Read Me & My Invisible Guy Online

Authors: Sarah Jeffrey

Me & My Invisible Guy (21 page)

BOOK: Me & My Invisible Guy
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Mom left, and I wanted to cry all over again.

But I got up. I would have to deal with school sooner or later, and I might as well do it on a day I had a ride.

On my way downstairs, I stopped outside of Darby’s closed door. I wanted to apologize to her so badly, but that would mean facing her, looking her in the eye. And admitting the hurt and pain I’d caused.

Dad gave me a big hug when I got downstairs, but he ate his breakfast in silence, reading his
ShutterPro
magazine.

Mom bustled around, cleaning the kitchen and gathering papers until she looked at her watch and said, “Let’s go.”

I followed her obediently and sat next to her in the car.

“I messed up. I’m sorry,” I said.

“I don’t want to talk about this right now.” She wouldn’t even look at me.

I turned away and watched the houses and trees fly by, trying to come up with a strategy for school. Pretend not to be bothered by it? I could do that. I had practice with pretending.

But as much as I didn’t want to think about that horrible assembly, something that woman said kept ringing in my ears.
She made a smart choice. A brave choice
. Was I smart and brave? I wanted to be. I wanted to be a girl who made choices with confidence.

I had gotten rid of Todd because I didn’t want to pretend anymore, but now I wasn’t sure who I really was. Could I choose to be smart and brave now, even if I wasn’t before?

Mom pulled up in the circle, and I climbed out. She didn’t say good-bye. It hurt, but I’d have to deal with my family later. Right now, I had to deal with North County High.

There was no Liam waiting for me. I ignored the very definite whispers as I walked to my locker.

Then I got a look at it.

Someone had written
virgin
across the red paint in thick, black marker.

I stared at it, hearing the laughter behind me and feeling the eyes waiting to see what I’d do.

My instinct was to run.

But there was nowhere to go.

I looked at the word, at its hard black lines. The word that was never meant to be a slur. And yet it was. An accusation.

You’re a virgin.

Something is wrong with you.

No one wants you.

There were a few other words that would be a more accurate reflection of me.
Liar. Traitor. Hypocrite.
Pick one, any one. But I was a virgin, too. It was as true a word as any of the others. Could I accept that one as well?

I set down my backpack and searched through it until I came up with a Sharpie. I stood up and looked around at the clusters of kids watching. I turned back to the word and underlined it twice. Then I added an exclamation point, capped the pen, and opened the locker.

At least it was true.

By second period I had gotten three offers to help me lose my virginity and a lot of angry stares. I just ignored them and tried to focus on the faces in the hallways that didn’t seem so angry. There were some sympathetic looks out there.

But second period meant facing Tess and Liam in the same class. I went to class early, since the hallways were the most dangerous place for overhearing things you didn’t want to listen to. I looked up when I caught sight of Tess’s curls. She walked to her desk and sat down, not even glancing at me.

Liam came in right behind her. He sat in his usual seat, in front of me.

“Something going on with Tess?”

“Seriously. You’re going to ask about Tess? Do you hear what everyone’s saying? About me? Because of you?”

“Yes. And I’m sorry. A hundred times over. You have no idea how sorry.”

“Not good enough.”

“Then let me show you something after class. Please?”

Mr. Petrini stood up as the bell rang. “All right. Page eighty-five.”

Liam kept waiting for an answer.

“Maybe,” I whispered.

He winked and turned toward the front.

CHAPTER 17

Liam stood by my desk after the bell rang. I followed him. The truth was, I wanted to forgive him. It was a monumentally stupid thing he did, but it wasn’t actually his fault that I made it worse by telling Darby’s secrets, too. Of course, I wasn’t going to let him off easy.

He led me to his locker, which was in a different hallway than mine, and pointed at it.

“That’s my locker,” he said.

“So?” I started to walk away, but he reached for my arm and pulled me gently back. I looked away because those chocolate eyes were starting to melt me.

He held out a black marker to me. “Take it.”

“Why?”

“I want you to write on my locker so that it matches yours. You’re not the only virgin in the school, you know.”

“I’m not going to write on your locker.”

He shrugged. “Fine.” He turned and wrote
virgin
in big letters across his locker.

“You’re going to get in trouble,” I said.

“I don’t care. I don’t want you to feel like you’re all alone. Because you’re not. I’m not going to leave you in this alone.” He held my shoulders, and I just wanted to fall into his arms. I resisted, but barely. My resolve to stay strong was crumbling. He waited another few moments and then said, “Come on. Let’s go to lunch.”

So I walked with Liam to lunch, ignoring the catcalls and the comments that came our way.

I saw Tess, but she was sitting with some other cheerleaders. I got food that I probably wouldn’t eat and followed Liam to a table with Lexi and a few others. I was so glad not to be alone that I didn’t even care about Lexi being there.

A group of guys walked by, and one of them—a dark-haired guy I didn’t know—laughed and pointed at our table. “We’re in Virgin Central, guys. Who wants to start the bidding?” The whole group cracked up. He leaned in close to me and said, “Virgin cheerleaders are the tastiest.”

Liam jumped to his feet and stepped in front of me, forcing the guy to back off.

The guy laughed and walked away with his group of idiots.

Lexi rolled her eyes and smiled at me sympathetically.

I pushed my food away.

Liam sat down again. “I’m so sorry this is happening.”

“I know you are, it’s just…”

“What? What can I do to make it up to you?”

“I don’t know.” I really didn’t.

By the time practice rolled around, I was sick of trying to be smart and brave. People were just mean and cruel. But I did notice the word
virgin
on two other lockers as I went to classes.
That
was an interesting development.

It was a nice afternoon, so we went out onto the field to practice. Several of the football players, egged on by Greg, made rude gestures toward me, but I pretended it didn’t bother me.

None of the cheerleaders said much, but I knew at least one of them was responsible for spreading Darby’s secret outside the team. Tara kept us busy, and I didn’t have time even to consider who the culprit was. Tricia, the girl who had confessed that she was a virgin, too, smiled at me the whole practice. Well, I had one fan.

During practice, I noticed Samantha Morgan sitting on a bench, taking notes and pictures. I didn’t think much of it until she approached me after we were finished.

“Hey, Mallory. Do you have a minute?”

“I guess.” I shoved my water bottle into my bag and zipped it up.

“I wanted to talk to you about the assembly on Friday and the lockers. On the record, though, because I want to write about it for the
The Falcon’s Nest
.”

The school paper.

I started walking toward the school, but she kept pace beside me. “Look, people are going to keep talking about it no matter what you do.”

“I don’t want to make it any worse than it already is.”

Samantha stepped in front of me, effectively stopping me. “I’m going to write this story. Wouldn’t you rather I have all my facts straight? Your side of the story?”

She had me there. “It’s not much of a story. Why even bother?” I asked.

“It’s a great story.” She walked over to a bench and sat down. When I joined her, she touched a button on her phone and held it out. “Now, can you confirm that you are the cheerleader Barbara Whittiker was talking about on Friday?”

Could I? Just put it out there and be totally honest? I
supposed if I wanted to stop living a pretend life, I also needed to figure out what the real life I wanted looked like. I was pretty sure of one thing, though—a different life required different choices. Now that it was all out in the open, what was I going to do with it?

I paused, knowing that the next words out of my mouth were going to set the stage for everything else.
Strong and brave
.

“Yes. I am.”

Liam was in the lobby with his guitar, playing, when I came out of the locker room. I glanced at my watch. I had talked with Samantha for more than twenty minutes, which meant he’d been waiting for a long time.

He stopped playing when he saw me. “Need a ride home?”

“Sort of.”

He smiled. “Good.”

He packed up his guitar, and I walked beside him out to his car. Being with him felt comfortable and safe. And with everything else that was going on, I just let it feel good.

“Have you forgiven me yet?” he asked.

“I’m still deciding.”

He cocked his head. “I can live with that. For now. So what’s going on with you and Tess?”

Tess.
How was I going to fix things with Tess when she wouldn’t even speak to me?

“It’s a long story.”

“I like stories.”

I resisted the urge to dig at him for what happened the last time I shared a story with him. “It’s not my story to
share.” That was one lesson I was going to hang on to in all of this. I was only going to share my
own
stories.

“Can I do anything to help?”

“I wish you could.”

Liam dropped me off at home, and I went upstairs to shower and change. I took a long one, hoping for some sort of watery inspiration about what to do. Apologizing hadn’t gotten me anywhere with Tess or my mom. I still needed to try with Darby, though.

And Darby was the person I was most afraid to face. I couldn’t get that image out of my head—her body lying so pale and motionless on the bathroom floor. How I thought she was already dead.

BOOK: Me & My Invisible Guy
7.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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