Knitted Hearts - Amber Kelly Page 0,1

in Ricky’s face.

Ricky very unwisely grins at him and says, “Good.”

That’s when Brandt tears back and punches him so hard that his head flies around, and blood splatters all over the front of Brandt’s shirt.

Elle screams, and that causes everyone left from the party to come flooding out onto the porch.

Ricky stumbles backward, and he gets up and rushes at Brandt.

“Ricky, stop,” I scream.

“He fucking hit me, Sonia!”

“Brandt, don’t; he’s not worth it,” Braxton says as he lets Elle go and hops off the porch. He locks his arms around Brandt’s chest and forces him backward.

“Get out of my yard, and don’t you step foot here, the clinic, or anywhere near Bellamy again,” Brandt warns.

Ricky brings his eyes to mine as he holds his nose. Then, he looks back at Brandt. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I was drunk that night. I’d never hurt a woman in my right mind,” Ricky tries to explain.

Braxton is the one to answer him, “The drunk excuse doesn’t cut it, man. We’ve all been shit-faced before. Hell, we’ve all been pissed off and shit-faced before, but even in that state, we’d never, ever lay a hand on a woman. An apology is good and all, but if you want to earn any of our respect or, hell, even your own respect, then you need help. Counseling, AA, anger management … something.”

“Would any of that make a difference?” Ricky directs his question to me.

“Not to me, but it would to the future woman in your life,” I tell him, and pain slices through me as I see the acceptance sink in.

He starts walking backward, and without another word, he turns and struts out of sight.

Elle is by my side in an instant. “Are you all right?” she asks.

I nod. “I’m fine,” I tell her.

She wraps her arms around me anyway and holds on to me. “Do you want to come and have a sleepover with me tonight?”

“Bells has already claimed me for the night.”

“That sneaky bitch,” she grumbles.

“I’ll see you at the festival tomorrow night. You’re helping Mom and me at her wreath booth, remember?”

“I’ll be there,” she assures me.

“What did I miss?”

We turn to see Bells in the doorway, staring at the blood on Brandt’s shirt.

“Walker got mouthy, and I had to teach him a lesson.” He shrugs.

“Hey, why couldn’t it have been Braxton?” Walker complains.

“Like she’d buy that,” Braxton retorts.

Walker looks at him. “I’ll have you know that you are indeed the bigger asshole of the two of us. Right, baby?” he calls to Elle.

“Maybe, but you are definitely the mouthiest.”

“That’s it; no lovin’ for you tonight,” he threatens.

“That’s fine. I’m staying the night here with Sonia anyway,” Elle retorts.

“You are?” I ask.

“Yeah, Walker has to get up early for work, and we haven’t had a sleepover in a while,” she says and then turns to Bells. “You can loan me something to sleep in, right?”

“Of course,” Bells answers.

“See what you did?” Walker says to Braxton.

“I can’t help she’d rather stay here than at your house.”

“She loves my house. Tell him, Elle. It’s like staying at a five-star hotel,” Walker prompts.

“Yep. A five-star hotel with so-so room service,” she agrees.

“That’s the last time you get served deer jerky breakfast in bed, woman!” He feigns being hurt.

“Come on; it’s getting cold out here. Let’s go in and put some warm PJs on,” Bells beckons.

We get snuggled into bed with a bowl of popcorn to watch The Santa Clause while Brandt sees the last of the guests out and locks up.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Bells asks me.

“I am. It’s weird, but I think I needed to hear his apology to let go. It gave me some kind of closure or something,” I admit.

“Good. Now, you’re free to find your happily ever after,” Bells declares.

“I don’t know about that, but I do feel a little freer.”

“Do you guys remember when we were in high school, and Dusty Owensby broke up with me? I was so devastated and swore I’d never love anyone as much as I loved him. I thought my heart couldn’t possibly recover,” Elle says.

We nod. How could we forget?

“Do you remember what Gram told us? That God had our husbands caught in a bush somewhere and that we shouldn’t be worried when someone broke our hearts, but thankful because that person had been in our way.”

“Yeah, vaguely. I remember us thinking she was bananas, talking about that bush,” I answer.

“She said Abraham was told to take his son, Isaac, up