I woke up to the sun piercing though the window, blinding me. My body was sore in places that I didn’t know existed. But it was a good kind of sore.
My dress was still bunched around my waist, my br**sts and thighs exposed. I ran my fingers over my eyes and sat up in bed. My wrists weren’t tied anymore, but there was a light red mark left from where I’d pulled against the panties that bound me.
A small smile flickered when I thought of last night. I looked around my room and it struck me how clean it was.
Just as it had been…had always been.
No clothes were strung around the room. My panties were nowhere to be seen. It was still. Quiet. Cold.
As if nothing had ever happened and no one had ever been there.
I threw the blankets back and—
“Oh, God.” There in the middle of my sheets was a bloodstain. Evidence of my virginity lost. Evidence Adam must have seen. I felt the color drain from my face as embarrassment set in.
Anxiety climbed up my spine, and my hands began shaking. Terror dug between every vertebra like sharp claws sinking into cold butter. Panic was rising—soon it would flare out of control. I tried to breathe, attempting to keep the icy grip of reality away.
I rushed to the living room.
Adam’s coat was gone.
That breath I was trying to take caught in my throat. I hadn’t expected breakfast in bed or a declaration of feelings, but…
Nothing. There was nothing.
Horror snared me. Hating myself and knowing better, I still searched for a note. When there wasn’t one, I checked my phone. No missed calls or messages. My heart beat a heavy boom inside my skull. Pressure rose. I choked on my own inhalations, struggling to get enough air, but it came out as tortured hiccups.
The cold from my room followed me and settled all the way to my bones. He was gone. I looked down at my soiled dress and felt a barrage of fresh emotions I hadn’t had to deal with in a long time. Panic. Stupidity. Self-loathing.
I had to get hold of myself and calm down. I walked to the bathroom, turned on the shower and let the steam and heat envelop me. Still, I was freezing. I looked in the mirror and for the first time in several years, that old feeling of disgust crept over me.
I felt used.
I shed my wrinkled dress and stepped beneath the water. But no amount of cleansing could wash away my conscience. Sitting down, I clutched my knees to my chest, willing the panic to subside. I had known better than to let Adam Kinkade in. Let him affect my judgment and play with my unstable feelings.
The worst part was…I already missed him.
It had been four days, and all I thought about was how Adam’s mouth had felt. My lips were no longer swollen. My aches and pains were gone. Each day that passed, I was losing more of him. He had left a small hickey on my inner thigh, but that, too, was fading. The blood would continue to leave the surface, and as Adam himself had gone, so would any evidence of his presence in or around my body.
I got through the week. Focusing and prepping for the lectures I taught, I used any excuse to submerge myself in sociology. I graded quizzes and papers. Held extended office hours. Picked up every extra evening shift I could. Waitressing at a small café wasn’t rocket science and did little to keep my mind busy. I was going through the motions, but concentration was difficult.
“This is horseshit,” Megan said as I popped a Lean Cuisine tray into the microwave. “You are not staying in the house one more night eating that crap. We’re going out.”
“I really don’t want to.”
“He’s one man.” She threw her hands up. “One douchey man. He doesn’t get to have this power over you. Remember?”
That was the problem. I had given it to him. I’d wanted to. For the first time, I had felt like I had something exciting to look forward to. Something beyond.
Adam was that beyond.
I had gotten a taste and had hoped he would keep me, but he hadn’t. For a brief time, I’d felt wanted, and it was that feeling I couldn’t battle. Because I didn’t know how.
The only good part about this whole thing was that I seemed to be able to cope decently well. When my mother hit a depressive state, she didn’t get out of bed or even shower.
I hurt. Life sucked. Poor Megan was right there with me, upset and looking about ready to cry, but I still functioned. I went to work, school, and bathed every day. That was a decent sign that I wasn’t totally losing it, right?
“I hate seeing you like this. I hate him for doing this to you.”
“He didn’t do anything to me.” Nothing I hadn’t allowed. I hadn’t told Megan the whole story, opting instead for a vague recount—Adam and I had sex, he left in the morning, and I haven’t heard from him since.
Despite losing my virginity and Adam leaving, he’d never lied to me. He hadn’t filled my head with false promises. I’d done that all on my own.
“He hasn’t called you in days. What kind of man does that?”
“Lots of them, I’m told.”
“Not to you!” Megan snapped. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. She was always on the front line with me, battling whatever problem I was having. This time, I had to deal with it on my own.
I pulled Megan into a hug. She tensed, obviously surprised by my actions. I didn’t care about the contact. Right now, a hug from my best friend was all I needed. She wrapped her arms around me.
“You’re doing so good, Kate. Don’t let this set you back. Keep reaching out.”
I nodded, knowing she wasn’t talking about just reaching out for hugs, but reaching out for life. Adam had awakened me. Claimed me. Excited me. Giving that up—everything he made me feel—broke my heart. But I didn’t have a choice.
Megan gently pulled away. Her eyes were watery, just as mine were. “I know what you need,” she said, smiling. Ducking into her room quickly, she returned with a handful of clothes.
“Here.” She tossed me a pair of leather pants and an animal print top that was held together by a few strings.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were working the corner tonight.”
“That’s my ‘I’m f**king sexy and I know it’ outfit. Now get that perfect ass of yours into those pants and let’s go.” Megan’s smiled widened and I found it a little contagious.
“All right. But only because bar food and beer sounds pretty good tonight.”
Megan wound her hair up and fastened it with a tie. “That’s because it’s the universal medicine for Douche Bag Syndrome, and tonight, we’re gonna get you cured.”