Laila could see the truth in Gavin’s eyes as he left her dorm. She knew there was something that he wasn’t telling her, something that led him to also believe that Will had been the one who had drugged Luanne. She locked the door behind him, just as Sterling had instructed her to do. He hadn’t wanted to leave her alone, but she insisted on wanting to shower so he ran to get breakfast, most likely in an attempt to help Laila gain weight. She didn’t mind though.
She quickly stripped out of her clothes and wrapped her bathrobe around her body. She was about to walk to the shower when she heard another knock on the door. She smiled and ran to open it, eager to see Sterling again. They hadn’t talked about where they stood, but she knew that he wanted her back. He still loved her and she now loved him more than ever.
Laila threw open the door, ready to help Sterling with whatever he had brought them to eat, but gasped as she saw who was waiting for her on the other side. Will’s didn’t look like himself. He looked insane, his eyes were wild, his face was red, and his lips were smiling like a madman’s.
Laila tried to close the door but Will was too quick. He stuck his foot in front of the frame and pushed with all his strength as the door came swinging toward him. The force of the push nearly sent Laila flying across the room and she staggered back, trying to catch her footing.
“Are you alone?” Will asked, never taking his eyes off of her.
“No,” Laila lied. “Get out.”
Laila opened her mouth to lie again but stumbled over her words. “My roommate.” Why was he here? She could tell from his expression that his motives weren’t good. Her mind raced as she tried to come up with a way to get him out of her dorm.
She started to panic as Will closed the door behind him and smiled. “It really is just you and me, isn’t it?”
“Will, you need to leave,” Laila warned him, her voice and body shaking.
“Laila, do you have any idea how long I have wanted to get you alone? I’ve wanted it all year, since the first day I saw you.”
Laila was silent, her heart beating faster than she had ever felt it, her throat closing and her legs starting to go weak. It was already painful to breathe and she couldn’t remember an asthma attack ever happening this quickly.
“Laila, you don’t know how hard I’ve tried to get you to see things my way,” Will said, walking toward her. “We could be great together.”
“Don’t come any closer!” Laila tried to scream but her voice was raspy and barely audible. She started backing her way toward her bedroom, keeping her eyes on Will as he approached.
“You shouldn’t be scared of me, Laila. I would never hurt you.” Will reached for her but Laila slapped his hand away as she started coughing and gasping for air. She knew her inhaler was just inside her room but the world around her had started to spin as her head became dizzy. She reached for the doorknob and struggled to open it, staggered inside the room and stumbled toward her night stand.
But Will was too fast for her. His hands wrapped around her waist and she fell to the floor, wheezing violently, unable to shake the panic. Laila knew she had to calm down if she wanted to ride out the asthma attack yet she could feel Will’s hands on her legs, groping and petting, and she knew she was in trouble.
She tried to scream again as her body was being flipped over, her bathrobe pushed open. Her arms and legs were useless as she gasped for air, feeling as if she was getting nothing. Will’s hands were everywhere on her, rough and cold, his nails scratching her skin. She could feel him grabbing for her breasts, his fingers running over her ribs as she squirmed. Her back was arching in spasms as she writhed on the floor in pain. Unable to fight him off, Laila closed her eyes, willing her body to slip into unconsciousness.
Will watched as Laila’s eyes closed. Her face had turned completely white and he knew that he was hurting her. But he couldn’t stop. She was his and she was gorgeous. Her naked body was more beautiful than he had imagined it to be and his eyes raked over her exposed flesh as his hands explored freely. He smiled to himself, knowing that she would now be his completely, in every sense of the word. His head bent toward hers, finally ready to feel her lips against his. But suddenly he felt two strong hands on his shoulders, throwing him from his beloved. One sharp and painful punch to the face, and Will knew his nose was broken. He heard another bone crack as the second one landed strong on his temple. His world faded to black as he felt his body fall to the floor.
Sterling held Laila close and pushed her inhaler to her lips. She was struggling against her own body, wheezing and coughing, scratching at her throat as if someone was choking her. It scared him to see her like this but not as much as it had scared him to see her lying on the ground with Will’s hands all over her. He had been an easy target, though, and Sterling had been able to throw him off of her without much effort. Two quick punches to the head and Will’s body went limp as his eyes closed and his nose started to bleed. Sterling would have liked to take out more aggression on the guy, but Laila was his only concern.
Sterling sighed with relief as Laila’s breathing started to stabilize. Her face was wet with tears and her eyes were still closed. But after a few deep breaths, they fluttered open and she started to take in her surroundings.
“Hey,” Sterling said, his hand cupping her face and trying to draw her attention away from the man lying unconscious on her floor. “You’re okay now.”
Laila took another deep breath and nodded in understanding. She wanted to speak, to tell him that she was frightened, but she couldn’t. So she clung to him, resting her head against his chest and gripping his jacket in her fists. Everything about him was comforting, the way he smelled, the way he held her, the way he whispered in her ear that she didn’t need to be scared.
“You’re here,” she finally managed to murmur.
Sterling pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. “I shouldn’t have left you alone.”
“But you’re here now.” She could feel her body starting to relax, the tight muscles releasing.
“Did he hurt you?”
“I don’t think so.”
“How did he get in here?”
Laila was about to answer him when they both heard the door swing open and footsteps running toward her room.
“Laila!” Nikki cried and came bursting into the room, stopping just short of the bed as she saw the state of her roommate. Sterling pulled Laila’s bathrobe shut and covered her legs the best he could.
“What the hell happened?” Nikki asked, completely out of breath.
“She was having an asthma attack and couldn’t defend herself,” Sterling answered quietly, allowing Nikki’s imagination to fill in the rest.
“Thank God you were here,” Laila’s roommate said quietly.
“Could you call the police?” Sterling asked, amazed that he had been able to stay so calm.
Nikki nodded solemnly and walked from the room, a frightened Brittany coming into view as she left.
But she cut him off before he could finish. “He’s my brother,” she whispered as if she were ashamed. Sterling just looked at her as if nothing could surprise him.
Just then, Will began to moan and his hand slowly moved to hold his face where he had been hit. Sterling started to stand up so he could be prepared for another fight, but Laila gripped his jacket, unwilling to let him go. He gave in to her, of course, lifting her into his arms and walking her into the common room.
“Watch him,” he told Brittany as he passed.
She nodded in compliance and went to stand over her brother. She barely recognized him anymore. His hair hadn’t been cut, his face was bloody and his clothes were dirty. He looked as if he had aged ten years since she last saw him. She wanted to help him, she wanted to tell him that the pain would go away. But she knew that he wouldn’t do the same for her. She knew that he didn’t deserve any form of sympathy. So she hovered over him until she heard the knock on the door and the loud footsteps of the police officers coming to take her brother away.
She watched in silence as they walked into the room, William’s current condition preventing them from having to use much force. He was in no condition to answer questions coherently, so he was read his rights and escorted out of the dorm. It all happened so fast that Brittany could barely react. She stood in the middle of Laila’s room, completely frozen, until she heard the front door close, the sound snapping her back to reality.
Slowly, she walked into the common room, glancing at the couch where Sterling was still holding Laila, their voices hushed as they spoke to one another. Nikki was standing by the window, staring out into the snow but turned her head to Brittany when she saw her approaching. One arm was extended and Brittany tucked herself against Nikki’s side as she was wrapped up in her embrace, the tears finally starting to fall.
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