Chapter 4: Deny Her Anything

Here's a little interesting fact for you: my school, Santa Monica, and Michelle's, St. Patrick, are huge rivals. And I mean, huge, like apocalyptic huge, like 'let's sabotage each other' huge. I can't pinpoint the exact moment when the two schools became rivals, but I don't remember a time when we haven't hated one another's guts. We're always trying to one-up each other in every field – academics, arts, athletics, you name it, it doesn't matter as long as there's a winning and a losing team.

Well, I mean, my schoolmates are always prepared to go on a war while I have bigger problems to worry about, aside from some stupid school rivalry that won't last after high school because everybody knows that once we're released into the real world, we'll leave the petty rivalry behind us. Besides that, if I was really following the rules, I wouldn't be hanging out with my cousin who goes to St. Patrick and that's just no can do. I won't diss one of the few decent family members I have because some idiot said we should hate each other. I might come off as a pushover, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. The others can hate each other all they want, but my plate's already full and I don't have any spare energy to waste.

School's politics are not a passion of mine. All I know, thanks to Gwen, is that ever since someone started this rumor that Caroline dumped Micah for Mark, things took a turn for the worse. I don't know how that makes any sense, but that's what everybody's been saying. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. But even so, I know this is not true. Caroline doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who will dump a guy when someone better comes along, so I think that my classmates are just working themselves up into frenzy. I wish I've paid more attention when Gwen talked about this because she, unlike me, is thrilled that we have a rival school and a bunch of people that we can hate for no apparent reason.

"Do you live under a rock?" Gwen screeches at me after I admit to her that I got introduced to the infamous Mark Ryder, only the most hated guy at our school. But I keep the part where I embarrassed myself publicly in front of him to myself because I don't think it's not that important, even though for the sake of story-telling, it kind of is a big deal. I don't tell her that I found him quite charming either because I have a feeling she won't take the news very well and will probably have a heart attack in the middle of the hallway. "How can you not know him?" she wonders out loud, rolling her eyes skywards as we go to find Todd.

"I know of him," I defend myself, getting the silly urge to put my hands in front of my eyes as to prevent Gwen from scratching my eyes out, "I've just never actually seen him in person."

For this to happen I actually have to go to one of our school games and considering that I'm a self-declared sports retard who can't discern tennis from lacrosse, it's safe to assume that I can't see this happening anytime soon, either.

"It's official," Gwen releases a tortured sigh, almost as if she's talking to herself, "you do live under a rock, Georgiana. I don't think there's one person in this entire school who doesn't have Mark Ryder's face memorized," she informs me like it's my job to know irrelevant stuff like that before she quickly rectifies herself, "except for you, obviously."

"Well, why should I?" I ask frustratedly, feeling like I'm always kept out of the loop, which can get pretty tiresome sometimes, although I don't tell Gwen that. "I don't keep up with the school's gossip."

At this Gwen gasps audibly, as if I've just slapped her across the cheek, and turns her narrowed eyes on me. "I'm so embarrassed to be seen with you right now!" she whispers dramatically, but despite her earlier statement, she links her arm through mine and pulls me close enough to basically yell in my ear, "Where's your school spirit, Georgiana?"

"Since when do you have a school spirit?" I give Gwen a skeptical look because last time I checked she couldn't wait to get out of this "hellhole" and "obliterate the last four god-awful high school years from her hard drive." Her words, not mine.

"Okay, fine, I just think this rivalry is stupid," I say, shrugging and pulling my arm away from Gwen before I grip the straps of my bag and keep walking down the hall, subconsciously keeping an eye out for Todd who's the only one that can make Gwen forget what we were talking about before we saw him. "I don't get why we should hate anyone just by association. They haven't done anything to us."

"Everyone who goes to St. Patrick is plain evil!" Gwen declares loudly for all our classmates to hear and there's a chorus of 'hell yeah's' and 'you got it right, sister' around us as she says that. If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's their mutual hatred for everybody that goes to St. Patrick's. "They stole our team's mascot for god's sakes!"

"They only did it," I tell her, remembering the story before Gwen gets even more fired up about this, something I don't need right now, "because our football team released the frogs from the lab and freed them in hallway."

Gwen chuckles at the memory before she sobers up and every trace of laughter is gone from her face. "Oh, well, who cares about the circumstances that led to this war? It's happening."

"What's happening?" Todd practically materializes out of thin air, finding us before we manage to find him. He throws an arm over my and Gwen's shoulders and I don't resist against his embrace while Gwen makes a big show about shaking his arm off and acting like he suffers from leprosy. Any other girl in her place would be ecstatic to have the guy she's all-out crushing on trying to get close to her, but it goes without saying that Gwen's not your normal girl. She's so afraid that Todd's going to find out about her ancient crush on him that she goes to great lengths to pretend that even Todd's merest touch repulses her. By the looks of it, they're still at odds. Not that this should surprise me in the least since Gwen can hold the mother of all grudges.

"Tonight's movie night," I instantly reply before Gwen opens her mouth and says something that's most likely going to have Todd raising his eyebrows at me. I don't want my friends to make a bigger deal out of this than it has to be. Todd's always been too damn nosy for his own good and last thing I want is to have him asking one too many questions, like since when do I care about our school's rivalry, when and how I got to meet Mark Ryder and whatnot. Moreover, I've always felt a little bit awkward talking about other guys in Todd's presence, even though he's never seemed to mind. Still, it's the principle of the matter.

"Okay, cool, I didn't know we were doing movie night tonight," Todd responds, biting the bait like I expect him to because he's thankfully as oblivious as guys come. He scratches his eyebrows absent-mindedly and glances at me briefly before his eyes fall onto Gwen who has a monstrous frown plastered on her face.

"We weren't," Gwen grumbles under her breath, hugging her textbooks closer to her chest and sending me a mean glare. She sort of hates it when she's not the one calling the shots. I shrug at her, mentally trying to convince her to go along with it because the plan's not that bad after all.

"Yep, we are. Tonight at eight at Gwen's house. I'll bring the movies, and you bring the food," I tell Todd who thankfully ignores Gwen, or misses to hear her over the din of the students milling around, and nods his dark-haired head at me in approval. There's a silent agreement between the three of us that my house is a no parking zone. We never hang out there even when both Norah and Molly are out because one can never tell when they're going to come back and it's not like they tell me anything, anyways. I think this is called democracy.

"Copy that," Todd salutes me before he meanders off to talk to Nolan, one of the guys on the chess team, about cancelling their plans tonight. Turns out, Nolan isn't the only one whose plans got canceled.

A few hours later just before I'm supposed to head out to Gwen's house, I open my front door to find my cousin on the doorsteps.

"Cole canceled on me," Michelle says, pouting in a way that has Uncle Ron promising to buy her all the candy in a ten mile radius just to make her stop and at first I'm too stupefied to say much of anything as she brushes past me and walks into the house which is fortunately empty, save for Molly's devil cat, Whiskers.

"Are you going out?" Surprised, Michelle asks when she turns back around to face me and motions towards my outfit. When I'm at home, I'm usually in my sweats and oversized t-shirts, but this time I'm wearing faded jeans and a black hoodie that's admittedly too big on me, but also so comfortable that I feel like I can disappear in it and never come out.

"Yes, I am," I reply after short deliberation, looking down at my clothes and then back at Michelle, "I'm going to Gwen's to watch some movies," I tell her, but then noticing the expectant-slash-begging look on her face, I decide to hastily add, "Do you want to come?"

Michelle's face lights up like a Christmas tree and I guess I get my answer. I figure it's safe to invite her to come along because before Michelle transferred to St. Patrick's high school, she used to go to Santa Monica and the four of us hung out all the time.

I put on my scuffed-up sneakers, sighing in gratification that Michelle has a car and I don't have to walk all the way to Gwen's house.

Todd's already there when Michelle and I arrive and the moment he lays his eyes on Michelle, he literally leaps out of his seat and comes barreling towards her. Michelle laughs when he sweeps her in his arms and her feet no longer touch the carpetered floor in Gwen's basement.

Boy, Todd has never been this happy to see me.

I raise my eyebrows at the scene unfolding before my eyes. Then I glance from the corner of my eye at Gwen who, as if expecting my stare, is already looking at me accusingly with her arms across her chest. As much as I wish I didn't, she gets her silent message across: "See what you're subjecting me to?" her eyes ask as she jerks her head towards Todd who's totally fangirling over my cousin.

It's going to be one long, long night, and I'm right in thinking so. First, we fight over which movie we should watch, then over the food we should binge-eat, and then over the seating arrangement. Somehow I find myself watching Jaws for the millionth time squashed between a sulking Gwen and my jumpy cousin, all the while trying to balance a bowl of popcorn in my lap. Todd's sitting on the other side of Michelle and every time she jumps a foot in the air while watching one of the scarier scenes, he snickers under his breath and he doesn't even try to be subtle about it, which is usually what makes Michelle throw food at his head in order to shut him up. Then Gwen would shriek at them for making a mess and for a second everyone would be quiet. Gwen's deep sighs, on the other hand, make even the walls quake and between trying to channel my inner harmony and ignore her and Michelle who keeps fidgeting throughout the movie, unable to sit still and concentrate on the TV screen, I'm half-relieved when my cell phone beeps. It's not until later that my brain registers all the people that could be calling me are already in the room with me. That is, in case my mother suddenly remembered she has a daughter that she usually forgets all about.

It's not my mother that's calling me, but still, I'm close enough – it's Molly and she's sent me a text asking me to pick her up from one of her friend's houses. I'm not sure if she's forgotten, or if she simply doesn't care, but I've been carless for the last two months. I contemplate telling her to get a ride with one of her so-called popular friends that she thinks so highly of, but then I think about spending the rest of the night in this stiff atmosphere and I immediately reconsider.

"It's Molly," I answer Michelle's unasked question when she nods towards my phone, "it's late, and she needs a ride home. Will you come with?"

Michelle readily agrees and stands up, smoothing out the wrinkles of her dress and grabbing her car keys off the coffee table.

"Do you want us to come, too?" Todd proposes, pointing to himself and then at Gwen as he jumps to his feet. "For moral support?" he adds, but I know the only reason he wants to come is to spend some more time with Michelle.

"No, no, you guys stay and see the movie to the end," I say, waving them off and shrugging my jacket on. "I'll see you tomorrow in school."

We say our goodbyes and then Michelle and I are on our way, or on our rescue mission, as she called it.

Once seated and buckled, I reiterate the address Molly has given me and Michelle pinches it into her GPS system before she peels out of Gwen's driveway and puts on some new pop song that has me wondering whether a guy is singing it or a girl.

"You sure this is the place?" I nervously ask Michelle as she parks her car before this unrealistically big white house which walls are vibrating with music that's loud I can hear it perfectly clear from inside the comfort of Michelle's car. Why am I not surprised to find her at a party? On a school's night, no less.

Some friends Molly has, is actually my first coherent thought as I glance around, thinking that I'd be caught dead attending a party like this one. The whole house is trashed, there's toilet paper on the lawn, intoxicated teenagers are tramping on the garden and ruining the flowers, and some guy I remember from my history class last year is puking his guts out on the sidewalk.

Michelle also looks around curiously before she makes a move to get out of the car. I stop her mid-step.

"What are you doing?" I ask anxiously, grabbing her wrist and pulling her back, making her look at me.

"Going to find Molly," Michelle says to me in a slow and careful voice, like I'm a fool for asking her this.

"No, you aren't," I rebuff her, shaking my head and already texting Molly as I speak so that I won't waste any precious time sitting here, "I'm going to text her that we're waiting for her right outside, we get her, and we go home."

"You're such a party pooper, G," Michelle sighs dejectedly, but I can feel the resignation coming off of her body as she closes the car door and leans back in the driver's seat.

I say nothing as I shove my cell into my back pocket and try to catch a glimpse of Molly's white-blond head somewhere in the crowd. It's not like Molly's easy to miss, either. Look for the girl with the least clothing and blondest hair and you'll probably have my sister, so she should be pretty easy to find. But as the minutes drag on, Molly neither replies to my text nor do I spot her in the crowd of drunken teenagers.

"Fine, we're going in," I say to Michelle who gives me a knowing look and wastes no time leaping out the car, smiling at the scene in front of her and not even waiting for me to join her side. She's already strolling towards the house and I curse under my breath before I struggle to catch up with her because I don't want to lose sight of her, too. Once inside the house, packed with sweaty bodies rubbing themselves all against us not on purpose, but because of lack of space, I start to feel claustrophobic and, after a closer inspection, a little bit underdressed, even though I'm the only girl in sight (save for Michelle who didn't know she was going partying tonight) that's actually wearing clothes and not pieces of fabric. Once again, I start to wonder whether my classmates want to major in striptease or something because the girls in my school definitely have something against clothes.

"We need to split," Michelle yells over all the noise and my hazy eyes zero in on her. On the contrary, I want to glue myself to her side and never split, but Michelle goes on talking before I have an opening to cut in. "We have a better change at finding Molly faster if we part ways," she explains to me and even though she's screaming her head off, I still have to read her lips to understand what she's saying. "You take the first floor and I'm going to take the second. Call me if you find her," Michelle yells in my ear, squeezes my hand, and then I watch her march up the stairs. As much as I want to pull her back and demand that she doesn't leave me alone in this jungle, surrounded by Neanderthals and cavemen, I somehow will myself to start searching for my sister. Leave it to Molly to drag me into this.

If life was a movie, everybody would turn to stare at me like I'm a zoo animal that's escaped from its cage (although I think the most suitable term is enclosure) because I look so out of place here, but no one even gives me a second look. My classmates keep on dancing, or drinking, or making out, or all of the above. The world won't stop spinning just because I accidentally find myself at a high school party. I mean, technically, I am crashing said party since I most certainly am not invited, but I'll highlight it out of here the moment I find my sister, even if that means dragging her by her long silky hair.

After aimlessly walking around for ten minutes, I try Molly's cell again, but there's no response. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be bothered by the silence on my sister's behalf, or the fact that she doesn't return my calls, but this time she's the one who sought me out, so against my better judgment I'm getting worried about her because Molly weighs 90 pounds with wet clothes, any guy can overpower her. This thought in itself makes me shudder.

I even ask a couple of girls that I remember Molly having over at our house if they know where she is, but nobody has seen her tonight and I can't help myself but wonder if my sister's playing hide and seek with me and if she's even at this party in the first place.

A lot of people from our school are here. I can put names to some of the faces I see while others I don't think I've ever seen before. I find it hard to look away and not to replay what I've seen so far time and time again because this is officially the first high school party I've gone to and I'm way out of my depth.

In the kitchen, Wyatt Perkins, my lab partner that I used to think of as the shyest guy I've ever met, is doing a keg stand, his weight supported by a handful of other guys whose role is to make sure he doesn't lose balance, falls down, and breaks his spine.

Jensen Rosati, one of the most popular guys in school, has two half-naked girls, a blonde and a brunette, sitting in his lap and running their hands up and down his chest, trying to cop a feel.

Hayley Cross and Xander Garcia, two self-proclaimed and sworn enemies since preschool, are making out like crazy in the corner, limbs entangled and mouths fused together, like their bodies are made just for kissing.

I start losing hope that I'll ever find Molly in this mass of grinding, sweating bodies that make it hard for me to both move and breathe. It's not like I need oxygen to survive after all. To top it off, I can't help myself but think if I've already lost Michelle, too, and then I mentally kick myself in the butt for agreeing that we separated because so far I haven't made any progress finding Molly. On the contrary, I'm getting freaked out by all the stuff I saw, smelt, and heard. On the upside, I don't think I've missed out on anything by not going to any high school parties. Instead I feel like this has been a smart decision on my part, but it's not like I'm the kind of girl that gets invited to tons of parties, anyways, so do I only think that to make up for the fact that I'm not your regular partygoer, or because I genuinely feel like parties aren't my scenes when I haven't even tried it?

Before I confuse myself any further and get a headache by overthinking things so much, I head upstairs, hoping that I'll at least run in Michelle because my claustrophobia is really acting up and it won't be pretty when I finally explode like an atomic bomb. With or without Molly I'm getting out of here, which is not a very sisterly thought to have.

The music isn't quite as loud up here, but the second floor of this gigantic house that gives the White House a run for its money reminds me of a labyrinth. It definitely doesn't ease my claustrophobia, but at least there aren't many people loitering around, even though I do get a few weird looks from my fellow peers for two reasons mainly: first, I'm not drunk and swaying on my feet like they are, and second, I'm barging in already occupied bedrooms and asking for my sister. Eventually, I finally find an empty room and switching on the lights, I go inside, deciding to take a breather because tonight isn't like anything I imagined when the day started this morning.

I should've stayed home, I muse to myself before I take a quick look around and find myself into an even more peculiar (for a lack of better term) predicament. I'm in a boy's bedroom and this turns out to be a night of many firsts because I've only ever been into Todd's bedroom, but he doesn't really count since I don't consider him to be a member of the opposite sex. This bedroom, however, looks nothing like Todd's and if you knew Todd as well as me, you'd also know that I'm saying this as a good thing. The floor in Todd's room has clothes strewn all over it, the bed is always unmade, crumpled pieces of paper can be found everywhere, and there's always the lingering smell of dirty socks that hangs in the air. This room is tidy, and neat, and smells of deodorant and… well, boy.

As I look at the pictures on the walls, I realize that I'm not in any boy's bedroom, though. I'm actually in Micah Hayes' house, standing smack in the middle of his bedroom.

A lot of girls fantasize about being in his room, but there are two essential details missing: Micah himself and the fact that I didn't mean to come into his room to begin with. What's more, I'm supposed to be looking for my younger sister and not sniffing around boys' bedrooms.

Great, the last thing I need right now is for people to think I'm some sort of stalker. I don't even mean to stalk the guy, it just so happens that lately I've been stalking him more so than acceptable. Not that it's acceptable to stalk people, but there must be certain circumstances when that isn't such a sketchy thing to do, right?

No, not really, but please bear with me for the moment.

Lost in my inner musings, I almost don't hear the doorknob turn.

Panicking, I frantically glance around, searching for a good hiding spot. When my wild eyes land on the shutter door wardrobe behind my back, I make a run for it and once safely inside, I sigh in relief because I may not be caught after all. There's still a chance I don't get dubbed the school's social pariah with Peeping Tom tendencies.

A girl and a boy walk in, even though the more accurate word for what they're doing is really stumbling. A curtain of honey brown hair hangs in front of the girl's face, so I can't identify her, but the boy with her I recognize all too well. Considering that this is his room after all, I shouldn't be surprised to see that he's brought a girl up here. This is a party and after everything that went down between him and Caroline, it's only natural that he'd be abusing his newly acquired single status. When the girl turns her face a little to the side, brushing hair away from her flushed face, I all but gasp when I realize that this is not just some random girl that's going at it with Micah, but Caroline, the same Caroline that broke up with him a few weeks ago.

The wonders simply won't cease.

The moaning, highly embarrassing and guttural noises Caroline's making in the back of her throat make me flush in embarrassment and I don't know whether to cover my mouth or my eyes because I start to feel like I've seen too much tonight and I really, really want to go home. I have bigger problems on my hands at the moment though because while watching Micah and Caroline become a mess of intertwined limbs and labored breathing, it dawns on me that they're about to have sex right here, right now while I'm hiding in Micah's closet and wishing that I could blend in the walls and disappear.

Oh, God, this is a whole new level of awkward. Even for me.

There are so many things wrong with this picture that I don't know where to start and if I do eventually start, will I ever be able to finish because my poor impressionable mind is on its sure way to get fried?

With my hand clasped over my mouth to stop the impending scream, I watch Caroline jump and wrap her finely toned legs around Micah's waist, not once taking her lips off his. He tries to balance their combined weight and doesn't even stagger when Caroline throws herself at him. He's surprisingly unresponsive really, considering that Caroline's fawning all over him and kissing every inch of bare skin she has an access to. For what's worth, Micah doesn't push her away, or makes any indication that he will put a stop to their love game, but he doesn't look like he's entirely enjoying himself, either. I may not be that good at reading people, but anyone can see that Micah's holding back. I'm both mesmerized and horrified as I watch Caroline unwrap her legs from around his waist and give him a violent push towards the king-sized bed. Scratch that, I'm simply mortified that I'm really going to be stuck in Micah Hayes' wardrobe while he and his not-quite-ex-girlfriend roll in the hay not a meter away from where I'm standing. If this is not a nightmare coming to life, I don't know what is.

Not caring about the consequences of what will happen if they find out I've been here the whole time, I quickly text Michelle to come get me before I'm scarred for life. I value my sanity way too much to give it up without a fight. If I wanted to watch porn, I'd do what every self-respected, horny teenager with nonexistent social life would do, I'd download my porn from the internet. I wouldn't be there while it's being filmed. Some things I just want to remain mysteries to me.

Caroline slides her hand under Micah's shirt before she pulls it over his head and they lock lips once again. I involuntarily blush at the sight of Micah's naked torso, not because this is another first for me, but because this is getting all too real for my liking. This is not for my eyes, I shouldn't be witnessing it. It's wrong on so many levels and if I'm a voyeur, this will be a dream come true, but I'm apparently not a voyeur because I get sick to stomach as I try to block the images about what's going to happen next out of my mind.

Caroline pushes Micah down on the bed and straddles his hips a second later when my cell phone buzzes in my back pocket and my blood runs cold because this is just my luck. What part of "don't text me, I'm locked into a room with two horny teenagers who are about to screw each other's brains out and who don't know I'm here" Michelle didn't understand?

"Did you hear that?" Micah asks confusedly, propping himself up on his elbows and trying to find the source of the noise, but then Caroline pushes him back down and attacks his lips with hers.

"I didn't hear anything," she rasps out, sliding her tongue into Micah's mouth before he turns away and for a second no one makes a sound. I'm afraid to even breathe in case Micah's able to hear me.

"Seriously, Carly, stop," Micah says in a husky voice, gently pushing Caroline off him and sitting up, "I heard something."

Caroline sighs through her nose irritably before blowing a wisp of light brown hair out of her eyes. "It's nothing," she objects, leaning down to kiss him again, but Micah must've foreseen her move because he pulls away and doesn't let their lips touch.

"What's wrong with you?" Caroline asks angrily, her blue eyes shooting daggers at Micah as she hugs herself around the middle defensively. "Don't you want to keep doing this?" she continues on, a sliver of wonder lining her usually velvety voice.

"Actually, now that you mentioned it, we can't and shouldn't keep doing it," Micah corrects her, giving her a leveled look and there's harshness to his face I've never seen before, "it doesn't feel right."

Probably anticipating that Micah's going to say something along these lines, Caroline rolls her aquamarine blue eyes at him exaggeratedly and a part of me is victorious that the two of them are no longer in a sexy mood and that I hopefully won't have to see them in their birthday suits. "Oh, god, get a hold of yourself, Micah, it's just sex," she says, glaring at the boy in question darkly.

"Just sex," he repeats quietly, testing the words on his tongue before turning back to Caroline. "So what? We're having casual sex now, is that it?" Micah asks sarcastically, trying really hard to get mad, but I start thinking about how Gwen said that he's heartbroken over Caroline and that he's just sad. I thought she's crazy and has it all wrong, but now I can't help myself but wonder. "We've been together for three years, Carly, you can't just-"

"Were," Caroline cuts him off, swinging her legs off the side of the bed and clenching the edge of the mattress, realizing that she wasn't getting any tonight, "we're broken up, remember?"

"As if you'll ever let me forget," Micah shouts, losing his temper before coming to his senses and jumping to his feet, trying to get as far away from Caroline as possible. "That's why I can't keep hopping into bed with you," he says in a considerably calmer and more controlled voice, running his fingers through his messy blond hair and avoiding Caroline's intense blue-eyed gaze.

So, this is not the first time they've done the deed since they broke up and yet a part of me is surprised that they keep seeing each other without the gossip mill catching wind of the news.

Caroline takes a deep breath, slowly gets up, and goes over to Micah who doesn't flinch away when she lays a hand on his arm. "Stop overanalyzing everything. Just go with it," she says in a breathless whisper and I almost expect her to try to kiss him again, but she doesn't. She merely buries her bony fingers into his hair and starts playing with it.

In my mind, I'm screaming, "Keep overanalyzing this, don't go with it, don't hop into bed with her…" simply because of my purely selfish reasons. By refusing her, Micah would save me thousands of bucks on mental help.

"Go with it?" Micah snorts before rolling his eyes at her and looking away. "I don't want to go with it. Make up your mind, Carly," Micah finally says, his eyes blazing as he steps away from her. "You're either with me or you aren't," he concludes, his voice ringing with such finality that I have to hand it to him – his voice alone is capable of making my knees wobble.

Caroline takes her sweet time answering. She holds his gaze defiantly, expecting him to crack and change his mind, but Micah doesn't take his words back and doesn't jump her bones. When she finally speaks, Caroline's words pierce through the silence like knives, "I'm not getting back together with you," she assures him, shaking her head and leaving no doubt in my mind that she means every word she says and that this is not an act, "I don't want to. I already wasted three years of my life being in a relationship with you and I'm not giving you a minute more," she says in a clipping voice and both me and Micah cringe when she says that she's wasted three years on him, as if being in a relationship with Micah Hastings is some kind of imprisonment, punishment even. I feel bad for Micah because I can tell that Caroline's words hurt him more than he lets on, but his stupid pride's getting in the way of the pain that's tearing him apart on the inside, although Caroline can't see that because she's not an unbiased witness like me.

"Then, I guess it's time you went home," Micah tells her in a voice that's as calm as it's deadly before he puts his shirt back on.

"I guess it is," Caroline agrees, giving him one last look over her shoulder before she picks her handbag off the ground and leaves the room. My unfocused eyes follow every moment she makes until she's out the door, so when I finally glance back at Micah, I belatedly realize that he's staring straight at me. The rational part of my brain tells me that there's no way he can see me, but I have a hunch that he's known I've been hiding there this whole time and not saying a word about it to Caroline. At the prospect of getting caught, my heart jumps in my throat and I'm afraid of what Micah might do because he just got dumped for a second time and I was there witnessing it all.

I expect him to cause a big and ugly scene, marching up to the wardrobe and throwing the doors open, grabbing me by the hair and pulling me out of my hiding place before throwing me down the stairs. Consumed by thoughts about what he might do, given the opportunity, I'm more than surprised when Micah doesn't do anything. He sighs deeply, rubs his knuckles over his eyes, and then walks out the room without breathing a word to me.