chapter seven

“Cassie...” AJ began as I slowly pulled away from him. I stared at him in pure horror.

“Cass--” he said again, reaching his hand out to me.

“Don’t.” I said, stepping back farther. I felt the hot tears sting my eyes. Memories came flashing back, overwhelming me.

“Cass, please.”

“Stop it. Just....just stop it.” I said, shaking my head, refusing to believe.

“Cassie, I’m...” AJ started again, coming closer.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!” I yelled suddenly. The tears flowed from my eyes then, obscuring my view. I raced back to the table and grabbed my bag before heading towards the exit.

“Cass!” Jay shouted.

“Cassie! Cassie, wait!” Nick screamed.

“Cass, get back here!” my sister’s shrill voice echoed in my ears. I couldn’t listen to them, not now. I had to get away from that place, from the crowd, from...HIM.

“Cass hold up!” Kevin called. I paid him no heed as I prepared to push the doors open.

“CASSANDRA!” AJ’s voice rang. I turned briefly to see him racing after me. I help up my hand to ward him off.


He froze instantly, and I saw him cringe. ‘Good,’ I thought. ‘Serves him right.’ With that, I left the club, and headed towards my sister’s car.

I opened the door to the driver’s side. Unable to control myself until I got inside, I rested my head on the hood of the car and let the tears flow. I stood there crying for what seemed to be an eternity, not knowing what else to do.

I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder and turned defensively, expecting the worst. I found myself staring into a pair of intense blue eyes, ones that seemed full of genuine concern.

“Nick,” I said, wiping my eyes quickly. “What are you doing out here?”

“I wanna ask you the same thing.”

“I have to go home now, its been a long day, and--”

“Cassie,” he began. “Don’t lie.” He held his arms out and I immediately walked into them, flinging my arms around his waist. I resumed my crying, letting out all my frustration in body shaking sobs.

Nick tightened his grip on me, stroking the back of my head lightly. I was thankful for his patience, for his understanding. He rested his chin atop my head and sighed.

“Cassie, what happened back there?”

“Nick, I’m sorry,” I began. “I just can’t talk about it. Not now anyway.”

“Its OK,” he said. “Lets get you home.”

I handed him my keys and climbed into the passenger’s side of the car. Aside from giving him directions to my house, I remained silent. Amidst the cruel realization back at the club, the raw emotion I had heard in Nick’s voice in the parking lot had shaken me as well. The significance of it, I wasn’t sure of yet, but I felt the need to find out.

When we got to my house I invited him in and offered him something to drink, which he refused.

“I’m OK, thanks,” he said. “I’m just worried about you.”

“I’m all right Nick, I guess I’m just tired.”

“No, thats not it,” he said, sitting next to me on the couch in my living room. “What triggered those actions of yours? What made you yell at AJ like that?”

I sighed and began telling Nick my story. I told him how I had been teased for being overweight since I was 6 years old, how the teasing soon started to grow physically harmful to me, the shoving, kicking and punching. I told him how my mother sent me to live with my father and Keri in California when I was 12, to put an end to the harassment. I also told him how in California I had come to terms with myself, and made amazing friends, and grew incredibly close to my sister during the 6 years we were together, and how she had left me behind 2 years ago to work at the station. How I had left the overweight child behind once I matured, and how I made my way back to Orlando when Keri had called me two and a half months ago with a position at the radio station.

“And the thing thats really disturbing,” I continued. “Is that your friend was the one who harassed me, up until the day I left Orlando.”

“AJ?” Nick asked, wide eyed. “How..why...I don’t get it...”

“Well, it was him, Nick. He started when I was six, and recruited one of his friends when I was eight, then the two of them continued up until I left. AJ was there to give me one last teasing, just minutes before I left for the airport.”

“Unbelievable,” Nick whispered. “To think that you went through all of that...”

“But it didn’t go downhill for me, as you know. I lived with Dad and Keri then, and it was the best thing that had happened to me. I really grew up in California, and although the memories never left my mind, I didn’t let them get the best of me, not once.”

“You’re a strong person, Cass. I’m glad things turned out for the best. But what are you gonna do now?”

“I don’t know,” I told Nick. “I don’t think I wanna see him again, so soon anyway. Tonight I did the worst thing I could have done.”

“What did you do?” Nick asked, getting worried.

“I started to fall for him,” I told him simply. “I started to fall for AJ.”

[Chapter 06 | chapter index | chapter 08]