Taking You For Granted

Oliver had always been around, and so he would always be around... Just, as a friend. That's all he was, she swore to herself. But, when something terrible happens she's forced to take a new look at her longest standing, never changing relationship.

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3. a friend is a friend is a friend

It was Oliver. His arms tightened around my waist, but it wasn't affectionate. His hands were clenched in fists, as if he was ready to fight. Even in his sleep, he was ready to protect me. I strained to remember the night before, my head aching. Tears brimmed to the surface and I started to shake.

His fists loosened and his grip around my waist went slack as he woke, propping himself on his elbow to examine me with sleepy concern.

I couldn't take the pity that was written in his eyes.

"I'm never going to a party again," I tried to laugh, but it came out as a choked sob.

He shook his head and reached up to wipe a strand of hair from my forehead.

"Don't let an asshole like Eddie make you avoid something with the potential for fun," he said with a yawn. "It's not your fault he doesn't understand the meaning of the word consent. Although, he should now after the beating he took from me and Will."

It was then that I noticed his lower lip was split.

I shook again, and started to cry uncontrollably. He wound his arms around me and pulled me into his chest, his hands pressed me closer to him and he kissed the top of my head.

"You're safe," he whispered reassuringly. "I found you before anything worse could happen."

I buried my face into the crook of his neck and tried to calm down. I felt so out of control.

"Let's get some breakfast in you," he suggested, pulling away to look at my splotchy, swollen face. "Does that sound okay?"

As if to answer, my stomach growled. He smirked.

I rolled out of the blankets and discovered that I was wearing an oversized tshirt and gym shorts.

"You changed my clothes?" I asked, anger singeing the edge of my tone.

He rubbed the back of his neck bashfully as he got out of bed.

"Your dress was ripped up the side," he informed me as he picked up a pile of red cloth from the floor and tossed it in my direction.

I caught it, then shook it out in front of me. It was ripped. From the bottom hem to just under my sleeve. I didn't remember Eddie being this violent.

"I put my jacket around you so that you'd be covered until we got home, but I didn't want you to wake up in that," he said. "I swear, I only looked as much as I had to to make sure I didn't poke your eye out while putting on your shirt."

I blushed, embarrassed but appreciative.

"Well, it's not like we haven't seen each other naked before," I smiled. It was his turn to blush. "It's been, what, twelve years since we last took a bath together?

"I wasn't counting," he smirked.

I dropped the dress onto his bed and walked over to him.

"Thank you, Oliver," I said and wrapped my arms around him in a hug.

He patted my back, a habit he had when he wasn't sure what to do next.

"Do you mind if we stop by my house for a change of clothes before we go eat?" I asked.

"Sure," he smiled and stepped out of the hug towards his dresser. "Just let me get changed first."

Before I could leave the room, he took off his shirt. There had never been any shame between us. As I'd said earlier, we used to bathe together. But, something had changed. I had never noticed how strong his back looked until today. I blushed.

"I'll go wait in the car," I stammered and grabbed my shoes off the floor.

"Okay," he nodded as he untied the drawstring on his sweats.

I hurried out of his room and ran right into his mom.

"Oh! June! You scared the living daylights out of me," she was breathless, holding her hand over her chest. "I didn't know you stayed here last night. Everything okay at home?"

Oliver's mom was an incredible woman. Oliver's dad left six years ago, and his mom didn't miss a beat in making sure that Oliver was taken care of and still felt love. She was open about her determination to put food on the table never took away from her ability to support him emotionally as well. She never missed a play, unlike my mom who hadn't worked a day since she'd married my father but still managed to find an excuse come showtime.

I didn't love my home life. Staying in Oliver's room when I had a fight with my parents had become quite normal, though it usually meant Oliver slept on the floor while I took the bed. Being wrapped in his arms all night was completely new.

"Um," I felt my lip quivering, which was apparently a good substitute for actual words.

She immediately brought me into her arms and cradled me there. I felt like a child in her arms.

"You know, you're always welcome here, June," she said against my scalp.

I nodded against her collarbone.

Oli came out into the hallway a moment later, his expression wrought with worry when he saw us.

"What happened, Oliver?" His mother asked and I shook my head.

"I'm okay," I lied and pulled away from her. "It was just a bad night. Really, Carolyn, I'm okay."

She eyes me for a moment, before letting out a long sigh.

"I'm serious, June, you have a home here if you want it," Carolyn's face had turned serious and stern. "There's a reason your mother and I are no longer friends. I know what kind of woman she is. You just say the word, and our spare bedroom is yours."

"I know," I sniffled. Thank you."

Oliver and I pulled up to my house. No one was home. He followed me up to my room and waited on my bed while I dug through my drawers.

"You know, you'd have an easier time of that if you'd organize your dresser."

"Nag, nag, nag," I grumbled, knowing he was right.

I finally found what I wanted to wear. A black tshirt with a mermaid graphic and a pair of tattered skinny jeans. I pulled off his shirt and threw it at him.

"Cover your face," I demanded and he complied.

I made quick work of undressing and dressing, then walked over to him.

"Ready?" He asked.

I nodded.

We went to an old diner on the west edge of town. They specialized in German pancakes, which was the only kind of pancake I will ever eat. I devoured the sweet, lemony, eggy goodness as Oli calmly ate his omelette.

"You seem in better spirits," he smiled as we sipped our chocolate milk.

I nodded.

"So, what are we going to do about Eddie?" He asked.

"You took care of him last night," I said and swallowed hard.

"You think that's justice enough?" He scowled.

I nodded to enthusiastically. My mom would be livid if I took this to the police. It would forever scar the image she'd create of our perfect family.

He shook his head, but said, "Whatever you want, June. Just know I'm on your side."

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