Broken Juliet
Author:Leisa Rayven

He leans over and kisses me, deep and passionate. It leaves me so breathless, I can’t talk. I think that was his plan.

 

He looks at my panties. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.”

 

His eyes are dark. When he fingers the top of my panties, I suck in a ragged breath.

 

“Nervous?” he asks. I nod. “Don’t be. You’ll enjoy it.”

 

He slowly removes my panties, then brings his mouth down … down … oh, mercy, all the way down. He keeps eye contact as he kisses my inner thigh. I can’t stop the noises I’m making, no matter how embarrassing they are. When he kisses the other thigh, open-mouthed, I start to hyperventilate.

 

His eyes drift closed when he covers me with his mouth, and his accompanying moan vibrates all the way into my bones.

 

I have no idea what he’s doing with his tongue, but it feels incredible. When I squirm in response, he grabs my hips and sucks harder. I’ve never felt anything like it. Then he adds his fingers, and I nearly pass out from the pleasure.

 

That night, Ethan teaches me about the explosive ecstasy of oral sex. Several times.

 

We don’t end up talking about our issues. Or why he refuses to sleep with me.

 

Tomorrow, I tell myself as he leaves me in bed and lets himself out. We’ll talk tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Ruby turns bright red. “He still hasn’t fucked you since he took your virginity?!”

 

“Shhh!”

 

Half the people in the cafeteria line have turned to look at us.

 

“Just rehearsing some lines,” Ruby says. “Turn the fuck around, creepers.”

 

We pay for our lunches and head out to the tables. “He does stuff to me all the time, but he always steers us away from … you know…”

 

“Penile penetration.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Jesus, Cass, what did you do the first time that made him so gun shy?”

 

“Nothing! He told me I was the best he’s ever had.”

 

“Then why the hell isn’t he hitting that every chance he gets? What’s he waiting for? A presidential invite?”

 

I sigh and pick at my salad. “I don’t know. He just seems to panic whenever we get close to…”

 

“He’s such a dumbass.”

 

“Ruby, come on. He’s trying.”

 

“To be a dumbass?”

 

“Stop.”

 

I look over and see him crossing the quad. His hands are in his pockets, and his head is down. He looks nothing like the person I’ve come to know in the past few weeks.

 

He seems utterly defeated.

 

Weary.

 

Miserable.

 

A shiver runs up my spine.

 

He doesn’t know I’m watching, and I realize what I’m looking at is the real him. My perfect boyfriend is nowhere in sight.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Olivia watching him, too. She shakes her head and heads into the bathroom.

 

Outside, the rumbling clouds of an approaching storm sound a hell of a lot like an avalanche.

 

 

 

 

 

SIX

 

 

UNRAVELING

 

 

 

What do you do when you see someone you love unraveling? Do you try to stop it?

 

Of course.

 

I tell Ethan that he doesn’t need to try so hard. That I care about him even if he doesn’t bring me flowers or take me out on dates.

 

He still refuses to discuss it.

 

We go back to him not talking. Not touching.

 

Shutting down.

 

One night, we hear sirens outside and go out to discover an ambulance in the driveway of the apartment block down the street.

 

As we reach the small crowd gathered on the pavement, I see Ruby chatting with Liberty, one of the visual arts girls.

 

“What’s up?” I pull my coat around me and glance over at the building.

 

Ruby’s expression is serious. “Overdose. The paramedics revived her, but it was touch and go for a while.”

 

“Oh my God. Who is it?”

 

She flicks a glance at Ethan. “Olivia Pyne. Second-year actor. That’s the girl who was stalking you, right? Holt’s ex?”

 

I turn to Ethan, who’s gone as white as a sheet. “Yeah. That’s her.”

 

I’m about to say something when the lobby doors open and the paramedics wheel a gurney down the path to the sidewalk. Everyone cranes their necks to see. Even though Olivia’s pale face is half hidden beneath an oxygen mask, it’s clear she’s in a bad way.

 

Ethan shoves people aside to get to the paramedics. “Is she going to be okay?”

 

The female paramedic gives him the once-over. “You her boyfriend?”

 

His expression hardens. “No.”

 

“She’s stable. That’s all I can tell you.”

 

“Was the overdose intentional?”

 

“That’s not for us to say.”

 

“What did she OD on?”

 

“I’m sorry, I can’t comment further. We’re taking her to White Plains Hospital where they’ll do tests.”

 

The paramedic shoulders past Ethan before she opens the ambulance door so she and her partner can load Olivia inside. I take Ethan’s hand as the ambulance pulls away, its lights and siren blaring. He watches it with a stony expression until it disappears.

 

“Liberty said she’d been depressed,” Ruby says. “Got hooked on drugs a while ago. Her roommate thought she’d gotten clean, but apparently not.”

 

Without a word, Ethan pulls his hand out of mine and strides off.

 

When I catch up with him, his jaw looks so tight it could crack walnuts.

 

“Ethan—”

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.”