It was going to be a late night.
Like really late.
Not only did I have an assignment to finish, but there was no chance in hell I could actually sleep after that run-in with Thatch. Why? Why did he have to be so cruel? And why was I like a dog with a bone? I wanted to let it go.
I wanted to let him go.
I wanted to be free from whatever emotional bondage he still used on me.
But every time I saw his face, I was torn between wanting to knock out his perfect teeth and wanting to kiss him with reckless abandon.
Maybe it was because no one had ever broken up with me before? Probably because I’d never had a serious relationship—until Thatch had given me a key.
A freaking key to his apartment!
“He doesn’t want you, Austin,” I mumbled to myself. I mean he made that clear the minute I walked in on him with his tongue down another girl’s throat.
Taking a deep breath, I tossed my keys onto the kitchen table and pulled out a wineglass, filling it to the rim before opening my laptop and waiting for it to power up.
My mom wasn’t home. Then again, she was rarely home at night—she was always out with her girlfriends doing wine dates and dinner parties. It was her thing—actually it was more my dad’s thing, since all of the women she hung out with were capable voters.
And my dad was going to be out late—he had made that much clear earlier.
I shivered. The only light illuminating our massive house was from the computer and the TV in the family room.
Moments like these reminded me just how lonely I really was. Yes, my house was huge, yes, we had a ton of money.
But I’d have traded all of it for a chance to have a conversation longer than five minutes with either of my parents and not revolving around politics or my MBA.
They checked in once a day to make sure I was alive and breathing, and that was about it—unless I got a bad grade, which was probably why I was so stressed about my current class.
So when Thatch broke my heart and ran it over with his stupid car, I was left to sob alone in my room until Avery rescued me.
I gulped back the wine, clicked on a free website builder, and started to slowly pick out themes.
A minimum of one hundred followers.
I had to make my content interesting.
I drank more wine.
And three hours later, when I was well on my way to finishing the bottle, a smile spread across my face as my hands hovered over the keyboard.
“Eat shit, Thatch,” I slurred, and began to type.
My head felt like someone had run it over with a semitruck and then decided to beat me with my cell phone. “Ugh.” My mouth tasted like bad decisions.
And a sense of panic had started to swell in the center of my chest.
The details of the night before were a bit fuzzy.
I slowly lifted my head from its spot facedown on the kitchen table right next to my computer, and blinked up at the black screen.
What happened last night?
I remembered Thatch in all his Thatchness.
And my assignment—yeah, that’s why I’d left early.
The panic in my chest grew until a jarring paranoia had me clicking the return key on my computer as if my life depended on it.
Two empty wine bottles stared me down.
Oh no, no, no.
My computer woke up a few seconds later to the website I’d started to build, but I couldn’t remember the password.
I tried every single one I could think of.
And then ran into the bathroom to puke my guts out.
This, this was what it felt like when you finally hit rock bottom.
I washed my hands, then braced myself against the sink, slowly gaining enough courage to glance into the mirror and see the damage.
I let out a gasp and covered my mouth.
My forehead said “erohw.”
And the letters were in marker.
What the hell?
Oh hell. My forehead spelled “whore” backward.
I scrubbed with my hands, only to probably push the ink farther into my skin.
With sloppy movements, I grabbed a washcloth and ran it vigorously over my forehead, only succeeding in making my skin angry and pink.
“Think!” I took deep breaths and closed my eyes. How had I written that on my forehead anyway? Furthermore. WHY?
“He’s a whore.” Yup, pretty sure I yelled that at my computer and then registered the account to my email and . . . I let out a little groan and slowly made my way over to my computer and typed in “erohw.”
I’d written my password on my forehead. Well done, Austin. Well freaking done.
Well, at least I hadn’t done anything worse, right? I mean, it could be worse—it could always be worse. Look at the bright side! I got my assignment done and—
“Holy shit,” I gasped for the second time that morning, and hoped that I was hallucinating.
But every time I hit “Refresh” . . .
There it was.
In all its glory.
The Cheated website.
With the title of the first post: “A Single Girl’s Guide to Getting Even.”
It would have been fine.
Except for right underneath it, I’d uploaded a picture of Thatch, on which I’d drawn a mustache along with a pitchfork and red eyes—compliments of Photoshop.
And beneath that?
I was seri
ously afraid to press “Play.”
What the hell had I been thinking?
I covered part of my face with one hand while clicking on the “Play” button with the other. Gulping, I turned the sound up.
“Are you filming me right now?” Thatch slurred drunkenly into the camera.
“Liar.” His smile was easy, gorgeous, albeit extremely drunk. “Give me the phone, Austin.”
“Austin!” He started chasing me around the bedroom, stumbling all over the furniture as if straight lines were foreign to him. It was his birthday, and I’d gotten him well and drunk so I could have my way with him, or at least that’s what I’d said—because the truth of his birthday made me sad. According to him, his birthday had always been full of loads of gifts and empty promises. He wanted for nothing, but something told me that all he really wanted was attention. I knew that feeling well, so I figured it was better to help him forget.
His knee collided with the bed, and he went sailing to the ground and stayed on his knees. “Um, Thatch?”
“Baby.” His eyes were so unfocused, it was comical. “There’s something I gotta say.” He swallowed, then pressed his hands to his chest and started to sing Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero,” completely and totally off-key, not to mention wrong. “I kiss tears of pain.” Yeah, those so weren’t even the words. He paused way longer than necessary. “Pain!” he said again, his large body swaying from left to right. The last part was more shouting than singing. “You always take breaths away.” I waited as he leaned forward and then collapsed on the ground and whispered, “Away.” Then he yawned and fell asleep.
Oh hell. He was going to kill me.
Why? Why did I get drunk?
See! Drunkenness leads to bad choices. His drunkenness made him sing Enrique Iglesias, and my drunkenness forced me to share it!
Maybe nobody had seen it yet?
Maybe I’d get lucky and could delete it before it got out of hand, or—my face fell—maybe, like a loser, I’d linked the web page to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
And already I had over two hundred comments on the post.
My phone buzzed.
I stared at the screen as Avery’s name lit up.
The phone stopped buzzing.