Chapter 21

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Zach

Did I go after her? I didn't know what to do so I panicked. I paced the apartment, my heart beating so loud I could barely string a thought together.

Fucking Bianca!

I should have listened to Genie and destroyed the video. It would have been out of our lives, and I could've taken my chances with Bianca. Or I should have lied and told Emma there wasn't a video, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Besides, she'd see through it. She knew me too well.

I grabbed my phone and texted Genie. She'd know what to do. I paced some more. I looked at my phone. Nothing from Genie.

Me: Please come back. We can talk about this.

Did I expect Emma to text me back? It was clear she thought I was the biggest piece of shit to ever live. And worse, she had the video. I knew I could trust her with it, but what if she lost it? Or worse, gave it someone I couldn't trust . . . or she gave it to Bianca. I closed my eyes and took in a few deep breaths. I was losing my shit. If I didn't pull it together, I'd do something stupid.

My first thought was a beer, to settle my nerves. I'd need ten fucking beers at this point to keep it together. A thousand thoughts clouded my head. What if Emma went to the cops? My life would be over. Mom and Dad would kill me. Law school out the window. Then the other guys would get on my case, worried I'd rat them out.

Stop.

I gulped most of the beer, wishing we had some hard stuff. Shit, not even any rye. I finished the beer and grabbed another. I'd kill for a rye and Coke, to take off the edge.

My head cleared for a moment. Emma wouldn't go to the cops. She wouldn't do that to me. Or would she? She loved me but this might have been a deal breaker. She was too good for me and too good for this. I was going to lose her, I knew it. That look on her face . . . pure disgust.

And if she gave the video to Bianca? I'd like to think she'd destroy it, but what if she turned the tables on me? Held it over my head? I'd reason with Emma, try to get the thing back before it ended up anywhere. Beg her if I had to. And if it ended up somewhere else? Bianca would suffer before I did, at least until she fingered me and all the guys. She'd love taking us down with her.

I checked my phone. No reply from Genie or Emma.

I grabbed my jacket. I thought to drive to the store to get my booze, but I'd downed two beers in quick succession. Driving wasn't worth the risk. I got outside and a north wind whipped up into my face like a thousand little needles. I wrapped my jacket tighter around me and walked the mile or so the liquor store. A few people were milling around and no one took notice of me. I grabbed a bottle of rye and headed to the counter. I stopped, went back and grabbed another. I slapped them down on the counter and the bored middle-aged attendant barely noticed me. I handed him cash and left. I nearly jogged home, checking my phone a few times. Nothing. I texted Genie again. I even called her, but got voicemail.

Where the hell was she?

I got home, slammed down a glass and poured myself a liberal helping. For good measure, I threw in some Coke. I drank it and when I was finished, I felt the heat warm me, calm me down a little. I poured another glass but decided to take my time. Falling down drunk wasn't an option.

I sat in the living room, staring at an empty television screen, sipping my rye and wondering if I'd lost the only girl I'd ever loved. The girl who could make me smile every time she walked into a room or heard her voice on the phone. A girl I looked forward to sleeping next to every night. Who made me try eggplant and learn to love it. A girl who trusted me up until an hour ago.

A sick feeling formed in the pit of my stomach. Like a snake, it coiled itself around inside me, threatening to suffocate me. She was going to leave me, I just knew it. And if she left me, then what? Emma was a once-in-a-lifetime girl, the kind you get one shot at.

I picked up my phone again. Another text to Genie. I tapped my fingers on my thigh, waiting and stewing. More rye. I took my phone and stared at it before dialing.

She answered on the third ring.

"Hello, Bianca."

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