Chapter 10 – After

Chapter 10 – After

I can’t help the tears that fall down my cheeks as I reach the top of the stairs. I hate college so far—and my classes haven’t even started. Why couldn’t I just get a roommate who was more like me? I should be asleep now, preparing for Monday. I don’t belong at parties like this, and I certainly don’t belong hanging out with these type of people. I do like Steph, but I just don’t have it in me to deal with a scene like this and people like Hardin. He’s such a mystery to me; why must he always be such a jerk? But then the next thing I think of is that wall of books of his—why does he have all of them? There is no way a rude, disrespectful, tattooed jerk like Hardin could possibly enjoy those amazing works. The only thing I can picture him reading is the back of a beer bottle.

Dabbing at my wet cheeks, I realize I have no idea where this house is located, or how to get back to the dorms. The more I think about my decisions tonight, the more frustrated and stressed I become.

I really should have thought this through; this is exactly why I plan everything, so things like this don’t happen. The house is still packed and the music is too loud. Nate is nowhere to be found; neither is Zed. Maybe I should just find a random bedroom upstairs and sleep on the floor? There are at least fifteen rooms up there, and maybe I will get lucky and find an empty one? Despite my efforts to conceal my emotions, I can’t, and I don’t want to go down and have everyone see me like this. I turn back, find the bathroom I was in with Steph, and sit on the floor with my head between my knees.

I call Noah again, and this time he answers on the second ring.

“Tess? It’s late, are you okay?” he says, his voice groggy.

“Yes. No. I went to a stupid party with my roommate and now I am stuck at a frat house with nowhere to sleep and no way to get back to my room,” I sob through the line. I know my problem isn’t life or death, but I’m beyond frustrated at myself for getting into this overwhelming situation.

“A party? With that redhead girl?” He sounds surprised. “Yeah, with Steph. But she’s passed out upstairs.”

“Whoa, why are you even hanging out with her? She’s so . . . just not someone you would ever hang around with,” he says, and the scorn in his voice irritates me. I wanted him to tell me it will be okay, that tomorrow is a new day, something positive and encouraging. Something not so judgmental and harsh.

“That isn’t the point, Noah . . .” I said with a sigh, but right then the door handle jingles and I sit up. “Just a minute!” I call to the person outside and wipe at my eyes with some toilet paper, but that only smears the eyeliner even more. This is exactly why I don’t wear this stuff.

“I will call you back; someone needs the bathroom,” I say to Noah and hang up before he can protest.

Whoever’s on the other side of the door begins pounding on it and I groan as I hurry to open it, wiping my eyes again. “I said just a min—”

But I stop as glaring green eyes pour into mine.

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