#Chapter 21: Pariah
The morning after my motorcycle ride with Enzo, I woke up to dozens of Twitter notifications. Still blinking the sleep out of my eyes, I scrunched up my eyebrows as I opened my phone and started to read all of the notifications.
“Wowwww @ninaharpı, alone time with Enzo, huh?”
“Enzo must be joking if he’s hanging around with that ugly nerd @ ninaharpı!!”
“What a slut, messing around with two boys from the hockey team at once. Save some for the rest of us @ ninaharpı!”
I sat up in bed, my eyes glued to the phone as I opened Twitter and realized that someone snuck pictures of Enzo and I last night. There were pictures of #Chapter 21. Pariah
me talking to Justin in the parking lot, a picture of me as I shoved Justin to the ground, Enzo wiping the tears from my cheek, and getting on his motorcycle together.
I knew I shouldn’t have trusted him. This was just another step in the game he was playing with me!
As I looked at the time, I realized that I had class in twenty minutes. I jumped out of bed and threw on some jeans and a t-shirt, quickly braided my hair and brushed my teeth, and ran out of my room.
Jessica was standing in the kitchen when I came out of my room. She looked up from making her coffee briefly, then looked back down. Even in that brief moment, I could see tears in her eyes.
“It was really nothing,” I said,
assuming that she already saw the #Chapter 21 Parian
photos. “Justin was harassing me and Enzo just happened to show up. He drove me home.”
“Enzo seems to just magically appear around 1 you a lot lately,” she grumbled as she poured her coffee.
I sighed and adjusted my bag on my shoulder. “It was just a coincidence,” I said.
Jessica suddenly slammed the coffee pot down, sloshing coffee on the counter. “Bullshit,” she said, glaring at me as tears streamed down her cheeks. “What is your relationship with him, really?”
I looked down at the floor and bit my lip. “I’m just the team doctor,” I replied. “But not for long. I’m gonna talk to the dean today and get reassigned.”
“Nina, I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” Jessica said, her lip quivering.”
#Chapter 21 Pariah
You told me that there was nothing between you before, and I had a hard time believing it then. Now I know something is going on without a doubt. I just wish you were honest with me, that’s all.”
Truthfully, I wanted to be honest with Jessica about everything, but right now I had to get to class.
“Look,” I said, “I’ll tell you everything later. But I’m gonna be late for class.”
Jessica sniffled and nodded, then turned away and grabbed a paper towel to start cleaning up the coffee she spilled. Without another word, I ran out the door.
By the time I got to class, I was already exhausted from all of the dirty looks and whispering from other girls. I kept my head down and sat in the back of the lecture hall; the girls who I sat next to got up and moved seats when I sat #Chapter 21: Pariah
down, making me feel even more like a pariah. I just tried to keep my head down and pretend like I was looking at my notes.
As I was looking at my notebook, someone sat down next to me. I looked up to see Lisa sitting beside me with an angry expression on her face.
“Not today, please, Lisa,” I said, rummaging through my bag for my pen.
Lisa scoffed. “I told you to stay away from both of them,” she growled. “We had a deal, remember?”
“I remember,” I replied. “But all of this is out of my control. I didn’t ask to be the team doctor.”
Lisa stood and huffed, folding her arms across her chest. “Who knows what sort of dirty deal you made to be the team doctor?” she said, raising her voice. “For all I know, you probably slept with someone to get that position #Chapter 21 Pariah
just so you could fuck the whole team by the end of the semester. You’re such a little slut!”
The other students started whispering amongst themselves. Lisa, pleased with herself, stomped off to sit back with her gaggle of bitchy friends.
After the lecture, I was the first to leave the room so I could get ahead of Lisa and her minions.
Thankfully, I ran into Lori in the quad, who seemed to be the only person at this stupid school who didn’t hate me right now.
“Thank god,” I said, rushing toward her and walking with her. “I can’t take this anymore. I feel like I’ve got a bullseye on my back.”
Lori looked me up and down. “Well, not a bullseye exactly,” she said, pulling a piece of paper off of my back. “Just
I grabbed the paper and winced. ”
Cheap slut! $5 blowjobs,” the paper said. I whirled around to see a group of students snickering nearby.
“You think this is funny?!” I said, waving the paper in the air. “Fuck you!”
Lori wrapped her arm around my shoulders and guided me away. “Ignore them,” she said, grabbing the paper from my hands and crumpling it before throwing it in a trash can. “They’re not worth your time. It’ll pass.”
“I never should’ve gotten involved with Justin or Enzo,” I said, fighting back tears as Lori led me away from the quad.
“I told you,” she replied. “That whole team is a bunch of no-good jerks.”
I returned to my dorm after a morning full of dreadful classes, finally relieved to be able to hide in my room and not have to deal with any of the bullying. So long as I didn’t look at my phone or open Twitter, it would be okay.
I still had to talk to Jessica, though. I could hear music coming from her room so I walked over and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” she said from inside. I opened the door and stepped in, shutting it behind me. She was sitting at her desk, surrounded by notebooks and papers as she worked on an assignment.
“Hey,” I said. “Can we talk now?”
Jessica put down her pencil and nodded hesitantly.
I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you,” I said. “It’s just that… I made a mistake, the night #Chapter 21 Parah
Justin cheated on me. I was angry and drunk, and I just wanted to fill the void. Enzo was at the bar and offered to give me some company. I didn’t think that it would go any further than that, but…. He’s been pursuing me ever since then.”
Jessica looked down at her lap and tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, biting her lip before speaking.
“So what are you two now?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I want to say we’re friends, but part of me still feels like all of this is some huge prank that Enzo and Lisa are playing on me. I can’t comprehend any other scenario in which someone like Enzo would ever want an ugly nerd like me.”
Jessica stood up suddenly and stormed over to me. For a second, I thought that she was going to hit me for sleeping with Enzo, but she didn’t. She grabbed #Chapter 21 Pariah
my shoulders and stared into my eyes.
“You are not ugly,” she said softly. You’re gorgeous, and smart, and any guy would feel lucky to have you. Don’t you dare call yourself that.”
Jessica’s words struck me to my core. Tears welled up in my eyes and I collapsed into her, crying into her shoulder while she rubbed my back.
“I didn’t want any of this,” I sobbed into Jessica’s shoulder. “None of this would have happened if I had just never slept with Enzo.”
Once I couldn’t cry anymore, Jessica and I hung out for a while until I felt too exhausted to stay up any longer. I went to my room that night and fell asleep, dreaming about standing by the ocean with Enzo.
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