Chapter Twenty-One

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I could have left the pub, I really could have. I should have gone back home and sorted things out with my family, but I didn't. Instead I sat back down at that bar, and did they only thing I knew how to these days—I ordered another drink.

Then another, then another.

This had been a stupid mistake; I should never have come back here. Now I'd fallen out with my family, yelled at my friend, and I felt shittier than ever. Again, I'd messed up my second chance, and of course I had no idea what to do about it.

Maybe if I was a better person, I could have sorted all of this out. But I wasn't, and I never would be.

I just couldn't stop myself from acting rashly, even when I knew the consequences were going to be unbearable and long-lasting. What the hell was wrong with me? I dwelled on that question for a long time, unable to come to any solid conclusion.

Before long, a vaguely familiar face was sitting next to me, talking to me about school. It was clearly someone that I'd known a while back, but I had no idea who it was now. However, the more I drank, the more attractive his features became, and the closer I felt to him. Suddenly, his annoying laugh became endearing, and his insistence of trying to be my friend became cute. He was the only one being nice to me and for that reason alone, I wanted him.

I wanted him to make me feel better, even though I knew it was unlikely that he could.

I decided that I would kiss him. Somewhere in my fuzzy brain that clearly wasn't thinking straight, I chose to—in a very drunken, ungainly fashion—to lurch for him...

...Just to be stopped by my stepfather, like a naughty school girl who'd been found behind the bike sheds.

"Lara." Carter snapped, dragging me backwards. "What the hell is wrong with you? You left your mother behind crying at home, just to come here to get stupidly drunk and paw some idiot guy?"

"Hey!" The idiot guy yelled out, but Carter shut him down quickly.

"Just keep out of it you, unless you want some home truths too." With that, I watched the coward sneak off, leaving me to take all of the blame. "Now, come on home. I've been looking everywhere for you, I've been out for hours."

He screamed at me all the way home, and I let him do it. I didn't even roll my eyes or snap back. I just couldn't be bothered. I'd dwindled into the exhausted stage of drunk, and once I was there, all I could was sleep it off. I didn't have the energy for a fight. Not even this one.

Unfortunately, rest was a long way off because Carter and my mum had a whole lot to say to me, and they felt like right now was the right time for that. It quickly turned from a relatively normal chat into one of those arguments where everything became blurry and distorted, where we all lost track of what we were saying. Everything that was within me, everything that I'd been through, almost came bubbling to the surface, but I forced myself to keep inside. I couldn't let any of it out. Once I opened those floodgates, I didn't think there would be any shutting them, and I didn't want my mum to have to witness me breaking down like that.

I did say all kinds of awful things that I didn't really mean, then I tried to retract them all, to have a normal conversation, but I was too drunk and confused for anything to sound rational. Every word I spoke managed to sound bitchy and pissed off, even when I didn't mean them that way.

In the end, I burst into sobbing tears, and my mother sent me to her bed for a long, descent night of rest. I wasn't sure where her and Carter were going to sleep, but I was too tired to even ask. Once I was under the sheets, I expected emotion to build up inside me all over again, but I passed out within seconds.

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