Summary: "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Meredith Boyce. My name is Callum Markovics and I'm a recently recovered drug addict who is totally in love with a girl I don't deserve."
I gazed at the fountain as the light from the ballroom caught the falling water, glinting and highlighting it beautifully. I shifted, my beautiful dress crunching as it grated against the stone steps. It was my favourite dress – a gold and white corset-like piece – and I had saved it for this occasion.
Well, for one guy really.
Sure, there were tons of hot guys in the ballroom I had just left but none of them were him.
'Him' being Callum Markovics, bad boy extraordinaire.
Also known as my boyfriend.
This night had been extremely important to me – it was the night I proved my family wrong. My family weren't your typical happy, loving group. They were super rich and everything to them was a competition. My own parents had set my sister and I against each other since we were little, so any chance of having a good relationship with her went down the drain. Chloe Boyce was as cold as she was beautiful – and she was gorgeous. Her boyfriends were always stunning – no matter which one she had picked up this week.
I glanced behind me and I could faintly make out my parents laving attention onto her and her current boy toy, as per usual. They probably hadn't even noticed by absence.
Tonight was supposed to be the night where I would prove them all wrong. None of them believed I could actually have a good-looking friend, let alone a boyfriend.
I know this sounds as if I grabbed onto Cal because of his good looks, but it was anything but. At first, I had stayed as far away as possible from him because of his fearsome reputation and his stunning looks – in my estimation, beautiful people equalled trouble. But somehow, we had been drawn together time and time again and I began to see a different side of him – a caring side. It was small and malnourished, but it was still there.
And he seemed to only bring it out when I was around.
All my friends called me an idiot for dating such a rule-breaker; they said that I'd only hurt myself.
But they didn't see the side of him that I did. Sure, I knew he was into drugs and the like but he was past that. As naïve as I sounded, I trusted him. That was, to me, what a relationship was all about – unwavering trust in your partner.
But there was only so much I could take.
This wasn't the first time he had stood me up – he'd done it a few times before, but I'd always just waved it away. However he knew how important this was to me – how fucked up my family was and how much it hurt me.
And yet he wasn't here.
Tears gathered in my eyes but I looked up at the sky, angrily forcing them down. I would not ruin my makeup and I would not cry because he stood me up. He'd never come to one of my scant family gatherings before – why would he start now?
Sighing, I pushed myself up off the ground, telling myself to be strong as I dusted off my dress.
I took a deep breath, composing myself, before I put on a bright smile and entered the hall once again. Almost straight away, Chloe caught my eye and beckoned me over. Reluctantly, I made my way over, smile straining.
"Good evening mother, father, Chloe," I said, ignoring her boy toy as I had no idea what his name was and I didn't particularly care.
"Meredith – where have you been all night? Some of the guests have been asking after you," father said, his eyes like steel.
My smile turned slightly dry. The only guests that would have been asking after me would be the overly horny bachelors that thought I'd be an 'easy lay' like my sister.
"I've been around," I answered shortly, not wanting to draw this conversation out any longer than it needed to be.
"Oh, I don't think you've met my boyfriend! Meredith, this is Carlos – he's a model," Chloe said, eyes glinting victoriously.
I gave Carlos a cold smile and nod, preparing myself for the jab I knew would come.
"Now that I've introduced my boyfriend, where is yours?" Chloe asked, raising one perfectly plucked eyebrow, a vicious smile twisting her gorgeous features.
"I guess he couldn't make it," I said, voice quiet as the hurt washed over me again.
Chloe let out a tinkling laugh. "'He couldn't make it'?" she mimicked. "That's the worst excuse I've ever heard! Just admit it, Meredith – he's not real."
My face burned red in humiliation. "Why would I make up that my boyfriend is coming to this event?"
Chloe's eyes were filled with malicious glee. "Why wouldn't you? It must be pretty embarrassing that no guy would ever be interested in what little you have to offer, so you had to make it up! What was his name again? Callum Malcolm?"
"It's Markovics," I said, my voice surprisingly strong even though I was dieing inside. "And—"
"Markovics?" my mother interrupted. "As in Dominic Markovics?"
I grimaced. Dominic was Callum's older brother, a year younger than Chloe, who was the Golden Boy of this town. I'd always found that – the few times I'd talked to him – he was quite dull and didn't hold up a good conversation very well. Although Cal and Dominic's relationship was nowhere near as vicious as Chloe and mine's, Cal still heavily felt the pressures of having such a superstar brother. I'd told him numerous times that he was a much better person than Dominic, but his insecurities failed to fade away.
"Yes, he's the younger brother of Dominic Markovics," I said, glad that my mother had unintentionally given my claim some support.
"Oh my God," Chloe exclaimed. "So Callum is real – he just isn't your boyfriend! Have you ever even spoken to him?" she cried, tittering, and her boyfriend laughed as well.
I could feel my cheeks grow even hotter as my humiliation spurred my anger, but I knew that if I lost my composure Chloe would win and I would be left feeling smaller than before.
"Regardless of whether you believe me or not, my boyfriend can't make it tonight as an emergency came up." Chloe snorted at my lie, but I ignored her.
"Well, seeing as he is not here there are a few young gentlemen that are dying to meet you," my mother said, smiling slightly at the thought of finally cornering me into meeting with the rich bastards that she called 'gentlemen'.
"Actually, I'm not feeling too well so if you'll excuse me…?"
My mother looked angry but before anyone could say anything, I walked off. I could feel Chloe's spiteful gaze burning holes into my back the whole time, but I shrugged it off.
I grabbed my clutch off a table and kept walking, heading towards the door as opposed to my room.
"Can you get my car for me, please? It's the black BMW," I asked the valet.
"I'm sorry, miss, but I am under strict instructions from your parents not to bring you a car," he said impassively, not looking into my eyes.
My mouth popped open. Was he serious? My night had just gotten that much worse. I took a shaky breath, trying to still the tears. First, my boyfriend had stood me up on the most important night of my life, then my sister humiliated me and, to top it all off, I had no car.
I smiled thinly. "Oh. Thanks anyway."
I felt the emotions rising up through me and, not thinking, I walked straight out of the huge mansion. I didn't even bother bringing a coat or changing shoes, so I was walking down the street at eleven at night in four-inch heels and a short dress. Finally, with no one around, I let the tears trail down my face, ruining my carefully applied makeup. I got out my phone and looked in the contacts, scrolling down until Callum was highlighted.
My finger hovered over the green call button.
I couldn't do it. Call me a chicken or whatever, but he had hurt me so deeply that I couldn't muster the courage to confront him just yet. Next, I thought about ringing Petrisse, a close friend of mine.
But I knew what she'd say – 'I told you so, Meredith, but you never listen, do you?' – and that was the last thing I needed at the moment.
Unconsciously, I stopped and looked up at the house I was standing in front of. It was another mansion, one I recognised as Ellie's. Cal had actually introduced me to Ellie but I formed a bond with the girl, liking her blunt, down-to-earth view of the world.
Weirdly, even though she was the exact opposite of my generally cheery nature, I felt I could trust her. She was one of the only people I trusted to give an unbiased, truthful opinion.
With this reasoning, I wiped away my tears and knocked on her door.
I counted to twenty in my head and when no one answered, I knocked again.
"Alright, I'm coming!" came her cranky voice. "Fuck, some people are so impatient."
The door swung open and Ellie's eyes widened in surprise.
"Hey," I said, smiling weakly as I took in her bright pink pyjamas.
Her eyes narrowed as she took in my stylish dress, messy hair and tear stained face.
"Get in," she said, "you're making me cold."
Smiling gratefully, I stepped past her into the foyer where I stood there awkwardly.
"Come on, there's a pull out bed underneath mine," Ellie said, heading towards the stairs.
Her room wasn't what I had expected – truthfully, I'd anticipated it to be black and have heavy metal band posters up everywhere. Instead, it was all white and steel, very minimalist looking like the rest of the house.
As I looked around the room, Ellie pulled out a mattress and fetched some blankets.
"Are your parents okay with this? 'Cause I can go if you—"
She shot me an annoyed look. "Meredith, seriously, it's cool. If I didn't want you here do you seriously thing I wouldn't tell you to get the fuck out?"
My mouth formed into an 'oh' and I rushed to help her with making the bed, kicking off my tall heels.
Once we were finished, Ellie threw a towel at me. "The shower is the first door on the left and you can borrow any of my clothes. Now be quick 'cause I really wanna go back to sleep."
My eyebrows rose as I pictured Ellie, of all people, going to bed before eleven on a weekend, even if it were Sunday. She frowned at me and I quickly hopped to it.
During my shower, I pondered my predicament. I guess it had become a regular occurrence when my parents were having a fancy party, I'd usually take the car and run off. They obviously didn't expect me to go anywhere without a car – it would've stopped Chloe, but not me.
This trail of thought led me to the reason why I'd fled the party and my family in the first place – Callum.
Even though I was only eighteen and still in school, I could honestly say that I loved him. We'd been going out for about six months although I'd known him for roughly two years. Throughout the past six months, I had been happy with him. Hell, I'd been more than happy. Despite what most of my friends said, Callum did have a gentle side to him – he still took me out on dates, acted like a complete gentleman and even bought me flowers on occasion. He was a hell of a lot more chivalrous than some of my friend's boyfriends, who never opened a door for them or even paid for their dinner.
My wistful smile disappeared as I remembered the bad times of the relationship. I'd ignored his drug abuse at first but at my urging, he'd quit – he'd said he wasn't addicted anyway, he just did it socially.
He'd stood me up a few times before, but he'd always had an excuse so I forgave him. Maybe he had one now…?
But what reason could justify his absence on a night that meant so much to me? Not only had he, once again, failed to meet my family but he'd humiliated me in front of everyone.
It just didn't seem like in a relationship where we were supposed to be equal, I seemed to be bending over backwards for him while he did the exact opposite.
Sighing, I cast these thoughts aside as I turned off the shower, wrapped the towel around myself and headed back to Ellie's room.
She wasn't in there, but she'd laid out a pair of tracksuit pants and a ratty top. I gratefully slipped them on just as a knock sounded at the door.
"You dressed?" Ellie called, and once I'd answered she let herself in.
"Right. Well. I'm going to bed so too bad if you wanted to stay up," she said as she flicked off the light.
Feeling around, I managed to find my bed and wriggle into it. Ellie seriously was a God send – not only did she help me, but she didn't ask any questions or pry into my personal life.
And that's probably the reason why I blurted, "Should I break up with Callum?"
There was no sound at all for a moment, until, "What makes you say this?" Her voice was careful.
I sighed. "He… He was supposed to come to an important party with me tonight to meet my family but he stood me up."
"Did he know how important it was to you?"
I laughed, slightly bitterly. "Definitely."
"Do you still trust him?"
I thought for a moment and came to a hard decision. "No," I said quietly. "I don't think I do."
"Well then there's your answer. Now go to sleep – we have school tomorrow morning and I'm dead tired."
The next day I'd still heard no word from Callum. Well, I hadn't called him or anything but he had yet to talk to me at all. I hadn't seen him during the first half of the day, but I imagined he was skipping in his usual spot.
For the whole morning, I tried to act like my usual self. I smiled brightly and laughed loudly, not wanting anyone to realise how depressed I was feeling. After my talk with Ellie last night I had thought for half the night, yet I still hadn't come to a decision on Callum. I didn't want to break up with him, yet I didn't want to be strung along like a puppet for his amusement.
I needed to talk with him.
I had a free period just before lunch, so I set out for his usual skipping spot. It was next to the oval, where a row of trees blocked them from everyone's sight. As I got closer, I heard some laughter and a sweet scent drifted across to me.
Sniffing, my stomach dropped as I realised I could smell pot.
But there was no need to jump to any conclusions – it could just be his friends, right?
I pushed past the row of trees and the clearing went silent as they caught sight of me.
About five girls and boys – including Ellie – were sitting in a rough circle, passing several joints around. I swallowed tightly as I saw Callum quickly pick the little paper cigarette out of his mouth and hand it to the girl next to him.
"Callum, can I please talk to you?" I asked stiffly, highly aware of everyone's eyes on me.
The group oohed.
"Looks like someone's in trouble!" one of the boys hooted, making the others laugh.
My eyes narrowed as I felt my cheeks burn but I stood firm. These stoners were nothing compared to the cruelness of my sister and my parents – if I could stand up to them, I could stand up to these kids.
Callum leaned back, snapping, "Shut the fuck up, Doug."
"Holy shit! He's pussy whipped! The sex must be fucking awesome!" the one called Doug cried, sending the group into gales of laughter. Ellie sat at a bit of a distance to the group, back against a tree as she watched the exchange with slightly curious eyes.
I shot the guy a disgusted look, but decided to ignore him and focus on Callum. "Well if you're not coming then could you at least tell me where you were last night?" I asked. I would never admit it, but I was getting desperate. The dilemma that was bouncing around in my head was going to kill me.
Callum's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to say something, but the girl next to him beat him to it.
"He was with us, wasn't he Doug?" At Doug's nod, she continued. "We was just trying out some new stuff. Pretty fucking stellar, eh babe?" She gave Callum a seductive look before turning back to me, her eyes going cold. "'Ave you got a problem with that, pretty girl?"
I felt as if my world was collapsing around me. My eyes met Callum's – which had widened further – and I was sure he could see the mammoth pain displayed there for a moment. I covered it up quickly, though, and put on the mask I used with my family. For the first time in years, I dredged up the Chloe in me and acted the way she would.
"Not at all…" I trailed off, cocking my head in confusion. "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" I asked, making the question sound as degrading as possible. I put my tall height to use as I looked down my nose at her.
"Lana…" she said slowly, warily.
"Well, Lana, no I don't have a problem with that. I would just like to give you two my blessing, since Callum and I are no longer together as of, oh, a minute ago." I shrugged, acting as if this wasn't killing me inside. "You two go awesome together – he's a lying, cheating piece of shit; you seem to be the town bike which everyone's taken a ride of, and you're both going absolutely nowhere in your drugs and alcohol ridden lives." I paused as they all stared up at me, mouths open in shock. Lana stuttered out something, pushing to her feet. "I guess this is my cue. I'll probably see you guys in ten years when you're pumping gas into my new sports car."
And with that, I turned on my heel and stalked away.
Five minutes later saw me in the girls bathroom, curled up on the toilet – lid down, mind you – and sobbing my eyes out. Out of all the things Callum could have done to me, this took the cake. Not only had he skipped the dinner but he'd done it so he could go and get high and fuck the saintly Lana.
I wanted to feel angry, but all my rage had been put into my Chloe-esque performance before. It made me feel disgusting that I'd done that to someone, but I wanted Callum to hurt just as much as I was hurting at the moment.
Finally, the lunch bell went and I heard people walking down the corridor, some coming into the bathroom to fix up their makeup and gossip.
One conversation caught my attention.
"Oh my god!" exclaimed a girl who had just burst through the door. I couldn't see who it was, but the voice didn't sound familiar. "You'll never guess what I just heard!"
"What? Is it good?"
"It is awesome! I heard from Raquel who heard from Tiarne who heard from Michelle who heard from Lana that Callum Markovics and Meredith Boyce have broken up!"
I heard multiple gasps, whereas my reaction was to bury my face in my hands as new tears sprung to my eyes.
"No fucking way! As cute and cliché as they were together, I am so glad that Cal is back on the market. He is hot!"
"Do you ever think of someone else's feelings but your own, Alex?"
My eyes widened. That was Petrisse.
"Um… what are you talking about, Peta?"
"Can you even imagine what Meredith's going through at the moment?" There was a paused, until Petrisse groaned. "You can't, can you?" she muttered and I heard her angry footsteps stalk out of the bathroom.
I winced. I did not want Peta finding out about the break-up that way. After a few minutes – to make sure those girls were gone – I exited the bathroom, making sure to keep my hair across my face as I strode towards my locker. However luck was against me as I was grabbed by the arm and hauled into an empty, semi-dark classroom. I went to scream but it died in my throat as I caught sight of the familiar, hazel eyes. I could feel the usual wave of desire wash through me, but I muffled my giddy reaction and glared up at him.
"What the hell do you want?" I snapped and his eyebrows rose in surprise.
"You sound like Ellie," he said, his deep voice sending a shiver through me.
I gave him an annoyed look and turned around to run, but his hand stopped me and pulled me back to face him.
"We need to talk, Meredith."
I dug my nails into my palms as I faced the guy I loved – the guy who had broken my heart.
"Really? Wow, that sounds exactly like what I asked a while ago. How about I show you the same courtesy you showed me?" I was barely aware of what I was doing; I was so caught up in the tidal wave of conflicting emotions that were assaulting me.
As if in slow motion, my hand reared back and I punched him, hard, in the jaw. His head snapped to the side as he stumbled slightly then straightened, his hand to his reddening jaw.
As his eyes met mine I felt a moment of fear, until I realised they were not full of violent anger.
"Fuck you, Callum," I hissed, "for breaking my heart." I wanted to sound threatening and intimidating, but by the end of it my voice was wavering and weak and tears had gathered in my eyes again.
"Meredith, please, you don't understand—"
"'Don't understand'?! What's not to understand? You ditched me to take drugs and fuck Lana. Considering all the times you've had 'emergencies' and stood me up, I think I was a pretty understanding girlfriend." I went to turn away, but I stopped and whipped back around. "And you know what the worst thing is? All my friends warned me that this exact thing would happen! They told me that 'privileged' girls like me should not be playing around with a lowlife like you, as I would be the one hurt by the end of it. Were they right, Cal? Was I just some game to you?"
His brow furrowed. "What? No, Meredith, you weren't some fucking game! I lo—"
My hand flew up to cover his mouth and he looked at it in bewilderment. "Please…" I whispered. "Just don't." I removed my hand from his mouth and walked backwards to the door.
My eyes traced over his body. He was seriously the most gorgeous guy I had ever met – with his strong build, sharp yet handsome features, pitch black hair and hazel eyes he could make even the hardest of hearts swoon.
And I had fallen for him. Hard.
But now it was time to get over him.
"Callum, it's over," I said softly.
Before he could say anything, I opened the door and raced out, fleeing from his devastated eyes like the coward I was.
"So, I heard you broke up with my good-for-nothing brother. 'Bout time too, babe," Dominic said, leaning his hip against my table and crossing his arms so his muscles bulged out. I found my lip curling in disgust. I'd broken up with Callum yesterday, and this meathead was already harassing me?
"Please leave me alone, Dom," I said wearily, taking a sip of my hot chocolate. I was in the chocolate bar a few blocks away from my house, gouging myself on the sweet goodness that was chocolate.
To my annoyance, he flopped into the seat across from me, pouting. "Aw, no need to be like that 'cause you broke up with my little brother. He always was a dirty, unappreciative piece of shit."
I tried to get angry, but I couldn't rouse any form of passion at the moment. My mood was too dull that my emotions now ranged from fake happy to tears.
"I don't need you telling me that," I said quietly, staring down at the magazine I was attempting to read. I blinked back the tears that welled up as memories of Callum began to overwhelm me again.
"Well good. You're probably the only one that was still full of all those fucking stupid illusions about him—"
"I'm leaving," I said abruptly, standing up and striding out of there, regretfully leaving my plate of chocolate in there.
Dominic managed to catch up with me.
"Okay, we won't talk about the scum that is my little brother. What do you want to talk about, then?"
"Nothing," I said, sighing as I looked up at the sky, wondering how to get him to leave. "Absolutely nothing. I want you to go away."
He put on a mock-offended look. "Why, I'm just making sure that my little brother's hot ex-girlfriend gets home safe and sound."
Finally, when I was in sight of my house, I rounded on him. "Seriously, Dom, I don't want to have sex with you. I don't want anything to do with you or your brother anymore, so please, kindly get fucked!"
He put his hands up. "Whoa, should've just said that at the beginning," he said, a mischievous gleam in his eye. "I'm out of here then."
He leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek before smiling at me once more. Finally, he turned and walked away, whistling merrily as he went.
I turned back around and froze.
Callum was standing in my driveway, staring at me, a beautiful flower held limply in one hand; a letter in the other.
His eyes were blank as I hesitantly walked towards him, hands trembling. Seeing him standing there, beautiful hazel eyes closed as he slouched in his usual, uncaring posture, made my heart beat faster and my palms get sweater. Damn him for still having this effect on me.
The sun caught the side of his face, highlighting his many piercings in his ear and the two in his eyebrow. The end of a twirling tattoo could be seen, peeking out from above the collar of his shirt. My parents would kill me if they knew I was going out with a guy like him, but I couldn't care less.
"What do you want?" I wanted it to come out cold, but instead my voice was weary and tired, quavering sightly.
"I…" He sighed, closing his eyes and letting his head drop. I wanted nothing more than to tilt his chin back up and kiss him, but I couldn't. He wasn't mine anymore and that was my decision. "I wanted to come by and give you this."
Without looking at me, he held out the flower and letter.
"What is it?" I asked, not taking it.
He didn't answer my question, saying instead, "Already guys are lining up to get a date with you. Did you know that? Even my fucking brother is. They were all right, you know, you shouldn't have been with me. You should choose someone else. Anyway… I just had to give you this."
When I still didn't take it, he put it on the roof of my car, stuck his hands in his pocket and walked off. He stopped a few metres away but didn't turn around.
"Goodbye, Meredith," he whispered, before striding off down the road.
I stayed there, my heart beating wildly as he rounded the corner and disappeared from my sight. Finally, I reluctantly took the flower and letter and headed inside. No one was home, so I put the flower in a vase and sat it on my desk.
The letter I left unopened on my bedside table.
It was calling to me. It was one o'clock in the morning, yet still sleep eluded me. Callum's last words to me kept repeating over and over again inside my head and the letter was burning a hole in my side.
Finally, I groaned as I sat up in bed and flicked on my lamp, grabbing the small envelope. I angrily tore it open, promising that after this letter, I'd stop thinking about that jerk – I'd get over him.
You probably won't read this letter… but I'm writing it anyway. You deserve to know the truth. You were always completely truthful to me and your faith in me was… it was pretty amazing, actually. You're probably the first person in a long time to have faith in me and trust me, and I let you down. Typical. The truth, finally, is this. I'm in love with you, but I don't think you want to hear that now. I did give up the drugs when you asked me to, I swear. I went without for longer then I ever have before, but it was inevitable I guess… Three weeks ago I gave into temptation and had some weed. But I couldn't stop there. I think I could have resisted if my heart had been fully in it… but it wasn't. As I said before, you're one of the only people to have any sort of faith in me, and I guess I was just waiting for you to leave me. So I wanted to force you away. And it worked. For toying with you, I'm sorry. I know this won't help you get over me, but I'm selfish – I want you to stay half in love with me. I've made a decision, Meredith. I'm going to straighten myself out. I'm going to rehab. For you. I'm going to get straightened out and come back to prove to you that I was worth your time. I don't expect you to wait for me or want to see me after what I did to you… but I'm going to get better. About Lana, she's no one. With the amount of STDs she's carrying I wouldn't go near her with a ten foot pole. Not that I'd go near her anyway, even if she were clean. And, to tell you the truth, your family intimidate me. Yeah… Don't let that out, it will ruin my street rep. My family aren't exactly the supportive type, but at least they didn't give a shit about who I dated – yours, on the other hand, would rip me into shreds. They'd know that I wasn't good enough for you.
That's all I really wanted to tell you. So… goodbye.
Tears streamed down my cheeks and dripped onto Callum's messy scrawl, so I quickly wiped my face. Callum was leaving? He was going to rehab… for me?
I let out a sob as I clutched the letter to my heart. How could he do this to me? I knew, deep down, that I would hope. He knew that – and he admitted that he was being selfish.
I lay there, sobbing, until my tears dried out and I finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
Callum hadn't been at school for the past three weeks. That's twenty-one days. I'm not even going to lie, I counted. Every single day he wasn't there, I felt the emptiness within me grow. But, after the first two weeks, I finally managed to ignore it. I began to push him to the back of my mind, even though he was still in my thoughts for a good half of each day.
Petrisse and the rest of my friends had introduced me to a million and a half guys, but none of them had hooded hazel eyes and oozed sex appeal. All of them were too eager to please, too pretty, too tall, too short, too nice. I wanted one guy and he had disappeared from my life. Hell, I had thrown him out of my life; I had dumped him yet I acted as if our situations were reversed. Had he gone to rehab like he'd said? Did he miss me, wherever he was? Did he even think about me as much as I thought about him?
Another family function was coming up – my parents' anniversary. It's a miracle they've stayed together for this long, so I guess it is worth celebrating. I didn't even bother finding someone to go with – I was going stag and I seriously couldn't give a shit. I'd have a miserable time, but I'm pretty sure no one there could make me feel worse than what I already was. In two days, I would have to face Chloe, her newest boy toy and her petty taunts.
"We should so go to the movies tonight!" one of my friends cried, nudging me and grinning at me.
I smiled back. "I would, but it's a school night. Sorry. Maybe another time?" The offer was futile – even before Callum, I wasn't into going to the movies with my group of friends. I liked movies well enough, but I hated that they all invited guys along, then spent the whole movie exchanging looks, giggling and flirting. Hell, one time we spent an hour outside the movies in the freezing cold talking uselessly as one of the girl's tried to get a date.
After that, I swore off going to the movies in groups.
Petrisse shot me a look before dragging me out of the group. "Why are you being so fucking gloomy?"
I blinked at her. "No reason."
She sighed angrily. "It's because of Callum. God, I'm hating that boy more and more each day. Get over him, Meredith! He's a deadbeat – a stoner. He's going nowhere, and now he's disappeared! I bet he's wasted in a ditch somewhere, knowing him. You're better off without him, seriously. Look, I've got this really nice guy lined up—"
I snapped. "Peta, shut up! You're getting as bad as my parents! I'm not interested in any of those shallow pretty boys, and I don't think I ever will be, Callum or no Callum! I don't need this shit from you at school; I'm already getting it at home."
She threw up her hands. "I don't understand you, Meredith. How could a smart, pretty girl like you fall for someone like him?! He is just going to drag you down. I'm looking out for you, Meredith! I don't want to see you become like him – a cold, uncaring dropkick that only cares about where his next joint is coming from!"
I glared at her. "I know you don't believe me but he is more than that. So much more. Not everyone has had bright, sparkling lives and can laugh and be carefree every day. Cal actually has some depth, unlike the rest of those shallow pigs you paraded in front of me. You know we haven't even had sex yet? Every other guy you've sent me up with expected it on the first date. However hard it is for you to believe, he is a true gentleman."
Petrisse stared at me, lips pursed. Finally, she sighed wearily and deflated. "Fine. I get it. You truly do love him. I've tried my best to persuade you otherwise, but you're not going anywhere, are you?" I shook my head firmly. "I'll stop, then. I'll leave you to pine after him and I won't say anything."
I smiled slightly. "Thanks, Peta. That's all I want."
I stood in front of my floor length mirror, breathing deeply. Despite my glum mood, I found some solace in shimmying into a beautiful dress and applying my makeup. I smoothed down the front of my short, rainbow dress, letting my breath out in a whoosh before slipping on some black ankle boots with a huge heel. I took another look to make sure my hair was in place before stepping out of my room. Normally I barely cared about my appearance, but my family were vicious. I'd already been through the stage where I'd deliberately provoke them by wearing grungy clothing, and I didn't want to go back there.
The party was lively as I made my way down the staircase and into the main room. Almost immediately, one of the guys that dad had been forcing on me hunted me down.
"Meredith! How are you this evening, sweetheart? You look stunning."
I smiled thinly. "I am well, thank you…" His name escaped me. I covered up my blunder with a wide smile and he, being so vacant and shallow, didn't seem to notice.
He handed me one of the glasses of champagne in his hand and grasped my elbow, leading me outside. I don't think he noticed the way I leant away from him. When we arrived outside, I leant against the balcony edge. Unfortunately, he crowded my space my standing directly next to me. I would have inched away, but I was boxed into the corner.
Maybe he wouldn't try anything?
After a few minutes of inane chatter, I knew my hopes were for nothing. His not-so-subtle glances down my cleavage were getting longer. And eventually, he leaned in for the kill.
"Oh my gosh, I just remembered something! I need to be over there, sorry!" I cried, giving him a strained grin as I ducked out from underneath his arm and made my escape.
When I was back inside, I gave a sigh of relief. I'd managed to evade suitor number one. Unfortunately, my lucky streak ended when dad appeared in front of me, smiling coldly as he basically dragged me over to suitor number two.
"Derrick, here, has attained a full scholarship to Sydney University to do what, might I ask?"
"Ah, medicine! Now that requires a high grade. I'm sure you'd make a fine amount of money from that, wouldn't you?"
Dad should have been a sales man.
Luckily, he was soon interrupted by one of the hired servants.
"Sir, there is a man at the door saying that he is here to see your daughter."
My eyebrows perked up, but dad waved his hand dismissively. "They always are. My Chloe is a popular one, you see."
"No sir, he said he's here to see a Meredith."
I turned to face the servant fully, my attention concentrated solely on him. Who would visit me at a time like this?
"What did he look like?" I asked, the urgent not in my voice making my father frown.
"Whoever he is, tell him he isn't allowed in these premises without—"
"Why," the servant cut in, his voice surprised. "There he is there. I must get back to the door, if you'll excuse me."
I said nothing, searching the crowd for a familiar face, trying to ascertain who would brave my parents' wrath to visit me.
I didn't recognise him until he stepped in front of me, hazel eyes glinting with amusement.
My mouth dropped open. Gone was the metal glinting in his eyebrow. Gone were all the piercings. Instead of his usual slouched, lazy position he was standing firmly upright, exuding an aura of confidence as opposed to his naturally indifferent pose. His grungy clothing was nowhere in sight – instead, for the first time ever, he had donned a sharp suit. His hair had probably had its first encounter with a brush, looking coolly slicked back. And, for the first time in weeks, his eyes were completely clear – no sign of haziness or the blankness left by lies.
"C-Callum?" I asked weakly, my voice clearly shocked.
He smiled warmly and stepped up to me, wrapping an arm around my waist as he held out his hand to my father. "Callum Markovics, sir, I don't think we've met."
My father narrowed his eyes, but shook Callum's offered hand firmly anyway. "Markovics, eh? The boy that's dating me daughter."
"That's right, sir, I'm sorry to say—"
"Dad, do you mind if I talk to my boyfriend alone? Please excuse us," I said, my voice now firm as I dragged Callum away before my dad could reply. We were a few metres from the doorway when our exit was cut off.
"Now now, Meredith, you didn't introduce me! Where did you drag this one up from?" Chloe asked, stepping in front of me and giving Callum a hooded look. I saw her 'subtly' tug down her dress so more of her cleavage was revealed.
"This is C—"
"Callum Markovics," he replied, his voice cold. "Meredith's boyfriend."
The look on her face was one I wouldn't be forgetting soon – it was priceless. Her mouth popped open as her eyes lost their lusty look, instead widening and becoming shocked.
Her face quickly transformed into a sneer, though. "What are you doing with her? You could do so much better than that plain-faced, worthless slut."
"You're one to talk," I muttered softly, and her eyes sliced towards me. Before she could snap a reply, however, Callum talked over the top.
"Oh, stop being such a jealous little bitch," he snapped. "She's not only hotter than you but smarter too – I mean, you're a model. Seriously? Take your temper tantrums somewhere else where you won't lower the IQs of those around you with your inane, superficial personality. Now excuse me, my girlfriend and I need to talk."
Sense came back to me when we were finally standing in the quiet solitude of the garden, alone. I stepped out of his warm hold, shaking my head to clear it. I would not give into him.
"You disappear for over three weeks then turn up at my parent's party, uninvited, and expect me to welcome you with open arms?" I snapped finally, glaring at him. "'Cause I'm telling you now, buddy, I'm not falling for your shit again. Just because you… cleaned yourself up and protected me from my sister…" My voice was getting weaker as the meaning of what he did penetrated my mind. But then I reminded myself that I wouldn't have my heartbroken again, so I cleared my throat. "It doesn't mean anything!" I said shrilly.
"You read my letter, right?"
"Well of course I did! But you've lied to me before, how do I know this wasn't the same?"
His eyes were pained. "That was the truth. To be with you properly, I needed to sort myself out. I only realised when you dumped me how much you meant to me, and how much I was fucking it up with my drugs and my lies. You're more than that to me. That… That's why I went to rehab. I've even got documentation," he added, a ghost of a smile dancing around his lips.
"I don't give a damn about your documentation!" I cried. "You lied to me! Multiple times! I based our whole damn relationship on trust and you threw it in my face! You expect me to let that all go so easily?!"
"Fine," he said mildly, spreading his hands out in front of him. "Let's start again."
"We'll start again," he repeated simply, the smile growing more evident on his handsome face. "We'll start again, from the beginning. We won't be 'dating', per se; we'll give it a try. If I prove myself to you – if I win your trust back… well, we'll go from there. I can do this, Meredith. I will prove to you that I've changed. For you."
I pursed my lips, blinking back tears that welled to my eyes, unwanted.
"Fine," I said shortly, swallowing and glancing at a point above his head. Nervous was an understatement for what I was feeling at the moment. I was going to take the plunge – I would give him another chance. The pure feeling in my heart overwhelmed the million protests that were milling around my mind, easily. "I mean, as stupid as it sounds, I believe you. I know you, Callum Markovics, and it would take some motive to get you to actually comb your hair, let alone take out your piercings and look presentable for a room full of judgemental old vultures. I… I don't want to regret the decision I'm about to make, Callum," I said in a small voice, glancing down at my shoes again.
I heard him take a step closer as his hands gingerly clasped my arms. "You won't. I swear."
I looked up at him, scowling. "Because if you do, so help me god, I will let Petrisse loose on you after I'm done with you, and I've been reading up on ancient Chinese torture methods so don't you dare fuck me over again. Don't you dare stand me up," I held up a finger, "one more time, or else I will carry out the procedure that'll make you unable to use that part of your anatomy for life."
He blinked at me. "…Is it normal that I should be so turned on by the fact that you're spouting torture methods to me?" A smile flitted across my face as his grew serious. He cleared his throat and held out his hand. Confused, I just stood there dumbly, looking down at it. "Take it," he hissed. Jerkily, I did so. He cleared his throat once again. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Meredith Boyce. My name is Callum Markovics and I'm a recently recovered drug addict who is totally in love with a girl I don't deserve."
My grin split my face and a few tears spilt over. "Pleased to meet you, Mr Callum Markovics. Would you like to go back inside and rub our acquaintanceship into the faces of my vulture family?"
"I wouldn't want to do anything else," he said softly.
A/N: before you start getting angry with me for not updating my other stories, I wrote this one-shot ages ago! So it's not the same thing, I swear!
Please leave a review – tell me what you think!