Page 13 of Wearing Him Down

I miss Grant. A lot. Every second without knowing if he’s mad or disgusted with me is like a punch in the stomach. It’s agony and I don’t even have the strength to walk to my next class, let alone participate in the lecture and discussion. Will another day really pass without Grant coming to see me?

Shoulders sagging, I run my fingers along the diamond necklace I’m wearing. I put it on this morning so I could feel close to Grant, but it’s not working. I just look like a sad, pathetic skeleton in a hundred-thousand-dollar piece of jewelry.

“Whatcha doing in there, Sienna?” Ophelia’s voice startles me and I smack my head off the top shelf, making her wince. “Ouch. Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Rubbing the sore spot on my head, I turn to her with a fabricated smile that I don’t quite pull off. “I’m wonderful.”

She arches a brow. “No one has ever looked more miserable while saying those words.”

“Can you give me a pass on my terrible mood? You’re my only friend and I don’t want to scare you off.”

Ophelia ducks her head, smiling. “I don’t scare easy.”

“Good. Because I need to tell you something. You give terrible advice.”

She winces. “You tried to wear down Mister Foster, didn’t you?”

“Yes. And it was going extremely well. Until it wasn’t.”

My friend starts to put an arm around me, but the closest security guard grunts and she reacts like she’s been burned, taking her arm away. After giving the guard a censorious look, we both lean back against the lockers, holding our books to our chests. Suddenly, the idea of continuing with my lessons today is totally unacceptable to me. I’m feeling restless and cooped up. Confused, sad…and the beginnings of anger are starting to rear their ugly head. How dare Grant kiss me so hungrily and tuck me into bed with such care…before abandoning me! Yes, now that I think about it, I’d like to poke him in the eye!

So I made one little error. Family isn’t supposed to leave you flapping in the breeze like an old windsock, no matter what you do. He gave me a home and love. Then he took it away. It’s his fault I’m lonely. If he’d just left me with my mother’s housekeepers, I would never have known how wonderful it could be to have someone care about me. Now that I do, it’s horrible to be left without a word.

“I have to get out of here,” I whisper to Ophelia out of the corner of my mouth. “If Grant doesn’t want me, that’s fine. But I’m not going to put up with his contingency of bodyguards when he’s washed his hands of me. I just…I need to go somewhere I can think. Where I’m not surrounded by constant reminders of him.”

“I hear you loud and clear.” Ophelia brushes back her hair in a casual move. “You know, there’s a window in the faculty lounge. No bars—and it leads to a fire escape. I think they like to sneak a cigarette out there once in a while.” She shrugs. “Five floors of stairs and you’re on West Broadway.”

A laugh bubbles up in my throat. “How do you know this?”

“I had to escape checkbook balancing class once,” Ophelia says. “I don’t math well.”

“Right.” I sigh. “Won’t there be instructors in the faculty lounge?”

“Yes. But if you ask me nicely, I can create a diversion.” She leans over and whispers in my ear. “Here’s the plan…”

Five minutes later, I’m inside the women’s bathroom. Waiting. I check the time on my cell phone. One p.m. Right on cue, I hear a crash and then Ophelia’s shriek echo down the main hallway. My leg. Oh God, I think I broke my leg.

I peek out the door of the bathroom and just like she said, all of my bodyguards are facing away, watching the commotion. Across the hallway from the restroom, the instructor’s lounge door bangs open and several of them fly to Ophelia’s aid, leaving the lounge empty. Quiet as possible, I creep from the bathroom and tiptoe across the hall, ducking inside the lounge.

My heart is moving like a hamster on a wheel. I’ve never done anything remotely like this. I’m a good girl. I stick to the rules. But I don’t want to turn back. I wasn’t lying when I said I need to get away from reminders of Grant before they crush my broken heart to dust. It’s an urgent need and for now, I’m following my impulses and living in the moment.

When I slide open the window, my confidence wavers. Five floors didn’t seem like much in theory, but we’re a long way from the ground. Gathering up my bravery, I climb out and start my descent to the street. It seems like it’s taking forever, but before I know it, there is only one floor left to go. And of course, that’s when I’m discovered. There’s a shout from the window above and I accelerate my pace, jumping to the ground with a squeal and taking off running.