“My Coffee Girl!”
I turn around, away from my best friend, Aimee, and see one of my frequent morning customers, Zane, coming toward me, holding two red Solo cups and sporting a playful smile.
“Large and black,” I joke, placing a hand on my hip and cocking my head to the side.
He opens his arms for a hug, and I wrap an arm around his middle and feel how tightly he squeezes me to his side.
Zane’s always been one of my favorite customers. When he comes into the coffee shop in the morning, he’s chipper, and each time, he has something new and random to tell me. Last week, he said bananas were curved because they grew toward the sun while grabbing a banana from the fruit bin. In the months I’ve been serving him coffee, I don’t think he’s ever come in with a scowl or annoyed. While I pour his dark roast coffee in our largest cup with two shots of espresso, we talk for about five to ten minutes about the weather, his work, my work, and how my semester’s going.
He’s one of those guys who acts as if he’s truly interested in my life. Whether he is or not, he does a great job at pretending.
“Anything new?” he asks.
“Not since this morning.” I laugh and accept the red Solo cup filled with jungle juice—a very dangerous but satisfying drink. “What brings you here tonight?”
“You know how I was a part of this fraternity?”
“I’m just here to see a few friends, and honestly, I was hoping I’d run into you.”
“What?” I cover my cheek to hide my immediate blush.
“I’m not used to seeing you wear anything other than your cute uniform. Gotta say, Coffee Girl, you look sexy tonight.”
With a wag of his eyebrows, he twirls me around, and I can’t help the laugh bursting from my lips from the easiness between us.
I turn and grab Aimee so she's standing next to me. "This is my best friend, Aimee. Aimee, this is Zane."
Zane takes Aimee's hand and brings it to his lips, giving it a kiss, before setting her hand back down. "Pleasure to meet you."
"The pleasure's all mine." She laughs. "I'm going to head over there." Aimee points her thumb over her shoulder and gives me a wink before I turn back to Zane.
I notice him staring at my body, and my cheeks blush again. My dress isn’t over-the-top gawking, but it’s enough to possibly turn some heads. The dress is on the shorter side and hugs my curves a little tighter than I’m used to. It’s higher cut in the front with a low V-cut in the back, so no bra, and thank goodness the girls are behaving tonight.
Aimee and I tried the tape trick to keep my boobs in place, but that ended up being a disaster, and the pain of taking the tape off my body caused me to scream and made me wonder what was worse—ripping tape off my boobs or period cramps.
For sure, the tape.
Zane rests his hand on the small of my back, and our conversation is light and easy going. We’re so close, I can smell his woodsy scent, and I internally swoon. I look up and see him smirking.
Damn, he makes smirking look hot. Really hot.
Everything about him is perfect. And that makes me nervous. Not nervous like I don’t want to talk to him or be around him. Nervous in the sense that I’ll say or do something stupid, and he’ll think I’m too immature compared to his suave and cool self.
Throughout the time he’s come in to get his coffee, he’s never made a move to ask me out or get my number, so I’m not sure how to process what’s going on between us now. I need Aimee and her wisdom.
“You’re driving me crazy,” he whispers, leaning down so that his lips brush my ear. “You’re so sexy.”
“Oh, stop it.”
He turns me around, so we’re facing each other. “I won’t stop.” He grins. “You’ve never seemed interested whenever I come in. Yeah, we’ve talked, and you laugh at my lame-ass jokes, but that’s it. I might seem cocky, but trust me, I’m not. A rejection from a beautiful woman would mess with me.”
“I wouldn’t have rejected you.”
“Good to know.” He presses his soft lips to my cheek.
We’re close together, huddled in the corner, and if I move my head a few inches forward, our lips will touch. I have mixed emotions about taking it to that level. I definitely don’t want to give him the wrong idea.
“What’s on your mind?” he asks, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“Oh, nothing.” I laugh, trying to ease the tension I’m feeling. “Do you want to go meet up with Aimee and my friends outside? The bonfire looks really fun.”
“Nah, let’s stay here. Tell me more about you.”
Before I can answer his question, one of my favorite songs comes on. “One Dance” by Drake fills the room. I take his hand and drag him to the makeshift dance floor. There are so many people in the cramped area. Everyone’s bumping into one another, and no one cares.
Zane and I are dancing to the song, moving our bodies together to the beats. His hands tightly grip my waist as I run my fingers through his wavy dark brown hair. He’s a good six inches taller than me, and his muscular arms are to die for.
I swear all the alcohol I’ve drunk tonight is taking over. Turning around, I grind my ass against him, slowly moving up and down his body.
Damn, he’s a really good dancer.
I feel his hardness against my back and hold in my giggle. My cheeks feel hot, and I tell myself to calm down. We’re dancing and having a good time. This is just meant to be two friends relaxing, nothing more, but there’s definitely a little flirting, too.
When the song ends, we leave the dance floor, and he leads me to a small couch in the corner of the room. When he pulls me down, I throw my head back, laughing, and land on his lap. I slightly turn my body, so I’m facing him. His dark chocolate-brown eyes stare at me. I weave my fingers through his wavy dark brown hair, trail them down his strong cheekbone, and gently trace one along his chiseled jaw.
“Reagan! Shots time!”
I raise my arms and get up to meet Aimee over at the counter, so we can take shots.
Next week, we’re graduating from college and starting our lives as educated, sophisticated, career-driven adults. For most of my friends, it’s been nonstop partying, but it’s only been two days for me since I had a shitload of finals to study for.
I throw back the shot of Jack and refuse a chaser. Only weak bitches need one, and I am not a weak bitch. Sure, I can definitely be one when needed, but what girl can’t be? I think it’s a gene we are born with—the freak-the-hell-out-on-demand gene.
“Let’s do another one!” I shout.
A nameless cute guy pours us more Jack, and we cheer to a good night and each throw back the shot.
“Ugh, I can’t believe you don’t need a chaser. You’re crazy!”
I shrug and offer her an exaggerated wink. “It’s not bad, and I figure, why not live a little?”
All of us are in the kitchen and I’m having the best time of my life hanging out with my friends. Everything’s going really well, and I can’t imagine tonight getting bad, except for the hangover I know I’ll be crying about tomorrow morning.
I grab another red Solo cup and pour in vodka over ice and a splash of cranberry juice. Then, I walk back over to Zane. We sit in our little corner as he leans in to kiss me, but I move my head in time, and his lips land on my cheek.
“Slow down.” I'm trying to keep it friendly with him, just not too friendly. I don't want him to think he's going to take me home tonight.
“I can’t help myself. You’re driving me crazy,” he says as he pulls me closer to his body. “So, tell me, CG—”
“Coffee Girl, babe. Keep up.”
“Whatever.” I laugh and finish my drink. “Go on.”
“Once you’re done with college, what are you going to do?”
“I got an offer at Wesley and Gerber Financial for the developmental team. I start in two weeks, so that means I won’t be your CG anymore.”
“Maybe I want you to be more than just my CG.”
I lightly push Zane. “Oh, stop. We hardly know each other. You’re a great guy, but I want to focus on my career. I’m twenty-two years old, and being tied to a man isn’t what I’m looking for.”
“Too bad.” He winks, and I ignore the uncomfortable grip he has on my hip. “Come home with me tonight, babe. Give me a chance to change your mind. I’ll show you what you’re missing.”
A million responses burst through my mind, but neither are leaving my lips. I’m not a prude by any means. I’ve had my share of boyfriends and had sex a few times. What he’s suggesting isn’t making me nervous. It’s the way he’s suggesting it. As if he’s done this before and doesn’t like to hear the word no.
The idea of having a one-night stand puts me on high alert. I’ve had only two serious boyfriends, so my experience level isn’t the greatest. Maybe he thinks he can suggest this since I’ve been attached to him almost the whole night. I thought we were having fun. I never meant to lead him on. We’re hanging out, and I never intended for it to go further than that.
Excusing myself, I look around for Aimee or someone I know, so I’m not alone.
Zane took what I’d felt was only a little harmless flirting to an entirely different level. There was a creepy, possessive type of manner that I felt he had no right to obtain. I’m usually a good reader of people, and I hadn’t expected this to happen between us. Maybe it’s the alcohol talking, or I’m being overly cautious, but he took the relaxed atmosphere and shifted it to an uncomfortable state. I didn’t want to be rude or anything. I just need to find a girlfriend and stick with her until the end of the night.
* * *
“It’s getting late. Let me take you home.”
I turn and see Zane behind me. It’s been over two hours since I left him, and I’m in no shape to drive even though I’ve been drinking water since leaving him.
“Are you okay to drive?” I ask slowly.
The look on his face is so much more relaxed than before, and for a moment, I feel slightly foolish that I thought he was an aggressor. I’d had too much to drink, and I’m sure the discomfort within me was related to that. This is Zane after all, a guy I’ve talked to and joked with daily, developing a friendship with.
“Of course.” He smiles. “I wouldn’t put you in danger, CG.”
I nod and follow him outside. My phone just died, so I tell one of the girls in Aimee’s class to let her know I’m heading back to our apartment.
Once we get into Zane’s car, I rattle off my address, and he starts to drive. We keep the conversation casual and he tells me more about his company and what his plans are in the next few months. He’s let go of the excessive flirting, and I feel more at ease with how easy it is for us to talk. Both of his hands are on the steering wheel, and he's keeping his eyes on the road. We aren't bringing up the flirting at the party and he's not asking me to spend the night. I like this Zane - the carefree, friendly version versus the pushiness of before. Maybe I’ll keep in touch with him.
I haven’t been paying attention while Zane’s driving, but now, I look out the window and notice we’re closer to downtown than campus.
“Uh, Zane? Campus is the other way. I’d really like to go home, please.”
“I’m really sorry,” he says with a genuine look of concern. “My roommate texted me and said there was something wrong with my dog, and he sounded panicked. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d feel better if I went inside to check on her.”
“Oh. Um, okay.” I don’t want to be rude and say no.
The nervous feeling goes away when he talks about how much he loves his chocolate lab, Madden.
“Madden?” I laugh, covering my mouth and leaning forward.
“Yeah, girl. Madden’s a great name for a dog.”
“Whatever you say.”
Zane picks up his speed, and I feel so bad for him. The tight expression on his face makes me sad. Having a dog is like having your own child. When they aren’t feeling good, you have to rush home and take care of them.
The car comes to a stop, and Zane turns to look at me, unbuckling his seat belt. “Do you mind coming in? I don’t know how long it’s going to be, and I don’t want to leave you out here by yourself.”
“You’re so sweet. Yeah, that’s fine.”
He comes around and opens the car door for me. We walk inside his apartment building together and take the elevator to the fifth floor. When he unlocks the door and opens it for me, he places his hand on the small of my back and guides me in.
“Where’s your furbaby?” I look around.
The place looks clean, and it’s quiet. There aren’t any dog toys lying around or a water or food bowl. His roommate isn’t coming out from any rooms to greet us, and from what I can tell, Zane lives alone.
A terrifying feeling hits the pit of my stomach. My hands shake, and my body tightens. Fear takes over, and I'm frozen, unable to turn around. My breathing accelerates and my chest tightens as if there's a vice grip squeezing me, causing the air flow to stop.
“Relax, baby,” he whispers against my ear as he pulls my body to his. “I know you want this. You were all over me tonight, playing your little games with that sweet body of yours.”
“Please let me go!” I yell in a panic as I try to get away from him. “I didn’t mean to lead you on. This isn’t what I want. Please just let me go, and I won’t tell anyone. I swear. Please, you don’t have to do this.”
The sound of my trembling voice does nothing to loosen the tight grip he has around my waist. Without notice, he drags me to his bedroom, pushes me in, and slams the door shut. If I scream, he might attack me. I have to be smart and be one step ahead of him. There's nothing I can easily grab to defend myself since I'm standing in the middle of his room. My heart wildly beats against my chest and my breathing quickens again. Maybe if I rush him and knee him in the dick, he'll fall to the ground and I'll be able to escape. As if sensing what I’m doing, Zane lunges toward me, grabbing the hem of my dress, and yanks it off without me pulling away or defending myself against him.
The paralyzing feeling of being in front of him in my panties puts me in a trance, and every sense of fighting dissolves. I do my best to cover my boobs, and try to quickly look if there's anything I can use against him.
Everything’s happening so quickly that it’s not registering in my mind. I’m not one hundred percent sure what’s going on. This has to be some cruel joke. Zane wouldn’t do this to me.
My torn dress lies on the bedroom floor at our feet, symbolizing the intensity of the situation. That’s when I realize if I don't do something soon he's going to hurt me.
There has to be something I can do. I’m a fucking smart girl! Ideas come to me so easily.
Why is my mind blank? Why am I standing here in just my panties while he stares at me, licking his lips, as if he’s about to have his way with me?
I’m shivering from his angry grasp as he pulls me tight against him, and his lips press on my bare neck. His hand roughly grabs my boob and squeezes, and then his callous fingers pull on my nipple.
“Ow,” I cry. “Please don’t do this.” I’m pleading with him, begging him to let me go. "No. Stop."
"You're saying no, but your body's telling me yes, keep going." His harsh voice makes my skin crawl.
Each spot of my skin where he’s touched, burns like a fiery explosion. I twist and turn, doing everything I can to escape from this nightmare.
“Shut up.” He bites hard on my shoulder, and I scream in anguish.
When he throws me on his bed, my body bounces with the force. I recover and get up. My hands form into fists, but he's faster than I am. When his fist connects with my cheek, and I’m thrown back on the bed, the stinging burn rushes to my skull, and I cry out in pain. My hands cover my face, and I roll to my side to find any type of comfort.
“Don’t be stupid,” he hisses as he pulls my body up, tightly gripping my arms, so I’m sitting upright.
“Let me go!”
Before he can grab my wrists and hold me down, my instincts kick in, and I raise my leg to kick him in the stomach. When he’s down, I quickly get up and run to the door. My hands grasp the handle, but before I can open it, he’s pulling me back, and he slams my body against the wall. My head hits it hard, jerking forward and back again.
“Don’t do that again, Reagan,” he warns. He uses his forearm to push against my throat while he takes his other hand and rips off my panties.
I wince and groan, finally deciding to stop fighting him. It’s no use.
His fingers roughly enter me, and I close my eyes and move my head to the side, crying from the pain and invasion of my body.
“Looks like you do want this,” he whispers. He licks my cheek before taking my face in his hand and he forces me to look at him. “You’ve been flirting with me all this time, and tonight, you were all over me. I know you want this, baby. Don’t fight it.”
I let him.
I let him do whatever he wants.
He pushes his fingers into my mouth, making me lick him clean, and all I can do is cry and do as he wishes. I’m not the strong, sweet, and happy girl anymore.
My body has been invaded, and I’m on autopilot, not caring about what he’s doing to me and not trying to stop him.
I give up.
When he guides me to his bed, he’s a little gentler. He strips out of his clothes and stares at me. I close my eyes again and imagine myself disappearing to somewhere else, to another place where I’m not feeling this immense affliction of pain and shame.
He slides into me and thrusts hard, harder than I’m used to. He bites my shoulder, and I let out a scream. This excites him, and he goes faster and harder. My whimpers are soft and low. When his fingers grip my hair, he tightly holds it and continues to yank it with each plunge into me. The pain of knives and fire rip through my body. Everything disappears around me. There’s no sound, except for when his body collides with mine.
I’m weak underneath him. My body is his to take for his own pleasure.
“Look at me,” he orders.
I open my eyes and stare into the darkness. My eyes haven’t fully adjusted, and I feel light-headed from what’s going on.
“Tell me you love what I’m doing to you.”
I whimper again, moving my head to the side, but he grips my jaw, forcing me to look at him.
“Tell me now!” he screams. That angry look on his face once again returns with a vengeance.
“I love it,” I mutter, fearful that, if I refuse to do as he demands, he might hit me again or worse.
“Tell me I’m the best you’ve ever had!”
“You’re the best I’ve ever had.”
In the moments that follow those last words, everything I know, everything I love, turns cold and dark. I can’t see tomorrow. I can’t breathe for anyone.
I’m the girl who drank a little too much and flirted with a stranger.
I’m the girl who shouldn’t have left a party with a man I didn’t truly know.