Picking the Wallflower

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Chapter 14

MJ raised an eyebrow. “How much do you remember?”

The floor became interesting again. “I remember a lot. I remember nearly everything from when I was ten or eleven months old.”

MJ stared. He didn’t blink. Not once. It was over a minute later when he moved again. “That’s impossible.” His expression was one of incredulity. “You should be a genius level IQ.”

The shrug lifted my shoulders without me even thinking about it. “My parents, while brilliant lawyers, were less than attentive caregivers. I’ve never been tested.”

Had somebody approached me six months previously, telling me I would be discussing IQ with a football quarterback, I would have dismissed the person as certifiable. And yet, here I was, with a person whose indifference I had written off as stupidity. Shame washed through me. “I’m sorry.” The words were blurted out before I could stop myself. Both of my hands slapped over my mouth.

MJ fixed his eyes onto my face, taking in my blush. “What are you sorry for, Cassandra?”

My hands dropped, my face hot as I returned the unsettling gaze. “I’m sorry for judging you. I took your disinterest in academics to mean you were dumb.”

MJ’s smile was blinding. “That explains your comment about bread mold.”

My blush deepened. I must look like a tomato by now. MJ kept looking at me, and my discomfort grew. The pressure became too much, and I stumbled to my feet. My vision began to blur, and a faint gasping sound filled my ears. The additional horror washed through me when I realised the gasping was me, trying to breathe.

Hands grasped my upper arms, and I crumpled. NO! The thought tore through me; I was done with this. Air entered my lungs. And the dark receded from my vision. There was a face probably a foot from mine, a concerned face. It had been a long time since somebody had been with me when I fought an anxiety attack.

After a few more deep breaths, I felt my body relax. My head hit the edge of the sofa, but not hard. That was when I became aware of those hands, still holding me upright.

“Cassandra? Cassandra, can you hear me?”

Making sure I was still breathing, I nodded. “I will be okay.”

The ground vanished from under my legs, and I found myself pressed up against a wide, warm chest. “Please put me down.”

Somewhere above me, a negative response followed. “No, not until I know you’re okay.”

Struggling did little, not against somebody fourteen inches taller, and sixty pounds heavier. “Stop struggling. I might drop you if you don’t stay still.”

That just made me struggle harder, and I successfully managed to jerk free. Once on my feet, I staggered back. “Please.”

MJ watched me watch him. “How often does that happen?”

“At least once a week. Compounded by exterior factors like school or social requirements.”

“You’ve had at least two in the last week alone. Surely this isn’t healthy.”

“Again, it’s not like I’m surrounded by the most caring individuals, MJ. I’ve had to kind of make do with what’s available.” Frustration burned through me.

MJ rubbed his face as we glared at each other in the hallway. “You need fresh air. What the hell have you been doing all week?”

“School work. I got bored, and so I finished the syllabus.”

“The whole syllabus?”

The feeling inside me was less one of frustration, and more of pride. “Yeah. I’m pretty much finished with every subject.”

MJ just shook his head. “Go get dressed. You need a walk.”

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