Chapter Fifteen

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This encounter felt wholly different. For starters, I couldn't even remember the name of this guy—I wasn't totally sure that we'd even exchanged names—and for another, there was no kissing, no tenderness. It just sort of...happened.

We had a laugh at the pub, and when last call was announced, we just sort of drifted back to his place, still chuckling at our stupid, completely ridiculous conversation. None of it had been personal, it had all been pure fun, and that was exactly what I had needed at the time.

Now, I found myself lying here, looking at the sleeping back of this complete and utter stranger, wondering what the hell I was playing at. There were so many times I could have made the smart decision to not sleep with this guy. Okay, I'd been very drunk, but not wasted enough to not know what I was doing. I did it because I thought it would make me feel better, but it didn't. Not at all.

When I hooked up with Charlie, that was on a whim too, but I'd felt something for him deep down. There had been a serious connection between the pair of us, which had sparked from very first sight. I felt nothing for that guy. Not at all. And now the fact that we'd had sex made me feel dirty, used and useless.

Always useless.

What the hell was going on with me? Why did I keep acting so out of character?

Not that I really had a character. Maybe this was me after all. Maybe I was slutty; I'd just never known it until now.

I had a text message from Kimberly sitting in my phone, but I hadn't even looked at it yet. I was too ashamed to tell her how badly the date had gone, and what I'd done afterwards. I didn't want to drag her into the mess I'd created. She would be ashamed of me, or try to help me, neither of which I could handle. I'd already been helped so much in my life, and it hadn't exactly gotten my anywhere. I needed to sort my own life out.

Not that I was getting very far with that either.

I'd thought that's what I was doing. Earlier tonight, I'd been convinced that I was moving forward in a positive way, but it seemed that now I was pushing everything to the brink, trying to find some version of myself that didn't exist.

I didn't exist. I hadn't existed for a very long time. I could no longer relate to the 'sick girl', and I couldn't remember the person I'd been beforehand either. I hadn't been anyone since, so really, I was no one.

Nothing.

When I'd made the solid decision to make an effort about this living thing, I'd assumed that it was going to be easy. I thought it was all going to be positive and fun, I didn't account for the challenges I would face along the way. I hadn't expected to come across anything to be honest; I thought all the hard stuff was behind me.

How naive I was!

As the stranger slumped by my side starting snoring heavily, the tears started to fall. I'd been numb for so long that I was trying to feel something, and I took that way too far. I hadn't been able to cope with Charlie rejecting me, and I'd failed in finding a new way to feel good. I felt far worse, and I wasn't sure how to move forward from that—or if it was even possible.

As I wept, I snuck out of the stranger's bed and quickly chucked my clothes on. There was no way that I could sleep here, even if I want to—which I definitely didn't. I couldn't wake up with a nameless man, not a chance! I wanted to get as far away from this nightmare as possible. I needed to be in my own bedroom, where I could make some solid decisions about what the future held for me.

As I rushed out onto the streets, still feeling a little drunk, the cold air hit me hard. It rushed past my skin, almost scarring it as I practically ran as far away from this building as quickly as I could. I wanted to be home now. I wanted to shower. To wash this entire experience off of me. I didn't ever want to put myself in a situation like that ever again. I vowed never be so stupid, get so out of control. I just wouldn't allow it to happen. I would learn from this, I had to.

***

The hot water poured over my head, instantly making me feel a little calmer and more in control of myself. The tears were still streaming down my face, but now they didn't seem to have so much power over me. I could put a stop to all of this. It wasn't exactly like I was out of my depth completely; I'd just made a stupid mistake. There was no need to get so panicked.

Okay, I'd had a one night stand with someone I liked—then totally messed that up. Then I'd slept with someone I didn't know or liked, but it wasn't the end of the world. I wouldn't be the first person to make that error, and I certainly wouldn't be the last either. I needed to put it in perspective. 

I scrubbed my skin, hard, wanting to wash all of the stains of the night from me. As soon as I'd had a sleep, I decided that I would contact all of my friends and concentrate on the positive aspects that I'd been working towards. There was no reason to allow this to stop all of the good things that had been happening for me.

I could carry on down the path I'd been carving. 

After this pep talk, I started to feel a little better. It was fine. I would be fine at any rate. I needed to make sure of that.

Maybe I would even ring my mother...

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