Where the Lake Meets the Shore

Where the lake meets the shore, there's a tree. Look up and that's where you will find me. I never thought though, that a stranger would find my place, but when he does, that's when everything changes.

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In the part of the park where nobody goes, that's where you will find 20 year old Katie Mason. As she enters her third year at NYU, she seems to have the perfect life, perfect friends, and an all around perfect world. Enter Michael Clark, the new transfer student from down south. Charming young Katie with his southern charm, she just can't help but be lured into his grasp. He might just be the one person she needs to open her up to the harsh reality of the perfect life she believes to have, and sends her entire world into the perfect tailspin.

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9. ~Chapter 8~

A/N: Thanks for being so patient! <3 Please read the author's note at the end of the chapter if you feel affected in any way by the content.

Trigger Warning: Physical Assault 

It's the weirdest thing. Sometimes you meet people and never connect mentally or emotionally, others you meet and instantly become friends, and then there are the times, the most amazing times, where you meet someone and you're immediately drawn to each other. You become so drawn together that it's like the stars have aligned to put you together and, even if you wanted to, you can't stay away. With Michael and I, we've only known each other for a few days but it feels like forever. Maybe the whole 'stars aligned' theory isn't so crazy after all.

We stayed at the lookout for only an hour or two, but it felt like much longer. That may be because I wanted it to be longer before Michael pulled me to my feet and helped me back into the car. "You're tired" He notes, smiling gently at me before promising that we would most definitely be back another time. He held my hand the entire ride back to Carly's house, where I asked him to bring me. I was on cloud nine and I don't think that anything in the world could possibly take this feeling away from me. "I'll see you soon, Katie-Bird" Michael mumbles gently when we get to Carly's doorstep, pulling me in for a light kiss. 

I laugh softly. "Katie-Bird?" I ask when we pull apart, melting a little (A LOT) at this new nickname. 

"Yeah" he chuckles. "I figured it's better that 'tree girl', don't ya think?"

I smile at him. "I love it" I say and kiss his cheek. "Text me when you get home!" I say, more of a demand than a request since I've seen his living conditions. 

"Yes ma'am" he says obediently before turning to walk to his car. I watch him leave before heading through the door where Carly is surely waiting for an entire rundown of the evening. 

Walking down the hall I find Carly straddling Matt's lap, in the middle of a heated make-out session, very much unaware of my presence in the room. Figuring that if I don't interrupt, the scene will turn into something ugly, I clear my throat to announce my arrival, receiving a pair of annoyed groans in response. 

"Shit, hi Katie!" Carly squeaks, leaping off Matt's lap and fixing her shirt and skirt. 

"Babe, don't look so alarmed, Katie knows what we do" Matt chuckles, however he also adjusts his own clothing.

"Doesn't mean I want to see it!" I laugh at him and Carly just glares at him aggressively.

"So! how was the date? Are you guys getting married yet?" She asks, suddenly perking up. Matt takes this as his cue to leave make his way up to bed, pausing to give Carly a kiss on the temple. "What babe, you don't want to listen to us talk?" She asks him sweetly. 

"I know I'll hear all about it later" He says, smirking at her. "Have a good night, ladies"

I sit down on the sofa next to Carly, who has already popped open a bottle of her mom's wine. "Where's Brandon, by the way?" I ask her, noting that he's out, which is quite unusual. 

"Boy went and got himself a girlfriend, can you believe it?"  She responds, handing me a glass. "He's staying at her house tonight"

"Wow, good for him" I say, sipping my wine slowly. I'm pretty sure Brandon hasn't had a lasting relationship in about six years. Something about waiting for the right person. I can't really fault him for that considering my (lack of) luck with love myself.

"You're stalling!" Carly interrupts my thoughts. "I want details! Did he kiss you? When's the wedding? Did you guys-"

"Oh God, Carly!" I interrupt her last question, knowing exactly where it was going. "I just met him, of course we're not getting married or doing anything... physical yet" I respond, trying to hold back my own laughter. 

She rolls her eyes. "Less than a week ago you hated the guy and you've already spent the night at his apartment, and now here you are in my living room, all doe-eyed after your first real date with him" She says, listing off an entire history of events between me and Michael. "Now, I want every single detail, you promised" She says. 

I laugh at her. "Alright, alright" I say to her, taking another large sip of wine. 

Michael texts me about half an hour after dropping me off announcing his safe arrival at home, along with the cutest goodnight message. The rest of the night is spent giving Carly every detail of my date, right down to the colour of the blanket we laid on at the lookout. All the good emotions of my time with Michael came flooding back as I told Carly about my amazing night. I spent the night in the guest room and went to sleep feeling in the best mood I've been in, in a very long time.

Nothing could ruin this. 

I'm woken up early in the morning by my phone buzzing loudly above my head. I groan loudly and reach over to pick it up. "Hello?" I mumble tiredly. Carly and I had been up until past 1:00 this morning and the phone only showing a time of 4am is more annoying than anything else. 

"Katie?" The soft voice of my sister whispers through the phone. 

"Morgan?" I ask. "What's going on? Why are you calling this early?" I ask her. 

"I need you to pick me up, I'm in trouble" She replies. Her voice sounds panicked, almost like she's been crying.

I sit up in bed, slightly alarmed at my sister's tone of voice. She never calls me, let alone when she's in trouble. "Where are you?"

  °♡•♡°    

I pull up outside the address Morgan gave me. It's in a rather sketchy area of town; moreso than where Michael lives. The streets are covered in litter, and many of the homes have metal bars over the windows and doors as a way to keep someone out. What made her come here? I wonder to myself. Through the darkness I can make out the outline of two girls; Morgan and Melanie, huddled together on a street bench. I hop out of the car and rush over to them. "What happened?" I ask, panic raising in my voice as soon as I see the sight of my sister. She sits on the bench with her legs pulled up to her chest and her face buried in her knees. It appears that Melanie has wrapped her in a long sweater but she still shivers from the early morning cold. 

"Katie, oh my God, I'm so sorry!" Is all Melanie says, wailing out before she bursts into a fit of sobs. "It was only supposed to be a small party with a few people but then-"

I let out a sigh, dreading the next words to come out of her mouth. "Please, get in the car Mel, I'll take you home" I say, interrupting her story. She nods and obediently runs to my car and sits in the back seat. I kneel down in front of my poor sister, who hasn't said a word yet as she sits, whimpering on the bench. "Morgan, what's going on?" I ask her softly. 

"I don't want to talk about it here, please get me away!" She whines, throwing her arms around me and crying into my shoulder. "I would've called mom and dad but they would kill me for being here.

"Of course, come on. I'll take you back to Carly's house with me" I say and pull her to her feet to lead her into the front seat of the car.

Once I myself enter into the driver's seat, I finally get a good look at the girls. Beyond the tear stains, Melanie has a small bruise on her cheek and Morgan has a cut on her lip, a black eye, and a massive bruise at the top of her forehead.  "Is someone going to tell me what happened?" I ask the girls as I start driving. 

"Not yet" Morgan whispers, turning her head to stare out the window. Melanie keeps sobbing in the backseat. Clearly what happened to them was worse than I thought. 

The drive back to Melanie's house is deathly silent, notwithstanding Melanie's soft whimpering in the backseat. By the time we get there it's almost 5:30am, a time that most parents would not want to see their sixteen-year-old walking through the door with a bruised up face. Mel's parents are extra protective of her too. Apparently I didn't think of that before making the drive. "Melanie, are your parents home?" I ask cautiously.

She shakes her head. "Not until Monday" She whispers.

"Okay, go inside, put some ice on that cheek and get some rest" I say kindly to her. I may dislike her for what she influences my sister to do, but I can't help but feel sorry for her here. 

"I will" She nods. "See you later, Morgan" She mumbles to my sister, who ignores her and keeps staring out at the street through my front window. 

I wait until she's safely inside before driving off toward Carly's house. "Tell me what happened tonight" I say gently to Morgan. "I'm here for you'

She sniffs softly and from the corner of my eye I see a tear fall. "Mel told me that she was invited to a game night at her boyfriend's house and that I could come since he would have a friend there too. Like a double date situation" She begins. "When we got there, there were already about two dozen people in the house, it was a party, she lied to me, Katie" She says softly, short sobs escaping her throat. "I wanted to go home because I didn't recognize anyone but she wouldn't take me and convinced me to stay with her and promised she wouldn't leave me alone"

"She lied about that too, didn't she?" I ask.

Morgan nods. "She started drinking, a lot. I decided not to because I was a little nervous around the other people and wanted to keep my mind clear" She continues. "B-by around 2:30, Melanie was nowhere to be found, and there was this g-guy" She says, her sobs getting louder. 

I grip the steering wheel tighter, so tight that it felt like my bones were going to break. "What did he do?"

"He tried drugging me" She responds to my horror. "I had separated myself from everyone and was sitting out on the porch and a guy brought me some water and tried talking to me.. B-but, I'm wearing that nail polish that changes colour when it detects date-rape drugs in a drink; I always wear it when I'm out; a-and when it picked up the drug in my drink, I threw the water in his face and tried to r-run away"

"Then what happened?" I ask her, loosening up a little bit. She's smarter than I thought when it comes to protection.  I find myself thinking to myself. 

"H-h-he got really mad and grabbed me" She whispers. "He p-punched me in the f-face and shoved me against the p-pavement" She says, starting to cry again as she relives the moment. "I couldn't move, Katie, I tried to run away but he was h-h-holding me down, I swear he was going to-" She says, a sob cutting her off as she buries her face in her hands. By now we had pulled up to Carly's driveway and I was sitting, listening to my sister's terrifying story. 

"He didn't though, right?" I ask and she shakes her head. 

"Someone came outside and saw him pinning me down and me struggling and dragged him off me" She says, sniffling hard as she speaks. "Turns out it was the guy Melanie was with and when she tried to help, she got hit too... He got dragged away before he could do anything worse to me and Melanie and I were left by ourselves" She says, shaking her head sadly. "I wanted to call the police but she didn't want to call anyone because she was worried she would get in trouble. So we walked to the nearest bus bench and her compromise was letting me call you" She says quietly. "Katie, I'm sorry" She says, starting to cry some more. 

I reach over to her side of the car and pull her in for a tight hug. "Don't apologize, I'm just glad you're safe" I say gently as she cries into my shirt. I knew Melanie was a bad influence... "How about we get you inside and you take a shower and get some sleep? I'm sure Carly would be more than happy to lend you some clothes" I suggest. She nods and steps out of the car, tightening her sweater around herself as I guide her in. 

When we walk into the house, Carly is sitting in the living room with Matt, both anxiously waiting for us. She gasps at the sight of Morgan. "What happened?" She asks calmly, however there is a bit of a shake in her voice. Morgan is like a little sister to her as well.

"I'll explain later" I say to her and she nods. "Right now, she needs a bed and some clothes, can you please help?" I ask. 

"Of course" Carly responds and helps me lead Morgan up the stairs to the other guest room. "You know where everything is, I'll get you something warm" She says, wrapping her arms around Morgan, who now is seated quietly on the bed. 

"Thank you so much Carly, I'm sorry for worrying you guys" Morgan says back, face still wet from tears. 

"I think it's safe to say that we're all glad you're safe. I don't know exactly what happened to you, and you don't have to tell me now, but I'm glad to see you here" Carly responds sweetly, stroking my sister's hair gently. 

After a few minutes, we leave the room to give Morgan some privacy. "Thanks for letting us use your house as a mini hotel" I say jokingly, despite my stress and exhaustion. 

Carly laughs. "As mom always says, that's why we have so many rooms here, for any friend or family who needs it" She replies, giving me a hug too. "You should go rest now too, Matt and I will be downstairs if Morgan wakes up and needs anything" She says to me.

I nod again. "Thanks again for your help" I say before turning back to my own room and shutting the door. As soon as the door is shut, I sit on the bed and all my stress is released as I break down in tears. Thank goodness someone stopped that guy from hurting Morgan worse, and thank goodness she's smart enough to avoid being drugged. This night would have turned out far worse otherwise.

Beside me on the bed my phone chimes with a text message, causing me to perk up and realize that I'd forgotten it here when I left after Morgan called. 

From: Michael <3

'Good morning sweetheart, have you had a good night? I know you're likely asleep still (I have to work) but hopefully you'll see this and respond when you wake up. Sleep tight, darling <3'

I look down at the message and smile a tiny bit when I read it, not because my mood has changed, but because even at this early morning, someone cares enough to see how I am doing. I think about just going back to bed and waiting to text him back but decide against it. 

From: Katie

'You can only imagine how my night went.. :/'

Not wanting to get into details, I hit send and curl back up under the covers. Hoping that I can get temporary relief from how this day started, I close my burning eyes and drift off into a dark, restless sleep.

 

A/N: Fun fact, the nail polish Morgan described in this chapter actually does exist. What happens is you paint your nails like normal and if someone buys you a drink, you swirl your finger around and if it detects the date-rape drug, it changes colour. If it's available in your country, I highly recommend it because it's a good way to protect yourself from getting drugged. Stay safe out there  everyone!

~Due to the content of this chapter, if anyone would like to talk, my inbox is open to everyone~

All the love,

Catherine <3

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