Let's Get Textual (Page 33)

Releasing the straw with reluctance, I moan. “I’m dead. I must be. This is too heavenly to be real.”

“Told you.”

“Can we move here? Like inside this diner? Please?”

“I don’t think the owner would like that much,” the waitress says, setting down my fries. “I take it that’s your first Mega Shake?”

“Yes, but it won’t be my last, especially if the owner lets me move in. Is he cute? Can I woo him with my charm and undeniable good looks?”

“Let me ask.”

“Hey, Pop!” An older gentleman pokes his head out of the kitchen. “What do you say? Can she woo you with—what was it again?”

“My charm and undeniable good looks. I want to move in so I can have a milkshake any time I want.”

He grins then glances to his daughter and winks. “Honey, meet your new stepmom.”

“I heard that!” another woman shouts from the end of the counter.

Our waitress points over her shoulder and says, “That’s my mom.”

“She’s so lucky,” I mutter.

Zach rolls his eyes and orders me another shake before the waitress scurries off.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“I didn’t? You mean you weren’t about to hop out of this booth and run off with the old man in the kitchen?”

“Well…no, probably not…”

He shakes his head. “Uh huh. Thought so.”

I feel my phone vibrating in my purse and pull it out. Two missed calls, both from Zoe.

Huh.

“Everything okay?” Zach asks.

“Yeah, just a few missed calls from Zoe. I’ll ring her back later. I’d much rather be spending time with this Mega Shake—I mean, with you.”

I grin at him and his dimples come out again.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over how much I love them.

How much I could love him.

I’m already falling; I just hope he’ll catch me when I land.

Twenty

“Hello?”

“D? Why are you whispering?”

“Because it’s late, Caleb, and everyone is asleep. Do you need something?”

“I’m sending you a text and I need you not to freak out, okay?”

I pull the phone back and check the time. “Really, Caleb? It’s almost midnight and you’re trying to text me?”

“Zoe’s been trying to reach you since yesterday. Have you spoken with her yet?”

S**t. I never did call her back. We spent the rest of Friday watching movies until we participated in the traditional Friday game night, and today Zach walked me around downtown and let me fawn all over the cute shops the town has. Add that to the less than stellar phone signal I have here, and I haven’t even thought about calling Zoe back.

“No, I’ve been busy. I’m with…” I pause, wanting to phrase it the right way.

“You’re with him, right? I told you, it’s cool.”

“Yeah, I’m with him.”

“Well she couldn’t reach you, so she enlisted my help. This is the first I’ve had signal.”

“Fine. Whatever. Send the text.”

“You have to promise first.”

I’m beginning to become agitated, and it’s evident in my noisy sigh. “I promise.”

“Okay, check your phone.”

Pulling my phone from my ear, I see I have one new message from him. I tap it open.

I wish I hadn’t.

I can’t breathe. My lungs have stopped working as I stare down at the picture—my picture.

It’s me.

Naked.

It’s the exact same photo I sent to Zach Thanksgiving morning.

An array of emotions flutter through me—rage, hurt, confusion.

How could this happen? Why would Zach betray me like this? How did Caleb get ahold of the photo?

“How did you get that picture?”

“It’s spreading like wildfire. Everyone from school is talking about it, but no one knows it’s you, D. I only recognized you because, well, I’ve seen it all before, and because of your tattoo.”

“Nobody else knows it’s me?”

“Not as far as I know,” Caleb says. He sighs. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who sent it, and I don’t know how it’s spread so fast, but everyone is talking about it.”

“I…I really don’t have words right now.”

“Do you know who you sent the photo to?”

I study Zach’s sleeping form and the tears begin. “He’s sleeping right next to me.”

“Maybe it was an accident?”

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“He promised me he’d delete it.”

“I’m so sorry, D. What do you want me to do about it?”

“Anything to keep it from spreading further. Please. I’ll be home in the morning.”

“I promise I’ll do everything I can.”

“Thank you, Caleb. That means a lot.”

“It’s not a problem. Do you…do you need rescuing right now? I’ll drive there in a heartbeat.”

I shake my head, even though he can’t see me. “No, but tell Zoe I’ll be home tomorrow, okay?”

“I will. Try to sleep, D.”

“Night, Caleb.”

We hang up and I sit there, shocked. I can’t begin to explain how I’m feeling in this moment. It’s like I’m Earth and a tornado, a hurricane, and an earthquake have struck me all at once; I can’t take the beating.

I creep from the bed, careful not to wake Zach or Marshmallow. I tiptoe from the room and down the hallway to the bathroom.

The moment I flip the lock on the door, the tears come streaming down my face. I pull up the photo again and examine the screenshot Caleb sent me.

There’s the proof, right there.

My heart crumbles.

At the top of the photo it has “Z” as the sender and the text attached reads, You gotta see this. Whoever he sent it to must have screenshotted it and forwarded it on.

I cannot wrap my head around this. I thought for certain Zach was it for me. Forget the sparks; the fireworks were there, and they’ve done nothing but build until this moment.

I lean my back against the door and slide to the floor, needing to sit. I’m having a tough time breathing, and it’s the hardest I’ve ever had to work for every inhale and exhale. I feel crushed.

I don’t know how long I sit there, and I’m surprised by the soft knock at the door.

“Delia? You in there?”

I quickly wipe away the tears rolling down my face and do my best to calm down so my voice doesn’t come out sounding shaky.

“Yeah.”

“Everything okay?” Zach asks.

“Trying to pee.”

“Oh…okay. The sheets were cold on your side so I knew you must have been gone a minute. Just checking in.”

“I’m fine. I’ll be out in just a second.”

I hear him walk away, and for a moment I feel guilty for lying to him.

Then the guilt is quickly gone—he’s the betrayer, and I’m the betrayed.

I lift myself off the floor and peer into the mirror. I can’t walk back to that bedroom looking like I do. He’ll know I’m upset, and I don’t want to get into this in the middle of the night. In the morning, I’ll tell him I’m having cramps and want to leave. I’m certain he’ll buy it.

I run cold water and rub it over my face, clearing away the tear streaks and hoping to help with the puffiness I see everywhere.

Taking a deep breath and talking myself out of running from this house right this moment, I twist the knob and sneak back down the hallway.

Once I enter the room, I realize I’m faced with another problem: I have to spend the night lying next to him.

Which is going to crush me even more.

Sliding under the covers, I make sure to lie at the edge of the bed so I don’t have to touch him.

Out of nowhere, his hand lands on my shoulder and snakes up, brushing away the hair from my neck. His lips collide with my neck and my body betrays me, sparking to life from the kiss.

“Delia?” he whispers against my skin.

My name sounds like love and duplicity all in one.

“Yeah?”

“You sure you’re okay?”

“My period is here and I’m having horrible cramps.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

I hate that he’s being so sweet right now. It’s almost enough to break me.

Deciding now is the time to ask, I roll over and paste a sweet smile on my face.

“Actually…do you mind if we go home in the morning? I didn’t pack any period essentials and my flow is heavy.”

I have to give him kudos—he doesn’t flinch or bat an eye at my talking freely about menstruation.

Instead he gives me a soft smile. “Whatever you need, we’ll do it.”

He places a kiss to my forehead and I have to squeeze my eyes shut before tears begin to flow again.

“Good night, Delia.”

“Good night, Zach.”

Goodbye, Zach.

Zoe: You okay?

* * *

Me: No. We’re about to leave though. I should be home in about two hours.

* * *

Zoe: We?

* * *

Me: I haven’t talked to him about it yet. I’m scared to. I told him my period is heavy and I’d rather be at home dealing with it. Zoe, he was so sweet about it.

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