The alcohol was flowing and for once the atmosphere felt uplifted, like in the moment nothing could go wrong. We lived in different corners of the state but for this one night we had all come together to celebrate Liam and that felt fantastic.
I watched him from a distance talking to his friends with a beer bottle in his hand. He was different here. His whole body language had changed in just a few months, he mostly no longer flinched at touch, he didn’t walk around with a grey cloud above his head and his barriers had fallen so low they were easily stepped over to find the magnificent person underneath.
He caught me watching him and laughed to himself, shaking his head in amusement and then carried on talking to Ben and Zak. I loved every mannerism he possessed and I loved how he made me feel the true definition of happiness.
“I think I’m gonna give Zak a whirl.” Lola spoke to nobody in particular. Sadly I took my attention away from Liam and looked at her with perplexity. “Tia has Jordan, you have Liam so I might as well see what Zak is packing.” She concluded.
“I didn’t know you thought of him in that way.”
“Oh I think of everyone in that way, especially Liam.” She looked over at him, ogling him like he was a piece of meat and I rolled my eyes at her honesty. “I’m not wanting a long term relationship or three kids, I just want to take him for a quick ride and see how he drives.” She shrugged so casually.
I’ve never been one to understand the act casual sex but Lola seems to prefer it which is great for her because she has a lot of interest. Growing up I always knew I wanted to have sex with someone who I had an emotional connection with and I think that will always be my preference.
“That leaves Ben to you Reece.” Tia said with a stifled grin.
“No thank you.” Reece threw her hands in the air and answered a little too fast.
We all started giggling like a bunch of school girls. The guys joined us and I felt Liams warmth as he pulled my body in closer to his own, he planted a kiss on the top of my head.
“Mmm, your hair smells so good.” He breathed in the tropical scents of my shampoo and I looked at him strangely. His pupils were dilated. He raised his hand and ran his fingers through my hair, cherishing the silky smoothness of my blonde strands. He studied it like the softness and shininess fascinated him.
“Are you high?” I asked, he focused on my mouth as I said the words. Like really focused on the way my lips moved and then as if in slow motion a smile showed me all of his teeth.
He lifted his finger and thumb up to my vision “Tiny bit.” He spoke really slowly. “Don’t be mad at me.”
“I’m not.” He rested his head on my shoulder and blinked incredibly slowly. His dopey eyes stayed focus on Lola, really absorbing everything about her for a good ten minutes.
“Is that mine?” He finally asked.
She looked down at her attire and then back up at him.
“No it’s mine, do you have the same one?” She muttered innocently.
“Yeah.” Liam said, sounding confused. I turned away from him so he didn’t see the smile on my face. I can only imagine his facial expression when he sees all of his hoodies dumped on the floor, his closet left open and his bed unmade.
I didn’t know how much Liam had smoked but he was completely trashed, everything was funny to him. All the guys were the same. They made Zak do his whole Magic Mike routine much to Lola’s approval. Admittedly he was quite good at it and his body wasn’t awful but I don’t think he needed to go all the way like he did because that image will always be scarred into my brain now.
The sun started rising from the horizon and the sky got filled with vibrant oranges and yellows as the night disappeared. The friendship groups had all broken off and I sat looking out at the sea with Liam who was still a little dosed from marijuana.
“In a few weeks we’ve got to go home.” He said quietly.
I had avoided this conversation for the longest time but he was right, three weeks until summer break and then everyone needed to go home. I don’t know what home meant to Liam anymore, would he go back to the house he shared with Jax?
“You can stay with me, I’ll have to ask my parents because it’s their house but we’re not kids anymore so I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem.” Liam grabbed my hand and gave it a small squeeze, I wasn’t sure if that was saying yes or no.
He took a deep breath.
“There’s a lot of memories there.” His words were clearly slurred but in the mists of his drunken state was sadness.
“Why don’t we stay here?” I offered. Liam gave me half a smile, one that didn’t sparkle his silver eyes. He was frightened.
“I made my decision Liv. I made it the night I took a gun into that school.” He looked out at sea and I followed his gaze. He’s deciding to talk about that now, when he’s incoherent and doesn’t know what he’s saying fully.
“What does that mean? What decision?” He sucked in a breath and held it for the longest time, I was beginning to think he wasn’t going to answer me but then he started talking.
“I was dangerous Liv, lost completely to my own mind. I planned to kill him but then I don’t think that would have been enough for me. I wanted to torture him first, make him feel even just an ounce of what he made me feel all these years. Then I was going to shoot him dead.”
His words didn’t take me by surprise, he obviously gave this a great deal of thought and admittedly I had too. Ever since Liam told me he got abused I wanted to kill his predator in the worst possible way imaginable.
“After I killed him I planned to kill myself.” His sentence was so low I barely heard it. His cheeks reddened under the light of dawn and he looked deeply ashamed.
“Liam...” I didn’t know what to say or how to console him. I couldn’t find the words so I just grabbed his hand and held it tightly.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had those thoughts Liv. Before you I used to have them all the time. I just felt like there was nothing to live for and that I was burdening everyone by my existence. It’s exhausting living in the constant fear and being plagued by your past. The present was all I could see in my future.”
“Do you still feel like that now?” He rose my hand to his lips and kissed my knuckles gently.
“Now I see a future.” He smiled shyly at me with the pinkest of cheeks, like admitting that made him feel embarrassed.
“Liam, if you ever feel like that again I want you to come and find me. Promise me.” I pleaded. He smiled gently.
“Liv when I saw him again he still had this control over me. I was scared of him, powerless. I lied to you just to protect his secret and even now I feared he would touch me without consent and I couldn’t do anything to stop it from happening.”
“Liam we would have never let that happen.” Reliving those moments had the fear coiling in, clinging to Liam in the cruelest way.
“The night of the gun I made a choice, I’m going to face my fears, stand up to Jax, stop clinging onto any hope of rekindling a relationship with my mom and get justice for what Colin did to me.”
“Colin.” I gasped. He’s never said his name before and somehow knowing his name made him seem more real to me than actually seeing him in person because I didn’t know then. I didn’t pay him much attention, I can barely remember what he looked like. I decided I didn’t like it, Liam’s abuser didn’t deserve a name and I was going to refuse to use it.
Liam seemed confident in himself and I don’t know if it was him talking or the drug. I didn’t know if he would even remember this conversation tomorrow but right now he was sure of himself and I needed to support that even if part of me was terrified.
Just running into him at the diner sent Liam plummeting down a spiral that he barely recovered from. Now he wanted to face them all together. Jax, his mom, him. I was frightened Liam mentally couldn’t win that battle, it might just destroy him.