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Point of retreat, p.15

  Point of Retreat, p.15

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat

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  She's not picking at her nails anymore. She's glaring right at me, waiting on my response.

  "Well," I say. “I would allow you the chance to explain without interrupting you every five seconds.”

  She flips me off and jerks herself off the couch and starts toward the front door. I grab her arm when she passes me and I pull her back down onto the couch. When she falls into the spot next to me, I wrap my arms around her and press her head into my chest. I try not to let her go. I don’t want her to go. “Lake, please. Just give me a chance, I’ll tell you everything. Don’t leave again.”

  She doesn’t struggle to pull away. She doesn’t fight me, either. She relaxes into my chest and lets me hold her while I talk.

  “I didn’t know if you even knew about Vaughn. I know how much you hate talking about past relationships, so I thought it would be worse if I brought it up than if I didn’t. That’s why I didn’t bring it up. Seeing her again meant nothing to me. I didn’t want it to mean anything to you, either.”

  I run my fingers through her hair and she sighs, then starts crying into my shirt.

  “I want to believe you, Will. I want to believe you so bad. But why was she here last night? If she doesn’t still mean something to you, why were you holding her?”

  I kiss her on top of the head. “Lake, I was asking her to leave. She was crying so I hugged her.”

  She pulls her face away from my chest and looks up at me, frightened. “She was crying? Why was she crying? Will, does she still love you?”

  I sigh. How do I answer that without coming off like a jerk again? Nothing I’m saying right now is helping my cause. Nothing at all.

  She sits up and scoots away from me so she can turn towards me as she speaks. “Will, you’re the one that wanted to talk. I want you to tell me everything. I want to know why she was here, what you were doing in your bedroom with her, why you were hugging her, why she was crying…everything.”

  I reach over and take her hand but she pulls it back again. “Tell me,” she says.

  I try to think of where to begin. I inhale a deep breath and exhale slowly, preparing to be interrupted a million more times.

  “She wrote me a note in class the other day and asked if we could talk. I told her no, that there was nothing to say. She just showed up last night out of the blue. I didn’t let her in, Lake. I was in my bedroom when she got here. I would have never let her in.” I look her in the eyes when I say that, because it’s the truth.

  “My grandmother wanted her to eat with us and I told her no and said I needed to talk to her. I just wanted her to leave. She started crying and told me she hated how she ended things with me. She said she knew about you and our whole situation with our parents and us raising our brothers. She said I ‘owed it to you’ to find out where my heart really lies, and that maybe I was with you because I felt sorry for you, since I've been in your shoes before. She wanted me to give her another chance, to see if I was with you for the right reasons. I told her no. I told her I loved you, Lake. I asked her to leave and she started crying again so I hugged her. I felt like I was being a jerk, that’s the only reason why I hugged her.”

  I watch for some sort of reaction to my confession, but she just looks down at her lap so that I'm unable to see her face. “Why did you kiss her on the forehead?” she asks softly.

  I sigh and stroke her cheek with the back of my hand, pulling her focus back in my direction. “Lake, I don’t know. You’ve got to understand that I dated her for over two years. There are some things that, no matter how long it’s been, it’s just habit. It didn’t mean anything, it was just habit. I was just consoling her.”

  Lake lies back onto the arm of the couch and stares up at the ceiling while she thinks. All I can do is just let her think. I’ve told her everything. I watch her as she lies there, not saying a word. I want so bad to lie down beside her and hold her. It’s killing me that I can’t.

  “Do you think there’s a chance that she’s right?” she asks, still staring at the ceiling.

  “Right about what? That she loves me? Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t care. It doesn’t change anything.”

  “I don’t mean about that. It’s obvious she still wants to be with you, she said it herself. I mean do you think there’s a chance she could be right about the other thing? About the possibility of you being with me because of our situation? Because you feel sorry for me.”

  I spring forward on the couch and climb on top of her and grasp her jaw, pulling her face to mine. “Don’t, Lake. Don’t you dare think that for a second!”

  She squeezes her eyes shut and tears slide down over her temples, into her hair. I kiss them. I kiss her face and her tears and her eyes and her cheeks and her lips. I need her to know that it’s not true. I need her to know how much I love her.

  “Will, stop,” she says weakly. I can hear her cry being suppressed in her throat; I can see it in her face. She doubts me.

  “Baby, no. Don’t believe that. Please don’t believe that.” I press my head into the crevice between her shoulder and her neck. “I love you because of you.”

  I’ve never needed anyone to believe anything more in my entire life. I need her to believe me. When she starts to resist and push against me, I slip my arm underneath her neck and pull her closer. “Lake, stop this. Please don’t go,” I beg. I realize as I’m speaking that my voice is shaking. I’ve never been so scared I was about to lose something in my entire life, that I completely lose control. I start to cry.

  “Will, don’t you see it?” she says. “How do you know? How do you really know? You couldn’t leave me now if you wanted to. Your heart is too good for that, you would never do that to me. So how do I know if you would really be here if our circumstances were different? If our parents were alive and we didn’t have Kel and Caulder, how do you know you would even love me?”

  I clasp my hand over her mouth. “No! Stop saying that, Lake. Please.” She closes her eyes and her tears start flowing even faster. I kiss them again. I kiss her cheek and I kiss her forehead and I kiss her lips. I grasp the back of her head and I kiss her with more desperation than I’ve ever kissed her before. She puts her hands on my neck and kisses me back.

  She’s kissing me back.

  We’re both still crying, frantically trying to hold on to the last bit of sanity between us. She pushes against me. She’s still kissing me, but she wants me to sit up, so I do. I lean back into the couch and she slides onto my lap and strokes my face with her hands. We stop kissing for a brief moment and look at each other. I wipe tears away from her face and she does the same for me. I can still see the heartache in her eyes but she squeezes them shut and brings her lips back to mine. I pull her into me so close that it makes it hard to breathe. We’re both gasping for air as we try to find a constant rhythm amidst our frantic struggle. I have never needed her with more intensity than I need her right now. She pulls at my shirt so I lean forward, allowing her to slip it off over my head. When her lips separate from mine, she crosses her arms and grasps the hem of her shirt and pulls it over her head. I help her. When her shirt is on top of mine in the floor, I wrap my arms around her, placing my hands on the bare skin of her back, and I pull her into me.

  “I love you, Lake. I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I love you so much.”

  She pulls back and looks me in the eyes. "I want you to make love to me, Will."

  I wrap my arms tightly around her back and stand up as she clings to my neck. She wraps her legs around my waist and I carry her to my bedroom and we collapse onto the bed. Her hands find the button of my jeans and she unbuttons them as my mouth slowly moves from her lips to her chin and down her neck. I can't believe this is actually happening. I don't allow myself time to second guess my own actions. I slide my fingers under the straps of her bra and pull them down off of her shoulders. She slides her arms out of the straps and I move my lips along the edge of her bra when she begins to struggle with the button on her own jeans. I lift up to assist her, th
en I guide her hands as we slide them off and toss them behind me onto the floor. She scoots further up onto the bed until her head meets the pillows. I pull the covers out from beneath her and slide on top of her, then pull the covers back on top of us. When our eyes meet, I see the heartache behind her expression and the tears still streaming down her face. She grasps at the waist of my jeans and begins to slide them down when I pull her hands away. She’s hurting so much. She’s still heartbroken. I can't let her do this. She still doesn't trust me.

  “Lake, I can’t.” I roll off of her and try to catch my breath. “Not like this. You’re upset. It shouldn’t be like this.”

  She doesn’t say anything…she just continues to cry. We both lie next to one another for several minutes without saying a single word. I reach over to put my hand on top of hers but she pulls it away and slides off the bed. She picks her jeans up off the floor and walks back into the living room. I follow her and watch while she puts her shirt and pants back on. She sucks in a couple of breaths in an attempt to hold back her tears.

  “Are you leaving?” I ask hesitantly. "I don’t want you to go. Stay with me.”

  She doesn’t respond. She goes to the door and slips her shoes on, then her jacket. I walk over to her and wrap my arms around her. “You can’t be mad at me for this. You aren’t thinking clearly, Lake. If we do this while you're angry, you’ll regret it tomorrow. Then you’ll be mad at yourself, too. You understand that, don’t you?”

  She wipes tears from her eyes and steps away from me. “You’ve had sex with her, Will. How do I get past that? How do I get past the fact that you’ve made love to Vaughn, but you won’t make love to me? You don’t know how it feels to be rejected. It feels like shit. You just made me feel like shit.”

  “Lake, that’s absurd! I’m not rejecting you. I love you too much for it not to be perfect for you. I’m not about to have sex with you for the first time while you’re crying. If we do this now, we’ll both feel like shit.”

  She rubs her hands across her eyes again and looks down at the floor, attempting not to cry. We stand quietly in the living room, neither of us sure what happens next. I’ve said all I can say. I just need her to believe me, so I give her time to think.

  “Will?” She slowly brings her eyes back up to meet mine. It looks almost like it hurts her to even look at me. “I’m not sure I can do this," she says.

  The look in her eyes makes my heart feel like it's come to a literal stop. I've seen this look in a girl before. She's about to break up with me.

  "I mean…I’m not sure I can do us," she says. "I’m trying so hard, but I don’t know how to get past this. How do I know this life is what you want? How do you know this is what you want? You need time, Will. We need time to think about it. We have to question everything.”

  I don’t respond. I can’t. Everything I say comes out wrong.

  She’s not crying anymore. “I’m going home now. I need you to let me go. Just let me go, okay?”

  It’s the clear headedness behind her voice and the calm, reasonable expression in her eyes that rips the heart right out of my chest. She turns to leave, and all I can do is let her go. I just let her go.


  After an hour of punching everything I can find to punch, cleaning everything I can find to clean and screaming every cussword I can think to scream, I knock on Sherry’s door. When she opens it, she looks at me and doesn’t say a word. She turns back inside and comes back a moment later and holds out her fist. I open my palm and she drops the pills in my hand and looks at me with pity. I hate pity.

  When I’m back inside my house, I swallow the pills and lay on the couch, wishing it all away.



  I try to open my eyes, to make sense of the voice I’m hearing. I try to move, but my entire body feels like concrete.

  “Dude, wake up.”

  I'm discombobulated. I sit up on the couch and rub my eyes, attempting to open them…scared of the sunlight. When I finally do open them, it’s not bright at all, it’s still dark. I look around the room and see Gavin sitting on the couch across from me.

  “What time is it? What day is it?” I ask him.

  “It’s still today. Saturday. It’s after ten I think. How long have you been out?”

  I think about that question. It was after seven when Lake and I had basagna. After eight when I let her go. When I just let her go. I lie back on the couch and don’t answer Gavin as the scene from just two hours ago replays in my head.

  “You want to talk about it?” Gavin asks.

  I shake my head again. I really don’t want to talk about it.

  “Eddie’s over at Layken’s house. She seemed pretty upset. It was a little awkward so I thought I’d come hide out here. You want me to leave?”

  I shake my head again. “There’s basagna in the fridge if you’re hungry.”

  “I am, actually,” he says. He gets off the couch and walks to the kitchen. “You need something to drink?”

  I do. I do need a drink. I walk to the kitchen and press my hand
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