The heartthrob that doesn't know he's a heartthrob. The guy that never leaves the fine arts hall. The christian that goes to church three times a week. The senior with the burning blue eyes. He's a virgin that has me under a spell. And while I'm busy trying to steal his virginity, he's stealing my heart.
He's Bradley.


23. Twenty Three

I hurt the people I care about most. Bradley hasn't even looked at me in a whole week, let alone call or speak to me. My aunt hates me, I think. She won't have a full conversation with me that consists of more than five words. I felt alone, more alone than I ever have before. And I've been through some tough shit. 

It didn't take too long for me to start failing my classes in school. I can't help that my brain never functioned properly these days. I mean, I didn't exactly try but it's only because I didn't want to. What I really wanted to do was crawl into a cave and sleep for the rest of my life. I'd be able to dream, and dream hard. In my sleep, Bradley would love me again and Macy wouldn't want to choke me every time she glanced at me. 

School was miserable. Every single day. Gia and Kyra only smirked whenever I walked by, and I can't stop my heart from wanting them back. I missed them. Standing against the brick wall. Long talks at breakfast, jokes at lunch. Walking through the mall until our feet hurt. I don't snap necks like I did before. My rep was ruined. I'm not Cherry with the red lips and high stilettos. I don't flirt or strut. I don't tease or wink anymore. I'm just Lila, who wears a frown and sweats everyday. 

I missed my boyfriend. I missed his pick-up truck and the cold brown blanket. I missed his soft hair and his gentle lips. His voice echoing the radio during our drives. The warm neck I used to kiss. The blue eyes I'd stare at. I missed holding him in the hall and pecking his lips in front of my classroom. And eating popcorn with him on his couch. He smelled so good. Like soap and warm sand on the beach. I'd do anything to get the slightest whiff of that one more time. 

School's almost out. 

And he'll be off to college before I know it. 

I won't see him in the halls or be able to watch him in the parking lot. He won't sit with his theatre friends at lunch anymore or stand by the stairs before the first bell rings. 

It'll be like he never existed. And I'll be forced to forget him and everything we had between us. 


Victor. He was standing to close to me. And I could smell his cheap cologne, the scent of leather and bitter cigars. I wanted to gag. "Hello pretty." I glanced at him for just a second and looked away. 

"Please, i really don't want to talk." 

"You seem different, mama. Whats the matter?" 

"Nothing." He got closer, and my first reaction was to put my hand on his chest to make him stop. 

"Talk to me." My eyes closed and my lip only quivered for a short moment. He acts like I can trust him. I cannot trust him with my pain and my troubles. I can't trust anyone. There were so many times when I almost bursted in front of my little brother. Each time i had to remind myself that Nicky was still a kid. A kid who played with tonka trucks and had a big imagination. He didn't need to listen to my problems. He wouldn't understand any of it anyway.

"No. Get away from me please." 

"You look upset. Like you want to talk." He was trying to be sincere. He wasn't with his boys. Maybe I could speak up to him, and he'll listen. No, come on. It's Victor. He's perverted and smelly and drug obsessed. He's hard headed and big mouthed. Not trust worthy. 

"I don't need to talk. I'm not gonna ask you again." He went to hug me and I waited a second before reacting. "Get off of me." I pushed him but he didn't move and all of a sudden I feel trapped. Like I might suffocate in his embrace. The smoke smell is hurting my nose and I repeated my words louder. "Get off of me!" It came out like a strangled cry and my eyes were blurry from tears. But I still saw him coming. 

The warmth in my heart started forming when I saw the blonde hair. His figure was coming to me, but I couldn't see his face because I was crying. I didn't now if he was mad or calm, frowning or straight faced. He helped me get Victor's body away from mine, and the few people that were around us were looking already. 

"How many times do I have to tell you to stay away from her?" His hard voice was scary to me, but I was so relieved to hear it. The smooth sound of it made me sob because of how much I missed it. All I could do was cover my mouth. 

"I was only trying to help her." Victor became defensive. "I don't know why you're stepping in. Looks to me like you left her." 

"That's none of your business. You should probably learn to keep your mouth shut."

"What, you're gonna hit me again?" He looked prepared, ready for another hit. Brad's face was tight. My shaking body stood between them, and I'm facing my former boyfriend. 

"Stop it." his body jolted like he was gonna pounce on him. My hands flew to his chest before my brain could comprehend it. He looked at me for a long moment and my heart wanted to melt. My chest was burning. He stumbled back with a hard look on his face, and suddenly his anger is directed to me. 

"Don't touch me." He brushed me off like he had finished his job. He managed to be my hero even when he hated me. Even when I didn't really need saving. 

"Bradley." It was a choke. "We have to talk about this." I tried to grab his hand but the contact didn't last long. He looked disgusted. 

"I have nothing to say to you." 

"Why do you hate me? Tell me." The people in the hall have drifted off by then, off to their buses or the parking lot to go home. "I know you want to bust. To scream at me for all the trouble I caused you. Go ahead. Let it out." My voice sounded more confident than before. And I was ready to hear what he had to say. Even though I knew it might've crashed my heart down, I was ready. But he didn't look like he was. He just sighed. 

"How could you keep that from me?" his eyes were closed. "You knew the whole time that your aunt was seeing my father and you just kept it to yourself."  he opened them. "How stupid of you, Cherry." He looked like he wanted to cry, and I was almost at that point too. "How do you expect me to forgive you when you could've helped my family from falling apart?" 

"Bradley, I love you." is all I said because nothing else could come out. 

My heart hopped into my throat at his next words. "I love you too, Cherry. I do. What we had between us was so special to me. And that night we shared together was amazing, every second of it. But then all of this came crashing down on me and my family. Things are getting worse." My lips were pressed together in a hard line. Don't cry. Don't cry. "Forgiving you right now wouldn't be the best thing to do. I need time."

"What about college?" My question was hoarse and raspy, and I had to clear my throat. 

"I leave after graduation." Three weeks from now. Miles and miles away. He started walking away but I couldn't speak. But I forced myself to. 

"Wait, please, Brad." my tears were suffocating me and I didn't follow him because he didn't look back at me. He didn't even hesitate to keep walking. All I could do then was fall to my knees. It's what my body wanted. What my heart wanted. I was crying into my palms when I felt small hands on my back. More than two. 

"Cherry." I heard my name over and over. "Cherry, look at me." Female. "Are you okay?" I looked up with tears on my cheeks. I sobbed a bit louder when I saw who was towering over me. Gia, and Kyra by her side. They helped me up and hold me until I can speak. 

"Everything is ruined." I said, shaking my head. They sandwiched me into a hug. 

"Let's go, sweetie." Kyra said. "You need to vent." 

And bam, I have my friends back. The ones I thought hated me the most. The two that I figured would never take me back. They're here, holding me, shushing me, telling me that its gonna be okay.

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