It was as if Will was possessed. He no longer knew why he was doing these things, just responded to the unrelenting desire in his heart and mind. He craved Laila. He needed Laila. And, the way he saw it, he deserved to have her. So, without any regret, he dug into his pocket to make sure the drugs hadn’t slipped out. But they were there, still safe inside his jeans. He wasn’t quite sure how many he would need, so he had brought them all. Gavin had been right when he had called William desperate. He hated this feeling almost more than the feeling of not having Laila by his side. This was one of his last options, he thought. He would have her.
From his hiding place on the stairs, Will could hear Laila’s door open and a group of girls exiting the room. He knew Laila was with them, he could hear her laughing as they slipped on the frozen ground. He waited in the dark until he could barely hear their footsteps and then he started to follow, praising himself for his skill, keeping a safe distance but following the tracks they left in the snow. He needed to make this look like a coincidence, him showing up at the same party as Laila and her friends. The poor girl was so gullible, she’d believe almost anything. So he followed them, creeping along behind, straining to listen to what they were saying. Thankfully, it was dark and misty outside, and even if one of the girls had turned around, Will was fairly certain they wouldn’t be able to see him.
He smiled as he realized how vulnerable these three girls were, laughing and skipping through the snow without a care in the world, not even stopping to think about who could be lurking behind corners or watching from a distance. He hadn’t realized how easy this would be, how easily he could just snatch one of them away had they been on their own. And this knowledge made him feel powerful.
He stopped as the four girls turned the corner and entered the first house on the right. He wasn’t familiar with it so most likely wouldn’t be recognized by anyone inside either. That was probably for the best. They would all just assume he came with someone else and would leave him alone.
Will walked around the entire house, glancing through windows at the party inside. The small place looked crowded, he couldn’t see Laila or Luanne anywhere. He quickly made his way to the back door as a group of students who had been smoking by the fence started to return to the party. He blended in and grabbed two beers from the cooler, his eyes dancing over the already inebriated kids until he saw her. She was standing in the corner with Luanne, Nikki and Piper, at least three of them had been nearly inseparable for weeks now. Laila was laughing and sipping from her purple plastic Nalgene bottle, constantly looking toward the front door. He wondered what was in that bottle tonight. Rum? Vodka? It really didn’t matter as long as it impaired her judgment.
Will watched her from across the room, trying to figure out how he was going to get her alone. She looked beautiful, her black sweater fitting snuggly against her tiny torso, her dark jeans riding low on her hips. He licked his lips, the idea of tasting her beautifully formed mouth against his almost too much to bear. And then, as if she knew he wanted to get her alone, she excused herself from her friends and started walking down the hallway. Will swore under his breath as he took off after her. Who had she seen? Where was she going? He slipped past Luanne and the other two undetected and watched as Laila disappeared behind a door. Will edged closer, debating whether he should knock or just enter. But as he turned the handle, he discovered it was locked and Laila’s voice sounded from the other side.
“I’ll be right out.”
Will smiled and leaned against the wall opposite the door, waiting for her to reappear. He could hear the faucet being turned on and Laila washing her hands quickly before the lock turned and the door opened.
“Will?” Laila looked surprised to see him. “What are you doing here?”
“Are you kidding me? I always come to these parties,” Will said, trying to play it cool. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here with my friends,” Laila looked at him as if she didn’t believe a word he said.
“Oh, hey, do you want a beer? I grabbed two, not knowing if there would be any left later on.”
“Um, no thanks. I’m not drinking tonight.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Will smiled at her. “You aren’t old enough to drink anyway.”
“Right,” Laila forced a laugh. “Well, I’m going to get back to my friends. Bathroom’s all yours now.”
“Thanks,” Will said, at a loss for what to do next. “I’ll come find you later. You can tell me all about Nikki’s play.”
Laila blinked and moved away from the door so he could enter. He cursed himself as she started to walk away but then saw her drink sitting on the ledge of the sink. Glancing over his shoulder, he fumbled in his pocket and dropped three tablets into the liquid. Thank God the bottle was tinted.
“Oh, Laila,” he called after her. “You forgot this.” He lifted her bottle into the air and waved it around, swirling the liquid to dissolve the drugs.
Laila turned around and looked at him, seriously debating just telling him to throw it away.But she shouldn’t let Will affect her like that. Plus, she loved that bottle, she had carried it around Europe with Sterling and Alistair. So she took a deep breath and walked slowly back to him, reaching for her drink. “Thanks,” she said, not very enthusiastically.
Will smiled down at her and held it out, just beyond her reach. Laila sighed and took a small step forward. She couldn’t believe that Will had shown up. It was beyond creepy that he always knew where she was and she wasn’t even surprised to see him here. Finally, her hand made contact with the purple plastic and she pulled it away from his grasp.
“See you soon,” he said in that disgusting voice that drove her near insane. What had she gotten herself into? She supposed she deserved some of it after what she had done to Sterling, but Will was certainly taking it to an entirely inappropriate level.
Laila walked away quickly, finding her roommates exactly where she had left them.
“What is wrong with you?” Luanne asked, attempting to annunciate each of her words but failing miserably.
Laila smiled at her friend. Luanne was celebrating because she had been given a permanent position at the newspaper but the girl was such a lightweight, it had only taken two shots and one beer to get her wasted.
“I just saw Will,” Laila glanced up at Piper who had, as always, chosen to stay sober that night.
“He’s here? Fuck, that guy gives me the creeps.”
“He’s in love with you, you know that, right?” Luanne informed her.
“I had that figured out, thanks,” Laila smiled. “What am I supposed to do?”
“You have to tell him to leave you alone. You can’t be nice to him anymore,” Nikki said, equally if not more intoxicated than Luanne, of course for an entirely different reason.
Nikki had confessed to Laila, as soon as she had started drinking that afternoon, what her friend Brittany had done and the irony of it all had confused her so much she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. So the kiss between Sterling and Brittany hadn’t been random at all. Laila knew she was now justified in completely disliking the girl but her anger toward Sterling had subsided tremendously since hearing the story.
“You want to know something funny?” Luanne asked randomly but her roommates ignored her.
“What should I say?” Laila looked at her two tall roommates. “Do I just tell him to leave me alone? I mean, he hasn’t really done anything…”
“Laila, the guy is everywhere. He’s practically stalking you,” Piper didn’t think she was exaggerating and neither did Laila. “Tell him to fuck off.”
“I can’t do that and you know it.”
“I can do it for you then. Or Nikki can do it. You know she’d love to.”
“I would.” Nikki nodded in agreement and the girls all started laughing, Luanne following suit once she realized the others found something to be entertaining.
“Oh look!” Luanne said, her voice nearly at a scream. “It’s the twins. How adorable.”
Laila’s heart started to pound as she looked at the front door. Her eyes skipped past Alistair and landed on Sterling. He looked so handsome in his green hoodie and his ashy hair perfectly messy. She couldn’t help herself from smiling at him and he smiled back as he saw her. How she had missed that smile. It was the one that very few people saw, the one that she liked to believe he saved only for her.
“Are you gonna get back together with him?” Luanne asked, ending her question with a hiccup and forgetting all subtlety.
Laila blushed, afraid that Sterling was close enough to hear, and handed Luanne her water. “Sweetie, drink this.”
“What is it?”
“Water. You’ll thank me in the morning.”
Luanne made a face but took the bottle and drained the liquid, another small hiccup escaping her lips. She watched as the twins approached, still confused as to which one was which. Luckily, they split apart and Alistair wrapped Piper in his arms and kissed her on the lips.
Luanne watched, for she didn’t know how long, as her roommates conversed with the twins. Sterling and Laila had their heads close together, smiling at each other as they spoke quietly. Alistair was teasing Nikki about something and Piper was laughing. Luanne smiled as she saw how affectionate the new couple was. Piper’s hand rested lightly on Alistair’s arm as he spoke, his body turned slightly and leaned toward her.
“You two totally had sex last night, didn’t you?”
Alistair turned and looked shocked but Piper started to laugh.
“It’s okay, I’m not angry,” Luanne promised them.
“She’s wasted right now,” she heard Laila whisper to Sterling but didn’t care.
“I’ve never had sex,” she said, her voice sounding as if she were in a long tunnel.
“Okay,” Laila wrapped an arm around Luanne’s shoulder. “I think I’m going to take her home.”
“I’m fine,” Luanne protested, though shaking Laila’s arm away was unbelievably difficult. “I’m fine.”
“Luanne, why don’t you let us walk you home?” One of the twins asked, though she could no longer tell which one was speaking to her.
“I’m fine. I’m celebrating.”
“We’ve done enough celebrating for tonight,” someone told her and Luanne could feel her eyelids closing without her consent.
Will watched in annoyance as the twins walked over to the group of girls. He had been waiting for Laila to finish her drink so he could offer to walk her home once she started to feel the effects. But then, to his horror, she handed the beverage to Luanne and the redhead finished it in one gulp.
Will cursed out loud, not knowing if he should run away or watch and see what would happen. Luanne was already drunk, that much he could tell. What the hell had happened to that prissy southern belle he had met earlier in the year? Now she was drinking the weekend before finals? Maybe they would just take her home and let her sleep it off. He decided to stay and he watched as Luanne’s condition went from bad to worse and before he knew what was happening, she had collapsed and Laila had screamed.
It was as if the entire party had stopped. The twins were crouching over her, trying desperately to get her to wake up, but she wasn’t moving. Everything from that point on happened in slow motion. One of the twins picked her up and carried her out the door, the rest of her friends following closely behind. William watched as the other party goers made up their minds to continue drinking or call it a night. Most of them left, whispering all sorts of things about the girl who had fainted.
The walk back to his house was torturous. He had fallen short again and it was as if his failure heightened all his senses. The snow was freezing against his skin, the smell of it almost making him nauseous. The sounds of the studded tires rolling past him sounded like a semi truck in a gravel bed. All he wanted to do was think about Laila and what he was going to do next. But he couldn’t. His head wouldn’t let him and he fell into bed that night, his ears stuffed with cotton to keep the noises out.
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