When she just stared at me, pain building behind her eyes, I breathed out an aching breath.
“I did that to Pick too, though, I guess.”
“No.” Tears filled her eyes as she set her hand over her mouth. “You slept with Eva?”
“What? No! God, no!” When I reached for her arm, she recoiled away from me. “His first wife,” I said. “The one who overdosed and died. Julian’s real mother. She came into the bar one night and I had no idea who she was. But Pick assured me it was okay, he and she never had that kind of relationship.”
“But he was still technically married to her?”
I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking or my breathing to settle down. I hated seeing her like this. “Yes,” I rasped. “He was still technically married to her...in name only.”
She squeezed her eyes closed. “What about the rest of our friends? You’ve never slept with any of the women in our group, have you? Reese?”
“No,” I whispered. “I have never slept with Buttercup or any of our friends.”
Caroline sniffed and wiped at her damn cheeks. I went to move toward her, but she held up a hand. “I just...need a second here.”
I dropped my hand and blew out a breath, but my ribs felt as if they wanted to cave in on me.
“What’s...” She sopped more tears off her cheeks with her fingers. “What’s something Noel would think to tell me? Something he’d think is...bad?”
“I don’t know.” I groaned and scrubbed my face, just wanting this to be over. “Our freshman year, I guess. We’d go to parties, get wasted and bring a girl back to our dorm room.”
“A girl,” Caroline repeated slowly. “A—singular—girl?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Just...some girl, a different one each time.”
“And then...” She shook her head, confused. “What?” But a split second later, she caught on. Her eyes flared. “Oh my fucking God. You had threesomes...with my brother?”
“No! I mean, not...really. We just...took turns.”
“Eww.” She gagged and slapped her hand over her mouth. The tears fell harder, and I cursed a little louder.
“Then there was Faith McCrown.”
“You know what? No.” Caroline lifted her hands in surrender and flew off my bed. “I don’t...I don’t think I want to hear anymore.”
“Caroline.” I scrambled after her, but she warded me off.
“No. Please. Don’t touch me right now.”
“Damn it.” I fisted my hands, wanting to hit something or grab on to her and hold on for dear life. “I knew this was a bad idea.”
“No, it wasn’t. I just...I need some time.” She snatched her jeans off the floor and jerked them on under my too-big-for-her T-shirt. “I gotta go.”
I watched helplessly as she slammed her feet into her shoes. “You don’t have to leave.”
She blurted out a miserable laugh and sent me a dark look. “No, I really do.” When she stood, I opened my mouth to say...fuck, I had nothing to say to defend myself. I’d been a slutty man-whore, and that’s all there was to it.
After pushing her fingers across her damp face one more time, she hugged her arms over her chest and cast me a broken glance. “Bye.”
She hurried from the room, and like the complete screw-up idiot I was, I just let her go. Then I slumped onto my bed and whispered, “Bye,” as I cradled my head in my hands and tried not to lose my fucking mind.
Six days passed. I gave Caroline her space...and she fucking took it. She didn’t call, she didn’t Facebook message, she didn’t come over.
I died a little inside every hour she stayed away.
I reached out to her exactly three times. The next morning, I texted, saying, I’m sorry.
The day after that, I added, I love you.
And on day three, I wrote, I still trust you. I trusted her to learn all this shit about me and not break my heart by leaving me. But my fucking trust had been sorely tested, and shredded.
I reminded myself, she just needed time. She’d get over this, and she’d come back to me.
Yeah, I repeated that over and over in my head, not really believing any of it, while I clung to the hope of it anyway.
Caroline fucking hated me now, and she was done with me. My life was fucking over.
She didn’t even show up at Forbidden the next Friday to watch Hart’s band, and she always came to cheer on Non-Castrato.
After the bar closed, I was putting away the last bottle of liquor, when I just stopped and stared at it, tempted to drown all my sorrows like a typical brokenhearted douche.