The night before keeps playing through my mind, taunting me. He was so sweet. Like he couldn't get enough of me. It hits me like a ton of bricks. Glancing down into the trash, I can’t see a used condom. Nothing. I don’t remember him using anything at all.

I drop down onto the bed, burying my face in my hands and letting myself cry. I’ve never felt more alone in my life than in this moment.

I give myself thirty minutes of self-pity before I pull myself from the bed and change my flight. I’m relieved to find one that departs in three hours.

I pack my bags and get everything together before sneaking out of the apartment and down to the lobby where I hail a cab.

It isn’t until I’m on the plane do I finally text my dad.

Me: Sorry had to head back a little early. Have fun tonight. I love you.

I feel guilty for not staying. For not asking for the truth. I know my father holds some disdain for my mother, never has it fallen on me. That doubt has never been in my mind. Now it’s there.

After turning my phone on airplane mode, I drop it back into my bag.

Taking a deep breath, I let my head fall back as I close my eyes.

This too shall pass.



Chapter Six

Calder


I waited on that balcony all night as that hollow feeling started to return. I stood there and heard people below chanting the countdown and then singing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ She didn’t come and didn’t let me explain what happened. I acted like an asshole, and she didn’t deserve that. I was mad at myself and mad at the situation, but I never meant to hurt her or take my frustration out on her.

I was pissed at first that I let myself stumble into her room drunk and take her like that. That she so easily welcomed me when she shouldn’t have. She deserved better than that. Than me. Worse, I let my jealousy rule me. I knew I would never be able to let her go. It’s why I tried to stay away, and her father’s words taunted me —she’d always pull the eyes of other men. I’d have to fight them back till the end of days. It pissed me off, but it was a task I’d easily complete. I’d make sure none of them looked at her. They’d all know she belonged to me and me alone.

The look on her face. I’ll never forget that. All the sweetness turned to sadness. I should have known. She was so innocent, but maybe I was a little jaded. Didn’t think after all the pain life has given me that it would give me something so sweet that could be all mine.

I stomped all over the precious gift of her virginity. If I could just get her to listen to me, I’d spend the rest of our lives making it right. I took the sheet off her bed and brought it home with me as a reminder of what I’d done. It was barbaric, but I had to take it. Keep it. Not let that gift be washed away.

Days pass, and I have no way of getting in touch with her. Finally, I break down and try to casually mention Felicity to Bill. I need some more information on her. I can’t stand the ache in my chest, and I need to see her.

I go by the office he works at and lean casually in the entryway. Ironically, it’s a relaxed position when I’ve never felt tenser in my life.

“Hey, Bill. Just wanted to come by and say thanks again for the drinks before New Year’s.”

I knew Bill had no knowledge of what happened between Felicity and me because I feel sure he would have ripped my throat out the first time I saw him afterwards.

“Sure, Calder. Anytime. Were you able to make it on New Year’s Eve? There were so many people I didn’t catch if you and Sidney had been able to stop by.”

“Yes, I did actually.” I stop, not knowing how to continue, then try to make an easy transition to my desired objective. “I looked for you and Felicity but didn’t see you before we left.”

“Ah.” He looks away and then looks back to me. “I was around, mingling as usual, but unfortunately Felicity had to leave for school earlier than expected.”

I can see the disappointed look on his face, and I hate that I may have put it there. It’s obvious his daughter is important to him, and it just adds another layer of asshole to the pile I already feel.

“Where does she go to school again?” I know exactly where she goes to school, I just need some details.

“Cambridge in England. She comes home when she can, but she’s busy with her studies. She’s set to graduate this semester and she’s working overtime. She’s got her whole life to work. And if you ask me, she’s taking on too much. She’s young. She should be falling in love and having a good time. But instead she keeps her music to herself, closed off from everyone.”

I absorb all of his words, thinking that she’s old enough to know what she wants, and if she should be falling in love with anyone, it should be me.

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