#11 Worst friend ever
When Dhawn and I get outside, I immediately see Caroline leaning against a wall, her face bloody and bruised and a dark mark on her neck as well, like someone tried to strangle her. I call out her name and pull her against me, careful not to hurt her even more. She leans into me, inhaling deeply before pulling back and wincing a little.
“Can you take Danny home?” she asks me and Dshawn, trying to move away from me.
I don’t let her out of my grasp and touch the side of her face carefully to access how painful it is. From the way she winces, she’s banged up pretty bad. “Did Danny do this to you? Fucking hell, Caroline. We never should have left you out here with him. I’m so sorry.” I feel so guilty that it’s choking me. Here she is, getting beaten up by her ex-boyfriend that I left her alone with, while I went inside to kiss her other ex-boyfriend.
The guy who interrupted my kiss with Dshawn tries to convince Caroline to call the police. His friends are holding Danny firmly pressed into the pavement, not giving him a chance to get up and hurt her again. Good.
Suddenly, Caroline goes ballistic. She starts screaming at all of us, even though it’s obvious she would fall over if it wasn’t for the wall she’s clinging to for dear life. Dshawn and the random savior are trying to convince her that she’s wrong, put I pull both of them away from her.
“Just do what she says,” I hiss. “She’s hurt and confused. Dshawn, you take Danny home. Random dude, thanks for… whatever you did, and for getting us, but we’ve got it now.”
“Yord,” the random dude says. “My name is Yord.”
“Whatever.” I honestly don’t care about that right now. “Caroline and I will take the car that’s here and drive to the nearest hospital. She doesn’t need people yelling at her right now. She needs our support.”
The guys nod and they help me get Caroline into the uber. I slide in beside her, pulling to me for a hug. She looks like she’s on the verge of crying, but no tears actually make it out. The driver takes us straight to the emergency room and even helps me get her out of the car. She’s almost catatonic by now, not talking and barely moving.
“What happened to her?” the driver asks me softly as he picks her up to carry her into the hospital, me following closely behind.
“Ex-boyfriend,” I say, not knowing what else to say. I wasn’t there, after all. I didn’t see what happened. I was too busy making out to protect my best friend.
A nurse rushes over when we walk in and the driver puts her in a wheelchair before taking off, wishing me good luck with my friend. I wheel Caroline to a bed, which the nurse and I lift her onto so she can be examined.
“Does she have a concussion?” I ask, fearing the answer.
“She banged her head pretty hard,” the nurse tells me, shining a light into Caroline’s eyes. “But I don’t think she’s got a concussion.”
“Are you sure?” I ask. “She looks so…”
“I’ll make sure, but I really don’t think she’s concussed.”
It takes another twenty minutes before the nurse is sure that there’s nothing wrong with Caroline, aside from the obvious cuts and bruises. To my surprise, she doesn’t even need stitches. She’s good to go. I walk outside for a moment to call us a cab, but then I see the driver from before is still waiting for us. He shrugs and just opens the door for me with a smile. Good man.
Back at my apartment, Caroline seems annoyed with me. Probably because I keep asking her how she feels and if there’s anything I can do for her, but I can’t be sure. Maybe she knows. Maybe she knows I was kissing Dshawn when I should have been out there with her, kicking Danny’s ass.
I help her into the bathroom, but she draws the line at me undressing her. She basically kicks me out and locks the door behind her. I stay in the hallway, scared to leave her alone. I swear I can hear her crying in there, but I know better than to call out to her. She needs a moment.
Finally, after half an hour, she opens the door. She’s still naked and wet and she doesn’t even seem to notice. I get into the bathroom and grab a towel to dry her off, making sure I don’t hurt her by accident. She’s completely silent, looking like a ghost of her normal self.
“I’ve got you,” I tell her, helping her into a clean pair of panties and forcing her to pull on a shirt to sleep in. She lets me lead her to my bed and lies down on her back, looking up at the ceiling with wide eyes.
“Do you want me to stay with you?” I ask. Normally, I wouldn’t bother asking, since we’ve been used to sharing a bed since we were little girls, but I’m not sure what she needs right now.
“Yes,” she says, finally speaking up again. “Don’t leave me alone.”
I pull off my dress and bra and pull an old shirt before crawling into bed with her, pulling her close to me. She puts her head on my shoulder and sighs deeply before falling asleep almost instantly. I lie awake for a long time, trying not to move. She needs her sleep.
We’ve fallen asleep in the same bed many nights before, but never like this. We’ve never snuggled against together like this, our limbs entangled. She’s never needed my support this much before. And I’ve never laid in bed awake like this ever before, feeling like a shitty friend.
After an hour of beating myself up I can’t take it anymore. I can’t just stay in bed with her head on my chest, pretending like I’m not singlehandedly responsible for her getting beaten up. If I hadn’t been preoccupied with what is going on between me and Dshawn, I never would have left her outside on her own. I would have been there with her and she would be okay now instead of bruised and bloody, catatonic and needing support more than she ever had.
I manage to wiggle out from under her without waking her up. I push a pillow against her so she has something to snuggle up against now that my body is no longer there. I pull on some sweats and get out of the room with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I find my phone in my purse in the hallway and sit on the couch, scrolling through my messages. A bunch of them are from Joshua, asking me when I want to meet up again. There’s one from Hollister, asking me if I’m up for another night of fun. He must be drunk or crazy or both, because I am never going to hook up with him ever again. And then there’s a message from Dshawn, asking me to call him. That’s all. Just two words: Call me.
I don’t want to, but comply anyway. We need to talk and we both know it.
“Hey,” his voice is soft and deep, sending a chill through my body. I recall his lips on mine, his hands on my breasts, on my ass…
“Hey,” I reply, feeling stupid.
“How is she?” he asks, pulling my thoughts back to Caroline.
“I don’t know,” I say honestly. “Physically, it’s just cuts and bruises. I took her to the hospital and the nurse said that it looks worse than it is. In a week she’ll look like nothing happened. Mentally… I don’t know, Dshawn. She’s shaken up. I think I won’t be able to truly know how she’s doing until tomorrow morning.”
“Fuck,” he replies heartfelt. “Has she got a concussion?”
“No,” I reply, smiling because that’s what I asked the nurse a million times as well. “Like I said, just cuts and bruises. Danny didn’t do any permanent damage. One week and she’ll be the same she was before this horrible night. Physically, that is.”
We’re both silent for a moment, but then Dshawn speaks up again. “Do you think she saw?”
“I don’t know,” I reply so quietly I’m not sure he can still hear me. “She hasn’t said anything about it, but then again, she hasn’t really talked at all. I’ll try to find out tomorrow.”
“She seemed pretty out of it. I don’t think she saw us. The real question is… do you want her to know?” he asks, his voice carefully controlled, like he doesn’t want me to know how he truly feels.
“You tell me,” I shoot back, annoyed. “You’re the one who had sex with her last weekend.”
“It was just a booty call,” he replies, his voice still flat. “I knew that something was up with her, I could feel it, but I was just so… I don’t know.”
“So what?” I ask, needing to know what he was about to say.
“That dinner at the Mexican restaurant…” He grunts. “It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
“I know. It felt like a date.”
“Exactly.” He sounds surprised, like he didn’t expect me to admit it. Or to even feel it, maybe. To see it the way he does. “I was reeling from it and then Caroline texted and I just… I don’t know. I reverted back to who I was years ago, back when I still loved her. There was no way I was going to tell her no. And then I saw her, and we did… what we did… and it just wasn’t right.”
“The way she tells it, the sex was pretty decent,” I say, not knowing how to stop myself. It hurts, knowing that they slept together when he and I were doing… well, whatever it is that we’re doing.
“The sex was nothing compared to our kiss,” he breathes into the phone, giving me goosebumps. “Fucking hell, Shaughna, that kiss… When you told me to leave that night in your apartment, it took every ounce of self-control to do what you asked me for. I wanted to stay so badly.”
“Me too,” I whisper, feeling sick. I’m such an awful friend. “It doesn’t matter, though. We can’t do that to Caroline. We were the worst friends ever tonight and if we want to make that up to her, we can’t be kissing.”
“Right.” He doesn’t sound like he agrees, though. “Whatever you want.”
“You know what I want,” I say, hardly recognizing my own voice. “It doesn’t matter, though.”
“What do you want?” he asks, his voice dark. “Because I know what I want, Shaughna. And it’s your lips on mine and my hands on those perky breasts of yours.”
“No.” I meant to say it firmly, but it comes out as a whimper. I’m already imagining him on the couch with me, kissing me like he did when he was here. His heads kneading my breasts through my clothes, wanting to slip underneath my shirt… “No,” I say, more commanding now.
“Are you sure?” Dshawn asks in that seductive tone of his. “Because I’m pretty sure Caroline is in love with Nathan. Do you really think she gives a shit what I’m doing? Who I’m doing? And I want to fuck you senseless, Shaughna. I want to pull up your dress and tear off your thong so I can-”
“Stop,” I plead, knowing that this is a slippery slope. My panties are already wet. “My best friend was assaulted tonight. She’s in the other room, sleeping. Healing. We can’t do this. Not now.”
“Not now,” he agrees, a dangerous edge to his voice. “Okay.”
“No, I mean, not ever.” I curse myself. “How did things go with Danny? Did you take him home?”
Dshawn grunts into the phone. I’m not sure if it’s arousal or anger, but the sound sends shivers through my entire body. “That bastard is never going to touch our girl again, Shaughna. I made sure of that.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing you wouldn’t have done.”
I let out a shaky laugh. “I would have cut off his balls, fed them to him and amputated his legs with a rusty saw, making him crawl across town on bloody stumps to apologize to Caroline.”
“Okay, then I guess what I did was a little less extreme. I just did to him what he did to Car.” His breathing is ragged, like he’s reliving it. “I banged his head against the wall and strangled him until he was gasping for air. Caroline may not want to report this, but at least Danny got to experience what he did to her. I may have kicked him in the balls afterward, just to make sure he’ll think twice before ever doing anything like this ever again.”
“Good.” I’m actually quite proud of Dshawn for doing that. If he’d just dropped Danny off at his place without messing him up, I would have been quite disappointed. I don’t condone violence, but when someone uses brute force on someone like Caroline, he needs to feel what it’s like to be treated like that, so he won’t ever do it ever again. I know enough about being choked and hit to be one hundred percent sure that someone like Danny needs to be stopped before he can do something even worse.
“Are you sure we can’t just tell her?” Dshawn asks, suddenly sounding seductive again. “I want to touch you again so badly… And I honestly don’t think she’ll mind.”
“No!” I exclaim before clasping a hand over my mouth. I can’t wake up Caroline right now! “No,” I say in a subdued tone. “I’m sure. We can’t tell her. Besides… what would you want to tell her? That we were both horny and drunk and that we messed up? Because that’s what happened.”
Please, I silently beg him. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you think I’m smart and wonderful. Tell me that there’s a reason we kissed. Tell me this is not all in my head.
“Right,” he agrees. “You’re absolutely right. There’s nothing to tell her.”