I've heard enough about love

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The door shuts between me and Henry. Right now, I could hate Ben for getting to keep him.

Instead of slamming my fist against the door and screaming, I hold my breath and climb the stairs to my room. Each step wrecks me like a hot iron pole is being shoved up between my thighs but I can't stop moving—not yet. I need to be alone.

I throw my rucksack onto my bed and crash into the door to the en suite, stumbling over my feet in a rush to get to the toilet.

It's a close call between throwing up and passing out. I think I lose consciousness, but only for a moment. The wall tiles are still cool when I sit up away from them, and a squint at my phone tells me I only left the taxi five minutes ago.

I think I'm going to text Henry but my thumb drifts to call Stacey.


An hour later, I'm drifting in and out of sleep with my head on her lap and her fingers brushing through my dark hair.

"I can't believe you didn't call me sooner," she whispers, pressing the palm of her other hand to the cramping muscles of my lower back. I narrowly avoid moaning.

"I didn't want to upset you," I say, through tight teeth. "I didn't think it mattered."

I stretch, regret it instantly, and tug my knees into my chest like they're going to pull me back together.

"It doesn't," she says slowly, "but I want to be here for you. All the time—not just when you don't want to be alone."

I close my eyes. "Thanks, Stace."

She's quiet, teasing knots from my hair and massaging my back like she knows exactly where it hurts. And, God, it hurts. I thought we'd passed the worst of it in the hospital, but this is—

This is—

"Rose?" She squeaks, fingers fluttering. "Rose, are you okay?"

I moan and twist to face the bed, pressing my lips against her thigh.

"I've never seen you cry."

She sounds tight—nervous. And it hurts. She's so worried about me, and she smells so sweet, and her hands are warm and gentle—

"Hey, I'm gonna stay with you all night," she promises, sliding her hand under my jumper to rub into my skin. "We'll order in pizza and you can eat whenever you feel up to it. I'm not letting you be alone, so I'll be here all night. And I don't—I don't mind if you bleed on me, hon. I don't care."

I hook my arm around her back and relax, letting sobs rip through my chest and using the soft blue of her jeans to catch my tears.

She's here. When I needed the most I've ever needed in my life, she's here. Her hands must be magic, because the pain is still agonising but I can bear it.

With Stacey, I can bear anything.

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