Authors: Lila Moore
“She said she will take Uber. Let her go,” Svetlana said.
“We’ll take you home,” he said. “No arguments.”
The three of us climbed into Svetlana’s car. I sat in the backseat alone. She took her time starting it and pulling out of the parking lot.
“This is a nice car,” I said just to make conversation.
It looked expensive. The interior was lit up with digital displays. The outside was sleek and streamlined. It was an amazing car, sexy, expensive and a bit obnoxious- just like Svetlana. She must have been making a ton of money as a model.
“It was a gift from Sledge,” she said.
“Oh… that was nice of him,” I said trying not to sound bitter.
“Sledge will do anything for a girl he loves,” she said gazing at him with faux-adoration. “Isn’t that right?”
His eyes were focused out the passenger side window. “What?” he said, not listening.
“You bought me this car because you love me. Tell her how you spoil me.”
“It was a birthday present,” he replied drily.
I waited for him to tell me how infatuated he was with Svetlana, but he didn’t. She looked irritated. Suddenly the car accelerated quickly.
“Easy,” Sledge said. “This isn’t Russia. Don’t kill us.”
She smiled at him, but the look was pure venom. The car accelerated faster. Somehow, we managed to make it back to my dorm without crashing.
“This is where you live?” she asked disdainfully.
“It is a small building.”
“It’s a dorm. I’m in college.”
“Looks more like a prison.”
I cleared my throat. “Thanks for the ride,” I said, pushing my way out of the car. “It’s been… interesting.”
“I’ll walk you up,” Sledge offered.
“No, really, I’m fine. Goodnight.”
I walked off quickly before he could insist on joining me. I ran up the stairs to my dorm and threw open the door. I stepped into a dark room. I felt half a second of relief. Astrid wasn’t back yet. She must have been out having fun with that cute hockey player, I thought. Then I heard a moan.
“Oh God…” I whispered.
I tried to turn around and leave but I was too slow.
“Bobbi!” Astrid said with a laugh. She was naked with her hockey player in bed. He turned to look at me from on top of Astrid.
“Hi there,” he said with a big dumb grin.
“I’m sorry! I had no idea you had company, Astrid. I’ll go.”
I had no idea where to go. It was late and I didn’t have any other friends. I could head to my aunt’s, though I really didn’t want to.
“No rush,” the hockey player said.
He rose out of bed. He was completely naked. My eyes drifted down to his cock. I quickly turned away. His body was insane. Every muscle was perfectly defined. I could see him flexing out of the corner of my eye. He could tell I found him hot.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” I said turning for the door.
“You don’t have to run off,” he said, stepping in front of the door and barring my exit. Standing a foot away from a completely naked, gorgeous man left me a bit breathless.
“You could join us?” he said, lifting his eyebrows. “What do you say?”
Astrid giggled behind me.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“No? You sure?”
My eyes drifted down over his body. He was tanned, ripped and his cock was nice and big. After breaking up with Sledge, I fell into a deep depression. My sex drive completely disappeared. Now that I stood a foot away from a guy who looked like he was carved out of wood, it returned like a force to be reckoned with.
“As tempting as that idea is… I can’t. I’m sorry,” I said.
The hockey player sighed and looked to Astrid. “That’s too bad. The three of us could have gotten into some trouble.” He turned to Astrid. “Looks like it’s just the two of us tonight, babe.”
He brushed past me as he went to join Astrid on the bed. I blushed as my arm touched his abs. I was suddenly wet, but I knew I couldn’t act on my impulses. It felt like a betrayal. This was silly, of course. Sledge and I had been broken up for over a year. But the secret I kept from him made me feel strangely loyal. We shared an intimate connection that could never be broken because of our baby.
But on the other hand… I would never move on from Sledge unless I experienced life with other men. I glanced over my shoulder and checked out the hockey player’s ass. It was tight and round, complimenting his meaty thigh nicely.
I shook the dirty thought away. I could never have a threesome. I’m not that adventurous. Besides, I’d never be able to look Astrid in the eye again.
“Have fun,” I said, trying not to laugh.
I slipped out the door and headed to the elevator. I did not want to go to my aunt’s, but what choice did I have?
A door opened behind me. Astrid came running out with her sheets wrapped her around her like a toga. Her hair was wild, like she’d been rolling around in bed and she had big, goofy grin on her face. She looked like she was in a state of total bliss.
I smiled. The look suited her well.
“Don’t run off,” she said.
“It’s cool. I know. Just give me, like, five or ten minutes to finish with him. I’ll get rid of him, then we can talk.”
I laughed. “Five or ten minutes?”
She shrugged. “He’s a bit quick on the draw if you know what I mean. He is gorgeous though. Did you see that ass?”
“Go. I’ll wait in the study room downstairs then come back up in twenty minutes. Hopefully, that will give you enough time to finish up with your gentlemen caller.”
“You’re the best,” she said, skipping off back into our dorm.
I sighed and headed back down the stairs. I sat in the study room downstairs looking at my Google News Alerts. The internet was abuzz with news of Sledge’s injury tonight. Speculation ran wild. Some sites were reporting him as being out for the rest of the year. Several comments on a popular hockey message board said it was a conspiracy. They claimed Sledge was about to be fired, so he faked an injury. This way he could save face and quietly retire.
I rolled my eyes. Nothing would keep Sledge from the ice. Besides, he would never fake an injury. It was ridiculous.
I checked the time. Twenty-five minutes had passed. Surely that was enough time for Astrid to get her hockey player out of our room. I put my phone away and headed back upstairs. Slowly, I opened the door.
“Hello?” I called loudly. “Are you decent?”
I put my hand over my eyes as I walked into the room.
“He’s gone,” Astrid said.
I peeked between my fingers. The bed was in disarray. Astrid’s skirt was lying crumpled on the floor. She wore his hockey jersey. It fell around her like a tent. If Astrid was wearing his jersey, then what did he leave wearing?
“Your cars in the parking garage,” she said. “We drove it back. I made Harley get a cab home.”
I recognized his name. The girls went wild for him online. He had a lot of fan sites devoted to him. They were rabid in their devotion to him. They tracked his every move just like Sledge. Astrid of course had no idea who he was.
“Are you going to see him again?”
She shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know. Tonight was fun, but…”
“Like I said, he’s a bit quick on the draw.”
“Maybe he’s just really into you, like, he thinks you’re super-hot so it’s hard for him to last?”
“I’m flattered, but I don’t think so. Anyway, tell me about Sledge. Is he okay?”
“Yeah, it was just a minor concussion. He’ll be fine.”
“And, what? Nothing happened. I waited for him at the hospital, then Svetlana showed up. They drove me home and that was it.”
“Did he ask you out?”
“No. Svetlana was there. Not that it matters. I would have said no.”
“Sledge and I are ancient history.”
“Sometimes, history repeats itself.”
“He has a girlfriend. I’m not going to get involved with a guy who’s taken.”
“They’re not that serious.”
“How can you tell?”
“They have no chemistry. They’re together because they look good together, and it’s what people expect. It’s like when you’re in high school and the two most attractive people start dating. It’s inevitable because people expect it. The two hottest people always hook-up.”
“Yeah, exactly. She’s way hotter than me and so is Sledge for that matter. Why would he waste his time with me when he already has her, not to mention all those other girls who drool all over him?”
“Don’t be such a Debbie Downer. It’s not that serious. I’m not saying you have to marry him. I just want you to have a little fun.”
“Do you think I should have taken Harley up on his ménage a trois offer?” I teased.
Astrid playfully kicked me. “You can’t handle this,” she joked, waving a hand towards her body.
“Maybe you can’t handle me. Did you ever think of that?”
We both laughed and eventually settled down. Astrid was exhausted. She fell asleep almost immediately. I got cleaned up in the bathroom then slipped into bed. I pulled out my phone and scrolled through the latest gossip. I was surprised to see a new post titled: Svet and Sledge Done? I clicked on it.
The original poster claimed to have a source at the hospital Sledge was taken to. According to the source, a mysterious redhead paced around the halls of the hospital, desperately waiting for news on Sledge’s condition. Later, the two were seen whispering intimately in front of the neonatal unit.
I sat straight up in bed. What the hell? They were clearly talking about me. The post already had fifty replies. Strangers congratulated me on landing Sledge and warned me to steer clear of Svetlana. They claimed she had connections to Russian gangsters who would find me and make me pay for slighting the Russian beauty.
It was unbelievable. I never thought I’d end up the subject of the site’s gossip. Of course there were a lot of things I thought were impossible up until tonight.
I chewed on my lip. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. What if they identified me? The girls on the site were obsessed with digging into the personal lives of the player’s girlfriends. They didn’t hesitate to cyberstalk them. Some of them even stalked the players’ girlfriends in real life. They wouldn’t stop until they dug up every piece of gossip they could find about me. Every skeleton, every mistake, they would all be exposed.
And worst of all: what if my parents found out?
I woke up early the next morning. It was Sunday and Astrid was still asleep. Before I got out of bed, I grabbed my phone. I opened it up to the message board. The posting about the end of Svetlana and Sledge now had over six hundred comments. I was terrified to open the link. I knew they were hunting down my identity that very moment. Terrified of what they would uncover, I opened the link to the last page of comments.
The first thing I saw was a blurry photo of me from the side. The comment below read: ‘She was at the game last night! I was trying to snap a photo of Sledge and saw her in the locker room. Security threw me out before I could get too close. I snapped this pic before being tossed out. P.S. I also got some sweet pics of Harley and the guys naked! If you want to see them, send me a private message.’
The comments that followed were speculating on my identity. Several people wanted to know if I’d been ID’d yet. They hadn’t succeeded, but it was only a matter of time.
I reached for the desk where I kept my pills. Two things struck me at once: one, my pills were still in the possession of Astrid; and two, I hadn’t taken one last night. It was rare for me to make it through an evening without taking any pills. Maybe Astrid was right. Getting out and living a little had done wonders for my anxiety. Of course, I wasn’t cured. My anxiety was back in full force this morning and my pills were missing.
I threw my pillow at her sleeping body.
“What?” she mumbled, half asleep.
“What did you do with my pills?”
“My pills. I need to take them.”
“I’ll get them for you later. Let me sleep.”
“I need then now,” I said like a petulant child.
She lifted her head up. Her hair hung in her eyes. She squinted at me. “You’re really jonesing for those pills, huh?” she said with disapproval.
“I know what you’re thinking. You’re wrong- I’m not addicted. I just need them. It’s doctor’s orders. I’m supposed to take them every day.”
This wasn’t exactly true. I was only supposed to take a pill when I felt anxious.
“They’re in my bag,” she replied.
I grabbed her handbag and started to rummage through it. It was full of receipts, spare change, tampons and condoms. No pills. I emptied her purse upside down and sifted through the trash. My pill bottle was not among her things.
“It’s not here,” I said desperately.
“Maybe I left them in the car.”
“You don’t remember?”
She shrugged and pulled the covers over her head. I was starting to lose my temper. I ran out of the dorm to the parking garage wearing my flannel pajamas and a white tank top. I didn’t stand out as much as you might think. It was common for students to roll out of bed and head to class in their PJs. The campus was full of people walking around in their night clothes.
I opened my car door and frantically searched for my pills. I looked under the seats and the glove compartment. I even went so far as to pull up the carpets and reached between the seats. Nothing.
I chewed on my lip hard enough to taste blood. I was going to kill Astrid. How could she be so careless?
I slammed my car door shut and headed back to my dorm. I muttered silent curses to myself as I headed into the building. When I got upstairs I was going to drag her out of bed and make her search every inch of our dorm until she found my pills. I pushed open the lobby doors and headed for the stairs.
“Yo, Bobbi! You got a package.”
I stopped and headed to the mailroom. My neighbor Mike worked part time doing odd jobs around the dorm. Today he was busy sorting mail.
“I saw you at the game last night,” he said.
“I saw you and Astrid go up into the box seats. I didn’t know you were rich. You been holding out on me?” he said jokingly.
“I can assure you that I am not rich. This guy I used to know got us tickets.”
“Some Sugar Daddy?” He raised his eyebrows. Mike was a sweet guy but I was in no mood for jokes.
I cleared my throat. “You have a package for me?”
“Oh, yeah.” He turned and disappeared into the mailroom. He returned a moment later with a huge bouquet of roses. “Actually, it’s not a package more of a flower delivery. Your ex-Sugar Daddy must really want you back.”
I ignored his comment and took the roses from him. They were a deep red, wild looking and beautiful. I smelled them. They reminded me of the fields around my hometown. For a brief moment, I was nostalgic for the countryside. When I was a little kid I used to spend all day outside, running through the fields and playing with my friends. Those were much simpler times. My baby would never have a childhood like mine. He’d never see the countryside or know what it was like to be carefree and fearless in the way children can be.
I shook the thought away. Why did my mind always jump to dark places? I was being ridiculous. I was sure my baby was well-cared for. His adopted family loved him and would do everything in their power to make him happy. He may not grow up out in the country, but so what? He’d find friends and fun wherever he grew up.
I tried to console myself with the belief that he was loved and cared for by his adopted parents, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. I wanted to love him, and for him to know that he was loved by me.
I turned to leave with my roses when Mike called me back.
“This fell out,” he said, handing me a small white envelope. I was relieved to see it was still sealed. I wouldn’t put it past Mike or anyone else who worked in the mailroom to snoop.
I took the card and headed towards the stairs. My huge bouquet of roses was drawing a lot of curious stares. The roses were nice, but I didn’t like drawing attention to myself. I tried to hide behind the flowers as I made my way across the lobby.
“Bobbi!” a voice called.
I froze in my tracks. Instantly, I recognized the voice as belonging to my father. I glanced over the top of the roses. Sure enough, he was standing at the visitor sign-in desk.
I laughed weakly. “Hi, dad. What are you doing here?” I tried to sound nonchalant, but my voice cracked under the strain.
He slammed the pen down on the sign-in sheet and marched over to me. “I knew you weren’t sick,” he said angrily.
Dad was used to being in charge. He’d been a coach for almost twenty years now. People listened to him. When he said, ‘Jump!’ they said, ‘How high?’
I started to breathe quickly. If he suspected I was lying he would refuse to pay for college. I would get kicked out and then I’d have no option but to go back home and get a job working at the local Dairy Queen, or at the Wal-Mart. I would never move away or see the world. I’d end up married to one of the guys I went to high school with who managed not to escape our town.
Most of the people who hung around after high school were losers. It sucks, but it’s the truth.
I didn’t want to be tied down to my small town. Not to mention the fact that I’d be trapped with my parents. Since getting pregnant, they treated me like damaged goods. Everything I did was suspect in their eyes. I wasn’t the innocent Christian daughter they’d hoped I’d be.
Several people in the lobby had turned to watch us. My father did not care about causing a scene. I was humiliated which I suspect is what he wanted.
“What the hell did you do to your hair?” he demanded. “You look like some go-go dancer or some freak.”
I ran my hands through my hair nervously. “I thought I’d try something different,” I said meekly.
“Aren’t you supposed to be sick?” he said, ignoring me.
“I feel much better today,” I said calmly. I didn’t want to trigger his temper. Too late.
“Oh, do you?” he scoffed. “You don’t honestly expect me to believe that. Look at you, standing there with those flowers. Who sent them to you?”
“I don’t know,” I lied.
I hadn’t looked at the card yet but I knew they were from Sledge. He snatched the envelope out of my hand and ripped it open.
Thinking of you, Sledge…
’ You’re seeing him again.”
It wasn’t a question. Foolishly, I responded: “No, sir.”
My father grabbed me by the elbow and led me to the staircase. He wanted to yell at me in the privacy of my dorm room.
“My roommate’s home,” I said.
Content to yell at me in the stairway, he released his grip on me.
“Does Sledge know?” he demanded. He was referring to the baby.
“No,” I said quietly.
“He can never find out. No one can know. Do you understand?” I nodded, keeping my eyes on the floor. “To think that my own daughter grew up to be the town slut… I just don’t understand it. You must get it from your mother’s side of the family because I sure as hell didn’t teach you to spread your legs for every boy in town.”
I stared at my feet and swallowed back the urge to cry. I didn’t want him to see my tears.
“You’ve shamed this family in a way that’s irreparable. Do you understand that?”
I nodded my head. I was too scared to speak. I knew my voice would crack and he would know I was crying. Crying in front of him felt like an admission of defeat. I didn’t want him to know how deeply his words affected me.
“If the truth comes out, it will only make things worse. Do you want to humiliate your family further?” he said.
I shook my head, no.
“We’d be the laughing stock of the town. We couldn’t show our face in church anymore. You’ve nearly ruined us with this idiocy.”
He took the roses from me and slammed them against the stair railing. Flower petals flew through the air around me. I closed my eyes and started to breathe quickly. I just wanted this to end. I would tell him whatever he wanted to hear if he’d just leave.
“You’re never to have contact with that boy again. Understood?” I nodded. “Say it.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied weakly.
“I would take you home with me, but we’ve already paid your tuition and dorm costs through the end of the year. I’m not going to just throw that money away. You’re going to finish up this semester, then you’re done. You can enroll in the community college and live at home. Clearly, you can’t be trusted to live by yourself. You will continue to go to your aunt’s house every weekend. I don’t want you hanging around these boys. People here have loose morals. Clearly, you’ve been influenced by them.”
I didn’t respond.
“Or maybe they’ve been influenced by you. God knows you’ve proven yourself to be more than capable of getting into trouble on your own. Now go back to your room and don’t leave,” he said. “Your aunt will give me a full report next weekend. You better be on your best behavior. Because if I have to drive all the way up to the city again, I’m taking you back home with me- money be damned. Don’t make me come back here. You will regret it.”
“And for God’s sake, wash that crap out of your hair. Red doesn’t suit you, and you’re far too young to be dying your hair.”
With that, he turned on his heels and went back into the lobby. I sat down on the stairs and leaned against the railing. I tried to catch my breath. Stars danced in my vision. I was on the verge of passing out.
It was all over for me. I’d return home to live under my parents’ thumb. I’d go to community college and then what? Maybe I’d get a job working as a teacher or as an office clerk. There was nothing wrong with those jobs, they were certainly better than working in fast food, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. Plus, I’d be doomed to live in my hometown forever.
I forced myself back up to my feet and walked upstairs.
A giant dark hole had been ripped open inside me. I had no future. There was no reason to go on like this. I entered my dorm in a daze. The faint sound of Astrid singing in the shower echoed through the room. I sat on my bed for a minute, listening to her soft voice. She was off-key, but she put her heart into it.
I smiled. It was then something caught my eye. The pills were sitting on my desk. Astrid must have found them and left them for me. I took the pills and emptied what was left in the bottle into my mouth. I chased them down with water and laid down in bed. I didn’t feel scared. Actually, I felt totally at peace. My father controlled every aspect of my life, but he didn’t have control over this. I could end it all and there was nothing he could do to stop me. I closed my eyes as cold washed over my body.