The next morning Ashton found Brock packing his suitcase. “What are you doing, buddy?”
“Going home,” Brock said. He folded another shirt and tucked it in with the others. “Isn’t it obvious?” Brock raised his eyebrows.
“But… I thought we weren’t getting love letters until later today.”
“I’m leaving on my own.” Brock’s statement had an implied ‘duh’ hanging off the end.
Brock stopped folding and turned to give Ashton his full attention. “Between you making out with Michelle, Victor sleeping with her, and Casey living practically next door back home, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.”
“Wait? What did you say? Victor… sleeping with Michelle?”
“Yeah, he walked the half mile down the hill to her place last night and never came back.” Brock resumed packing.
Ashton couldn’t speak. He balled his hands into fists. That jerk. He ignored his friend’s calm packing and stomped down the stairs and out the front door. Kimball called after him, inquiring where he was going in such a hurry.
It didn’t take Ashton more than a few seconds to break into a run and he made it the half mile in a little more than two minutes. He pounded on Michelle’s door and leaned against the frame, out of breath.
She came to the door in a cute night shirt and matching shorts. The confusion in Michelle’s eyes was intermixed with apprehension. “Ashton? What are you doing here?”
“Is it true?” Ashton asked, still breathing heavy. “Did Victor sleep here last night?”
“No, we were just talking.”
“Sweetheart, who’s at the door?” Victor strode confidently up behind Michelle and wrapped his arm around her waist.
“You bastard!” Ashton lunged for Victor, ready to tackle him, but Michelle stepped in between them.
Ashton's attack became a mingling of arms and tripping, and before he knew what was happening, a cameraman had him by one shoulder and Brock held his other. Kimball and Casey and several other guys were back there, too but all Ashton could see was Victor’s laughing eyes.
“You stay away from her, you hear me?”
Victor just chuckled and shook his head. “Not a chance, surfer-boy.”
“Ashton, look at me.” Brock’s soothing words pulled Ashton’s head around. “You have to calm down.”
Ashton shook off their restraints but maintained his offensive stance, glaring daggers across the driveway, surprised at how far away the guys had managed to drag him.
Victor leaned against the door frame with a smirk, but Michelle was now a few feet away from him, arms crossed and vitriol in her eyes. Ashton couldn’t decide if she was angry, hurt, embarrassed, or maybe a combination.
“Forget him,” Brock said. “He’s a jerk, okay? He’s not worth it.”
“But she is,” Ashton mumbled, shaking his head. He flexed and unflexed his fists, wishing he could let loose his anger and punch Victor in the nose. Instead, he turned on his heel and trudged back up the hill.