Fighting to be free, p.19
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.19
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         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley

  were near each other at the postgame parties was so tense that you could almost cut it with a knife. “Oh” was the only thing that I could think of to respond to that remark.

  He smiled sadly. “Want to dance?”

  I laughed and waved down at myself and the group of people I was dancing with. “I’m already dancing.”

  He nodded off to one side, suggesting that we would be dancing together instead of just part of a group. “On our own?” he clarified.

  My eyes jumped to Jamie again. He was still on the phone, running a hand through his hair. He looked stressed. “Um …”

  Miles sighed and took my hand. “You’re allowed to dance with another guy, I’m sure,” he scoffed.

  I shook my head and looked at him disbelievingly. If we were still dating there would be no way he would allow me to dance with another guy, so that statement was just ludicrous. I had no clue why he hadn’t given up already. Ten weeks was a long time to pine after someone. Before I had time to reject the dance offer, an arm snaked around my shoulders. I jumped and looked up to see Jamie; he was frowning in Miles’s direction.

  “Thanks for looking after my girlfriend for me,” he said.

  Miles’s jaw tightened. “No problem, she was looking a little neglected. Important phone call, was it?”

  Jamie seemed to stiffen as he nodded. “It was, but I’m done now.” He turned to me and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, little girl. I’m all yours now, I promise.”

  He cupped my face in his hands and kissed me. I knew this was for show, for Miles’s benefit more than mine, but I kissed him back regardless. Everything else faded away when Jamie kissed me. My eyes fluttered closed. I literally could have been anywhere, and it wouldn’t matter so long as his lips didn’t leave mine. I crushed myself to him, wrapping my arms around his waist, wanting to melt into him and stay there forever. But as with all good things, it had to end sometime. He pulled out of the kiss and smiled, stroking my face with his thumb. Glancing to the side, I saw that Miles had already walked off, probably so he didn’t witness us kissing. No doubt that had been Jamie’s intention.

  His nose trailed up the side of mine. “Sorry,” he whispered.

  I shook my head dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. Is everything okay?”

  He sighed and nodded, his smile fake. “Yeah, fine. Want to get some fresh air or something? I have a headache,” he replied, motioning toward the gym doors.

  I smiled sympathetically. It was probably the music that was giving him a headache; it was pretty loud in here. “Sure.”

  As I followed him outside, he slipped off his jacket, wrapping it around my shoulders. He walked over to the little brick wall and sat down, taking my hand and pulling me toward him gently so I was standing between his legs, our faces level. He gripped the edges of his jacket, pulling it closed around my body as he pressed himself closer to me, keeping me warm. My eyes locked on his and I seemed to get caught in his gaze. We didn’t speak, I just looked at his handsome face and memorized every inch of it. The music playing in the background, the stars shining down on us, the solitude, all of it was perfect and almost magical.

  “How are you feeling now?” I asked after a couple of minutes, stroking his cheek with one finger.

  He blew out a big breath and shook his head, rubbing his forehead. “It’s pretty bad actually. Right above my eyes,” he replied. “You don’t have any pills for it, do you?”

  I shook my head apologetically. I usually carried painkillers on me, but I only had that silly little clutch purse with me tonight. “No, sorry, I don’t. Maybe we could try to get you something from the first aid room?”

  He sighed deeply. “Ellie, I’m gonna have to go home, I’m sorry. My head feels like it’s gonna explode,” he moaned.

  I nodded quickly; I didn’t mind leaving now, actually. I would rather just leave if he wasn’t feeling well anyway. “Okay, let me just find Stacey and tell her we’re leaving, and then we can call a cab,” I replied, turning back for the door we’d come out of.

  Jamie’s hand covered mine, squeezing gently as he pulled me to a stop. “I’d rather leave you here with Stacey. That way you can enjoy the rest of the night.” He stroked the side of my face, looking at me apologetically. “I really wish I didn’t have to go. I’m so sorry. I’ll make it up to you, I promise,” he whispered, kissing me again.

  I smiled against his lips. “Stop apologizing. You’re not feeling good, that’s nothing that can be helped. Go get some sleep,” I instructed.

  He smiled and pulled the jacket tighter around me. “You keep this; it’ll be cold later, when you leave. Stay inside, and don’t go wandering off in this hot little dress, it’s way too tempting for guys not to ravage you when you look like this,” he teased, winking at me. I laughed and he kissed my forehead. “Want to meet me for lunch or something tomorrow?”

  I frowned. “You still going out with Connor tomorrow night?”

  He nodded, his gaze dropping to the ground, shifting on his feet. Jamie was a terrible liar. I refused to allow myself to think about what he’d really be doing tomorrow night—maybe meeting another girl, or maybe he just didn’t want to see me and he was going to break it off with me tomorrow at lunch instead …

  “Okay, yeah, lunchtime then. Call me in the morning,” I agreed, swallowing the lump in my throat.

  “I will. See ya,” he replied, squeezing my hand gently before he turned and walked across the parking lot. My eyes stung with tears as I caught the lapel of his jacket, stroking the material. Jamie had basically confirmed my suspicions, it really was over.

  “You okay?”

  I turned to see a smug-looking Miles. I nodded in response, forcing a smile so he wouldn’t know I was upset. “Yep,” I lied, turning and heading inside. Miles kept pace with me as I walked straight over to the drinks table and downed another glass of punch.

  “Think maybe he’s gonna go meet that chick he’s been texting all night?” Miles asked at my side.

  Oh God. Why had it never even entered my head that it might have been a girl who was distracting him all night? I swallowed and poured myself another drink. “No. He’s gone home to bed. He’s not feeling well.” Even I could hear the doubt in my voice.

  Miles laughed. “Yeah, sure,” he agreed sarcastically. “Want to dance?”

  I shook my head. I just needed to go home now too; I didn’t want to be here without Jamie. There was no point in waiting for Stacey and Paul; my night was ruined already so why stretch it out for another hour?

  I pushed myself away from the table and headed over to Paul, gripping his sleeve. He smiled down at me. “Hey, I think I’m just gonna get a cab home. Tell Stacey I said bye, okay?”

  He frowned and shook his head adamantly. “Jamie will have my balls if I let you leave here on your own. I’m supposed to be driving you home. You know what he’s like,” he rebutted.

  I shrugged nonchalantly. “He won’t know if we don’t tell him. I’ll be fine. See you Monday. Tell Stacey that I’ll call her tomorrow.” I headed off quickly before he had a chance to stop me. He was right, Jamie would be seriously pissed if he found out I was leaving on my own. He was very protective like that.

  As I walked through the crowd I tugged his jacket around me tighter, cloaking myself in his scent.

  Once outside, I leaned against the wall and dialed the local cab company, but the lady told me they didn’t have anything for an hour. I debated calling my dad and asking him to pick me up, but it was now past eleven and he was probably in bed already.

  Pushing myself away from the wall, I started walking toward my house. Thank goodness my heels were comfortable. I figured it’d only take me twenty minutes—thirty, tops.

  After about three minutes, car headlights lit the road next to me. The car slowed, keeping pace with me. I swallowed my unease, walking a little faster, trying not to look, silently wishing I hadn’t decided to walk. This was a decent area, but it was late, and dark, and I was in a stupid little
dress. I should have put a sign over my head saying DEFENSELESS, SLIGHTLY DRUNK TEENAGER, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ATTACK ME. My stomach clenched as I began to think of all the things that could happen to me. When the car’s horn blasted, I yelped, startled, and flicked my eyes up to it without slowing my pace. It was too dark for me to see properly, plus the headlights were on full, hurting my eyes.

  Gritting my teeth, I pulled out my phone, getting Jamie’s number up on the screen, ready to call him. I knew he would help me; even while sick he would race here and pick me up if I called him and told him I was frightened. I snuck a glance at the car to see that it was still following me, just about three feet behind me, slowly creeping along.

  “Shit,” I muttered, stopping for a split second to rip off my heels in case I needed to run. In my mind I planned out where I would go. The school was the closest place; if I darted down the next street I could double back and run there.

  In my hand, my phone buzzed and started ringing. I frowned, seeing Miles’s picture flash in the darkness. “Miles?” I answered. Maybe he could come and meet me if I told him I needed him.

  “Yeah. Ellie, will you stop walking? Why are you ignoring me?” he asked incredulously.

  “Huh?” I mumbled, sneaking another look at the car, but it hadn’t started up again; it was just stopped where I had stopped seconds before to take off my shoes.

  “Ellie, just get in the car and stop behaving like a drama queen. You shouldn’t be walking home in the dark.”

  “Car?” Without easing up on my run-walk, I looked at the car again and squinted through the glare of the lights to see that it was black, sleek, and expensive looking. The air whooshed out of my lungs in one gust as I realized that it wasn’t some deranged ax murderer who was following and honking at me, it was Miles! Laughing with relief, I disconnected the call and sprinted toward his car with my shoes knocking together in my hand. As I threw open the door, I had never been happier to see Miles in my life. “Oh God, you scared me,” I scolded, climbing in and punching him in the arm.

  He laughed and rubbed his arm, looking at me like I was crazy. “I honked at you. You forget what my car looks like already?”

  I sighed and rested my head back on the headrest. “I couldn’t see, it’s dark!” I protested, smiling because my heart rate was starting to slow down to a normal pace again.

  He laughed and put the car in drive. “Put on your seat belt,” he instructed, pulling out again and heading in the direction of my house. We didn’t speak during the ten-minute drive. I sat there uncomfortably, hugging Jamie’s jacket around myself. When Miles pulled into my driveway, he smiled at me. “Think I could use your bathroom? I need to pee. Drank too much soda, I think,” he said, already taking off his seat belt and killing the engine.

  I frowned but nodded anyway. I didn’t really want him to come in, but after he’d just driven me home I couldn’t exactly say no. He quietly followed me inside the darkened house. He headed to the downstairs bathroom while I went to the kitchen to see if there was any food for me to eat.

  Finding some leftover pizza in the fridge, I pulled out the plate and sat at the kitchen table to snack on it. Miles came in after a couple of minutes and smiled. “That looks good. Can I have some?” he asked, nodding at the plate.

  I shrugged and pushed the plate in his direction as he sat down next to me. “Thanks for the ride home. Even though you did scare the crap out of me,” I said, grinning and blushing at my stupidity.

  He smiled and bit into his pizza. It was a little awkward. Conversation had never flowed easily between us, and talking hadn’t been one of the key points of our relationship—then again, there weren’t actually many key points to our relationship at all. I’d loved him in the beginning, but then it just kind of fizzled out, but by that time we’d been together too long to just give up on it, so we stayed together and the relationship turned a little sour.

  “So, what are your plans for the weekend?” I asked politely.

  He shrugged. “Not sure. My dad wants me to go into his office tomorrow and help him prepare for a big case he has coming up; nothing interesting really. What about you?”

  “I’m seeing Jamie tomorrow afternoon. Got nothing else planned, though.”

  “Want to catch a movie or something tomorrow night? That actor that you like has a movie out, I think.” The hopeful tone to his voice was obvious.

  I squirmed in my seat. “Um … Jamie took me to see it last week.”

  “Oh. Well, maybe we could see something else? Or have dinner?” he asked, giving me the little-lost-boy look.

  I smiled sadly. When Miles wanted to, he could be sweet … but this nice-guy act never lasted long. He would be nice right up until I wore something he didn’t like, or spoke to someone without his being there, or even accepted a drink from someone at a party. He was crazy possessive. If he was thinking I’d forgotten the reasons that we broke up just because he suggested we go see a chick flick together, then he was very much mistaken. Even if Jamie did break up with me, there would be no chance that I would ever go back to Miles.

  “Miles, I’m with Jamie.”

  A frown lined his forehead as his eyes hardened. “Ellie, it’s not right that we’re not together! We were a great couple. Just give me another chance, please?” He hopped off his stool, stepping closer to me.

  “You should go. Thanks for the ride home, I appreciate it.” I eyed the door as I stood too, signaling the end of the conversation.

  He obviously didn’t get my signal, though, because he gripped the tops of my arms, pulling me against his body as his lips crashed against mine, kissing me fiercely. I whimpered and squirmed, turning my head to the side to break the kiss, but his grip tightened on my arms, his fingers digging into my skin as he kissed me again.

  Somehow, I got my arms between our bodies and shoved him as hard as I could, causing him to stumble back a couple of steps. Swiping at my mouth with the back of my hand, I glared at him. “Just get the hell out,” I growled quietly, not wanting to wake my parents or sister.

  “Ellie—” he started, but I held up a hand to cut him off.

  “Leave. Now,” I ordered, marching out into the hall and wrenching the front door open.

  He did follow me out there, but he didn’t look happy at all. His jaw was tight; his eyes were piercing into mine as he stomped over to the open door. “I love you, Ellie. Sooner or later you’ll realize that you’re dating a loser, and you’ll come begging me to take you back.”

  I snorted and shook my head, not looking at him as I opened the door wider to prompt him. He sighed, and before I could stop him, he bent forward and kissed me again for a second before heading out. I growled in frustration and closed the door, wanting nothing more than to scream and kick the wood in frustration.

  After locking up and throwing the rest of the pizza back into the fridge, I headed upstairs. Just as I got to the top, my mom came out of the bathroom, crossing the hallway, heading back toward her bedroom. She smiled at me; the little glint in her eye told me that she’d witnessed at least some of that little exchange between me and Miles.

  “Hello, Ellison. How was the dance?”

  I sighed and shrugged. “It was okay, I guess,” I replied. “I’m going to bed. G’night, Mom.”

  “Good night, honey.”

  I ignored the smug smile on her face and headed into my room, practically ripping the dress off over my head and flopping down on the bed in my underwear. I buried my face in the pillow and tried my hardest not to cry. I refused to think about Miles kissing me. If I started thinking about him, then I’d end up getting angry about it and then I’d never get to sleep. My thoughts turned to Jamie. I silently wondered if he’d made it home okay or if he needed me to go there and play nurse for him. I longed for him to be here with me, to fold me into his arms and kiss me good night. I missed him like crazy. I was both excited to see him tomorrow and scared at the same time because I was dreading the moment that he would say what I knew he was going t
o say—that it was over. How was I going to cope with that when he said it? My best guess was that I wouldn’t handle it very well at all.



  EARLIER IN THE DAY, I’d parked my truck near Ellie’s school so I could drive myself to the warehouse when the time came. As I pulled my keys out and walked to it, anger and resentment boiled in my chest. The resentment was firmly directed toward my mother for dragging me into this situation in the first place. The anger—and it was a lot of anger—was directed toward the douchebag who had been calling me constantly all night, asking when I was getting there and panicking about the boost being late.

  I felt like shit. I hated everything about my life at the moment: the pressure, the illegality, but mostly the fact that I’d left Ellie stranded at her prom. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest when she dumped me for it. I truly was a worthless boyfriend right now, and she deserved better than me.

  I sighed as I approached my beat-up old truck, unlocking it and slipping inside. Ellie’s concerned face was all I could see as I started up the car. I’d never had anyone worry about me like she did. I loved it.

  It had almost killed me to walk away from her tonight. She looked beautiful, almost too good for my sanity. The urge to tell her that I loved her had been so strong tonight that I had no idea how I’d managed to keep the words at bay.

  Driving straight to the warehouse, I swung my car into an empty space and slammed the door with way too much force as the anger built even more. Stepping into the warehouse, I unconsciously tightened my hands into fists, my fingers immediately aching because of the force of the movement as I spotted his smug face. Shaun. The bastard who’d been calling and texting for the last three hours, ruining the limited time I got to spend with my girl.

  I didn’t focus on anyone else; I ignored the greetings of the rest of the team, who were standing around. Instead, I walked up to Shaun, smiling politely as I approached.

  “Fina-fucking-ly!” he cried, throwing his hands up in exasperation.

  I didn’t answer; simply put both hands on his chest and shoved,
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