Even If.

"You'd love me? Even if it's not you who I choose?" I whispered to him.
"Even if," he swore.

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10. Seven point five.

"They're alright once you get to know them," I said, and tried with every fiber of my being to not freak out.

But then I thought of the only way I was to get out of this situation with Luke.

I needed to play along.

He smiled back and began kissing my jawline, making his way up to my lips, and I fought back a shiver.

His lips crashed on to mine, and it was hard to keep my head into my plan. 

He was so hot.

And such a good kisser.

But when I started to kiss him back, he loosend his grip from my hands to the wall, and I was able to get off of the wall, while still kissing him. I slowly moved us back to the sight of the people walking by, him not noticing what I was doing, lost in the kiss. 

Once we were back in sight of people, I released his grip and pushed him back, and my hand connected with his face.

And it felt so good to finally do that after all these years.

I slapped Luke Cramer. I deserve an Oscar, I thought.

While he was still figuring out what was going on, I lost my composure. Right in front of people on the street. Right in front of the window where everyone was eating. 

"You have the nerve to do that after all you've done to me? For my whole school life, you tormented me. From elementary on up, you made my life miserable! Everyday, I would wake up for school and cry, knowing that you were going to hurt me again! Every day! Every night I would cry myself to sleep, wondering why you hated me so much! You were the reason that I almost died! Because of your sick joke, I broke every bone on the left side of my body and was on my deathbed for weeks. You were the reason I starved myself for days on end, and I used to think that if I was skinnier, or prettier, or if I fit the warped standard you held for women, that you would like me and would stop hurting me. I starved to get the way I am, because of you, and I'm ashamed of it. You are the reason I still have nightmares, to this day! You are the reason that I'm so messed up and you have the nerve, after years and years of tormenting me, to pretend like nothing happened? You have the nerve, to kiss me like none of it mattered? Because it did matter. To me. As if I wasn't dealing with enough crap at home in high school, you made my life miserable. You made me wish I was dead! And I tried once or twice. Because of YOU. You disgust me, Luke Cramer, and I wish I never have to see you again," I yelled at him, tears streaming down my cheeks.

For the first time in his life, Luke Cramer, was speechless. And vulnerable. And small. And frail. Just like I used to be. And I wasn't afraid of him anymore.

"For years and years I've wanted to say that. I have wanted to stand up to you and not let you hurt me anymore. I was afraid. But I'm not anymore. You can't hurt me anymore," I cried out, and for a moment, I thought I saw him on the verge of tears, until his gaze wasn't on me anymore.

I saw that his eyes were locked on something behind me, and I followed his gaze to see all my friends, standing speechless. They obviously saw me and rushed out. They probably heard everything. They probably knew everything. But I was surprised at the fact that I didn't care that they knew. I was actually relieved.

"Luke Cramer, I hope you step on a lego," I said finally. 

I stood up straight. I held my head up high, and I walked away. I walked away from Luke. From my friends. From everything. I walked straight to the park across the street, and I could feel every eye on me as I left.

From behind me, I could hear commotion. I didn't want to look weak, but I looked back and saw that Jack and Finn had ran up to him, wielding balled fists, trying to hurt him, but the other boys held them back. I saw Jim walk up to Luke like a gentleman and say calmly, "I think you should go now."

*-*

I knew they would follow me, so I picked the perfect spot on a bench, sat, and cried. I couldn't help it, but I cried with all my emotion, for the first time in months. But this time they weren't tears of sadness, they were tears of joy. 

For years, I told myself this day would come. And it did. And I was overwhelmed with emotion so much that I couldn't hold in the sobs. But I wasn't ashamed of it, like I used to be.

I saw them running up the path to find me, and I decided to lighten up the dramatic mood a bit. A lounged on the bench as if it were a couch and I was taking all of it up. Once they were within a distance to where they could hear me, I laughed.

"You guys are so predictable," I giggled, the tears still streaming down my face.

"But you aren't! Man, you are so hard to figure out, Beth!" Jack laughed.

"'I hope you step on a lego' that was brilliant!" Dan chuckled, and everyone joined in.

Once we settled down, I could tell that everyone wanted an explanation.

"You don't have to tell us if you're not ready," Tanya said, as if reading my mind.

"It's okay," I smiled, exhausted, "I want you guys to know the whole story. But I'm really in need of a coffee," I said, eyeing the Starbucks across the street.

*-*

Once we were all sat around a large table, I sighed and told them all everything. I told them about Luke, and everything that he did to me. They mostly nodded, taking in everything that I was telling, occasionally adding a gasp or a cry. Once I was finished, I looked at my watch to see that it was 2 AM, and I was overwhelmed with happiness that I had so many people who genuinely cared about me enough to deal with all my crap and stay with me this late. 

"So that's it," I finished, and looked to see what their reactions would be.

"Luke's a horrible person, and he deserved that slap.... and much more," Dan said.

"I wish I went to your high school and got to be your friend, but you got stuck with a bunch of butts," Jim said.

"I'm so sorry, Beth. And I'm so glad that you think of us as good enough friends to know about your past," Zoe said, and everyone nodded their agreement.

"Well I'm sorry to keep you up so late with my story time. We should all head home," I yawned, and everyone nodded. They all gave me a hug and promised to check up on me before leaving, until it was just Jack, Finn, and me. 

I couldn't tell how they were taking this, but I was afraid that it would change how they felt about me. So I waited for the next sign of something good to happen. 

Finn opened his arms and I melted into them and hugged him tightly, and Jack followed shortly after. 

"I'll take her home," Jack said, and Finn nodded. It was Jack's turn for the next hang out anyways.

Finn kissed me on the cheek and left.

And then there were two.

Jack and Me. Me and Jack. And I couldn't help but smile.
 

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