About a week had gone by since the night Niall and I went on a date, and I had thought about the evening practically every second of every one of those days. I couldn't help it, he had completely "wooed" me and I was falling for him hard, despite only having been on one date. Images of Niall’s gorgeous smile among the stained glass window of the Church would float to the front of my mind in class and I would find my mind wandering off to what could be. We had quickly fallen into the routine of good morning texts and late night phone calls. He was always apologizing for not being able to take me out again, but I kept telling him it was fine.
I was still lying in my fluffy bed with what was likely the worst bedhead anyone’s ever seen when my phone started vibrating, making me roll over to grab it.
You'd rather have the blonde guy over me? I'll prove to you I'm better.......
Despite the number being unknown, I had a feeling this was Jake. Ever since he had practically threatened me before the signing I had been waiting for him to do something. Just reading the text gave me the chills and I felt uneasy. I wasn’t sure by what he meant, and I didn’t really care to know. I only wondered how he knew about my date with Niall already.
I ignored the text, hoping it would be his last, and got up to start my day. I had my morning classes and then I would be working a double at the cafe. I turned the knob and waited until steamy spirals of water vapor could be seen over the top of the curtain. I hopped in the shower, where the warm jets of water, could always soothe my troubles away. I would often sing in the shower even though I'm not very good. I've always thought that singing is good for the soul, and when I did a little research I learned that singing releases happy chemicals in our brain, so I’ve come to let myself sing even though I’m absolutely terrible at it. After my shower I got dressed, put my hair in a braid, and headed out to the kitchen for my usual early morning breakfast: chai tea and cereal. As I was waiting for the kettle, my phone buzzed again. I grabbed it off the counter and looked at the screen, annoyed by the text awaiting me.
I'll always bring you breakfast in the morning. It’s just outside your door. Does he do that?
I put the phone back on the counter, getting the chills again. I left the kitchen and walked over to my front door. I looked through the peephole, seeing nothing but the blank crème colored wall across from it. I turned the handle and looked down. Sitting on a plastic tray in front of the door was what looked like a wrapped up breakfast sandwich and a bottle of orange juice. On the tray was a note.
Don't let it get cold now.
Immediately another rush of chills hit me, and I picked up the tray, walked down to the window at the end of the hallway, opened it up, and threw everything but the note into the large trash bin below. I read the note again, and had a flashback to the day before my birthday, when Jake left a note on my door. The handwriting was identical. I felt completely creeped out and vulnerable knowing that he had been just outside my door at some point this morning. I walked back to my flat, and shoved the note deep in the junk drawer in the kitchen, because that's all it was to me, junk. The kettle that I had almost forgotten about went off and I finished making my tea.
I sat down at the breakfast counter and shoved my textbooks out of the way. The tea was calming and helped me relax, while I could feel the sugar from the cereal waking me up. Just as I was going to spoon the last bit of cereal into my mouth, my phone buzzed again. I let it sit there for a moment as I pondered whether I should look at it or just ignore it for as long as I could. After thinking it through, I decided to look and see who it was.
Good morning Rae, Hope you slept well xx
It was amazing how just a text from him could change my whole demeanor from uncomfortable out to calm and collected. Just a text from him made me feel safe again. I responded to his text and put my dishes in the sink, making a mental note to wash them later. I went back to my room, packed my backpack, brushed my teeth, and headed out the door, almost forgetting about the bizarre start to the morning.
My phone vibrated again in my pocket as I left my second class. It had been going off all morning with more texts from the unknown number, and I was feeling very uneasy. It was becoming harder to just brush the messages off. I unlocked my phone to find another weird text awaiting me.
Purple is a good color on you.
I looked down at my purple jumper that my nana had knitted for me, and felt horrified. I put my phone back in my pocket and scanned the courtyard, looking for Jake. I didn't see him anywhere, but he could have been easily been disguised in the many tourists exploring the campus. My phone buzzed again and I pulled it out of my pocket once more.
Oh don't look so nervous, you're much prettier with a smile on your face...
My hand started trembling and I thought I was going to puke. Instead of the usual flush of warmth that comes to my cheeks when I get a compliment, I could feel the color drain from my face, leaving it void of my usual rosy blush. Jake was really watching me, and spying on me. I shut my phone off, deciding I didn't want to deal with anymore texts from him and threw it in the side pocket of my backpack. I was starting to get scared and all I wanted was to be safe in my apartment, but unfortunately I had to work. I left the courtyard with a brisk pace, constantly looking over my shoulder in a paranoid fashion. I made it to the cafe in no time and immediately went to the back room to catch my breath and put my things away. After cooling off for a few minutes I clocked in and got down to work behind the counter. A bag of coffee beans ripped right as I came out of the back room, spilling all over the red tile floor as my coworker Nick tried to move them from one shelf to another. He was an elderly man who often had terrible luck with these kinds of things.
"I got this Nick," I said heaving the bag up onto the counter. He was the sweetest thing, and often reminded me of Rudy the ice cream guy back home. He loved to tell stories about his granddaughters and he could always brighten anyone's day with his kind spirit and smile.
"Thanks Raegan. I'll get the broom." He shuffled to the back room and I started sweeping the beans into a pile with my hands. They were no use now, you can't make a perfect iced coffee with dirty beans.
The rest of the shift went by quickly with the constant stream of customers. It had been a busy afternoon, but business was slowing down now. I was getting ready to take off my apron and clock out when I heard the bell of the door ring. I walked back over to the counter and my jaw dropped. Jake was standing across from me wearing a black leather jacket and an evil smirk.
"Why hello Raegan, I forgot you worked here,” he said with a smug look on his face. I didn't have any choice but to take his order and ring him up, because doing anything else would only satisfy him, and it would look poorly on my part as an employee.
"No you didn't. Now what can I get for you?"
"I'll take a hot chocolate, and two blueberry scones please." I reluctantly rung up his order handed him his scones, and went to go make his hot chocolate. "You know," he said, "I meant it when I said purple was your color." I ignored his comment and slid his drink across the counter towards him.
"Have a nice night."
"Thanks love." I started heading out back when he said my name. "Oh, and Raegan? Turning your phone off won't stop me you know." With that he left, leaving me petrified where I stood. I couldn't wait to get back to my flat, where I knew I was safe. I went to the back room, clocked out, grabbed my things and left the cafe with a quick goodbye to Rachel. It was about eight and I was starved, but I decided not to stop anywhere for a bite to eat. I just needed to get home as soon as possible where I could lock my apartment door behind me and finally feel at ease. I turned my phone back on, and a multitude of text messages started coming through. The first five or six were from Jake, one or two were from Edin, and the remaining few were from Niall. I wondered if he was worried from not hearing from me all day. I shoved my phone back into my backpack and hurried my way home. As I locked the door behind me my phone started ringing.
"Hello?" Tears started running down my cheeks and I couldn't stop them..
"Hello m’lady. I thought I’d give you a call since I hadn’t heard from you today…” He stopped talking and I started to cry even harder. "Wait a sec are you crying? What's wrong?” This was incredibly embarrassing. I should have just let it go to voicemail.
"I'm fine,” I said, wiping my face with the sleeve of my sweater.
"No you're not, listen to you. Talk to me, what’s going on?” he asked, sounding concerned.
“It’s a bit of a long story,” I replied with a sniffle.
"I’ve got some time on my hands.”
“Alright then,” I said to him with a chuckle. I started by telling him about how I kind of had a thing with Jake before we met. I told him about how we met, that he went to school with me, and some of the things we did together before the night of the surprise party. Niall stayed silent, quietly listening the whole time, just giving little "mhmms" and "u-huhs" to show he was listening. I didn't struggle telling him about anything until I got to the part about that night. I started to tear up again, but I was able to hold back from crying all over the place again.
"Um, so basically the night before my birthday−"
"−so the night before we met?" he interrupted.
"Yeah that night."
"Okay, sorry, go on."
"So um, the night before, he threw me this surprise birthday at this little hidden jazz club that I love. All my friends were there, everybody but me and the girls were in the numbs, and we were dancing when Jake came up to me and grabbed my arm really tight. At first I figured that he didn't mean to because he was so drunk, you know? But he pulled me away from Sarah and Morgan to this creepy kitchen down the hallway." I stopped my story for a second, and took a deep breath. "He started to kiss me and it was disgusting. He was so drunk. I tried to push him off of me, but he was so much stronger than me." I was talking really fast now, the words were practically jumping off of my tongue, spilling out of my mouth. "I kept begging him to stop but he didn't listen. He tried to take my dress off and started groping me, and he covered my mouth with his hands. But then I finally pushed him off of me, and he threatened me then went right back at it. He had his hands on my undies−"
"Wait what? That prick," he said angrily. “Raegan I’m so sorry.”
"−and I started to cry and I didn't know what to do, he said that I 'owed him' then he started undoing his belt and I still didn't know what to do so I kicked him in the nuts, and I tried to run but he grabbed me and hit me and I−"
"Mother of God, I am so sorry Raegan.”
I just kept rambling on with my story, because I didn’t think I could stop until it was finished at some point.
"−he hit me, and then just left me on the floor."
"Jesus Christ Raegan, I am so sorry this happened to you. You didn’t deserve any of that. I can't believe that mother fucker hit you." I could tell he was infuriated.
"And...the worst part is that now he won't leave me alone. He tried to get me to take him back the next morning and I rejected him and now he keeps following me and sending me scary texts from an anonymous number." I was still crying, and would be surprised if he caught any of what I had just said. "Which is why I started crying to you in the first place. I think he's stalking me."
I heard him take a deep breath. "Raegan, I am so sorry. I wish I could just hold you right now. And it kills me that I can't. I am so sorry." I starting biting my lip and fiddling with the ends of my hair.
"It's okay. I already feel loads better. Talking to you helped." After talking to Niall, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt freer, knowing that someone had heard my story and still wanted to talk to me. It meant I wasn’t a failure, rather, I had just experienced something awful.
"Good. Now you have to promise me something."
"You have to promise me that tomorrow you will go down to the phone store and change your number. They'll be able to move all your data and stuff to the new number."
"I was kind of planning on doing that anyways,” I told him, smiling a bit because it was nice that he was trying to look out for me.
"Good, and then you have to promise that you'll print out a record of all those texts and go to the guards. And you have to tell them about that night." I knew he was going to ask that of me. Part of me wanted to go tell the police about Jake, but another part of me didn't want it to backfire in my face. I had been set on not telling anyone else but Sarah and Morgan. Getting the police involved always made everything more complicated, and I knew it wouldn't work in my favor. Jake was a smart guy, and I knew he had smart "techy" friends who could guarantee the anonymous number untraceable, and the police wouldn't be able to do a thing. And there was no proof that he had assaulted me that night because I hadn’t gone in the first place like I should have. Going to the police meant that I would have to share the traumatizing story again and again, rather than move on from it.
"Niall I can't promise you that. The police won't be able to trace the number, Jake has genius friends to do these things for him. And no one but me saw him come into the cafe tonight either."
"He went to your work?"
"Yeah, right before my shift ended. I practically ran home."
"You’re probably right, which isn’t how it should be. Promise you’ll go if he gets a hold of your new number though?”
"Yes. I promise."
"Good, and I'm still so sorry that you had to go through that. Is there anything I can do?" I smiled, he was trying to make me happy, even in when he was in another country.
"Honestly, you've done plenty. Thanks for dealing with my sob session."
"Anytime love. I had this weird feeling something was going on with you today.”
"Well you were right,” I said to him. “Sorry I didn’t answer your texts.”
"Don't apologize. I can't blame you a bit. Are you sure there isn't anything else I can do?"
"I'm positive. To be honest, I kind of just wanna go to bed right now. I'm pretty tired." I rubbed my eyes out of tiredness and started to yawn.
"Alright, will you call me in the morning?"
"But what if you're sleeping? Don't you have interviews and signings tomorrow?" I stood up and made my way to my comfortable bed.
"I don't care if I'm sleeping. I just want to know you're okay in the morning. And once you change your number will you text me?"
"Sleep well Raegan. Talk to you in the morning."
"Thanks." I said with a smile on my face. "Goodnight." He started to say something back but I had drifted off before he finished his sentence.