Authors: Melanie Marks
“Okay,” she sighed. Then she just
spilled the whole story in a huge, I’m-just-going-to-get-it-over-with gush.
“Finn went back to Riley’s after their fight had been broken up.” She savored a
spoonful of ice cream before adding, “By the way, the brawl
ended—finally—by a bunch of neighborhood
of them, Zoey. It took a
to get them away from
She did a little shudder before
going on. “But like I said, Finn came back …” she raised her eyebrows,
“—with a baseball bat.”
I clutched my stomach, the air
whooshing out of me. Terrified she was going to tell me that Finn hunted down
Riley with the bat and beat him with it. But what happened may have even been
worse … to Riley.
Certainly not to
Finn had gone after Riley’s
with the bat—the new
car Riley loved with all of his heart. Finn smashed in the windshield and all
of the windows.
“The police came and got him,
My heart lurched.
I couldn’t believe it.
I doubled over feeling sick.
Groaning, “Finn’s in jail
Summer shook her head, but she had
this sympathetic gleam in her eyes. “Riley didn’t press charges,” she explained
softly. “He wasn’t even the one that called the police on Finn. It was his
neighbors.” Her lips drew into a tight, thin line. “So, no. Finn’s not in
She still had that sympathetic
gleam in her eyes, though. It told me something just as bad happened.
Or something worse.
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to brace
myself for whatever I was going to hear. But this nightmare just kept going on
and on. Getting worse.
Without even hearing her news, the
room was already spinning. Like out of control. Just like my life.
In the last twenty-four hours I had
learned my boyfriend had cheated on me (multiple times), I had kissed his best
friend (and loved it), I had witnessed a violent fist fight between the boy I
love and the one I used to love (with all of my heart) and now I was learning
that something worse than all of that had happened—something worse than
going to jail.
I pressed my hands against my eyes
and exhaled slowly. “Where’s Finn?
Summer squeezed my arm gently, like
for support. “He’s in the mental hospital, Zoey—your Mom called them.”
The world tilted and spun.
It couldn’t be true. “My
called a mental hospital on
“Yeah. Apparently she didn’t want
to call the police and have him hauled into jail—again. I mean, twice in
one night. But Zoey, I guess the guy went crazy. He was banging on your front
door, yelling and demanding that you talk to him. Begging you to forgive him.
And—of course—your mom wouldn’t open the door for him. She kept
telling him to go away, warning him that she was going to call the police. But
he wouldn’t leave. He said he wouldn’t leave until he talked to you—but
no way was she going to tell him that you were here with me. Not the way he was
acting. She was worried for you, Zoey. And I guess she knew the hospital’s
number—because after your dad died …”
Her voice trailed off and she
didn’t finish her sentence, but I knew what she was going to say. What she
didn’t have the heart to say.
I ducked my head, not wanting to
’s face—or her to see mine. Yeah, Mom
had taken a couple trips to the mental hospital after my dad died. She had
taken his death … hard.
To say the least.
Summer drew in a long breath. “So,
anyway, that’s it—the whole story. Finn is in the psycho ward and can’t
come home until the doctors are sure he won’t do himself in—or do Riley’s
I sat back and brought my knees up
to my chest. Tried telling myself it was karma.
Summer even said the words aloud.
“Come on, Zoey. The guy was
for cheating on you. He totally deserves to be there—right where he is.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Can you say Big Time Karma?”
I gave a weak laugh, wiping away a
tiny tear. “I know, right?”
But the poetic justice didn’t help
Or at all, really.
As angry and betrayed as I
felt about Finn … well, this didn’t make me feel any better.
worse—if that was possible.
The thing is—break-ups suck.
They just do. Even when you know it’s for the best. Even when the guy you
really, truly want took you into his arms and gave you the most delicious,
hottest mackin’ session of your entire life—against an office door.
Because at the end of the day, what is there?
Just a bunch of
wounded hearts and broken windows.
And an idiot guy that used to mean
the world to you now locked in a padded cell. Or anyway, trapped in a hospital
where they don’t let you use blunt objects or a dinner knife.
“Drama much?” Summer asked with a
weak, sympathetic grin. Then she gave my arm another gentle squeeze. “I’m
pretty sure the guy rues the day he ever cheated on you.”
Monday, when I woke there was a
message scrawled in red lipstick across my car’s windshield. I saw it as was
getting the mail. It sent a shiver down my spine.
The message called me a bunch of
filthy words and said I was a “man stealer.” So, I figured it was from Ava.
But, I also had an “anonymous”
message left on my cell phone that morning. It said, “You should let Finn
go—you don’t deserve him.” I figured that was from Bianca.
Actually, I got a bunch of those
One after the other.
Right in a row.
Rant, hang-up. Rant, hang-up. Pretty much
saying the same thing over and over, but with different swear words and
Other times sobbing.
things like I had always played with Riley’s head and flirted with him behind
Finn’s back. That Finn deserved better … and yeah, that I should let him go.
She (Bianca) always said that line in every message—that I should let
Like I didn’t already. But I did.
The moment I knew for sure that he was cheating on me. That moment—it was
over. My heart slammed shut to Finn, hard. Tight. Forever. But really, it had
even been before that.
Because even before that I had
known—just without the confirmation.
When I had gone to work that
night—the night everything went down—I’d already planned to
break-up with Finn. So, Bianca’s words now in her messages—that I should
“Get my claws out of Finn”—just made me roll my eyes and remember how I
felt about her less than a week ago. That she should get her claws out of my
boyfriend. Now I just didn’t care. She could keep them in. Let them out. Dig
them in deeper. Whatever. Anything the psycho witch wanted. I just didn’t care
anymore. It would be Finn’s pain. Not mine.
I woke to quite a joy on Monday. But then—super joy! I got a call from
Finn’s parents. When I saw their number on the caller ID, I snatched my hand
away from my phone as though it was a snake. Like it was going to lunge up and
sink its fangs into my face. No way was I answering that.
I listened to their message with my
arms wrapped tight around my waist. They asked me to please stay away from the
hospital while Finn was “recovering.” They said he didn’t need my “influence”
on him just yet while he was “dealing” with his emotions.
They sounded all curt and
condescending. Like they were trying to be “big” about the situation. Like I
had broken their son’s heart—evilly cheated on him and kissed his best
friend, which obviously drove the poor, innocent boy to do serious, violent,
crazy acts—but they were too “civilized” to point fingers at me—the
cheating hussy. Instead, they were trying to plead with me (the devil) into
leaving their poor heartsick son alone and let him “heal” from my evil doings.
So, obviously, they didn’t know
about Bianca and their
evil doings. But that was fine. Whatever. I had no intention of clearing things
up with them. I never wanted to
them again. They could think whatever they wanted.
But THEN I started getting messages
from Finn. I didn’t answer those either. But they kept coming. Begging me to
come see him. With every text I got from him, my stomach twisted tighter and
“I NEED to see you, Zoey. I just
want to talk. I swear. I have to see you,”
his messages would beg.
Zoey, you owe me that. Just talk to me. Please!”
I wasn’t sure what I “owed” him. I
“owed” me an apology.
Big time. But his parents seemed to think I owed
his best friend,” they said in their second message
to me, when I finally broke down and texted them (to warn them) that Finn wanted
me to go see him—that he couldn’t “breathe right” until he had a chance
to talk to me. (His words, not mine.)
They went on in a barely contained
rant, “Of course he went crazy. Er … temporarily insane. You.
They said it again, all
condescending, “Please, stay away from our son.”
I was tempted to tell them I had
every intention of staying away from him—forever. But there was too much
drama. So, I didn’t say a word to them. Not one. I just listened to their
clipped messages, then texted them back, as little as possible.
So … I stayed away from Finn.
For a week.
And I stayed away from Riley during that painful
week too. Couldn’t help it. I already had work off for the next two days after
our incredible kiss because that was just how the schedule had already been
written up. During that time, I yearned to see Riley—talk to him.
But well, his best friend was
in a mental hospital because of our kiss. I wasn’t sure he wanted to see me.
And apparently he didn’t. Since, you know, he never came to see me. Or call me.
Or text me.
Or … anything.
Everything inside me twisted with
worry and pain. I was afraid Riley was over me. Suspecting that, I had trouble
doing normal things—like eating and sleeping.
Instead, I drove by his house (a
lot) with various excuses in my tortured brain—any excuse would do.
Really, I think I just wanted to see him. Needed to see him. (Me see him,
though, not the other way around. Important!! I didn’t want him to see me driving
by his house, looking like a total stalker. Okay, I so knew I was being one (I
did!), but I didn’t want him to know.)
Then, two days later—ouch!!!
My heart fell to the floor. Totally ached as though it had been stomped on (and
it kind of had). Because as drove past Riley’s house, I saw Ava’s car parked
Seeing her shiny little car sitting
in his driveway I lost all of my breath. Seriously. It all whooshed out of me
(violently) like I’d been slugged in the stomach, hard. I practically doubled
over from the pain. Though I’d
to brace myself for it every time I drove by.
anyone had “claws” in anyone it was Ava.
She had them dug deep into
Riley. I should have known she’d find a way to wheedle back into his life.
Still, seeing it with my own eyes made everything inside me shrivel.
Witnessing Ava’s car there (after
me and heartlessly
stolen my heart) the world turned black. I could barely see.
I drove home shaking and trying to
be mad rather than hurt. But
I couldn’t help it
I was devastated
. My shattered heart was crushed. I had
wanted to believe Riley. Wanted so bad to believe his soft, tender words and
tantalizing kisses. Believe the only reason he had major regrets about our kiss
was because of Finn.
But seeing Ava’s car parked in
Riley’s driveway—that pretty much summed up the situation for me. The
player had played me. Big time. And I’d fallen for it. Okay, I knew that wasn’t
exactly the scenario.
But close enough.
After all, Ava (his one and only
girlfriend) was the one at his house, not me.
I exhaled shakily—wondering
if he was ever going to tell me about Ava. Come clean about the situation. And
the lies running rampant on the Internet—that he loved me
Was he ever going to clean the mess he made of my heart?
At least he’d gotten his car fixed
pronto. The guy definitely had his priorities straight. (
Bitter much, Zoey? Why yes. Yes I am
The day I saw Ava’s car in Riley’s
driveway was the day I was supposed to go back to work. That night. But when I
came home from seeing her car there, I’d collapsed on my bed. For at least a
half hour I just laid there, curled in a ball—hurting.
I tried telling myself Ava could
have been there for all sorts of reasons—like to collect all her things
from Riley’s house. After all, isn’t that what people do when they break up
they get their stuff back?
It didn’t seem right. I didn’t want Finn to come here to my house
and get his things from my room. I didn’t want him anywhere near my room.