Still Jaded

Page 11


All heads snapped to me. Bryce cursed swiftly while Corrigan surged inside, "Sheldon? What's wrong?"
At the gate to my estate was a media van. Lights were flashing. Another van pulled up. Its door burst open, and two cameramen jumped out. They set up their cameras, the lights clicking on, and I knew they were rolling. Reporters started to line up outside the gate, and one approached. He was going to walk up the driveway.
I raced for my nearest control panel and hit the switch. I heard the gate closing. When they shouted in protest, my shoulders sagged in relief. They couldn't see anymore.
When I returned, the guys had moved to the front porch. They gazed at the wall that now barricaded the media from my home.
"I had it installed after Marcus Donadeli."
Corrigan and Bryce both looked at me.
"Sheldon…" Corrigan began.
I shook my head. "I heard what you said. We're fine. I attacked you, and I shouldn't have. I'm sorry."
"No, you had every right. I…I said…well, I shouldn't have called you out on something, and I did. I understand. It's okay. I'm sorry."
I looked away. The truth was that Marcus Donadeli had worked a number on all three of us. What I said was true—Corrigan had almost died because of him. And Bryce had been violated too.
I remarked, "Leisha and Bailey's families got the worst of it."
Both Corrigan and Bryce grunted in agreement. We still had each other. Those families had lost their daughters.
"Holy, talk about being screwed up. You have an effing moat, Sheldon," Corrigan laughed. "Is there a secret drawbridge? Is that how we're going to get out? Do we have to go through crocodiles and sharks?"
And the serious moment was gone. The jovial Corrigan was back.
"The reporters are the crocodiles and sharks." Bryce wrapped an arm around my shoulder to draw me against his side. "It serves them right."
"You are a rad rad girl," Raz mused.
Michael grinned. That same odd look was on his face.
Then Grace called out from behind us, "Sheldon? What's going on?"
I twisted to see her, but caught Corrigan's sudden frozen state. It didn't last long. No one said a word as he brushed past her. Grace was left shaken in the hallway. Her head hung a little as she watched him go, but then she met my gaze.
I flinched at the hurt in her eyes. And then I knew that something had happened between them. Oh hell. This wasn't something I wanted to deal with. I couldn't handle hurt feelings and confessions that had real depth to them. I could barely handle my own crap, much less someone else's. But it didn't stop me from being the friend I needed to be. After the guys headed back inside, I found Grace back downstairs. She had curled up on a couch and I perched on the corner. "Is there something going on with you and Corrigan?"
She brushed away a few tears. "What do you mean?"
She flung her hands down, but the tears continued to fall. "Corrigan and I slept together before you left for Europe."
"What?!" But I wasn't surprised, not really.
"I know. He was with Logan, and you know how Corrigan was at that time. I mean, he told me to my face that I 'was not hot.' You guys were awful that last year. You and Corrigan were especially mean because you would band together against people. Bryce, he just usually didn't talk to people unless they were in his circle or something. But you two—you guys went after people. It was awful. I remember Corrigan was always saying that stuff to me."
I moved forward. I wanted to protest or apologize, but Grace waved me off. She combed her fingers through her hair. "He came and found me one night because he was worried about you. He said that he thought things weren't okay with you, like something was wrong and you weren't talking about it. I asked him what Bryce thought, and Corrigan wouldn't tell me anything. And…things just led from one thing to another. Pretty soon…I sinned, Sheldon. I lost my virginity that night."
I narrowed my eyes, took in Grace's genuine distress, and stormed off. I swept through the kitchen, out the dining room, and found Corrigan with Bryce in the pool area where they lounged beside a table. Both jumped up when they saw the rage on my face.
Corrigan gulped. He held out his hands. "Don't attack! Don't hit me, Sheldon!"
I stopped just short. My hands balled into fists. "You took her virginity!"
"I did—yes. What's the crime in that?"
Bryce groaned. "Oh God."
"You took advantage of her! She's my friend, Corrigan!"
"I did not! I so did not, and weren't you harping on me because I hadn't dealt with her being in love with me? You were the one that let that cat out of the bag. What's your deal, Sheldon? You're like a maniac tonight."
I surged forward.
Corrigan backed off. "Okay, okay. It wasn't smart. I'll own up to that. I went over there because I was worried about you." He glanced at Bryce but continued, "Anyway, you were good friends with her so I thought she might know, but she didn't. And you know that things with Logan and me weren't going well anymore. She wasn't handling me going to Europe that great so…I don't know what you want me to say. It happened. Deal with it."
Deal with it? I crossed my arms over my shoulder. "The next time someone screws you over, you want me to say those words to you? Deal with it?"
"I didn't screw her over."
"Mmm. You did. Literally."
"Well…" He opened his mouth and then closed it again. Corrigan groaned, "It's not the same thing."
"Yes, it is! You knew she had feelings for you. You've known for over two years. You went over there because you wanted sex. Admit it."
"Oh, come on."
"She's my friend, and she's still hurting because of you. You just left her hanging."
Shock flashed over his face. His mouth hung open, but then a storm surged over him. "Are you kidding me? I don't have to—"
Bryce stood up. "She's your friend, Sheldon. She's not mine. She's not Corrigan's."
My eyes shot to his. "Meaning?"
His eyes narrowed. "Corrigan doesn't have to nurture her hurt feelings. That's not his responsibility."