Chapter Seven - Good Morning, Sunshine!
Before I even opened my eyes the next morning, I thought to myself, Oh, God. I’m going to be sick.
I jolted out of bed and sprinted to the bathroom adjoining to my room, before I hurled up all the contents that had been in my stomach since the night before—mostly the alcohol. My body did not react well to alcoholic beverages, apparently. Even with the slight amount of beer I’d had… Okay, so maybe three bottles and half of one of Matt’s to ease my nerves from Cole’s text, but still!
When I was done, I brushed my teeth and showered, washing my hair as a way of trying to feel a little better. I was in a pretty foul mood right now, with a pounding headache and twisting stomach that threatened to make me puke at any given time.
When I was done, I wrapped myself in a fluffy white towel and decided to let my hair dry naturally. I jolted when I saw a note on the bed, and opened the crisp, white paper.
Hey, Gracie. As much as I enjoyed playing Prince Charming for you last night, I don’t exactly love carrying sleeping princesses up the staircase. I think I almost broke my back on the way up, so can you please refrain from falling asleep drunk for me in the future?
Love Your Totally Awesome and Bestest Friend (And now probably with back injuries),
I grinned and then put the note in between the pages of one of the books where I wrote my songs and then put it back in my top drawer where I kept my prized possessions. Matt was one of those people who was awesome at notes and letters and words and emails. He was funny and creative.
The house was all quiet, and I remembered that my mother and Angel were at her tennis training. Thank God my mother didn’t have to see me suffering my first hangover. She would be so ashamed.
I went to the fridge to pour myself some orange juice, dressed only in the white towel that just reached mid-thigh and my hair still dripping wet when the voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Please… don’t stop on my account.”
I yelped in surprise and grabbed a frying pan off the stove, ready to face whatever burglar or murderer stood before me, whirling around and almost slipping on the floorboards beneath my still-moist feet.
But there wasn’t any burglar or murderer there ready to pounce on me. Instead, before me, stood the illustrious and infamous Bad Boy of Alderidge High, Cole Adams, wearing a delectable black t-shirt, leather jacket and dark-washed jeans.
I couldn’t even begin to fathom how idiotic I must have looked. Short white towel, dripping hair and frying pan, probably a fearsome expression on my face. Wow, I must be nearly ready for the catwalk.
Before I had time to react or even to really think, Cole pulled out his cell-phone and snapped several pictures of me. The light blinded me, and I squinted in terror, not sure what the Hell was going on.
Alright, Grace. Get the facts straight….
1. You are suffering from your very first hangover.
2. You are wearing nothing but a towel and you are still wet from your recent shower.
3. You are holding a considerably large—and HEAVY—frying pan as a weapon.
4. You must look totally pathetic
5. Cole Adams is standing in your dining room, taking pictures of this totally pathetic sight
6. Yeah, you should totally get back to that… Like, RIGHT NOW
I opened my eyes to see Cole laughing at me. “I just came here to have a friendly conversation with you, Grace. But it seems I got so much more than I bargained for. Nice towel, by the way. Suits you.”
My jaw dropped at the comment and I squeaked in indignation. “Delete those photos right now, Cole. Do not show anybody this. You can’t.”
“What, you don’t wanna be embarrassed? Like I was when your buddy told the whole school I was gay and he was my boyfriend? You brought this on yourself.”
“I had nothing to do with that!” I lied, cheeks flaming hotly.
“Oh, so what… I have a lot of enemies who would enlist people I have never met before to say that I was gay? Because that’s like a daily occurrence for me,” he said sarcastically shaking his head ruefully.
My eyes narrowed to slits. “You’ve done a lot of damage to a lot of people. Who says that they couldn’t get someone to do that to you?”
“Because I know you, Grace. When you want to be, you can be ruthless. This is the kind of prank you would pull as revenge. Well, you know what? I got incriminating photos now. It’s your turn to go down.”
“No,” I hissed. “Cole, please don’t. I’ll call a truce.”
“A truce? You seriously think after the prank you pulled last night that I would just settle for a truce? You’re insane, Grace. I’ll have my payback. Then we’ll talk about truces.”
“Cole, no!” I cried. “Please. Not the photos.”
“Sorry, Grace,” he said. “But just remember that you did this to yourself. You started it.”
“I didn’t—” I started, but he had already turned on his heel and was heading into the foyer.
“Cole, get back here,” I screamed. “Don’t you walk out! Cole Adams! Don’t do this.”
He walked out through the front door and jogged to his bike. I sprinted out, ready to stop him and work out some kind of deal.
I got to the bike just as he started it, and I grabbed onto his leather jacket, pulling him closer. “Don’t do this,” I repeated.
“Why?” he asked, looking at me with his steely brown, hardened eyes. “Why should I, Grace? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t do it.”
“Because,” I choked up, tears filling my eyes. “Because…”
But the thing was, I couldn’t think of a legible reason. I mean, I did deserve it. Of course I did! I was responsible for most of the school believing Cole was gay. I spilt my drink over him at the party. Sure, he had pulled that science prank and paid that guy to dump his tray of food all over me, but I had retaliated. I had pulled a completely unlike-Grace action. I hadn’t sat back to let karma take its course. I hadn’t taken Matt’s advice. After two years of wallowing and hatred—I could finally admit to myself I did somewhat hate Cole—I had finally given him payback for it. Could he be blamed for wanting to fight back?
I looked him in the eye. “Cole, I’m begging you, don’t do this to me. Please.”
He looked sincere when he said what he did next, “I’m sorry, Grace.”
He revved the bike and I let go, not wanting to add to this fabulous Saturday morning by being run over by a black motorcycle. He kicked the bike into gear and sped off.
On Monday morning there would most definitely be posters of me wearing nothing but a towel all over lockers and classroom doors. I would never be able to stop everyone from seeing it; it was impossible. I would just have to face the inevitable.
But the inevitable came sooner than I thought it would.
The knocking on the door broke me out of my numb state.
I was sitting at the island bench, gazing off into space and thinking about those horrible photos. I wore a t-shirt and cargo shorts, not wanting to chance any more Bad Boys with phone cameras. My hair was piled in a messy bun on the top of my head with a few wisps hanging loose around my face.
I got up and opened the door to see a panicked Annie standing in front of me. She wore a sparkly red halter-neck and jeans, with her satchel and silver laptop in hand.
“Grace, we need to speak immediately.”
I opened the door wider, and she scurried inside quickly. “Annie, what is it?”
She flew into the kitchen and took a seat in the breakfast stool next to where I had been sitting. I joined her at the island bench and turned to her.
“Why do you look so panicked? Are you OK?”
“Have you been on the Internet lately? Checked any social networks in, say, the last two hours?” she asked hurriedly.
I stared at her in confusion. “No, why?”
“Like, not at all? No one’s texted you, called you, emailed you?”
“I don’t know. My phone and laptop are off. Annie, I’m freaking out a little. What’s going on?”
“It’s you, Grace. You’re all over the Internet!”
Oh, no. Please don’t be talking about the pictures. Don’t hyperventilate, stay calm.
Slowly and carefully, I asked, “What do you mean, Annie?”
“Let me show you,” she said, and opened the laptop.
And there it was. The photos. She had several tabs open and she clicked through them. Every single blog and social network website you could name, my photo was posted on there. All by Cole Adams.
People were voting, Liking, Reblogging, commenting. Hundreds and hundreds. Maybe close to a couple thousand. My blood ran cold as I stared at myself.
Cole wasn’t going to do something like make posters and put them all over school. No, he would use all of his social networks and blogs. Because then he would have a much wider reach than the one-thousand-two-hundred pupils that attended Alderidge High. He would have people from nearly every school in this state. He knew thousands and thousands of people due to his notoriety and pranks. And he was using all of his power to post this picture. He had taken it to every friend and Follower he ever knew.
Annie pulled out her phone and clicked on numerous tabs that held pictures of myself. On apps you could only get on phones. He had exhausted every resource he had. And every single one of his fans, Followers and friends was lapping it up, despite what happened the night before.
I looked at Annie. “Oh, my God. I’m done for. Everyone in the whole state would see this. All of his fans are spreading this by Reblogging and Forwarding and Liking and Sending it. Everyone’s gonna know.”
“Grace, what are we going to do?”
I finally let the tears flow, feeling like my life was over. Done for. These incriminating photos could never go away. I sobbed into Annie’s t-shirt as she patted my back comfortingly.
“I don’t know,” I whimpered. “God, Annie, I just don’t know.”