Nicky was furious. Cole and Laney had been inseparable for the last five months, ever since that horrible night at Berto’s party during winter break. And just two days ago, she cheated on him at prom with Ryker. And now, here she is, laughing and hanging on Cole like nothing happened.
Nicky could feel her blood boil watching that two-timing bitch. Enjoy it now, she thought, because this ends today. She was going to tell Cole, but first she was going to let Laney have a piece of her mind and watch her squirm.
As soon as Cole left the school to go to work, she strode purposely up to Laney. Her palms were sweating and her heart was hammering in her chest. Outside of letting Cole go, this was the scariest thing she had ever done.
“Hi Nichole,” said Laney, as if nothing was wrong when she walked up to her.
Nicky hated when she called her Nichole and it only served to spur her anger. “Nicky, the name’s Nicky,” she growled out and took a deep breath. She reminded herself this was for Cole, not herself so she had to finish it.
“I just wanted to let you know, I saw you on the dance floor with Ryker. And then you left with him. Now you are hanging on Cole like nothing happened. How could you do that to him! He adores you. You disgust me!” Hot tears were forming behind her eyes. She couldn’t let them fall and took several quick deep breaths to hold them back.
“No! No, it’s not like that,” she said sweetly, “I mean, I did dance with Ryker, but I was upset because Cole stood me up. But that was all that happened Nicky. Please, don’t tell Cole.”
Nicky’s voice was shaking when she replied. “You kissed him and left with him!”
Laney crossed her arms defiantly. “He took me home Nicho… Nicky,” she said, her tone now condescending, “Neither of us wanted to be there. He and Dannie just broke up. I was feeling sorry for myself because I was alone. So we – comforted each other. I’m not proud of what I did, but I promise, nothing happened after we left the dance floor. We both just went home.” When she finished, she was looking down her nose at Nicky.
Liar! thought Nicky. “I don’t believe you. I’m telling Cole.” As soon as she said it she realized how childish it sounded and cringed inwardly.
Laney glared at Nicky. She lowered her voice and cocked her eyebrow maliciously. “Look, you little bitch. You had your chance with Cole and you dumped him, so this is really none of your business.” She gritted her teeth and continued. “Don’t screw this up for us….” She paused, as if deciding if she wanted to say more. She continued with just as much vitriol as before. “I think I’m in love with him. And I’m pretty sure he feels the same way about me. Do you want to hurt him? Is that what you want? If you care about him half as much as you pretend to, you won’t say anything!”
Nicky was deflated and studied her feet while she thought over what Laney said. She knew Laney was right. It wasn’t her business and it would hurt Cole. Especially if he really did love Laney. And the way Laney was talking, Nicky had no doubt there was more to their relationship than a few kisses.
She figured Laney gave Cole what she hadn’t been ready to give. Saving herself for marriage was so stupid. Nobody did that anymore.
Laney was wrong though. She didn’t pretend to care about Cole. She cared deeply for him, maybe loved him even. And the last thing she wanted to do was hurt Cole – again. She had already done enough of that with her stupid brother story.
Just because she wanted to wait. She knew she would have given in to him with just another kiss. But he would never want her now, not after what she told him.
The way he had looked at Laney that night had helped her make up her mind. She had to let him go or lose him completely. When she tried to explain to Kolby that she loved Cole, but she couldn’t do more, he asked her if maybe she loved him like a brother. She knew the answer was no, but she glommed onto it anyway, thinking she could justify her behavior and let him down easy. But she was wrong. She hurt him plenty and pushed him straight into Laney’s arms and out of her life. But wasn’t that what she meant to do?
“Fine,” said Nicky after she thought it over, “But if I ever see you so much as look at Ryker again, or anyone else for that matter, I will tell him. He deserves so much better!”
Laney was visibly relieved. “Thanks Nichole, Nicky. I owe you.”
Nicky turned and ran out before Laney could see the tears running down her face.
Three weeks later……
The last bell rang and Cole was headed to his locker to grab his books before going to Doc’s when he got a text from his mom. His test scores had come in the mail! It had been the longest three weeks of his life.
The waiting had been excruciating, but Laney had made it so much easier. She had been especially sweet and had apologized profusely for giving him a hard time about not going to the prom. They had even planned an outing to San Myshuno when school was out for the summer, so he could make it up to her. It was just two more weeks and he couldn’t wait. Now they would have even more to celebrate. He hoped anyway.
Cole ran to his locker to grab his books and go. There was an envelope taped to it with his name on it. He smiled, it was just like Laney to leave him a little love note.
He pulled it off and opened it. A few pictures and a note were inside. He read the note before looking at the pictures: ‘Thought you might like to know what your girlfriend does when you’re not around’.
Inside were four pictures of Laney with Ryker. They were were all over each other, even kissing. Practically having having sex on the dance floor, and then one of them leaving together.
Cole was stunned. His mouth was dry and his heart was racing. He was trying to figure out when they were taken. Surely it was before they started dating. Then he recognized the dress. Her PROM dress. He knew because she had texted him pictures of her in her dress with her hair up and a sad emoji the night of the Prom. She had also sent it to him when they were arguing on the phone. He had memorized that dress on her. He could barely breathe and his eyes were stinging with tears. Why?
“Hi Cole, can I get a ride home?” asked the sultry voice that usually warmed his heart and put a smile on his face. This time it ripped his heart out.
He turned around to face the cheater. “How could you?” he spat out the words at her.
She visibly paled. “How could I what?” she asked slowly, unsuccessfully keeping her voice steady. Her face, just like her words, said she knew exactly what he was talking about.
Cole, just stared at her, his heart was literally breaking apart. He was barely able to breathe much less form any words.
“Cole….you’re scaring me. What?”
Tears were forming in her eyes. Were they fear, concern or sadness? He honestly didn’t know. She seemed genuinely upset. But this was Laney, master at getting what she wanted. And evidently it was Ryker she wanted now.
He took a deep breath. “We’re done Laney,” he said with a calmness he didn’t feel, “You are free to see Ryker, or anyone else you want for that matter.”
“I don’t want to see anyone else. Why would you say that?” she whispered.
Cole wasn’t going to be able to keep it together much longer. “I know about you and Ryker, so you can stop pretending. It’s over. Were you just using me until someone better come along? I thought we really had something good Laney and you threw it away.”
“Cole! I – I love you. I don’t care about anyone else. You can’t leave me,” she said, the tears escaping her eyes and running down her cheeks.
I love you? She says that now, after six months of dating and sleeping together. He wanted so bad to forgive her and believe it, because he was pretty sure he had fallen in love with her too. But you don’t cheat on people you love. “Laney, you wouldn’t have kissed Ryker and practically fucked him on the dance floor if you really loved me,” he spat the words out like they were poison.
“I do Cole! Did Nicky…?”
Nicky? What the fuck? “Keep Nicky out of this! Don’t call me. Don’t text me. Stay away. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You’re just…never mind.”
He turned and walked away before he said something really awful.
He rounded the corner and nearly ran over Dannie, knocking her books on the floor. “Damn, I’m sorry Dannie, I wasn’t paying attention. Here, let me help you.”
“Where’s the fire?” she said, laughing that tinkley little laugh she had. He remembered that she used to date Ryker, the asshole that Laney cheated with. He wondered if that’s why they broke up and he was just late to the party.
He handed her the books and gave her a sad smile. “Anywhere but here,” he said sadly. “I’m really sorry.”
“Cole, are you okay?” she asked, and her concern rang true.
He looked at her and sighed. “I guess you’ll find out soon enough. Laney and I just broke up.”
“Ohhhhhh. You foun……. I mean, I’m so sorry Cole,” she said, her expression pained.
Cole grimaced at her words. “You knew? Did everyone know but me? I walked around like a fool for three fucking weeks? Is that why you and Ryker broke up?”
“No…I broke up with him a week before. But, I think everyone thought you two had broken up since you weren’t there and then maybe had made up since. Why weren’t you there? Oh, sorry, it’s none of my business. Maybe I can buy you a coffee and we can lick our wounds together?” she asked shyly.
“I nearly flattened you. I should be buying.”
“Date then?” she asked.
Date? Hell no. “Rain check? I gotta run home before I head to work.”
“Oh, okay,” she said as a blush tinged her cheeks. “And you coulda just said no. I would’ve understood.”
Crap, he didn’t mean to be rude but he felt like shit right now and couldn’t think straight. “No, I mean it. But a friend date, if that’s okay. I could use one right now. A friend I mean, not a date. How about this weekend. It will be a good distraction.”
Dannie gave him an understanding grin. “So I’m a distraction now. Okay, sure. Actually I could use one too – a friend – that is. We can be each other’s distraction from our failed relationships.”
Cole managed a half smile. “How about lunch this Saturday. I have to work at Doc Lewis’s in the morning and the coffee shop is right next door, if you don’t mind meeting me there.”
“Sure, noon Saturday,” she said and walked out.
He looked up and saw that Laney had been watching, tears streaming down her face. He had an overwhelming urge to go to her, but at the same time she, had hurt him so much, he couldn’t do it. This wasn’t his fault. He didn’t cheat, she did. They had been so good together. Why?
He quickly turned and walked out of the building and got into his car. He put his head down on the steering wheel and cried.