Page 59

    I bit down on the skin of his arm, hard. He yelped, then yanked his arm off my mouth, pushing me forward. A...elt my feet under me...eached for the wall, trying to get my bearings, my fingers only barely raking some solid surface before he grabbed the waistband of my jeans and turned me around to face him. Instinctivel...ut my hands out in front of me, shielding myself, but he pushed them aside, roughly, and the...as down.

    I...econd-it seemed impossible he could move so fast-he was on top of me, his fingers fumbling open the snap of my jeans...ould feel carpet beneath me, scratchy on my back, a...ried to push him away, the smell of wet suede filling my nostrils as he put one hand on my chest, his palm flat against my skin to hold me down, and began pulling down my jeans with the other...as digging into the floor with my elbows, putting al...ad into rising up, bu...ouldn't move.

    I heard him unzip, and then he was back on top of me...ried to push against his shoulders, throwing every bit of my weight against him, but he was so heavy, pressing into me, pushing one of my legs up-this was really happening-and then, just a...elt him on my leg and twisted myself one last, desperate time...aw something...iny sliver of light, falling across us.

    It was lik...hread through the dark, and in it...a...it of his back, freckled; the fine blond hair on the arm that was thrown across me; the tiniest bit of dark pink suede; and then, just before he pushed off me, his eyes, blue, the pupils widening, then narrowing, then widening again, as the light stretched wider. And then he was scrambling to his feet.

    I sat up, my heart pounding, and pulled up my pants. Somehow...as able to focus on zipping them, as if this, now, was the most important thing in the world...ad just gotten it when the light overhead clicked on, and there, standing in front of me, was Sophie.

    She saw me first. Then she turned her head and looked at Will Cash, who was now sitting on the bed behind me. "Will?" she asked. Her voice was high, tight. "What's going on?"

    Will...hought...a...lash of his arm covering my mouth, his hands over my eyes, then another of him earlier, standing so close to me in the alcove. It's Will.

    "I don't know." He shrugged, then ra...and through his hair. "She just..."

    Sophie stared at him fo...ong moment. From the hallway behind her...ould hear laughter, an...a...lash of Emily and Michael still playing their game. Still waiting for me.

    Sophie turned to me. "Annabel?" she said, then stepped forward, into the room, her hand still on the doorjamb. "What are you doing?"

    I felt like I'd been shattered, everything that had just happene...ragment, no part o...eal whole...ot to my feet, smoothing down my top over my stomach. "Nothing,"...aid, the word coming out i...asp...ried to swallow. "I was-"

    Sophie cut her eyes back at Will, and even though she hadn't interrupted me...topped talking. He stared right back at her. No...linch. Not one. "Somebody," she said, "had better start explaining this. Right now."

    But nobody said anything. Later, this would strike me as so surprising, that at that momen...as actually waiting for someone else to define this, as i...adn't been there, had no words for it at all.

    "Will?" Sophie said. "Say something."

    "Look," he said, "I was waiting for you, and then she came up here..." He trailed off, shaking his head, but kept his eyes on her. "I don't know."

    Sophie turned her attention back to me, and fo...oment we just looked at each other. She had to see something was wrong...hought...houldn't have to tell her...asn't some other girl, like the ones we'd driven around looking for all those nights. We were best friends...onestly believed that. Then.

    


    Her mouth pursed...atched the lips come together. "You slut," she said.

    It seemed so stupid, later. Bu...ctually, honestly thought I'd heard her wrong. "What?"...aid.

    "You'r...oddamn whore." Her voice was rising now, still shaky but gaining strength. "I can't believe you."

    "Sophie,"...aid. "Wait...idn't-"

    "You didn't what?" she said. Behind her...ould see shadows, stretching forward across the opposite wall of the hallway. People were coming...hought. People were hearing this. People would know. "You think you can just ** my boyfriend a...arty an...on't find out?"

    I felt my mouth open, but no words came...ust stood there, staring at her, and then Emily appeared behind her in the doorway, her eyes wide. "Annabel?" she asked. "What's going on?"

    "Your friend'...lut is what's going on," Sophie told her.

    "No,"...aid. "It's not like that."

    "I know wha...aw!" she screamed. Emily, behind her, stepped backwards. Sophie levele...inger at me. "You have always wanted wha...ave!" she said. "You've always been jealous of me!"

    I felt myself flinch. Her voice was so loud it was like it was shaking my bones...as so confused, and scared, and even though through everything else...ad not cried-how ha...ot cried?-no...el...ump begin and then swell in my throat.

    Sophie pushed through the door, taking two big strides until she was right in front of me, and the room seemed to shrink-Will, Emily, everyone else disappearing from my peripheral vision-until it was just her narrowed eyes, her finger still jabbing, so much anger and fury.

    "You're so done," she said. Her voice was shaking. "It's over for you."

    "Sophie."...hook my head. "Please. Just-"

    "Get out of my face!" she said. "Get out!"

    And then, as quickly as it had fallen away, my view came back an...aw everything. The crowd of faces that had some-how gathered in the hallway. Will Cash, in my side vision, still sitting on the bed. The sea-foam green of the carpet beneath my feet, the yellow glare of the light overhead. It was hard to believe that only moments earlier, all of these things had been cloaked in suc...hick darkness, so hidde...ouldn't have been able to recogniz...ingle one. But now, like me, they were exposed.

    Sophie was still standing in front of me. It was quiet all around us...ne...ould have broken the silence, could have spoken up. It was only my word against his, and now hers. Bu...idn't.

    Instead...alked out of that room and everyone watched me...ould feel their eyes a...tepped around Sophie, then pushed out into the hallway and started for the stairs. Once in the foyer...ent to the door, pushing it open, then stepped out into the night, crossing the damp grass to my car...id all of this very carefully and with purpose, as if having control over these actions would somehow balance out what had just happened.

    ......
Previous Index Next