Watered Down

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Chapter Thirty Two

I dried my eyes, checked my face in the mirror, and then got the heck out of the locker room before the guys all showed up wondering what on earth I was doing in here crying all alone. Instead of going home, and wallowing in my self-pity, I marched back into the school, this time on a mission to find Eve.

I texted her to meet me in our spot and ten minutes later she showed. “Girl, what are you doing here?” She asked the second she came around the corner. The girls bathroom on the third floor is always deserted since the only things on the third floor are the weight rooms, which only the guys use, and a few of the nerdier club meeting rooms, and no one else is willing to go up three flights of stairs just to pee.

I filled Eve in on everything, well, mostly everything. I told her everything that had just happened with Asher, and my mysterious island guy. “So what should I do?” I asked her desperately. “I don’t want him to hate me.”

“I don’t think in our entire four years of friendship you have ever once asked for my help on something.” Eve smiled, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “I think I have an idea, but first, go back to the part about this guy.” She giggled. “Was he hot? I bet he was hot.”

I sighed at her. “Eve, that doesn’t matter.” I told her, but then smiled. “But, I mean, yeah.” I laughed. “He was pretty gorgeous.”

“Well he’d have to be to catch the eye of Serena Sullivan.” She winked.

We spent a little more time talking about Theon, and about Tally, and how great my time with them was, even though it was short lived. The more I talked about him, though, the more I wanted to cry. I had really thought he had something special, but I guess I had been wrong. “So, back to Asher.” I reminded her. “How do I get him to forgive me?”

Eve reached out and squeezed my hand. “He doesn’t have to.” She said. “He has no reason to be mad at you, you didn’t even remember who you were, so that means you didn’t know that you had a boyfriend to be faithful to. Also, you said nothing happened with the sexy islander, so nothing to be sorry for.” She shrugged. When she put it like that, it was true, but still deceptive since I didn’t actually forget who I was or about Asher. “The way I see it, you just need to remind him what he is missing out on by blowing you off, and I know just what you should do.”

Eve went over her plan with me, and at first I was skeptical. It didn’t really sound to me like something that was going to make Asher do a 180 on his feelings towards me, especially since he seemed so heartbroken by it. Eve’s plan was simple, if not a little trivial to expect any results from, but I figured I have nothing else to lose and it can’t hurt trying.

I only had a few hours to get it all together if I was going to make it to the game on time. I rushed from the school and hit the store, buying an enormous amount of balloons and streamer and grabbed a couple of poster boards and markers. Next I went back to the school, getting there just in time to watch from the parking lot as the football team all left the locker rooms and went into the school for their pregame meal.

I decorated Asher’s locker, just like a couple of other girls were doing for their boyfriends too. I wrote a large sign wishing all the guys good luck, but especially the extra adorable #32. When I was done with the decorations I stepped back and admired my work, happy that Asher’s locker was outdoing the others by a million points.

I rushed to the sports shop in town next and had them make me a special jersey for me to wear to the game tonight that boasted our school colors of red and gold, and had Asher’s name and number on the back. It fit me like a glove and was actually pretty cute if I was being honest. I don’t care too much about sports, but hey, if it makes Asher happy, then I will go with it.

Lastly, I made a quick run back home to shower, do my makeup over since my crying had messed it up, and I got ready for the game. This would probably be my third football game ever, not counting homecoming games, because obviously everyone went to those, but no one actually watched the game. We were just there to be seen in our cute little dresses, then to let our dates takes us out to eat afterward.

I pulled my hair into a high ponytail and tied a red ribbon around the band. With my hair like this, and my jersey and little blue jean shorts, I kind of looked like a cute cheerleader. I’d always wanted to be a cheerleader, and they used to beg me to join, but it took up too much time. Why would I have wanted to give up hours of my day after school to practice, and then also forfeit my Friday nights for games I don’t care about?

After everything that has happened to me in the last months though, it makes me wish I wouldn’t have been so prissy about everything, and that I had actually had other things on my mind other than being cool and partying. If only life came with actual do-over buttons. I sighed to my reflection and turned away to leave. I met Eve, Marcy, Dana, Carrie, and Taylor in the parking lot. “Holy crap, Serena!” They hooted. “Looking fine!”

I was used to them fawning over me, but now I wondered why. I never did it for them. I smiled at them and passed out hugs. “You are all looking gorg!” I complimented them, and for a half beat they almost seemed surprised. “So am I late?” I asked. “What inning is it?”

The girls burst out laughing. “Serena,” Marcy said shaking her head. “There are no innings in football, that’s baseball. Football has quarters, and the game hasn’t even started yet.” She explained.

“Come on, Einstein.” Eve giggled, looping her arm through mine. “Let’s go get a good seat for him to see you.”

Getting to our seats took longer than it should have. Every few feet there were more people who wanted to stop me and either welcome me home, or ask me how I was, or for details on what had happened to me. I didn’t want to be rude, so I entertained it at graciously as possible. Finally we got to our spot just a few rows up from where our team was standing on the sidelines. The crowd was buzzing. Apparently this was some big deal of a game. A major rivalry or something. I looked down the line of players until I saw the back of a head I’d recognize anywhere.

I stood up on the seat and held up my sign. “Woo! Go Asher!” I cheered proudly and he turned to look at me. I had to admit, I may not like sports, but seeing Asher in his uniform and the shoulder pads, that just might make a fan out of me. This was the moment of truth. He’s either going to forgive me, or blow me off again. I held my breath to see which it was, then sighed happily as a big smile spread across his face and he blew me a kiss. “Yeah!” I screamed. “That’s my boyfriend! Go number thirty two!”

The first step in the plan was a success, and now it was time for the second step, the one that would truly show if I was forgiven or not.

The game ended, an enormous win that only further reminded me why I don’t go to the football games. They are boring. We always win. Our team has gone to the championship thingy like a hundred times and we have a full trophy case that takes up a whole hallway.

I waited outside of the locker room alone, watching as team member after team member came pouring from the door. I finally saw him coming, deep in conversation with two other guys until he noticed me. He stopped walking and told the guys he’d catch up with them later, patting one on the shoulder as he went his own way. He walked over to me slowly, freshly showered, with a big bag slung over his shoulder. “Hey.” He said softly.

“Hey.” I replied.

He reached out to hold me by the elbow and pulled me over around the building so that we weren’t where everyone could see us. “Can we talk?” He asked and I nodded. “Look, I’m so sorry, Serena.” He said shaking his head. “I overreacted, for no reason, and I am really sorry about it.”

I put my hand on his shoulder. “It wasn’t for no reason, and I totally understand why you were upset.” I told him.

“Regardless, do you forgive me?”

I smiled up at him. “As long as you forgive me.”

He leaned down and kissed me gently. “Anytime.” He smiled against my lips. “Are you coming to the party?”

I didn’t want to, but that was the next part of the plan: show him I am still the girl he remembers. “Duh, that’s why I waited.” I said playfully. “You want to ride together?” I asked.

He kissed me again and then grabbed my hand. “We can take my car.”

“You got a car?” I asked surprised.

He nodded as we walked and then pulled out his keys, pressing a button.

A few cars down from mine, a bright yellow corvette’s lights blinked. “There she is.” He said pointing over to it.

“Holy crap, Asher.” I said admiring the sleekness of it. “This is nicer than my car.”

I could tell that the high praise made him happy. He went on and on as we drove about everything that had happened in the game, even though I had been there. True, I had no idea what was going on, but still. I just listened in silence, trying my best to seem interested, when really all I was doing was wondering why Tally had never called. I toyed with the idea of calling again, but after the way he’d blown me off earlier, I didn’t really want to put myself in the position to be embarrassed again.

The party was typical.

A bunch of drunk teenagers running around some random person’s house, who none of us knew who it was, acting a fool and having what I used to consider fun. I sat in the living room, surrounded with all of my friends, listening to their crazy stories and trying to act like I belonged here. I didn’t talk much, but I did try to be interactive with everyone. I took one sip of the drink that Asher had made for me, and I nearly spit it back into the cup. The liquor in it was way too strong, especially since I haven’t had a drink in a while.

Asher stood up, taking his arm off of my shoulders. “Where are you going?” I asked him.

“Need a refill.” He explained, holding up his cup.

I stood up fast, grabbing his arm and taking the cup from him. “Don’t you dare, this is your night, let me go get it for you.” I smiled sweetly at him.

His eyes were already looking a little glassy, and he plopped back down on the couch. I quickly picked up my own drink too and walked to the kitchen, squeezing through the hot bodies of my classmates. I refilled Asher’s cup at the keg, then I went over to the sink and poured out most of my drink, adding water to what little was left, then I went back into the living room with my friends.

When I sat down I noticed everyone was looking over at the door where a guy I recognized from my science class last year was standing with his arm around some girl I didn’t know. “What’s up?” I asked.

Eve leaned over to me. “Frank and that girl hooked up the other night apparently, so Marcy hates her.” Eve giggled.

I nodded my head. Typical drama.

Marcy stood up. “I’m going to go tell that whore to leave.” She snapped and everyone nodded their heads, telling her to do it. “She doesn’t even belong at this party. She goes to West Palm.” She spat like it was a bad word. “Poor trash like that doesn’t belong here.”

I rolled my eyes. “Marcy, don’t be a bitch.” I said evenly, stopping her from going over and embarrassing the poor girl.

My friends all looked at me like I was insane. “You’re the one who said girls from West Palm shouldn’t be allowed out of their neighborhoods because they are so STD ridden that they contaminate the air around them.” Marcy reminded me and I shook my head at myself.

“Well, I shouldn’t have said that.” I told her, my stomach sinking as I remembered exactly when I’d said that and the way we rushed out of the store obnoxiously holding our breath as we passed the girl. “It was wrong of me.”

“No,” Eve said. “It was funny because it’s true.”

Asher clapped his hand on my shoulder. “Yeah, it was funny, Serena.” He nodded. “You were hilarious.” He laughed.

I looked around at them, wondering how this was ever ok with me. “No, I wasn’t funny.” I said to all of them. “I was mean, and I was a bad person.”

“No, you were a cool person.” Taylor added.

“What is wrong with you?” Asher asked me pointedly and I dropped my gaze to the cup in my hand.

Nothing was wrong with me. I just wasn’t the same as I was before. It was the truth, and that was ok. I’m the same person I was before, I am still me, but just like this drink in my hand, now I’m watered down, and that’s ok. Just like Theon had told me it would be.

I’m alright with it if I don’t fit in anymore. This kind of thing is not what I want to fit into now anyway. I put down my cup and went for the front door. “Serena!” Asher called to me. “Wait up.”

I shook my head. “No, babe, this is your special night.” I reminded him again. “You played a great game, and you deserve to celebrate it.” I warmed his ego. “Go ahead and have fun, I’m just going to call a cab and head home.”

“Alright.” He agreed, kissing me quickly before heading back over to our friends…his friends.

When I got home I got changed, then crawled into bed.

To distract myself I finally got around to looking up Cassandra and Levi on Facebook. My heart was warm when I looked at their pages and saw that they’d been welcomed back home with open arms. Levi, cleared of cancer and looking as beautiful as ever, and Cassandra’s profile picture was of her and a boy who I didn’t know, but I bet he’s the one she told me about.

I was glad that it at least appeared as if they were both settling back in better than I am.

I got their numbers and called them, truly spilling my guts to them since they were the only ones who would understand. Even after telling them it all, every time one of them spoke it was like I was right back on that island and all I wanted to do was be held by six pack guy again.

Levi and Cassandra both, of course, encouraged me to give him another try.

I didn’t care if there was a chance I’d get ignored again. I pulled out the little black phone and dialed the number again. No answer. I called again. No answer.

I rolled over, typing out a text instead.

Theon?

Theon: What do you want Serena?

Just to talk to you.

Theon: I don’t want to talk to you. I’m done with you.

Why are you being like this? I thought we had something. Friendship at least.

Theon: I could never be friends with someone like you. Go back to being the spoiled brat that you are and leave me the hell alone.

My breath caught at his hateful message. Theon had never spoken to me in such a hateful manor, even before we got close.

I dialed the number again, but he ignored the call.

Please just answer. I just need to talk to you.

Theon: LEAVE ME ALONE. I want nothing to do with you.

I threw the phone down. Something just wasn’t right about this, and I’m not falling for it anymore.

I don’t think I am actually talking to Theon.

This kind of thing has Alana’s name written all over it.

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