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Hanging by a String
Back to: Dropping In Next: Reunion
Hanging by a String

Reggie refused to continue practicing on the keyboard no matter how much his sister nagged. It was the same principle either way. He made a flourishing crescendo and played hard into his solo. He looked over at Franz, who had momentarily stopped to allow Reggie’s solo. Franz was stoic as per usual and though it was normal, Reggie couldn’t help but to feel pissed off - a lingering feeling he'd been feeling ever since witnessing Franz and Alanna chatting it up all buddy-buddy style.

“Why aren’t you practicing?” he pointed a grumpy stare at his sister, who was listening to them practice while she lounged in the sitting room’s sofa.

“Because I know my part perfectly,” she said with an air of superiority and waved her hand for dramatic effect, causing the bangles she was wearing to clink together. “You two don’t yet. So keep practicing.”

Reggie lifted his lip in an annoyed snarl and his sister just smiled, “I’m going to go get something to drink. Want anything?”

Franz shook his head and Reggie said, “No thanks.”

Evelyn Jane gave a pout but stood and left the room to find a refreshment.

“So, how long have you been hanging out with Alanna?” Reggie asked in an even tone, trying to hide his annoyance, just as he completed his solo.

Franz started to pluck the bass with a slight frown, perhaps a bit puzzled at why Reggie was asking such a question.

“I saw you two at the bakery the other day,” Reggie explained.

“Were you spying on us?” Franz seemed a little put-off, his voice low and gravelly. His pizzicato trailed off waiting for an explanation.

“She wasn’t at her usual coffee shop and when I happened to see her leave the library, I wanted to see where she was headed,” Reggie explained. “She walked right into your family’s bakery and it looked like you two were getting along well enough.”

“So you stalked her?” Franz narrowed his eyes.

“Nothing that dramatic,” Reggie assured, “I just thought I should warn you that she’s a tease, so don’t have your heart set on her.”

“She’s not a tease,” Franz objected, “She’s really nice and actually listens to what I say.”

Reggie seemed to grow more irate as Franz defended her, “So you do like her?”

Franz’s jaw clenched and he looked away, “I barely know her.”

That wasn’t an answer. Reggie studied his friend, suddenly suspicious, “Did you go on a date with her?”

Franz’s brow raised in slight surprise as if wondering how Reggie could think that Franz would make a good date to anyone. Dates usually required conversation.

Reggie took Franz’s typical silence as admission. The thought of Franz and Alanna together pissed him off beyond words, especially remembering the scene of them smiling at each other in the bakery, which only fueled the jealousy inside him. How easily could she move interest from him, the Mayor's son, to Franz? Franz, who no one ever even noticed.

Without warning, he took an angry swing at the blond boy.

Evelyn Jane had come back in the room just in time to see the attempted assault, she cried out in surprise and rushed toward them, “Reggie, what is wrong with you?”

Franz was quick to shoulder the blow, being taller than Reggie. He suddenly looked furious. Scary even. This was the reason they were friends. Reggie was not the most athletic student, and was often picked on when he was a kid. That all stopped when Franz came around. Franz Schoulsburg was a very intimidating, silent individual and sent the bullies running. One time in the third grade, a particularly nasty kid made the mistake of bullying Reggie when Franz was having a really bad day and ended up with a concussion. It had cost Franz so much suspension that he failed a grade and was held back a year. Franz had protected the Mayor’s son and risked his education all in the understanding of friendship and now that Reggie had openly attacked him, it couldn’t end well.

“No!” Evelyn Jane gasped in shock as Franz’s fist popped Reggie in the nose, sending him staggering backward with a wash of blood across his face.

Reggie held his nose in disbelief and Franz backed away without a word, then turned and left them.

“Franz! Franz wait!” Evelyn Jane ran after him, following him out the front door. She nearly sprinted in her heels to catch up to him and close the gap he had made by taking his naturally long strides. He didn’t stop so she reached out and grabbed his shoulder. He quickly flipped around and grabbed her opposite wrist covered in bangle bracelets.

“You can find another bass player. I only was doing this as a favor to him,” he growled in low, dangerous tone.

Evelyn Jane winced at his hold, and her next words came out in a whimper, “Don’t quit. I can make him apologize.”

He eased his grip, shifting her bangles apart and found a very dark bruise on the underside of her wrist. His frown was fixed on it for a few seconds, seeming to wonder how she managed it. Now knowing the real reason as to why she wasn't practicing. He looked to her reaction but she only took her hand back and held her shoulder, not meeting his eyes.

She bit her lip, “Please reconsider?”

She looked like she was about to fall apart, and for some reason pity struck him. He knew she wasn't the kind of girl that deserved it but she was practically begging, and that was not something Evelyn Jane Orbinson did lightly. He should have just walked away.

“Tell me why he’s suddenly obsessed with Alanna Thackery and I’ll reconsider.”

Her green eyes narrowed, seeming to work out the events that had transpired when she was out of the room and her lips became very thin.

“All I know is that Reggie doesn’t take rejection well.”

Franz thought about her cryptic answer for a moment and then nodded in understanding, brushing past her and going back into the house. Reggie looked up from where he sat with some tissue trying to dab blood away. He tensed, seeming a bit afraid that Franz would punch him again and stood, moving at least three feet from the tall boy.

“Look, Alanna and I are just casual acquaintances. You want to know what we were talking about? Books. That’s all we’ve ever talked about. So you can take your stupid idea that we’re involved or that she likes me or whatever is causing you to act like a prick and get over it.”

It was a rare thing indeed to witness Franz speak so many sentences at once. Especially with that much emotion. So it must have been important for him to get it out.

Reggie considered the words as rationality came back to him. He crumpled up his tissue and sighed while closing his eyes, “I apologize. What I did was uncalled for.”

Franz gave a solemn nod, and gestured toward Reggie’s nose, “It’s not broken is it?”

Reggie gingerly felt the bridge of his nose, “I don’t think so. It hurts but the bleeding stopped. I think you just ruptured some blood vessels.”

“Good,” Franz said and turned toward Evelyn Jane, “Have him cleaned up, and I will see you at the Battle of The Bands on Saturday.”

Evelyn Jane wordlessly mouthed ‘Thank you’ and then turned to tend to her brother.

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