I look up at the clock. It's late. Ten o'clock. For a brief moment I wonder if my parents are worried. Then I realise that they still probably think I'm at Tina's. They'd kill me if they knew. But I know they're going to have to know eventually. I mean, their daughter got hauled into a police station. For being involved with...well. I have been told that they have suspicions of Zac being involved in illegal behaviour, and they need all the evidence I could give them. That's all I know.
I'm in love with Zac. Really. But there's still a kid inside of me, that cowers at the sight of a police officer.
My hand shakily opens the door of the little cubicle I've been sitting in, clawing my brains out. The police officer that was with me at the start nods in my direction. I walk up to him, but before I hand in the wad of papers, I hoarsely say, "Before I give you this, please tell me exactly what's going on."
The officer puts a hand on my shoulder, then quickly removes it with a flinch. "You better go back and sit back down. You'll need to be sitting to hear this."
Without another word passed between us, I turn back in, and bury my head in my hands. Lists and lists of possibilities race through my head, all of which I desperately try and ignore. Zac would never hurt me. He's in love with me, just as much as I'm in love with him.
Once I'm sitting down, I turn to the officer expectantly. He sighs, and leans against the door, shutting it with a kick of his heel. "So?"
"Miss Sullivan, we are confident that wasn't your Zac...the 'Zac'....in that house." There is no subtle way around it.
I sigh a short sigh of relief. "He just gave me a wrong address?" That is the best outcome I can think of. It's reassuring me slightly, at least.
"Oh no. No, he just gave you the address of one of his customers, Mr Granger." I grip the chair tightly. The officer gives me the once-over, probably assessing how ready I am to handle the next sentence. I nod my head shortly. He continues. "Mr Granger told us that he'd contacted Mr Walters through an adult site, looking to have relations with you specifically."
"Why me?" I croak. How does this man know Zac? Maybe Zac has a blog I don't
know about, and he's talked about me, and this Mr Granger wanted to meet me. To know how much I mean to Zac, or that I am who I say I am online.
The officer takes out a piece of paper from his pocket. It has scrawled notes on it. I see the name of a website through the paper before he says it to me. A sick feeling builds up in my throat. "He saw pictures of you on, erm, 'Underage-Babes.com'."
"But those pictures," I say quietly, "they were private. I didn't agree for them to be public." My voice raises an octave. "For God's sake, they were private!"
"We did assume you wouldn't have allowed them to be distributed freely. You seem like a smart girl overall." The officer breaks away from my barely-steady gaze.
I bite my lip, willing myself not to cry. "But I fell for it. I fell for Zac. How on earth can anyone even think of calling me smart?"
Shifting in seat uncomfortably, he replies, "Even the smartest people can be manipulated. We're combing through every inch of information we can find, Miss Sullivan, and Zac appears to be a very experienced manipulator."
No. I know Zac is charming and that he speaks to lots of people on TeensQuack, but oh my God, he has probably manipulated all of them. He's preyed on such an innocent site, filled with young ducklings, trying to find their means to fly. He isn't a duckling, but an eagle. A bird of prey.
I am prey, not just for him, but for all the sick people on Underage-Babes.com. And Lord knows where else he posted those pictures of me.
There is a vibrant buzz, the first lively thing that's happened since I came into this station. The officer indicates to me it's his walkie talkie, and answers haughtily, "Officer Nile speaking." After a crackle and a fizzle, he mutters, "Your parents are here."
"My parents?" I hadn't even given the officers my number. A small piece of me had hoped the police would overlook asking me for it. "How'd you get it?"
Officer Nile just gives me a look that says, 'We're the police. Give us some credit.'
I open the door a little bit, and peek outside. My heart is slowly starting to break as I see my parents. Mum's still wearing her apron, her ketchup-stained floral skirt. Her wrinkled skin is stained with tears. Dad's wearing his office suit, which he normally changes out of the moment he gets home. Although his face is set stone-cold, his chin is trembling. The room is silent.
"I'm sorry," I whisper to the ground, but everyone looks at me anyway. Dad sniffs. Mum sobs. I cry hysterically.