Let's Get Textual (Page 34)

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Zoe: But that screenshot…

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Me: That screenshot.

“Thank you so much for everything, Jack. It was wonderful to meet you.”

“Don’t be a stranger, dear. I’m sure we’ll see you for Christmas.” He winks at me, and I want to cry again.

I’ve been a hot mess all morning, alternating between pure anger and wanting to sob, but I’ve managed to hold it together.

Rose leans in for a hug and I return the gesture.

“Come back whenever you’d like, Delia, and bring that Marshmallow with you too.”

I give her a smile. “I will, Rose.”

We give another round of hugs and then finally make it out the door, piling our bags and Marshmallow back in the car.

“Do you want to grab a shake before we leave?”

“No, I’m fine.”

Zach’s brows shoot up. “Wow. You denying those heavenly shakes—you must really not be feeling good at all.”

I shake my head and he pulls out of the driveway.

I flip the radio on, lasting only a few minutes before I have to rest my head against the window and pretend to sleep for the rest of the ride. I can’t bear the thought of him trying to talk to me right now.

It doesn’t feel like we’re in a car. It’s like we’re packed inside one of those giant walk-in coolers and someone’s twisted the lock so we can’t get out.

“Delia? We’re about ten minutes from your apartment.”

I pretend to rouse myself awake, but I don’t say anything to him.

He pulls into the lot and parks the car. Neither of us moves.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not just your period bothering you. Did I do something wrong?”

It begins as a cough, but then it turns into a full-on belly laugh.

And finally, I’m sobbing.

“Delia? What’s wrong?” He reaches out for me and I dodge his touch as my sobs turn to laughter again.

I know I sound like a maniac right now, but I don’t care. The anger that’s been simmering beneath the surface is threatening to bubble over, and I’m about to lose my s**t.

I feel like Little Red Riding Hood staring down the wolf, only I’m fighting back.

“What’s wrong? Are you really asking me that right now?”

His brows scrunch together. “Yes.”

Oh Zach, what a great actor you are.

“I’m worried about you over here. You’re starting to scare me. What happened? Please, tell me if I did something wrong.”

Oh Zach, what an a*****e you are.

“You’re either an excellent actor or you’re getting some sick enjoyment out of this.”

“What? What the f**k are you talking about?”

“Seriously, Zach?”

He throws his hands up in frustration. “Yes, dammit!”

Slamming the door open, I fly out of the car, the anger really setting in now.

“Delia! Don’t walk away! Talk to me!”

I pluck my phone out of my purse and pull up the text, stalking toward him and shoving it in his face.

“This, Zach! This is why I am pissed. You took my private photo and sent it to your f*****g friends. Remember when Zoe was calling me like crazy and I kept ignoring it? Well guess what’s all over campus.” I shake the phone. “This! I received a call last night from Caleb—my ex-boyfriend—warning me about the picture.”

I turn the phone my way, staring at the image that broke my heart in two.

“You were supposed to be the one person I could trust. You were supposed to keep me safe. You promised you’d never do anything to hurt me.” I sniffle and wipe away a tear. “I put all my faith in you and you threw it back in my face. That’s what hurts the most—not that the photo is out there and half the campus has seen me naked. It’s that you let me down in the biggest way possible.”

We’re locked in another silent war, tiptoeing around the battlefield.

When I finally gather the courage to meet his eyes, I’m baffled at what I see.

Anger.

“You don’t know me at all.”

Then he’s gone, and I’m left standing there with more questions than I had before.

Twenty-One

“I can’t believe it. I thought he was a good guy. I believed he could be, you know, the one for you.”

I nod. “Me too, Zoe. Me too.”

“And you said he seemed upset when you confronted him? Mad he was caught?”

“No. It was like he was mad at me—which is rich, considering everything.”

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“I don’t understand that one.”

“Me either.”

Zoe runs her fingers through my hair. I’ve been planted on the couch since I arrived back at home yesterday, alternating between crying and bitching about Zach. Neither of us have class on Mondays, and Zoe finally came home about an hour ago.

I’ve been crying on her lap ever since.

“Do you think…do you think you’ll ever talk to him again?”

“I don’t know. I’m devastated right now. All I want to do is eat ice cream and cry.”

“I can help with the crying, but we’re out of ice cream.”

I whimper. “Why does the world hate me?”

A knock sounds on the door and we exchange a glance, neither of us expecting a visitor.

I pull myself from the couch and make my way to the door, making sure to check the peephole first.

Gasping, I turn to Zoe. “You’ll never guess who’s out there.”

“Chris Pratt? Did he hear our call for ice cream?”

I pull the door open and greet our guest.

“Caleb…what are you doing here?”

He holds up a brown paper bag. “I figured you’d be needing this.”

“Is that ice cream?” He nods. “Why couldn’t I have loved you?”

Laughing, he pushes past me and enters the apartment. “Zoe.”

She smiles. “Caleb.”

“I wanted to come check on you, D. How are you holding up?”

“Honestly? Not so well. I confronted Zach—that’s his name—yesterday morning. I cried and showed him the photo. He was angry and acted weird, then left. So, I’m fluctuating between pissed, confused, and heartbroken right now.”

He pulls me into a hug and I can’t help the tears that begin to flow.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t come by sooner. I did as much damage control as I could over the weekend and this morning at class. I texted and called everyone I knew, trying to find out who sent it to who.”

“Thank you, Caleb. I really appreciate it,” I tell him, pulling away and wiping my eyes. “Come in, sit down. Feed us ice cream.”

I run to the kitchen to grab a few spoons before returning to the couch, planting myself between Caleb and Zoe.

This isn’t the first time Caleb’s brought over ice cream and we’ve done this. He even got all three of our favorite flavors.

I could hug him all over again.

“So, how was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Anyone else have a naked picture of them passed around campus, or was that just me?”

They chuckle, and I try not to cry.

“Mine was fine, drove home to visit the family,” Caleb says through a bite of ice cream.

“Pretty much the same. I did have the privilege of witnessing my uncles in a fist fight though. That was kind of fun.”

“There was almost a fight at our meal too. Oh!” I slap my forehead. “I forgot to tell you. You’ll never guess who Zach’s brother is.”

“Who?”

“Shep.”

Zoe shoots forward on the couch. “The Shep?”

I nod. “The one and only.”

“Wow. I… Wow!” She leans back again, taking a huge bite.

Shep is still a sensitive subject for her. I’ll have to tell her later how Zach jumped to defend her honor, offering to rough Shep up for her.

“I know. I had no idea because they call him—”

“Slug,” Caleb finishes. “Holy crap. I know your boyfriend, D—Zach Hastings, computer nerd but doesn’t look it?”

“He mentioned he met you a few times. He was shocked I moved from dating a baseball player to him.”

Caleb takes another bite of his ice cream and shakes his head.

“D, I need to be honest with you…I don’t think Zach did this.”

“Why do you say that? I mean, you read that text. It was sent from ‘Z’. There’s no denying that.”

“I know, I know.” He sits forward on the couch and puts his ice cream on the coffee table. “Hear me out though. Is there any way at all someone could have gotten ahold of his phone? Someone we all know is a sneaky, slimy dick?”

What he’s saying clicks.

“You think Shep did this?” He nods. “But why?”

“Um, because it’s Shep,” Zoe answers, mirroring Caleb’s pose. “It makes sense, D. The guy is a total a*s and if you poke at him, he’ll strike back.”

“That’s not a joke. He’s done shitty stuff to girls who didn’t fall for his bullshit, and he tends to brag about it in the locker room. I kind of hate the guy.”

“Did you do anything to him?” Zoe asks.

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