Position: Home > Devour (Devoured #1)(11)

Devour (Devoured #1)(11) by Shelly Crane

I was just normal me. The mirror said as much and I grabbed my bag swiftly from the chair and raced downstairs. I kissed all the babies and grabbed an apple as I shoved my way out the door, trailing loud goodbyes in my wake.

Once I reached the street though, I was suddenly overcome with a sense of embarrassment and shame. What had happened last night would no doubt be the talk of the school today. My steps faltered and I looked around at all the faces. There seemed to be a lot of eyes trained on me but then looking away quickly. I straightened my back and slung my bag further up my shoulder.

I was not going to cower for something I didn’t even do.

I walked all the way across the street and saw a few people who normally didn’t talk to me wave at me and smile. I returned it and looked for my friends. I saw Megan and Deidre...with Eli. Deidre had her tacky fake nails on his arm and was pushing her chest against him as she laughed at whatever he was saying.

And just like he could sense me, Eli looked up and directly at me. He watched me watch him and then he craned his neck, his expression changing, and began to come forward but Dee grabbed his arm to stop him. I wondered what was wrong but then I felt it. The warm, gentle hand on my wrist and the eerie quiet of the courtyard as everyone watched.

Tate.

“Hey. I’m glad you came today. I was so worried about you last night but you’re phone was dead and the Pastor wouldn’t get you for the house phone.”

“I’m surprised you came,” I said softly.

“Why? I had to see you,” he said and came closer, his hand drifting down to rest in mine.

I heard a bunch of murmurs and gasps and looked around to see everyone’s eyes still glued to us. I pulled him by his arm, feeling Eli’s eyes on me, and took a swift glance to confirm that. He looked like he wanted to follow but I towed Tate all the way through the school to the girl’s bathroom. I shut the door and turned against it for support as I faced him.

“What’s wrong, Tate?

“Nothing,” he said and looked at the floor. “I’m fine. I just got really mad. That guy was cheating.”

“Don’t lie to me. Not to me.” He took a deep breath before letting his book bag fall to the floor and shoving his hands in his pockets. “Steroids, Tate? Really?”

“You don’t know what it’s like!” he yelled and I flinched.

He saw and came until he was flush with my toes. He touched my cheek.

“You can’t think I’d ever hurt you. I’d never, ever, hurt you, Clara. I love you.”

He finally said it. After he hit me and humiliated me in front of the whole school, he says it.

“Tate, I can’t do this. You can’t just say, yes I’m taking steroids and expect everything to just go back to normal. Stop taking them!” I yelled and he seemed surprise by it. “Get your crap back together! You could have killed that guy! Do you even understand that?”

“I know, ok!” he yelled back. “I know, but what can I do about it now? I already got a court date for it. Friday I have to see a judge and them tell me what they’re gonna do to me. That guy pressed charges so...”

“As he should have, Tate. You really hurt him.”

“My mom was worried you were going to press charges too,” he muttered and looked at me from under his lashes. I noticed his parents weren’t worried about me, just Tate’s reputation.

“Pastor wants me to but I told them I had to talk to you first.”

“That’s my girl,” he crooned, cracking a smile, and pulled me to him. “I knew you’d know I never meant to hurt you. It was an accident.”

I pushed him back a little.

“This isn’t over, just like that. You hurt me, Tate, and scared me. Watching you hit that guy over and over...I never want to see that again. That’s not who you are.”

“I know it’s not. I’m sorry. Babe, I’m so sorry. I love you, please, please, forgive me,” he begged into my neck.

“I’m working on it,” I told him. “But you have to stop taking them.”

“Already did. I flushed it all last night when I got home. I’m done, babe. Promise.”

“Good.”

I let him kiss me, though I wasn’t into it, he didn’t seem to notice. I noticed he never asked to see my bruise or if there even was one. And after a few minutes we made our way, well passed the bell, into the empty hall and he walked me to my first period class. He opened the door for me and kissed me right in front of everyone as they all looked to see who was coming in late. My cheeks flashed scarlet and I wanted to ask Tate why he had done that. It was like he was telling everyone ‘See, she forgave me, ha!’

The rest of the week went just like that. Tate was extra attentive, especially in the halls where everyone could see. Our group of friends pretended that nothing had happened at all and everything was fine. And Eli.

When I lay down at night and closed my eyes, Eli was right there, every night. The first night he pulled the collar of my shirt down with his finger to see my bruise and winced. He said he’d kill him if I’d let him. We almost kissed every time and he always told me he needed me and wanted me more than anyone else. In real life, he was different.

He watched me, always watching, and Deidre seemed to cling to him whether he wanted her to or not and he let, her but everyone could tell he was just humoring her. I heard her say he was taking her out on Saturday but who knew if that was true, knowing Dee. He never spoke to me unless it was about school stuff as he walked with me to classes and in Art. Things were strange, awkward in an oddly comfortable way. It seemed that Eli was just waiting for me. And I was curious about the dream-like visits and how I felt so strange around him.

And Tate. He had spent every night at my house. Despite Pastor’s advice, I let him come over and told them everything was fine. It was all just a big misunderstanding. They didn’t seem convinced but let me have it anyway. Tate tried to seduce me in his truck before we went in every night. I told him he didn’t have to try to make up for anything anymore. He said he wasn’t, he just wanted me so badly. I had to physically push him to stop him twice, which I’d never had to do before.

He said he wanted to come walk me to school the next day so I let him. He pulled up in his truck but instead of walking he lifted me onto the seat and climbed in beside me. He drove into the parking lot of the school and parked. Then he pulled me onto his lap immediately and began frantically kissing me. He kissed my neck and tugged my hair to pull my head back to give him more access to my throat. He moaned and groaned, using his hands to pull me against him. When he started to unbutton my shirt I slapped his hand away and asked what he was doing.

“What does it look like?” he said and laughed. “Look, babe, the windows are tinted. I love you and I know you love me. No more games, Clara. I’ve waited and paid my dues and now it’s time we were together. I know you want to.”

He gripped me too tightly on my thigh and licked my earlobe. I pushed him with both hands and looked at him closely. He looked like a wild caged animal. Then I knew.

“You’re still taking them,” I accused in a whisper.

“I have to,” he said, not even trying to deny it, “until the meets are done. State is coming up. Then I’ll stop. Come on, Clara. Don’t be such a stick in the mud. I’ve been taking them for three months now and you never noticed.”