Facing her, I smoothed my hands through my hair. “I don’t know what else to do with you, Avery. I’ve told you shit that I’m not proud of. Stuff that hardly anyone in this world knows and yet you keep shit from me. You keep everything from me. You don’t trust me.”
“No—I do.” She started toward me but stopped “I trust you with my life.”
Anger whipped through me like a barb-tipped chain. “But not with the truth? That’s such bullshit, Avery.” I stalked out of the bedroom. “You don’t trust me.”
She followed me, trailing the thick comforter behind her. “Cam—”
“Stop it.” I grabbed my sweater off the floor and turned to her. “I don’t know what else to do and I know I don’t know everything in the world, but I do know that relationships don’t work this way.”
“What are you saying?” Her voice shook, and I steeled myself against it.
“What do you think I’m saying, Avery? There are some obvious issues with you, and no, don’t fucking look at me like I kicked your puppy. Do you think I’d break up with you because of whatever the hell went on with you? Just like you thought I’d think differently of you when I saw the scar on your wrist? I know you think that and that’s bullshit.” I sucked in a breath as raw pain hit me in the chest. The next words hurt. “How can there be any future for us if you can’t be honest with me? If you can’t really trust that how I feel about you is strong enough, then we have nothing. This is the shit that ends relationships. Not the past, Avery, but the present.”
“No more, Avery. I told you before. All I asked from you was to trust me and not shut me out.” I forced myself to walk to the door. “And you don’t trust me and you shut me out again.”
I closed the door behind me, ignoring the burn building up my throat. The one thing I’d asked from Avery was the one thing she couldn’t give me. Nothing, not even love, would work without trust.
It was over.
“Ah, it’s good to see that you’ve showered finally and have left your bedroom.”
I stopped halfway between the living room and the bathroom. Spying Jase on the couch, I ignored the statement as I pulled a shirt on over my head. “Did I get a new roommate or are you in the habit of just letting yourself into my house now?”
His lips curved up in a smirk. “Actually, while you were scrubbing two days’ worth of funk off your crusty ass, Ollie let me in.”
I dropped onto the other end of the couch, picked up my cap and pulled it down low. “And where is my esteemed roommate?”
“He’s over at the house.” Jase rested his legs on the coffee table, crossing his ankles. “There’s a mean game of Call of Duty going on.”
“And why aren’t you there?”
He pinned me with a look as dry as my throat. “Really? Ollie hasn’t seen you in two days. You finally just stepped out of your bedroom. He’s concerned.”
I rolled my eyes. “I doubt that.”
Jase watched me, and I knew that look. I groaned, and he grinned shamelessly. “What the hell is going on, Cam?”
How could I answer that question? And where could I even start? I leaned my head against the back of the couch and sighed. The familiar burning sensation was building in my chest. Thinking about her, knowing that she was so close and completely out of my reach just killed me.
I shook my head, laughing dryly. “She doesn’t trust me.”
There was a pause. “Care to explain that further?”
“Not really.” I raised my hands, scrubbing my palms down my cheeks. “She’s not telling me the truth about . . . well, about something I know that’s really important.”
“Does it have to do with what you thought that night of the party?” he asked.
I nodded without saying anything.
“I see.” Jase sighed. “That’s got to be some hard shit to talk about, man.”
“I know. Fuck. I know, but you don’t understand . . .” I trailed off, swallowing hard. “There is shit I’m not going to talk about, Jase. I wouldn’t do that to her.”
“I get that. I understand.” Jase dropped his feet onto the floor and hunched forward. He let out another heavy breath. “But what happened? I’m assuming you guys had a fight.”
“A fight?” I laughed again, but it sounded so wrong. “I left her.”
“Whoa.” Jase pursed his lips. “Shit.”
I raised my hands helplessly. “I asked her—I begged her to tell me the truth and she didn’t.”
“And you left her?”
“I know how it sounds.” I shot him a look. “I feel like a big enough fucking ass without you thinking it.”
His brows rose. “Didn’t say a thing.”
“You’re thinking it.” My eyes narrowed. “But you don’t get it. There’s nothing if we don’t trust one another—there’s nothing if she doesn’t trust me.”
Jase nodded. “I agree. It’s just that it’s obvious you really care for her . . .”
“I do, but . . .”
But I wanted what my parents have. I wanted something that could last with Avery, and how could we build a relationship when she didn’t trust me with the truth of her past? When I trusted her? We couldn’t. And I couldn’t go through what happened with her Wednesday night again. I never wanted to see that horror in her face. I never wanted to think that I had been the cause of it. Thinking about it now still made me sick. Not because of what might have happened to her, but because what I was doing had, in one way or another, terrified her.
And that would never change until she was honest with me.
Jase left shortly after that, but not before trying to get me to go with him. I wasn’t in the mood to be around other people, especially a bunch of drunk people. When a knock came about an hour later, I figured it was him again, but when I opened the door, I was caught off guard.
Avery stood there, arms huddled around her waist. Her eyes were red and swollen. Fresh tears tracked down her cheeks. I opened my mouth, but closed it.
“Can we talk?” Her voice cracked in a way that made my chest splinter. “Please, Cam. I won’t take up much of your time. I just—”
“Are you okay, Avery?” Concern for her overshadowed everything else.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” She gave a little shake of her head. “I just need to talk to you.”
Drawing in a deep breath, I stepped aside. “Ollie’s not here.”
A little bit of tension seeped out of her shoulders. I led her into the living room and sat on the couch. I had no idea what was going on, but I doubted she was about to unload a confession. “What’s going on, Avery?”
She sat on the edge of the tattered recliner that had belonged to Ollie’s dad. “Everything.”
Tensing, I scooted forward, twisting my cap backward. “Avery, what’s going on?”
“I haven’t been honest with you and I’m sorry.” Her lip started to tremble and the urge to gather her in my arms was hard to resist. “I’m so sorry, and you probably don’t have time for—”
“I have time for you, Avery. You want to talk to me, I’m here. I’ve been here. And I’m listening.”
I held her gaze until she let out a deep breath and then she began to talk—to really talk. “When I was fourteen, I went to this party on Halloween. I was there with my friends. We were all dressed up and there was this guy there. It was his house and . . . and he was three years older than me and friends with my cousin.”
Avery’s gaze drifted to her hands. They opened and closed every few seconds. “He was really popular. So was I.” She laughed dryly. “That might not seem important, but it was. I never thought someone like him could do—could be like he was. And maybe that was stupid of me, like a fatal flaw or something. I don’t know.” Her lashes lifted, piercing me with watery eyes. “I was talking to him and I was drinking, but I wasn’t drunk. I swear to you, I wasn’t drunk.”
“I believe you, Avery.” God, I knew where this was heading and I already hurt for her. “What happened?”
“We were flirting and it was fun. You know, I didn’t think anything of it. He was a good guy and he was a good-looking guy. At one point, he pulled me into his lap and someone took our picture. We were having fun.” The second laugh was just as harsh. “When he got up and pulled me into one of the empty guest rooms that was on the ground floor, I didn’t think anything of it. We sat on the couch and talked for a little while. Then he put his arms around me.”
Avery stopped, rubbing her hands together, and I prepared myself. I truly tried to. “At first I didn’t mind, but he started doing things I didn’t want him to. I told him to stop and he laughed it off. I started crying and I tried to get away from him, but he was stronger than me, and once he got me on my stomach, I couldn’t do anything really, but to tell him to stop.”
I stopped breathing. “Did he stop?”
Please tell me he stopped. Please. Please. Please.
“He didn’t,” she said quietly. “He never stopped no matter what I did.”
It was like being shot in the spine. I started to stand, because I had to move, but I couldn’t make my legs work. “He raped you?”
She closed her eyes and then . . . then she nodded and opened her eyes, and I wanted nothing more than to change that yes into a no. But I couldn’t. “I am still a virgin. He didn’t touch me there. That’s not how he . . . raped me.”
At first I didn’t get it. Maybe it was brain overload, because I couldn’t figure out how she could’ve been raped and was still a virgin, but then it hit me. Horror gripped me. He . . . the sick motherfucker had sodomized her. My hands closed into fists. “Son of a bitch, you were fourteen and he did that to you?”
I dragged my hands through my hair, wanting to pull it out. “Shit. Avery. I suspected something. I thought that something like that might have happened to you.”
I nodded. “It was the way you acted sometimes. How jumpy you could be, but I’d just hoped it didn’t go that far. And when you told me you were still a virgin, I thought that was the case. Avery, I’m so, so sorry. You should have never had to go through something like that, especially at that age . . .” Anger for her clogged my throat. “Please tell me that motherfucker is in jail for this.”
“He is now.” She turned her gaze to the TV. “It’s a long story.”
“I have time.” I gave her a moment, not wanting her to shut down on me, not after we came so far, not when I wanted to commit murder. “What else, Avery? Please talk to me, because I’m seconds away from booking a flight to Texas and killing a motherfucker.”