Not In That Way *Completed*

There is always that one little thing that can keep a person stable. That one little thing that makes a person feel alive. The thing that can make a person smile even when they are having a bad day.

For Cora Smith that thing is more like a someone. Her someone is Zachary Dawson. Her long time best friend and the person that saved her when her life was in shambles. For years, she has been battling for his attention against all the other girls around her. However, little did she know she had him wrapped around her little finger since the very beginning.

Join Cora on her journey in discovering the truth about Zachary, while all the while she is consumed with the fear that, in the end, the only words she will hear from him are, "I'm sorry, believe me, I love you, but not in that way......"

*Based on the song, "Not in That Way" by Sam Smith*

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33. Chapter 30 ( Part 2 )

Chapter 30 ( Part 2 )

*Cora's POV*

Sitting in the hot Arizona heat wearing my cap and gown was not something that I looked forward to doing. Our principal thought it would be more convenient if our graduation was outside. More people would be able to attend and the sound level was increased. No one thought to think of the intense heat of the summer season. It was blistering. At 105 degrees, my makeup was practically melting off my face.

The ceremony was about to begin. All the parents had taken their seats and we were about to be given our cue to take ours. The anticipation of finally graduating was building in my body. I have waited for this day for my whole life. The day that I was finally granted my freedom. I could leave Phoenix. I could move far, far away from here and no one could say anything about it. Standing in the long line of students, my anxiety does nothing but increase. Zach was farther up in the line than me and I wished nothing more than to be able to stand beside him.

The principal was on the stage making his opening speech, while all of the students stand near a tree a few steps away. It was stupid that they didn’t introduce us sooner. We could all be seen easily by the parents. Every once in awhile, a student raised their hand to wave at their parents and the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach only grew. No one was out there for me. All these kids had their parents to support them at the graduation and all I had was Zach. Although he wouldn’t be in the crowd waving over at me when I take my seat. He would be worrying about himself, about what he needed to do, and that was fine. I just wished that someone was out there for me, but I wasn’t gifted with that luxury. Turning my attention back to the principal, I pull my bottom lip between my teeth and wait for the cue.

“Ladies and gentleman, I would like to announce the 2016 class of Meadow Brooks High!” the principal calls and we all move to our seats.

Weaving through the aisles in an orderly fashion, we all stand in front of the seat marked with our names. The teenagers around me all turn and wave to their parents before taking a seat. Looking at the ground with a frown, I take a seat before everyone else and kick at the grass by my feet. After everyone is seated the valedictorian is called up to the stage and gives their speech. Finally after what feels like years later, the principal asks us all to rise as he begins to call out the names of the students. I zone out for the first part of the students, not interested in celebrating the success of the people who often made fun of me. When Zach’s name is finally called, a roar of screams and cheers wash over everything, but he keeps his eyes on mine and sends me a wink. A small smile is on my face for the remainder of the names before mine. Nervousness fills my stomach as the final person before me gets called to the stage. I walk up to the stairs and wait for my name.

“Cora Smith.”

Walking up the stairs, I am deafened by the hoots and cheers from the crowd. After receiving my diploma, I look over at the crowd. Tears fill my eyes when I see Zach on his feet hollering for me as well as Luke and Adam in the back. Mrs. Dawson has her camera out and is continuously taking pictures of me. Making my way back to my seat, my cheeks are stretched up into a giant smile. People were here for me. I wasn’t alone. People cared enough to cheer for me. As the rest of names are called, the students begin bouncing with excitement. With one final announcement we would finally be free.

“Ladies and Gentlemen for the final time, I would like to announce the 2016 graduates of Meadow Brooks High!” the principal shouts and everyone throws their caps to the sky.

Screams and cheers fill the air. Making my way through the crowd, I attempt to get to the side where most people have already cleared out. Eventually, I make it to the side and am immediately captured in someone’s arms.

“We graduated!!” Zach screams in my ear.

A smile takes over my face as I turn back at look at him.

"I know!” I squeal.

Looking over his shoulder, I see Luke, Adam, and Mrs. Dawson struggling to get through the crowd. Luke is the first one to break through and he immediately runs up to me and takes me into his arms. The hug is awkward and uncomfortable because Zach has yet to let go of my waist.

Breaking away from Luke, I look back at Zach with an eyebrow raised. His jaw is clenched and he is glaring hard at Luke. Looking back at Luke, I find that he is staring right back at Zach with the same expression.

“Okay, that’s it.” I say, throwing up my hands and stepping away from them both.

They instantly look over at me with shocked expressions on their faces. Mrs. Dawson’s eyes widen and she quickly breathes out a “I’m going to the car.” and turns the opposite direction.

“I am done with this,” I gesture with my hands,”Why do you guys hate each other so much?”

“I don’t trust him.” Zach grumbles.

“Why don’t you trust him?” I ask, throwing my hands in the air.

“You’re brother disappears after your mother dies and then poof he randomly appears again right after your father put you in the hospital? Sorry if that seems a bit fishy to me.” he says, looking over at me with a pointed look.

“I had to leave! I never wanted to leave her! Our father made me leave! He said he would hurt her if I stayed I couldn’t let that happen! I left to protect her!” he yells, stepping closer to Zach, but Adam quickly puts a hand on his chest, pushing him back.

“You wanted to protect her?! She got hurt anyway, Luke! You could have at least been there for her!” Zach shouts back, stepping towards him.

I intervene this time, stepping in between them and putting my hands on his chest.

“Stop.” I whisper.

“He’s my brother, Zach,” I continue, “He was only trying to protect me. He thought our dad was going to hurt me if he didn’t leave. He never knew that I was going to get hurt anyway. If he knew that he would have never of left. He didn’t know, Zach.”

Looking down at me, he furrows his eyebrows before looking back up at Luke.

“What if that’s not even your brother! What if he was sent by your father to rape you or something!” he growls out.

“She’s my sister! Even if I was sent by our father, I wouldn't do it! I don't even swing that way, dude!” Luke calls out.

Turning around to face Luke, an expression of shock and surprise takes over my face.

“What…” I trail off.

Luke looks down at me.

“I’m…….gay, Cor.” he admits.

“Wait, what? Then who’s your girlfriend?!” I yelp, leaning back into Zach for support.

A minute full of silence fills the air until Luke finally says, “My….boyfriend is….is Adam.”

My mouth drops open as I look back and forth between both Adam and Luke. Adam steps closer to Luke and places his arm around his waist. My eyes widen in surprise and happiness as Luke places his hand on Adam’s arm lovingly.

“You guys are together?!” I squeal.

“Um…...Yes?” Adam hesitates, speaking for the first time.

“I knew it!!” I yelp, jumping up and down.

Surprised expressions fill their faces.

“Y- you’re okay with it?” Luke stutters out.

“Of course I’m okay with it!” I nearly scream, lunging at them and wrapping them in my arms.

They let out a relieved sigh and a small chuckle and put their arms around me as well. After a lot more of my squealing and many more hugs, we finally make it to the car.

“Come on, Cor. We’ll meet them at the restaurant.” Zach says softly as I continue to pester the two boys.

“Okay. See you guys there!” I call, turning towards Zach.

With a huge smile on my face and my hand placed delicately in Zach’s, An unfamiliar feeling that I hadn’t felt many times throughout my life, washes over me. Happiness.

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