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Chapter 4

I stare up at the star-lit sky as the noise from the party rages on below us. Nathan and I sit at one of the empty balconies on the top floor, curled up in a fluffy, white blanket that we borrowed from whoever’s bedroom this is.

My head falls into his chest and I listen calmly to his heartbeats that thump against my ear in a precise, slow rhythm. He brings another bottle of beer to his lips above my head and I close my eyes, savouring this perfect moment.

“So, how long does this ban last for?” Nathan suddenly mumbles.

I groan, lifting my eyes up to meet his. “A month.”

“Now, I don’t remember it being that long. I’m pretty sure you said tonight. Technically, the night is over.”

“It’s two ’o’clock, that is not over,” I whisper, nestling my face deeper into his chest to get comfy.

He begins playing with strands of my hair, twirling them around his giant fingers and then releasing them to fall down onto the blanket. “You know it’s been two weeks since I last saw you.”

“Yeah,” I say. “I’ve been busy.”

“Is it something to do with your parents?”

I bring my head up, suddenly startled. “What do you mean?”

“I just find it odd that you’ve met my entire family and yet. . . I’ve never even seen yours.”

“You know how it is,” I say. “They’re really old-fashioned, they won’t let me date until I’m eighteen.”

“You’re eighteen in three weeks,” he says quietly. “Will I get to meet them then?”

He breaks my heart when he talks like this. I don’t know why he’s so determined to meet my parents, but I think it’s something that people see as important in a relationship. I can’t compare Nathan to anyone else because he’s my first ever boyfriend, but I’ve read plenty of books to know that the male will always feel nervous before meeting his girlfriend’s father for the first time. In most cases, it goes well. In my case, it will never go well. I can’t tell him that, I can’t burden him with that information. It isn’t fair.

“Not straight away,” I say. “Otherwise it’d be a little obvious. Maybe in a few months.”

“Months?” he chokes out, biting down on the word. “How old-fashioned are these people?”

“You have no idea,” I say, rolling my eyes back towards the sky. “Sometimes, it’s hard to bear them.”

“They sound like a ray of sunshine to meet,” he says sarcastically.

I widen my eyes. “They’re. . . different. I don’t really know what they are. I just don’t want you to meet them, ever.”

“They’re that bad?” he gasps. “Damn. No wonder you sneak out in the middle of the night.”

“That’s because you’re a bad influence,” I laugh.

“I think you’ll find you’re the influencer, and I’m the influencee.”

“That is so backwards.”

“You’re backwards,” he snorts.

I fall back onto his chest, listening once again to his heart beats. “What would you do for me, Nathan?” I say quietly.

“What do you mean?”

“Would you. . . cross an ocean for me?”

“Yeah, on a plane.”

“No, not a plane,” I say. “Would you cross an actual ocean?”

“I would. . .” He takes a deep breath, lifting my head up and down as he exhales. “Swim so far, like a few feet, then probably drown because I’m not on a plane.”

“You’re allowed a boat,” I grumble.

“Oh!” he says. “Then definitely.”

I glance up to meet his eyes. “Would you, though?”

“Yes,” he says with a gentle smile. “I’d do anything.”

I fall back down, closing my eyes against his skin. I want to believe that he’s telling the truth, that he would actually do anything, because it’s the only thing strong enough to make me remain by his side. I allowed him to affect me this way, I opened myself to his trust and his heart, but will any of that matter if my parents ever found out about him?

I might act brave, and I might be defiant of their rules, but I’m still their daughter. And I’ll still always let them control me, even when I’m fighting against it. Otherwise, they’d make my life hell, even if I escaped them, they’d find a way to bring me back.

It’s all about time. I’ll just have to wait. One day I’ll be old enough and strong enough to walk out of that house for good, but without them allowing me to take on a job, how am I supposed to fund that?

Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do? Who am I supposed to be?

I’m hoping that it’ll all make sense one day, and for now, I can just keep doing things the only way I know how.

Suddenly, cars with flashing blue lights begin to appear on the street below--and the screams of the teenagers on the ground can be heard with panic and fear.

“It’s the cops! Run!”

Nathan jerks himself upwards, pulling me to my feet beside him as we stare down at the many cop cars that are filling up the driveway as all the party-goers scatter across the lawn and disappear into the shadows.

“Nathan, I can’t get caught,” I say seriously.

“Come on, we’ve got to run,” he says back.

He grips my wrist and pulls me back through the dim bedroom and we collide on the landing with several other bodies that are eager to do a runner. Why did we have to pick the top floor? We should have just stayed on the ground, we could be long gone by now. The staircases are filled with people, and we wait anxiously as they all try to get past each other while causing serious injury in the process.

Eventually, we make it to the next staircase, to where even more people are gathered, thumping down the stairs like malicious thunder. Nathan keeps hold of me in the crowd, and we break out into a run as we reach the ground floor. The front entrance is a swarm of chaos as all the party-goers descend out into the open, while trying to dodge police officers that attempt to grab them.

“They’re just looking for the drunk ones,” Nathan says to me. “Just act normal and we’ll be fine.”

I nod, swallowing down the fear that is building in my throat. I take the first steps out of the house, surrounding myself with sticky, hot air that makes it harder to breathe. The police officers are occupied, chasing run away teenagers down the lawn, and we see our golden ticket to slide by unnoticed.

Nathan jogs with me down the driveway and I assume we’re going to take to the streets, but he instead pauses beside his car and unlocks it.

“What are you doing?” I demand as he casually gets into the driver’s seat.

“Come on, get in,” he says.

“Nathan, you’re drunk, you can’t drive!”

He dismisses that as he turns the engine on. “I’m fine. Get in.”

I fight with the right thing to do, but I know that nothing is worth me spending the night in jail and walking out to see my parents standing there with their masks of shame. So, I do the stupid thing, the wrong thing, and I run around to the passenger’s side.

As soon as my door closes, Nathan begins reversing, he looks backwards through the window and spins the car around, aiming it for the only gap in the drive way that isn’t blocked by police cars.

He almost makes it, almost. Suddenly, several police officers jump out into the direct path of the car with their palms in the air, motioning for us to stop.

“Shit!” Nathan shouts as he slams on his breaks. “Fuck!”

“I can’t get arrested,” I say. “Nathan, I can’t-”

“Just let me think.” He bangs his head into the stirring wheel and then rubs a hand through his hair in sheer frustration.

A police officer makes his way to Nathan’s door and swings it open. “Step out of the vehicle, now.”

Nathan doesn’t look at me as he obeys the officer, he surrenders his hands in the air and leaves the car. I leave the car too, and I run around it in a panic.

“Officer, please, he wasn’t doing anything wrong,” I say.

The officer brings out a small, black machine attached to a long, clear tube and holds it in front of Nathan’s face. “I’ll be the judge of that,” the officer says. “Breathe into this.”

“No,” Nathan responds.

“Don’t make things even harder for yourself, son, just do it.”

“No,” Nathan says again. “I refuse.”

“If you refuse the breathalyser, then I’ll have to bring you to the station.”

To that, Nathan just shrugs.

“Very well then,” the officer says, and then he withdraws his handcuffs from his pocket and leans Nathan against his car while he tightens them around his wrists.

All I can do is watch, watch with a tear rolling down my cheek as the person I love gets taken away to be held in a lonely, cold cell for the evening. Nathan glances at me one final time before the officer shoves him into the backseat of one of the police cars.

I see police officers making other arrests too, most of the drunk teenagers had put up a fight and are being pushed to police vehicles in every direction.

Suddenly, a police officer approaches me. He is a man that looks to be in his late forties, with a curly moustache and small, rounded eyes hidden behind thick eye-glasses.

“Ma’am, come with me and I’ll take you home.”

I swallow. “It’s alright, I can walk.”

“I’m not asking,” he says.

His hand reaches for my arm and although my first instinct is to resist and punch him in the face, I can’t find the energy but to let him guide me to a car. He slams the door shut as I cower into the back seat, shaking and petrified of what is going to happen.

Not only to me, but to Nathan. He could lose his license because of this, and that car means a lot to him.

But I, I could lose much more.

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