[4] I'm Not Stubborn

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'Come back. Now.'

Three short words, heavy enough to bring me to my knees. I lean against the sliding door of the shoe closet, eyes skimming over the text again and again. It's not what Will has said that's terrifying- quite the opposite actually.

I take a deep breath and drag myself outside, onto the wrap around porch. Once I've snuggled onto the grey wicker love seat, I press dial. I need to hear the 'or else' part myself.

He answers after a few tones, voice sharper than I remember, as if he has a lemon in his mouth. "What do you want?" he asks. No hello, but I know its because he believes I don't deserve one.

"No," I choke out. Wow, I know I'm not a very verbose lady but damn, that just now made the cookie monster sound eloquent.

"What?"

"I won't come back." Lie, I'll be back in two weeks. But he doesn't need to know that.

Will sighs and I hear something clatter in the background. "Maddy, I hate when you're like this. Stubborn and unreasonable. Do you know how hard this is for me? Be considerate, for once." He pauses, then adds, "just come back. My parents won't say anything."

"And Duke's grandfather, the senator?" I had only seen a glimpse of him through his black Mercedes, bald with a piercing glare- just like an eagle, only meaner and less refined.

"That has nothing to do with me."

Of course Will is wiping his hands clean of this, I expected as much. I shift in my seat, resting my chin on the back of my hand. "What does it matter to you?"

Instead of a verbal response, I get a frustrated groan. "Because it reflects badly on me! I can't be the guy who dated a runaway. It casts doubt on my character judgment. Dammit Maddy, come on!"

I'd be stunned if I wasn't so angry. There are a million things I want to say to this douche bag. Even more, I want to yell at myself for making out with him in the first place. For being stupid enough to fall for his cheekbones knowing he's generally a crappy person.

"And if I don't come?"

Silence. For the longest time all I hear is heavy breathing. Finally, he says, "you know what I'll do."

"I need to hear you say it."

"I'll release your pictures. And once something like that is out, it's out forever. I will see you at the game this Thursday, you have until then." With that he hangs up.

I... what am I going to do? Is it really so important for me to take a breather? Maybe I should go back, deal with my mess like a grown up. But I can't give in to Will. But what about my dad? He'll be the sheriff whose daughter's nudes got released. Well, not even nudes since I didn't take them or send them; Will took them without my permission. But the fact remains, they're unsavory pictures of me.

My thoughts circle back to my dad, the familiar ache returning. I've already given that man enough wrinkles from worrying every time I screwed up, enough bruises from catching me every time I repeated my fall from grace- I can't add a broken heart to the list.

I can't risk defying Will, but my hubris won't let me go back. Yet every time I think I've found a solution, it slips right out of my grasp. Eventually I'll have to admit that there is no answer. For now, I don't want to think about it.

The front door swings open and Collette steps out, with Jay and Atty in tow. She turns to me, ready to say something. Then she stops for a second, gazing at me.

"Honey are you okay?"

I have no idea what she's talking about it. There's no way my conversation could be heard inside. Am I what they call an open book?! When I scrunch my eyebrows, I feel a tear roll down my cheek. Oh.

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