The Not-Outcast

Page 26

More drinking.

But, gah. I would need to go back on my meds tomorrow, and I couldn’t take them when I was drinking, and last Friday was supposed to be my last day reprieve. But this, this whole week except one day of forgetting to take them, was why we couldn’t take one-day reprieves. There was no vacation from what I suffered from, not unless it would morph and it would grow, and I would spin and I’d have a night like tonight.

But also, who was I kidding?

This was not going to work, and I might as well scare him away now.

“I can’t do this.”

He didn’t respond.

That was fine.

It plunged the knife harder in my chest, but I had to do this. I had to do this for him.

I had to let that idea go because that was another reason I’d been spinning tonight. Sasha had been right. He wasn’t real. Getting a boyfriend in school was supposed to make things right? But it wasn’t about getting a boyfriend, it was about someone loving me, even just liking me, because so many of them didn’t like me. My mother. Chad. My father. My stepmother. Hunter had been super chill, and thinking about him made me destress, just a bit here.

I needed some Koala Man emailing, but back to the situation in my living room.

Cut was standing, still looking so fucking fine, and I tried to ignore that as I went to the dining table. No way could this conversation happen when I was sitting on my nice comfy couch. If I had to bolt or even ask him to leave, I’d be fighting with my cushions to stand up, and then the whole dramatic effect would be lost.

I sat down and Cut took a seat across from me.

His eyes.

So fierce, but also just knowing me. He was looking at me, like at me at me. How many people have looked at you and not really seen you? Not this guy. Straight fucking through me, and I was stalling. Big time.

Fine. Here we go.

“You know about my junkie mom.”

He dipped his head down. “You mentioned her.”



Six. Times.

And why was I scaring this dude away again?

But I needed to, for him and for me. I couldn’t grapple with the reality that he liked me. That just didn’t make sense to me. Or even make sense to the universe.

“My mom was a junkie. She was a junkie before she had me, while she had me, and most certainly after she had me.”

I waited, because this was the moment when people generally got a different look. Like an, ‘oh, holy shit’ look, like ‘oh, she came from that type of background.’ I’d seen it enough and it never made sense to me because I might’ve come from that environment but that environment wasn’t me. Most people didn’t get that so they had a look.

Cut didn’t have that look. He was watching me. He was listening to me, but I hadn’t shocked him with that revelation. Yet.

I would.

Just wait.

I was just getting to the good stuff.

I kept on, “I was homeless on and off when I was a kid. Spent time with my uncle. Had a stint at my dad’s, and I was so ‘bad’ that they shipped Chad and Hunter to live somewhere else.” He knew about that. “I didn’t even know I had a half-brother until they slipped and mentioned his name. I never did anything. I never stole. I thought the house was super chill because I could get water whenever I wanted, and they fed me. I didn’t have to feel like I was stealing from my neighbors even though I now knew they put out water, sandwiches on purpose for me to take. I had problems. Big problems. Big enough problems that I was half-checked out of reality.” I wasn’t going to list the diagnoses I’d been given. Some were right, some weren’t, and some disappeared over the years. Meds, therapy, but mostly having someone give a fuck was priceless.

I’d already said enough, and I was studying him. Gauging his reaction.

He didn’t look scared.

Why didn’t he look scared?

“Want to know what I was diagnosed with?”

He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “What are you doing? Telling me all of this?”

I leaned forward, too. “Saving you.” My eyes flicked to the door. “Leave. Run. Go away.”

His eyes narrowed and he eased back, but he didn’t move.

Why wasn’t he moving?

“I saw you talking to that suit, and I hated him. You were mine.” Still a soft tone, but his nostrils flared. His eyes flashed. “I don’t know what that was, but I felt it—”

“I thought I was in love with you in school.”

He stopped.

I didn’t. “I thought you knew me. I thought you liked me back. I thought we had a whole relationship, in my head. I was delusional. You didn’t have a clue who I was.” I kept going. “I was in the car. Chad came out to talk to his mom, and you were with him. You waved at me.”

His nostrils flared again.

“You said ‘hey’ to me in the hallway. Once.” And he didn’t remember.

“What’s your point?”

“My point is that there’s a reason you didn’t remember me.”

“No, there’s not.” He laughed.

He actually laughed.

He added, “All I cared about was hockey back then. I woke up, hockey. I went to the bathroom, hockey. Showered, hockey. Went to school, hockey. Everything was hockey for me. I liked girls. I liked getting sex whenever I wanted it back then because it was easy for me, but hockey was my life. I didn’t remember you because I probably saw you and still only saw hockey. I don’t remember any of the girls I fucked from back then, or in my one year at college. I see you now. I want you now. Why’s that such an issue for you?” He leaned forward again. “Why are you so scared?”

Too fast.

Too overwhelming.

Too much to lose.

“I have issues.”

“So? I have a busted elbow.”

The room grew sweltering. “You do? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, but I’m still not understanding your whole thing here. You can’t decide for me if I should want to fuck you again or not.”

Heat seared through me, and a whole tingly thing was starting in my body. It was starting between my legs, where I was remembering what it felt like to have him there, feel him sliding inside of me, how he gripped my hips, how he used my body—but I had to stop.

My throat was starting to seize up.

And he knew.

I saw it.

A whole smirk and cocky knowing was there, and then his eyes turned and they were starting to smolder. Stop the smoldering.


I couldn’t take the smolder.

I whispered, my voice cracking, “That’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair?”

His voice was silk now.

“Chad doesn’t like me.”

“Chad doesn’t know you.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I would like to know you.”

But why?

None of this made sense.

Sex, yes. I was hella hot, but anything beyond that? No. It just didn’t happen. Who would want me?

I started shaking my head. “I have to take meds to pay attention. To focus. If I don’t, it’s a whole chain reaction. I can’t focus because I’m noticing everything. I can’t put up walls and filter things out, but it’s not just that. I had a panic attack tonight, that’s why I bailed, and it’s embarrassing to have that. God knows what Cassie thought of me. You can’t function. You can’t read cues right. Basic things about when to laugh, when to speak quietly, when to read a room—I can’t do any of those things when I’m having an attack, or especially when I’m having an attack. I look like I’m drunk, but inside I’m dying.”

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