Asher had texted me several times and each time I would read them, I would delete them and never reply. I had absolutely nothing to say to him.
A: i’m sorry
A: i know im an asshole. but please text me back.
A: layla... come on... talk to me.
A: ... seriously?!
A: layla... im coming over!
Obviously, he never came over, and I was extremely thankful for that. But even if he did, I would tell Dillon to tell him I wasn’t here. If they were even able to get words out before one of them threw a punch.
Harper had even tried to text and call a few times and I ignored her too. I just wanted to be left alone. I was too emotional to be around her right now and I didn’t want her getting suspicious, because once she saw how screwed up I was emotionally, she would ask a million questions. I couldn’t tell her that I had fallen for her brother, was sleeping with him, and then he fucked another girl.
She had said her piece at Tommy’s and now I wish I would have listened to her and followed the rule. It was obviously there for a reason. She didn’t say anything that wasn’t true, even if I wanted to disagree with what she had said at the time. I wanted to believe that Asher was different than what he portrayed himself as. I wanted to believe I was going to be different for him. I wanted to believe that he actually did like me.
But none of it was true and I was a giant moron.
I pushed the dark thoughts away as I got ready for school after the long spring break. I wanted to stay in bed but decided I better not.
“Hey, you hungry?” Dillon greeted me in the kitchen when I entered.
“Can I ask you something?” I blurted out.
“Sure...” He shrugged, looking confused.
“If you weren’t actually dating someone but were involved with them and they slept with someone else... Would you be pissed and blow them off?”
He stood there awkwardly for a second. “When you say involved, you mean you two were sleeping together?” I nodded and he continued, “I guess that would have to depend. If we never said we were official and were just messing around, I guess I couldn’t get too upset with the other person for sleeping with someone else. You weren’t together-together, right?”
I shook my head. “No, but it isn’t fucked up at all?”
He laughed with a shrug. “It’s totally messed up, but if you didn’t like the guy like that and you were just having fun, I’d say screw it and keep having fun.”
“But... what if I had feelings for this guy?” I bit my bottom lip, waiting for him to answer.
He laughed again. “Then you’re fucked.”
“Sorry, but it’s true. Once the girl starts having feelings and some bullshit happens like ‘cheating,’” he actually quoted with his fingers, “then it will never be the same between the two of them ever again. Sorry, sis, but you better cut your ties now.”
I sighed. “I was afraid of that. And no I’m not hungry. Just gonna grab some coffee.” I poured myself a to-go cup and left through the side door.
Today was going to be a fucking nightmare. I could just feel it.
I showed up a bit late so I didn’t have to see Harper just yet. I needed to get some bearings before I was bombarded with questions and conversation.
Thankfully she wasn’t in my first-hour class.
I took my seat and couldn’t help but overhear some girls talking behind me.
“You’ll never guess who I hooked up with this weekend...”
Wait. I know that voice!
She whispered, “Asher Creed.”
The other gasped. “No fucking way!”
“Way!!” She giggled. “He was on his way to take me home but I changed his mind if you know what I mean.”
“Oh... I don't know what you mean," she teased, "keep talking, bitch.”
My heart pounded in my chest as my tears began to gather in my eyes.
“He came inside and pulled a condom from his wallet and boom. He spent the night. And we didn’t do much sleeping if you know what I mean!”
That was enough! That was all I could stand to listen to as I shot up out of my seat and headed for the door.
“Ms. Stanford, you don’t have a pass,” the teacher called after me.
But I didn’t care about a fucking pass!
I burst out the door and turned down the hall when I smacked right into someone’s chest. My tears blurred my vision but I knew who it was.
I would never forget this smell.
“Fuck...” I sobbed out, backing away from him.
“Layla...” Asher’s voice was low and raspy. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re what’s wrong, you asshole! I can’t even sit through English without hearing about your fucking sexcapade!” I was angry and still couldn’t look him in the eyes. “Just get the fuck away from me, Asher.”
But he didn’t. Instead, he picked me up over his shoulder and carried me away. I screamed out and started smacking him but he didn’t let me go.
He marched down the hallway and into the guy’s locker room before he set me down.
Then I started smashing his chest with the palms of my hands.
“I hate you!” I repeated over and over, smacking him again and again.
And he let me, but when I stopped, I started sobbing into my hands.
“Layla... I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t... you knew exactly what you were doing.” I finally looked up into his eyes and it hurt more than I thought it would. “Why? Just tell me... Why did you do it?”
“Why?!” I screamed.
“Because you scare the hell out of me!!” He yelled back. “So... I had to hurt you to push you away.”
“Well, you succeeded...” I went to back away from him but he grabbed me and slammed his lips onto mine.
His kisses no longer felt the same, though. They were dirty. They were tainted. I shoved him off and slapped his face again.
“Layla, please... You have to understand.”
“Oh, I understand just fine. You wanted to push me away? Well, you did it. Now stay away from me!”
“I can’t,” he admitted, “and I don’t want to.”
I laughed and shook my head. “So, you’re okay with telling your sister about us? Your parents? What about your buddies and all your groupies? Are you ready to watch your reputation get flushed down the toilet?”
He paused as he stared into my eyes. I could tell that he was scared shitless.
“Don’t worry, Asher... your secret is safe with me.” I turned and left him standing in the locker room. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I went home. I could not be there knowing that probably every girl that I came in contact with had probably done something with Asher.
I knew about his lifestyle and what he did, but after being with him and sharing special moments together, I just couldn’t stomach it right now.
Thank God we’re all graduating in just over a month and then I’ll be off to college and I won’t have to see or be near Asher.
But I was still heartbroken. And now I have to face my best friend... who’s his sister. Who lives under the same roof as him. How am I going to explain to her that I don’t want to spend the night there anymore...or even be there?
And I can’t talk to her about it.
That’s the part that is tearing me up. I tell her everything and we help each other out in situations like this, but I can’t ask for her help. Not unless I tell her the whole story, and by then... would she even want to be my friend anymore?
That thought alone broke whatever was left of my heart. I couldn’t lose her. I would keep my mouth shut and try to ignore my feelings; no matter how hard it will be.
And damn was it hard.
I finally took Harper’s call that night and she asked me on an ice cream date, but we weren’t alone.
No. Tate came along and they were being all cute with each other.
And it was killing me!!
“What’s wrong, babe?” Harper finally asked, breaking her attention from Tate finally.
“Nothing...” I lied.
I froze at the sound of his voice.
What is he doing here?!
Harper gave me a smile. “I hope you don’t mind...but I invited Jake along. Figured you could use the company.”
Jake sat down next to me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
“Hey, babe.” He grinned at me and I only gave him a small smile.
“Hey, Jake...” I replied dryly.
“Wow. Don’t sound too excited,” he joked.
“Sorry... just had a rough week,” I replied, which caused Harper to give me a funny look.
“Well, I know a way you could make things better for her, Jake. I have a guest room that’s calling your names.” Harper was giggling to herself, clearly amused, but I wasn’t.
And my heart jumped up into my throat as I glared at her. I almost forgot that she thought me and Jake had hooked up that night at Asher’s party and she was about to find out the truth. The truth I needed to keep hidden from her.
I reached under the table and gripped Jake’s thigh as I replied, “Maybe another time... right, babe?” I turned my glare at Jake as he studied my face.
“Yeah. Another time...” He gave me a knowing look but didn’t say a single word. I was so thankful that he was playing along.
Harper gave me a pouting face. “Boo! You two are no fun.”
Tate smeared some ice cream on Harper’s face and she squealed and giggled as she turned her attention to him. I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding until now. That was really close. Too close.
Then Jake leaned over and whispered into my ear, “I know about you and Asher.”
I stared into his eyes and nodded. “I figured.” I pointed my thumb in Harper’s direction. “But she doesn’t and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Jake grinned at me seductively as he ran his hand down my throat, getting dangerously close to my cleavage. “Your secret is safe with me. But rumor has it that you’ve kicked Asher to the curb.” He slid his finger into my cleavage and I shifted away from him. “Maybe you and I can hang sometime, yeah?”
“Hey, man!” Tate’s voice broke my uncomfortable stare off with Jake as I looked over my shoulder and saw Asher walking toward us with a sophomore on his arm. Rage came back to my core with a vengeance.
“Hey...” Asher scanned his eyes over everyone before he stared into my eyes. I couldn’t help but see a bit of jealousy and regret there, but he had no right to feel those things. He did this all to himself. He glared at Jake who was still sitting dangerously close behind me.
And that’s when I had the brilliant idea to get some revenge. I didn’t know what it is, but Asher drove me to do things I would never usually do. I wasn’t into Jake at all, yet I continued to use him to get back at Asher.
I really was going to hell.
Then I tore my gaze from Asher’s and spun toward Jake, placing my hands on his thighs.
“To answer your question...yes, I would like to hang sometime.”
Jake grinned from ear to ear as he studied my face, stopping on my lips. “How about tonight?”
I bit my bottom lip, still pulling my bravery from deep down inside when I finally nodded.
Then I heard Asher clear his throat behind us. “Jake’s off limits tonight.”
I looked over my shoulder and up at Asher who threw daggers at me with his gaze, but I didn’t care. He hurt me and now I was done with him.
Jake groaned, placing his hands on my hips and spun me back to face him, my legs back between his knees. “Sorry, babe, but he’s right. We’re skating tonight.” He pushed a loose strand of my hair behind my ear and smiled. “You should come to watch. Then afterward I’ll take you out for some grub.”
I stared at Jake with a blank expression. Did he just ask me out to dinner in his own way? Jake didn’t do the whole dinner thing. I’m surprised he didn’t just throw me over his shoulders and take me someplace private before he took off with the guys.
“Are you asking me out on a date, Jake?” My voice was soft and a bit shakey.
He grinned, his cheeks blushing. “Yeah, I guess I am. You’re the type of girl you take on dinners and cross your fingers you get a kiss.”
My heart pitter-pattered a bit and I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face. Jake was a secret romantic? Who knew?
But I couldn’t help but think how Asher embarrassed me and made me feel like a joke when he took me to dinner that one night. He completely played it off like it was nothing. And to him, it probably wasn’t.
So when I looked over my shoulder in Asher’s direction, I wasn’t surprised that he looked pissed.
Serves him right. Asshole.
“I would love that,” I finally replied as I leaned forward and lightly kissed Jake’s cheek.
“Awe!” Harper exclaimed from her spot on Tate’s lap. “Did Jakey-poo just ask you on a date? How sweet! I’ve always rooted for you two!”
Jake smiled like an idiot. “Shut up, Harper.” Then I noticed he looked in Asher’s direction and completely lost his smile before he looked back at me. “See you later at Tommy’s, yeah?”
I nodded. “Yeah, see you later.” Then he stood up and walked away, Asher and the sophomore following behind him.
“Oh my gosh!” Harper cried. “I can’t believe you’re going on a real date with Jake!”
Tate was giving me a tight, sad smile. I’m guessing he knew everything too but was keeping it to himself, thankfully. “Jake has had a huge crush on you forever.”
I gave Tate an equally tight, sad smile and nodded. “Yeah, it’s not really a surprise.”
“Ugh! This is amazing! Before you know it, we’ll all be going on double dates together,” Harper giggled, “and my poor, stupid brother, will be all alone with his one night stands.” Then she rolled her eyes. “His loss.”
Yeah. His loss, indeed.
I had to turn around and look somewhere else. I knew my facial expressions were about to give me away and I had to start thinking about something else or I was going to lose my cool. Harper could never know about me and Asher. Ever.
Tommy’s was packed when we got there and found our normal spot next to the skate park, while Tate went to get us some milkshakes.
I scanned the area with my eyes and stopped when I saw Asher and Jake at the top of a ramp. Jake saw me too. He winked and waved awkwardly at me as I let out a small giggle and waved back. Then I saw Asher slap him in the back of the head and gesture for him to go. As Jake skated off, Asher glared at me.
I glared right back as I raised my hand up and flipped him the bird, careful not to be caught by anyone standing by.
And I couldn’t help but notice how he gave me his half-grin while his gaze filled with a dangerous seduction that sucked me in. I had to quickly look away, thankful to find Tate and Harper walking back over to our table.
We just started digging in when Asher and Jake skated over and took their spots at the table. They tried and failed to steal sips from our milkshakes.
“Hey!” Harper cried, “Get your own!”
Jake sat down next to me, making it obvious to everyone around us that I was his. He planted a kiss on my cheek and sat sideways on the bench seat, pulling me between his legs. And I let him.
But when I looked up at Asher, he was glaring at us, pure hurt flashing through his eyes.
“I-I’ll be right back,” I said shyly, standing up and out of Jake’s embrace. He didn’t say or do anything as he dug into my milkshake and did his own thing.
I made my way toward the bathrooms and once I found an open stall, I just sat there and stared at the floor. What was I doing? I didn’t even like Jake like that. I shouldn’t be using him like this. This isn’t the type of person that I am. I have to end it before it goes too far. But damn, I still wanted to get revenge on Asher.
Maybe I’ll see where the dinner date goes with Jake before I make up my mind. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I finished up in the bathroom, washed my hands, and headed back out.
But someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into the large bush, and I knew it was Asher. His scent surrounded me, making me weak.
“Asher...” I breathed, “what do you want?”
I looked up into his eyes and saw that he was searching my face for something.
Then he reached up and lightly touched my face but I swatted his hand away. “What do you think you’re doing?!” I scolded as I stepped back from him.
“I don’t want you going out with Jake.” His voice was gravely and stern.
I let out an exasperated laugh. “Well, you don’t get to decide that, do you?”
“He only wants to get in your pants, Stanford.” He sighed as he ran his hand through his hair. “So he can brag about it.”
“The only difference that I can see between you and him is that he actually wants to flaunt me to his buddies. At least he’d be proud to have me on his arm.” I went to step away but he grabbed me again and pulled me back hard.
“That’s bullshit and you know it,” Asher barked. “You know why I couldn’t tell anyone about us. You’re the one who agreed to make the pact that we strictly have fun, nothing more. And now you’re throwing this bullshit in my face?”
I laughed, shaking my head. He was unbelievable! “Yeah, I did agree to it. But for some reason, along the way, I thought I meant something more to you than a place to get your dick wet whenever you wanted to.”
He groaned in frustration. “Damn it, Stanford! You did mean something to me! You still do! Why do you think I’m getting so pissed that you’re actually thinking about going out with Jake?”
“If you wanted a say in who I dated or slept with, you shouldn’t have put your dick in another girl while we were having fun," I bit back.
“Are you serious? Yes, I fucked up! But to be fair, we weren’t together!!” His voice rose and I had to look around to make sure we were still alone. “It’s not cheating if we weren’t together.”
I laughed. “So if I fucked Jake while we were having fun, you wouldn’t have cared?”
He glared at me not saying a word as his jaw clenched.
“Yeah, didn’t think so. Leave me alone, Asher.” I stepped away from him and out of the bush as I made my way back toward our friends at the table.
Once I took my spot back next to Jake, I looked up and saw Asher walking back toward our table, a scowl on his face as he glared at me.
“I’m starving. Are you done skating?” I turned and asked Jake.
He grinned and nodded. “Sure thing, babe.” He stood up then and held out his hand for me to take.
I couldn’t help but look up at Asher as I took Jake’s hand. He shook his head and clenched his jaw.
“See you guys later,” I said.
Jake wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “So, your place or mine tonight?”
I actually heard Asher growl before he skated off back toward the skate park and out of view.“Let’s play it by ear, yeah?” Is all I could answer right now.