Calum twists in my arms so he’s facing me. He peers down at me with an intensity that strips me of my confidence. I fake a smile but he clicks his tongue. He sees through my bullshit. Telling him about Jackson won’t solve the problem. It only means two more worried people.
“Is everything okay, Cathy?”
“Why won’t it be?”
“The least you owe me is the truth, Cathy. Don’t lie to me. I know something is up.”
My arms stretch out to hug Calum but he keeps me at a distance. My lower lip trembles. I think I’m about to cry again. He runs a hand through his hair. I need to say something. Why am I not talking?
“I’m here because of you,” he murmurs, his frustration evident. “Scott is mad I left, there’s so much work to be done but I’m here because I know my baby is not happy.”
“Cal,” I whisper. <
On Sunday morning when Calum is still asleep, I sneak into the bathroom to call Jackson. The call rings uninterruptedly for the first time, and the second time, it goes straight to voicemail. I bite my fingernails while pacing the bathroom.He might be in church with his family for morning mass. Our parents left already. Jackson’s parents oversee the Bible study group. He attends church for their sake.I dump the phone on the sink and splash water on my face. One minute later, I’m still staring at myself in the mirror.What will Jackson do?Turning my back to the mirror, I scroll through our interactions from yesterday. There’s an unread text from Jackson. The content causes a sob of relief to escape me. I clap a hand over my mouth and breathe. I’m safe now, but what happens next time?I reread the message.Jackson: you are lucky Regina showed upSo it was all about sex for h
Jackson smirks. He holds up his phone to show me his call log. My name is at the top of the list. If he called me, I didn’t hear it. I walk away before he talks, knowing he will follow behind. He is a bloody asshole.“I figured you would be in there since you weren’t at the cafeteria,” he says. When we are distances away from Calum’s class, I turn around. My foot taps into the floor, and my nose wrinkles in disgust. Jackson’s facade cracks. “I see what this is, Cathy.”“No, you don’t, Jackson. You don’t see anything.” Steeling my gaze, I place a hand on my hip. I should never have showed any weakness. If he had any real evidence of us, he would have shown it. “I was having troubles after the last class so I stayed back for an explanation. That’s what teachers are paid to do, right?”“Right, not fuck their students.”“You&rsqu
CALUMOn Friday morning, I leave for school without my girlfriend. Of course I send her a text but switch off my phone before she replies. She’s keeping secrets from me. Doing this is only fair.I’m at the stoplight when I remember to switch on my phone. And it beeps with a text from Amelia to let me know she’s in school but Jackson isn’t. She is helping me because Cathy won’t let me in. How does she intend to handle Jackson? By taking up his offer of fucking him? It won’t end there. It will only be the start of more ludicrous demands from the grumpy ex.My blood boils with the same intensity it did when I first saw that text. I put a lid on my anger and drive into the parking lot. Why didn’t she say anything to me? Her friends knew, so why was I excluded? I wait a few minutes in the car to calm myself. My phone pings on the passenger seat. I grab the folder and the phone, and edit the car.There&r
Calum is home late. I haven’t stopped thinking about him since he asked me out of his office. Does he know about Jackson?I saw Jackson leave Calum’s office. Jackson asked to speak to me after school but I didn’t wait. I left with Amelia because Calum couldn’t be bothered about his girl.Faint footsteps break through my thoughts. I pull the cover over my head as the footsteps stop in front of Calum’s door.I’m in his room.The door opens and a light switch goes off. His steps slow. Something drops to the chair, I assume it’s his briefcase but I don’t check to confirm. The bed dips with his weight. I freeze, afraid to meet his gaze.He taps my knee. “Cathy?”“In here,” I reply from under the cover.“What’s up? How did you get in here?”I pull the cover to my chin and reply, “You gave me your keys, r
I frown at the picture on the laptop screen. In kind words, it’s ugly. I adjust the laptop on the pillow resting on my leg. Calum’s shoulder digs into mine as he awaits my final answer. “Nope,” I say.“No?” he replies. He taps a button on his keyboard and another picture appears. “How about this?” We are trying to pick out a picture for the cover of Calum’s upcoming single—Tangled sheets. I haven’t heard the final version. He claims it’s not ready. If he hadn’t looked so cute when he said it, I might not have believed him.“This is okay,” I say. It’s the picture of a girl but her face is hidden by the thick volume of her hair sprawled over the pillow. It depicts a line from the song’s refrain. Tangled hair spread over tangled sheets. “You don’t sound so happy with the choice. You don’t like it?” Calum says. He pulls the laptop to himself and scrolls through more pictures. “I think it’s okay. I don’t know. Scott likes the first.” “The ugly one?” I blurt out.Calum frowns. “It’s n
“Should we do it again?” Taylor asks.Rose shrugs. “I don’t know. Should we?”Four of us crowd Amelia’s bed, our heads almost butting as we try to glimpse the video Taylor created. Rose and I are in front of the camera while Amelia and Taylor work behind the scenes to make a TicToc video using the sound from Calum’s soon-to-be released single.That man didn’t release the whole song to him but he allowed me the chorus so I could do something with it. Somehow, he still doesn’t understand that I’m in this with him forever and for free. I love making videos on TicToc and he needs the promotion. It’s a win-win for both of us.“I think this works,” I say after a minute.“We can make more. Different variations,” Rose adds. I flash her a smile. They have been willing to help since I suggested it.“I like that idea,” I murmur.
I press my fingers into Calum’s lower back. He groans into the pillow, tilts his head only a little to show me his sleepy face. His morning hair curls over his forehead, and my fingers brush them away. “Good morning, superstar.” “Morning, rockstar.” Calum laughs. I pull the cover over us and his arm drops to my waist. He breathes into my hair. I take all that he’s offering before he has to leave for London. “I’ll have to go soon,” he whispers. “Hmm.” I bury my face in his chest and draw a heart on his skin. I already miss him. “It’s a shame you won’t get to see my dress.” “You can put it on for me now.” I rest my jaw on his chest and whip my fingers through the scanty hair in the valley between his abs. “Nope.” His blues dim in disappointment but I don’t give in. “That’s your punishment, Cal.” “That’s it? You’re not mad?” he asks.I don’t stop tracing circles on his chest. I can’t be mad when it’s not his fault. “Well, I wish you would be there but what’s the point when I can’
“You’re not in London,” is the first thing I say. “Nope,” Calum replies. “Are you happy to see me? You don’t look so happy, Cathy.” I’m stunned into numbness that’s why I can’t react. Calum takes advantage of that to scoop me into his arms bridal style. I look up at him with a faint smile and he peers down at me with a grin. We are lost in our world as he chaperones me to Amelia’s beach house. Wait, where is Amelia? I look around but she’s nowhere to be found.“She will be back tomorrow before we leave,” he says to my unspoken question.“You two set me up,” I murmur. “I like it.” His chest rumbles with laughter, and my body purrs from the effect. I splay my fingers on his chest, tease the buttons on his button-up shirt without undoing any of them. This is the first time I’m seeing my boyfriend in a suit. Ryan and Lucien were also in suits. Calum sets me down to get the keys to the house. I loop my arm through his and lean my weight on him. He finally gets the door and we bundle i