Chapter 21: Betrayal
“I can’t do this anymore, Logan.”
I froze as her words sunk in. I stared at Marley, trying to process those words. “I…”
“Look, it’s not you, it’s me,” she said. “It just wasn’t working out.”
“Why? What did Fordman say?” I growled, stepping forward. We were perfect yesterday! Noah must’ve gotten to her somehow. I just knew it.
“Noah didn’t say anything,” she replied, her body slightly trembling from anger. I had always admired her strength, but not right now. Right now I just wanted her to be weak and non-argumentative.
“He said something,” I persisted. I just knew it. “Whatever he said, he lied to you!”
“Logan, please,” she whispered, her eyes skimming around, obviously noticing all the people who were beginning to hear our argument. “You need to calm down.”
“Calm down?” I seethed. “No, I won’t calm down! Noah brainwashed you. What did he say?” I stepped forward, leering over her. “What did he do?”
“Nothing!” she repeated firmly. “This was my decision.”
“You can’t break up with me!” I told her. “You belong to me!”
Something unidentifiable flashed in her eyes.
“I don’t belong to you!” she replied. “I’m not a possession! I can’t be owned. We’re done, Logan.”
She turned on her heel to walk away, but she wasn’t leaving that easily. I grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. She was delusional if she thought I was just going to let her leave like that. “We’re not done here,” I growled harshly.
She feebly tried to yank her arm out of my grasp, and her voice rose an octave in panic and anger. “Yes, we are!”
“You’re not leaving me, Marley,” I told her sternly. “Marley, come on. Think this through. Without me, you would be nothing. No one would even know your name.”
I knew that she knew that was true. Without me, she was nothing. Just a weedy girl in need of a new wardrobe. Seriously, who wore bootleg jeans anymore? Maybe some people thought her cluelessness in the fashion department was cute, but she had the worst fashion sense of a girl I’d ever met.
“I don’t care,” she replied, her eyes narrowing to slits. “Let me go. We’re done.”
“I’m not letting you go this easily.”
“Logan, let me go! We’re through!” she said, her voice rising loudly. “Let. Me. Go!”
All of a sudden, her free hand flew up and slapped me across the face. My head immediately whipped to the side, and a stinging sensation tingled my cheek, making me see stars. My vision flashed a series of different colors, and the breath was knocked out of me in disbelief.
She stumbled back in shock, her eyes widening and her hand flying to her gaping mouth as she stared in shock as if she couldn’t believe she had just done that.
My hand flew to my throbbing cheek, and my nostrils flared. When I lowered my hand, I watched her eyes rake over my cheek, and she winced slightly.
“Logan, I’m so sorry—” she began, but I didn’t want to hear it.
I snarled, and her mouth shut quickly. She gulped thickly as her hazel eyes bore into mine.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” I roared, my anger making me see red. She stumbled back, looking unsure of what to do. Her eyes were wide, and they fervently glanced around.
She began to slowly back away. “Logan, I’m—”
I was so angry, that I was no longer in control of my words and actions. Everything came tumbling out of me like a broken dam. “If you think you’ll find someone who’ll treat you better than I did, then I wish you luck, Marley. Because I don’t know anyone who will put up with the amount of stuff you put me through. Soon they’ll realize how much of a worthless skank you are and drop you. Don’t act all high and mighty with me, like you’re Little Miss Queen Bee. Without me you would be nothing. Nothing! Just some girl who has the fashion sense of a librarian and trucker’s daughter, and who can’t make up her freaking mind about who the hell she wants! Then they’ll drop you so quickly that you won’t even have time to say, “Wait, but I love you!” I give you three days before you come crawling back to me.”
She swallowed, anger flashing in her eyes, and spat out, “I don’t need you.”
I smirked at her confidently, but decided not to push it. “You better leave now, Marley. Before I really get pissed.”
She nodded quickly and hurried off, and I almost laughed at how scared she looked.
I quickly took a couple of deep breaths, and then pulled out my phone, dialing her number quickly.
She picked up on the fourth ring. Even after everything she still picked up. If she wanted an apology, or for me to beg her to come back, she would be waiting for a while. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was her.
“What do you want, Logan?” she asked tiredly.
I smirked. “Hi, Daisy. Long time, no talk.”
“Let’s skip the pretense and get to the part where you tell me what the hell you want.” She sounded so much like Marley that it made me smile a little. I must have a type. Stubborn, good-for-nothing, prissy little skanks.
“I need your help, Daisy.”
“What makes you think I would want to help you, Logan?” she asked, sounding amused at my assumption.
“Because if you do, then I will beg for you to come back to me,” I bargained. “On Monday, in front of the whole school, I will beg for your forgiveness.”
There was a moment of silence as she mulled the bargain over. I already knew she would take it. Daisy Hawthorne loved attention, any kind. And having a guy like Logan Hawkins publically beg for her apology was like gold in Daisy’s eyes.
“Fine,” she said after a moment, and I could hear the smile in her voice. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
When I got home, I quickly walked to my room and washed my face, dressing into a pair of jeans and a green t-shirt. I tied my hair in a messy bun and touched up my make-up, adding a little bit of gray eye shadow, some light lip gloss, and a little bit of foundation.
I sighed and checked myself in the mirror, making sure I looked presentable. When I was sure I didn’t look terrible, I exited my bedroom and traipsed down the stairs.
Phoenix and Jake were at the table, and Jake was trying to teach Phoenix algorithms. I smiled at the sweet sight of seeing my brothers at the kitchen table, and then remembered something.
“Hey, Jake,” I said conversationally, leaning against the island bench and checking my nails casually. They really needed a manicure.
Both of them looked up from where they were studying the sheet, and Phoenix grinned at me. “Hey, Mar!”
I grinned at my twelve-year-old little brother. “What’s up, Phoenix?”
He shrugged. “You know, I’m just chilling.”
I laughed at my brother’s choice of words. Obviously he’d been spending too much time with Jake and Noah. “Nice.”
Jake looked over me quickly. “What’s up, Marley?” he asked me, sensing that I had a question for him. His dark eyebrows pulled together.
“I heard from a little birdy that you had a date with Ciara tonight,” I told him, winking at him.
He grinned at me, and he actually looked excited, unlike how he looked when he had a date with Jordyn. Normally with her he just looked… bored. Like he’d done it a million times and it no longer held interest for him.
“Yep,” he said, popping the ‘p.’ “I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Treat her right, will you?” I warned him, giving him a dangerous look to let him know I meant business. She was my friend, and she deserved the best. “Otherwise I’m onto you.”
He laughed out loud, chuckling and ruefully shaking his head. “I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
Despite his teasing tone, I could tell that he was actually nervous for this date. It made me happy that he would make one of my best friends happy. Now I just had to work on Chaska.
“Alright, I’m meeting Noah, but have fun tonight, Jake,” I said, waving goodbye. “See you, Phoenix.”
He waved goodbye, and I made out the back door so that I could sneak through the hedge and up to the treehouse.
I put my hands on the rungs and sighed. Another small endeavor up the ladder. Great. Just what I loved. Exercise.
I slowly started climbing, trying to ignore the sickening swinging that the ladder was doing. I really needed to get Dad and Uncle Matt to make sure this ladder was still stable. The last thing I needed was to brutally kill my myself by having the ladder give way underneath me. That would really complete my afternoon. I tentatively made my way up the wooden rungs and opened the hatch into the treehouse, peeking through.
I froze at the sight before me.
Daisy was lying across Noah’s lap, her hands around his neck, and their lips were pressed together in a passionate kiss. His hands were tight around her hips, and let’s just say that they looked like they were getting quite into it. Neither seemed to have a problem with the current predicament.
I felt like my heart was slowly breaking in my chest, and my lips trembled slightly. My stomach lurched in disgust, and I tasted bile in the back of my throat. It was like Logan and Daisy all over again.
Just then Noah’s eyes opened and he spotted me at the edge of the door, tears in my eyes as I tried desperately not to sob out loud.
He gently pushed Daisy off of him without a second glance, and made a move towards me, scrabbling across the planks of wood to get to me. “Marley, it’s not what it looks like.”
I couldn’t even bear to look at his face. I turned my eyes away. “Noah, just… don’t.”
I started to make my way quickly down the rungs, and I heard him hurrying after me. But I was in no mood to talk to him. I forced the tears back and hurried towards the hedge with quick feet, feeling my throat close up and my body begin to tremble. My eyes clouded over, and my chest hurt as if there was a gaping hole in it.
I whirled on him, and cried, “Why, Noah? Just… why?” My voice sounded cracked and broken, but I didn’t care.
“She came onto me, alright?” he said, his hazel eyes flashing.
“Well, you weren’t exactly protesting, were you?” I spat out, a rebel tear slipping down my face and coating my cheek.
“Marley, please, just listen,” he said, looking crestfallen at the tear.
“I don’t wanna hear your excuses, Noah,” I told him, my throat feeling thick and clogged. “After everything you said about Logan, and then you go and do that. With Daisy. You’re such a hypocrite. I have no idea what I even saw in you.”
“Nothing you can say will make this better, Noah,” I said, shaking my head, my voice rising. “Just… don’t say anything. I never wanna talk to you again.”
“I love you, Marley,” he whispered quietly, staring into my eyes. The eyes I had fallen in love with. All I saw when I looked at them now were the eyes of a cheater; a user.
“Love me?” I asked, my voice cracking as it rose in anger. “Oh, yeah, I really felt the love when I watched you shove your tongue down another girl’s throat.”
He swallowed thickly, and reached out to me. I quickly moved my arm out his grasp. “Don’t touch me, Noah. Don’t. Touch. Me.”
“Please, just let me explain—”
“What is there to explain?” I cried, exasperated. “I don’t wanna hear lies. Here are the facts, Noah: You cheated on me. With the girl that my ex cheated on me with. So, don’t try to explain anything to me. Nothing you can say would make this better.”
“I don’t love her,” he argued. “I love you.”
“I don’t know what’s worse. Telling me that you love me after you cheated on me, or not even having any interest in the girl you cheated on me with.”
He opened his mouth, and promptly closed it, obviously not sure what to say. Good, because I couldn’t handle it if he said anything. I was barely holding it together now. I felt like I could explode in anger and sadness at any second.
“I hate you,” I whispered, taking a step back, towards the safety of my home. “Just leave me alone. I never wanna see you again.”
“Marley—” he cried desperately, probably in a last-ditch effort to make me stay.
I just shook my head in response. “Don’t. Don’t tell me that you love me, or that you didn’t mean it, or that you’re sorry. Because if you really loved me, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
Then I turned and walked away, storming into my house and closing the door, laying on my bed and staring up at the white plaster ceiling.
Only then did I let the tears fall.
The next day, as I made my way down the halls, I felt completely and utterly numb. I felt like my whole world was collapsing in on itself. I had no idea how I had even mustered the courage to come to school. I guess I just needed something else to focus on other than what Noah had done with Daisy.
Before school, I went to my locker and shuffled through it, searching through the contents for my first period book… Which I unfortunately shared with Logan and Daisy… Definitely not an ideal situation. I considered truanting—I had never done it before, and I think I deserved it—but dismissed it in my head quickly. I needed to face my fears and not be a coward about it. I couldn’t hide forever.
I searched through my locker for my book, and quickly retrieved it, before spinning around.
Noah stood behind me, and I gasped at his close proximity, shrinking against my locker.
There were no words to describe the look on Noah’s face. He looked heartbroken, his eyes the deepest hazel I’d ever seen. He had purple bags under his eyes, as if he hadn’t slept at all last night.
“Marley, please just hear me out,” Noah begged, stepping closer.
I felt tears well in my eyes and pushed him away, shaking my head. “No, Noah. I can’t… I can’t even look at you right now.”
“Just stop, Noah!” I cried, hearing the late bell ring and all the students around us running for class. I ignored them all. I knew I should get to class, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave. I was too far-gone to care about class. “Stop talking.”
“Not until you listen,” he begged.
Tears fell down my cheeks, and I sobbed. “Do you know what it’s like?” I whispered. I looked around and away from him. “Do you have any idea what it feels like? To think that the boy you loved, loved you back. Only to find out he was with someone else?”
“You’ve got it wrong, Marley,” he begged.
“No, I don’t!” I screamed, feeling my heart shatter into pieces in my chest. “I thought you loved me. I did everything for you; I dumped Logan for you. But you betrayed me. You can’t… You can’t imagine how that feels, Noah.”
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he said, his voice cracking as he begged.
“Well, congratulations, Noah. Because you did exactly that,” I replied. “You said you would never hurt me like Logan did, but that’s exactly what you did.”
“Marley…” he whispered, and I was shocked to find he had tears in his eyes.
I lost all of the anger and fight inside of me. It was just replaced by sadness and betrayal. “Don’t, Noah,” I whispered, my voice thick. “You can say what you want. But that doesn’t change anything. You don’t know how it feels. You can’t imagine. I really…” I looked down at the ground, and admitted what I had only been thinking to myself. “I thought you were The One, Noah. I thought that we could be together. But you never cared.”
“I did,” he said, begging. “I care, Marley.”
He reached forward and grabbed my arms, and I let out a scream, pulling away and shutting my locker with a colossal bang. The anger rose up within me again. “Don’t say that, Noah. Don’t you dare say that. You don’t get to say that. Not now.”
“Would you just stop?” I screamed, not caring who heard. “Just stop, Noah! We’re done. Whatever we had, it’s gone.”
“Mar… I love you.”
“Don’t,” I whispered. “You don’t love me. If you loved me, you would’ve been faithful. But you weren’t.”
I stepped away from him, feeling myself become numb. Finally I turned back to him, to find him leaning against a locker, looking completely heartbroken. “I thought I loved you, too, Noah,” I whispered, feeling more tears fall. “I guess we were both wrong.”