Slammed, p.32
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       Slammed, p.32

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover

  Air. Or Water. I don't know which one I need. I slide out of the booth and head toward the front door but make a beeline for the bathroom. I just need silence.

  When I open the door to the bathroom, the stalls are empty. There's a girl washing her hands at the only available sink, so I decide to wait on the water. I pick the big stall. I lock it behind me and lean up against the door.

  Did that just really happen? Does he know I'm even here? No, he doesn't. I told him I wasn't coming. He didn't intend for me to hear it. Even so, he wrote it. He said himself that he writes what he's feeling. Oh my god, he loves me. Will Cooper is in love with me.

  I've known all along how he felt about me. I can see it in the way he looks at me. But to hear his words and the emotions behind them-how he said my name. How am I supposed to face him? I'm not. He still doesn't know I'm here, I just have to leave. I need to leave before he sees me.

  I open the bathroom door and scan the area but I don't see him. Luckily, another performer is on stage so most of the eyes are glued to the front of the room. I slip through the entryway and out the front door.

  "Layken! Look what Gavin got me!" Eddie is making her way inside, holding her hair back, wanting me to look at her ears.

  "Eddie, I've got to go."

  Her smile fades.

  "I'll call you later." I brush past her without looking at the earrings. "You didn't see me!" I yell behind me as I go.

  I make my way around the building and smash into Javier as he's rounding the corner. Good grief! Is the whole class here? Someone's going to let it slip that I was here. I don't want Will to know I saw him.

  "Hey, what's the hurry?" he asks as I slip between him and the wall.

  "I gotta go. I'll see you tomorrow." I quickly walk away. I don't have time for chit chat. I just want to get in my jeep and pull out of this parking lot as soon as I can.

  "Wait, I'll walk you to your car," he says as he catches up to me.

  "I'm fine, Javi. Go ahead and go inside, they already started."

  "Layken, we're in Detroit. You're parked behind a club. I'm walking you to your car."

  "Fine. But walk fast."

  "What's your hurry?" he asks as we make our way to the rear of the building.

  "I'm just tired. I need sleep," I say as I slow down, feeling confident that Will didn't see me.

  "There's a café down the road. Want to go grab some coffee?" he asks.

  "No, thanks. I don't need caffeine, I need my bed."

  He is silent as we make our way to my jeep in the back of the lot. I reach down to grab my keys out of my-shit! My purse. I left my purse in the booth.

  "Shit!" I say as I kick at the gravel in front of me. My shoe loosens a piece of rock and it flicks against the door of my jeep.

  "What's wrong?" he asks.

  "My purse. I left my keys and my purse inside." I fold my arms across my chest and lean against the jeep.

  "It's not that big of a deal. We'll go back inside and get them."

  "No, I don't want to. Would you mind getting it for me?" I smile at him, hoping it will be enough.

  "Layken, you don't need to stay back here by yourself."

  "Fine. I'll just text Eddie to bring it out. Do you have your phone?"

  He pats his pockets. "No, it's in my truck. Come on, you can use it." Javi says this as he reaches down and takes my hand and leads me toward his truck.

  He unlocks his door and reaches inside for his phone.

  "It's dead," he says as he plugs it into the charger. "Give it couple minutes to get a charge, then you can call her."

  "Thanks," I say as I lean against his truck and wait.

  He stands next to me as we wait for the phone to charge. "It's snowing again," Javi says as he wipes something off my arm.

  I look up and see the falling flakes contrasted against the black sky. I guess we're about to finally see what a Michigan Winter really looks like.

  I turn to face Javi. I was about to ask him something about snow tires, or plows but it slips my mind as soon as his hands grasp my face and his tongue makes its' way into my mouth. I turn my face and push against his chest with my hands. When he feels my resistance his face backs away from mine, but his body is still pressed against me, pushing me against the cold metal of his truck.

  "What?" he smiles. "I thought you wanted me to kiss you."

  "No, Javi." I'm still pushing against him with my hands but he doesn't budge.

  "Come on," he says with a smug grin on his face. "You didn't leave your keys inside. You want this." His mouth encircles mine again and my pulse starts to race against my chest. It's not the same reaction I get when Will makes my pulse race. This time it's more like fight or flight mode. I try to scream at him, but his hands are pulling my face into his so hard that I can't catch a breath. I try to move but he's using his body to pin me against his truck, making it virtually impossible for me to break free.

  I close my eyes. Think, Layken. Think.

  Just as I'm about to bite down on his lip, Javi pulls away from me. But he keeps going backward. Someone is dragging him away from me. He falls to the ground and Will straddles him, grabs hold of his shirt and sends a blow straight to Javi's jaw. Javi falls back to the ground but turns over and pushes off against it, causing Will to stumble backward.

  "Stop!" I scream.

  Will is knocked to the ground when Javi returns the punch. I'm afraid Javi is going to hit him again, so I throw myself between them just as Javi swings a punch intended for Will-straight into my back. I fall forward and land on Will. I try to catch a breath, but I have none. I can't inhale.

  "Lake," Will says as he rolls me onto the ground next to him. His worry is fleeting, however, as rage fills his eyes. He grabs the door handle of the car next to us and starts to pull himself up.

  "I didn't mean to hit you," Javi says as he walks toward me.

  I'm on the ground so I don't see what happens next, but I hear a smack and I can see Javi's feet are no longer planted on the ground. I look up just as Will leans over Javi and delivers another punch.

  "Will, get off him!" Gavin yells. Gavin is pulling Will back and they both fall to the ground.

  Eddie rushes to my side and pulls me upright. "Layken, what happened?" She has her arms around me and I'm clutching my chest. I know I was hit in the back, but it feels like my lungs are concrete. I'm gasping for air, but I can't answer her.

  Will rustles out of Gavin's grip and stands up. He walks to me and takes my hand as Eddie scoots out of his way. He pulls me up and puts my arm around his shoulder, wraps his other arm around my waist and starts walking me forward.

  "I'm taking you home," is all he says.

  "Wait," Eddie yells as she circles to the front of us. "I found your purse."

  I reach out and take it from her and attempt to smile. Her hand goes up to her ear in the shape of a phone and she mouths 'call me.'

  Will assists me into his car as I gently lean back against the seat. My lungs have refilled with air, but every breath I take feels like I've got a knife protruding from my back. I close my eyes and focus on inhaling and exhaling through my nose as we drive away.

  Neither one of us speaks. Me, because I can't. Will because-I don't know why. We drive in silence until we're almost to the Ypsilanti city limits.

  Will jerks the car to the side of the road and throws it in park. He punches the steering wheel before he gets out of the car and slams the door. His figure is illuminated by the headlights of the car as he walks away from the vehicle, sporadically kicking at the ground and cursing obscenities. He finally stops and I watch as he stands loosely with his hands on his hips. His head is leaned back and he's looking at the sky, letting the snow fall on his face. He stands like this for a while until he makes his way back to the car, sits down, and calmly shuts his door. He puts the car into gear and we continue to drive in silence.

  I'm able to walk, my breathing has returned to normal, and the knife in my back feels more like a lump now. Regardless, he
still assists me as we walk into his house.

  "Lay down on the couch, I'll get some ice," he says.

  I do as he says. I ease myself stomach first onto the couch and close my eyes, wondering what in the world just happened to tonight.

  I feel his hand on the couch as he kneels down next to me. "Will!" I gasp as I open my eyes and actually see his face. "Your eye." There's a trail of blood running down his neck from a gash above his eye.

  "It's fine. I'll be fine," he says as he leans over me. "Do you mind?" he asks as his hands grasp the bottom of my shirt.

  I shake my head.

  He pulls my shirt up over my back and I feel something cold compress against my skin. He places the ice pack on top of the injury. He stands and opens the front door, shutting it behind him as he leaves.

  He left. He just left without saying a word. I lay there for a few more minutes, expecting him to return right away, but he doesn't.

  I roll onto my side and let the pack of ice fall onto the couch. I ease my shirt back down and prepare myself to stand up just as the door bursts open and my mother runs in.

  "Lake? Sweetie, are you okay?" She throws her arms around me. Will walks in behind her.

  "Mom," I say weakly as I return her hug and cry.


  "It's fine Mom, really," I say as she's tucking me into my bed, asking me how my back feels for the one hundredth time in the ten minutes that I've been home.

  She smiles and strokes my hair. That's what I'm going to miss the most about her. The way she strokes my hair as she looks at me with so much love in her eyes.

  "Will says you got hit in the back. Who hit you?"

  I wince as I try to push myself up against my pillow.

  "Javi. He's in my class. He was trying to punch Will but I got in the way."

  "Why was he trying to punch Will?"

  "Because Will punched him. Javi walked me to my jeep when I left the club. He thought I wanted him to kiss me. I was trying to push him off of me-I couldn't get him to stop. The next thing I know Will's on top of him, punching him."

  "That's awful, Lake. I'm so sorry," she says as she leans forward and kisses my forehead.

  "It's fine, Mom. I'm fine. I just need some sleep."

  She strokes my head again before she stands up and flicks the lights off.

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