Behind the wheel of her car, Quinn waits for her pulse to return to normal, pushing images of Stevie in that hospital bed from her mind. This was the last place she expected to be. Forced into coming out. But now that Chelsea knows, Quinn knows she’s out of options. That girl can’t be trusted to keep this to herself. Somehow, a girl who means nothing to Quinn has been the lynchpin in everything falling apart.
She listens to the growling of the motor as she tries to decide what to do. Go see Terry. Go see Ellie. Confront Brianne. Go home and figure out how she’s going to tell her parents. Go hide under a rock until the year is over. Go pack her bags and get the hell out of dodge. Go tie Chelsea up in the basement to keep her from telling anyone. As her imagination slowly turns more extreme, Quinn gives her head a shake, puts the car into gear, and pulls out into the street. She’ll just drive until she ends up somewhere.
After driving around for ten minutes, she decides that coffee is a necessity for any future decision making. The smell of fresh ground beans instantly clears her head as she steps into a local coffee shop. She lets her mind wander aimlessly as she stands in line, waiting for the barista to take her order. She needs some down time.
When she picks up her Americano, she scans the shop, contemplating sitting alone in the corner for a little while. She stops short when she sees him standing near the coffee station, his hands shoved as far as possible into his pockets, looking hurt and confused.
“Hey Terry.” Her voice is weak as she cradles her cup between her hands.
“Hey babe.” His voice gentle but edgy “You’ve been dodging my calls.”
“I’ve had some stuff to deal with.”
“Yeah. Sure.” He loads his coffee with cream and sugar. “Well, no avoiding me now.”
“Guess not.” She leads the way out of the café. “Follow me.” Getting into her car, Quinn gives herself a few minutes alone to compose herself. To figure out what to say. Wanting somewhere she knows they won’t be overheard, she heads to her house. The phone on the seat beside her begins to ring. Looking at the call display, she answers quickly.
“Hey Geoff.” Even to herself, her voice sounds weary.
“How are you doing?” He sounds genuinely concerned.
“Not good. I think Ellie hates me. And I went to see Stevie. She’s in really bad shape.”
“Is she going to be okay?”
“They think so. She’s not going to die at least.” Quinn releases a deep breath.
“If you need to talk, Quinn, or just someone who knows the whole story, you know where to find me.”
“I might need to hold you to that. I just ran into Terry.” She brushes her hair back roughly. “We’re about to talk.”
“What are you going to tell him?”
“The truth. At this point, it’s all I’ve got.”
“He’s not going to take this well.” Geoff warns.
“I know he’s going to be upset, but he’ll understand. It may just take a bit of explaining.” Quinn tries to convince herself. “He’s a good guy, Geoff.”
“Don’t be foolish, Quinn. He is going to be furious.”
“Geoff, I can’t really worry about his feelings. I just need this to be over. Stevie needs me to be there for her.”
“Quinn, just be…” His tone is grave. She’s never heard Geoff sound this serious. “Be careful. He was really mad when you wouldn’t answer his calls.”
“I’m home now. Gotta go.” She cuts him off before he can say anything else. Before he can make her more nervous. Ending the call, she immediately heads to the house. Terry can let himself in. Quinn grabs a glass of water and heads back down to her room. She has to pass by Terry on the stairs. His hand slides along her arm and down her back. He looks less angry now. More confused. And gentle. She reaches back, squeezing his hand. She doesn’t want to hurt him.
Once in her room, she takes a seat in her desk chair, forcing Terry to sit across from her. He perches on the end of her bed. She wishes he would sit anywhere else. For a moment, neither of them speaks.
“So…” Terry prods. “Something is obviously up.”
Quinn nods, still composing the best way to word her confession.
“You seemed really upset this morning.” He stands, walking to the window. The sun bounces off the snow, making the blonde in his hair more prominent.
“I was.” Quinn agrees.
“I can’t believe anyone would do that to another person.” He walks towards her, his hand resting on her arm. “Just because she’s gay. God. Someone needs to find the person who did this and beat them down.”
“I plan to.” Quinn mutters.
“Excuse me?” Terry’s eyebrows rise. “Aren’t you of the whole don’t stoop to their level school of thought?”
“This is different. The…the… peo… no, not people… the things that did this to her deserve a taste of their own medicine. They don’t deserve compassion.” Tears spill from her eyes. She sinks her face into her hands. Terry takes her arms and raises her to standing position. He pulls her close, wrapping his arms around her.
“Hey, hey, I know this is horrible.” He comforts her. “But it’s not worth losing your convictions.”
“You don’t understand.” She tries to pull away, but he holds her tight.
“I understand that no one deserves to be attacked like that. Unless of course they’re touching little kids. Then they should be…”
“I’m dating her.” Quinn speaks over him.
“drawn and quart… Wait, what?” Terry pulls away, but keeps his hands on her shoulders. “You’re what?” His eyebrows draw together.
“I… she…Stevie’s my girlfriend.” Her voice is low. “I thought you knew. That you’d figured it out.”
“Figured what out?” The confusion in his voice begins to ebb. “That you guys are friends?”
“The reason why I’m so upset.” She doesn’t want to have to say it again. “The reason I wanted to talk to you after the movie tomorrow.”
“I think you’re going to need to spell it out for me.” His fingers tighten around her upper arms. The weakness in his voice gone. Quinn doesn’t pull back. In a way, she welcomes the physical discomfort. Almost feels like she deserves it.
“I’m so sorry, Terry.” She can’t bring herself to look at him.
“More details.” His expression has gone blank.
“I’ve been… Stevie is… Well, we’ve been dating for a while. Since the summer, actually…” She stares at their socked feet as the admission pours past her lips. He says nothing. His silence prods her on, makes her feel the need to defend herself. To fill the silence. “I didn’t want to hurt you, really I didn’t. If it wasn’t for her, I’d really want to be…”
“What? You’d want to be what? Dating me? My girlfriend?” He backs away from her “Cause, as far as I know, you are my girlfriend!”
“Technically, that’s not entirely true.”
“Entirely true?” His voice rises as he grabs the water glass from the edge of the desk and hurtles it at the wall. Quinn ducks instinctively, covering her head with her arms. Terry grabs her arm and pulls her into a standing position, all traces of gentleness gone.
“Terry, wait! Let me explain.” Her voice is strong. She refuses to beg. She’s so tired of giving in to other people.
“Explain what? That you’ve been lying to me? That you’ve been cheating on me?” He pauses for a moment, “No, wait, I’ve been the cheatee? You were seeing someone else before you started dating me, so you’ve been cheating on… her. With me.” His voice is filled with disgust. “You made me a cheater? How dare you.”
“I couldn’t tell anyone. And you’re a great guy. We had fun together.” She tries to smooth things over. “And she knew about you, so technically not cheating.”
“Stop with the fucking technicalities, Quinn! She knew! So, what… You were both laughing at me? You thought you’d have your cake and eat it too? When we were in your bed that night. This bed!” He kicks the bed so hard it slams against the wall, the mattress jumping. “You were like what, picturing her? Is that why you were so weird afterwards… Jesus. That was the night that she came out. She made that big scene at the party, and suddenly you wanted to leave right away and come back here. And then it was like you couldn’t get on me fast enough. I thought it was just because you wanted to be with me.”
“I did… sort of… you’re very attractive.” Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Quinn backs away from him. Hoping the physical distance will create some emotional detachment. “But I knew it was unfair to you. I was planning to break things off tomorrow. To try to salvage our friendship.”
“Don’t placate me.” He steps towards her. Before she can unwind her arms, he’s pushing her back onto the bed. With nothing to catch herself, she falls back onto the mattress, bouncing.
“Don’t push me.” She shoots back, trying to right herself.
“You don’t get to be the angry one here.” He pushes her back down again. “I can’t believe this meant nothing to you. You didn’t act like you weren’t into it. You liked it. I know you did.” His frenzied eyes are wide with conviction. “You wanted me as much as I wanted you. You’re just confused about this girl. She’s filled your head with lies.” He crawls onto the bed. Straddling her lap. His hands holding down her arms. “You remember what it’s like.”
“Get off me, Terry!” Quinn struggles to free herself. “I know you’re angry. I would be too. I did a horrible thing to you. Please stop.”
“But you did some great things to me. You know what you’re doing. You wanted it as much as I did. You’re such a good girl, babe.” He seems almost vacant. Like the Terry she knows, that she’s been friends with for so long, isn’t in there anymore. He leans forward pulling her hands above her head. Holding her wrists in one hand, he uses the other to pull at her clothes. His fingers grapple with the buttons on her jeans. “You don’t want that girl. You know that what we had… no, have, what we have is good. You just need a reminder”
“Terry, stop it!” Fear pushes into her throat. Burning. She tries to fight him off. “Please don’t do this. You’re not this guy.” Her voice cracks as she pushes against the mass of body pressing against her. She’s angry at herself for not being able to control her tears. He begins pushing his hand into her now unbuttoned pants. He leans in, starts kissing her neck, frantically. His fingers painful as they probe forward. Violating her. He moves to her lips, biting at them. Quinn squeezes her lips together as tight as possible. She wiggles her wrists. His grip seems to have loosened. She yanks one arm as hard possible.
As her arm pulls free, she uses it to grab his hair and pull him away from her face. At the same time, she kicks as hard as possible. Terry flies off the side of the bed, disappearing onto the floor. Pulling her bedding with her, she skitters across the bed to where it meets the wall, her back pressing firmly into the corner.
“Oh my god, Quinn. I’m so sorry.” Terry pulls himself up off the floor. His eyes suddenly clear again. “I don’t know what… I can’t believe that I just… I would never hurt you.”
“You need to leave now, Terry.” She winces as her jeans press against scratches made by his nails. “Right now.”
“Wait, please, Quinn. Can’t we just talk some more?”
“No, we can’t. We absolutely cannot!” She stands on the bed, making herself tower over him, her arms crossed in front of her, still gripping the blanket like a shield. “I know that I hurt you. I understand that you are angry, but you need to go before I call the police.”
“I didn’t mean…” He’s the weak one now. She feels no remorse for him.
“This can’t just be apologized away. I accept my part in hurting you, but you need to get the hell out of my house.” She walks towards him. Not faltering once as her feet sink into the pillow top of the mattress. Refusing to give him an inch. “Right now, Terry. Right fucking now.”
“I’m sorry.” He mutters and hurries out the door. She remains standing on the end of her bed until she hears the metal against metal sound of a truck door slamming. As the end of the box disappears past the window, she crumples to her bed. Shaking. She fumbles with her pants. Desperate to do them up. To remove the visible evidence of his violation. Wrapping her arms around her knees. She closes her eyes. Taking deep breathes. Concentrating on nothing except the slow inhale and exhale of air. A lingering trail of Terry’s cologne enters her nose. She jumps up, frantically pulling the bedding off, running to the laundry room. Jamming the linens into the machine. She strips the tainted clothing from her body and pushes them in, dumps in detergent, and heads back to her room.
Behind the closed bedroom door, she cranks the window open to let the frigid winter air flood the room. Lying on her bare mattress, she feels the goose bumps rising against her exposed skin. Her hands crossed over her stomach. Gazing straight at the ceiling. Looking the picture of calm. She lays there until she hears the washer buzz. She can hardly feel her skin; it’s so cold.
Taking one last deep breath, she rolls off the bed and pulls a pair of jeans and a sweater from the closet. Pulling her socks on as she hops down the hall, she changes her laundry and heads up the stairs. It’s almost 3:00. A couple hours until her father gets home. A quick stop by the hospital, and then it’s time to deal with Ellie.