Page 18 of Riot (Mayhem 2)

I stare down at my shaking hands resting on my lap until she finally starts the car. She drives me home and walks me to our apartment, which is good because I’m pretty sure I’d be terrified to walk anywhere alone right now. Inside, I don’t let her get a word out before I retreat to the bathroom. I turn on the shower and climb inside without taking my clothes off. I don’t want to be naked right now. I just want to cry without anyone hearing me.

And I do. As soon as the water hits my face, the tears start falling. I curl up in the corner, wrap my arms around my legs, and sob into my knees. I sob so hard that I have to throw up on my hands and knees in the drain, which only makes me cry even harder. I’m pathetic. God, I’m so fucking pathetic.

When Rowan opens the bathroom door, the water has gone cold but I’m still curled up in the corner of the shower. Fully clothed, she climbs in with me and wraps me tight in her arms. I tuck my head into her shoulder and let the last of my tears drip onto her already wet skin. She holds me tight while I pull myself together, and then she helps me from the shower and dries me off while I try to pretend I’m fine.

She pulls two T-shirts and two pairs of yoga pants from my dresser, and we both change into the pajamas and climb onto my bed. She settles behind me, running a brush through my wet hair and not saying anything. The silence in the room is thick, creeping down my throat and making me nauseous, so I say the only thing I can say. “I didn’t mean to snap on you at the concert.”

Rowan stops brushing and wraps her arms around my shoulders, pressing her cheek against the back of my head. “I want to kill him, Dee.” When I don’t respond, she adds, “He can’t get away with this. You have to press charges.”

I wrap my hands around her slender arm and shake my head.

“Why?”

“It’s not like he raped me,” I say, and that word makes me want to throw up all over again. My stomach rolls, and I close my eyes to keep from retching. He came close. He came too close.

“But he . . .” Rowan trails off.

He touched me. He hurt me. He forced himself on me, and if Joel had been just a few minutes later . . .

“He went too fucking far,” Rowan finishes. “He had no right, Dee. That was assault.”

“I kissed him first,” I say. I came on to him, and even on the bus, I enjoyed myself. Cody was a good kisser. I liked kissing him.

I close my eyes and blow a long breath from my nose when my stomach churns again.

Rowan turns my shoulders to stare at me, her brow furrowed. “That doesn’t matter . . . You know that, right?” When I don’t answer, she squeezes my shoulders and says, “Did you tell him no?”

Not at first. I should have said it sooner. “Yeah, but—”

“But nothing. If you said no, that’s the only thing you needed to fucking say.”

She doesn’t get it, but I don’t expect her to. Rowan never would have put herself in a position like that. She never would have lowered herself to making out with a guy like Cody. She never would have hooked up with that guy from work I went home with the other night. She never would have fucked nearly every guy on the football team in high school.

Because she’s not a slut. But I am.

When someone knocks on my front door, I panic and tell her not to answer. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want anyone to see me. When Joel and his arm candy and Rowan and Adam and, God, everyone saw me bawling my eyes out on the bus, I wasn’t sure if I was relieved they showed up or so humiliated I just wanted to die.

Rowan and I both wait for the person to go away, but instead, they knock again. “I’m just going to see who it is,” she says, and then she leaves my bedroom. I stay on the bed, out of view of the front door, and listen to her walk to the peephole. Then she opens the door.

“Is she okay?” Joel’s voice asks as soon as it opens. I pull my pillow onto my lap, wishing it was big enough to hide under.

“Yeah,” Rowan says. “I mean, she will be.”

“Where is she?” His voice echoes from the hallway outside my apartment door, and I pray Rowan doesn’t let him inside. I don’t want to know how he’ll look at me—With pity? With disgust? With anger? I don’t want to see any of it.

God, please just go away. I don’t want to see his face.

“She’s sleeping,” Rowan lies for me, and I bury my nose in the overstuffed pillow, wishing I could live inside it where no one would ever find me. “I’ll have her call you, okay?”

Adam’s voice asks, “Are you staying here tonight?”

“Yeah,” Rowan answers.

“Here’s her purse,” Joel says, almost too quietly for me to hear, and Rowan gasps.

“Oh my God, what happened to your hands?!”

“He shouldn’t have touched her,” he answers in a voice that gives me chills, dangerous and unapologetic.

I’m curious about his hands, but the door clicks closed. I pad to my cracked bedroom door, peeking out and seeing that Rowan has stepped into the hall and closed the door behind her. If I wasn’t so physically and emotionally exhausted, I might care enough to put my ear to the door and eavesdrop on the rest of their conversation. Instead, I climb into bed and pull the covers up to my neck, pretending that today was just a bad dream and that I didn’t invite Cody to put his hands all over me.

That I didn’t deserve what happened.

Chapter Eight

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