If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected, decide what to be and GO BE IT
-The Avett brothers
Recommend Reading Introduction to Unproven
DEFINITELY READ Prologue
She woke the next morning to the sound of her phone singing a Tori Amos song and groaned. A little early Dori, she thought. Or maybe it wasn't. She glanced toward the window and the sun told her it was closing in on noon. Didn’t matter, she was definitely not ready to talk to anyone. Maybe after coffee...The night's events flashed before her eyes and she groaned again...Lots and lots of coffee. The phone started singing again and she frowned. It wasn't like Dori to repeat call, if anything she was a texter. When it started in again she felt a chill of premonition and snatched it up. "Hello?"
"Hey. How was your night?"
Ary blinked. That question was definitely not cause for incessant calling. "Um, it was...," Her brows drew in as she realized there had been a tone to Dori's voice. "Why would you call over and over just to ask me that?"
Dori sighed noisily, "I take it you haven't been on Facebook today."
"Um nooo, why?"
"Because you wouldn't be asking me that. There are pictures circulating."
"Pictures?" Ary's throat went dry, "What pictures?"
"Check it out and call me back." The phone went dead and Ary stared at it for a second. Oh God. She grabbed her laptop and pulled up Facebook, finding the pictures within seconds. Pictures of her and Tyler. Making out in the middle of the Mucky Duck. Making out in the parking lot. Being lifted into a cab while he all but climbed on top of her. She stared at them in growing horror and redialed Dori. "Oh my God, who took those? I didn't see anyone we knew, who the hell took those?" Her voice rose several octaves.
"I don't know yet, but I have to ask, did that go where it looked like it was going?"
Tears sprung to Ary's eyes, "No! No, it went no further than what you see. There was some top of the clothes making out in the cab then he slid his hand up my leg and I stopped him, I swear Dori, there wasn't even a boob grab. It's just that…I was pretty lit, and it felt good to be kissed, and my hormones went on parade, and for a second I wasn't even with Tyler, I was with Grayson, in my mind I mean, and yes I know that's a bit twisted, but...Shit Dori, shit!"
"Okay, okay, calm down."
"How can I calm down?" Ary punched her mattress, "He's going to see them, he probably already has...Oh God, did he call you? What did he say?"
"No he hasn't called, but Ary what can he say? You're not together and he broke up with you. And that was after you dealt with some shitty pictures of your own."
Ary took a deep breath and let it out, attempting to get a grip. "I know. But Goddamn it! Not only didn't the night go where it looked like it was going, I straight up pissed him off. He started saying he understood if I wanted to take it slow, date for a while first, and I shot him down cold. Told him I was still in love with Grayson, that I wasn't even ready for dating let alone anything else. He took it pretty badly, I barely got a wave good-bye. And here it looks like...Goddamn it!" She said again, giving her mattress another whack.
"Wow, really?" Dori sounded amused. "You blue balled him then told him you weren't interested? That's kind of harsh."
"Oh gee thanks, thanks a lot, heap some guilt on my suffering why don't you."
Dori chuckled, "I'm sorry, don't feel guilty. The guy is totally hot, I'm sure he's done his fair share of heart stomping. I'd be willing to bet it was his ego rather than his feelings that you hurt. He probably thought one night with him and you'd forget all about your ex."
Ary smiled slightly. "Yeah, that's probably true. He's basically a nice guy, but I detected some cockiness beneath the surface."
"Yep. Look Ary, don't worry, if Grayson does ask me about it I'll tell him everything you said. Even though I'm not sure he actually deserves an explanation. I just know you'd feel better about it."
Ary took a deep breath and let it out. "I would. Thanks." Her phone beeped. Sonya. Of course. "Sonya's beeping in," she told Dori in a tone of long suffering, "I think I'm gonna have her meet me at Andie's so I don't have to keep repeating the story. Wanna come?"
"I would, but I'm going to visit my sister in Santa Barbara. I won't be back until tomorrow. But Ary, be careful how you present this to Andie, remember Tyler is Grant's cousin and she likes him whilst she detests the object of your affections."
Ary laughed shortly, "I think detests is too soft a word. I know. Okay, have fun at your sister's and call me if, well you know."
"Yeah I will."
She disconnected the call and texted Sonya then grabbed some clothes, heading into the bathroom for a quick shower.
Andie answered the door with an eyebrow raise, her lips curved in a smirk. "Well somebody's getting some serious face time today," she joked.
"A little funny."
Ary peered around her, "Is anyone here?"
"If you mean my parental units, then no as usual. But Sonya's on her way and Grant's here."
Ary shrunk back a little.
Andie laughed, "Come on, it's his cousin. He might razz you a bit but he's hardly gonna give you a hard time for giving Tyler a good time, if you know what I mean." Andie waggled her eyebrows.
Ary bit her lip and looked down. So they hadn't talked to Tyler. She wondered what he would say when they did.
"What's wrong?" Andie asked, then shook her head, "Come on, come inside." She grabbed her elbow and pulled her toward the living room.
Grant was seated on the loveseat and he grinned when he saw her. "So I guess your date went well, huh?"
She dropped onto the recliner and buried her head in her hands.
"Oh come on, the pictures aren't that bad," he said with a laugh.
"Yeah, it's not as if there was skin showing," Andie added.
The back door opened and Sonya bounded into the room, "Oh la la," she said, "someone got lucky last night!"
Damn, Ary thought, they're all so ridiculously pleased, this is definitely gonna suck. She looked up. "No one got lucky last night."
"Mhmm, we believe you," Sonya teased.
"No, I'm serious." She turned to Grant. "I'm sorry."
His brows popped, "Sorry? For what?"
She sighed. "I screwed things up. Pretty badly. It didn't get much further than what you saw in those stupid freaking pictures, and I would love to learn who the photographer is so I can strangle them, but anyway, I stopped it."
Grant tilted his head to the side, his surfer-style blonde hair falling over with the motion. "Okay, that's nothing to be sorry about, no one expects you to jump in bed with someone you just started dating."
"What do you mean you screwed things up?" Andie asked, sharp as ever.
Ary dropped her head back against the cushion and spoke to the ceiling. "I told him I still loved Grayson and I wasn't ready to date anyone. He didn't take it very well."
There was complete silence and Ary did not want to see their expressions.
"So you're saying that you made out with him, got him all worked up, then told him you love someone else and you're not interested?"
Ary kept her head back and closed her eyes, not needing to see Andie's expression considering her slightly appalled tone.
"Ouch," Sonya added.
"In my defense, I was pretty drunk. And I did have a great time. He's a great guy and I do find him attractive, but I'm just not ready for someone new." She picked her head up and looked at Grant who was frowning. "That's why I apologized," she told him, "please Grant, don't be mad at me. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I shouldn't have even gone but I thought we could just hang out and have fun without it meaning something more."
"It's okay, Grant's not mad at you, are you Grant?" Andie asked him, surprising Ary.
He shook his head, "Nah. I mean it would've been cool if you two hooked up, but it's not like Tyler's never led somebody on, not saying that's what you did, at least on purpose, just saying he'll get over it. And I understand. I may not like your ex, but I get that you're not over him."
Sonya nodded and Andie surprised her again by nodding too. "It's my fault really," Andie said, "I'm the one who pushed it. I was just hoping it might help you past him."
Ary smiled at her gratefully. "You meant well. Thanks for being so cool about this. Especially since I have to deal with those stupid freaking pictures and people's assumptions and I can only imagine the comments…I'm not looking at Facebook for a month, I don't want to know."
Andie laughed, "Yeah, Facebook can be a serious pain in the ass. No such thing as privacy. Well, I say we go to the beach today, you can drown your woes in saltwater," she told Ary.
Ary grinned, feeling relieved. "Sounds good to me."
It was Saturday night and while there were a few different parties he could be attending, fortunately none were mandatory, because he would not have been at his best. Just imagining having to hold his composure was exhausting.
Grayson knocked back his sixth shot of whiskey and stared into the empty glass, his vision beginning to go fuzzy around the edges. It still wasn't enough to get the images of the little slut out of his head, or the guy who had turned her into one. A guy, whom if he were to see right now he would likely beat to death. He wished Jay were already here so they could find a bar with some assholes he could take it out on. But he was not here, wouldn't be here for another week.
He poured himself another shot and held onto it with both hands. This is a good thing, he told himself. Now he could lump her in with the rest of the disappointing, weak little whores, giving their bodies away as if it were nothing, because they were nothing. No integrity, no substance, utterly worthless. He drained the shot and was blasted by more images, though these were not in the photos. These were born of his imagination coupled with experience. He saw the guy sliding into her, touching her breasts, her back arching while she moaned. Saying another guy's name as he fucked her. He picked up the shot glass and threw it against the wall, watching it shatter into pieces just like his perception of her. His father had been right all along.
He grabbed another glass and slid it in front of him, pouring another shot. He would probably pass out right here. Fine by him, he welcomed oblivion.
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