Out of breath, p.3
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       Out of Breath, p.3

         Part #3 of Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan
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Page 3

  ‘Calm,’ I answered with a deep breath, relieved that the jacked-up Kool-Aid had finally kicked in.

  He laughed at my answer. ‘I’ve never heard that one before. ’

  ‘You’ve never met me before. ’

  ‘True. But I like that – I mean that you say what you’re thinking. No bullshit. That’s cool. ’

  I shrugged.

  ‘Well, here’s to no bullshit,’ Gev raised his cup, and I tapped it with mine before we both took several large gulps.

  ‘Do you go to –’

  ‘No bullshit,’ I cut him off.

  ‘Okay,’ he said, considering my request. ‘What colour underwear do you have on?’

  I was caught off guard by his forwardness. ‘I can’t remember. ’ I pulled my jeans by the belt loop to take a look. ‘Purple. ’

  ‘Nice. ’ He nodded in approval.

  ‘And you?’ I asked, liking this ‘no bullshit’ conversation. It was more interesting than talking about majors and sports teams.

  Gev was more daring, unbuttoning his jeans to show the top of his boxer briefs. ‘Black. ’

  ‘I can see that. ’ I pursed my lips to keep from smiling.

  I tipped my cup back and finished it, embracing the haze that continued to creep in.

  Gev’s hand slid along my back as he leaned in to ask, ‘Who are you kissing at midnight?’

  ‘How much time do I have?’ I enquired, not that it made a difference.

  He looked at his watch and answered, ‘An hour. ’

  ‘I guess whomever I’m closest to. ’

  ‘Then I’d better stay next to you,’ he replied with an arching brow.

  ‘Emma!’ Peyton exclaimed. I turned towards her voice and squinted to focus as she neared me. ‘Where’s Cole?’

  ‘I don’t know,’ I replied when I finally recognized her beside me. She looked from me to Gev and scrunched her eyes in confusion.

  ‘Come over here,’ she demanded, grabbing my arm and dragging me away from him. I stumbled after her, not prepared for the sudden movement. ‘Who is that?’

  ‘Gev. He’s with the band,’ I answered and waved back at him. He raised his cup in return.

  ‘What happened to Cole? He’s hot. ’

  ‘He’s boring,’ I huffed. ‘Gev’s much more interesting. ’

  ‘How many drinks have you had?’

  ‘Three. ’ I grinned proudly at my accomplishment. ‘And I’m numb. ’

  ‘Three?! Em, we’ve only been here an hour! You can’t drink anything else, or you’ll be on the ground before midnight. And I don’t think Gev’s a good fit for you. ’

  ‘So?’ I wasn’t looking for a ‘good fit’. I was just looking for someone interesting to talk to, or drink with. But I didn’t want to waste my words trying to explain that to her.

  ‘Omigod. You’re already drunk. ’

  I considered her accusation and smiled widely. I was numb from head to toe, except my lips felt tingly. I didn’t mind being drunk. It wasn’t what I’d expected, but it wasn’t bad.

  ‘Okay,’ I answered, accepting her assessment as true. ‘I’m going to find Gev now. ’ I was done with the lecture. She wasn’t being fun. I turned, and the quick motion made everything blur past me. I remained still for a moment to allow the world to settle back in place before searching for his dark hair among the faces.

  ‘Fine. I’ll find you at midnight,’ she called after me.

  I felt a hand grab my arm, and I turned my heavy head to find his dark blue eyes. ‘Still next to you,’ he declared, clasping my hand.

  ‘Tell me something interesting,’ I requested, taking the cup he offered me.

  ‘I think you are the most interesting person I’ve met in a long time,’ he responded. He slipped his hand around my waist and leaned in to say, ‘Dance with me. ’

  I was about to open my mouth to explain that I didn’t dance, but the next thing I knew, we were squeezed in among the sweaty bodies and his hand was pressed against the small of my back, pulling me against him. I flopped my arms around his neck to steady myself and let him do all the dancing. He even danced for me, swaying my hips along with his.

  Time moved fast, and the next thing I knew, I was yelling along with everyone else as this year ticked away into the next.

  ‘Happy New Year!’ we all chimed in unison. Gev turned me around and made certain he was the one closest to me. I allowed his wet lips to slide along mine, followed by the force of his tongue. My head buzzed louder when I closed my eyes, propping myself against him. He pulled me closer, making me stumble slightly. Gev gripped me tighter and continued to kiss me aggressively. I didn’t stop him. I kept thinking about how strange it felt. I couldn’t feel my lips, or maybe I couldn’t feel his lips. Either way, it didn’t seem like we were really kissing, and I was more focused on this than the fact that I was kissing at all.

  ‘Wanna get out of here?’ Gev offered, his breath tickling my neck. ‘I live a few houses down, and we have a hot tub. ’

  A hot tub sounded good. Besides, I wanted to sit down. My legs weren’t doing a good job holding me up.

  ‘Sure,’ I replied, and he led me through the heat of the crowd and into the cool night. It must have warmed up after we’d arrived because I didn’t need my sweatshirt any more. He kept a hold of my hand and led me down the sidewalk.

  I could’ve sworn he said he lived a few houses down, but I felt like I saw a million sidewalk cracks before we were finally in his back yard. But then I didn’t remember seeing his front yard. Maybe his house really was close by. Either way, we were here and I couldn’t wait to sit down.

  Gev uncovered a hot tub tucked next to a fence. As he turned on the jets, I studied it, trying to figure out how I was supposed to lift my leg over the side. It seemed so … tall.

  Gev stripped down to the black boxer briefs I’d gotten a sneak peek of earlier. I followed his lead, dropping my jeans and tank top on the ground. I discovered I didn’t have any shoes on, and I couldn’t remember where I’d put them.

  ‘I love purple,’ he declared, pulling me towards him and nuzzling his face into my neck. He was distracting me from solving the hot-tub dilemma. I was about to push him away when I finally spotted the stairs. I smiled proudly.

  He led me to the hot tub, and I slipped in, breathing a sigh of relief now that I was finally off my feet. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. Everything started to spin.

  I could feel Gev’s hands on me and his mouth on my shoulder. I opened my eyes and he was right there, eager for more kissing. I tilted my head towards him and connected with his greedy lips. I still couldn’t feel them, but I couldn’t feel anything any more, so I didn’t care.

  Caught up in the kissing and the hot swirling water, everything suddenly ceased to exist. My head mimicked the motion of the water, and the steamy air closed in around me. Gev was there again, pushing up against me. I was too distracted to participate, trying to keep the world from spinning out from under me. That’s when I felt the tightness in the back of my throat and knew I had to get out.

  I pushed past him and staggered down the stairs, just in time to find the bushes and release the red contents of my stomach. The world spun faster, knocking me to my knees before I heaved again.

  ‘Are you okay?’ Gev asked from behind me. I shook my head, giving in one more time. I took a deep breath of cold air and pushed myself up to stand, leaning against the fence to steady myself.

  ‘I need to lie down,’ I told him, not even knowing where he was.

  He grabbed my hand, and I stumbled after him. Everything flashed by in a blur. I concentrated on keeping my feet under me as I tried to keep up with him. We were in a house; then I saw a door. The door opened, and a light revealed a bathroom.

  ‘I’ll get you shorts and a T-shirt to put on,’ he said and disappeared.

  I gripped the edge of the sink and closed my eyes, trying to find centre. The scales of calm had tipped to swirling chaos. A
nd I had an awful taste in my mouth. I opened the cabinet above the sink and grabbed the toothpaste. Squeezing it along my finger, I scrubbed my tongue before rinsing my mouth with water.

  Folded clothes appeared in front of me. I removed my wet bra and underwear and slid them on. The warm, dry T-shirt smelled good as I slid it over my head. Then Gev’s hand found mine again, and I trailed after him into a dark room.

  Gev stood before me in a pair of shorts. I leaned against him for balance, my hands pressed against his bare skin. He took this as an invitation and bent down to taste the toothpaste on my lips. His hands gripped my hips, and he kissed me hard. The numbness that I had so desperately wanted to possess me kept me from caring when his hands groped my back under the T-shirt. I didn’t care when he thrust his tongue into my mouth. I didn’t care when he ground his hardened body against me and groaned in my ear. And I didn’t care when he slipped the T-shirt over my head and let me fall back onto his bed.


  No Do-Overs

  MY HEAD SPLINTERED INTO A THOUSAND pieces as I slowly opened my eyes. I placed my hand against it to keep it steady while I propped myself up on my elbow.

  Where was I?

  The slightest movement intensified the lightning storm inside my skull. Glancing around the musty room, I tried to remember what I’d done and why I was here. There was someone lying next to me. I noted the dark hair on the unmoving form under the blue plaid comforter.

  I tried harder to recall last night, but was only met with flashing images of the party – and a guy. It must have been this guy. I looked under the comforter. I didn’t have any clothes on. My stomach churned as I sank back onto the flat pillow. I looked over at the nightstand and saw a torn package. I was about to be sick. What had I done?!

  I lifted the blanket and examined his lean, naked body beneath it. A winding tattoo along his back finished behind his ear. Who was this guy? I knew he’d told me his name, and I searched through my broken memory to find it. Gev. That was it.

  All I wanted was to leave and never see him again. But I didn’t know where my clothes were. Flinching in agony, I crawled along the bed, trying not to disturb Gev, who was breathing heavily with his mouth open. It didn’t look like anything would wake him.

  I found a T-shirt and shorts on the floor and slipped them on. Moving gingerly, to keep a fit of axes from slicing through my head, I glanced around the small room. The full-size bed took up most of it. The walls were papered with rock posters, and clothes hung out of the half-open drawers of an abused bureau.

  I opened the door leading to a small hallway, peeking out to listen. A hum of voices carried from a television, but otherwise it was quiet. Passing the bathroom, I suddenly stopped – recognizing my purple bra and underwear hanging on the doorknob. Unable to remember removing them, I sighed and shoved them under my arm before continuing down the hall.

  A sprawled figure lay on the couch with the remote in his hand and a bag of chips spilled on the floor next to him as the morning news programme aired on the television screen. I crept past him, flinching as the screen door squeaked and I entered the frigid morning air. The grass was coated with dew, chilling my bare feet as I stepped across the back lawn. My clothes caught my eye, lying next to a hot tub. I pulled my phone out of my jeans pocket before flinging them and the tank top over my arm.