26. Nick

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Nick stops at the keg to get a drink before walking back to Bailey. He did eventually find her a water bottle.

He feels a fresh wave of anger hit him when he sees that she's still fucking talking to Derek. The guy abandons her at prom, and Nick steps up to help her, but she's still patting his shoulder like they're fucking best friends.

So the truth is that Nick should be thanking the guy. Because of him, Nick got to dance with Bailey, and it was one of the best moments of his life. And the guy is actually hilarious. He's had Nick cracking up more than once while sharing a joint or two.

Nick's anger subsides slightly when Bailey sees him approach, and it causes an automatic, earth-shattering smile. How can he stay mad when she looks so happy to see him?

He hands her the bottle, but Derek is in his seat. He has no choice but to walk away, or stand awkwardly hovering over the two of them. "Derek, scoot over. You're in Nick's spot," Bailey says, eyes never leaving Nick's.

Derek eyes the two of them like he's watching a tennis match. "Um...actually, I think I'm going to hit up the dance floor. See ya, Bai."

Bai? Since when is she "Bai" to him? He barely fucking knows her. But before Nick has too much time to seethe on that, Derek hops up and Bailey pulls Nick down next to her.

"You were gone a long time," she whispers directly in his ear.

Shit. He looks away from her, "Yeah. I got distracted, I guess."

"I have a confession to make," she blurts out.

That makes two of us.

She looks down at her hands and bites her bottom lip. Why is she nervous? "The truth is, earlier, when I said I was...thirsty. That's not really what I wanted to say."

She is so damn cute. "Yeah I maybe thought so," he says, teasing. He knew she had something on her mind.

"The truth is I wanted to thank you, for the dance."

"That was no problem, really." Talk about an understatement.

"And I wanted to tell you, that I felt something...here." She takes his hand and places it in the center of her chest. "I know that's corny as hell, Nick, but I just can't articulate the words right now, my mind's all fuzzy."

"I get it." And he does. What he feels for her is tough to put into words even when he's sober.

"And I wanted to know..." she trails off.

"If I did too?" He finishes for her, and she gratefully nods.

He brings his forehead to hers and touches a strand of her hair, playing with it between his fingers. "More than you could know."

That familiar smile takes over her face once again, "Really?"

"Everyone knows tequila is a truth serum," he says, matching her smile.

"Yeah, but you didn't even have that much."

Nick runs his hand along her cheek. "It's true."

She smiles again, and fuck if that doesn't make him want to confess everything he feels for her, everything he's felt since he was twelve years old.

"I didn't tell you earlier, but you looked so beautiful tonight. I couldn't take my eyes off of you. I still can't."

She bites her lip, "Thank you, Nick. You looked very handsome too. I wanted to tell you, but Ian was like always there."

He doesn't want to talk about Ian. "The gym looked good too. Very...pretty?" He asks, laughing. "I'm not sure what adjective you're supposed to use when referring to a gym."

She laughs loudly, louder than she had for Derek. "You know, you're the first one to say anything about the decorations. Not a single person has mentioned them. So thank you."

The truth was that Nick had been so consumed by Bailey, he hadn't even noticed his surroundings, but he knew how hard she had worked on it.

Sitting here with her, talking truthfully and laughing, it's giving him hope that maybe they could do this. They could tell Ian, and her parents, and the whole fucking world, and it would be okay. It may just be the alcohol coursing through their veins, though. In fact, that's probably it.

He wants to kiss her right now, so fucking bad it hurts, but this is not the place. People may not be paying attention to them now, but it may attract some stares if they started making out in the middle of the party.

He wonders where she's sleeping tonight. He doesn't think she packed a tent, but she was probably planning on staying with a friend or something. He wonders if he can convince her to stay in the car with him. How would that work? Could they both fit in the back seat? Or maybe she could lie on top of him? He would love the pressure of her tiny body on his chest.

Bailey breaks his train of thought, "Do you want to tell me why Ginny is staring at us with that smug fucking look on her face?"

Nick looks across the clearing, and, sure enough, Ginny is looking at them with a fake ass grin. When she sees Nick look at her, she gives a little wave that she must assume is charming.

While talking to Bailey, Nick had completely forgotten about what he'd done.

His first instinct is to lie, but he knows Ginny will spread that shit everywhere. He decides to be honest before Bailey hears it from someone else. "When I went to get your water, Ginny followed me, I guess."

Bailey backs away from him slightly, and he feels the coldness on his arm. "Why? What did she want?"

"You want the truth?"

She doesn't answer him, just keeps staring, eyes pouring into him.

"Okay, well the truth is, I'm pretty sure she wanted to fuck me."

He's never seen Bailey flinch at the word "fuck" before, but she does this time. He immediately regrets his choice of words. Wrapping her arms around herself, she looks down at her lap. "And...did you, you know, fuck her? Is that why you were gone so long?

Nick feels like he's been slapped. "God, no, Bailey," he presses his fingers into her chin, raising it to face him. "I didn't, I swear."

She visibly relaxes. "Oh thank God..."

"We just made out a little."

"What?"

He tries to play it off like nothing. "We just kissed...a little."

He doesn't even know why he did it. Yeah, he was drunk and pissed off, but that's no excuse. And honestly, it was awful. It was sloppy and messy, and Nick just went through the motions until it was over. It wasn't anything compared to what Bailey and he have had—not even on the same planet.

Bailey is silent. She just keeps staring at him with those damn blue eyes that see straight to his fucking soul.

"Speak, Bailey, please. Say something, anything."

Instead of screaming at him like Nick expected, she does the worst thing he can think of. She calmly stands up, and walks away.

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