Home > Tie Me Down (Bellamy Creek #4)

Tie Me Down (Bellamy Creek #4)
Author: Melanie Harlow

 


Fifteen Years Ago

 

 

BECKETT

 

 

“Who wants to go first?” Cole asked.

All of us stared at the empty tackle box on my family’s kitchen table. Griffin had brought it over, and I’d taken out all the trays so it could serve a different function.

Time capsule.

Since we were kids, my three best friends—Cole Mitchell, Griffin Dempsey, and Enzo Moretti—and I had planned on burying a time capsule the summer after we graduated from high school. We’d heard about time capsules years ago, in fifth grade social studies class, and all four of us agreed then and there that we were going to do it.

After some discussion, we’d agreed that it made the most sense to bury it somewhere on my family’s farm. We figured anyone else’s family might move someday, but Weaver Ranch had been in my family for over a hundred years and it would be in my family for generations to come.

I was going to make sure of it.

My plan was to major in finance, get an MBA, and secure one of those Wall Street jobs where you could make millions if you had the brains, the guts, and the work ethic.

I had all three, and I’d use them to help my family.

“I’ll go,” said Griffin, placing his beat-up backpack on the table and reaching inside it. He pulled out his graduation tassels, a photograph of him standing between his dad and grandfather in front of the open hood of an old truck they were restoring, and a folded sheet of paper.

“What’s that?” Moretti asked, pointing at the paper.

“It’s a copy of the letter from the Marine Corps telling me when and where to report to boot camp.”

We nodded and watched Griffin put those three items in the box. He was heading out in three weeks for Parris Island, the first of us to leave Bellamy Creek and our tight foursome. In August I was leaving for Harvard, where I had a full academic scholarship, and Cole was headed to a local college, where he planned to study law enforcement. Moretti was already working full-time for his family’s construction business, as he had since he was fourteen.

The last thing Griffin pulled from the backpack was a dirty, scuffed-up baseball. “From the day I hit the game-winning home run against Mason City High to clinch the title,” he said reverently. “I signed it, in case you guys put a baseball in too. That way we’ll know whose is whose.”

We all nodded. Baseball was sacred to us—the only thing more sacred was our friendship.

Griffin placed the ball in the box as if it were made of glass.

“Okay, who’s next?” I asked.

“I’ll go.” Moretti placed a brown paper bag on the table. From it, he pulled out a newspaper clipping from the Bellamy Creek Gazette about his record streak of stolen bases and a takeout menu from DiFiore’s, his favorite restaurant, which was owned by his cousins. Then he took out one of his senior portraits and added it to the box. Not a small one, either—a five-by-seven.

“Really, Moretti?” Griffin gestured to the photo. “A big picture of yourself?”

“Hey, I happen to think I look good in this shot. What if I go bald or something? I’ll want to look back and remember when I had amazing hair. And cheekbones.” He placed the picture in the box.

Laughing, I shook my head. It was typical Moretti. He was vain and egotistical, but you couldn’t ask for a more loyal friend. I’d miss him. I’d miss them all.

“And I also have a picture of us, so piss off.” He took out a snapshot of the four of us after one of our last games, four cocky eighteen-year-olds in ball caps and dirty uniforms, grinning at the camera. He added it to the box and looked across the table. “Cole? Want to go next?”

“Okay.” Cole opened up a large Ziplock bag and took out a folded sheet of paper. “Our baseball team roster and season record,” he said, placing it in the box. “And I have the ball from the no-hitter I pitched this year. I signed and dated it.”

“Such a good fucking game,” Griffin said, clapping Cole’s back. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen you pitch. Man, I’m gonna miss those games.”

“Me too,” I said, hating the hollowed-out feeling in my gut. “Think we’ll ever play together again?”

“Hell yes.” Moretti guffawed. “We’ll be like those old dudes who come out on Thursday nights every summer with their beer bellies and rickety old knees.”

We all laughed too, unable to imagine ourselves with paunchy guts and stiff joints.

The last thing Cole placed in the box was a photo of all of us with our dates the night of our senior prom. Cole had taken his girlfriend, Trisha; Griffin had taken a girl he’d been dating on and off since Christmas; Moretti had taken his flavor of the month; and I’d taken a friend, since the girl I wish I could have asked—Maddie Blake—was off limits.

“Your turn, Weaver.” Cole looked at me. “Let’s see what you got.”

From a plastic grocery sack, I pulled out a copy of my acceptance letter from Harvard, my treasured Mickey Cochrane baseball card, and two photographs. The first was of the four of us taken in our caps and gowns right after the graduation ceremony, and the second was a shot of Maddie and me taken a minute later. I had an arm around her shoulders, and she had an arm around my waist, her cheek nearly resting on my chest.

I’d hardly been able to breathe.

“What’s that second picture?” Cole asked, because I’d tried to hide the photo of Maddie and me behind the first one.

“It’s nothing.” I picked up the box top and tried to put it on, but Moretti—whose reflexes were quick—reached into the box and grabbed the photos, shuffling them so the pic of Maddie and me was on top.

He grinned. “Aha. Now I get it.”

“Fuck off.” I grabbed the pictures from his hands and put them face down in the box.

“Whose picture was it?” Cole asked.

“The girl of his dreams,” Moretti said. “But Weaver, you do realize that actually telling her you like her would be a better idea than putting her picture in a tackle box you’re going to bury in the dirt?”

My jaw clenched. “I can’t do that, okay?”

“You could,” he insisted. “You just won’t.”

It was easy for Moretti to say. He was never tongue-tied around girls and could charm anyone he met. Even teachers and moms adored him. They liked me too, for different reasons—I was polite, quiet, and responsible. But I had to think before I spoke to a girl, and sometimes I thought so long, I missed the chance to say what I wanted to.

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