The Not-Outcast

Page 63

It looked straight out of a movie.

Her hair was low, and long, so she must’ve added extensions. It touched the tops of her thighs, and she was wearing a black leather bodysuit.

Melanie and I shared a look.

Sasha was in her ‘secret agent’ mood.

Chad must’ve reached out. I had shared with both that he was coming back, but word’s been quiet on The Chad front. I had zero expectations he would reach out to me, but he cared about Sasha and Cut. I wasn’t surprised at seeing the secret agent back in place.

She came over, grunting her one-word answers, and we all morphed into our usual personalities. I was using ‘dude’ and ‘rad’ and ‘rightio’ every third sentence. Melanie was ‘fuck’ this and ‘fuck’ that, and lots of references to shitting.

Otis, JJ, and Maisie loved it. All of it.

Maisie was whispering, “Awesome,” under her breath when one of the bouncers brought over her drink. She couldn’t get over that, but there were enough guys milling around for security, so whoever was free brought Sasha’s drinks over. Sasha’s and her guests’. That was usually the guys, so it made sense to us. And they wanted to hear about Cut, but I had put them off at the bar, saying there were too many prying ears. And there had been. That same server from before had been there, so I just used her as an excuse, then apologized to her later by giving her an extra tip. She had no clue it was for throwing her under the bus, but my soul knew. My soul needed to make it right.

It was later, after Melanie crashed on my couch and I was getting ready for bed, that I saw Cut had texted back.

Cut: Thanks. It was a tough game. They’re a good team.

Cut: You around? Could do with a phone call with you.

Cut: Okay. Assuming you’re out with the girls. Miss you.

Cut: And I did notice you.

I was smiling so wide and so big when I texted back.

Me: Have fun with your fam tomorrow.

I got up for the bathroom a couple hours later and checked my phone when I crawled back in bed.

Cut: Always. Missing you. Have a good day.

My heart flipped over. I was tired, the sun was just starting to peek out. I had another hour and a half to sleep, but I grabbed my phone.

Me: Always. Missing you. Have a good day too.

Cut: Smartass. Go back to sleep.

Me: You too.

Cut: Already on it.

Me: Overachiever.

Cut: Ha!

Cut: Miss sleeping with you.

Another heart flip.

Me: Me too.



I did yoga and ran five miles this morning.

To quote Melanie, ‘Fuck yes.’ I was doing it.

I had my shit under control. Wrapped up tight.

All the wrapping…and I had an extra bounce in my step as I was going into Come Our Way.

Hard cardio in the mornings.

Eight hours of sleep… that was really more like four since Cut and I had been talking on the phone, and then my brain had a hard time shutting down after. But not a big deal.

I was eating healthy. Like, super fucking healthy.

I was drinking so much water that I was over-hydrated.

My brain was working. The cylinders weren’t overfiring.

No booze. My only stimulant was caffeine.


Medication …

I stopped in mid-step.



I’d forgotten to take my meds this morning. And I was thinking, remembering…

I couldn’t remember the last time I took them.


I thought my cylinders weren’t overfiring, but maybe I was wrong.

I’d forgotten my meds, and feeling rising panic, I hurried to my office. Dean was coming out of his office, his coffee raised in greeting to me, but I muttered a quick reply and went around him. I was scrambling by now. My heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest.

I sat down, dug into my purse and pulled out my bottle. We weren’t supposed to travel with them, but shit, sometimes I had to, and I was running down the days and the numbers of pills I was counting out.

I was five extra.

Five days.

Five, that meant I forgot on Sunday.

Where had I been on Saturday? At Cut’s. I slept over, and the morning had been fantastic, and that’s why I forgot. Monday I was at his place again. Tuesday…I watched the game and I’d been out and about. Melanie crashed over that night.

I just forgot. Every day.

Shit, shit, shit.

This wasn’t good.

Last time this happened, I spiraled. You forget one thing this day, another thing the next day. Your mind is moving a little bit faster, clearer, and you go with it, but you’re forgetting and you’re forgetting that you’re even forgetting. So you don’t remember what you’re supposed to be remembering. Made sense, right?

No. It doesn’t.

It makes no sense, because your fucking brain doesn’t stop and add in stress. Add in one thing you forgot from a perfect recipe where you have to follow anything to have a semblance of a normal day for someone else, and you’re exhausted from just trying to be normal that you forget one fucking thing.

The whole pile falls over.


You’re fucked and you don’t realize you’re fucked until you’re so fucked that it’s currently happening. And you’re beyond fixing anything because meds take time to get in your blood circulation. Everything takes time.

Time. Time. Time.

You don’t have time sometimes when you’re trying so hard to be normal, and—yep, I was spinning. Right now. Right here. In my office, and I had a staff meeting, and they’d know because I was recognizing the speed of my own thoughts.



I was no longer driving the bus.

The bus was getting out from under me. I was more on the side of the bus.

I’d be a passenger in the bus, and that was always bad.

There goes the camper that my bus was pulling. The fucking mental struggles I had, all in that camper, all behind me, and I was pulling them along, but pretending we were all copacetic together. There it is. It’s unhitched and it’s passing me and we’re all in a busy city intersection and that shit is going to crash into someone else’s car, and I have no control over any of it, because if I wanted to keep in control, I needed to not forget my fucking pills five days ago!

The room was starting to go around me.

My blood pressure was steaming.

Sweat trickled down my spine.

My hands were clammy.

My chest was getting tight.

Oh great. Hello, panic attack. This was a great time for you to join this sad and pathetic party.

A knock on my door.

“Who is it?” I cringed, not knowing if my voice even sounded normal anymore.

“Hey.” It opened and it was Reba. She was frowning, but to be honest, I was more paying attention to the three people at the coffee machine, and the smell of whatever Boomer was cooking, and—what did she just say?

She was looking at me.

She’d already said it.


“I’m sorry. What’d you say?”

I had to concentrate this time. Harder. The hardest. The hardiest of the hard…and I missed it again.

She was frowning, and then a bulb clicked on and she came inside.

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