Slammed, p.15
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       Slammed, p.15

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover
 

  He allows my hand to remain on his chest as it moves up and down to the rhythm of his breath. The look in his eyes is the exact look he had when he was watching me in class today. Although this time, my physical response is more intense and I struggle to control the powerful urge to lean in and kiss him. I’ve wanted to talk to him like this for over a month now. I still had so much to say before he started pretending I didn’t exist. I’m afraid as soon as I walk out of his house tonight, the isolation will return. I decide to tell him what I’ve wanted to say to him for weeks.

  "Will?" I whisper. "I'll wait for you-until I graduate."

  He exhales and closes his eyes as he strokes his thumb across the back of my hand. "That's a long wait, Lake. A lot can happen in a year." His pulse increases against my palm.

  I don’t know what comes over me, but I lean closer and turn his face toward mine. I just need him to look at me.

  He doesn't meet my gaze. Instead, his eyes focus on his hand as he slowly moves it up my arm. All the same sensations that flowed through me the first night we kissed come flooding back. I've missed his touch so much.

  I watch him as he moves his hand to my shoulder. He slides his fingers underneath the strap of my shirt as he traces along the edges. His movements are slow and methodical as he pulls his legs off of the table in front of him and turns his body toward me. His expression seems full of conflict as he slowly leans in and presses his lips against my shoulder. I wrap my arms around him as I inhale. His breath becomes heavier as his lips move across my shoulder and onto my neck. The room starts to spin, so I close my eyes. His lips make their way to my jaw and closer to my mouth. When I feel him pull away I open my eyes again and he's watching me. There's a slight moment of hesitation in his eyes just before his lips close over mine.

  In the past, his kisses have been very delicate and smooth. There is a different hunger behind him now as he slides his hands under my shirt and grasps at my waist. I return his kisses with the same feverish passion. I run my hands through his hair and pull him to me as I lay back on the couch. As soon as he begins to ease his body on top of mine, his lips break away and he sits back up.

  "We've got to stop," he says. "We can't do this." He squeezes his eyes shut and rests his head against the couch.

  I sit back up and ignore his protest as I slide my hands up his neck and through his hair. I press my lips to his and pull myself onto his lap. His hands wrap around my waist and he pulls me into him as he returns my kiss with even more intensity than before. He’s right; they do get better every time.

  My hands find the bottom edge of his shirt and I slide it up. Our lips separate for a brief moment as his shirt passes between us. I place my hands on his chest and run them over the contours of his muscles as we continue to kiss. His hands grip my arms and he pushes me down onto the couch. I'm waiting for him to find his way back to my mouth, but instead he pushes away from me and stands up.

  "Layken, get up!" He demands as he grabs my hand and pulls me up from the couch.

  I stand up, still caught up in the moment and unable to catch my breath.

  "This—this can't happen!" He’s attempting to catch his breath too. "I'm your teacher now. Everything has changed, we can't do this.”

  His timing sucks. My knees are weak so I sit back down on the couch for support. "Will, I won’t say anything. I swear." I don't want him to regret what just happened between us. For a moment, it felt like we were back where we belonged. Now, seconds later I'm confused again.

  "I'm sorry, Layken but it's not right,” he says as he paces the floor. “This isn't good for either of us. This isn't good for you."

  "You don't know what's good for me," I snap. I'm getting defensive again.

  He stops pacing and turns toward me. "You won't wait for me. I won't let you give up what should be the best year of your life. I had to grow up way too fast, I'm not taking that away from you, too. It's not fair. I don’t want you to wait for me, Layken."

  The shift in his demeanor and the way my entire first name is flowing from his mouth is causing the oxygen to deplete from the room. I’m dizzy.

  "I won't be giving anything up," I reply weakly. I would have screamed it if I could muster enough energy.

  He grabs his shirt and pulls it on over his head as he moves further away from me. He walks to the opposite side of the living room and grips the back of the couch, his head falling between his shoulders.

  "My life is nothing but responsibilities. I'm raising a child for Christ’s sake. I wouldn't be able to put your needs first. Hell, I wouldn't even be able to put them second. You deserve better than third."

  I stand up and walk over to him, kneeling on the couch in front of him. I place my hands on top of his. "Your responsibilities should come before me, which is why I want to wait for you, Will. You're a good person. This thing about you that you think is your flaw-it's the reason I'm falling in love with you."

  My last few words trickle out as though I've lost what little control over myself I had left. I don't regret saying it, though.

  He pulls his hands out from under mine and places them firmly on either side of my face. He looks me directly in the eyes. "You are not falling in love with me." He says this as if it's a command. “You cannot fall in love with me.” His face is hard as he clenches his jaw again. I feel the tears begin to well in my eyes as he releases me and walks toward the front door.

  "What happened tonight-" He's pointing to the couch as he speaks. "That can't happen again. That won't happen again." He says this as though he's trying to convince more than just me.

  After he walks outside, he slams the door behind him and I'm left alone in his living room. My hands clutch at my stomach as the nausea intensifies. I'm afraid if I don't regain my composure soon, I won't be able to stand long enough to make it out of the house. I inhale through my nose and exhale from my mouth as I count backwards from ten.

  It's a coping technique I learned when I was younger from my father. I used to have what my parent’s referred to as "emotional overloads." My dad would wrap his arms around me and squeeze me as tight as he could as we counted down. Sometimes I would fake the tantrums just so he would have to squeeze me. What I wouldn't give for my dad's embrace right now.

  The front door opens and Will re-enters carrying a sleeping Caulder in his arms. "Kel woke up, he's walking home now. You should go too," he says quietly.

  I feel completely embarrassed. Embarrassed of what just happened between us and the fact that he is making me feel desperate; weaker than him. I snatch my keys off the coffee table and turn toward the door, stopping in front of him.

  “You're an asshole,” I say. I turn and leave, slamming the door behind me.

  As soon as I get to my bedroom, I collapse on the bed and cry. Although it's negative, I finally have inspiration for my poem. I grab a pen and simultaneously start writing as I wipe away smudged tears off of the paper.

  7.

  "You can’t be like me

  But be happy that you can’t

  I see pain but I don’t feel it

  I am like the old Tin Man.”

  -The Avett Brothers, Tin Man

  Chapter Seven

  According to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are five stages of grief a person passes through after the death of a loved one: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

  I took a psychology class during the last semester of my junior year when we lived in Texas. We were discussing stage four when the principal walked into the room, pale as a ghost.

  "Layken, can I see you in the hallway please?"

  Principal Bass was a pleasant man. Plump in the belly, plump in the hands, plump in places you didn't know could be plump. It was an unusually cold spring day in Texas, but you wouldn't know it from the rings of sweat underneath his arms. He was the type of principal that hung out in his office rather than the halls. He never went looking for trouble, just waited for it to come to him. So why was he here?

  I had a
sinking feeling deep in the pit of my stomach as I stood up and walked as slow as I could to the classroom door. He wouldn't make eye contact with me. I remember I looked right at him and his eyes darted to the floor. He felt sorry for me. But why?

  When I walked out into the hallway my mother was standing there, mascara streaked down her cheeks. The look in her eyes told me why she was there. Why she was there, and my father wasn't.

  "How?" I remember crying. She threw her arms around me and started to collapse to the floor. Rather than hold her up, I simply melted with her. That day we experienced our first stage of grief in the hallway floor of my High School: Denial.

  ***

  Gavin is preparing to perform his poetry. He's standing in front of the class, his paper shaking between his fingers as he clears his throat to read from it.

  I wonder, as I ignore Gavin's presence and focus on Will, do the five stages of grief only apply to the death of a loved one? Could it not also apply to the death of an aspect of your life? If it does, then I'm definitely smack dab in the center of stage two: Anger.

  "What's it called, Gavin?" Will asks. He's sitting at his desk, writing notes into his pad as students perform. It pisses me off-the way he's being so attentive, focused on everything except me. His ability to make me feel like this huge invisible void pisses me off. The way he pauses to chew on the tip of his pen pisses me off. Just last night, those same lips that are wrapped around the tip of his ugly red pen were making their way up my neck.

  I push the thought of his kiss out of my mind as quickly as it crept in. I don't know how long it will take, but I'm determined to break from this hold he has on me.

  "Um, I didn't really give it a title," Gavin responds. He's standing at the front of the classroom, second to last person to perform. "I guess you can call it Pre-Proposal?"

  "Pre-Proposal, go ahead then," Will states in a teacher-ish voice that also pisses me off.

  "Eh-hem," Gavin clears his throat. His hands start trembling more as he begins to read.

  One million, fifty one thousand and two hundred minutes.

  That's approximately how many minutes I've loved you,

  It's how many minutes I've thought about you,

  How many minutes I've worried about you,

  How many minutes I've thanked God for you,

  How many minutes I've thanked every deity in the Universe for you.

  One million

  Fifty one thousand

  And

  Two

  Hundred

  Minutes…

  One million, fifty one thousand and two hundred times.

  It's how many times you've made me smile,

  How many times you’ve made me dream,

  How many times you’ve made me believe,

  How many times you’ve made me discover,

  How many times you’ve made me adore,

  How many times you’ve made me cherish,

 
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