She reaches up to the halter tie around her neck, and with one flick, her silky dress falls off her body and to the floor. She’s standing completely naked in front of me, and I back up so fast I hit the wall behind me and knock a picture off of it. The crash is loud, but it does nothing to stop her coming at me.
She takes another step and stumbles over her own feet in her drunken state, and I have to hold my hands out to keep her from landing on me.
It all happens so fast I’m not sure what order it happens in, but one second I’m clutching my pants and the next, Cassie is on the floor in front of me, and my pants are at my feet because I had to let them go. At that exact moment, the door flies open and Kory is standing there staring at me with the group of guys from the porch behind her laughing their asses off.
“Kory!” I shout, but it’s too late. She’s running and I can’t untangle myself from Cassie and my pants around my feet.
The guys come into the bathroom and all stare down at Cassie, who’s fully naked. I see a short dark-haired girl pushing her way through and feel relief. “Julie, get over here.”
Cassie’s friend Julie is thankfully sober enough to know this situation is bad and helps me get her covered up.
I pull up my pants and get them buckled and help carry Cassie out to the bed. I want to get to Kory, but I can’t leave a girl passed out drunk with these guys just standing around watching.
“I’m going to call her parents,” Julie says, pulling out her phone. “She’s going to be so pissed at me, but I don’t know what else to do.”
I nod and look around the room until I spot Marcus.
“You!” I bellow. I lunge at him and tackle him to the ground. We wrestle for a few moments before I punch him and he passes out. Anger has flooded my veins and I don’t have time to deal with this shit. I look around the room to see everyone has cleared out.
I look back and see Julie is talking on the phone. She’s got this under control. I don’t see anyone else in the house as I run through, shouting Kory’s name. When I get back to the porch, her shoes are still in the same spot, so she couldn’t have gone far.
I spend the entire night searching for her in the surrounding woods before calling the cops and reporting her missing. But it turned out she walked home, or hitched a ride, because all the cops would tell me was that she was home safe.
I spend hours and hours trying to get her to talk to me, to hear me out. She won’t even speak to me. I went to her house and banged on her door until her mom called security and I was banned from the building.
It was all a stupid misunderstanding and I’m broken in two because she won’t just hear me out. One conversation and this would all be cleared up, but then there had to be something more. If only I can get her to hear me out, then maybe I can get to the bottom of why she ran.
“Do you really think I’d do that to you?” I ask, seeing the raw hurt in her eyes.
“I know what I saw,” she answers stubbornly.
I search her face, and though she’s angry, there is something else there. It’s the same look in her eyes I saw that first time in the library. It’s fear.
“You’re afraid,” I say, still unmoving.
“I am not.” Her tone is defensive.
“That’s what made it so easy for you to believe I’d do something so horrible to you.” The truth being brought to light is a powerful thing, and I watch as she begins to realize her own lie. “Look in your heart, Kory. Look at me now. I’ve made some mistakes in my life and I did some dumb shit as a kid. But when it came to you, I would’ve ripped out my heart before I’d harm yours.”
I reach out and take her hands in mine, and she lets me. Tears build in her eyes and she looks away. She follows the light on the water, and it’s a few moments before she speaks.
“I’ve spent so long hating you, but now I don’t know what to believe.” She releases a breath and then looks down at our joined hands. “We were young, but you were bigger than life. You had all this money and power, and girls were just waiting to get in line around you. I kept asking myself the whole time I was with you, why me? So when I saw you in the bathroom it was like all my doubts were confirmed.”