Chapter Twelve

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I cracked open a sleep-crusted eye and winced. It felt like there were sledgehammers pounding into my head. My mouth was fuzzy and foul-tasting. At least I'd made it home and hadn't passed out at the party - my eyes snapped open. I had passed out at the party. The cream-coloured ceiling and the cracked plaster cornices were not mine. This was not my bedroom.  

Memories trickled into my aching head: the dance with Brandon, the punch, Georgia...and Luke. I had collapsed in his arms. There was no way he would have taken me home in that state, and I wasn't at Riley's, which could only mean one thing. I was at Luke's house. I was in Luke's bed.  

A frisson of fear and elation skittered through me.  

Luke's bed was a single, a plain wooden structure with dark blue pillows and covers. It was tucked into the corner of the room, opposite an equally plain wardrobe. There were two doors in the far wall; one was slightly ajar, offering a glimpse of a small en suite. The windows behind me took up half the wall but they were covered with thick black curtains. To keep the daylight out, I realised. And by the window...my heart skipped. Luke was curled in a chair by the window, his head resting on his hand. The chair looked too small for his long, lean frame, and I felt a pang of guilt that my drunkenness had cost him his bed.  

My drunkenness.  

Shame rolled over me as the night before pieced itself together in my mind. I had totally humiliated myself. How could I ever look Luke in the eye again? 

I stared at him. His left arm was locked round his knees as if to keep himself from falling out of the chair. His black hair was mussed like he'd been running his fingers through it. He looked so peaceful in sleep, his face relaxed, the line of his mouth softened. That funny warm feeling spread through me again. I could have stared at him for hours, memorising every tiny detail.  

My stomach had other ideas. 

When I tried to sit up, my stomach bucked and dipped as if I was on the downwards plunge of a massive rollercoaster. All the alcohol I'd chugged the night before was stagnating in my stomach and when I shifted, it lurched up into my throat. 

The bathroom was just a few feet away. I ran for it. My shoulder hit the door all the way open, then I was on my knees in front of the toilet, hurling the contents of my stomach into the porcelain bowl. Vomit burned my throat and brought hot tears to my eyes.  

Then there was a hand on my back, rubbing soothing circles. Another hand held my hair back from my face. I could hear Luke's voice murmuring softly to me, but the roaring in my ears swallowed his words. My fingers clutched the toilet seat as my stomach continued to heave, tossing up everything it contained. It seemed to go on for hours. 

Finally I slid to the floor, shaking and exhausted. There was cold sweat on my face. 

Luke slipped his arm under my shoulders, easing me into a sitting position. I wanted to turn my head away, hide my face behind a curtain of hair, but Luke was still holding my hair back. I settled for staring blankly at the floor. Anything but look at him. God, what must he think of me? I couldn't bear the thought of meeting his eyes and seeing disgust there. 

I heard the sound of running water, then Luke pressed a damp flannel to my face. It mopped the sweat off my skin but wasn't enough to cool the shame scalding my cheeks. This couldn't get much worse. 

"Do you feel better now?" Luke quietly asked. 

I nodded. Now my stomach had emptied itself, it didn't feel like it was on a theme-park ride. I was weak and queasy and humiliated beyond all belief, but at least I wasn't going to vomit again.  

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