Finding Faith

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Chapter 11

It was Wednesday afternoon when Layla dropped her bright blue bag on the table in front of me and asked if I was going to the party.

“What?”

She huffed in annoyance and repeated herself, tapping one perfectly-manicured hand on the table. “The party, Lucy. The party. So are you going or not?”

I gave her a blank look, which was the equivalent of how I was feeling. Honestly, I had no idea how to answer. “Sorry. Um. No. Yes? Maybe.”

“One of those three sounds acceptable.” She said, lifting her chin. “So are you going, or aren’t you?”

I was about to answer, but a flash of black caught my eye. Faith was walking past our table, hood drawn up over her head and headphones on. She had a determined look on her face as she approached us, but was abruptly halted by none other than Liz, who was quickly joined by Willow.

Liz looked like she was telling her something in a low voice, and Willow was making lots of gestures with her hands as she spoke. Faith frowned at whatever they were saying, and glanced my way, eyes dropping as soon as she realized I was looking right at her at the same time. I wondered if I imagined the guilt on her face.

What were they all talking about? It had to be something about me. That was the only reason why they were all glancing in my direction, talking in hushed voices.

It was starting to annoy me, and I was tempted to go over and ask them what they thought they were doing, but--I forced myself to drop my eyes. That was right. I had warned Faith to never talk to me again, and I hated myself for wanting her to, even now. But she didn’t know what my mom was like, she had no idea what I had to do to impress her--I tried to focus on what Layla was saying now: something about how she was going to get me a date if it was the last thing she did.

“Lucy, are you listening?” Layla snapped her fingers in front of my face. I blinked, startled by the movement. “What? Oh, sorry.”“Stop apologizing,” She chided. She leaned back, studying my face, her expression turning uncharacteristically concerned. “You look tired. Are you pulling all-nighters or what?”

I shook my head, avoiding her eyes. It had been about two weeks since my fight with Faith, and all I could think about were her words spiralling through my head.

It’s your choice. It’s your life.

If only it were that easy. I wasn’t quite mad at her anymore, but making up was something I just wasn’t ready for right now, and I wasn’t sure if I ever would be.

So I continued to avoid her as much as possible, and she had given up trying. In Art Class, there were no more tables left, but we sat as far away from each other as possible, and didn’t speak one word to one another.

If Ms. Castle noticed, she didn’t give any sign, except for asking if both of us were alright. I think she knew something more was going on, but fortunately, she didn’t pry any further, leaving us to ourselves.

In Biology, I never looked at her anymore, and always made sure to partner up with someone else whenever we had to do a group project or lab. Faith was usually almost always by herself.

And at lunch, or when school ended, I would only ever speak to my other friends, even if it was a bare minimum.

Faith was only ever at our table maybe once or twice a week, and only for brief moments before disappearing.

I had made it clear that I didn’t want to talk to her, but now...it was still eating away at me, and I didn’t know why.

I didn’t know why it was this hard to stay away from Faith, and pretend like I hated her when I couldn’t bring myself to.

I also felt guilty about staying away from my friends for this past month, but I didn’t want to show how bad I was really feeling. There was this whole new level of stress added on to me, and to be honest, it probably had to do with my mom.

More studying and less socializing is what would keep her satisfied, and so that was what I had been trying to do.

Only, I was miserable. And Layla could tell.

“Lucy,” She said quietly, pursing her glossed lips. “Maybe you should go home, if you’re not feeling too good.”

I shook my head again. “No. I’m OK, really.” I didn’t know who I was trying to convince exactly; her or myself.

“Listen,” Layla said briskly. “I don’t know what’s up with you and your little emo artist, and it’s none of my business. All I know is--and I’m saying this in the nicest way possible--you look like crap.”

“Wow,” I said. “That was a really good pep talk, Layles. Nice.”

She rolled her eyes. “What I meant is that I want to help.”

“Well, maybe you can’t.” I said bluntly, too tired to even care about sounding rude. As far as I was concerned, the past few weeks had been hell.

I hiked up my bag on my shoulder, checking my watch. “I gotta get to class.”

“What about the party?” Layla called, as I got up and walked away.

“I don’t know,” I called back.

“Just come for the first hour.” Layla jogged to catch up to me, which was somewhat impressive considering her high heels. She looped her arm around mine. “There’ll be snacks. And you don’t have to dance.”

“Or talk to anyone?” I muttered.

“That, I can’t promise.” Her eyes gleamed deviously. “But you won’t have to do much. Just try to have fun?” “I have to study,” I mumbled. “And then I have soccer practice.”

“Please?” She batted her eyelashes at me in mock-desperation. “Pretty please?”

I sighed. “I’ll think about it.”

That was as good as a yes as any answer. She cheered. “Yes! The party is on Friday, after school. I’ll pick you up?”

I shrugged, which she obviously took as a ‘yes’.

“Great! See you later!” And she pranced off, bag swinging on her hip.

I shook my head and continued towards my classroom, ignoring how Faith’s eyes followed me all the way out of the room. She could think whatever she wanted. It wasn’t my business anymore, after all.

And maybe Layla had a point. Maybe I could use a little fun, even if it meant talking to a bunch of loudmouthed jocks and party girl cheerleaders.

As long as none of them were Faith, I could definitely settle for that.


When Friday night came along, as promised, Layla came to pick me up. Mom was initially against the idea of me going, but after some key points from my dad, and the promise to be responsible, I was finally allowed to go. The party was being thrown by Ben Rivers, captain of the football team, who lived in a huge house a few neighbourhoods over from where I lived, upstate.

It was in one of those rich, upscale areas where all the houses were giant and lavish, with wrap-around porches and balconies, floor to ceiling windows, and swimming pools. Ben’s house itself was beautiful, I had to admit, and it was a good thing it was so big too, because so many people ended up coming that the building was packed in no time.

I saw a lot of people I recognized, and a lot of people I didn’t. Everyone was walking around holding those cheap red plastic cups, and it didn’t take someone clever to figure out that there was a ton of underage drinkers there that night. It was only 8:00, and some kids already looked tipsy or wasted, hanging off of their friends in groups, laughing too loud. People were talking in these little bunches, and some of the more aggressive ones were even sliding down the staircase, whooping and cheered on by the crowd.

I was offered drinks several times, but I always politely declined. My parents would never let me hear the end of it if I so much as had one glass too many. It was only when a cup was literally shoved into my hands, that I settled on drinking pop.

One room was completely dark, with a disco ball strung up, so it looked more like a nightclub than inside someone’s house. Really, Ben’s house was so huge I kept wondering what exactly his parents did for a living.

Layla dragged me onto the dance floor the first chance she got, even though I wasn’t too happy about it. I would have rather stuck around to talk to the other people hanging out in the living room or the kitchen, some of which included cheerleaders and other athletes I knew.

The music boomed out of loudspeakers, and the disco lights flashed among the big crowd of bodies swaying and jumping around to the beat. It was hot, and only got hotter as the dancing and shouting continued. Eventually, I joined in dancing with Layla, and had my official first drink of the night. It got a little more enjoyable after that, my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest.

We went out for a short break into the kitchen. Layla pulled me over to talk to Dylan Stanfield, assistant captain of the rugby team, and Ben Rivers, the host of the party himself.

Lucy...what’s up?” Ben shouted over the music, one arm swinging to land around Layla’s shoulders. “Nothing much,” I said loudly back. “Killer party, though!”

“Thanks, man!” He grinned. “Folks are outta town. Gotta take advantage of that, am I right?”

Layla giggled like a lunatic and pressed against him, one hand over his chest. I was a little concerned by that, but Ben didn’t make any moves, and Layla was the one who was practically hugging him. “Wanna go sit down somewhere?”

I nodded, and the four of us went over to the couch, the couple who were already sitting there moving over to make room for us. Luckily, there was more than enough leg space for all of us, even though Layla remained clinging on to Ben like she was drowning, and started engaging him in conversation, to which he appeared to be listening to in intense concentration.

Never underestimate a tipsy person’s attention span.

Dylan Stanfield smiled, and moved closer to me, one arm slung around the back of the couch behind my head. I was uncomfortable by this, so I shifted over, but he just kept crowding against my space. “So how you likin’ this party?”

I shrugged, and forced a smile. “It’s pretty good.” Wow, nice lie. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the party itself, it was just that I couldn’t really enjoy myself, not when I couldn’t keep my mind off of what Faith and the others had been talking about earlier, and what it had to do with me. I tried making more conversation. “How do you find it so far?”

Dylan scooted even closer, until his thigh rested against my hip. I swallowed, and looked at him, trying to keep smiling as casually as possible. “Can you move back a little?”

“Yeah, it’s nice, you know?” He ignored me and leaned in. I hated myself for instinctively thinking about how different his eyes were from Faith’s, how his were beady and oddly menacing, and how he had an almost….hungry look in them. “But I know what could make it even nicer.” I could feel my smile faltering. “Oh, really?”

“Yeah.” His free hand closed over mine, hot and heavy. “I got a few ideas.” He was too close, and it felt wrong, so wrong.

“Can you--please--move back?” I forced out, through gritted teeth.

“Why?” He whispered. His breath smelled like stale alcohol and cigarettes, and I fought to not cough from the stench. “Don’t you like this?”

I shook my head frantically, but his hand began to slide over my hip. I curled my hand into a fist, ready to punch him if necessary, and I was fairly certain by this point that that time was coming soon. But at that moment, I had an unexpected saviour.

“We gotta go dance some more!” Layla chirped, and pulled Ben up with her. “Coming, Luce?”

I didn’t realize how scared I had been until I noticed my hands were trembling. I stood up quickly, almost knocking into the coffee table by accident.

“Whoa, you OK?” Ben asked, looking concerned. “Yeah, you wanna sit back down?” Dylan patted the spot next to him in a friendly way. But I knew better. I had seen the look on his drunk face just a few seconds ago. It didn’t matter whether I had said yes or no, he might have--would have done what he wanted had Layla not unknowingly interrupted him.

I nodded at Ben, smiling to stop his worrying. “Yeah, I’m good. Want to go back to the dance floor?” “Hell yeah, we do!” Layla cheered. She looped an arm around mine, and the three of us headed back, even though I could feel Dylan’s eyes burning into the back of my head.

In fact, I was so preoccupied with all the thoughts and adrenaline racing through my mind, I didn’t even notice the small girl dressed all in black as she entered silently through the front door.


The room was even hotter than I remembered it being in the first place, but that just made it even more exciting in a way. The sugar must have been going to my head at this point.

The tangle of bodies seemed even more excited now, the flashing lights and pounding music having seemingly increased. I jumped and spun, although my vision was getting blurry. What was happening to me?

“Hey, there.” A smooth, dark voice whispered in my ear. I almost jumped in surprise. “Wh-what?”

“So sexy,” The voice muttered, and it made my blood freeze. “So hot.”

I reached out for Layla, only to realize she wasn’t standing beside me anymore, like I thought. I blinked, trying to clear away the disorientation, but it was no use. She had just disappeared, and it looked like she took Ben with her. I tried to step away, but a hand curled around my wrist, stopping me. “You didn’t think you could get away from me that easily, did you?

I finally recognized the voice. “Dylan?”

“Sure, baby.” His voice was like a parasite in my ear; slow and somehow vicious. “We were interrupted, but I can still make this work.”

I tried to step away again, tried to get away from him, but another hand slipped around my waist, forcing me to stay where I was. “What’s the rush? Don’t go, baby.”

“Dylan,” I said, loud enough so he could hear me, but the music was overwhelming. I felt like the blood was rushing to my head, making me dizzy. “L-let go.”

“Why?” I could feel his breath on my neck, and shivered. This was wrong. This was so wrong. This creep was too close, and I wanted him gone.

“You heard me. I-I said let go.” I pushed at his hands, but it was as though I had no strength.

“Not without one dance,” He mumbled into my hair, spinning me around. Before I understood what was happening, he grabbed the back of my neck and dragged my mouth to his.

I wanted to scream, but couldn’t find my voice. I tried shoving him away, once, twice, and finally succeeded on the third try. “Dylan, get the hell away from me--”

But he slammed into me a second time, forcing me into another disgusting kiss. It was slobbery and greedy, his hands on my hips, and all I could think was how this molesting creep was in so much trouble when I got free, and I was never, never going to let him get away with this--

“Get the HELL away from her, you asshole!”

The next thing I knew, a smaller force smashed into Dylan, knocking him away from me. I fell to my knees, and gasped for breath.

By the time I looked up, someone was standing over me. I looked over and saw Dylan sprawled on the floor, which should have been impossible, considering how tall he was, and how that compared to the size of my savior. “Faith?” I choked out.

Her hands were balled into fists, and she looked beyond furious, her dark hair sticking up around her head like she had just rolled out of bed, and her eyes burning with hate. Dylan pushed himself up, and lunged at her, apparently not about to be shoved around by a five foot two tall girl. She stomped on his foot, and threw a punch at his head, while he grabbed her arms, and tried to stop her. He managed to get hold of one arm, but she just kicked his shin and snatched it back.

I stared at this feat, wondering how Faith could possibly face down someone so much bigger and stronger than she was, without backing off. My next thought was how disgusted she had appeared when she had looked into my eyes.

Faith was fast, but Dylan was mad. He hoisted her up by her shirt collar, while she scrabbled at his grip, digging her nails into the back of his hands. He winced, but didn’t let go, shaking her like a rag doll while she glared at him venomously.

“You little bitch,” He hissed, but Faith didn’t even flinch, not even when he got right in her face. “Who the hell do you think you are?” He shook her again. Then she did something which I found was both incredibly brave and stupid at the same time--she spat in his face.

He growled and drew back his fist to hit her, and I could see her eyes widening, as if just realizing how much trouble she was in now. I got shakily to my feet and lurched forwards, rapidly grabbing onto Dylan’s arm, ripping Faith away from him. “Leave her alone!”

Luckily, he seemed surprised enough that I was able to force him away, especially in my current state. I didn’t blame him for being startled. I was surprised myself for being able to, but when I had seen Faith like that, helpless, so brave and yet so freaking stupid--I had no idea. All I knew was that I would never let him lay a hand on her. He blinked, looking from me to her. Faith was panting, dark hair falling over her face. I stepped right in front of her, blocking his view as a silent warning: one more move from him, and I would rip his arms off.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” He slurred, waving one hand agitatedly. “I thought we were havin’ fun!” “‘No’ means no, you dickhead.” I growled. “And for the record, molesting isn’t exactly what I would call fun.”

Dylan took this in, and he must have been more drunk than I thought, because then he pointed wildly at Faith. “She swung at me! You saw, the little shit swung at me!” His shouts were getting the attention of others, and a few of his friends sidled up beside him. Unfortunately, I recognized them. Brian O’Connell, Martin Chao, and Nick Jones. If anyone were to take Dylan’s side, it would be those three jerks.

“I don’t care,” I said, standing my ground. “She stepped in at exactly the right time.”

As long as Faith kept quiet, I was somewhat sure I could diffuse the situation before it got worse. Let Dylan curse himself incoherent, and then we would just leave.

But naturally, she couldn’t help declaring fiercely, “And I would do it over again, asshole!”

I wanted to tell her to shut up, but Brian stepped in before I could. “It’s her own business, the two of them were minding their own business!”

“Yeah, molesting is real private,” Faith drawled, smirking at his expression. “Figures shit idiots like you can’t tell the difference.”

He scowled at that, face turning red while his friends jeered on.

“What, are you in love with her or something?” Martin wondered out loud, and all four of them snorted derisively at the thought. “You a fag, or something?”

I was furious by his use of the horrible word. It was an insult I would never dream of using, not now, and not ever. I stepped forwards, ready to tell him off, but Faith was already talking again.

“As a matter of fact, I am.” Faith said smoothly, although I could sense her rage firing up again. The confession left me speechless. She had never even told me that, never even told me she was--

“And if dipshits like you think that’s a problem, then I feel bad for whoever raised you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Nick retorted. The other three were muttering to each other, louder and louder. Faith was somehow getting to them, through their drunk haze.

I needed her to stop before she made things worse.

“Oh, you know,” She batted her eyelashes innocently, and I knew the worst was yet to come. “Clueless bastards have to come from somewhere, right?”

I didn’t know what set him off exactly, but if anything, the mix of cheap insults plus the overconsumption of alcohol were just too much.

Dylan flew at Faith with a yell, barrelling past me and knocking me over, and the other three boys weren’t far behind. As I was beginning to learn, Faith was a miniature whirlwind when she was mad, and she was practically the angriest I had ever seen now, but she was heavily outnumbered. Nick grabbed one arm, and Martin grabbed another, and the other two began punching her, yelling insults.

They didn’t get far though. I got straight to my feet and charged, tearing both Nick and Martin off of her, and forcing Brian and Dylan away with a swing of my arm.

I shielded Faith from their view, mustering all the hatred I had for the four bastards into one glare, daring them to try again, and I would kill them, I swore I would.

Finally, Dylan, panting and sporting a bruise on his cheek, spat on the floor and waved for the rest of his cronies to follow him. “Whatever. Have your little bitch.”

I didn’t stop glaring until they were completely out of sight, before looking down at Faith.

She was sporting a scratch down the length of her cheek, and I thought I could see a bruise forming where Dylan had nearly choked her from grabbing her collar. She was coughing and clutching her side where that moron had hit her.

Oh my God,” I mumbled urgently, my head still spinning a little. I bent down beside her, hand outstretched. “Faith, are you OK?”

She looked up, and froze like a deer in headlights. Then her eyes narrowed and she got to her feet quickly. “I’m fine.” She muttered darkly, and stalked off.

“Wait--” I knew I had warned her off, but I wasn’t quite done yet. Besides, who did she think she was, leaving like it was all my fault? I stood back up shakily, blinking away the disorientation from the flashing lights, and followed.

I saw her up ahead. She opened a door to what I thought was a bedroom violently, and slammed it shut behind her. I pushed the door open, and stepped inside. “Faith?”

She was standing with her back to me, arms wrapped around herself like she was cold.

She didn’t bother to respond, and that made me more upset than I already was at all that had happened tonight.

“What were you thinking?” I demanded, quickly losing whatever remained of my patience. I stepped forwards and took her by the shoulders, trying to force her to look at me.

She turned but avoided my gaze, her eyes fixed on the floor in front of her. “I thought we weren’t talking?” She rasped, rubbing her throat where the bruise was most visible. I ignored that, shaking her. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“None of your business,” She snapped, glaring up at me. I let go, and she stumbled back. I wondered if she had a concussion, or was just drunk. The latter would probably explain her stupid recklessness at least.

“You can’t just pick fights, Faith! Taking on those four boys like that? You had no freaking chance!”

“You don’t know that.”

“Oh, right.” I shook my head, rolling my eyes. Faith’s hand clenched into a fist, but she didn’t move. “Because watching you get beat into a bloody pulp means you had a chance. I see.”

“They were being assholes!” She shouted, throwing up a hand. “And it’s not your responsibility to tell me who to fight or not. It’s up to me!”

“You idiot!” I yelled. “Of course it’s my responsibility. Believe it or not, I care about you, you dumbass!”

I could tell the insult had stung. I had never really called Faith anything stronger than idiot or jerk. She clenched her jaw and looked me straight in the eye, cold and rigid. “Leave me alone,” She growled. “I mean it, Lucy. You...you have no idea what I go through every day.”

I didn’t know what she meant by that, but I was too far gone to care. “I don’t know?” My voice rose. “I don’t know? Maybe that’s because you push everyone away, Faith! Maybe it’s because for some twisted reason you’re so afraid of being loved by anyone, you force them out!”

“I--” Faith began, looking stunned, but I couldn’t seem to stop. “And another thing--you never even told me you were gay!”

Faith looked bewildered now. “What does that have to do with anything? What does that matter?”

God, was she really that oblivious?

“It matters to me!” I shouted, because for some reason, it really did. I wasn’t entirely sure why this bothered me so much. The fact that I had had to hear it come out in front of all those idiot boys back in the dance room pissed me off more than I could express. “Did you think I would have cared? Why didn’t you just tell me? Why did I have to find out like this?”

“Oh, and it’s all about you, isn’t it?” Her voice was scathing, filled with biting sarcasm. She took a step forwards, as if she had regained some of her sullen confidence. “I don’t owe it to you or to anyone to have to come out, believe it or not.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but she kept going, as if each word was something she’d been meaning to say for years. “You haven’t been truthful this entire month, even though it’s your own damn fault! You shouldn’t talk about pushing others away, when you’ve been doing it yourself, and you damn well know it. Like I said before: it’s selfish, and shit, even worse is it’s cowardly.”

The words were ugly, accusing, and even worse was that I couldn’t even deny that most of them weren’t true.

“I’ve been honest with you about everything except this. Which is more than I can say for you.”

I was starting to sound like I was a broken record, but I couldn’t understand why she hadn’t just trusted me with the fact that she was gay. Was she afraid of my response? Did she really think that little of me?

But this didn’t seem to faze her. She simply shrugged infuriatingly and said calmly, “I’ve never tried to hide who I really am. Which is more than I could say for you.”

That was it. I was so done. I thought for a moment before biting out my own answer, cruelly careless and without mercy. “And yet you still won’t tell me why you’re so afraid of your own house.”

Faith froze. She looked as though someone had just hit her. She opened her mouth, then closed it again. “I...I don’t--” Her face became closed off, and the sight of it made me just as sorry as I had been furious a second ago. I had wanted to hurt her like her words had hurt me, but...it was as as if my final words had struck something in her, something unspeakable. I felt my stomach churn uncomfortably, guiltily. What the hell was wrong with me? This wasn’t like me at all. Was I really so miserable I wanted to provoke Faith into a reaction? I gulped and began, “Faith--”

“I hate you.”

At first I thought I heard her wrong. I had to have heard her wrong.

She couldn’t have really said--

“I hate you.” She repeated, voice low and colder than anything I had ever heard.

“Faith, I didn’t mean--” I tried to take it back, tried to make her take back that horrible phrase.

I hate you, Lucy James.” She said again, and I could tell she meant it. She swallowed. “You, with your practically perfect in-every-way family, your perfect grades, and your perfect house, and perfect smile. I hate you, I really hate you. You can’t stay away, and you can’t admit when you’re wrong. I hate you!” She began to laugh. She slid down against the wall and continued to laugh in that same humourless way, high-pitched and more like a cackle than genuine mirth. It was all terrible and ruthless and so wrong. I stumbled back.

I felt as if I was being shattered into a thousand different pieces, but all I could think about was what she was really trying to say, trying to make actual sense of every frustrated word that came out of her mouth.

“Why do you even like me, anyways?” She gasped for breath between manic laughter. “Need something broken to make your life a little more interesting? Then you should get over that because you have no idea what a goddamn mess I am. You can’t handle it.”

I saw her fists clench and unclench as she slouched further down towards the floor. Her face was triumphant, crazed, but her eyes...they were dark and glossed over with pain. The pain she refused to reveal, the exact same pain I saw every time she saw me hug my dad or mom or when I was excited to go back to my house at the end of each day. I saw it every time I showed how much I truly loved my home, even with its little flaws and discipline.

I realized I was such an idiot. Faith couldn’t go home, and I had never thought to pry any further than I already had. Whatever she wasn’t telling me might be the entire reason for why it took so much just to get her to genuinely smile.

You have no idea!” Faith wheezed out, clutching her sides, breathless with more deranged giggles. Her breathing was getting increasingly more and more frantic, and I was worried she was hyperventilating. She slammed her hand down on the ground, the other coming up to cover her face, but I could still hear her loud and clear. I took a step forwards.

“You don’t know how tired I am, how much I don’t want to do this anymore! I--I can’t--” She dragged her hand down her face, leaving thin red marks down her cheeks. She was no longer laughing, but pleading, trembling with fear and exhaustion. She was scaring me, but I thought I was just beginning to finally understand. I took another step forward, but she didn’t seem to notice. “Just don’t make me do this shit anymore, because I don’t think I can! I’m so damn tired, so, so tired! The hell am I even doing here--”

She stopped mid-sentence, with a quiet choking sound as I threw my arms around her neck in a fierce hug.

She didn’t move, apparently shell-shocked as I squeezed her gently, but firmly, her head to my shoulder. Her body was warm, hot even, and I caught the faint scent of vanilla, just hidden underneath the rancid smell of cheap alcohol those jerks back in the other room must have splashed when they were beating her up.

Looking back, I didn’t really know what got me to go for the hug in the first place, but just seeing Faith like this--so defeated and cynical and hopeless--was too much. I couldn’t stand to just watch her like this. So the first thing I thought of was comfort, instead of more confrontation.

“Maybe I have no idea of what’s really going on,” I murmured in her ear. “And I know we’ve been fighting. But no matter what, you are still Faith Lin, and you are still my best friend.” I felt her shake a little, and kept going. “You’re here because I want you here, and nothing will ever change that.” I pulled her in tighter, trying to reassure her. I wanted her to know I was telling the truth, and I absolutely meant everything I was saying now. “Ever.”

She shook again, her body trembling against mine as tears poured down her face.

I held her as she cried, and for a moment it was as though nothing else mattered, the ugly fights we had gotten into and the loneliness both of us had been feeling for all these weeks were meaningless compared to our friendship. My head still pounded, but it was less than before. It was as though this whole argument and escalation had erased the pain--for now.

After she eventually stopped crying, we just sat there in silence. I was still wrapped around her and Faith’s fingers clutched the back of my jacket as if it was the only thing keeping her from disappearing.

Neither one of us wanted to let go.

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