Lightning Bay (Love's Battlefield): Episode 9
Confessions - The Secret is Out
It takes me less than a second to regret walking out of the kitchen with Wayne. Okay, so I probably succeeded in pissing off Cam, something I was desperate to do a moment ago. But now I’m stuck with the arsehole that made a bet about my virginity and helped Cam belittle me all week.
Way to go, Kia.
Wayne cranes his head around, searching the crowd, presumably trying to locate Jo and Evan. “Did you see which way your friends went?”
“Let’s look around then. Do you want to try inside or outside first?”
“Ah, inside. I doubt they went outside without telling me. I’ll go upstairs and look. Thanks for your help.”
The smile Wayne shoots me is filled with a confidence level that heightens my anxiety and tempts me to run back to the kitchen. “Don’t thank me yet. We haven’t found them.”
I force a polite smile. “That’s all right, I can search for them myself rather than keeping you from partying.”
Wayne’s mouth turns down at the corners. “I told you, I want to help.”
“Wayne, I really don’t need…”
I trail off as his gaze hardens.
“I insist, Kia. I couldn’t possibly abandon a damsel in distress.”
The cold calculation in his eyes combined with the smarmy smile that follows his delivery makes me shiver. Damn it, I don’t want to go outside with him, and I definitely don’t want to go upstairs with him. If we end up in a bedroom, he’s going to do his best to win the bet.
“Come on,” he says, pushing me towards the stairs now with his hand on my back. “I thought I saw a girl who looked like Jo go up the stairs after I walked in.”
I stop and turn to him. “Way-”
“Shh.” He hushes me by putting his finger over my mouth, pressing my lips into my teeth. “You’re not getting rid of me.”
The knot in my stomach grows. Cam warned me, he shook his head at me, telling me not to go with Wayne. My desire to piss him off outweighed any sense of fear I had at the time. And as Wayne propels me up the stairs, I curse myself for not being strong enough to stand my ground and tell both Cam and Wayne to fuck off.
Why? Why am I so damn weak? I’m supposed to be pulling myself together and finding my strength.
Misery over the way I’ve backslid tonight fills me, my heart racing as I take each step.
When we reach the top of the stairs, I’m relieved to see the large landing is full of people laughing, drinking and making out as if it’s the last day on earth. Anxiously, I search the crowd for any sign of Jo or Evan.
The first door on our left swings open and a pair walk out holding hands. Both look like they’ve just finished a marathon round of sex, their hair tousled, their clothes rumpled. The girl grins as the guy wraps his arm around her waist, pulling her to him, pressing a soft kiss to her temple. One of the waiting couples bolts into the room, closing the door behind them.
Is everyone on the landing waiting their turn to get lucky?
I look at Wayne. “I don’t think Jo and Evan are up here.”
“We’re here now, might as well make sure of it. How do you want to check? Door by door?”
Before I can respond, Wayne knocks on the second closed door and opens it, ignoring the protests of the people around us. My face heats as people look between Wayne and me and draw the wrong conclusion.
“I don’t think-”
“Nope, not that one.” Wayne smirks at me as he closes the door. “I know that moan, it’s not your friend.”
“Gross,” I mutter, thankful I didn’t get the chance to see who he was talking about.
Wayne ignores me. “Next door.”
Reluctantly, I trail after him as he proceeds to open door after door, the crowd of waiting couples growing disgruntled and glaring at us. Several of them tell us to wait our turn, and mortification makes me want to melt into the floor and disappear. Wayne, however, is either oblivious to my discomfort or just doesn’t care that I’m dying inside.
“Found ‘em!” Wayne announces proudly, stepping back from the fifth and final door, motioning for me to look inside the room.
Tentatively, I move to the doorway. The soft lamp light is bright enough to make out the familiar faces of my friends. The sheet barely covers Evan, who is on top. Jo moans and clutches at him as he circles his hips and thrusts into her. They’re so wrapped up in each other, they haven’t noticed they have an audience.
Jesus. How long have my friends been sleeping together? Is tonight the first night?
The way Jo reacted when Evan told me I looked good makes me think it isn’t. Did they hide what they’re doing because it’s new and they haven’t labelled their relationship?
What they do – their relationship – is none of my business. But what if they’ve hidden their relationship because they see me as fragile and don’t believe I’ll be able to handle their secret? What if without Cameron around to balance us out and make us a foursome, I’m weighing them down? A third wheel that sets them off-balance, forcing them to hide their happiness?
“Come on,” Wayne whispers in my ear, his beer-soaked breath filling my nostrils and pulling me out of my stunned stupor.
He puts his hand on my shoulder, helping me take a step back so he can close the door. I’m grateful. Jo and Evan would be embarrassed if they realised I was watching them. My embarrassment is enough for all of us.
“You okay, Kia? You don’t look so good?”
Right. Wayne. I forgot him for a second.
My answer sounds more like a question.
Wayne takes my arm. “Let’s get out of here.”
One of the bedroom doors we knocked on a minute ago opens, two women strolling out, their arms around each other’s waists. Before one of the waiting couples swoops in and takes their turn, Wayne hauls me into the room, closing the door behind him, locking the crowd out. People shout at us, banging on the door in protest.
“Sit down,” Wayne instructs.
Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels
Reluctantly, I perch on the edge of the bed, trying not to think about how many people have been getting it on in this room – this bed – this evening. Wayne sits down beside me. Everyone on the landing probably believes we’re having sex right now. The thought mortifies me. And being alone in a room with him is stupid, I know. I just need a minute to get over the shock.
“You still look a little pale. Maybe you should stick your head between your knees.”
I shake my head. “I’m fine.”
He scoots closer. “I’m glad to hear it. You freaked me out there for a moment. It was like you’d never seen two people going at it.”
Hitting a little closer to the truth than I’d like, I do my best to smile. “I don’t tend to watch a lot of porn in my spare time.”
“But you have watched it before? And you’ve been with someone, right?”
His hand moves to my bare knee, his cool touch as alarming as his line of questioning.
“Yes, of course.”
I aim for confident, but fear and nervousness coat my voice. Wayne hears it and tilts his head as he studies me.
“Are you a virgin?”
Damn the hesitance in my voice.
His eyes narrow. “Are you sure?”
“I think I’d know if I’d had sex with someone before.”
“Who have you had sex with?”
I try to stand up, but Wayne’s hand on my knee keeps me in place next to him. “That’s really none of your business.”
I try to push his hand off my knee. “I should go.”
His grip tightens, and my heart starts to race uncontrollably. “Why? Your friends are busy, Kia. They’re not missing you.” His thumb rubs the inside of my knee, causing me to shudder from revulsion.
“Come on, babe. What’s the rush? You have to have figured out by now that I’m hot for you.”
His gaze travels over me, stopping at my chest. My stomach churns.
The fear that should have been with me when Wayne locked us in this room is finally present. There’s no chance in hell I’m sleeping with him, and I need to make him understand that and back right off.
I take a deep breath. “Wayne, I know about the bet. It’s not going to happen.”
The frown he offers me is an impressive attempt to play innocent. “What bet?”
“I know you and Brooklyn have some bet going as to whether I’m a virgin.”
He stands up abruptly, anger radiating off him as he gives up all pretences of being nice. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
Gone is the charm – if you can call it that – he tried to use earlier. It’s as if someone has flipped the switch. This is the real Wayne standing before me.
“I should have known that cocksucker couldn’t keep his mouth shut.” He shoots me a glare. “I don’t know what my cousin sees in him. She’s too good for him.”
At least, it would have been a resounding no before everything happened between Cam and me. Now, I should probably think of Cam and Brooklyn as perfect for each other.
“How long did it take him to tell you?” Wayne asks, pacing the bedroom floor in front of me. “Not long, I’ll bet.”
Clearly, there’s no need for me to contribute; he’s having a conversation with himself.
“You don’t know it was him,” I say, unsure why I’m protecting him.
“It couldn’t have been anyone else. It had to have been Cam.” Abruptly, he stops pacing. “What did he tell you? I’ll bet he didn’t tell you everything.”
“I know enough to be sure I don’t want to have sex with you.”
“Because Lyn was right, wasn’t she?” He waits for my gaze to meet his, his blue eyes boring into mine. “You’ve got a thing for Cam. You’re a virgin and you’re saving yourself for him.”
“That’s ridiculous. I am not saving myself for him.”
My voice doesn’t hold the conviction it should, which is crazy because I’m telling the truth. I’m a virgin because I haven’t wanted to have sex with anyone else. There’s a difference.
“He didn’t tell you that, did he? He didn’t tell you that Lyn was doing her best to convince me you’d never fuck me because you’re still in love with Cameron.”
I feel the blood drain from my face, and I see Wayne’s shrewd gaze laser over my face – his grim determination to take my reaction as confirmation.
“I didn’t think she was right. I didn’t think anyone over the age of seventeen could possibly be a virgin.”
“I’m not a virgin,” I lie, praying he believes me.
“Bullshit! He’ll never fuck you, you know. He hates you with a passion.”
“I hate him, too.”
“Yeah, right. Your feelings for him are written all over your face right now. You’re pathetic. In love with someone who hates you.”
For a jackarse who even Cam seems to dislike, he’s right on the money with his observations. I am pathetic. I want to hate Cam, maybe part of me even is starting to, but underneath the anger and hatred, my love for him may as well still be tattooed on my soul.
“Wait until I tell Lyn.”
It’s all I can do not to plead with him not to tell her. When Brooklyn learns she was right about my feelings for Cam…there will be carnage. She’ll tell Cam, and I can’t think of any fate worse than that this second. But asking Wayne not to tell Brooklyn is pointless.
I’m so screwed.
“Stay away from Cam and Brooklyn,” Wayne demands. “Better yet, fuck off. Leave like you did before. You’re not wanted here. I’m glad I didn’t end up sleeping with a frigid bitch like you.”
After he walks out and slams the door, tears prick the backs of my eyes. I sniffle and take a deep breath, willing the tears not to fall. I refuse to cry over Wayne Bishop. I may not be as strong as I can be yet, but I’m not giving him permission to break me. I don’t know him or like him. His opinion doesn’t matter. Neither do Cam’s and Brooklyn’s.
Yeah, right. If I could stay in here forever, I might be able to convince myself that’s the truth. What’s Cam going to say when Wayne gives him the verdict? He’s already been an unbearable bully this week. With this new knowledge, he’ll go out of his way to remind me again how much he hates me, how he wishes I was gone. Or better yet, dead. Maybe he’ll even wish I never jumped out of the way of his car.
Would he have felt better if he’d hit me? Would it have eased his pain and suffering? Would his sister and father be happy?
I stand up and walk to the door, ignoring the dirty looks and snide comments from the couples waiting outside the room as I make my exit. I’ll call a taxi as soon as I’m outside. Then I’ll text Jo and Evan to let them know I left. I can’t hide forever, but I can’t face Cam and Brooklyn again tonight.
After running down the stairs, I push through the crowd in the living room and open the front door, letting myself out. The night air is cool after the warm February day. Heat still lingers in the pavement and the brick fence of the neighbouring property as I walk past it, but the air is a cool caress over my skin.
I’m just about to take my phone out and call a taxi when the front door opens again, spilling light and people onto the doorstep of the party-house. The laughing and shouting is so loud, I walk further down the driveway so I can escape the noise and distraction. I get as far as the fence line before I hear him call my name.
The sound of Cam’s voice is enough to incite my heart to sprint out of my chest. Does he know already? Why else would he be this impatient to put me in my place? Damn it, I can’t do this right now. My confrontation with Wayne has taken all the fight out of me and I just want to go home.
I don’t turn around to look at Cam. Instead, I keep walking, hoping he’ll go back to the party – back to Brooklyn – and leave me alone. I have to call a taxi, but that can wait until Cam is no longer after me.
His voice is harder, more desperate; it only spurs me to move more quickly. And when I hear footsteps gaining on me, I break into a run. I haven’t trained or hit the track for ages, but I still find speed as I sprint towards the end of the street.
His hand on my upper arm tells me I’m caught. If I was anxious before, it’s nothing compared to how I feel as he swings me around to face him.
Adrenaline courses through me so fast I feel sick. Trying to pull away, I say: “I don’t want to talk to you. Just go back inside. I’m not doing this with you now.”
“You’re not doing what with me now? Acting like you’ve got a brain? You can’t just take off down a dark road without anyone with you. You’ll end up chopped into little pieces, or worse.”
Why the hell is he pretending to care? He’s not allowed to fool my heart into believing my life matters to him. In light of what he’s probably just discovered, it’s even cruel.
“Don’t pretend you care how I end up, Cameron Anderson. Especially when I know what Wayne just said to you.”
I manage to yank my arm out of his grasp, but I make the mistake of staring up into eyes that are filled with rage. He crowds me, getting in my space, his face too close to mine. In the darkness, his eyes are deep dark, pools of black.
“What is it you think Wayne said to me? One minute I saw you walking off with him and the next you’re storming out the door. Did something happen? Did he touch you?”
The last sentence is a growl, the word touch said with so much disgust that I would yell at him if I wasn’t so relieved Wayne hadn’t said anything to him yet.
But if he doesn’t know, why is he here?
His glare grows, and he crosses his arms. With his jacket off, I see the bulge of his biceps.
“You are such a damn idiot,” he continues. “Walking off with him alone wearing the equivalent of a hand towel when you know what he wants from you.”
I huff out a laugh, shaking my head as I stare up at him. “You’re just worried about the bet. Trust me, Cam, I didn’t sleep with Wayne. He didn’t touch me. He will never touch me.”
Relief flickers over his features. I decide I need to put a stop to that.
“I told him I knew about the bet.”
Cam’s jaw clenches in response. “I bet he didn’t like that.”
“Oh, he didn’t.”
“And that’s all that was said?”
“No,” I admit. “But you’ll hear about the rest soon enough. Now, go back to the party. Go back to Brooklyn and we can pretend we never had this conversation.”
“If I go back, you’re coming with me.”
“Like hell I am.”
“It’s not safe for you to be out here walking around on your own.”
“Forgive me if I’m a little puzzled as to why you’re pretending to care. Haven’t you spent the past week trying to get rid of me.”
“Make you leave, yes. Get you killed? No.”
Laughter bursts from me. “I suppose that’s why you nearly ran me over.”
His expression is hard. “I was just trying to scare you.”
“Mission accomplished, and I’m not sure I believe you. I’m pretty sure my death would be cause for celebration for you and that monster you’re dating.”
“Brooklyn isn’t a monster.”
I snort. “She bet Wayne that I wouldn’t sleep with him because I’m in love with you.”
“He told you that?”
“Yeah, he told me.”
We stand there watching each other. If we had weapons, I’m pretty sure we’d be circling each other, not trusting the other.
Cameron shakes his head. “I told them they were being stupid. I would have known. You would have told me if…”
“If I was in love with you?”
He’s in for a shock when he goes back to that party and hears the truth from Brooklyn and Wayne.
Unless I tell him the truth right now.
The truth will set you free, isn’t that how the saying goes? Why wait for him to find out and come after me when I can get it over with now. Wayne won’t expect it. Better I make this confession on my own terms.
“You’re wrong about that,” I say. “Brooklyn was right. I’ve been in love with you since I was fifteen.’
Cam’s eyes nearly bug out of his head, and he stumbles back as if I’ve hit him.
“Again with calling me a liar. Why would I lie about that?”
“To get back at me.”
“How is telling you I loved you getting back at you?”
He’s shaking his head, as if he can’t believe it, as if he doesn’t want to believe it.
“So why say something now?” He bites out, eyes flashing. “Why not take it to the grave with you?”
“Because Wayne knows. He guessed, and he’s going to tell you and Brooklyn.” At the thought of how Brooklyn is going to react, I want to cover my eyes and hide. Or better yet run. “I wanted to be the one to tell you.”
And now I’m done. Now it’s over. Now that I’ve faced him head on and given him my truth, I hope I can finally let go of the feelings that have persisted and lingered. Inside, I feel a small amount of peace – space where the knowledge was locked up tight. With it gone, there’s calm.
Cam, on the other hand, looks anything but calm or at peace.
“And you don’t think this is something I might have been interested in knowing five years ago?” he shouts. “When you started feeling that way?”
“I wanted to tell you then, but you were with Charmaine, and then Abbi, Claire and then Tara. And then of course, in Year Twelve, there was Lucy and Rahini. I wanted to tell you how I felt, not break up your relationships, Cam.”
“So you lied to me instead? You spent years lying to me, thinking it was okay even though we were supposed to be friends. Best friends.”
Of course he’s going to see it that way. I just told him I loved him, and he doesn’t know what to do with that confession when he hates me so much.
“It wasn’t a lie, Cam. It was an…omission.”
One I wanted to rectify on Prom night but didn’t get a chance to.
“Same shit, different bucket, Kia. You should have told me.”
“What difference would it have made? It might not have changed that day and then we’d still be here.” Only it would be worse. “Anyway, now you know.”
His smile isn’t a smile at all, it’s anger and resentment personified. “Yeah, now I know that I didn’t really know you at all. You were just lying to me the whole time.” He huffs out a breath, shaking his head and laughing in a way which chills me. “To think I actually mourned our friendship when all we had was lies.”
I rub my arms as I watch him walk away, suddenly chilled to the bone. Clearly, he no longer cares about dragging me back indoors with him. Any momentary pang of consciousness and concern he felt is gone. He said he didn’t want me dead, but I half wonder if my confession might have made him change his mind.
Swallowing back the emotion past the lump in my throat, I take out my phone and call the taxi company, pleased I remember the address of the party.
With it being a Saturday night, the estimated wait time is far from surprising. It’s been a terrific night so far, seeing Jo and Evan screwing, having Wayne find me out, and then confessing to Cam. All in all, the perfect way to top off the week from hell.
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