I’ve always dreaded hearing the sound of a gunshot.
It’s a haunting sound of paranoia that finds its way into your mind and lingers there until you have no choice but to scream. It haunts you like the sound of ripping flesh, or the strangled scream of a person in complete irrevocable agony. Their last sounds as a living, breathing person on this earth.
Justin’s frantic behavior, his plea for us to leave, lingered in my mind like the sound of a gunshot. I could hear his heavy breathing from behind me as he and I ran after Ashton. The feel of Ashton’s hand was the only source of sanity in this incredibly unreal situation. He taking me away from all chaos that was unfolding in that house.
Who was coming? Why were we running from them? What did they want with Nate’s friend-
Nate was still there. Whatever we were running from, he was left there to face. I had left my intoxicated and clueless boyfriend alone. I stopped short, causing Justin to run into me.
“What the fuck? Keep going, we need to get out of here. NOW!” He screamed when I didn’t move. I was panting like a dog, but that didn’t stop me from getting out my message.
“Nate. We left Nate, I need Nate.” I rambled, not missing Justin rolling his eyes.
“Are you fucking serious right now –“ He began, before Ashton cut him off.
“Stop, Justin. Just calm down. She doesn’t know shit, you can’t get mad.” He turned to me quickly, all three of us still out of breath. “Listen, Emily. Nate will be fine, he knows what he’s doing. Lets just go!”
Did he just call me Emily?
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.
Right when I was about to correct him, gunshots were heard throughout the clearing we were in. Multiple gunshots. I clamped my hands over my ears, begging the sound not to penetrate my mind. I lent against a tree in horror. There were people with guns, actual guns. Guns that can kill people.
I stood rooted to the spot, finding no energy in my body. Rough hands grabbed my arms, forcing me to move.
“Lets. GO!” Justin screamed. I didn’t need to be told twice. I ran between the two of them, Justin constantly looking backwards to the madness unfolding behind us. As more loud noises echoed off the once silent lake area, we saw Ashton’s car in the near area.
“Get in and don’t worry about Nate, he’ll be fine.” Panted Ashton, before stumbling into the car. I followed suit, getting in the back. The only noise that filled the car were our short intakes of breath. My hands were shaking with anxiety and my breathing was shallow and broken. The air burnt my lungs and throat like fire as I tried to regain proper breathing. I closed my eyes and lent back on the seat. This wasn’t happening. I was dreaming. I looked down at my fingers, only to be filed with disappointment. In dreams you had extra fingers, but I was staring at ten, normal fingers. So I wasn’t dreaming. I had just left Nate to die. I chose Justin over Nate.
“Drive, Ashton.” Growled Justin from the passenger seat. They shared a look before Ashton shook his head.
“Bro, we left a bunch of people there -“
“I don’t have time for your heroic shit right now! If you haven’t noticed, there’s a fucking defenseless girl in the back of your car! Hurry the hell up and drive!” He yelled. His voice bounced off the walls of the small space of the car.
You left Nate. You chose Justin over Nate.
“People are going to die, Justin.”
“And so is she if we don’t hurry up! You know what’s at stake here, get moving or get out!”
Tears stung my eyes as I imagined Nate in that lake house. Defenseless against something so much stronger than him. I ignored the boys yells, trying to calm down. I was jerked to the side in my seat as Ashton began driving. The silence was deafening me in that car, all I could hear was the repeated shallow breathing of Justin. Ashton’s fingers gripped the steering wheel tightly, turning his knuckles pale. Finally, the silence was broken.
“Where are we going?” Ashton asked.
“To hers.” Justin mumbled.
“Are you okay, Cassidy?” Ashton questioned, looking at me in the mirror.
“Yep, perfect.” I muttered.
“Nate’s going to be okay.” Ashton tried. I didn’t listen.
“I’ll make sure he’s okay –“
“Shut the fuck up Ashton.” Justin grumbled.
We all stayed quiet after that.
I arrived home at 7pm, Justin by my side. Thankfully, nobody was home.
“So um, about all that tonight.” He began, scratching the back of his neck.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to explain yet.” I said quietly.
“No, you need to know. I don’t know why Nate took you there today, or why he even left you alone, because his friends aren’t nice people. Frankly, none of us are, except you that is. But they’re involved in… things,” He paused briefly, “that challenge your expectations of an average teenager. Try to forget about it okay? Nate will call you. He wouldn’t have been hurt –“ he rambled.
“Who was that? The people with guns.” I asked, cutting him off.
His eyes softened slightly as my own filled with tears. The anxiety of the day as well as the unreal events that just occurred had driven me to the point of panic. Stupid, fat tears rolled down my cheeks and I wiped them away. He pulled his hands from his pockets and gently held my shaking ones. “It’s going to be okay. Nate’s going to be okay.” He told me. He pulled me into his chest and rubbed soothing circles on my hipbone – just like Nate. That made me cry harder. I wanted him to get out, but I contradicted myself by wrapping my arms around his neck and letting the unexpected comfort from his arms and reassuring whispers calm me down.
“I promise, okay?” He whispered. I nodded.
“Sorry, I’m being stupid. I’m fine.” I muttered, letting go of him and quickly wiping my tears away. “I’m fine.” I repeated. He watched me carefully before nodding.
“Alright well – yeah.” His hand shot to the back of his neck. “Yeah, I’ll um, call you if – yeah. Okay. I have to go.” He said too fast. “You’ll be okay right?” He stopped, and turned to look at me. I nodded.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Ok good – great. Bye.” He muttered, stepping out the door.
Oh Justin, if only you knew how ‘fine’ I really was.
I woke up in a desperate, cold sweat. I frantically searched the room, before laying back down.
“Nate’s okay. He’ll be fine. They won’t hurt him.” I whispered to myself. All night I had been having repeated nightmares about Nate and the events of the day. I rolled over, thinking. Justin was… nice? It was weird. I checked my phone, seeing the time to be 2:17 am. Shit. I huffed, sitting up in bed and taking my phone off its charger. I slipped on my sandals and left my room. When I next opened my eyes, I was standing outside Abby’s apartment. Shit.
I opened the door to find Abby sitting, reading. At the noise of the door, she looked up.
“Hey! What are you doing here at this time?” She smiled.
My brain was unable to form anything intelligent to express.
“Justin.” I gasped out. It speaks!
“Justin?” she frowned
“Um yeah. I need to speak to Justin.” I mumbled.
“Alright, he’s awake anyway.” She smiled at me. I smiled weakly back at her and internally sighed. Why was I here again?
Abby left and soon enough Justin came trotting out of his room.
“Um hey?” He greeted. At the sight of him, all memories and thoughts came rushing back from earlier that night. I took in a shallow, choppy breath and looked right back at him. My chest heaved up and down with my continuous choppy breathing and before I could stop it tears had swelled up in my eyes and were falling down my cheeks. He raised his eyebrows at me, before embracing me.
“What’s wrong?” He whispered, playing with the ends of my hair.
“I- I chose you over Nate and-d now he’s probably-y hurt.” I choked out. He stopped playing with my hair and stiffened.
“You chose your life, not me.” He said stiffly. I stepped out of his arms and looked at him.
“This is your fault! I honestly can’t stand you!” I snarled, becoming angry very quickly. “If it wasn’t for you I’d probably be with Nate right now, instead he’s who knows where in who knows what condition!”
Justin didn't retaliate, instead, he gave me a half smile. “I know you’re in pain, but Nate is most likely forever grateful to Ashton and I for getting you away from there. Okay? You’re hurting, and that's okay, but don’t take it out on me. Nate is going to be fine.”
“I hate you.” I muttered, before turning on my heel and walking back to my apartment. I was confusing myself like Justin was confusing me, and I hated myself for it, just like I hated him.
A/N: Hey everyone :) I'm so so happy about all your feedback recently! It makes my day reading your comments :) Thank-you so much for this on going support. I know in this chapter Cassidy is kind of crazy with her emotions but her confusion will be cleared next chapter and she'll realise why she's so pissed off and upset. I hope you enjoy this chapter! It's kind of short, but I have shitty time management and have left all my assignments until last minute so I haven't had a time to write. Love you guys! x