So I got ill with a flu and It has been kicking my ass. I am back and will continue to write. As always beta read by Dean7 we appreciate his work making this flow.
Sam sleeping over soon became a regular occurrence. She definitely seemed more comfortable at our house than her own and I loved having her with me. In the time between her birthday and summer vacation being in full swing, we spent nearly every day together.
But as the summer days got longer, I noticed that Sam was not spending as many nights at my house. I didn't let it bother me since I still saw her a lot but when she started missing days at my house too, I couldn't help but feel sad and miss my best friend. I had no idea why she was showing up less and less.
My mom was driving me crazy one night as the summer was starting. She had one of her latest boyfriends in the house and he kept looking at me with a creepy smile on his face. Deciding I'd had enough I headed out.
I went to the local skatepark, stealing a kid's board as I passed him. He cried out at me to give his board back but I used it to get to the skatepark faster and rode the pipes a little. As I skated around, I noticed some of the other kids there looking at me surprised that I knew how to skate so well.
I showed off a little more and then introduced myself. They were older than me, maybe 13 or 14 but they talked to me and offered me a cigarette which I refused, not liking how they smelled.
They laughed at me but didn't push me into changing my mind. The next few nights I didn't head over to Carly's, but instead went to the park and hung out with the older kids. They seemed to like that I wasn't like other girls and they let me hang out with them, showing me tricks and teaching me how to do some more shady things too.
As I started to befriend them more, they began questioning where I went during the day. Now, I'm not ashamed of Carly. She's my best friend, but I didn't think she would fit in with this crowd. They started asking me to hang out with them more and I did because I wanted to seem cool and tough.
As we hung out during the days, I started to realize that I should probably separate myself from this crowd. They had me stealing and beating people up for reasons they never made me aware of. But at the same time, we were friends and I kind of enjoyed it even if I knew it was wrong and that I hadn't really seen Carly in the past week.
As the days passed, I became more confident in what I was doing. I started to bully other kids just because I could and because when I did, my friends seemed to like me more. I thought because I was a kid, I could get away with this behavior with just a slap on the wrist and the few times I had been caught this was true. The cops would take me home complaining to my mom who didn't give two shits, it seemed.
It had been about two weeks since I last saw Carly and I missed her a lot but I could never seem to get away from my new group. They constantly wanted me around and I didn't want to say no to them and lose my cool status.
We were hanging out in an abandoned parking lot one day when one of my new friends pulled out a gun to show off. I freaked out. I was okay with minor crimes but this was too much and I started running away from them. I could hear them laughing at me but I knew I didn't want to be involved in this, whatever they had planned.
Before I had made it out of the parking lot however, they caught up with me and grabbed my arm, pulling me back.
"Don't wimp out on us now, Puckett. Not afraid of a little gun, right?" one of them asked as he held me and pulled me back. I was feeling a little freaked out. I knew that this was far worse than anything I'd done before, but I could see they had no intention of letting me go.
"Hey, Sam ain't afraid of nothing," I said trying to feign confidence and regain some of the respect I'd lost by running.
The one with the gun laughed at me and shoved the gun into my hands.
"Prove it, Puckett! Shoot out that car's window."
I was shocked but didn't know how to get out of the situation I was in. I raised the gun and shot it and the kickback nearly broke my arms, causing me to drop the gun. This caused my 'friends' to laugh at me.
Before I could think much of it, I heard sirens and saw a cop car pulling into the lot. My so-called friends took off running, leaving the gun on the ground next to me. I realized how this looked and quickly raised my hands. The two officers swooped down on me and before I could say a word, I was in handcuffs and they picked up the discarded gun and put it in a bag.
With my record of bullying and stealing, my mom and I were dragged before a judge. The proceeding took a long time and I found myself lucky enough that the gun hadn't been used in any actual crimes.
In the end, I was sentenced to serve time in a juvenile detention center to put me on the right path before I committed any real crimes. That was how the judge had put it, anyway. All I could think about was, now I wouldn't be able to see Carly at all this summer. I felt terrible that my choices had led me here.
Three weeks had gone by and I had only heard from Sam once. She sounded okay but I was really concerned now. I was feeling annoyed at myself for never asking where she lived. She never wanted to talk about her homelife and I guess I was scared to ask.
Spencer had been doing his best to calm and distract me but it was no real use. It was some time into the fourth week when I answered our home phone, Spencer not letting me have a cell phone yet. When I answered, I nearly dropped the phone. I could hear Sam asking if I was okay and I started crying.
"Sam, where the heck have you been?" I said, my voice shaking, trying to control my tears. I started to feel more annoyed than sad as I got my crying under control.
"Carly, I messed up," Sam said quietly and she instantly had my attention.
"Sam?" I asked with concern and I could hear her voice shake as she started to reply but she quickly shut it down.
"I-I'll tell you when I get out. They told me it could be a month," she replied hesitantly, sounding ashamed.
I suddenly felt confused, not understanding anything Sam was telling me. Before I could ask, she said she was sorry and hung up, leaving me crying all over again. I sprinted up to my room and threw myself onto the bed. I just laid there, hoping to understand just what was going on.
Later that night, I was eating with Spencer, when I finally told him about the call. He smiled at me reassuringly and informed me that we could check the phone records and get her number to return the call. I looked at him, my concern must have been evident on my face, and asked him to do it. He ruffled my hair and I scowled at him playfully.
He went to the phone to make the call. After a short while, his expression fell and he shooed me away, telling me he would talk to me in a minute. I didn't want to leave but he looked unusually serious and I walked away to turn on the tv.
I tried to listen to him from the couch but he was talking so quietly and all I could make out was the strange word, "juvie." He hung up and called another number. I looked at him hopefully and he shook his head at me. I sighed and turned back to the tv.
After what felt like forever, he sat down next to me, turned off the tv, and looked at me with a serious expression. He's normally not like this, so I was nervous to hear what he would say.
"Carly…Sam got arrested. It's bad," he said in a quiet tone. I shook my head, refusing to believe it.
"What? No! Sam wouldn't!" I exclaimed, not wanting to believe it. I got up and ran to my room, holding back tears. He followed me and tried to comfort me but it wasn't helping. My mind went back to Josh on the floor and I started shaking and my breath hitched. Spencer had dealt with this before and quickly tried to get me to breathe slower, attempting to comfort me through my panic attack. After some time and many tears later, I ended up falling asleep in his arms, something I hadn't done since I first arrived.
The next month was particularly hard for me being away from my best friend. Sam still wouldn't tell me what happened even though she called every other day. She kept telling me to wait until she got out. I tried to get information out of Melanie but all she told me was that Sam had asked her not to tell.
On the day Sam was to be released, she called me and asked to stay over, saying she didn't want to be around her mom so soon after she got out. Since becoming her friend, Spencer and I had worried about her and so it wasn't hard to convince my brother to allow it.
Sam didn't want us to pick her up, insisting that she would walk. Like we were going to let that happen. So, Spencer found out where the facility was and we drove over at the scheduled time. It was times like these when I was reminded that Spencer wasn't just a big, goofy kid. He could be really dependable when I needed him.
When Sam came out, she looked shocked at seeing us there to take her home. I quickly got out of the car and ran into her arms.
She looked back at the facility and muttered to me, "Carly, you're going to ruin my tough girl image."
I just ignored her comment, hugging her even tighter, refusing to let go. I then dragged her into the car, staying close to her the whole time. She protested a little but I could tell she didn't really want me to let her go.
"I missed you so much," I said to her as Spencer drove us home. Seeing that I was clearly emotional, she let me hug her the entire way home and I didn't let go even after Spencer pulled into our parking spot outside of Bushwell Plaza. As we exited the car, she tried to shrug me off but I just couldn't let her go, my heart fluttering with relief that I had Sam back.
She relented and let me hold her hand as we walked into our apartment. I led her to my bedroom, ignoring Spencer's request to talk to her. As I pushed Sam onto my bed and lay next to her, I waited for her to start talking.
She could see that I was waiting for answers and finally told me what had been going on over the past few months. I found it hard to learn that my friend had been bullying, stealing, and acting like a thug, and I briefly wondered if I made a bad choice for a friend.
I think she saw that I was concerned because she hugged me, making me flinch a little. She looked at me with tears in her eyes making my heart melt at seeing Sam's vulnerable side that she rarely ever showed. In that moment, I knew I wouldn't leave her.
"I need you to promise me that you won't do this again, Sam. I don't want my best friend getting into trouble and hurting people," I said softly to her.
"I knew I had to get out of there when they pulled the gun. I started to leave, Carly. I swear. I was coming to you," she tried to explain. "But they caught up to me and wouldn't let me leave. Then after I shot the gun, they took off because we could hear the police sirens coming. Before I could do anything, they were arresting me."
I saw nothing but sincerity in her eyes and I pulled her closer to me, hugging her tightly. Now that we were alone and, in my room, she let me hug her and she willingly hugged me back. We fell asleep together fully dressed and I felt like I slept better than I had throughout the whole summer.
The next morning, we filled Spencer in on all that had happened and I could see that he was conflicted between being my guardian and being my friend. I could tell he was struggling with what he wanted to say and I was worried he wouldn't let me see Sam anymore. I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him, temporarily distracting him.
"Please, don't make her leave, Spencer! She's my best friend! What she did was bad. We both know it, but she won't do it again. She promised me," I all but pleaded with him.
He looked between me and Sam. I could see that he was still torn and Sam looked really worried that she wouldn't be able to see me again. I let go of Spencer and moved back to Sam, sitting right next to her and taking her hand in mine.
Spencer looked at us and I knew he could see how close we'd become.
"I can't let you bring that kind of behavior around Carly," he began, "Sam, if you want to stay her friend, you have to be better. I really don't want you getting her into trouble."
Sam held back her tears, not wanting Spencer to see them. She looked at him with determination in her eyes and replied, "Spencer, I won't get in trouble like that again. I really want to stay friends with Carly. I won't hang out with those kids again, I promise." Sam looked nervous but added, "Please don't keep me from seeing Carly. She…she's my best friend." She had tears brimming her eyes but she held them back.
Spencer studied Sam closely, trying to detect any trace of deceit before he replied.
"Sam, I mean this in the best way. I can see you're generally a good friend to Carly but she has been frantic these past few weeks, worried about you. If you do this to her again, you won't be allowed to see her, okay? I don't want her to go through that ever again."
She moved past me and hugged Spencer, promising to be a good friend to me. Spencer looked a little uncomfortably at being hugged by Sam since it wasn't a normal occurrence for her. He gently patted her back awkwardly and she quickly let go, sitting back next to me, smiling. I took her hand in mine and stroked my thumb over her knuckles gently.
Spencer then stood up and asked, "Who wants waffles for breakfast?" diffusing the tension in the room. He headed into the kitchen to get started and I just hugged Sam closely, relieved to still have my best friend in my life.