“You did a good thing, Lucas.” Matthew Friar turned away slightly to hide a sympathetic smile as Lucas groaned, dropping his head back to hit the couch with a muffled thump, which he knew his younger sibling would take as condescending.
It was nearing on three o’clock in the morning, and Lucas had just finished catching his older brother up on the whole messy situation via Skype. Being in a different time zone meant that the brothers tried to contact each other whenever possible, and if they weren’t available then at least they would get the notification that the other person had tried, and would call or text back.
“I’m serious.” He continued, waiting for the teen to raise his head back up and look at the web cam. “You’ve told me so much about Riley and Maya that I feel like I know them too. And the one thing that you’ve always emphasized is how much you admire their close friendship. That’s a rare thing, to have someone that you know will have your back no matter what. So although I know how incredibly hard it was to not react how you really wanted to, you should be proud that you were mature enough to do the right thing and protect the girls and their friendship. I’m proud of you, kiddo.”
That got Lucas’ attention enough to sit up and stare at the screen. “Seriously?”
“Seriously.” Matt confirmed. “Luke, think about how far you’ve come these past few years. You went from this little punk ass kid who was mad at the world to lettering in baseball and basketball for JV and Varsity, plus winning the Scholar Athlete Award and being voted class President your first year in New York. Mom can’t stop gushing about you every time I talk to her. You’re making the rest of us look bad, Small Fry.”
Lucas scowled. “First of all, I’m taller than you by an inch. Enough with the stupid nickname.”
Matt grinned at the familiar retort. “Hey, you’re the youngest of three boys. Deal with it.”
His brother rolled his eyes, but had too many other things on his mind to continue the old argument. “Matt, what do I do?”
“Let me recap. You and Riley had an official/unofficial thing since pretty much the first day you met, right? Even though Maya was there the whole time, she was the one pushing you two together.”
“All through seventh grade.” Lucas smiled slightly despite himself, remembering. “And all summer, and through the beginning of this year.”
“Fast forward a while, to the girls being naïve city twits – sorry kid, but it’s true – and you all returning back home for the rodeo. Which by the way, what the hell were you thinking, getting on Tombstone? You’re fifteen, Lucas! There’s an age and weight limit for bull riding too, although everyone seems to have forgotten that part!”
“Pappy Joe signed the consent form, and I have insurance.” Lucas mumbled meekly.
Matt glared at the screen, but didn’t retort. He knew as well as his brother that although their father was a strong man in a lot of ways, it was really their grandfather who rode herd on the entire family. And there was no way Pappy Joe would let even a superficial smear on their family honor go when there was a chance to rectify it –even a decade later.