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Caitlyn looks up at Dani. "Can you help me out of this car first?"

She nods. "Of course. Hang on, one sec."

Dani kneels down to help Caitlyn out.

"Wait!" I stop her, and turn to Caitlyn. "How do we know you're not going to run away again?"

Caitlyn rolls her puffy eyes and gestures to the dark bushland surrounding us. "Where would I go? You lot would find me eventually and keep pestering until I gave in anyway."

She has a point. "Fine."

Dani helps her out of the car and sits beside her on a nearby log. I sit on the grass in front of them and look Caitlyn in the eyes. "Everything - start to finish. No questions left unanswered, got it?"

"Jesus Christ, I've got it. Just let me speak."

"Go ahead."

Dani begins to rub Caitlyn's back comfortingly as she begins to speak.

"Lola was at my house one night, just the two of us. She'd asked to come over, so I let her. We were just sitting in my room, talking about anything and everything. I had a big bottle of raspberry vodka ready for the next party and we opened it up and started drinking. Then...she said she wanted to go for a walk. She seemed nervous about something. It probably wasn't the safest thing to go out walking late at night, but we were both a little tipsy from the vodka so we went out to the big park down the end of my street."

I frown. "And this was all her idea?"

"Yes. I told you. This is hard enough without you interrupting every five seconds. So we were walking through the park and taking turns sipping from the bottle, when Lola stopped me. We sat down on a nearby swingset, and she said she had to tell me something."

Dani snakes an arm around her. "Was it...you know?"

Caitlyn ignores her. "She told me that she'd been in love with me for years and she wanted to tell me before high school was over."

So Caitlyn knew all along. I lean forward. "How did you take it?"

"Well it's not exactly what I was expecting to hear. I was shocked. I had no idea what to do. I wasn't thinking."

Dani shuffles closer to her. "Caitlyn, it's okay. Even if you said some bad things, it doesn't make all this your fault."

Tears start trickling down Caitlyn's face again. "I told her she was freaking me out and that she'd ruined everything, and that I couldn't go on being friends with someone who would always be secretly perving on me like a creep."

Dani draws in a sharp breath as a wave of disgust hits me. "You realise that Lola liking you did not mean she had a complete lack of respect or self control, right? You cannot be serious. Imagine how hard that would have been for her to tell you."

Caitlyn starts shaking as the tears continue to flow. "I know. I know. I shouldn't have said it but I did. I wasn't thinking straight. And Lola got angry. She told me that she couldn't believe how little I thought of her, and she said she never wanted to see me again and that she was going to tell everyone at school what a bigot I was."

Even watching Caitlyn in such a state of hysteria doesn't evoke any sympathy from me. "Then what?"

"I thought my life was over. My reputation was all I had. I couldn't handle the thought of being hated. I had to stay in control. I had to stay at the top."

Dani looks scared. "Caitlyn, what did you do?"

Caitlyn sucks in a breath between sobs. "I wanted her to forget everything I had said. I wanted things to go back to normal. I told her I was sorry and that I still wanted to be her friend. She seemed to calm down, but I wasn't sure if she was buying it or not. So I gave her the bottle of vodka and told her to drink until she felt better. I was hoping she'd get so drunk that she'd forget any of this ever happened.

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