Home > Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(27)

Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(27)
Author: Tammara Webber

“No,” I said, and his eyes flared. “My room.” My breath panted out, shaky and hopefully mistaken for horniness in his pea-brained assessment. He smiled, and I almost threw up. I’ve never wanted to vomit more, but my body fought it down instinctively.

Arm around my waist, he turned me toward the door at the top, grabbing the laundry bag from the floor. I asked myself if I was willing to do what I was about to do. If I was prepared to scream, fight and claw him in the hallway, humiliate myself in front of everyone, in hopes that he wouldn’t succeed in getting me into my room. If he did that, I was done for. The walls weren’t sound-proof, but everyone was used to hearing all sorts of noises emanating from neighboring rooms. If anyone even heard anything over their music, televisions and video games, they’d likely think nothing of it.

We emerged into the hallway, and I evaluated the people I was about to depend on. My room was six doors from the stairwell. Two guys at the opposite end of the hall were practicing kick-flips on a skateboard. Olivia stood in the middle of the hall, talking to Joe, a guy from the fourth floor. When she spotted us, her mouth dropped open before she snapped it closed, and Joe looked over his shoulder, lifted his chin at Buck, and turned back to her with a low chuckle. This was bad.

Kimber, who roomed two doors down, came into the hallway with her laundry. I stopped. It was now or never. Buck took a step forward before realizing I was holding my ground. He turned back toward me. “C’mon, J,” he coaxed.

“No. You aren’t going into my room, Buck. I want you to leave now.”

The shock registered on his face. Kimber, Olivia and Joe froze, waiting to witness firsthand whatever was about to go down.

Buck’s hand was at my elbow. “That’s not what you said a few minutes ago, babe. Let’s have this talk in private.” He tried to pull me forward, but I wrenched my arm from his meaty hand.

“I want you to leave. Now.” I glared, my chest heaving.

Indecision played across his features. Five people were watching. He put both hands up, palms out. “Don’t be mad, okay? I tried to tell you that brick would be cold and rough. It’s not my fault you couldn’t wait five minutes.” Tossing the bag over my shoulder, he said, “Call me later when you cool down, pretty girl.” He bumped fists with Joe and sauntered to the stairwell, and I waited until he disappeared through the door to move.

My face burning, I unlocked my door while Olivia whispered not-so-discreetly behind me. “Ohmygod, they just did it in the stairwell? She had some other guy in her room like, Friday night! I wonder if she was screwing around on Kennedy and that’s why he—”

I shut my door, leaned against it, and slid to the floor, quaking. Tears skated in tracks down my face and my breath shuddered out, leaving my chest aching. I wanted to run away. To go home. To be ignorant of getting dumped, of having my dreams dashed, of constantly feeling too inexperienced and stupid to deal with my own life.

I’d outwitted Buck this time, making it twice that he’d not gotten what he wanted, and he was pissed. Popular and good-looking, he could almost take his pick of girls, and from what I’d heard and witnessed, he used that advantage to the fullest. I was no prettier than girls like Olivia, who constantly threw themselves in his path. There was no reason for him to fixate on me.

There had been some early rivalry between Buck and Kennedy, but I couldn’t remember what it was. Something that happened when they were pledges. Would he harass me like this because of some grudge against my ex?

He might, if he thought he could get under Kennedy’s skin by doing it.

I was going to have to tell Erin. She would be furious with me for keeping this to myself, and I dreaded her reaction, but I had no choice. Not anymore.

Me: I need to talk to you.

Erin: I need to talk to you too! Meet me in our room after your class.

“Jacqueline, did you hook up with Buck last night?” Erin hissed as the door to our room shut behind her.

I imagined I could feel the blood draining from my face. “Where did you hear that?”

She made a noise—pshh. “Where did I not hear it? Why didn’t you tell me this morning during astronomy? And why Buck of all people? I mean he’s hot and all—”

“I didn’t.” I swallowed with difficulty, and my eyes were filling. “I didn’t, Erin.”

She blinked at my expression and crossed the room in three strides, grabbing my arms. “J, what’s the matter? What happened?”

I sunk onto my bed and she sat with me, her eyes wide.

“I… have to tell you something.”

“Okay… I’m listening…”

Where to start? Last night? Two weeks ago?

“When I left the Halloween party early—a couple of weeks ago? Buck followed me.” I chewed a loose piece of skin on my lip and knew it was bleeding. The taste of blood brought that night back more vividly and my face flushed hot. “He was drunk. He pushed me into my truck.” I held myself rigidly, forcing the words out as her mouth fell open.

“He what?” Her grip on my arm tightened.

“He was going to r-rape me—”

“Going to?”

I shut my eyes. Licked the blood from my lip. “Lucas showed up out of nowhere. He stopped him.”

“Oh my f**king God.”

In the silence that followed, I finally opened my eyes. Erin still gripped one of my arms as she stared at the worn carpet beneath our feet.

“Do you believe me?” The tears wouldn’t stay dammed, though I felt sure I would run dry soon. The last time I cried—before Kennedy broke up with me, before the past month—had been over a year ago, when I fractured my femur snowboarding. Before that, when our old dog, Cissie, died.

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