Unstitched(5)

By: Jacquie Underdown



‘You okay, sweetie?’

I nodded.

‘Pretty boy must be insane to turn down a night of revenge sex with you,’ said Brendt.

‘Exactly,’ said Rachel. ‘Although, you didn’t have to phrase it quite so indelicately, Brendt.’

‘He didn’t turn me down.’ I opened my eyes and stared across at them, Rachel in the middle, Brendt beside her. My head was spinning and I had to really focus. ‘I chickened out. And I’m okay about it.’

‘Good for you,’ said Rachel, squeezing my knee.

‘I just couldn’t say the words to him. Even though he looked like a fucking sex god. Seriously, who looks like that?’

Rachel giggled. ‘He was way too attractive. That can only be a bad thing.’

I shrugged. ‘Bad, shmad. Who am I to know? My judge of character is obviously waaayyyy off.’

‘Don’t beat yourself up, Anthy. Leith had us all fooled,’ said Brendt.

Then the tears began — drunken end-of-night, woe-is-me tears creeping down my cheeks. I sniffed and wiped them away with my palms. ‘Who sleeps with someone for a freakin’ bet? Who tapes someone while you’re having sex with them and passes it on to his mates as though it were a cheap porno?’ I groaned and scrubbed my hands over my face. ‘I can only imagine how many people have seen that footage.’

Rachel winced, opened her mouth to speak, but sighed instead.

I closed my eyes again to stifle the spinning, to stem the stream of tears.

Who was I kidding? I didn’t chicken out with Lucas. Not exactly. He was simply too decent a guy to use for revenge sex. He seemed to glow so brightly with goodness, I felt but a shadow leaning towards him and wanting to drown my face in his light.





Chapter 2


Anthea

Oh, my freakin’ God. What foul beast suggested I drown my sorrows on a Sunday night when I had to get up early for work the next day?

Oh, right. I did. When I stupidly, regretfully thought a bottle of tequila and table-top dancing would bury Leith’s betrayal. Note to self: don’t ever be so bloody stupid again. I ran to the toilet and retched up every last modicum of yellow acid from the pit of my stomach and then some. I rested my throbbing head on the toilet seat and flopped my arse onto the cold tiles. My head was splitting in two, my nerve endings wrought with dull, aching pain. So this is what it must feel like when you’re dying.

There was no way I was going in to work today.

***

I strolled down the long grey hall flanked by countless square offices. With each breath inwards I smelled dust, carpet cleaning products and time.

‘Get your butt in here, missy.’

Sabine.

I stopped mid-step, smiled and stuck my head into her office. She was behind her enormous mahogany desk, her auburn hair pulled up into a high ponytail. Her lips were half scowling, half grinning.

‘Good morning, boss.’ Sabine was technically my boss, but also one of my best friends.

‘Good morning, indeed. And where was my good morning yesterday?’ Even with the light-heartedness of the conversation the pain was still too raw. My throat tightened. It must have shown on my face.

‘Oh dear,’ she said. ‘Shut the door and tell me all about it.’

So I did. Every sordid detail.

Sabine leant back against her seat, clasped her hands behind her head. ‘Arsehole!’ she hissed.

I sighed. ‘Don’t I know it.’

‘So what are you going to do? What about the footage?’

I shrugged. ‘What can I do? There’s no way to stop it.’

Sabine lowered her palms to the desk and shook her head. ‘What a cluster fuck.’

‘It’s the constant thinking that’s making me crazy. I was kinda hoping I could take some time off work and get away for a couple of weeks until it all blows over.’

Sabine nodded. ‘That might be a good idea. I’m happy to give you time off next week, but I really, really, really need you this week.’

My shoulders drooped. ‘The fundraiser. I almost forgot.’

She grinned. ‘How could you forget the dreaded fundraiser? But, we’re so close now. Saturday’s the big night and then it will be nothing but a wretched memory.’

‘So next week?’

Sabine pushed her mouse and clacked her fingers over the keyboard. ‘I’m locking it in now. Two weeks starting Monday. But you need to give me your full attention until Saturday. I can’t have you getting distracted.’

‘My mind’s on the task. I promise.’

She leant back against her chair, crossed her arms over her chest. ‘Good, because I’ve got some bad news.’

I held my breath. I had no other methods left for dealing with more bad news, not unless I called in a complete mental breakdown.

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