I have to skip the gym this morning, something that I hate, and rush to get to Newell Boathouse. It’s our first meetings since Peter Duncan, the former captain of the crew team, was caught with cocaine in his dorm and was immediately expelled from school. I was given his position in a vote called the following evening and now I’m running late to my very first practice as captain.
I’m never late.
When I get to the boathouse, most of the team is already in the locker room. I strip quickly, trying desperately to tune out the conversation between Torres and Reed as I change.
Unfortunately, I’m not very successful.
“How’d it go with that Anastasia chick last week?” Torres asks.
“Perfect,” Reed replies. “I’m taking her out tonight. Show her the town before I show her the greatest pleasure known to womankind.”
“Ha!” Torres laughs. “Right. Have you banged her yet?”
“Let’s just say, we’ve spent some time together and she had a little trouble handling what I have to offer, but she’ll get plenty of practice going forward,” Reed says. I slam my locker door closed and they both turn their attention toward me. I glare between them.
“Go!” I shout at them, and, scrambling quickly to their feet, they hurry to help the other guys on the team get the boat into the river. It’s been a little over a month since I last spoke to Anastasia and nothing has changed. I want her still, desperately, and listening to the asinine things Reed says about her really fucking pisses me off. She seems happy though. Every time I’ve seen the two of them together, she’s all fucking smiles. It makes me sick.
As we push off the ramp and move the boat into position, I watch the synchronicity of the oars in the water, and notice Reed is half a count off on each repetition. When I glance up at him to try and decipher what he’s doing, I see that he’s not even watching the person in front of him but instead keeps glancing over his shoulder to the shore. He even takes his hand off the oar for a minute to fucking wave at someone.
“Reed, pay attention!” I shout at him, and then turn around to see what the distraction is. My gut wrenches as I see Anastasia sitting next to Kavanagh on the hill next to the boathouse watching us. She gives me a slightly guilty smile when she notices me looking at her and it takes everything I have to turn my focus back to the task at hand. Why does she have to be so fucking attractive?
Practice is a wash. Reed never ends up getting back on track despite the valiant efforts between me and the coxswain to call out the count. Because Reed is in the middle, he also fucks up the rhythm of the two guys in front of me and so not only do I struggle to keep the boat steady, but we complete the course in the worse time I’ve ever recorded. When practice is finally over, I’m so pissed I can’t even give notes to the team. The locker room is dead silent as we change back into our regular clothes and several people glare over at Reed. I can see how uncomfortable he is having everyone stare at him and I feel a vindictive kind of pleasure as I watch him rush out of the locker room in such a hurry to get away that he leaves his backpack behind.
An unpleasant thought creeps into my mind. Or perhaps he’s rushing to get to Anastasia?
I snatch the backpack up, walk quickly from the boathouse, and, sure enough, see Carter standing a little ways up the hill from me, talking to Anastasia, who is beaming happily back at him. I feel heat flash across my skin as I look at them and a red tint colors my vision. As I make my way up the hill towards them, I hear her ask him if he’d like to get breakfast with her just before I slam his backpack into his chest with as much force as I can. He wobbles as he attempts to catch his balance and gives me a what the fuck kind of look. I want to smirk at him.
Yeah, I could take him.
“If you can’t learn to keep time, Reed, we’ll find someone who can,” I tell him, my tone icy. I look over at Anastasia, who shifts her gaze uncomfortably between us, and then storm off towards campus. He doesn’t deserve her. He’s unmotivated, pretentious, and misogynistic. If she could hear half the things he says about her in the locker room to his friends, she wouldn’t speak to him ever again. Not that it matters. I still can’t even consider making a move on her until the spring.
Things have been fine with Elena since I’ve cut off all communication with Anastasia. I’ve seen her twice since then and both times went well. Okay, I still haven’t been able to get off without thinking about a certain Miss Steele, but I’ve been careful. Elena is none the wiser.
Maybe I should just fuck her. Clearly I want to, I’m obsessed with the idea. I’m sure that’s what this hatred for Reed is all about, well besides the fact that he’s an arrogant prick. Unfortunately, Kavanagh is still fucking around with Elliot so there is absolutely no way I’d be able to get Anastasia into my bed without him finding out and if Elliot knows, it’ll only be so long before Elena does too. There’s no way around that and it’s that dark notion that plagues me throughout the whole day until my therapy session that night.
Even though I refuse to mention Anastasia’s name, my therapist can tell there is something bothering me that I’m not sharing with him. I try to blame my despondent mood on school, arguments with Ros, and the horrible rowing practice I endured this morning, but he continues to press me. He offers me some psycho bullshit about stress triggering PTSD from my childhood and although it takes everything I have to keep from walking out, I lie and say I agree with him, and grudgingly talk about some of my latest nightmares, embellishing slightly to fit his narrative so I can leave sooner.
Really, I think what would help me the most right now would be to hit someone. Not my kickboxing trainer, who would just congratulate me once I managed to knock his ass to the ground, but someone who wasn’t covered in pads and who I could actually hurt. Someone like Carter Reed. But, once again, I’d never be able to get away with it. Anastasia would tell Kavanagh I beat up her boyfriend, Kavanagh would tell Elliot, Elliot would tell Mom, Mom would tell Elena, and I’d probably get sixteen lashes with the cane this time. No fighting has been one of the rules from the beginning. I wish Elliot would just hurry up and get drunk at a party and fuck some girl like he always does so Kavanagh will break it off with him.
Then it hits me, maybe that’s what I need. A drink.
It’s been years since I’ve really hit the bottle, again due to Elena’s rules, but drinking is something I can easily keep hidden from her. I could go out alone tonight, bribe a bouncer to get into a bar, and drink until I can’t see straight. Even if it doesn’t relieve this anxiety I’ve been feeling… surely it’ll help me forget about Anastasia at least for one night. For one hour even.
I’m decided the moment I get back to my dorm and don’t even take the time to plan my night before I’m heading out to my Audi. I stop at the bank and withdraw some cash, knowing my Dad monitors my bank accounts. A large cash withdrawal will be easier to lie about than a bar tab.
When I’ve got the cash, I drive clear across town until I find a small dive kind of bar that I’m sure no one who knows me frequents and slip the guy checking IDs at the door $500 to let me in.
It’s only ten thirty, still fairly early for a Friday night, so the bar is fairly empty. I like it that way, though. For some reason people in bars want to talk about all their fucking problems and I’m here to forget.
“What’ll it be, son?” the bartender, who is probably in his sixties, asks when I pull up a stool.
“Bourbon,” I grunt, pulling out my wallet. “Leave the bottle.”
“Rough day?” he asks, pulling the bottle out from under the bar and placing it and a glass tumbler in front of me.
“Something like that,” I reply. I throw the cash out onto the bar and then pour the amber liquid into the glass.
By last call, I’m completely out of my mind. The alcohol hasn’t had the effect I wanted and instead of forgetting about Anastasia, she’s all I’ve been able to think about, and the drunken haze makes it seems as though this hopeless situation will plague me forever. Worse, Elena has been sexting me for the last half an hour and it’s difficult to be creative in my responses when I’m this drunk and surrounded by the noise of the now crowded bar. I need to get home, but I don’t want to call a cab because I don’t want to leave my car so far from campus.
After draining my tumbler for the last time, I have a flash of inspiration, so, after sending a response to Elena’s last text, I find Ros’s number in my contacts list and hit the call button.
“Hello?” she mumbles after the fourth ring.
“I nee-ju to come’n ge’me,” I slur into the phone.
“Christian? What’s wrong with you, where are you?”
“’m atta bar. Can’ drive.”
“Jesus Christ, Christian. It’s nearly two o’clock in the morning.”
“I know that, ‘s the time they close. I nee-ju to come’n ge’me.”
“Where are you?” she demands.
“I dunno.” I tell her. Thankfully, while she begins shouting in my ear, the bartender motions for me to pass the phone him and he proceeds to give her the address.
“I’m getting in a cab,” Ros tells me once I get my phone back. “Stay where you are.”
“Mmm-kay,” I reply, and hang up the phone. I ask for another drink, but the bartender tells me they stopped serving so I walk outside to breathe in the cool air while I wait for Ros. It takes her nearly half an hour to get to me and once she finally arrives and I’ve paid for her cab, I can’t tell her where I’ve left my car.
“You’re so…” she begins through clenched teeth, stopping herself from finishing as I’m sure whatever she was planning on saying was going to be quite rude. She presses the panic button on my key fob and follows the sound of the alarm.
“You owe me so huge,” Ros says angrily as she pulls away from the curb back towards campus. “You know I have a meeting with Dr. Jameson in the morning.”
“I had a meeting with Dr. Jameson tonight,” I laugh, and then turn to look at her so I can clarify.
She rolls her eyes. “Just sit back and try not to be sick.”
Getting across campus turns out to be quite the ordeal. I’m realizing very quickly that I’ve had more alcohol than I realized and it’s very difficult for me to stand up straight, let alone walk of my own accord. When we eventually make it to the third floor of Grays Hall, I trip over the top step and slam head first into a wall.
“Jesus, Christian! Are you okay?” Ros hisses, trying to keep her voice low so that she doesn’t wake anyone.
“”m fine,” I tell her, though I immediately stumble again, this time into the opposite wall. Ros groans and takes my arm, putting it over her shoulder and holding as much of my weight as she can manage as we continue down the hall.
“You can keep a secret, right?” I ask.
“Why?” Ros asks suspiciously.
“Because I’m drunk.”
“I’ll be in trouble if she finds out.”
“If who finds out?”
“You can’t tell her,” I mumble, stopping to look at her so she knows I’m serious. Unfortunately, the momentum of moving down the hallway was doing a lot to keep me upright and I sag to the floor.
“No, Christian,” Ros grunts as too much of my weight is shifted onto her shoulders. “I’m not going to tell her. Stand up, I can’t carry you. Come on, we’re almost there.”
I do the best I can to get back onto my feet and we begin stumbling awkwardly down the hall until we’re just outside my door.
“I’m not allowed,” I clarify as she stops and begins trying to reach into my jacket pocket. “If she finds out, I’ll be in trouble.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone, Christian,” she says. “Where are your keys?”
I want to tell her that she has them but realize she’s talking about my room keys and not my car keys. Those are in my pants. Before I can tell her this though, I feel another set of hands on me and a small someone ducks beneath my arm.
“Thanks,” Ros says as she begins searching the pockets of my jeans. I turn to see who has a hold of me and realize, it’s Anastasia. She’s wearing pajama bottoms and a thin camisole tank top, which I can see the outline of her nipples through. They’re perfect, just as I imagined them.
I wonder how they taste?
“Anastasia,” I mumble.
“Yes, Christian,” she says, shifting her body so Ros can pull the keys out of my pants. I smile down at her but am nearly knocked off balance as Ros opens the door and shoves me forward.
“Here you go, Christian,” she says. In tandem they both steer me across the room and let me collapse onto my bed. I want to turn around and look at Anastasia, but my body is too heavy to move. My vision is getting dark and I think I’m about to pass out. All I can do is lie there and listen to them talk about me.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to get him here,” Ros says. “I was in bed when he called. He was all the way across town.”
“Where do you live?” Anastasia asks.
“Stoughton,” Ros replies.
I miss the next part of the conversation as the drunkenness overwhelms me and I find myself drifting off. It doesn’t last long though as I feel someone tugging on me. Panic takes over as I feel strange hands on my back and the short spike of adrenaline clears my mind enough that I can roll onto my side and look back at my attacker.
“I’m not going to touch you, Christian,” Anastasia says calmly. “I’m just going to take your jacket off.”
When I see her face, I remember where I am and that it should be Ros here with me, but she’s nowhere to be seen. Where did she go?
“Anastasia?” I ask, confused.
“Yes, Christian. Come on, work with me to get into bed.” She tugs at my jacket again and a smile creeps across my lips.
“You’re trying to take my clothes off,” I observe. “Is that what you want, Anastasia? To take my clothes off?”
“Right now, Christian, yes. I want to get you out of this jacket and your shoes so you can get into bed.”
Heat flashes through me, burning enough of the alcohol away that I am able to regain some control. What I cannot control however, is the erection that grows instantly in my jeans and the thoughts that are now focused only on getting this beautiful woman naked beneath me and hearing her screaming my name while she comes on my cock.
I smile at the fantasy and reach out and tug her onto the bed, rolling over so that I’m on top of her.
“Oh Ana,” I moan longingly. “I wish you knew the things I want to do to you. The things I could do to you. The things I could make you feel.”
“Let me up, Christian,” she says, struggling to get out from under my weight and I look down at her, the nagging voice in my head telling me to release her or face Elena’s wrath. I want to ignore it, but still, I hesitate.
“She won’t always be in charge, you know. One day I’ll be in charge,” I tell her. She looks up at me, her wide blue eyes trying to decipher meaning in my words, and I briefly imagine her, tied by the wrists to my headboard while I run my tongue down her naked body. “Would you like that, Ana?” I ask. “Would you liked it if I told you what to do? If I made you mine?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Christian. Let me up,” she says, but I’m beyond myself now. My fantasies out of control as I feel her heat beneath me. I have to have her, now.
“Mmm, Ana. Let’s just fuck. Right now,” I whisper, leaning down to kiss her. “I can do things to you Carter Reed could only dream of doing. Let me prove that to you. Let me make you come, Anastasia.”
“Christian!” she exclaims, pushing hard enough against my shoulders that she’s finally able to move out from under me. I turn to face her, knowing how desperate I look but not caring. The alcohol is catching up with me again and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sit upright.
“Anastasia, please,” I beg. “I want you, need you. I don’t care what she says. I don’t care what she does.”
“What who does, Christian?” she asks, but I can’t answer. My vision begins to darken and I can only manage her name once more before I’m completely out of it, falling into a vivid dream of all of things I would have liked to have done to Anastasia.