he started quietly.
“Condom?” I breathed while nodding. While his hand moved to get one from the unopened package, mine found his penis, exploring it carefully. I had given an older guy a blowjob at a party back in Saratoga Springs when I was 15, about to be 16, but I had never had sex or done anything like that. Touching Jughead’s hard dick just felt so much better and comfortable than the one I had to put into my mouth because of a bet.
Jug smiled at me softly, moving my hand away as my eyes met his, just to get a condom onto himself. “Have you done this before?” I asked shakily.
“Mh-hmm, a few times,” he murmured, hovering over me as before. “Have you?” his hand was stroking my hair now. I shook my head a bit, and I think he could see the scared look in them which is why he whispered, “We don’t have to.”
“No no, I want to,” I whined, pulling him closer. “Just I’m afraid to get pregnant.”
He chuckled. “Betts, we have condoms,” he said softly.
“Yeah, but… What if it doesn’t work.”
“Don’t worry about that. It will work,” he said. “Trust me, okay?”
“Okay,” I breathed, closing my eyes.
“Mh-hmm,” I hummed. I felt him sink into me slowly, but surprisingly it didn’t hurt as much as I thought. He stopped once he was inside, our bodies pressed together. It felt so special to me. He felt so special.
I smiled and nodded, pulling his face towards me to kiss him. “Move,” I murmured against his lips and he did as told.
“Are you going to call me Forsythe again?” he whispered once he understood that I wanted to scream his name.
“Shut up,” I managed. He was shaking the whole time and came a lot before me but got me off in a few minutes as well.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Hi dad,” I said, shutting the door behind me.
“Hey, I thought you were asleep?” he asked.
I smiled. “Yeah, I didn’t sleep well, so I just went for a run,” I said and kissed his cheek as I passed him in the kitchen. “What are you making?”
I rolled my eyes at the answer. “With bacon?”
“Sorry, we only had bacon and eggs. I need to go get some food,” he sighed, looking at me as I jumped onto the counter, drinking from my newly filled water bottle.
“We’ll go if you need to work,” I offered. “As long as you give us money and I can buy Doritos.”
He chuckled, nodding. “Okay. Thanks.”
“Morning,” Jughead mumbled as he walked into the kitchen.
“Good morning,” FP said and turned towards the stove, giving us some privacy.
“Hey,” he said softly, seeing me. “What are you doing up?” He stood in between my legs, pulling me into him.
“Why didn’t you come to me?”
“Couldn’t sleep,” I chuckled and gave his mouth a peck. “I went running. And now I need to shower,” I said, referring to the way he was holding my thigh and waist, both sweaty. He ignored that and just kissed me, pulling me against him.
“Guys, I’m still here,” FP said, and I felt him watching as we kissed, probably annoyed that we did it in front of him again.
“It’s summer break, we’re just having fun,” Jughead grinned against my lips, making me giggle.
“Yeah well, why won’t you have fun in your room with the door locked and condoms instead of the counter.”
I pulled away from Jughead’s lips and looked at FP in shock. He had literally told us not to have sex yet, especially when somebody was at home, and now he told us to do that instead of making out in front of him?
“What?” he asked at both of our faces, a smirk on his. “I know you’re having sex; I gave both of you the talk, you’re free to do whatever you want until it is not in front of me or your sister.”
“You wanna have round one right now?” Jughead suggested dryly. I hit his chest and pushed him away after a kiss onto his cheek.
“I’ll go and shower.”
“I’ll come with you,” he smiled, following me, testing FP.
“Stop it right there, boy,” he called. I grinned, listening to the conversation as I went upstairs. Yeah, he definitely still had his limits.
“Hello?” I heard through my phone. The voice made me smile.
“Hi, Felix. I’m Betty, remember me?”
“Betty!” the man exclaimed happily. “Why would I not? How are you, honey?”
“I’m doing well,” I smiled. “Walking, running.”
“That’s great,” I heard him smile. “We all miss you here. Still, the best one I ever got the chance to train.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, that’s not true, but thank you. I uh… actually called to ask if you still had my rollerskis?”
“Of course we still have them. All your things are in a room just waiting to be used. We haven’t even let the others use them.”
I chuckled. “Well, that’s flattering… Look I need a favor. I can pay for everything myself, but I’d need somebody to get my rollerskis and boots and poles to the right boxes and ship them to me. I’m trying to start training myself again because I’m not really sure if I’m able to ski anymore…”
“Of course, you are. You were born to be an athlete, Betty. Never am I going to give up on you.”
I smiled at that, waiting for his answer. “Thank you for that.”
“Of course, I’ll send you the equipment, hon. I’ll pay for everything; don’t worry about that. Just send me your address, okay?”
“Okay, thank you,” I breathed with a smile.
“Now, listen, Betty. I was going to call you about the summer camp.” My eyes grew wider, starting to spark. I had gone to this camp since the age of seven. This was what I had always lived for. I loved sport and loved all my friends there and the fact that it was an international one. But now, I had thought that as I lived further away, was sick, and wasn’t in the team anymore, maybe I couldn’t go.
He continued. “As you can now do sports again, maybe you’d want to come? The kids have all been asking about you, and I know that some of your friends from other countries are coming too.”
“Are you sure? Could I really come?” I asked excitedly.
“You’ve been training with me since you were six, honey. I can help you try to get back to shape and maybe when you go to college soon, you could start competing again. We’ll do as much training as you have the strength for, if you’re still a bit weaker than usual, we’ll take it slow. I swear we won’t even take the full price for you.”
“Thank you thank you thank you,” I squeaked, making him laugh softly. “I’ll just have to ask my… You remember FP?”
“How could I forget FP.”
“Right. I have to talk to him about that. But I’m entirely sure he’ll let me come.”
“Alright,” he chuckled. “Look, honey, I gotta go right now. Send me the address and talk to FP. We’ll talk soon, okay?”
“Okay. Thank youu.” When I ended the call with my coach, I squealed, falling onto my back on the bed.
He hummed, not taking his eyes off of the folder of papers in front of him. I sat down, knowing not to talk too much at the moment as I saw his face. He was clearly pissed at the thing he was reading. So, I stayed quiet for a few minutes until he sighed and took his glasses off, fingers squeezing the bridge of his nose. “What?”
“Everything okay?” I asked timidly.
“This case,” he sighed, lifting the papers up and then dropping them back onto the table. “It’s fucking wearing me out.”
“What’s it about?”
“Bank robbery in Seaside. The cameras don’t show anything, but the next day the door was kicked down and the sirens were off. Passwords and cards gone…”
“So, shouldn’t you be watching videos instead? The security cameras?”
“I have. I should be at work,” he grumbled to himself. I pressed my lips together as his head turned to look at me. “Sorry,” he sighed. “What did you want to ask?”
“I’m not sure if I should right now… You’re kind of pissed.”
He smirked. “You need money?”
I made a face, making him chuckle. “Not really money, but the thing I want to do needs money…”
“Okay. Go ahead, tell me.”
“So, I talked to my coach.”
“The biathlon one. He’s sending me my summer equipment so that I could practice by myself. But um… He said I could go to the camp. The one I’ve gone to every year since I was little.”
He nodded with a smile. “Okay, and?”
“It’s 15 days in July and it costs money.”
“How much?” he chuckled at me.
I bit my lip. “I’m not sure yet. Usually, it’s like 500 dollars. My bus ride would be shorter, and he said he wouldn’t take the full price for me.”
He nodded. “Yeah of course. When is it?”
I widened my eyes with a smile on my lips. “I can go?”
“Hon, I’m not going to say no if you want to do sport and see your friends.”
I squealed and hugged him immediately. “It’s the second part of July usually. But I’m not sure about this year.”
“Okay, and when do they need the money?”
I shrugged. “Felix said he wants to talk to you first,” I mumbled, still holding my arms around him. “I’ll tell him you call, okay?” I smiled when pulling away.
“Hi. We’d take two big popcorns, two big cokes and a bag of Jolly Ranchers, please.”
“No,” I sighed, making the woman look at me with a confused frown. “One big popcorn, two cokes: one medium, one big, and then a bag of Jolly Ranchers.”
“Alright, which one then?”
“Mine,” both me and Jughead said in unison. “You eat too much,” I protested with a chuckle.
“You like it,” he said back, poking my side with a smirk.
“No, I don’t,” I giggled as he kissed my cheek, but all three of us already knew whose order was going to be the one.
“So, two big popcorns?” the girl asked. I sighed as Jughead nodded with a victorious smile. The woman smirked and went to get our food. Jug took the chance, letting go of my hand and pulling me into his side instead. I acted annoyed, but when he started kissing my face, I couldn’t keep the smile away.
“I win,” he whispered.
“No,” I giggled, pressing my lips on his. He pecked them a few times until the woman cleared her throat, waiting for us to stop.
“How much?” Jughead asked.
He paid with dad’s card and once we took our stuff and thanked the girl, he grinned at me goofily, knowing I was trying not to scream at him tickling me. When we sat down in the back row, I hit his shoulder finally after placing the food down. He laughed and pulled me to kiss him. His hand moved onto my thigh, moving upwards under the hem of my jean skirt.
“Stop it, we’re at the movies,” I whispered, pulling his hand out.
“Nobody’s here,” he whispered back as the movie started. He was right; there were only seven more people, most of them older as the movie was an old one.
“Cheryl and Jason are here,” I whispered, pointing towards the two redheads in the front row.
“Well maybe we should give them a show then, huh?” he smirked, hand moving upward on my thigh again.
“Stop it,” I giggled, pushing his hand off. “Here. Eat your food.” I placed his popcorn onto his lap. “And get fat. Idiot.”
He chuckled at the smile on my face and looked back at the movie, his hand moving onto my knee and staying there as he started eating with his other hand. “If you change your mind, I’m right here.”
“What am I going to do without you here?” Veronica sighed, holding me in her side on the couch.
“It’s just two weeks, Ronnie,” Archie chuckled. “I’m gonna miss her too, but it’s not like she won’t come back.” He looked at me, eyebrows arched, “Right?”
“I wouldn’t stay there without telling you,” I giggled.
“Now, Veronica, would you let go of her?” Jughead questioned.
The girl frowned. “No. I’m going to miss her. So, I want to be with her the last night.”
“And I want to cuddle my girlfriend.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re going to cuddle her the whole night. I need to sleep with this dude the rest of it.”
“Who are you calling this dude?” Archie smirked, pushing her off the couch practically. We all laughed, and I moved to Jughead’s side when Veronica sat on Archie’s lap.
“I have the dibs to choose a movie tonight,” I announced, earning a groan from Archie and Veronica, and a kiss from Jughead.
“Choose something dirty. Please,” Veronica pled.
“I want Call Me by Your Name.”
“The movie is amazing,” Jughead agreed.
“Book was even more amazing,” Is said.
“Yes, but the movie’s beautiful too, no?”
“Okay, let’s just get the fucking movie on and let us decide if it’s beautiful or not,” Archie said with a roll of his eyes.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it,” I gasped. “Bitch, you need to watch it right the hell now.”
They all chuckled as I put it on. I hummed to my favorite soundtrack quietly while Jughead was clearly taking all from the last night with me before a few weeks. His lips were on mine constantly. “Juggie,” I whispered, about halfway through.
“Can I watch the movie, please?”
He sighed with a small smile but gave me a nod and one last kiss.
I started thinking about the camp, the workouts, my friends from all over Europe… I remembered the small shaggy beds in the wooden glamping pods, the late nights out, the fun of competing. And, in some minutes, I turned my head and pressed my lips against Jughead’s again, suddenly missing him. “Let me watch the movie,” he grinned against them but kissed me back.
“Fuck the movie,” I breathed. I moved to straddle his lap and I heard Veronica coughing quietly as his hand moved onto my thigh, starting to caress it up and down. I bit his lower lip, making him groan into my mouth. “Fuck me.”
“Fuck,” he mumbled into my mouth, starting to stand up.
“Well, Archiekins, I think we’ll have some privacy now,” I heard Veronica say.
“Upstairs,” I breathed against Jughead’s lips as he slammed me into the kitchen cabinet.
“That will do,” he groaned, pulling the shirt over my head and throwing it onto the ground.
“Juggie,” I giggled as he buried his nose in between my boobs. “Guys, can you go upstairs!?” I shouted to our best friends and felt Jughead laughing into my skin.
“Are you actually fucking on my counter?” Archie asked loudly.
“Yes, we are, idiot!” Jughead screamed back to him and let me pull his shirt off as well. I ran my hands over his biceps and then over his abs.
“B, I want to sleep in the same bed!”
“I doubt he’ll let me,” I breathed, more to Jughead than to her.
“Damn right I won’t,” I growled against my skin, sucking hickeys onto my breasts.
“Off off off,” he murmured, picking me up to get my pants off.
“What about Mr. Andrews?” I moaned, getting silenced by his lips.
“He’ll be home tomorrow morning. We can do more rounds than needed,” he whispered as I pushed off his pajama pants.
During that night, I cuddled with him, half-naked, only in his shirt and my panties. Veronica pouted the next morning.
“They’re coming,” I smiled, bouncing on my feet. I bit my lower lip excitedly as the bus came and stopped in front of the Riverdale bus station. Three of my best friends in the whole world (adding to Veronica) were already standing up, waving to me excitedly, ready to run off. I hadn’t seen two of them for a year now and one since this winter when I went to see her competition.
When the bus doors opened, the three of them ran out and practically jumped on me, pressing me into the tight group hug. “Hi hi hi hi hiiiiii,” I squealed, pulling Liisa, an 18-year-old girl from Finland, into a hug.
The next one was Madeline from back home, who was also 18. And the last from them was my all-time best friend who lived in Germany, Mila. She was 17. After hugging her for a long time and kissing her cheek, I grinned, hugging a few others from back home. Some older, some younger.
“Hey hon,” my trainer, Felix greeted.
“Hi,” I smiled and hugged him as well. He was talking to FP now.
“So, you’re the hot boyfriend, huh?” Madeline smirked at Jughead who was grinning at me, looking at how I greeted the coaches from other countries.
“Hot hm? Someone’s been talking about me as I see.”
“I’ve heard about you,” Mila said with her adorable accent, Liisa nodding with her.
“Well I guess I’m famous then,” he grinned at me. “And hot?”
“Yeah, well, don’t let it get into your head,” I said, pecking his cheek before walking off to go and give my things and equipment to the bus driver and my coach who were trying to fit my things.
“You got me a seat in the front?” I asked the girls.
“Yeah, everyone’s in the back anyway,” Liisa said, also with another type of accent.
I nodded, knowing that. I hated sitting in the front, but I had to, or I was going to puke. Buses were horrible. They always made me sick. And now, I was already sick. I hadn’t been on a bus since the accident.
“Okay, we need to go if we want to arrive almost at the same time as the other two buses,” Felix said.
I sighed but looked at how they all got back on the bus, giving me a minute alone with my family. At first, I hugged my sister and made sure she knew I was coming back, then said goodbye to FP with a hug, and then stopped in front of Jughead with a sad smile. “Just two weeks,” he said with a smile, trying to stay positive.
I nodded in agreement and hugged him tightly. As I pulled away, my hands cupped his face, and I kissed him strongly once. “God, come back quick,” he breathed as I pulled away.
I smiled, patting his cheek, before running onto the bus as well. “So that’s what’s keeping you here,” one of the older boys from my hometown called. I giggled and gave him the middle finger.
I grinned at my friends as we walked towards our hut, giggling. “So, I grinded him, right?” Madeline continued. I groaned in between my laughs with others. “And his hand like… Like eww, we were just kissing, and he started touching me, but I did it only to prove them he wasn’t gay, and—”
I kept chuckling and so did the girls as I turned to see my coach with a little girl, sitting on a bench outside of the cafeteria building. “I’ll be right there, go ahead, you guys,” I said, and went to Felix.
“Ate dinner?” he asked.
“Yep. Just came from the store.”
He shook his head. “Don’t eat junk.”
“I’m trying,” I chuckled. “What’s up?”
“Allie here misses home. So, I’m trying to help…” The little girl looked up at me with teary eyes. I felt myself in this. I remember crying the first few summers. Back when I didn’t have real friends here and I was the youngest.
“Got it. Can I talk to you?” I asked the girl. She nodded a little.
“Thanks,” Felix sighed. “I’m right upstairs, I just need to get the plans for tomorrow done.”
I nodded with a small smile and looked at how he went away and upstairs on the cafeteria building. That’s where the coaches, nurses, etc., always slept. I sat down next to Allie and looked at her wiping her tears away.
“How old are you?” I asked her softly.
“7,” she said.
I nodded. “The first time I was in here, I was 7 too.”
“Did you like it?”
“I liked the sport and I liked the coaches and Felix. But… I missed home too.”
“Why?” she sniffled.
“You see,” I sighed. “I was the youngest. Most of the other kids were older and I felt like I wasn’t as good… Why do you miss home? Are the others being nice to you?”
She shrugged a little, tears starting to stream again. “They don’t like me.”
“Why do you think that?”
She gulped and kept quiet at first but spoke up when I waited in silence. “I don’t know. I don’t know them and I’m smaller and I’m fat.”
I shook my head with a sigh. I had had exactly the same problem when I was younger. I wasn’t fat, but I was bigger than the others. Just like her. “You know,” I started. “I know you might feel like everybody hates you because of that and that everybody keeps looking at you, but in reality, nobody cares. They want to be friends with you. And I think they do like you.”
She kept quiet, but I kept going, arm around her shoulders. “I used to be just like you. I was a bit bigger than the others and I felt like everybody was always watching and judging me. But you’ll grow out of it if you keep on doing sport and eating normally. And if you talk to these girls, I’m sure you’ll find out they don’t hate you.
“I cried for the first days. Always. But it will get better. And once you’re having fun, you won’t think about home again.”
“But they always whisper, and I think they’re talking about me,” she said quietly, looking embarrassed.
“How old are they?”
I smiled. “I feel like you’re exactly like I was. I was 7. They were 9. The first two years I thought they hated me. But when I got a bit older, they started talking to me more. You just have to stick around… Now, Madeline, a girl who I’ve been paired with since I was 6, is one of my best friends.”
“Really?” she smiled.
“Mh-hmm. Why don’t we go to your room? I’ll come with you at first. I think I know these girls. They’re really good.”
“Yeah,” she sighed.
“When did you start skiing?” I asked the girl as we started going.
“Half a year ago.”
I nodded. “Does it go well?”
She shrugged. “Felix says so.”
I nodded with a smirk. “He always said it to me too. Believe me, if he says so, it’s right. I’ve heard him tell me I suck too many times.”
She giggled at that. “You don’t suck. You did it well with the rollerskis today.”
I smiled. “Practice, practice, and again, practice. That’s how you get there… I was getting great scores last year.”
“And now?” she asked, looking up at me.
“I was in a car accident. So, I couldn’t even walk this winter. Now, I’m trying to get back to shape.”
She nodded as we entered her glamping pod. “Hi girls,” I said. They all smiled at me and greeted both of us. A few minutes later, they were already planning on doing prank calls and had included Allie after I told one of them quietly to try to be better friends with her. It seemed to work.
“What it feels like not to be able to walk?” I questioned, trying to understand if I had understood well. The young trainer from Canada—who had gotten here only yesterday—nodded. I shrugged with a small smile. “Like jail, you know… No independence, no sport. It was exhausting.”
She smiled sadly. “And now? How are you doing?”
“Better,” I smiled. “I didn’t fail my classes and I got a pretty good score in my SATs. And I can do everything by myself, so that’s great. When you’re imprisoned in a wheelchair you really start to appreciate easy things like walking or breathing by yourself.”
“And are you still planning to be a biathlete?”
“I hope so. I know I need to train and stuff, but I at least want to get back to how I used to be.”
“And… Do you think you have the chance to win today?”
I bit my lip in thought. She was clearly writing our answers down, but I didn’t want to have an alter ego. “I think all of us have chances you know.”
She smirked. “I’m asking about you. Do you think you can win?”
“I haven’t done this for a while. I was pretty out of shape, but I’ve been practicing now, so… Maybe.”
She smirked, turning the mic off. “Why are you being diplomatic?”
“You’re writing them down and I don’t know why,” I said.
She chuckled, rolling her eyes at the same time. “We’re looking for people to train. I have to ask everyone.”
“What?” I frowned.
“Your coach said you’re one of the best ones. We’ll see how you do today,” she smiled.
I shuddered as she went away. Looking for people to train? Fuck. Train for what?
“Do I really have to wear them?” I whined, looking at the knee pads. “It’s summer and they’re not too comfortable.”
“Yes,” Felix said. “I can’t risk you breaking or stretching them again.”
I sighed. “They’re making me sweat. And what if they start sliding down?”
“Betty, you’ve worn them every day. Nothing has happened.”
I sighed and pulled the other one on too, after what I started putting on the boots. He patted my shoulder before heading over to the smaller girls who were going to start the laps in a few minutes.
This was the camp’s tradition. The younger ones were at first. And then everyone from the ages of 13, started with 20-second breaks. Even if you were last, you still got the same price as everybody—a medal. Only the top three got the trophies.
The only difference between ages was that when you were older than 13, you got to do biathlon, not just ski. So, we had our rifles, while the younger ones had smaller laps and no biathlon. And, of course, we had to wait the longest to start. U18.
The fun thing about the camp was that we got to meet kids from other countries as well. Half of the camp was from the United States and Canada, and the other half from Europe. It made things fun and showed us their training methods as well. Norway and Germany kids won too too too often.
Madeline was waiting next to me and helped me to get my skis on. We grinned at each other when the siren signaled the beginning of the competition. We loved this shit. Every year, the two of us at least, competed against each other. We weren’t in the same age group, but we did get to know our times later. We could still see which one was faster. So, even though this year it was going to be harder for me, I was still going to try. And my shooting skills were on point, even if the skiing was a bit worse now.
I patted Allie’s shoulder when we passed her. She was standing in the line, a number on her back, looking nervous. It was her first competition. And most of the younger ones still hadn’t mastered the way to use the rollerskis. I always loved to watch them try to get forward fast enough. Some were smart and used classic if they knew the skate didn’t come out great. My coach always suggested that for the younger ones.
That’s exactly what Allie did when she passed us soon. She didn’t meet my eyes and was struggling to pass the girl in front of her, but I saw her smile when we screamed her name, encouraging her on.
“Good luck, Betty,” Mila said and kissed my cheek.
“Thanks, baby,” I smiled. I was the sixth one to start from 24. They always put the “fastest” ones to the front, logically. All the coaches and the kids from other age groups were spread all over the roads, most of them near the shooting grounds.
“You’re going to kill it,” she whispered in her cute accent before telling something to her other friend in German. I smiled at her and she did the same. Until the siren went on. 100 seconds later, I was the first one in line. One of the trainers from Canada was holding his arm in front of me, looking at the timer. I was basically glaring at it. When his arm fell, I heard people screaming my name. I was already riding down the road.
It didn’t take long until I passed the boy that had been in front of me and caught up with the fourth one. This girl I passed after a few minutes on some hill. If my calculations were right, there were three more people in front of me. Two boys and one girl.
On the next hill, I was met with a boy from Norway. He was number 1. Felix was there, observing at how I tried to catch up with the boy. “Go go go go go,” he yelled at me, clapping his hands in the right rhythm. The Norway coach was yelling something in their language to the boy.
“Glide not run, Betty!” As always, he was right. Gliding and pushing got me going faster than just running up the hill like the boy was doing. Only that it made me more tired as well. I passed him a few minutes after, right before the shooting. The first two rounds were lying down and the last two on your feet. It was kind of funny how all of the first ones shot straight.
On round three, I was the first one, but as I went to shoot, I missed two bullets. So, I did two small laps, letting the two boys behind me pass. On the fourth one, my coach ran next to me, encouraging me to go faster the whole time, and made shortcuts through the woods. So, he was there when I went to shooting again.
I took it slow, knowing I could place second or even first if I shot all down. One of the boys went on three extra laps already. I only got one. Huffing to myself, I made it and was only a few meters behind the first one. I tried to finish first but made it through as the second one. The boy had started as the second one. That meant I was still the first one as of the starting time right now.
“If I won. You have to get me a monkey for Christmas,” I challenged with a smile.
“And if I did, you have to get me a camel,” Madeline smirked. I giggled as we shook hands and then grabbed the two papers full of names, the coaches and the sponsors had made lists for every age group.
We competed our times, me having won in the U16 category and her in the U18 one. I pushed my tongue out from between my lips. “I wooonnnnn,” I sang with a huge smile on my face.
She giggled and pushed my shoulder. “Betty!” I heard Felix shout after us. Both of us looked at him. He motioned for me to go closer, standing there with the young trainer from Canada that had questioned me earlier, and Allie.
“Can I come?” Madeline shouted. The man laughed at that and I pushed her head.
“Idiot, you own me a monkey.”
“I’ll get you a stuffed one. For Christmas.”
“You better,” I giggled while walking towards the two coaches and the little girl. “Hey. You did great,” I told her. She was the sixth one from fifteen.
“Not as good as you.”
“When I was seven, I fell so hard my mom had to come to get me and I got stitches on my knee.”
She looked at me with a grossed-out face while the grownups chuckled. “Als, why don’t you go get your things,” the woman, Rosalie, said.
The girl nodded and ran off to the others. I frowned in confusion until I noticed the same eyes and hair. They were definitely either sisters or Rosalie was a young mother. “Betty, I wanted to talk to you.”
I nodded, waiting for what was coming next. “About what?”
“Do you know where team USA practices?”
“Somewhere in Alberta, right?”
She nodded. “I’m starting to work with them when we go back home. And they’re looking for new girls.”
My eyes widened as I stared at her, waiting for the actual news.
“We’re looking for people with stories, skills, and motivation. You’ve won multiple trophies all over the world, you had your downs and you haven’t been able to train for a while, but we could get you back on track… So, I want you to consider moving to Canmore, Canada in September.
“I know you’ve had a hard time with your family, so I’m not going to pressure you into doing anything, but I’d really like you to consider the offer at least. Think about your future. You could do big things one day.”
I sighed quietly, shocked by the sudden offer. Would I be able to stay away from FP and Jughead and all my new friends? Could it even be possible to stay away from my sister? Fuck, why now?
“Mommy, I’m ready,” Allie said, coming back to us with a backpack on.
“Good,” Rosalie said with a soft smile and took some kind of paper from her pocket, handing it to me. “Think about it. Talk to your family. If you have questions or you’re not quite sure yet, call or text me, I’ll send you the rest of the information.”
“Is there like a date when I need to choose?”
“For the 10th of August, the latest. You have a little over a week.”
I nodded, sliding the paper into my pocket. Allie hugged me goodbye and then they went. I looked at my coach in pure shock, but he just smirked and winked at me. “Told you I trained you for winning. When you’re on the Olympic podium one day with the US anthem playing, think about me.”
I chuckled quietly and Felix patted my shoulder. “You’ll do great things, Betty. The team would need you. A lot.”
“I can’t move away from my sister,” I whispered.
He smiled sadly. “Talk to them. Okay? Don’t make this decision only by yourself. See what they’d think about it.”
I went back home in a few days. Both FP and Jughead were over the moon when they heard about the offer. But we all needed to talk about it. Dad was the first one to have the chance to be alone with me in the living room.
“You’re not her mom, Betty. You are not responsible for your sister’s wellbeing.”
“Yeah, but… I just can’t leave her too,” I said quietly.
“You need to stop feeling like having you two around would be some kind of obligement. You’re not a burden, honey, you can’t feel like you have to take care of her for me.”
I really didn’t want to cry, but he had found the place in my heart that I never wanted to talk to anybody about. So, as my eyes got teary, I turned my head away, resting my cheek on my knees that were pulled under my chin.
His hand moved onto my hair as I started talking quietly. “I just don’t know if I’d be able to do it alone.”
“See, that’s what you should be worried about. Olive’s going to be fine here with us, but would you be fine there alone.”
“I’d like to go,” I said and turned my head back to face him. “I’m just worried. What if something happens to me or what if I have a panic attack or something? And they said I’d be living with a foster family until I’m at least 18, so does that mean I’d be taken away from you?”
“That’s what we have to talk to them about. And about the first thing… I think your coaches are just as worried about your mental state as your physical one. You need to talk to somebody professional about everything you’ve been through. For real this time.”
“We would make everything work, Betts,” Jughead assured me that night when we were lying naked under my sheets, legs tangled, and bodies pressed together.
“But what if I’ll change? What if you’ll change? That’s exactly why I didn’t want a relationship, Jug. We’re going to be so awkward afterward.”
“Baby, don’t worry about that right now. We have our whole lives to be together. I want to go to New York, and you want to be a biathlete. You’re going to be traveling so much and I’ll try to write some books. And then, maybe, when we’re older, we could have something again.”
“Jughead,” I said sternly. “I am not letting you dump me right now.”
“I’m not dumping you,” he chuckled. “We still have a month.”
“Juggie, I’m not even sure I’ll take the offer.”
“You will,” he said, softly nuzzling his nose into my cheek. “I will miss you a lot, but this is not the kind of offer you could say no to. This has always been your dream. You’ll meet the people you’ve been looking up to all your life. And if you succeed, you could be part of Team USA.”
“That does sound nice,” I smiled.
“I can hear a but coming.”
“But…” I cupped his face. “I love you. And I love dad and Olive. And all my friends. So, I still need some advice.”
“Hm, what about,” he asked quietly and pecked my lips when he saw the chance to do so.
“Sports. Maybe it’d be too much for me. What if I break my leg or something?”
He looked serious while answering me. “Then you’ve tried and failed. Which means you need to try again and again and again until you succeed. And believe me, love, you will.”
I groaned quietly and pressed my lips against his, rolling on top of him again. “Are you tired?” I mumbled against his lips.
“No.” He pulled away and flipped us over again, making me giggle as he hovered over me. “You need some more training before going skiing again,” he whispered against my neck, moving down to my breasts.
He looked so peaceful when sucking one of the nipples, and the thought made me blush as he looked up at me with one of his arrogant smirks. “I think you know how.”
“I’m in charge,” I whispered and tried to roll myself on top of him, only to be stopped by his strong hands holding my naked body on the place.
“You already got your turn,” he growled against my boob. “And it’s more fun when I do that.”
“No, it’s not,” I breathed, but as he arched his eyebrow at me, looking at my blushing face and hearing my breathless voice, I understood maybe it really was.
My sister was the easiest to talk to. I did it while sitting in her room and playing with her. At the moment, we had two dolls and she was holding one of my gold medals. She loved to play with them.
“Ollie?” She looked at me, head tilted to her left side. I smiled at the warm blue eyes looking back at me. “Do you know what Canada is?”
“Disneyland?” she asked adorably.
I chuckled. “Do you know what the United States is?”
“Yeah,” I smiled, making her happy. “Well, we live in the US. And Canada is up north from here. It’s another country.”
I chuckled. “If I went to live there, would you be okay with that?”
“Live there? Why?” she asked.
“I like to ski. I could go and win more of these,” I said, tapping on the medal that was around her barbie’s neck.
She giggled when I did the same with her nose. “Really?”
“Uh-huh. So, I’d maybe only see you during Christmas and on Thanksgiving…”
“Okay,” she said with a smile and came to hug me.
“Really?” I chuckled. She nodded as I pulled her to sit on my lap and covered her cheek in kisses.
“On one condition,” Veronica said as we were all pressed into a huge booth in Pop’s. I was sitting on Jughead’s lap so that we’d all have enough space and because we both wanted to.
“And what’s that?” I sighed.
“You face time with me once a week. No exceptions.”
I rolled my eyes and was about to answer when Jughead did it for me. “She’ll be tired, Ronnie. Doing school online, living with a family she doesn’t know, training every day, being on a diet.” He fake shuddered at the last one and I hit his chest, the others laughing at us.
“Fine. Once in two weeks,” my best friend said. “Or you’re not going.”
I smirked. “I’ll make it once a week if you need it to survive.”
She nodded. “Thank you.”
“Guys, honestly…?” Sweet Pea said. “I’m going to start making a fund for us to go and see her at the Olympics.”
“Aw, Pea, that must be the sweetest thing you’ve ever said,” Toni teased.
“Yeah well, I already regret it,” he said. I giggled quietly and got a kiss from Jughead onto my cheek. “I mean it though. You’re going to do great. Just never cut us off.”
“I won’t. And I’ll still be here for the holidays, right? And for the times to do the SATs or something.”
“And what about college now?” Kevin asked.
“I’ll apply. Maybe I’ll be able to do it on the internet, maybe I’ll do it when I’m 40 and retired from sports. Who knows,” I grinned.
I sighed, walking downstairs with a small smile on my face. FP, Jughead, and Olive were all sitting in the kitchen, eating dinner already. The guys looked at me excitedly as I sat down and filled my plate as well.
“They’re nice,” I said finally once I looked back up.
“Nice?” Jughead asked in relief.
I nodded while smiling. “They showed me my room. It’s not as my style as the one here, but once I get some of my stuff there, it’ll be better. The house is about as big as this one here. And they have a puppy.”
“Puppy?” Olive asked, bouncing in her seat. “Daddy, I wanna puppy.”
FP smirked. “Maybe if you visit Betty sometimes, you’ll get to see the puppy.”
I chuckled at her pouty face. “They’re young, thank god. They have a son, Samuel, who’s 5. He looked pretty cute.”
“What about school?” FP asked.
“They already received all the stuff. I got all the Senior yearbooks and workbooks, and a laptop.”
“Was it Apple like I predicted?” Jughead smirked.
“Yep,” I grinned. “Honestly, if the country gives out that stuff to all the young athletes, there will be another crisis soon.”
They laughed at me, and I started eating. “So, they’re young,” Jughead said. “Is it a small town?”
“Yeah, something similar to where I lived before.”
“Only that it’s in between mountains and it’s colder and the snow can be from October to May or something like that. They promised to take me snowboarding and skiing in the mountains as well.”
“Sounds like your dream, right?” Jughead smiled, genuinely happy for me.
I made a sad smile for him. “Yeah.” Everything got quiet for a moment as I looked down at my place, poking on the pasta.
“Hey, none of that right now,” FP said, making me look back up at him. “You have enough time to cry on the plane. Right now, eat and enjoy the food until you’re allowed to.”
I chuckled at that while Jughead made a face. “I still don’t get the diet. You’re beautiful.”
“They’re not making her eat less fat and more protein to be more beautiful, Jug,” FP smirked, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah but she’s strong too; I don’t see the need.”
“I do,” I said. “I couldn’t even train for months. My muscles are like twice as small as before.”
“That’s not true,” he said.
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Don’t argue.”
“Just so you know, when you come here for Thanksgiving, I’m going to be feeding you so much food you’ll want to explode.”
“I’d have like six coaches to kill you later then,” I grinned.
We both chuckled quietly. “Really, Betts. Eat right now. And we’ll order pizza later. Sucks you have to go on your birthday tomorrow.”
I shrugged. “I don’t really like birthdays or holidays anymore, so it’s okay.”
“Stop,” FP sighed. “You’re depressing us all out now.”
I smiled a little. “Pizza sounds great though.”
“I’ll see you in a few months, okay?” I asked Olive quietly as she was crying, not wanting to let go of me. Now, at the airport, she finally understood what I meant by moving away.
“No, Betty,” she cried.
My own eyes were teary as I handed her back to FP. The man took her with a sigh and tried to calm her down while I hugged Jughead tightly, my face in the crook of his neck. After a few minutes of doing that, I pressed my cheek against his, trying to hold back my tears when I felt that his was wet already.
“I love you,” he whispered right into my ear and pressed a kiss there.
“I love you too,” I said weakly, all of this becoming real when I let go of him. I had already said goodbye to FP and Olive, but I still gave them one more hug before taking my backpack from him and giving him a little smile.
“You’ll do great, honey,” he assured quietly. I nodded, trying to believe it myself. As I put on the backpack, I smiled at each of them doubtfully before turning around and going to the line for the entrance and the hand-baggage control.
I felt their eyes on me the entire time as I stood in the line. As I was about the ninth one in the line, my head involuntarily turned to look at them again. I was so scared at that moment, but I looked at the man behind me. “Sorry, could you hold this spot for me? I forgot something.”
He nodded, so I made my way back to my family, from under the blue ribbons that marked the area of the line to the checkout. “Betts…” Jughead sighed when he saw the tears in my eyes.
I rushed to him, cupped his face, and pulled his lips on mine strongly. It was forced and strong and powerful, but it made him remember me. And also… make me regret going before even going away.
As I pulled away, I looked at dad with a panicking face. “I’m not going,” I said.
“Yes, you are,” he said calmly.
“No, I can’t go,” I breathed, my hands shaking strongly as I held back my tears.
“Betty, breathe,” FP sighed, handing me the water bottle he had. I took a deep breath and drank half of it before sighing deeply and handing it back to him.
“Come on, baby,” Jughead said quietly, reaching for my hand. He walked me back to the end of the line, and the security workers who had seen all of that didn’t say anything. “Call me when you’re landing with the first plane. I’ll help you get through the waiting time.”
“Okay,” I sighed. And with another kiss onto my forehead from him, I passed the other people in the line. Without looking back, I was the first one to get through now, and I went, only turning back after I was through already, to look at them once more.
The two men smiled at me while my sister was hiding her face in dad’s shoulder. I smiled back a little before turning around again and taking the steps towards my new life. God, I wanted to die at that moment.
When I finally lay down on my new bed, I was exhausted. The trip was way too long, and the jet lag kicked in immediately. There was only a two-hour difference, but it was already almost midnight back home, and the trip had been so tiring, that I went straight to bed after having a small talk with my new foster parents.
They weren’t bad. Both were young and seemed kind. The fact that they took me in was enough for me to make me believe they weren’t bad people. Only that the puppy that I had been so excited about was barking at me the whole time, and I hadn’t met their son, Samuel, yet. He was spending a few days at his grandparents’ house as they told me.
The house was nice, as was my room, but it really needed some of my things on the shelves and some more decorating until it looked like me. I was already missing everybody. I missed the way my sister would always come to my room and wish me goodnight. I missed the way FP hugged me every time I looked like I needed somebody. And I missed the way Jughead always tucked me into his side if I couldn’t fall asleep, and played with my hair.
I put in my earphones to stop the noise of the small dog barking downstairs, probably at my jacket or shoes, and turned the volume up, crying myself to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up at 8 am. I knew the breakfast was served at 9 from what Annalee and Thomas had told me last night. So, I got up after texting back to Jughead, and took a shower quietly, hearing voices downstairs. Once I was dressed in my jeans and the hoodie that I stole from Jughead, I slowly went downstairs.
It was September in a few days, but only 58 degrees outside (or 14 Celsius as they said here). Today, I was going to go and meet everybody at the skiing grounds. All the different coaches, the mental preparation people or however you called them, the team, the juniors, the seniors. Everybody.
The dog, Poppy, started barking at me as I stepped into the kitchen. “Good morning,” I said quietly, trying to be polite.
“Morning,” the parents said back and told me to sit down. I did so and looked at the bacon and eggs on my plate. My eyes moved back onto Thomas’ face as he arched an eyebrow at me, having hoped I started to eat immediately.
I gulped quietly before starting to cut pieces from my eggs and eating them slowly. They did the same. The silence was killing me. I felt so awkward. “Aren’t you eating your bacon?” Annalee asked me.
“Oh,” I said quietly and looked up at her. “Actually, I’m a vegetarian. I should’ve said that before. But thank you.”
“Oh,” she said now, looking at me weirdly. “So, you don’t eat meat.” I shook my head at the statement, agreeing with her.
“Why not?” Thomas asked.
This was the most annoying question ever. Why should I? Why do you? If you choose to eat it, why can’t I choose not to do so? “I don’t know. I never really liked it and I needed to lose weight when I was younger, so after I stopped eating it for a while, I just couldn’t later on either.”
He nodded. “So, what do you eat.”
I sighed quietly, screaming on the inside. “Everything that doesn’t include fish or meat. I’m not really a picky eater, I could only eat potatoes or macaroni if needed.”
He nodded. “Do the ones who are making you the necessary diet know you’re a vegan?”
“Vegetarian,” I corrected quietly. “They do. It was the first thing they asked me.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Annalee said. I sighed inertly. Dad, where are you?
“And now we’re back here again,” Clare said. I nodded with a smile. Everyone had welcomed me sweetly and most of them knew about my accident and the break I had had last winter. They were impressed that I was still good. The house where the equipment and everything needed was held was small but practical. It was right at the beginning of the skiing area, next to the shooting grounds. People were practicing right now. I could hear the targets being shot at right this moment.
I smiled apologizingly as I shook my head. “I need a few days before remembering who’s who.”
She chuckled at that. “Yeah, don’t worry about that; it takes time. My question was more about the team and the club. You like it around here?”
“I think so, yeah. Nature’s beautiful and the people seem nice.”
She nodded, “Until they rip your soul out for not being good enough.” I frowned at that, making her laugh. “Don’t worry about that either. You’ll have your hard moments, but you’ll come through it. I’ve been following up with you for a few years now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve seen your races and I’ve seen the articles and interviews you’ve given. And all about last year. If you’ve come through that, there’s nothing that could stop you.”
I smiled sadly. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Look, our shooting coach, Matt, wanted to try you out today. If you’re up for it, I’ll give you your team uniforms and the practice ones and you can change into them and we can start with a bit today?”
I smiled big. “Yeah, sure.”
“Great,” she chuckled. “Follow me.”
“Clean shots!” Matt exclaimed to Clare, one of my new coaches. “Her shooting is clean! 25 out of 25. I need her on my team! Right now.”
I smiled to myself as Clare chuckled. “Whoa, calm down. We still need to train on skiing and moving and maybe after she has given all of herself on the race, her shooting’s not as clean.”
“Clare, I don’t think you understand,” he said calmly, placing his hand onto her shoulder. “CLEAN. SHOOTING! Nobody from my team shoots 25 out of 25 with clean perfect controlled shots. Not after a lap, not without skis, not while running. She has something, I know that.”
“I know that too,” she said calmly, calming down the older man who was going crazy slowly. “Just she has had a year break and we need to get her back to shape at first. This year’s not her year.”
“Fine,” he said calmly, nodding. He turned back to me and we made eye contact. “We’re going to put you to work and train with you every single day. Not the 2018/2019 team, but you will be in the 2019/2020 team. I guarantee you a spot if you train with me. Please train with me.”
“I will,” I chuckled as Clare laughed at us.
Matt grabbed my shoulders, holding me on the spot with a serious face. “I need you in shape for next year’s December. That means practicing every single day until you get it perfect. That’s what I’m training you for.”
In a few weeks, my new head coach, Rosalie, was making us all race. The snow had come in the middle of September, which they said wasn’t too unusual. We were all aged 17-20 there; the junior/youth team and underdogs. I had obviously been the last one to join and nobody knew me yet. Rosalie did. She moved me from the last row to the third one. Some of the boys and girls made a face at that, but I ignored them as well as possible.
I had their team training uniform, but my equipment was probably older than the others’. Despite that, Rosalie gave me a small nod before blowing the whistle. All of the junior team coaches were looking at us near the shooting area. Some of the Canadian team ones as well.
It wasn’t too hard for me to stay in the first group. There was a total of 20 of us, the first group had 8 people, one of them me. I started tasting the blood from my sore throat once I entered the shooting area after a 4.5km lap. The guys had been faster than the girls, so four of them were in front of me, and two girls. I had no idea how many laps they got because everybody had at least missed one target, which made me the first one to keep skiing without a penalty lap.
It didn’t take long before two boys passed me. But the other ones didn’t. I was surprised, to say the least as I entered the ring for the second time. The coaches were cheering us all on as we started shooting, this time in a standing position. I hit all the five marks without any trouble and kept on skiing. Now was the last lap and I was exhausted already but kept on going.
I got passed by three boys and a girl while skiing. It pissed me off, but I got myself together and on the last 300 feet, sped up, not letting another girl pass.
After waiting for everybody to finish, the coaches talked to all of us one by one. They had found faults in everybody, even the guy who finished first. I was talking to one of the girls until Rosalie called me closer. The older girl smiled at me as I got up with a sigh and walked up to them.
“We need to work on your skiing. And the speed and motivation,” Rosalie said immediately.
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Your shooting was amazing,” Matt said, making me smile a little. “You didn’t have a problem with the wind?”
I shook my head. “The wind makes it more exciting; I like that.”
They laughed at me and continued. “You’re the best shooter we have,” he stated.
I breathed out in surprise. “Thank you. My skiing is just much worse than before.”
“You were sick for a long time, you skipped a whole year of sport,” Clare said. “And you were fifth of all of our kids from 16 to 20. That’s an amazing accomplishment, Betty.”
Rosalie nodded. “If it weren’t your first month here, I’d put you on the team for the Junior Cup. But, I was told you can’t train that hard right now because of your knees. So, we have to wait for the next year.”
I smiled at that and nodded, so excited to start working for big competitions like that.
“So, has it gone any better?” FP asked me through my phone as I was lying down on my bed, earphones in. “Is the boy still being mean to you?”
I smiled a bit and shrugged. “It’s nice.”
“That’s what you keep saying,” Jughead groaned. “Betty, if you don’t like it here, they told you that within two months you can choose to change a family if you need to.”
“It’s not that bad,” I argued.
“Honey,” FP sighed. “If you want to go and live with somebody else, we’re going to make it happen.”
I sighed with a frown. I would’ve been lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. Samuel was five years old and he was so rude to me. I hated being downstairs with him and his parents. They treated me weirdly. Like I was something that could be thrown away if they didn’t want me anymore, but also could be broken which is why they still needed to keep me safe. I only had one problem with changing the family.
“What if the others are worse?” I asked quietly. “They at least give me privacy and don’t tell me that I have to be with them all the time. What if the others like abuse me…?”
“Betty,” Jughead sighed.
“Hon, I’ll talk with them and if they have somebody else, you can go and check them out, okay?”
“Okay,” I sighed. “But I don’t want Annalee and Thomas to know yet, alright? I don’t need them to think of me worse.”
“Of course. Let’s keep it a secret for now.”
“Hi,” I cooed at the Golden Retriever that ran to greet me. It made cute little noises as I started to pet it, squatting down on the ground.
“She keeps running off while the others are inside,” I heard a man’s voice. My head shot up and I saw an older man smiling at me.
“Oh,” I said quietly and got up as I patted the dog’s head. “Hi. I’m Betty.”
“Kyle,” he smiled and shook my hand as I awkwardly put mine forward. At least he didn’t look at me like I was a weirdo. “We’ve been waiting for you. You want to come inside?”
I nodded with a small smile and followed him through the big garden. The house was a big one. Not like Veronica’s mansion, but still definitely had about six or more bedrooms. “So, you’re 17, right?”
He nodded. “I talked to your dad. Good guy.”
That made me smile. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the biological one was actually a serial killer he had for sure heard about. Instead, as he opened the door, five small, newborn puppies were there, all waiting for us.
My mouth dropped with a huge smile as I squatted down again. “Careful,” Kyle chuckled as they all started licking me and tried to climb onto my lap. “I’ll show you around the house, then later you can play with them if you want to,” he promised.
“Alright,” I giggled and carefully pushed one of the puppies off of my lap. “You’re so cute,” I told them quietly before following the man to the kitchen.
“Hi,” a woman smiled at me and gave me a hug.
“Hi,” I said back after pulling away.
She nodded. “I know. We’ve been waiting for you for a while. Your dad told us the other family wasn’t good for you?”
“Uh, yeah… I don’t really feel comfortable with them.”
She smiled at me sadly. “That’s okay. We have a room set out for you if you choose to come here with us.”
“Candy, she just got here,” the man said sweetly.
“I know, I’m just saying.” I laughed quietly at her. “Are you hungry, honey? I’m just making lunch.”
“Not really,” I said timidly, remembering the morning two days ago when I had to eat sausages because Thomas forced me to eat what he gave me to show me it wasn’t that bad. Besides the fact that it ruined my diet, it also ruined everything in my head, made me puke and cry, and call dad immediately, telling him I needed a new family soon.
“Are you sure? I’m making spaghetti squash with cheese in the oven, nuts sprinkled on it.”
I grinned and looked at the ground where a puppy was rubbing herself against my feet. “He told you, didn’t he?” I asked Candice. Dad had for sure told them what my problems with the other family were. If she made the exact food now that was on my diet plan for today.
“Who?” she asked innocently with a smile.
I chuckled. “Sure, I’ll eat.”
She nodded with a smile. “Kyle will show you around. You can leave your bag in the hallway with your clothes.”
I nodded and went back there, dropping my duffel bag that had my training clothes in it. I hung up my coat and pushed off my boots, seeing that this again was a house where people took off their shoes. Most of the Canadians who I knew did it.
Kyle took me to the basement at first. I looked in amazement at the room in there. It was like a studio apartment. It was a bedroom, but it was much bigger, allowing the tv and the couch there as well. It had a huge half-full bookshelf, a closet, a queen-sized bed, a table, and more. There was also a small bathroom with a shower. It all looked amazing. “Wow,” I breathed.
“That would be your room,” Kyle explained, making me look at him in surprise. He smiled. “We’ve had a few kids in here before, everyone was allowed to move the furniture and add things they wanted. We just want to give you privacy since you’re basically an adult.”
I smiled at the sweetness. “This is amazing,” I said genuinely.
“How many kids have you fostered?” I asked over dinner.
“We first started fostering when I was 22,” Candice explained. “I had just found out I couldn’t have kids, and we had been together since high school, so we signed ourselves as possible foster parents.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, sweetie.”
“We wanted to have kids,” Kyle spoke. “We fostered a few younger ones who had troubles at home, and later adopted two after they had spent six years with us,” he explained. “Twin boys, Christopher and Nicholas. They’re 29 now.”
I smiled at the story and kept eating as Candice took the story over now. “They came to live with us when they were four. On their ninth birthday, they asked us for adoption. We finally got it done a year later. And when they were twelve, we started fostering little kids again. We had a few come and go until Ella came. She was eight by the time the boys were fourteen. Her we adopted only two years later. That’s when we stopped.”
“That’s a beautiful story,” I smiled. “So, what are they doing now?”
“Nick is a construction manager, Chris is a musician, and Ella is studying to be a nurse.”
“They all moved out after they turned 19,” Kyle frowned in disappointment, making me smirk. “Told us to start taking kids in again not to be lonely. I just only turned 55 now,” he huffed.
Candice rolled her eyes at him as I giggled quietly. “We couldn’t take kids in anymore, because they preferred younger foster parents, but we did get on the list for possible teenagers that studied abroad. Last year, we had a girl from Italy here. Very nice one still talks to us over the phone.”
I smiled at that. “That’s nice. And do your kids visit you sometimes?”
“Oh yes. Every holiday, almost,” Kyle nodded. “Thanksgiving is coming up in a month. They all promised to come.”
“Nick has a baby now,” Candice talked. “She is such an adorable little girl,” she gushed with a big smile.
I was happy for them. Two high school sweethearts still in love with each other, with three children, and a granddaughter. Their story was beautiful.
What’s with the puppies?” I questioned. “Are you giving them away?”
“Our Bella made sure she hooked up with a Siberian Husky named Caspar on her way home from the woods,” Kyle said, making me laugh. “The puppies were born just a month ago. Now we’re looking for families to give them to.”
I smiled at that sadly, loving the way all the five puppies were surrounding me on the floor, some playing and making noises at each other, one on my lap and one between my legs, sleeping. “We’re thinking of keeping one,” Candice told me.
“Really?” I asked happily.
“Yeah, we’re just not sure which one yet. They’re all healing from their surgery. No more new puppies for them.”
I smiled at that sadly. Obviously, that was what most of the people did. It was easier and safer. I didn’t really necessarily think it was bad, either. “Do they have names already?”
“The one with the green collar is Frasier. The blue one is Niles. The pink one is Sadie. The yellow Bell. And with the brown one is Bear. Popper and Lola have already found families to go to.”
“So cute,” I said quietly and looked at how Bella went to lie down in the corner, and suddenly all the puppies were up and running to her, fighting over the nipples the mother dog had. They were so small compared to her and so fragile. I loved every single one of them so much already.
I moved in there a week later. The two were so nice to me, and one of the puppies started preferring to sleep in my bed rather than sleeping with the other three (Niles had moved to another house) in their huge dog bed in the living room. It was the one with the brown collar; Bear.
I started going to therapy as my coaches recommended, and it helped a lot, as did my new home. My mental state was a hundred times better, and so were my skiing skills. Everything started from a healthy mindset. I found techniques to help me be faster and sharper in my moves. I discovered how to put my negative emotions all into the sport I was practicing, the rage and sadness all disappearing with the tears I spread while skiing faster than I ever had before.
By the time the coaches discovered I had improved a lot, it was Thanksgiving already. I was nervous to meet my host family’s family, but they told me there was no need and that everybody was going to be nice to me. I really hoped so.
Their daughter, Ella, was the first one to arrive. She was sweet to me from the moment we met, and I found that I liked her a lot. She was so passionate about her studies, about her life, and her personality just stuck out to me. She was smart and sweet and funny, and I really hoped people saw me the same way that I saw her.
Nick came next, with his daughter Beatrice, and wife, Riley. They were also nice, and the two-year-old girl loved the puppies. I missed my sister a lot, so it wasn’t hard to make the outgoing girl like me. She was a year younger than Olive was, but I had skills with 2-year-olds already.
When Chris came, I found out that he had just split from his previous girlfriend. He kept winking at me and teasing me, telling me I was hot. I loved him and his humor and the way he could serenade for ages, just playing the piano in the huge living room. The music calmed me. Jughead got kind of jealous when I told him about him on our nightly call that day. I found a way to tease him and loved it secretly.
(Or maybe not too secretly.)
“I swear, when you get here, I’m going to fuck you so hard,” Jughead said under his breath.
My eyes widened as I looked at him through my screen. He never talked dirty with me. I didn’t bother pressing my thighs together this time but just moved my hand into my pants. “Betty?” he asked in a few moments as I relieved breath escaped from my lips and my eyes fell shut. “What are you doing?”
“Thinking about you.”
“Fuck,” he growled quietly. I didn’t bother to open my eyes; I knew he started to do the same thing that I was doing with myself. “Tell me when you come. I need to know.”
I nodded breathlessly, my fingers moving faster and faster inside my panties. “Can I see you?” I asked suddenly as my eyes shot open.
He was looking at my face intensely as his finger tapped the screen twice, turning the camera around. I breathed in sharply and started going faster as I looked at his hand working on himself. God how I wanted to tug his hair and hold him close at that moment. “Do you wanna see me?” I asked breathlessly, eyes fluttering open and close every millisecond, my throat making a stupid weird noise.
“No. I want to look at your face.”
“Fuck,” I growled. “I’m- Jug—”
“Wait for just a second,” he said and as his camera turned back to his face, it wrinkled up just like mine. “Okay.”
Relieved, my thighs shook like two idiots, and my mouth fell a bit open as I breathed out, melting into the soft mattress. “God,” he breathed on the other side as I opened my eyes soon.
I smiled, eyes hazy and cheeks rosy. “I miss you,” I said.
“You have no idea,” he sighed, dragging his hand through his uncovered hair.
“I’ll see you on the 27th then,” Rosalie told me as we finished hugging. “We’ll talk on the phone later.”
I smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you then. And Merry Christmas.”
“You too, honey,” she said. I sighed deeply, a smile on my face, as I walked out of the sports club, my duffel bag resting on my shoulder.
I was going to go home tomorrow at like 3 am, and on the 27th were the Junior and Youth World Championship trials at Vermont, which meant that if I succeeded and won, I was going to be one of the biathletes presenting my country.
I couldn’t wait to go home. I missed everybody so much. “Hi,” I cooed as I opened the car door and saw Bear there on the backseat, waving his tail for me.
“He wouldn’t stay home,” Candice chuckled. I smiled at her and closed the door again, leaving my bag to my feet. “Are you sure you have everything now?”
“Yeah, they’re going to take the equipment with them, and everything will be there already once I get there.”
She sighed as she started driving. “I feel so bad we won’t be there.”
I smiled at the sweetness. “Don’t worry, there will be plenty more to come.”
“Yes, but this is the first one you’re going to win while training here.”
I giggled quietly. “You can’t be sure I’ll win.”
“Oh, you will.”
“Well, you can watch it on tv then,” I chuckled.
“Which door?” I frowned, looking at the ‘main entrance’ Jughead said they were waiting at.
“Wait, I think I see you,” he said. “Turn around.”
My head whipped to my left as I turned to face the other direction. “Jughead, I swear to god, if you’re not here in…” I trailed off as two warm arms snaked around my waist, pulling me into his body. A smile appeared on my face as I lowered my phone and felt his cheek press against my neck.
I shivered as he planted a kiss there and slowly turned me around in his arms. I wrapped my arms around his torso and held him close, hiding my face into his neck instead. “Hey baby,” he said quietly. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” I whispered, and cupped his face as I leaned backward. He was smiling to me with the adorable puppy face he had, and I grinned back before pressing my lips against his.
After a minute of standing there, bodies connected, I pulled away and breathed out with a smile, observing his appearance. It was 15 degrees outside, and he was still wearing the beanie not a thicker hat for this kind of weather. There was literally a snowstorm outside.
“Where are the others?” I asked, linking my fingers through his.
“In the car. Ollie was asleep so dad said they’ll wait there and give us some time alone.”
I smiled and raised onto my tiptoes, planting another kiss onto his mouth. “Show me the way?”
He groaned and pulled me close to his body again. “Juggie,” I giggled as he wrapped his coat around me as well, holding me in it. “My suitcase will be stolen,” I whispered with a smile against his lips.
“Hm, who cares,” he mumbled, breathing against my nose.
“I have my clothes in there.”
“I don’t mind you naked.”
I chuckled and moved my hands onto his chest to push myself away from him a bit. “Let’s wait until there’s a warm room, no people, a locked door and a bed,” I whispered with a smirk.
He sniggered. “When did you get like this?”
“In a bed far away from you, alone, masturbating,” I mumbled, back in his arms somehow.
He couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that. “You’re so cute,” he said and pressed a kiss onto my forehead. “Come on. Let’s go.”
He took my suitcase and kept my hand in his as we walked outside. I felt him shudder. “Keep it together, I come from 5 degrees.” He shuddered at that too.
When we reached the car, I let go of his hand and hurried to FP, hugging him tightly. “Hi, honey.”
“Hi,” I said quietly and kept my arms around his neck.
“You’re choking him,” Jughead mentioned as he opened the trunk of the car and lifted my bags inside.
“I’ve missed you so so so much, you have no idea,” I said to FP as I pulled away.
He smiled and kissed my head. “We’ve missed you, too, believe me.” He nudged his head towards the car. “She’s asleep, but she wouldn’t stop asking about you.”
“Can I sit in the back?” I asked both of them, seeing that Jughead had already opened the back door for himself.
“Yeah, sure,” he told me. I smiled and climbed inside. After buckling myself in, my eyes moved onto my sister. She had grown, as had her hair, but she still looked the same when she was asleep. A small smile came to my face when I moved my hand to touch her blond hair. Gosh, I had missed her.
When we entered Riverdale and I was talking with dad and Jughead, she woke up. I didn’t notice at first, but when she reached her hand out to touch me, I looked at her again. “Betty,” she said quietly, an excited smile on her face.
“Hey baby,” I chuckled and leaned over to her to kiss her cute cheeks. “Had a nice nap?”
“Uh-huh,” she said, wiggling in her car seat to get out.
“We’ll be in Pop’s in a minute, stop moving,” I chuckled and gave her my hand to keep on her lap.
“Wanna get out,” she whined.
“Baby, just a minute.”
“Okay, do you want me to—”
“Sing,” Olive said with a smile on her tired face.
“Sing?” I chuckled.
She nodded, “Daddy sings.”
I smiled at that. My father always used to work, and my mom would tell me to go to bed by myself when she needed to stay up to help Charles study or when Polly had her tantrums which lasted until she was 11, literally. I was happy my sister had a normal loving parent from very early on. “I’m not a very good singer, Ol, but I can read a story if you want?”
“Okay,” she smiled.
I got up and grabbed a small book from the shelf. She had more than a few. When I sit back down, I felt her hand in my hair as I opened the book. She loved to touch me and give me hugs now that I was here. She had had a meltdown before because she was shy and couldn’t believe I was there, and probably didn’t want to get hurt from me leaving again. Now, she wouldn’t let go of me.
“Once upon a time, in a country of mountains and sea, there was a …”
“Mm, let’s get some snacks,” Jughead mumbled against my hair.
“I’m on a diet, remember?”
He sighed deeply. “It’s Christmas. You can eat some nachos at least.”
“I have a competition in a few days,” I giggled and looked up at him where he was playing with my hair.
“I know,” he sighed. “What about only a few Doritos?”
“Are you really that hungry?”
“A bit,” he nodded. I rolled on top of him, my knees sinking into the mattress around him as I straddled him. A tired smirk appeared on his face, hands moving onto my bare waist and eyes onto my boobs for a moment, before looking back up at me.
He smirked, “Yeah, still hungry.”
I ran my hands over his hard stomach and humped my hips against his, making him groan. “What about now?”
“More than ever,” he growled quietly, and his warm hands pulled me towards his naked body, needing a kiss. I did it, and he flipped us over at the same time, not pulling away from me.
His hips started moving against mine, hands gripping them, holding me still. “Jug,” I said breathlessly, his mouth suddenly on my nipple, sucking on it. “Juggie.”
“Shh,” he whispered against it and started planting kisses on my stomach, moving downwards. The hot air that hit my body made me shiver, and I felt him smile once he reached my thigh, starting to kiss it now.
“Jughead,” I moaned when his mouth moved to my clit, my legs shaking. “Fuck,” I breathed and wrapped my legs around his neck somehow. “Jug.”
“Whenever you’re ready,” he said against my clit, making me shake and breathe even faster and bigger.
“Fuck,” I groaned as I came all over his mouth and fingers. He kept the position for a moment and then pushed my legs off of his shoulders carefully as he licked his two fingers. I made a face at that, mine burning red as he chuckled.
“You have great ideas about what food is, love,” he teased and fell to lie back down next to me.
I breathed out shakily, still cooling down. He embraced me in a hug, and I placed my head onto his chest, finally getting my words back as I wrapped my arms around him. “I love you.”
“Love you too, baby. Now let’s go get some Doritos.”
“So, what you did last night was eating Doritos and watching movies?” Charles asked with a smirk when I was sitting on the ground, playing with our little sister.
“Yep,” I lied.
“Why don’t I believe you,” he laughed. “I think you—” He stopped talking when I gave him a look and looked at Olive who was clearly listening to our conversation. “Alright,” he smirked. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“I’m not going to talk to you about that.”
“Yeah, you are.”
On Christmas Eve, I felt strange already. I was sitting next to Jughead in the table, surrounded by our family (my siblings, his dad, and his grandparents). I had missed all of them so much in the past few months, but now that I was here, it didn’t feel right. Somebody was missing.
First, I, of course, missed my puppy and my host family in Canada, but that wasn’t all. I still hadn’t gotten over the loss of my mom and sister. I would’ve given anything at that moment to have them there. Even my dad, I think. I missed him too for some fucking reason. I just wanted a normal family.
For some reason, Jughead’s hand on my thigh didn’t feel right either.
“Jug, can I talk to you for a sec?” I asked quietly when I saw his plate emptied, about to be filled with food again.
“Yeah, sure,” he said and gave me a soft smile.
I breathed out shakily as we excused ourselves from the table and went to the kitchen. “What’s up?” he asked with a worried face as I leaned against the table behind me.
“I feel weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I just…” I looked away as my eyes filled with tears and my breathing became shaky.
“Betts,” he mumbled, his thumb brushing over my knuckles. “What is it? You can tell me.”
“I miss my family,” I said quietly.
“Aw, baby, do you wanna talk about it?”
“No, but…” I breathed out sharply. “It doesn’t feel right anymore, Jughead.”
“What doesn’t feel right?”
“This,” I cried and motioned to our bodies. “Us.”
He kept looking at me with the sad look he had on before. “What are you… Are you…”
“It doesn’t work like this,” I breathed. “I love you. And you’re my best friend in the whole world, but… I can’t just sit there with your family, call your dad mine, and date you at the same time. I can’t stop thinking about going away again on the 30th and leaving you here. And I don’t know how to act right now, because I know it’s possible I won’t see you for another year, and—”
His arms moved around my shoulders as he took me into his safe and warm embrace. I cried into his shoulder, my arms around him as well. “I love you too,” he whispered. “And I know what you feel, believe me.” His hand moved up and down on my back reassuringly. “I missed you so much during the last months, and I think if I won’t see you for that long, it would hurt even more.”
I took a shaky deep breath, pressing the palms of my hands against his back not to hurt myself by digging my nails into them. “Juggie…”
“Is breaking up what you want?” he asked brokenly, his hand pushing some of the blond hair from my face to rest behind my ear.
“I don’t know what I want. I want you. But I want you there with me. I can’t keep doing this. I talked to my therapist about it…”
“And what did she say?”
I sniffled. “I need to choose between you and competing. I’m not as fast and strong if half of my energy goes to crying every night because I miss you.”
He took a deep breath, wiping away his tears. “So, what’s your decision?” He knew it already, but he needed me to say it.
I gulped and took ahold of his other hand as well. “We’re teenagers, Jug. We’ll have enough time being in a relationship in the future if we still want to. But right now, I just need to… Be alone for a while. Just get to know myself… I don’t know who I am anymore. I haven’t lived normally ever since my mom died. I need to figure it out. By myself.”
He nodded, crying just as much as I was. His hands let go of mine just to cup my wet pink face and lean down, taking my lips into his just one last time.
“I’ll just… Sleep on the floor,” Jughead offered as we were forced to be in the same room tonight because of the relatives being over. It wasn’t going to be bad at all, but now it kind of was.
“You can sleep in the bed, Jug,” I said softly. “I don’t mind.”
He sighed, but nodded, seeing the truth in my eyes. He climbed in next to me and I turned my back to him as I shut off the light. It was already past midnight. I kept thinking about it and my heart kept hurting, as did my head, and in the end, I just hoped he was asleep already when I started sniffling, tears dropping onto my pillow.
He obviously wasn’t though, and I felt him move behind me, spooning me. “I’m sorry,” I cried.
“It’s okay,” he insisted quietly and pressed a kiss onto my head. “I understand. None of this is your fault.”
“But it is. And now you’re hurt and—”
“Betty. We made this decision together,” he said. “Don’t cry. I love you. I’ll always love you.”
“Juggie, I’m sorry for hurting you.”
“It’s okay. I was going to do it myself if you weren’t. Don’t worry about that.”
“You’re a strong person, Betty,” he breathed. “You’ll get through it. Just don’t worry about me, please.”
We stayed quiet for a while and when my sniffling got quiet, he started to let go of me. I grabbed his hands and refused to let him do so. “Betts… I should—”
“I need my best friend tonight. I need cuddles. I just broke up with my boyfriend.”
I felt him laughing against my hair. “Betty… I’m your ex now. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do that.”
“You’re my ex-boyfriend who also happens to be my brother, I think we’re far past appropriate. Now cuddle me or I’m going to have to call my girl best friend. She’d come.”
He sighed deeply and held me against his warm body. “I love you. You’re going to do so great on that competition, I know it.”
“No fucking way,” I panted to myself, lying on the snow, tired of all the training and shooting and skiing. The time on the tabloid placed me in the first place. “No. Fucking. Way,” I said again as I sat up.
It wasn’t broadcasted to any big channels or anything, but people were filming me and my shocked face was on the screens. The teammates who had finished or were guys or older, ran to hug me, everybody so happy and proud.
I was just shocked.
(I fell on the second place when someone’s time was better than mine by a few seconds, but I was given the silver trophy right after the race, on the podium.)
That meant I started second in the pursuit race the next day. (And ended up finishing second, as well.)
The winter went by really fast. I traveled to Norway, Germany, and Italy, and ended up first in pursuit in Germany and Italy, second in mass start in Norway, and first in individual and sprint in Germany.
I earned myself a place on the team next year. Not the Junior Team. The actual USA team. Which meant more training, more protein, less chances to go home in the summer, and less chances of getting good grades.
In some magical way, I did finish High School, but never got a graduation—dad took the diploma for me. Everybody knew me and Jughead were broken up now. I had a bunch of athletic guys flirting with me, and—when I was bored—I flirted back with some.
Jughead went to New York. He got different scholarships from different writing contests, and I couldn’t have been prouder when he was accepted to NYU. Only that… he got himself a girlfriend. Now, it was November 2019. I was going home for Thanksgiving. And so was he. With the girl.
FP and Olive were picking me up from the airport. I saw them the moment I exited the terminal. Ollie was standing in front of him, clutching in her arms the teddy bear I had given her for Christmas last year. It was her favorite now, as I had seen when face timing them.
I smiled big when she ran to greet me. “Hey Ols,” I said and picked her up with a quiet groan. “You have gotten so big,” I said, kissing her face.
She giggled, hugging me as I held her in my arms. FP came to us with a smile and hugged me. “Hi, dad.”
“Hi honey,” he sighed and kissed my cheek. “You’re a grownup too.”
I chuckled. “Jughead looks too different now too?”
“Well, yes, both of your faces have matured. And both of you are growing your hair out as I can see.”
“That we are,” I smiled and hugged him once more before he took the trolley with my bags.
“Are you going to travel with all of this?”
“No, I’m gonna leave two bags with you at home,” I explained as we started walking, me carrying my 4-year-old sister. “My uniforms and equipment are all on their way to Sweden already.”
“So, what’s in these bags?” he frowned, looking at the huge suitcases.
“You’ll see,” I chuckled and kissed my sister’s nose when she looked at me, making her giggle.
“I missed you,” she said quietly.
“I missed you too, baby.”
When we got home, I helped my sister out of the car and since she wanted to help to carry my things, gave her my backpack. She giggled when I had to make the straps smaller so that it wouldn’t fall onto the ground when she walked.
“What the hell did you bring?” FP frowned, taking the big suitcases as I took the other one, the one with clothes and everything necessary for me.
“I’m not gonna be here on Christmas.”
“Betty,” he sighed while laughing at the same time.
“What?” I chuckled. “I’m trying to make my sister not forget me.”
He rolled his eyes as we got inside. “Jughead!”
“Coming!” I heard his low voice, and then steps coming.
“I’ll get these things upstairs into your room,” FP said, me nodding.
I took a breath as I leaned down and took my boots off, and then the coat. By the time I hung it up, I felt his eyes on me. “Hey, stranger.”
I bit back my smile as I turned around to face him. He was smiling at me, a bit sadly. “Hi,” I said quietly.
My heart told me to walk to him and give him a hug, but my brain told me I wasn’t welcomed there anymore. His arms and his warm embrace weren’t my home anymore. It felt like I was forbidden to do it now.
But, he must have known what I was thinking about because he came to me and hugged me himself. I smiled in relief and hugged him back tightly. I felt his lips on my temple as he whispered a quiet, “I miss you.”
“I do too.”
His thumb moved against the back of my neck. “Are you doing better?”
We called or face timed at least once a week, so he knew a lot about all the pressure and problems I was going through. “I’m okay,” I said as we pulled away. “I just hope I don’t fuck anything up.”
“You won’t,” he insisted.
I smiled a bit. “I hope so.” I looked at him, raising my eyebrows in question. “So… Where is she?”
He bit the inside of his cheek, visibly. “Look I haven’t still told her about… us.”
I nodded, getting that. “It’s okay, I won’t say anything. The one you have to worry about is Charles.”
He chuckled. “I already told him too. And his girlfriend who seems to know literally everything.”
I giggled at that and he smiled nudging towards the living room questioningly. I nodded and followed him there. What I was surprised to see was that his girlfriend, Ann, wasn’t blonde like I had expected. I thought all the guys had a type. But, this girl had dark brown hair and small dark eyes. She was really beautiful though.
“Hi. I’m Betty,” I smiled at her.
“Hey,” she smiled and got up from the armchair. “Jug didn’t tell me he had such a beautiful sister.”
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry, but I bit back the frown and smiled instead when Charles laughed out loud and Jughead’s face turned red. Fuck, he had to tell her. “Thank you,” I said softly and gave her a hug.
“Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about you, believe me.”
She smiled at that. Already seemed sweet. It looked like me promising myself to hate all Jughead’s future girlfriends was already failing.
“Ollie, I’m not going to be here with you at Christmas,” I explained to my sister quietly.
She kept looking at me with her big blue eyes. “Where you gonna be?”
“In France or Germany or somewhere in between.”
“How can you be in between Germany and France?” Jughead questioned, also sitting on the ground with me and Olive, helping her play whatever stories she had inside her head at that moment.
“They said we might go to Switzerland…”
“Oh wow, you haven’t been there yet, right?” he asked.
“Mh-hmm,” I nodded.
“Why won’t you be at home?” she asked, her hand holding onto my arm as she climbed on my legs.
“I’ll have a competition.”
I chuckled. “Yep.”
“Can I come with you?” she asked, seating herself onto my lap.
“No,” I said and kissed her head. “You can watch me on tv if you want to. Just have to find the right channel.”
She looked at me with a pout on her face. “When will you come home?”
She whined and hugged me, her head resting on my chest. I kept holding her as I kissed her head again and Charles spoke up. “Hey, kid, I’ll be here.”
“I want Betty,” she said.
I chuckled at Chic’s face. “You know what?” I asked my sister.
“I brought you some presents.”
She looked up at me excitedly. “Now?”
“Uh-huh.” She got up from my lap, bouncing on her feet as she looked around. “Wait wait. If you want to open them now, that means these are your Christmas presents from me. Which means I won’t send anything else.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
I chuckled. “Okay, wait here.”
I went to the hallway and took the big suitcase that was still waiting there and brought it to the living room. “What about me, you have presents?” Charles smirked.
“I don’t make early Christmas presents for the person who ruined my childhood,” I said casually and squatted down, taking out all the ones that were for my little sister.
“How the hell did I ruin your childhood?”
“I don’t know, remember something Christmas themed that you didn’t let me have?” I smiled bitterly.
He laughed at that. “How can you still be mad?”
“I was three!” I protested.
“Exactly. You’re 18 now, stop hating on me.”
“What happened?” Amelia asked with a chuckle, cuddled up into his side.
“I told her there’s no Santa Claus,” he said quietly, with a grin on his face.
“If she just heard you, I swear to god…” I mumbled.
“You told her that when she was three?” Ann asked with a frown. “Most kids believe until they’re like nine or eight.”
“Right?” I agreed.
“I was eight. I knew when I was five. I just couldn’t keep it inside anymore,” he grinned at me.
“That’s cruel,” Jughead frowned while helping our sister open one of the wrapping papers.
“It’s not like mom or dad were any better. Or Polly for that matter.”
I smiled at the sad memories as Charles spoke up again, imitating our mother’s voice. “Elizabeth, there’s no such thing. That man is just a poor alcoholic who makes money off of kids and parents who are stupid enough to take the picture and give him some.”
Both of us laughed at that quietly while my sister was occupied and not hearing us, opening her presents. “That’s horrible,” Ann frowned at the story.
I smiled sadly. “Yeah, she had no emotional boundaries and sometimes I hated her, but… At least she loved us.”
My eyes moved onto Jughead who was smiling a bit too, either reminding himself my mom or his when she still was normal when he was little. Maybe both. We had talked about motherly love and all of that so many times now, and every time our discussions ended with, at least they loved us. His was always, she must have loved Jellybean so badly if she went so crazy over her death.
His blue eyes moved onto my face as he scooted closer and gave me a hug.
“Hey, Betts,” Jughead grinned through my laptop screen.
“Hi baby,” I said, mouth almost closed, chewing on my food. Jughead sniggered at the old nickname and I smiled after I had swallowed the big bite of my fish salad. “So. How was it?”
A few days ago, I scored 6th place in women sprint. “It was fucking amazing, Jug,” I breathed. “The people I’ve looked up to my whole life came to congratulate and hug me. And I was better than some of them. How is that even possible?”
Jughead laughed at my cute face gushing about the competition. “You are so cute,” he said. “I’m really really happy for you, Betts. You’ve given this competition all you’ve got and you’re the 7th best in the world. Think about the craziness of that.”
I chuckled. “I mean… I didn’t do good in the first two races.”
“Because you were missing us. And you were nervous. Now you know what it’s like.”
I smiled sadly. “Yeah. Only that now all the eyes are on me. This wasn’t even on normal channels in the US, and I already have people texting me for an interview.”
“Because you’re seventeen and a newcomer and a really talented girl. You’ll win gold one day, mark my words.”
I smiled at him. “Alright. Tell me about yourself now. You okay?” I brought another bite of the salmon into my mouth and quickly filled it with the fresh salad that was in my bowl.
“I’m doing better… School’s tiring me out, but at least I’m going home in a week.”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding. “And you can play with Olive as much as you want to distract yourself,” I smiled.
He chuckled. “Yeah, she’s kind of out of hands.”
“Well, she’s 4, so I’m not surprised she wants a bit more independence.”
“Dad said you were the best kid he’s ever seen and that he hoped she’d be just as easy, but no.”
“He just liked how much I slept,” I chuckled, knowing I had been a dream child as a kid.
“At least neither of us fussed over food,” he chuckled. I smirked and nodded when taking another bite. Dad had told me Olive was being picky and not eating normal foods anymore. She hated the smell and when she asked what something was made of, she never wanted to eat it again.
“Maybe she should be a vegetarian… You know if she’s not eating her favorite food anymore because she knows how chicken nuggets are made, that’s a step closer to me.”
“You’re eating fish right now,” he chuckled, and I made a face at that.
“The vitamins aren’t helping, and some make me sick. The doctor said I don’t have to eat all of it but need more protein. So, I chose salmon. Only salmon.”
He nodded. “Good for you, baby. What are you feeling about tomorrow?”
“Like I’m going to explode from all the pressure,” I breathed. “There are headlines in magazines, and they keep contacting me to get shots and interviews.”
“I know. But you’ll do great. If not the 6th place, at least you’ll be in the top 30. And that’s a challenge on its own.”
“I just need my skis better waxed and for the weather to be calm. Then it’s going to be another top 20 hopefully.”
“I saw the statistics… They’re saying your points aren’t bad at all. You’re bringing lots to Team USA and “I saw the statistics… They’re saying your points aren’t bad at all. You’re bringing lots to Team USA and if you keep doing as you have for the past few weeks, you have great chances to end up in the top 10 in at least one of the directions. They’re saying sprint.”
“Yeah,” I breathed. “It’s team relay tomorrow and pursuit the day after that. Let’s hope I do okay.”
“You will. I’m sure of that.”
“Cooper. Last leg,” I was told when I came from my warmup and ski-testing lap.
“What?” I asked in shock. “Last?”
“You’re the best shooter we’ve got, your technique’s great. I don’t see why not.”
“No but… Why isn’t Emilia taking the last one? I can’t compete with all of these women. They’re too fast.”
“Honey, you’ll do great,” Rosalie said, joining our conversation. “We’ve worked on your technique a lot; you can pull the team a few spots up. Your shooting is better than anyone’s on the team, and the weather is horrible for shooting. We need you to be the one to finish this race today.”
“And what if I fall?”
They laughed at me. “Then make sure you fall elegantly because the whole world is interested in getting you on their interviews and team today,” Matt told me.
“You’ll do great,” Allie, who was now eight years old, told me as she passed and ran after her mother who had to go and take her spot somewhere next to the shooting area.
Our team was better than usual. Practicing in both Canada and the US gave us better chances. Our weather was bad most of the time, just like today—strong wind, snowstorms, darker than usual… After the first exchange, when Emilia (who usually did the last exchange, but now did the first which was mine usually) finished her laps, we were in the 7th place. After Elisa finished hers, we were 5th. And when Caroline came and it was my turn to go, we were 4th.
I skied together with a girl from the Czech Republic who was currently on the third place and passed her a few minutes in. At my first shooting, the camera was next to me, focusing on my shots. I was a newcomer and young, which was why everyone was excited about my results.
And surprise surprise, I got all of them down on the first try and didn’t even have to use any of the extra bullets. That left me third as I went to ski my second lap. The German team fell behind me now.
“You’re doing great! Go go go go!” I was yelled at by Matt, my shooting coach, and some others.
I hated the snow that was falling at that moment. It was flying right into my mouth and I breathed one in with my nose. It was blocking me from getting a great speed while skiing up the hill.
“Go, Betty! Glide! Relax!” Rosalie said, running next to me, up the hill, clapping her hands. I was panting like crazy, but as the hill turned downwards and I took my position to ski down it, I was able to relax a little.
I heard my name being said in different languages as I caught up with the athlete from Russia that was currently in second place. It gave me so much more energy when I wanted to laugh at the Germans calling me something similar to “Bett-ey Coop-ehh.”
When I finally reached the shooting area again and dropped my poles while grabbing my rifle, I saw that the Swedish woman hadn’t started shooting yet, but was in the right position, trying to get it nicely done this time.
The wind was horrible, and the Russian missed one already. I shot all of them down and heard so much cheering. “You’re second! Ski! Hold it!” Matt screamed to me when I continued on the lap as the second contestant.
“13 seconds behind! Go catch her!” one of the Canadian coaches shouted when I passed him. Whenever our team was behind and the Canadians were somewhere in the top five, my coaches did the same. We all trained together.
I got energy from the Austrian people that were cheering me on. Some were from other countries, everyone carrying their flags. I felt like I was living my best life when I passed Rosalie who was crying from pride, Allie jumping next to her, clapping her hands.
And, I felt like one of the snowflakes that were flying against my face, trying to stop me from catching up with the Swedish girl. But, somehow, I did. And I passed her. What the actual fuck. I had never even dreamed of this. (I had, but you get the point.)
The Swedish coaches were screaming something in their own language, and some from other countries were constantly shouting me that she was going to catch up any second and that I was leading only by two.
So, I pushed myself harder and harder, my legs somehow moving faster and more professionally than normal. I had all this emotion inside me that I felt like collapsing while also feeling like I was the wind that was carrying me forward.
When I looked behind me in the finish, the Swedish girl was good 5 seconds behind me, which gave me the chance to slow down and lift my arms into the air, enjoying my victory.
We finished first.
The three women from my team came running to me when I fell onto the ground, dramatic as ever. They practically jumped on me, everybody laughing and crying at the same time. I was helped up by our head coach and hugged tightly, after what he wrapped my coat around me.
I took my skis and poles off and hugged everybody again before going to the Swedish woman I had raced with. She had been one of my idols ever since she started winning all these races, and even before that. I think she was 32 by now.
It always felt strange congratulating somebody when I knew that I was the reason they didn’t win, but most of them were always kind and happy for me. So was she. She gave me a hug and with her accent, congratulated me. I smiled hugely when she patted my cheek with a smile before walking to hug the others from my team. I did the same with hers.
Russia came third, France fourth, Germany fifth. What surprised me was Norway on the tenth place, and what was pleasantly surprising was the Canada team on sixth.
After talking to dad, my friends, my brother, Felix, and many others, I finally got a Skype call from Jughead. I paused the movie on my laptop and didn’t change my position on the couch as I answered his call. I was lying on it, a blanket drooped over me, only wearing my panties and one of his old sweaters.
“I am so proud of you. I love you so fucking much. I don’t know what to say,” he told me immediately. I grinned back at him as he laughed from joy. “How the hell, Betty? The whole North America is talking about you without even knowing what biathlon is. I saw headlines saying you’re the athlete of the year.”
I giggled as I took a bite from my apple, wiggling my eyebrows for him. “I got so much energy from hearing French pronunciation of my name after the last shooting rink.”
He laughed at me. “How was that?”
We laughed together, saying our names in different accents until he said his name with a horrible Spanish accent, leaving both of us in hysterics. Once we finally calmed down, we were both smiling big, just in the silence staring at each other as I ate an apple and he had a pack of Doritos.
“I really am proud of you,” he said softly as he ran his hand through his dark hair.
“Thank you,” I said sweetly. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow… All the eyes will be on me. It really bothers me when they film my face while shooting.”
“You’ll be fine, just don’t think about it,” he chuckled.
“Jug, you have time to talk for a bit longer tonight?” I asked.
“Yeah, of course,” he said. “What about?”
“You.” He sighed and rolled his eyes, stuffing three more chips into his mouth as I continued. “You always change the topic when I try to talk to you. But I really do want to make sure you’re okay.”
“Betts, I’m fine. A lot of work and a lot of schools, but that’s what I signed up for when I moved to New York.”
“Yeah but… What about you? Not school or work-related. Just tell me if you’re happy.”
He sighed and took a few more chips, ignoring my eyes through the screen. “I think I’m okay. A bit lonely sometimes, but I’m not going to complain about that to you who has to be alone 24/7. You got it much worse.”
“It’s not about who got it worse,” I said with a sympathetic look on my face. “I love you; I want for you to be happy. Are you?”
“I don’t know, Betty,” he sighed. “I really don’t like being alone all the time, but… Every girl who talks to me, I feel like… I don’t know.”
“You feel like you’re disappointing me.”
“No, I just—”
“Juggie. It’s okay. We chose this. If you want to be with other girls, that’s fine. Ann was nice, and I acted nice with her, so what’s the problem? I loved seeing you happy.”
“Ann was just a distraction. And she was the one to break up with me…”
“If you want a relationship, then relax and the right girl will come, Jug. And if not, just go out partying a few times with your colleagues and you’ll find it fun in the end. Just please don’t sit alone at home all the time.”
“I don’t want any other girl but you, Betty,” he confessed quietly, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But I don’t know how to do that, because you’re so far away all the time, and I’m here, and I’m always going to be here. I won’t ever be able to give you what you deserve and—”
“Jughead,” I interrupted with a serious voice. He sighed and stopped with the monologue, looking at me through my screen. “I love you. And I always will. If you want it, we can still do something about it. Only that means, that we might only see each other about twice a year. Just, please, stop with all that crap about you being poor in the future.
“You’re a great writer and a great guy, and I’m sure once you try going to more publishers or self-publish some of your books, you’ll be famous all over the world. You have stories to tell people and I believe in you more than I’ve ever believed in anybody else. So please. Stop it.”
We talked for a while about him and his career. He wasn’t even planning on going to some of the publishers, knowing they were famous, and thinking he wasn’t good enough. I changed her mind about that. He needed to try everything in his power. Just like I had.
And then, we talked about ourselves. We remembered the best moments we had, talked about our feelings, and about being away from one another. And so, in the end, he told me he was going to come home in April when I was there, and he was going to kiss me so hard I never wanted to break up with him ever again.
I laughed at his jokes about that but agreed. And honestly? I slept better than I had for a very long period of time now.
“Just think about the disappointment and reverence this girl just brought to the older and experienced biathletes! She doesn’t miss once, wins by half a minute, and makes her personal record in her first-ever IBU World Cup!”
“I got to agree with you, John,” the other commentator laughed. “She skipped every Junior team, went straight to the national one, and is winning sponsors, money, and fame! Betty Cooper will be the greatest biathlete USA has had for a while and I personally love that.”
“So do I. She is mixing things up with our classic Norway, Germany, and Sweden victories. The whole USA team this year had amazing skis, their posture and skills were better than ever, and look at that excitement in all of their faces!”
“We cannot ignore her previous injuries either. After all of that, she comes back, gets back on the skis and trains hard to get to the top three three days in a row in different styles… That is inspiring.”
I chuckled and pulled my earbuds off as the plane was going to start landing now. My ears were already getting clogged, so I took a gum and put my phone away. I closed my eyes, hoping that Jughead would let me sleep in his apartment for a while when we landed in New York.
“No interviews,” Rosalie whispered to me for the hundredth time as we were almost out of the airport. All of our team and coaches had a small break now, so everyone was now splattered over the continent, going home, wherever they were from.
I saw Jughead immediately when we came through the glass doors. He was smiling at me, in his usual clothes, waiting. Judging from his clothes, spring had come to New York, but not summer.
Some reporters and paparazzi were inside the gates with us and blocked my way out of them. I saw Rosalie holding Allie’s hand as she tried to get past them, but I was just surrounded by three guys with cameras and some with mics. God, I wasn’t a criminal, why couldn’t even Americans believe that I wasn’t using any doping to be faster and better. Idiots.
“Ms. Cooper, can you tell us anything about the doping suspicion?” I got too many questions like that, so I just clutched the handle of my suitcase in one hand, my phone in the other, inside my pocket, and pushed myself through them.
“Keep away!” a security guard said as he came to push the men off of me. “And get out.” They probably weren’t allowed to be there. The space was for personal drivers and the weird people who were holding a name tag in one hand, not reporters.
I went to Jughead who looked kind of pissed now and hugged him tightly. “Hey baby,” he said quietly and leaned down to press his lips against my cheek.
When I pulled away, my hands traveled onto his arms with a confused frown. They were definitely bigger than the last time I saw him. He grinned at me and took my luggage. “Archie told me to go to the gym with him if I didn’t want to look like an idiot next to you.”
I giggled at that and gave his cheek a kiss as we started to move. I wasn’t about to kiss him when I knew people could be taking pictures. So, instead, I took his hand and we walked towards the exit. “You look tired,” he commented, eyes on my face.
“Yeah, you know I can’t sleep in planes… And I have a jet lag.”
“Mhmm. You can sleep at my place.”
I smiled at that. “Is it cold outside?”
“Yeah, you should put the coat on,” he told me as we stopped in the line to pay for the parking.
“I can pay for it,” I offered after the coat was on and he was grinning at me. “What?” I chuckled.
“I love that color on you.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked and wrapped my arms around his neck loosely. “How come?”
“Brings out your eyes. And matches your lips.”
I smirked as he stepped us closer to the parking machine, only one other person in front of us now. He leaned down to my lips and kissed me slowly, tongue sweeping over my lower lip that was in between his. He wasn’t going to make out with me in public either as I saw, but after a few more kisses like that, and then a short one, it was our turn to pay.
I wrapped my arms around his left one as he smirked while paying for the ticket and leaned against it, with my cheek pressed against his jacket. “I love you,” I said quietly.
He got the change and put it into one of his pockets as he looked at me with a smile. “I love you too.”
As soon as we got to his apartment, I got changed into one of his flannel shirts, and he climbed into the bed with me, letting me curl up in his side. I fell asleep instantly (after a few long kisses), and the next time I woke up, it was still light outside. So, my first question was, what day was it? We had gotten here at 3 pm, so it couldn’t be light anymore, right?”
“Morning, sleepyhead,” I heard him saying. I looked at him on the other side of the studio apartment, in his kitchen, cooking something.
“Morning?” I asked in confusion, not getting up from the soft warm bed. He walked to me with a chuckle and nodded.
“Yep. Slept all night. Taste this,” he said as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
I smiled and pushed myself to sit up, opening my mouth. He fed me the piece of the pancake and waited for my reaction. “Mmmm,” I groaned and fell back onto my back as I chewed it. “Amazing. What’s in it?”
“Banana and chocolate chip pancake. Like it?” he smiled.
“Love it,” I said and pulled him down, on top of me.
He chuckled and parted his legs, pushing himself back up after a slow kiss. “We can do that later, after breakfast.”
“Okay,” I breathed and took his hand for him to help me up.
I felt him staring at me as I started eating while he was still making some of the pancakes. “What?” I asked, not looking at him, as I made myself another one of those amazing pancakes, slicing some banana on my plate, and then pouring chocolate sauce over it. I wasn’t about to eat healthy for the whole month of no diet.
“Nothing. You just look really sexy.”
I chocked on my water as I looked up at him in shock. He just smirked at me and gave me a wink as he continued. “My shirt and panties accompanied by those amazing legs that should already be around me…”
“Thought you were a thong kind of guy,” I teased.
“I’m a whatever-the-fuck-is-comfortable-for-you kind of guy. And these look fucking hot on you,” he said, referring to my women’s boxers.
“Yeah, and we could talk about that, or you could let me eat and maybe notice that your pancake’s burning.” I nudged my head towards the pan that was the source of the smell.
“Crap,” he cursed and flipped the brown pancake around.
“Aw, what a shame,” I smirked at my plate and took another bite.
Afterward, when I had gotten Jughead to agree to let me put the dishes into the washer myself, and had done it, I leaned against the counter. He was sitting on the couch, his laptop propped up on his knees, the long skinny fingers of his typing away on the keyboard.
Even though I didn’t want to cut off his ideas or distract him in any way, I knew I had to do it to get what I wanted. So, I walked to Jug, and stopped right in front of him, making his greenish-blue eyes pop onto my face. An amused smile came onto his lips when I clicked save and closed the laptop.
I placed it onto the coffee table carefully and pushed his feet off of it, before turning back to look at him. His eyes had previously been on my butt, but now were staring back at my face, eyes wearing a dark deep blue color.
I breathed out quietly and moved my hands to hold onto his shoulders as I moved my legs to straddle his lap. Once my putt was against his thighs, knees resting against the old material of the couch, I loosely wrapped my arms around his neck, my cold hands touching the back of it.
His were gripping my waist gently as his lips moved onto mine. Before I knew it, his shirt was gone, and the one I was wearing had been buttoned open from the front. His warm hand was massaging one of my breasts, our hips rolling together, me humping his a bit.
“Bed,” I moaned, head falling back to give him more access to my neck. He obliged and carried me there, lowering both of us down on it when his lips found mine again. My panties were the last ones to go, and I took them off by myself when he got a condom from his drawer.
“You just hold them there just in case if a girl comes around?” I smirked, raising my eyebrows up as he looked at me, unimpressed.
“Is someone jealous?”
“Yes,” I said, looking at how he rolled it onto his hard member. “Obviously,” I added, looking back up at his face with a confident look.
He smirked, pure joy in his eyes as he pressed a kiss onto my stomach, holding eye contact. “I wanna be on top,” I said when he had gotten the right position, hovering over me.
“Great,” he groaned, and we switched. I didn’t even wait for him to settle down or anything, I just kept my hands in his hair and slid onto him, and made him groan immediately, his strong hands gripping my hips, guiding me through it.
It had been long since the last time we did it together, which made it even more fucking amazing. His arms, legs, stomach, everything was so lean now. (And even though it was weird to use this kind of chest as my pillow, I needed to remind myself to thank Archie later.)
“Hey, Betts?” Jughead whispered and leaned over to the passenger’s seat to kiss my cheek and make me wake up from the light slumber. “We’re here.”
I turned her head to the right and smiled at the house in front of me now. I unbuckled her seatbelt while turning back to Jughead to kiss him and then got out of the car. I breathed in the fresh spring air. Having spent so many months in Europe in different cultural cities and many forests and skiing areas, I didn’t think the scent of my home was any different, but it really was something amazing. It calmed and relaxed my muscles.
We got our things from the trunk and walked to the front door. I pressed the handle down and frowned when the door didn’t go open. My face shared a weird look with Jughead as he knocked on the door.
“Coming!” we heard FP saying and then steps moving our way.
When the door finally opened, both of us eyed the man curiously, trying to find out why he looked like he hadn’t had a good sleep for a while. “A hug?” FP asked both of us, arms widened and hands inviting them in.
I chuckled and moved to do just that, tightening my arms around his torso. We hugged for a minute while Jughead got his coat and boots off, and then it was his turn. “Where’s Olive?” I asked with a smile when I did the same.
“Hopefully, still asleep,” FP sighed.
I made a face at that. “She’s not giving you any sleep? You look…”
“Horrible,” Jughead stated, knowing I was going to spare his feelings.
“I’m fine, she just tires me out every day… And won’t go to sleep at night.”
“Then what are you doing up right now?” I asked.
“I wanted to make breakfast… I can’t just leave you two without food—”
“Dad,” Jughead groaned.
“Just go to bed, we’ll be fine,” I chuckled.
“Yes, and don’t worry about her either. I’ll be here for three weeks; you can have a break.”
“I’ll stay for a week, we’ll keep her busy,” Jug said and pushed dad a little. “Go to sleep, dad.”
“Thanks, guys,” he sighed and went upstairs.
I looked at Jughead when he was gone and frowned. “He’s getting older…”
“I know, baby,” he said the same way and kissed my forehead. “Now. Bacon and eggs for breakfast?”
I made a face at that, unable to see bacon after the trauma my first host family had given me. “No.”
Jughead chuckled. “Just kidding. Let’s look at what we have.”
After a walk to the kitchen and seeing the fridge basically empty, Jughead shut it with a sigh. “Trader Joe’s?”
“Yep. Let’s go.”
“Bettyyyy!” Olive exclaimed happily and ran to me.
“Hey,” I chuckled and picked my little sister up with a groan. “You are getting so heavy.”
“No, I’m not,” Ollie giggled as I kissed her all over her face.
“I missed you so much,” I sighed.
“I missed you.”
“Aw baby, I missed you too,” Jughead said, making both of us giggle quietly. “Can I get a kiss?”
Olive leaned away from me for a moment and kissed his cheek with a smile on her face. He chuckled and kissed her forehead before going to the kitchen with the grocery bags.
“You went shopping?” FP asked, looking all better and more rested and cleaner.
“Yeah, you didn’t really have much food, so we wondered we’ll help you out,” I said, carrying my sister to the living room where FP was at.
“Thank you,” he sighed, sincerely thankful. I smiled a little and then looked back at my sister.
“You haven’t behaved, huh?”
“I have,” she lied with a smile.
“Oh really?” I chuckled.
“You know it’s bad to lie, right?”
She looked up at me with the big blue eyes not looking too innocent. She definitely knew she had acted badly during the last few months. “Tell you what. If you’re good all this week, we’ll take you to an amusement park at the weekend.”
She bounced on my lap. “Really?” she asked excitedly.
“Uh-huh. All the rides and games you want to play. Maybe you’ll win some prices even…”
“I wanna go I wanna go!”
“Then you gotta be good all week. No trouble. Got it?”
“Okay,” she said.
“Alright,” I said softly and kissed her head before placing the girl on the ground again. “You wanna go help Juggie make some brunch?”
“What are we making?” she asked immediately.
“Waffles,” Jughead said from the kitchen.
“Ohh, I want caramel sauce on them!” she exclaimed, running into the kitchen to help him.
FP smiled at me when I looked back at him and patted the place next to him on the couch. “You are an angel.”
“Thank you,” I chuckled and crossed my legs on the couch next to him.
“Alright. Tell me how it was.”
I breathed out, trying to word it somehow, reliving the memories, pictures running in front of my eyes. “Amazing.”
“I need a bit more than that, hon.”
A few days later, me and Jughead—neither of us still having told anyone we were dating again—went to have lunch at Pop’s with Toni who was attending a College near Riverdale and was able to get home for Friday. After a few hours of eating, talking, and laughing, she finally brought the topic up.
“So, you two… Have you found someone?” she asked us carefully.
“Someone, like romantically?” I asked.
She nodded. “You two have been both suffering because of breaking up, and I know you’re still best friends and all that but… You know, maybe guys in Europe were hotter than him?” she smirked.
We both laughed at Jughead’s face. “I did have sex with an unnamed biathlete from Norway,” I smirked.
“Oh my god! Betty Cooper is having one-night stands now?” Toni asked excitedly. “Tell me more! Do I know him?”
“Do you know the best biathletes?” I chuckled, making her jaw drop.
“One of the brothers?” she asked.
“What?” Jughead asked, looking like he didn’t believe me at all. “When? Where?”
“It was before that. You can calm down,” I said soothingly and stroked his thigh with my thumb, my hand resting over his jeans.
“Before what?” Toni asked excitedly, loving all this drama.
“Before we got back together. And no, I do not want to know any more about your one-night stands,” Jughead stated, looking at me.
“I wasn’t going to tell you anyway,” I teased and kissed his cheek.
Toni’s mouth was wide open when I looked back at her. “You… You two are together again?”
“Seems like it,” Betty said, earning a squeeze of her waist from Jughead, making her giggle and catch his hand in hers. “We are.”
“Oh my god,” Toni said in awe. “Since when?”
“Since the night I won with my team for the first time.”
“Over the phone?” she asked in shock.
“Yeah,” Jughead said and looked at me for a moment with a smile on his face. “We just wondered that if we don’t feel anything with anyone else either, we should just try to be together.”
“And is it working?”
“So far,” I chuckled as he kissed my cheek. “I’m gonna live alone in Canada when I go back now, so he can come over whenever he wants and has time, and maybe I can come on some weekends… We’ll make it work.”
Toni squealed. “I’m so happy for you two. Finally.”
We chuckled quietly and Jughead nudged his head towards her. “What about you? Have you found someone?”
She pressed her lips together, trying to hold back her laugh. “The others haven’t told you two?”
“About what?” I asked in confusion.
“I’m dating Cheryl Blossom.”
My jaw dropped while Jughead chocked on his soda. “What?” I asked finally with a small shocked chuckle. “How? Why?”
“She’s actually pretty nice. I mean she keeps being a loose cannon all the time, but she’s a lesbian and I’m bisexual and… I don’t know she has known that forever and we just hooked up once and can’t get enough from each other anymore.”
“You’re dating my cousin?” I asked in shock.
She shrugged and smirked as I had before. “Seems like it.”
“Isn’t she like super toxic?” Jughead frowned. “Toni are you sure? I mean… She’s not a good person.”
The girl rolled her eyes at him. “She’s just as good person as you are, Jughead. She just has a different way of showing it.”
“Ouch,” he frowned. “I’m that bad?”
“Shut up. I’m happy with her. She’s sweet with me.”
“That’s great,” Betty said. “We’re happy if you’re happy. And we support you in this, right Jug?”
He gulped down the mouthful of sprite and nodded reluctantly. “Right.”
“Yeah?” he asked, looking through another stack of papers, looking for something.
“What are you looking for?”
“Oh nothing, just need to find the signature of the sheriff who worked before me.”
“Oh… Well, can you stop for now?”
He smirked as he looked at me. “Just in a minute, honey. Wait.”
I sighed and nodded, grabbed an apple and sat down behind the table, eating it from boredom while I waited. “Finally,” I heard him saying as he pulled out a sheet. “Alright, shoot.”
I threw away the remaining part of my apple which wasn’t a lot anyway, and sat back down again, facing him. “I’m thinking about buying a car.”
He looked at me in pleasant surprise. “Really? You think you’re ready for that?”
“I know how to drive, I’ve done the road test already, I only have the theory left to do… I need something to move with and I’m definitely not getting a motorcycle after Jug took me on a ride with it, so…”
He chuckled. “Alright,” he said softly. “You’re asking for money?”
“No,” I frowned. “That’s why I’m planning on buying it right now; I have money. I could buy it out immediately. No loan or nothing stupid like that.”
“Can you take me out of the town someday and help me pick one out?”
“Yes, of course. Why are you being so formal about it?”
I nibbled on my lower lip. “Well, Jughead has some savings and…”
“And?” he frowned.
“We’re back together and we wanna buy a car together, but he has to go to school again on Monday so he can’t come with me and I decided to ask you—”
“Hold on.” I sighed, biting the inside of my cheek nervously. “You are back together?”
He sighed and dropped his head onto his nape, his thumb and index finger squeezing the bridge of his nose. “Are you not okay with that?” I asked quietly.
“What? No, honey. I’m happy for you two. You make each other happy and that’s all that matters.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
He sighed and looked at my worried face. “I just wanted to ask you about something… And I really hoped you’d agree, but now I don’t know anymore.”
“About what? You were about to set me up with someone?” He chuckled and I smiled a little. “What is it? You can still ask me…”
“I um… I want to adopt your sister.”
I looked at him, only shock reflecting from my face. He wanted to adopt my sister. She’d have a normal family. “Really?” I asked finally, breathing out happily.
He smiled a bit and nodded. I got up from my seat and walked around the table to hug him. He chuckled and hugged me back, but when we pulled away, he had this weird face on him. “I would’ve wanted to do the same to you too, but I know how much you and Jug love each other, so it would be weirder than it already is.”
I chuckled. “That’s okay, I don’t need to be adopted anymore. But she does. Please, adopt her.”
“That’s the problem… If you and Jughead are together, then is it legal anymore?”
“It’s not like we’d be siblings. I mean not legally and not by blood or anything either, so it’s fine, right?”
“But Olive thinks you’re all siblings.”
“She knows that she has a different mom from Jughead… And I’d probably have to tell her about our dad when she’s older. She’ll understand.”
He sighed. “So, you’re okay with that?”
“Of course,” I smiled sincerely. “I’d love that.”
He smiled as well and kissed my cheek before I sat down again. “So, about the car…” he started again, making me chuckle. “I’m happy you’re both together and that you want to do it, but how would it work out, really?”
“I don’t know,” I said easily. “I told Jug I needed a car and we talked about it and wondered that if we’re going to live together one day anyway and he has a motorcycle too, then what’s the point of getting two cars.”
“But it will stay with you?”
“For now,” I nodded. “I’ll have to drive it to Canada, but it’ll help me a lot now that I’m getting an apartment on my own. And maybe one day when he finishes college or I can move back to the US, which I really hope I can, by the way, we’ll share. But he wouldn’t let me buy one on my own.”
He chuckled and nodded. “Alright. I have only half a shift on Wednesday. We’ll take Olive with us and go somewhere.”
I smiled. “I want a new one.”
He rolled his eyes with a sigh. “Yeah, I got that already. You’re going to waste so much of the money you just made.”
“I traveled free for four months, dad,” I chuckled. “And got paid for the races. And for the overall performance. And for being a team member. I have stores sponsoring me right now… I think I’ll be fine with the money I’ll have left.”
I smirked at that and grabbed another apple and kissed his cheek. “Love you. Keep working now, sorry for distracting you.”
On Sunday when we got back from the amusement park an hour away, we had a lot of new stuffed animals for my sister, and she was already sleeping. I got to talk with her the following day about her behavior at home (because she was a good kid in preschool), and she agreed to at least try and be a better kid at home, too. So, when I left three weeks later, in my brand new 2020 Lincoln Corsair, I was calm when leaving her there. At least FP was going to have it a bit easier now, I hoped.
Half a year passed in a haze. I traveled around the world, practicing my skills with everybody else on the Canadian and USA teams. There were many competitions, a lot of snow and friends, but even though I was sick half of the time and crying because of missing someone very far away from me the other half, I was still living my dream. I still couldn’t thank FP enough for making me take a hobby that he had always wanted to do. I was on the top of the world and after everything I had gone through, I still couldn’t believe how my life had turned out to be.
In December, I had another week of competitions with my team, but not in Europe or Canada. It was in Saratoga where all of this started for me. Dad and Jug and Charles all promised to come and my friends from other countries were competing in the junior categories, which meant I was going to see everybody.
My team had eleven cars in total in which we had already driven around Canada, and this time it was going to be from near Ottawa to the place I once called my home. It was a five-hour drive. Since I owned a car, I was the one driving. I had four of my teammates with me, the trunk full of equipment, and the ones on the back seat were struggling because of the skis that hadn’t fit anywhere else and they had to be holding.
“You know this neighborhood pretty well,” Elisa told me, looking confused.
“I lived here before the accident.”
“Oh, that’s your club we’re at?” Emilia asked from the back seat, a smile on her face.
“Yep,” I smiled while turning to the right small road between the woods. “My mom used to drive me here every day since when I was six.”
“But you lived near here?” Olivia, a woman who was a backup for our team, asked.
“Yeah, about twenty minutes away. It’s a small town.”
“Are you going to visit it?”
I chuckled. “No. Too many bad memories.”
They all knew what I meant, so they just changed the topic as I took a shortcut through the woods. We all knew each other’s stories, good or bad, didn’t matter.
The next day, we started practicing at 10 am for the first sprint competitions at night. I was excited because all my best friends were already there, practicing with their teams, and I was going to see dad, Olive, Charles and Jughead. Though when I missed a shot because of that, I calmed myself down and kept shooting.
“Betty!” Matt called me over. I skied to him with a sigh.
“I’m so sorry, I’m just really excited to see my family today.”
“That’s alright, just try to stay relaxed. Also. Can you show me your speed-shooting? The word is that Russia has really improved in everything, so I want to make sure you’re good to go.”
He gave me the bullets that needed to be entered and I smiled as I skied back to my position when everybody else kept practicing their speed. “Standing up!” he shouted when I was about to go to the other position. I looked over at him in confusion. “Speed-shooting standing up.”
I shuddered. That was the only shooting style that I knew I could have mistakes in. I took my position and shot all the five targets with three seconds, missing only the last one. He jogged to me, probably wanting to train me on that one individually now. So much of spending some time with my family before the race.
At 1 pm, after a three-hour training, we were free to go and eat before testing the final skis for tonight. As soon as I had taken my equipment to the workstation, I hurried to the parking lot. Charles had sent me a message that he was there already. “Broooo,” I said loudly when walking to him with a smirk on my face.
He grinned as he opened his arms for me. “Siiiiiiiiiiis.”
I chuckled and wrapped my arms around him. He hugged me for a while before lifting me up and making me shriek. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” I said and kissed his cheek before he placed me down.
“Are the others here already?”
“No, they’re on their way. I’m supposed to have lunch, you wanna come with me?”
“Yeah, of course. Where?”
“Just the building over there.” I nudged my head towards it, and we started moving.
“How are you doing? Everything okay?” he asked worriedly.
“I’m great. What about you? Where’s your girlfriend?” He sighed at the question and dropped his head with a smirk. “Chic,” I whined. “Again? That was the third one this month.”
“No, it wasn’t. It was the third one in the past two months.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “What was wrong with her this time?”
“Nothing. We didn’t match, that’s all. And she broke up with me by the way.”
“Right,” I said sarcastically.
“You can’t really tell me to be with them. You should know my thoughts better than anybody else.”
“Yes, but me and Jughead at least tried,” I protested. “You just take a girl, have sex, go on a date, and dump them. That’s not nice.”
“I don’t want to be nice. They wouldn’t have liked me anyway.”
I sighed deeply. “Have you talked with Amelia, then?”
“You’re horrible,” I rolled my eyes and entered the big buildings that had been built there for the different international competitions. “You have money?”
“I do. You get free food, right?”
I nodded as we went to the line. It was all self-service, so it moved pretty fast. I pulled out my phone and looked at today’s ingredients I needed to have which only made my brother roll his eyes. If Jughead would’ve been there, he would’ve killed me for following the plan when I was able to get free fast food.
“I’ll go and bring them here,” Charles told me when I had my equipment on and had to do a few laps, checking the snow and the skis and if they worked well together.
“Alright,” I sighed. FP and Olive had just texted us that they were here, and Jughead was on a bus to take him here with all the other people who were coming to watch the international competitions.
“I’ll see you soon,” he said and kissed my cheek. I smiled sadly and watched him starting to walk towards the parking lot. I put my ski goggles on and tightened the ponytail on top of my head, only wearing a ski headband and no hat. I had had multiple occasions where the hat fell off, so that was what I was going for now.
“You’re free for now. Be back here at five and take your skis back to our workshop.”
I nodded and eagerly looked around as I started moving slowly. I heard many different languages and saw numerous amounts of people, but when in the finish line I took my skis and poles and goggles off, Olive was the first person I saw.
“Hey baby,” I said in awe when she ran to me. I hugged her with my left arm while trying to hold the equipment and squat down at the same time. Luckily, Charles grabbed all of it for me, so I was able to pick her up. “You’re getting so big.”
“I’m five,” she told me with a smile as I kissed her cheek.
“Oh, I know that,” I chuckled. “You were just two yesterday. What happened?”
“No, I wasn’t,” she giggled. “Yesterday I was… five too.”
I chuckled and placed her back on the ground. “Hi,” I told dad with a big smile on my face and hugged him, too. “I missed you.”
“Aw, honey, missed you too.” When we pulled away and I looked around to see someone else, he spoke up. “Charles gave him your card so he’s getting free food with it.”
“That’s literally not allowed,” I said and looked at my brother.
“The poor guy was hungry.”
“He’s always hungry.”
“I want burgers, daddy,” Olive said, jumping up and down, happy to be all together again.
“And he’s not the only one,” I sighed. “Fine. I need to take my stuff away and then I’ll come to the cafeteria. Get me a protein shake.”
“I’m getting you a hot dog!” Charles shouted after me.
“No, you’re not,” I heard Rosalie saying somewhere. I grinned and took my stuff to the right place.
After ten minutes of changing my training clothes for the competition ones, adding the team coat, and one of my coats (because I was really cold), I basically ran to the cafeteria. Jughead was waiting for me in front of it. I raised my eyebrows when I went closer, a big smile on my face, and looked at him questioningly, wordlessly asking him where his burgers were at.
“Baby,” he greeted just before our bodies touched and arms wrapped around each other. I had no idea how long we just stood there and hugged, but I heard many people commenting about it when they passed us. “I missed you so much,” he breathed finally when we pulled just a bit away from each other, remaining our arms like they were.
“Me too,” I said quietly. His arms wrapped around my waist, me standing on my tiptoes, and both of us breathing quietly, our lips met. It was just one kiss, and then another, and another, and another, until I finally pushed his face off of me and held it in between my hands as I lowered myself back onto my heels.
“I love you,” I whispered.
“I love you.”
“Should we go to the warm and let you eat your burgers?” I asked sweetly, making him chuckle.
“Of course. You very cold?”
“Just a little. My body is calming down from the training we’ve had today, and I’m cold sweating from my nerves.”
“It’s gonna be fine, baby. You’ll do great,” he told me when his arm wrapped itself around my shoulders as we walked inside the building.
“Did you get my shake?”
“Vanilla protein shake with banana, strawberries, and mint.”
“Thanks,” I smiled and kissed his cheek again.
“You guys had a nice reunion?” Charles asked with a smirk as we sat down on the bench behind the table, Jug’s arm dropping because of it.
“It would’ve been nicer somewhere private and inside where there was a bed or a couch or… a kitchen cabinet, but sure,” I smirked.
All the guys burst out laughing and my sister smiled too, because she didn’t understand anything, but was going with the flow. “You like those French fries, Ollie?” I asked when I got her onto my lap. I really loved her so much like she was my own daughter and I had no idea why. Maybe because she never had the chance to be with our mom.
“Yeah. Taste it,” she said.
“I can’t baby, or I’m gonna throw up when I’m skiing or lying on my stomach.”
She giggled at that. “All over the cameras?”
I rolled my eyes with a chuckle. “Yes. It’d be gross.”
“I threw up yesterday,” she told me.
“You did?” I frowned and looked at FP.
“It was a week ago,” he told me.
“Noo, it was yesterday.”
“No, it wasn’t, Ols,” Jughead said. “Dad called me to ask me how to clean that up. It was a week ago.”
“Wait, but, what happened?” I asked in confusion.
“Nothing. Every kid does it. And it’s horrible, it’s always all over the walls and—”
“Alright, we get it,” Charles frowned. “You’re taking away my appetite.”
“And the first place, Betty Cooper!”
My friends and family cheered to me as I climbed onto the podium and leaned down to let the man put the medal around my neck and then congratulate me. A woman handed me a diploma and a small package, after what she congratulated me as well. I was always kind and kept saying thank yous and meaning it, but some people, like the two girls from Russia that were standing on the other podiums, never did. It was kind of rude.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the winners of women sprint!”
Everyone cheered to us and we smiled for the pictures and did a few interviews before I was able to go back to my family. “So proud of you,” Jughead said when his arm was back around me and kissed my cheek.
“Thanks,” I said tiredly. “I really need to go to sleep.” At that point, I was literally leaning against his body.
“Right,” Charles smirked. “I have to wear my earphones tonight…”
“Let’s just wish you’re not on the same floor,” Jughead went with the joke.
“Oh please, the whole house is going to hear you two.”
“More like her,” Jughead chuckled and I hit his arm with a smirk.
“I’m actually really tired tonight,” I said. “I have to come back here at 11 tomorrow though, so maybe if I wake up earlier…” We both chuckled at that, as did dad and Charles.
“Let’s get you to the hotel,” FP agreed. “I need to put her to sleep.”
“I’m not tired, I’m hungry,” Olive said.
“Of course, you are,” he sighed. “Why are you so much like Jughead and nothing like your sister, huh?”
“Because I love food, daddy.”
Chapter 29: Epilogue- 4 years later
“Hey, baby, you off the plane?”
“Yeah, but I can’t find my way out,” I whined. “This airport is so confusing.”
“Just follow other people or look for exit or baggage claim signs.”
“It’s too big and confusing. I’m a minute away from starting to panic.”
“Hey,” Jughead said softly, making me shut up and listen to him. “Take a deep breath, alright?” He waited until I did it and then breathed out with me. “Good. Now look around and see if there’s an exit sign anywhere.”
“I see one,” I breathed.
“Good, now follow all the signs and get out here. I need to hug you.”
I chuckled. “Alright. Thanks.”
“No problem, Betts. I love you and I’ll see you in fifteen minutes. Don't forget your baggage.”
“Love you.” As we ended the call, I started moving already, sliding my phone to my back pocket. I was finally back home, and I was going to see my fiancé and hug him and kiss him and have sex. Hopefully, he had taken care of our car while I was away; we really needed to drive fast to get home.
As I walked through the huge New York airport, memories ran through my mind. How he published his first book by himself, how people were amazed by it, how I saw him in Toronto at his book tour. I remembered all the times in the past few years that we had traveled together in Europe, with his laptop and notebook always ready while I was practicing outside in the snow. I remembered the memories we had from when we were kids, the way we always had something to talk about, and the way I felt about him. And before walking through the sliding glass doors, I smiled to myself, remembering him proposing to me in our bed, spontaneously. Now I had a ring on my finger, enjoying the long engagement.
“Come here,” Jughead said quietly when I reached him. We wrapped each other up in tight warm hugs, and stood there for a while, just shutting everybody out, living in our own small bubble.
“I missed you,” I whispered, still holding onto him. “I love you so much. I can’t be away from you anymore.”
“I might have some good news about that,” he whispered into my ear and pressed two kisses down my jawline before planting one right onto my mouth.
“Good news?” I breathed in relief. “Did you get the job?”
“You gotta wait till we get home,” he teased. I smiled and kissed him once more before taking his hand. “You are going to love it though,” he said, pulling my huge suitcase after us.
“Is it… Related to your job?”
“Is it related to our wedding?”
“Also, a maybe.”
“Juggie,” I chuckled.
“You gotta wait till we get home.” He kissed my cheek. “I love you.”
Once I was seated on Jughead’s bed in one of his shirts and he was lying down next to me, casually staring at me as I ate an apple, I met his eyes. “So?” I asked when I had swallowed the bite. “What’s the big news?”
He smirked. “You wanna know?”
“Yes,” I chuckled. “If it’s something that you say is great, I’m happy.”
He chuckled and pushed himself onto his forearms and leaned on them, face closer to mine now. “I got a job.”
I smiled. “I knew you’d get it, baby,” I said and leaned down to give him a kiss. “I’m proud of you.”
He chuckled. “You don’t sound very genuine you know.”
“I am,” I assured him. “Just I’ll have to be away for so long again.”
“Actually, you don’t.”
I frowned. “But you… You said you support me in—”
“No, baby, I do. Why wouldn’t I?” he asked softly. “Just the job is not the job I was telling you about earlier…”
“Oh?” I asked carefully.
“Oh indeed,” he said. “They offered me a job as a travel journalist, hon. That means I could probably go to most of the countries you are at, get an assignment there, get paid for writing, and get all of it free.”
My eyes were wide as I shared into his greenish-blue ones in shock. He waited for a reaction but soon understood that I was frozen and grinned, flopping himself back onto his back on the bed. “Oh my god,” I breathed finally. “I could be with you?”
“Yep. Every day.”
I felt some water reaching my eyes as I leaned over him and placed the eaten apple onto our nightstand. He smiled softly at my face when I wiped my tears and lay down next to him. He pulled the duvet over us and wrapped me up in his arms as I cried into his shoulder.
“Are these happy tears?” he asked quietly, fondling my long blond hair.
His chest moved up and down as he laughed at me voicelessly. “Take your time before having euphoria sex with me. Because I’ve really fucking missed you.”
I giggled into his neck and he kissed my ear. “Me too. I just need a moment.”
“I understand,” he spoke quietly. “I cried too when I got the news.”
“Oh, I love this apartment,” Olive said with her adorably girly voice and went to look around in our small home.
I smiled while cooking the food for us. Throughout the years, I had started eating seafood, fish, and chicken. The meat was still making me throw up, but I needed to get all the nutrients, and sometimes I craved chicken anyway when Jughead made it with some nice spices and it smelled amazing.
“Is she doing better?” I asked FP in a hushed tone.
“She is. But she’s still asking me about Hal all the time. And I’m not sure what to tell her.”
“I can talk to her,” I said with a deep frown. My little sister had always known what happened to our mom and older sister, but now she had started to ask questions about it. And Hal. I guessed she was just missing a mother in her life. As a nine-year-old girl, I would’ve too. “I’ll tell her about him.”
“Betty, she can’t even watch horror movies without staying up for endless nights, scared to move. If she finds about her own father…”
“She has the right to know though,” I said, looking at him sadly. “She’s growing up, dad. She needs answers.”
“Yeah but…” He sighed. “I don’t know. What if she gets mad at me? Or what if she wants to go to see him…”
“You’ve done everything for us. You’re her dad. And mine. And even if she does want to go, I will never let her. Maybe when she turns 18, but not before that.”
He looked worried when we heard her steps coming back. I hugged him for a moment and kissed his cheek. “Like it?” I asked my sister.
“Yeah, it’s really pretty,” she smiled.
“We still have half of it empty,” I said and smirked. “Wanna go shopping with me?”
Her eyes got wide and excited as she nodded. “For decorating?”
“Yeah, and while we’re there, we can get whatever food you want, and something for you too.”
She hugged me tightly, bouncing on her feet excitedly, and I kissed her hair. “You still like pasta?”
“Yeah,” she told me. “Dad only gives me vegetables.”
“No, I don’t,” FP chuckled.
“Yes, you do,” she argued with a little smile and wrinkled her face up. “And fruits. I hate bananas.”
“How can you hate bananas?” I heard Jughead’s voice suddenly and the door closing.
“Juggie,” she greeted as she ran to hug him.
“Hey, kiddo. You’re getting bigger every time I see you,” he said, probably hugging her back behind the corner. “How tall are you now?”
“I don’t know, I don’t wanna go to the doctors.”
We all laughed at that quietly and the two of them came into the kitchen. Jug placed down the bags of groceries he had and hugged his dad with a groan. “I’ve missed you two.”
“Are you really going away with Betty?” Olive asked sadly.
“We’re not going away, baby,” I said. “I need to travel and now so does he. But we still have this apartment here.”
“Yeah, and we have you,” Jughead continued. “And Hotdog,” he petted the puppy FP had gotten for my sister lately. “And Betty will have to compete in here and in Canada too, so we will see many times over the year, don’t worry about that.”
“And then there’ll be our wedding and I need you as my bridesmaid, got it?”
She giggled. “Yes. When’s that though?”
“We’re setting the date,” Jughead smirked and kissed my cheek as he leaned close to me to place a pack of spaghetti into the cupboard over my head. “There was no milk left,” he mentioned.
I frowned. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, it was all empty. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. You’re cooking anyway.”
“I’m cooking?” he chuckled. “For Thanksgiving?”
I smirked. “Yeah, don’t you love to cook?”
“I think you’re confusing me with someone,” he said seriously. “I loved the eating part. But hey, you want cereal for thanksgiving, I can cook,” he grinned.
I rolled my eyes at him with a smirk and he kissed it off quickly. “That pasta smells good by the way.” He wrapped his arms around me from the back, chin over my shoulder.
“Why are they like that?” I heard my sister asked.
“Because they’re in love,” FP answered.
“I never want to be in love.”
“Why not?” dad asked.
“Because they’re weird and gross.”
“In five years, we’ll see.”
“Four,” I said and looked over my shoulder at both of them. “She starts getting crushes when she’s 11. And she wants to date when she’s 13, believe me.”
“I really hope not.”
“Me too,” Olive frowned.
“Betty, I’m hungry,” Ollie said, pushing our cart as we walked through the store.
“I know, Ols. We’ll go eat after we get the things, I promise. Can you keep going for ten more minutes?”
“Okay,” she sighed. “Ooh, what about this one?” she asked, pointing at a light purple blanket for our couch for snuggling.
“Do you think it would match?” I asked, taking it to look at the measurements.
“Yes. And it’s soft and cute and warm.”
“Alright, we’re getting this.” I placed it into the cart and looked around. “We need a lamp now. And then that’s all.”
“Yay,” she smiled and pushed the cart towards the right section, me walking next to her. When I started looking at the lamps, she was quiet, pointing at a few ones occasionally. Until a few minutes later, I heard her pretty voice ask, “Betty, can you tell me about my biological dad?”
I froze but forced myself to move on immediately as I looked at her, placing a box with a lamp back on its place. “What would you like to know, honey?”
“He’s in jail for killing people. But who? And why? And how old was I and you? And were Polly and mommy still alive? When did you meet dad?”
I chuckled sadly. “That’s a lot of questions, baby. Help me pick a lamp and then we’ll go to eat somewhere and then we can talk about it, alright?”
“Okay,” she smiled softly, and I kissed her cheek, thinking about how to answer all the questions I was sure she had.
Sitting in a bar/restaurant with my sister got really hard sometimes. I was choking up when telling her about a few things she needed to know, and we were both crying when I told her about Hal. People sometimes gave us weird looks, but the food was amazing, and she loved the homemade burger and fries, and the Cesar salad I got was amazing as usual.
“So, you could go to see him if you wanted to?” she asked me sadly, my arm around her shoulders. We were both sitting on a couch-like bench, so she was snuggled into my side.
“Yeah,” I said, brushing her hair off her cheek tenderly. “But I’m not going to.”
She nodded, understanding that. “Does he know that I’m alive? Have you talked to him after the accident?”
“He wrote a letter to me. And I sent him a voice message. He wanted to know about everything, and he asked me about your name. I told him, but I told him never to contact me again. And I was 16 then.”
She nodded and ate one of her last fries. “I love you, Betty.”
I smiled and hugged her with my other arm as well. “I love you too, baby.”
“I want to meet mom…”
“I know,” I sighed. “I wanna see her again as well.”
“I just want a mom…”
I smirked sadly. “Why don’t you tell that to dad?”
“That wouldn’t bring her back.”
“No, but maybe he could find somebody and be happy too. You would have a mom to fight with as a teenager.”
She giggled at that. “And what if she doesn’t like me or she’s mean?”
“Dad would never date somebody who’s mean to any of us,” I said quietly and kissed her head. “I just want you both to be happy.”
“Daddy,” Caden whispered, shaking Jughead’s shoulder softly. “Daddy, wake up.”
Jughead sighed in his sleep and opened his eyes in confusion, only to be met with his five-year-old son in front of him. “Hey bud,” he said tiredly. “What’s the matter?”
“Is mommy home yet?”
Jughead chuckled and looked at his phone. It was 6 am. “She should be in about four hours. Go back to sleep, Cade.”
“I’m not tired anymore. I wanna see mommy.”
Jug sighed. “Why don’t you try and sleep in here with me, okay? You’ll see mommy as soon as she gets home.”
“Okay.” He climbed over the 37-year-old, to the middle of the bed, and then under the sheets, leaving Betty’s spot empty. Jug turned to face him and moved an arm under his own head, the hand reaching the boy’s hair.
“Let’s try to sleep,” he said quietly, knowing he himself at least needed more hours of it. Caden closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of his dad stroking his dark hair. “When you wake up mommy will be here.”
“I miss her,” he mumbled.
“Me too, bud,” Jughead sighed.
Betty got home at 9 am. She left her small suitcase in the hallway, took her coat and boots off, and quietly looked around the apartment with a smile on her face. Everything was quiet, so she wondered the kids and Jughead were still asleep. She drank some water and ate a banana in the kitchen before going to the kids’ room quietly.
“Mommy,” Ellie said happily and hurried out of her toddler bed.
“Hey baby,” Betty chuckled and picked her up immediately.
“I missed you,” she said adorably with her baby accent.
“Aw, I missed you too, Ellie. Mommy loves you very very very much.”
She giggled at that. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I whispered and kissed her cheek, already having kissed her face for about five times. “Where’s Cade?”
Betty smiled and carried the two-year-old out of the room and into hers, very quietly. Eleanor giggled on her lap while Betty grinned at the two boys sleeping in her and Jughead’s bed. The blonde woman looked at how Jughead’s arm was around their son, and both of them slept mouths open as always. Even Ellie had started sleeping that way.
She placed their daughter on the bed and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Ellie smiled and climbed over her brother and remained in the seated position when she found that Jughead’s stomach was the best for that.
Betty smirked, looking at how he tried to understand in his sleep how to get the heavyweight off of his stomach. By the time Jughead was about to open his eyes, Betty was only in her shirt and underwear and climbed under the sheets as well.
“Baby, you’re heavy,” Jughead said with a choked voice as he turned a little and managed to lie her down in between himself and Caden. Only when his eyes started to close again, he realized Betty’s arm was now laid over all of them. He smiled when he looked into her green eyes and leaned over the kids to kiss her hello.
She hadn’t been home for three days to check out a workplace she had been offered in California. Over the phone, she had already told him that she didn’t like it, so they were staying in New York.
“Morning,” Betty smiled when they pulled away and Jughead had to lie back down. Their hands intertwined over the duvet, hugging their kids together. “What is he doing here?”
“Oh, he woke up at 6, so I let him sleep here. He was so excited for you to come back.”
Betty chuckled and kissed her son’s cheek. “Hey sweetie, wake up.”
The boy’s green eyes flickered open slowly as Ellie poked his cheek. He looked around, eyes going wide when he saw Betty. “Mommy,” he said happily and wrapped his arm around her.
“Hey baby,” Betty chuckled and hugged him back.
“I missed you.”
“I missed you too, bud. I love you sooo much.”
“I love you too, mommy.”
She was kissing his face just like she had done with Eleanor’s when Jughead started tickling both of the kids, making them laugh out loud. “Daddy stooop!”
Betty chuckled when Jughead did stop, and squeezed them a bit together instead, pulling his wife into his arms as well, as much as possible.
“Love?” Betty asked soon when the kids were talking about something as well as Ellie could, and Jughead and she were just listening to them and sniggering.
“Yeah?” His beautiful eyes found hers, a smile on his face.
“I’m hungry, but I need to go and shower before, so could you make something, please?”
“Waffles!” Cade exclaimed.
“Waffles!” Ellie did the same way, wanting to be exactly like her big brother.
“Waffles?” Betty asked with a smirk. “Have you gone to get groceries to make waffles?”
“Yeah, mommy. We brought caramel sauce too!” Cade smiled big.
Betty rolled her eyes at Jughead. “Of course, you did.”
“So, would you like some waffles?” he chuckled.
“Yes!” both of the kids said excitedly while Betty only sighed. “Come on, mommy. Please?”
“Alright, but you have to help daddy, both of you, got it?”
Both of them got up and Ellie started jumping on the bed, making Jughead groan as he rolled himself next to me and wrapped me up in his arms. “Daddy, I’m hungry,” Cade said.
“Go brush your teeth both of you.”
“I can’t,” Ellie said.
Jug sighed and Betty giggled. “Neither of you have to brush your teeth right now, but could you give us two minutes before we have to get up?”
“Okay. Come on,” Caden told Ellie and lifted her off the bed with a groan, making both of them giggle as they went away.
“Mhh,” Jughead groaned as he pulled Betty against his body and nuzzled his nose into her hair.
The woman chuckled but hugged him back as well as she could. “I love you, Jug.”
“I love you too. We missed you so much. The kids won’t listen to me.”
“They would. Just tell them how things are. You don’t have to lie because they’re little,” Betty chuckled, straddling his hips now, sitting on top of him.
“I didn’t want to tell them to give us half an hour to have sex…”
“We’re not going to. I wanna go take a shower. And then at night when they’re asleep, maybe,” Betty smirked.
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
“Hey, we’re back!” Olive shouted after the door closed.
Betty smiled and pushed Jughead off of her lips softly, and after pecking his once more, went to help her sister undress her kids. “Where did you go with them?” she asked them once she had squatted down in front of her daughter, helping her get the clothes off, and occasionally helping Caden, too.
“The park. And then I got them hot chocolate, so I’m sorry for the sugar rush,” she said.
Betty sighed and looked at her, making her smile back to me. “Small cup?”
“Yeah, and they shared. Nobody can drink hot chocolate too much.”
“Alright,” she sighed. “We made pizza.”
“Chicken?” Caden asked, jumping up and down.
“Uh-huh,” she chuckled. He ran towards the kitchen. “Go wash your hands!”
Both Betty and Olive laughed when Caden turned around and ran towards the other direction. “Baby, what did you do in the park?”
Ellie smiled. “Play with snow.”
“Mm, did you it, too?”
She giggled and nodded. “Yes.”
Betty chuckled and kissed her forehead. “Alright. Go wash your hands.” She walked towards the bathroom in the hallway where their rooms were at.
“Chicken pizza?” Olive smiled at her older sister.
“Jug’s already eaten like two pieces.”
“Oh, you made it your way?” she smiled excitedly. “Pieces not slices, right?” Betty had a homemade pizza she loved to make that covered all the pan and wasn’t round. It always had lots of things on top and the crust was amazing, too.
“Yep, you gotta hurry up if you want some!” Jughead shouted from the kitchen, having heard the two girls talking.
“Dad’s coming tomorrow?” Olive asked once they were all eating in the table.
“Yeah,” Jughead nodded, eating his fifth piece, almost dying at the same time. “He said they’ll be here in about five, so you need to be here earlier to help us make food.”
Betty rolled her eyes. “Jug’s saying, he wants to try doing the turkey. But I’m not making it, so he has to do it, and now he’s scared and wants someone to help.”
Olive laughed at the two of them. “You’re going to help him anyway though.”
“I know,” Betty sighed. “I wish I wasn’t that generous.”
They laughed quietly and Jughead kissed her cheek. “Carol is making different foods too, so we don’t have to do much more,” he said.
FP ad Carol had started dating when Olive was twelve. They had been doing that for ten years now. She had moved in when Ollie was sixteen. So, the kids took her as a grandma, and for Olive, she was definitely a motherly figure later on. Even to Betty and Jughead, a bit. The woman was kind and gentle and everyone loved her.
“And Chaz is bringing the kids?”
“Yep,” Betty confirmed. “He told me Polly’s yelling at him all the time.”
“Obviously, she’s a teenager,” Jughead said. “Everyone yells at their parents as teenagers.”
“Unfortunately,” Ollie sighed, making the two older ones smirk, remembering clearly how she had been; sneaking out and getting in trouble all the time.
“I think they’re closer than most daughters and fathers are though,” Betty said softly. “You were, too. Your bond’s stronger if it’s only one of the parents that you live with. Also, she’s still eleven. She’s starting to understand what the real world is like.”
“Has Charles talked to Emilia?” Olive asked quietly.
They all shut up for a moment, only the kids giggling to themselves, playing with their food while eating it. Charles had gone out partying twelve years ago, had a one-nighter with some girl from the club, and a year later when he had just gotten back to Emilia, his forever love, the woman came behind his door with a newborn baby girl.
She practically left her there with clothes and documents. Emilia was mad, didn’t understand or believe how and why the kid was his. But, from the moment Charles saw the baby (who he named Polly), he started to love the little girl. Parent-kid love is usually stronger than the love between two parents. Emilia didn’t want kids, so she went, and Charles never talked to her again, choosing his daughter over the person who he thought could be the love of his life.
The two grownups still talked sometimes and met, but after their last fight about their political views, they hadn’t talked for a year. They all thought he should let go of her.
“Betts?” Jughead whispered, looking down at the woman whose head was rested onto his chest, his heart singing a lullaby to her. He didn’t get an answer, so he simply sighed and kissed her head, nuzzling his nose back into her hair.
She was dressed in her panties and one of his shirts while he was only in his boxers. They needed to have clothes on just in case the kids came inside the room or their bed during the night.
Betty’s left hand was in his right one, his thumb brushing over her knuckles comfortingly, sometimes sliding over her wedding ring. They had never taken those off. Even when they were fighting, they never fiddled with their rings as many people did in movies. Even if they had the worst fight of their lives, he knew he loved her, and always would.
“I love you, hon,” he whispered into her blond hair and closed his eyes, falling asleep immediately. He saw a picture of him, Betty, Caden, and Eleanor, with his grandkids, and great-grandkids. While their children had both dark hair like him, two of their grandchildren had blond and one was a redhead.
He laughed at his sleep, seeing Archie and Veronica who were now married too. He wondered maybe Caden was going to fall in love with their best friends’ daughter. She had red hair. And if his grandson did too, then… Who knew?
At that moment, Betty was dreaming of the exact same thing, while Veronica and Archie on the other side of the town, saw their future family. And believe it or not, the little redheaded boy was in both of their dreams.
They were all going to be a family one day. As if they weren’t already.