From Opposite Sides

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Chapter 26

Rory has been distant ever since our bedroom DISASTER. I am tempted to message him and clear the air, pin my behaviour on raging hormones. But my stubbornness is getting in the way.

Wait a minute. Why am I wasting my time thinking about Rory anyway? He doesn’t deserve my attention. He hasn’t contacted me since I practically forced myself on him and it has only thrown me into a whirlwind of insecurities.

I’ve never felt so humiliated in my life. He could’ve at least reassured me that everything is okay between us.

Sheryl is waiting for me when I sit down at the dinner table and seems to pick up on my lousy mood. “What’s going on with you?”

“Don’t ask,” I mumble back, letting my head fall to the table.

“Does it happen to have anything to do with Rory Keaton?”

The mere mention of his name brings all the insecurity back. “One hundred percent.”

“What happened? I thought you guys were getting along.”

“We were, but then I ruined it.”

“How?”

“I made a move on him and he rejected me.”

Sheryl’s face is a picture. “Are you joking?”

“I wish I was.”

“Why did you make a move on him? Do you like him?”

I shake my head. The thing is, I don’t know how I feel about Rory. He walked into my life years ago and I couldn’t stand the guy. Then, he decides he wants to become more involved and suggests becoming friends. And then, I end up single handedly destroying the only friendship I’ve got.

Maybe I have grown too attached to him over recent weeks, without realising it. And now I’m freaking out because I haven’t heard from him at all. The silence has been eating away at me for days and I hate not knowing what’s going on inside his own head.

“I don’t know how I feel,” I admit to her, lowering my voice. “We only started properly hanging out a couple of weeks ago. I liked our friendship and now I’ve messed everything up.”

“Skye, you haven’t ruined anything. Just talk to him.”

“I can’t do that.”

Call me stubborn, but I am not being the first to text him. He should be the one to end my misery, since I was the one that got humiliated.

I clutch my head and groan into the table. “Ugh! I just want to pretend it never happened!”

“Maybe Rory just got scared.”

I glance up at her like she’s lost her mind. “We’re talking about Rory Keaton. He isn’t afraid of anything.”

“Everybody’s afraid of something.”

I know she’s right, I just don’t want to admit it. “I need a distraction.”

Sheryl’s eyes light up. “I can help you with that. Josie’s throwing a Halloween party on Saturday. A couple of us are going. You should come.”

Any opportunity to get out of the house sounds like the perfect antidote right now. “I’ll be there.”

|||

I arrive at the party quite late on Saturday. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I chose to wear a cat costume. It was the only costume I had, since I couldn’t exactly afford to buy a new one.

It looks as if most people are wasted already and the house is hot and sticky with loud rave music.

It’s lucky Josie doesn’t have any neighbours. People are dancing, drinking and making out in the dark. This party has already gotten out of hand and there are people here I’ve never even seen before.

I’m wearing (possibly) the tallest pair of black heels you can imagine and a sleek black dress. It’s not short enough to be classed as tarty, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself in the looks department.

My cat ears keep falling down my face and I have to keep repositioning them on top of my head.

I scan the room for Sheryl and search above the dancing heads. I find her sprawled on the sofa with two boys. One has an arm draped around her and the other is a bit too close for comfort.

She comes rushing towards me with arms wide open. Her vampire fangs are making it difficult for me to fully understand her.

“Skye! I’m so glad you made it!”

I hug her back, trying to act more positive than I actually feel. I can’t believe how drunk Sheryl is already. She’s stumbling over her own feet and can barely stand upright.

“I don’t know if I’ll be staying long,” I tell her, already feeling out of place. I’m having Rory withdrawal symptoms. I haven’t received a single message from him and I guess that means our friendship really is over.

“Don’t be such a party pooper!” she yells into my ear, handing me a shot. “Have this, it’ll get you in the spirit.”

I down it quickly, the burning sensation travelling down my throat. “What’s it like working with Grayson Swain then? Are you guys finally getting along?” She starts making gagging faces to emphasize her point.

“Let’s just say, it’s an experience for the books.”

“Well, we’ve only got a few weeks left! I’m sure you can put up with him until then.”

“Doubtful.”

“Anyway, I’m gonna go back now, but come say hi soon, okay?” She launches herself into the crowd of dancers and I’ve lost her again.

I walk into the kitchen, away from the hustle and bustle and lean over the sink. What am I even doing here?

I never enjoy these kinds of events. It’s all for show.

So why did I come?

To get away from what waits for you back home and to forget reality.

Yes, that’s the answer to my question.

I make my way back into the chaos of the party and pour myself a vodka and coke. I tilt my head back and drink it within seconds. I am only doing what everybody else here is doing - getting wasted.

My eyes wander to the door, where a group of boys have just entered. My jaw turns slack when I notice Grayson Swain standing amongst them. He’s dressed as… himself.

How boring.

His smile fades when he spots me. I fix him with a glare, which he happily returns.

After downing my fifth vodka and coke, I can feel the alcohol begin to work its magic. I find a chair I can sit down on. Sheryl is kissing one of the boys she was with earlier and Josie is dancing on the coffee table.

This has attracted a group of onlookers, who are chanting her on and filming at the same time. That video is going to end up on social media I suspect.

This is a disaster.

Movement on the other side of the room captures my attention. It takes me a second to realize Rory is here. He’s standing amid the sea of dancers, wearing (I kid you not) a Batman costume. His mask is off and I’m slightly annoyed that he’s chosen to reveal his identity in such a public place. The number one rule in any Batman movie, is to always keep Bruce Wain’s true identity a secret. Hasn’t he done his research? You can’t dress up as Batman without knowing the facts.

Rory hasn’t noticed me yet, or maybe he has noticed and is choosing to ignore my existence.

My eyes keep getting dragged back against my will. He seems happy. He probably hasn’t given me a second thought. It’s not like he has any reason to come out of his way to say hello.

A girl bounces over to him, and whispers something into his ear. There’s a pang in my stomach. I watch the two of them flirt right in front of me. I’m shocked that I’m so disappointed.

I need another drink.

“Hey, is it alright if I sit here?”

A boy has joined me on the sofa.

“Sure,” I say, keeping my eyes to the floor.

“You’re Skye Clemons, right?” This makes me look up. “Don’t worry, I’m not a crazy stalker if that’s what you’re thinking. I’ve just heard about you,” he says, drinking some more of his beer.

“I’m Aden by the way.” He’s cute. But I can already tell what type of boy he is. Good looking, with bad intentions. That’s why he’s over here talking to me.

Aden leans in and I get a whiff of his aftershave. “Why are you all alone tonight Skye? Shouldn’t you have a hot date?”

I place both hands on my knees. “Couldn’t find one in time I’m afraid.”

“Well, I guess it’s my lucky day then. I’m here and you’re here... neither of us have dates. Maybe we should pair up.” Wow, this guy is smooth.

“And what would happen if we did?” I ask him, lowering my voice to a drawl. Aden is a few inches away from my face now.

His eyes are practically undressing me and I’m feeling all sorts of urges. He traces a finger along my collar bone and touches my bare leg.

His lips touch my earlobe as he whispers, “I’m sure we could figure something out.”

The temptation is rising, but this boy is only paying me attention because he’s heard about me and wants to get laid. If I go back to my old ways, I’m not going to be happy. I’ll keep repeating history.

I don’t want to be that girl anymore. And I can’t stop thinking about the boy on the other side of the room, who already has my attention.

“Sorry Aden, but I’m not feeling well,” I announce, faking a cough.

He places a hand on the small of my back. “Oh, what’s wrong?”

“I must’ve had something bad to eat. I’ve been paying more visits to the toilet than you can imagine.”

Aden pulls a face of disgust. “Uh... you know what, I think my friend is probably looking for me. I’d better go and find him.”

“You’d better do that.” Aden squares his shoulders and leaves.

As some of the crowd parts, Rory’s eyes capture mine, and my cue to get out of here has arrived.

I untangle myself from the sofa and move towards the door. I’m yanked backwards before I can make it outside and it takes me a moment to register who is holding my arm.

It’s Nick Walters - one of Rory’s friends from the skatepark. His eyes are dark and his grip on me is starting to hurt.

He loosens his hold and cackles. “Aw, what’s the matter Skye? Can’t handle a bit of pain?”

I stare back at him evenly. I want to prove that I can stand my ground and that I’m not afraid of him.

“What do you want Nick?”

“I just thought that we could touch base.” His fingers graze against my arm and I shudder. “Maybe we could find a free room upstairs and get to know each other better. That is what you’re good for, isn’t it? How much do you charge?”

It takes me a moment to find my voice again. “Get stuffed!”

I go to leave, but he reaches for me again and I’m spun back around. His breath reeks of beer and I turn my head away, repulsed.

“I like the feisty one’s best. No wonder Rory is so smitten with you. I wouldn’t mind getting a taste for myself - see what all the fuss is about.”

“I’d never let you near me! You’re disgusting!”

“Ha! I find it funny how you’ll allow Rory to have his way with you, of all people. He’s just using you to get what he wants. Do you really think that you’ve tamed him? You wouldn’t believe how many girls he brings to the skate park. I couldn’t count them on my fingers.”

His words cut deep. I don’t know if I should believe anything that Nick says. But it still hurts.

“Why are you telling me this?” My voice is shaky.

“Because I’m trying to save you from making a big mistake. Rory pretends to be this kind-hearted guy, but he’s got a dark past. It would be best to stay away from him.”

“You don’t care about me Nick, you’re only saying this for your own gain.”

As soon as Nick’s lips come into contact with my earlobe, there’s a loud yell from across the room and a fist comes flying towards Nick’s face.

Rory repeatedly slams his fist into Nick’s nose. The music dies down and a crowd gathers, chanting ‘fight, fight, fight!’

Rory is dominating at first, but then Nick regains control and flips him over, so now he’s got the upper hand. I flinch every time his knuckles graze Rory’s head.

“Stop! Stop it!” I screech, trying to pull Nick off him. He doesn’t budge. “Somebody do something!”

Nobody is listening to me and nobody attempts to break the fight up. That’s the problem with parties, people expect fights to happen and it’s considered normal behaviour. But they’re just going to end up killing one another if this continues and I’m the only person that cares.

I run into the kitchen and fill a jug up with freezing cold water. Then I rush back into the room and pour it over Nick’s head. He loses focus and it gives Rory the chance to take advantage. He pounds Nick in the stomach and he keels over.

Rory stands over him and goes to swing again, but Nick holds up a hand in defeat. “Alright! Truce! Truce!”

He’s got a few cuts and bruises, but it’s nothing majorly alarming. Rory puts his fists down and Nick rises to his feet, both of them breathing heavily.

Rory’s gaze lands on me and I turn to him with watery eyes. I struggle to put one foot in front of the other as I storm out of there.

I can hear him rushing after me. “Skye! Skye wait!”

I react quickly. “What the heck was that all about?” I yell, emotionally charged from what just happened.

“What did Nick say to you?” he demands, fearfully.

“Who cares what Nick said! You were out of order back there!”

Rory bites his lip. “I’m sorry for causing a scene. But I saw him grab you and I didn’t like it.”

“That doesn’t grant you permission to start swinging your fists around at anyone who talks to me!”

“But this isn’t just anyone Skye. This is Nick. I’ve told you that he’s trouble.”

“I honestly don’t care anymore,” I tell him, marching in the opposite direction.

Rory grabs my hand and I’m pulled back. “Skye, please listen to me.”

“Why? Why should I listen to you? Why did you even follow me out here?”

“Because I was worried about you.”

This is enough to make me laugh. “Whatever. I don’t want to hear anything you have to say.”

“Skye—”

“Please go back inside Rory. I need to be on my own.”

I wait a few seconds, until I hear Rory’s footsteps retreat into the building. I’m about to call for a taxi, when I hear someone yelling from further down in the garden.

This person has his back turned, but the voice belongs to Grayson, undoubtedly. He’s speaking on the phone, taking large strides across the grass.

“I don’t see why you’re so pissed at me Soph!” Ooh, a lover’s quarrel. I’m sticking around for this. “You go out all the time, so I don’t get why you’re giving me so much grief about it!” he pauses for a second. “No, you obviously don’t trust me enough. If you can’t trust me then what are we even doing?”

I should be giving him some privacy, but my legs won’t move. “You can’t – that’s not fair! I always let you go wherever you want.” When I glance at him, I can see his growing exasperation as he racks his brain for something to say.

“I can’t even talk to you when you’re being like this. I’ll call you in the morning,” he mutters, placing his phone into the back pocket of his jeans, huffing.

He stands there for a moment longer, seemingly conflicted with himself and Sophie. Either way, he’s just as miserable as I am.

When Grayson turns, his eyes go a little wide at my sudden appearance. “What are you doing out here?” he asks, glancing at me. “The party is inside,” he says, as if I don’t already know that.

The wind licks my skin, making me shiver. “I’m all partied out. I’m going home,” I tell him.

He furrows his brows, marching straight past me. “That makes two of us. I don’t know why I even bothered coming.”

Grayson grabs his car keys and unlocks the doors. I watch him get into the driver’s seat, about to speed away.

He looks down at me as I appear by the window. “Do you want to get run over?” he snaps, gripping the wheel tighter. He’s got a murderous glint in his eye.

“Can I get a ride?” He fixes his eyes on me but makes no attempt to invite me in. “Are you seriously going to let me walk home in these shoes?”

I gesture towards the large pumps I’m wearing. They have started to rub against my heel. I know I should have worn flats.

Grayson sighs under his breath. “Fine. Get in before I change my mind.”

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