christmas eve

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t w e l v e

I didn’t know what had woken me up. There were no voices around me, no distracting light in my eyes. Everything was normal-

But there was loud Christmas music.

My brows furrowed, and I pulled my blanket over my head, pressing the fabric against my ears. I didn’t know what was going on. And I didn’t want to figure it out.

I groaned and turned to the side. My sheets rustled and twisted around my legs.

I pulled my legs up to my chest. I wanted to sleep. But the music just continued on. I groaned and pinched my eyes close.

This just wasn’t it. Whoever had decided to pull a prank on me should’ve just stayed in bed instead.

I wasn’t up for this.

But I couldn’t distract myself from the music. It kept sounding in my ears, no matter how hard I pressed the fabric against my ear. I let out a frustrated scream.

This couldn’t be happening. I just wanted to sleep.

I breathed in deeply, trying to find the patience I didn’t have. My face was burrowed into my pillow. I counted to ten, and then to twenty.

My hands clenched around the fabric of my blanket.

Another five seconds passed, and then I finally opened my eyes. Everything was white. My shoulders tensed. It reminded me of the snow outside that kept me in here. I slowly lifted my arm, drawing the white blanket over me up.

I blinked against the bright light in my room. It had to be the morning.

I sighed and rolled onto my back, pushing the fabric away from my face. Sheets rustled. Another night had passed in this nightmare. Good.

I licked over my dry lips. I grimaced and pushed myself up on my left arm, reaching over to my left. There on my nightstand had always been my bottle of water. I couldn’t sleep without it.

Usually, I always woke up in the middle of the night, feeling as if I hadn’t drunk anything in days. But today, I hadn’t. It could have something to do with all that alcohol I drank... My fingers curled around the cold plastic, and I let myself fall back. Sitting up halfway, my back against the bed rest, I opened the lid and let it fall down onto my blanket.

My brows furrowed as I listened to the music, taking a sip. It wasn’t coming from my room. My gaze moved to my door, to the faint echo I could hear behind it. Was someone standing outside?

I swallowed and set the bottle back onto my nightstand. I pulled my blanket to the side and placed my feet onto the ground. Only now I realized that I was still wearing my shoes.

I looked down and then cringed, searching through my bedding for dirt. I lifted up my covers. Luckily because I had only been inside these last few days, there wasn’t any recess. There wasn’t anything on the white fabric.

I sighed in relief. At least I didn’t have to go to the washing machines...

The college had too much of my money already.

I stood up. My eyes felt swollen.

My feet were tingling as I slowly tip-toed my way to the door. It could only be Cade, right? There was no one else in here except for him and me. At least I hoped so.

I walked past my mirror that was hanging on my closet and almost cringed. My eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. I sighed. There was nothing I could do about that now...

I concentrated on the door instead. My fingers curled around the door handle. I opened the door, expecting to see someone behind it, but the hallway was empty. I could see myself reflected in the window in front of me. My brows furrowed as I looked around.

There was no one.

I breathed in deeply. That did not explain the music that continued to play. I propped my hands on my hips and took a step forward. Left and right, I could see nothing.

There was a crack that sounded through the air, almost like a speaker that lost connection. I swallowed. I knew what that was... my gaze shifted upwards.

Ha, there it was! Now I had found the source. The music was playing through the intercommunication system. I frowned up at the grey speakers that hung high up on the walls.

Cade. This was his doing.

I shook my head and crossed my arms. Was this supposed to be a joke? Could he not guess that I didn’t want to see him?

I stood there completely motionless, waiting. I didn’t know for what, though.

There was no reason for him to do that.

But did there have to be a reason? He was Cade Thindal.

His only goal was probably to annoy me even more.

I closed my eyes, feeling my head pound. Only now I started to feel the aftermath of all the alcohol we had chugged down. I couldn’t remember much from our stay in the principal’s office...

We had drunk and danced across the room, had somehow landed on the floor... He had said that I was beautiful, and I had kissed- wait.

My eyes widened, and I stumbled back. My shoulder bumped against the doorframe to my room. My head snapped down, expecting to see a tiny troll that had pushed me, and I put my hand against the wood to steady myself.

I had kissed him.

I shook my head, my breath hitching in my throat. Why the hell had I done this to myself?

There was no reason for this other than I had been... drunk. Right, I had been so drunk that the world had spun around me! That explained everything!

Alright, and everything had been entirely innocent. It had just been a brief kiss on the lips... or had it been? I couldn’t really remember.

I cursed, turned around, and entered my room again. I sat down on my bed and let my head fall onto my hands. There was only Christmas music. I couldn’t focus.

I tried to remember everything that had happened yesterday, but everything was blurry. Why the hell had I decided to drink with him? Gods, this was my fault.

I groaned. I couldn’t believe it-

The music stopped for a second, followed by a crack of the intercommunication system. I looked up and out to my door, which I had left open. My brows furrowed.

What was he doing? Yesterday, everything had worked well. Now it sounded like he was having problems with it.

After another loud crack, the music stopped. I sighed in relief. Now my headache would hopefully stop-

“Holly?”

I quipped up. Was I imagining things? No. His voice echoed around the halls.

He cleared his throat. It sounded through the entire college. “Well, it’s not like you could answer me... but, at least I hope that you can hear me, Holly...” his restrained laugh echoed.

I swallowed and stood up, walking to the door again. I stopped at the doorstep, my hand on the doorframe.

I had no idea where this was going.

A few seconds passed in silence, and I thought that there wouldn’t come anything more. But I was wrong.

“I want to talk to you.”

My brows furrowed.

That’s what he wanted? Talk?

“I want you to meet me in the cafeteria this evening,” came his voice again. He didn’t sound like himself. These last few days, he had almost always been so sure of himself... even if he had been wrong.

Alright, there had been a few dropouts, but he had always only been smirks and grins. He had been... Cade.

I sighed and felt my hand clench into a fist.

“It’ll be Christmas eve, after all. How about a second date?”

There was a trace of uncertainty in his voice, a slight quiver I could only make out because we had spent the last few days together. It didn’t sound like him.

I bit my lip.

It was so strange to hear him that way.

“Please come and let me make this right, Holly.”

-

I didn’t know what I was doing. I really didn’t. I breathed in deeply and continued my way through the halls. Maybe this was wrong- I wasn’t sure.

My heart was pounding faster against my ribcage with every step that I took. A few hours had passed. I had watched as the sun has started to set and the nerves had set in. I had been contemplating this the whole time.

I could stay in bed instead. I had told myself that countless times.

But was a misunderstanding enough to spend Christmas alone?

I had shaken my head. No reason but myself would keep me in my room. My temper had ruined a lot of things.

I ground my teeth, and my hand clenched around the package of M&M’s I was holding. I was still angry. But I didn’t want to be alone. If this was supposed to go on well, then I needed to get over myself.

I would have to figure this out.

With all that time in my hand, I had resolved that I could go and listen to him. And if I didn’t like any of this, I could leave again... Yes, this was how this would go.

We would talk, and then I’d decide how it was supposed to go on. It was my decision, after all.

I swallowed as I rounded a corner to the left. And here I was... Only the heavy doors were what kept Cade from sight now. I breathed in deeply.

There was no going back now.

My left hand was shaking as I used it to open the door, taking a deep breath before I walked inside. My steps faltered. This was not what I’d been expecting.

My lips opened on their own.

Cade’s head snapped to me. He was kneeling on the ground next to a structure of blankets and pillows. He was holding a pillow in his hand. He was still for a brief second before he was quickly moving again.

He laid the pillow to the side and stood up.

His eyes were stuck on mine, wonder in them. I didn’t know what to say or how to react. So I just stood there. And waited.

“I didn’t think you’d come.”

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