Still Jaded

Page 19


"Maybe he cares more than you think."
"And can you believe it? I was asked to join a sorority!?"
I sat beside her. "What if Corrigan did put them up to it?"
Grace pondered that a moment and then shrugged. "If he feels guilty, then he feels guilty. Do you really think an entire sorority would ask me to pledge? Because of one guy? It's one guy! If I became a sister, that'd be for life. That's so permanent. I doubt it's because of Corrigan. No, no. I think they did it because they like me. It has to be because they like me."
"I like you," I pointed out. How could I not be upset? Those girls weren't asking her to pledge because of Corrigan. They were doing it because of me, because I made them…because of Corrigan. So was it actually my doing?
Grace huffed out as she rolled her eyes. "Sheldon, you're you. You're not like most people. You like me because of Mena."
"Are you serious?" I sat back.
Had we not established a friendship in the past two years? She'd become my best friend, besides Bryce and Corrigan. And seeing how that was going, she might be my only friend.
She threw her hands in the air. "I'm not saying that you don't like me now, but sometimes I feel that you feel guilty because you couldn't help Mena. And I think that you know I was a better friend to Mena so you befriending me is almost like you're supporting Mena in a way. Do you know what I mean?"
"Hell no!" I frowned. "You're my friend. Deal with it."
"It's not…" She sighed with a happy smile. "I was asked to be part of a sorority. Can you believe it?!"
I saw everything in her that I wasn't. Grace was pure. She was hopeful. She wasn't discarded. She wasn't abused. She wasn't numb. She was the light. "I can believe it."
Those girls would be lucky to have Grace as their sister, even if they didn't know it.
"I'm going to be in a sorority. I always felt I'd never be good enough to do that. I should pinch myself. I can't believe it."
I took another sip of wine. "I can believe it, Grace. I can believe it."
She glowed. She sat there and actually glowed. It was like she'd been inducted into a higher level of heaven. I hated it. I sincerely hated it. Those girls weren't true. They were the ones not good enough for Grace, but the world didn't work that way. She needed friends. She needed protection. She needed to learn things. And they could give all that. I couldn't. I could barely handle myself sometimes.
As I finished my fifth glass of wine, I felt the world start to melt away.
"…so there are all those reporters talking about this Guadalupe person. Are you okay with that? They say she's here for Bryce. Where is Bryce, now that we're talking about him? I haven't seen him yet."
I checked back into the conversation. I had slipped away for a heartbeat. Then it all flooded back. "Bryce is busy. Soccer."
"I know, but what's with this girl? Who is she? Did you meet her?"
I uncorked the second bottle.
Grace continued, "It's all over the media. Who's this Guadalupe person? You must know her."
I took a sip and sighed. "She's a model, Grace."
"And she wants to f**k him."
"Oh?!" Grace was aghast now.
"What do you think I should do, Grace? You must know about this situation. What should I do?"
Grace squirmed in her chair and looked at my wine bottles with alarm. "How much have you had to drink?"
"Does it matter?" Because I didn't think it did.
"It doesn't help." She folded her arms over her chest. "I'm concerned."
"Are you? I thought we were talking about how you're a celebrity. You weren't concerned then."
Now fully aware and all too alarmed, Grace stood up and edged towards the door. I stayed in my chair with my bottle in hand. I didn't give a damn what anyone else thought. I didn't care that my one female friend was scared of me. She should've been. She was smart.
"I'm, uh, going to get Corrigan." Then she made a mad dash for the exit.
She should run.
I sat alone for the rest of the night and must've dozed at some point because when I woke later, I was on my bed with a blanket laid over me. The sound of the party had diminished, but I still heard laughter and conversation. I felt groggy but pushed myself up.
My stomach dipped as the wine shot back up. I stumbled from the bed and crossed to the bathroom. No vomit came up, but, as I wiped my eyes and looked in the mirror, I wasn't sure whom I stared at. She looked hollow and haunted. Used.
I ignored the pain that pierced me as I looked at Bryce in the doorway. He was dressed in his soccer workout gear. It gave his body a lean trimmed look. With his black Mohawk cut short and his chiseled cheekbones, Bryce looked edgy, almost dangerous, but his eyes were guarded as he observed me.
"I told you not to come." My voice was hoarse, but I pushed past him and headed for the door. The party was still going on. I should be there, anywhere except in that bedroom.
Bryce caught my arm and yanked me back. "We need to talk, Sheldon."
"No. You need to leave." I twisted my arm from his grasp and swept through the door, heading down the hallway to the stairs. I didn't care who I shoved, hit, or stepped on. A large group had congregated in the kitchen where the kegs were.
"Hey, Sheldon!" Raz held the keg's spout in his hand. He held out a plastic cup. "Want a beer?"
"Where's the hard stuff?"
He gestured behind me. "Corrigan took it out to the courtyard. You've got an awesome bar!"
Leah stood next to Corrigan and his fraternity brothers with a few of her friends. Cadence was with two of her sisters, and Grace was not far from them.
"Sheldon." Corrigan straightened. I flinched when I heard his tone, like all the emotion and fun had been stripped away. Grace froze when she heard my name.
A part of me withered up because I had this effect on my friends.
"Give me a drink, Cor."
With a rum bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, he looked the role of an everyday fraternity party boy. He even had on a trendy polo shirt and designer jeans. His dark blonde hair had been trimmed so the curls were tight. But he wasn't a carefree frat brother; he looked very sober as he weighed his decision.