The rain beat down on my back, and I tried to shield my eyes from the harsh drops. One of those big green signs appeared in front of me, and I squinted up at it. Mercy Hospital: 3 miles. I curled my arms around my body so I wouldn’t heave back and forth.
What was wrong with me? Crying over Michael now because he went out on a date? I deserved all this damn pain. I drove him away. I told him that there wasn’t anything between us, when I wanted there to be. He deserved to find a woman who wasn’t as fucked up as I was, who didn’t have so many problems that even I couldn’t keep them straight.
Cars zoomed past me on the highway, their bright lights blinding me. One hit a pothole and sprayed me with all the water inside of it. I just let it happen, not giving a single fuck anymore. All I wanted was to wash off in the hospital bathroom, change into a pair of fresh pajamas, and cry myself to sleep in the waiting room.
I walked for another fifteen minutes which ended up being only a quarter mile and thought real hard about hitch-hiking. It would surely be better than walking through this part of town, this late at night.
A car pulled up to the side of the road, and I glanced back at it to see the shiny bright lights beaming at me. Someone got out, and I continued to hurry down the sidewalk. Okay, maybe hitch-hiking was a no-go. I didn’t want to get into the car with a creepy, old--
My heart dropped. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around, seeing his figure in front of the headlights. Michael… Michael was here. Michael was here for me.
“Mia, please, come home with me.”
Though part of me wanted to protest and to tell him to go back to his date, I… I didn’t have it in me to break him again. So, I walked toward him, wrapped my arms around his waist, and pulled him into a tight hug, burying my face into his chest. “I’m sorry,” I cried. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
He wrapped his arms around me, brushing his fingers against my wet hair. “It’s okay,” he said softly. But it wasn’t okay and I wasn’t okay. Nothing about this was okay. He was my best friend’s dad, showing me more affection and more love than my boyfriend did, more than my dad did, more than anyone--except Mom did.
“Let me take you home, Mia,” he said. “You can stay with me tonight, and I’ll bring you to see your mother tomorrow morning.”
After swallowing all those emotions--hate, anger, sadness--that I had come to know so damn well, I nodded my head. “Okay.” I walked to the passenger side and gazed at the seat, not wanting to ruin his car with my wet clothes. “Do you want me to take off my we--”
“Get in,” he said.
I slid into the car and shut the door, listening to the rhythmic beat of the rain on the windshield. He started the car and veered back onto the road, merging onto the highway. I stared down at my knees and frowned. “I’m sorry for ruining your date.”
“You didn’t ruin my date,” he said. “I didn’t even want to go.”
“Was it that girl you were at the bar with?” I asked before I could stop myself. It didn’t matter who the girl was. He didn’t have to tell me, if he didn’t want to. I had hurt him.
His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “Don’t do this, Mia,” he said. “Don’t try to make yourself hurt worse.”
I pressed my lips together and stared at the windshield. “Okay, sorry.” And, then, I didn’t say anything else for the rest of the car ride. I just enjoyed the silence, because it was better than any music-blaring party I had ever attended.
When we reached his house, he led me to his bedroom, turned on the shower, and stripped off my clothes. “Get in.”
I stepped into the shower, letting the water warm my bare and already-drenched skin. “The shower is big enough for two of us,” I said, joking and trying to start a conversation again with him. There was something about him tonight that seemed different from the usual talkative, friendly Michael. He had that strained look on his face like he had Thursday right before he told me he wanted to give me money.
“Not now.” He took a deep breath and walked out of the bathroom. I listened to him fumbling around in his closet and closed my eyes. It felt like all I had been doing these past three weeks was crying, yet I felt like I needed to cry more. But I held it in and washed my hair with his shampoo and then my body with some soap.
About ten minutes later, Michael came back into the room with some clothes and a fresh towel. He placed them on the sink counter and leaned against it, crossing his arms over his chest.
I stared at him, waiting for him to say something, but he didn’t. Instead, he continued to stare at me with those intense blue eyes and I continued to stand there unsure about everything. After washing the soap off my body, I turned the water off and reached my hand out of the shower for the towel.
“What happened at the party?” he asked me, jaw clenched. I sucked in a deep breath, gazed at my feet, and wiggled my toes. He grasped my chin and forced me to look up at him. “What happened?”
My brows furrowed together. “I didn’t even want to go,” I said. My stomach tightened, and I didn’t know if I should rat Melissa out to her own father or keep my friend’s drama to myself. But after a few moments, I sighed. “Melissa just… she made me feel uncomfortable.”
He arched a brow and pressed his lips together. “What did she do?”
I tightened the towel around my torso. “She, uhm, asked me to sleep with her boyfriend.”
Michael’s eyes widened slightly, jaw clenching even harder. He parted his lips, pressed them back together, and furrowed his brows, looking me up and down. “Did you?”
“No! I would never sleep with Victor. But she was so adamant, and…” I shook my head. “I didn’t have any who could bring me home and I didn’t know what to do. She had never acted like that before. I was… scared.” I shook my head yet again. “I’m sorry I just left her there.”
A heap of guilt washed over me. God, I wasn’t only a bad girlfriend to Mason and a bad thing to Michael, but I was also a bad friend to Melissa. I had left her at a party, drunk out of her fucking mind, with guys who wanted to fuck her senseless. I should’ve stayed and made sure she got home alright, instead of running out like the loser I was.
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