One minute, I'm about to pay for my nicotine patches, the next, I can't breathe and the guy behind the counter sits me down, muttering something about making a call.
Hadley appears and manages to calm me down before sitting me in the back of the car on my own. I don't mind. I just hug my knees to my chest and rest my forehead on them, trying to keep my breathing steady.
I half listen to the conversation between Cay and Hadley, glad they're not shouting at each other.
When I next look up, we're coming to a stop outside their house and I pull myself out, using the car to hold myself up as my legs shake. Ugh. I thought I was over the panic attacks.
After a moment, I can stand up, and I follow Hadley inside. He gives Cay a warning look that says something along the lines of "follow us and you die" before taking me into the kitchen "Are you gonna be okay now?" he asks. I nod and get myself a glass of water. I down the water before answering properly.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks for coming and getting me," I mutter, trying not to blush. What? It's embarrassing enough having a panic attack over nothing, let alone in the middle of a drug store making your boyfriend and his brother come get you. Hadley smiles.
"You know I'm here if you need to talk, right?" I look up at him, surprised.
"So... Do you know what set you off back there?" he asks softly. I lean against the counter behind me and shake my head. I used to get panic attacks over big things... like the first time I got beat up at school for being gay, or when I found out Alex was cheating on me with a girl. This time... it was a little doubt in the back of my mind that's barely worth mentioning. Get a fucking grip, Max.
Hads gives me this look that says he doesn't think I'm really telling the truth, but shrugs anyway.
"Must just be stress then, eh?" he suggests and I nod.
"Are you coming to this thing tonight then? I can let Mom know if you're not. Can't say I'd blame you if you don't."
"I don't mind. I might do. See how I feel," I smile weakly, "are you going to hang around for it?"
"Might as well. Free beer and John's hot wife to perv over, I'm happy. Plus Mom said I can have Caleb over." I laugh slightly.
"Caleb... your bi friend, right?"
"Yeah, he's a nice guy. He gets really gropey when he's drunk, though," he says with a laugh and I smile.
"I go all stupid and giggly when I'm drunk," I tell him, "and I tend to fall off whatever it is I'm sitting on."
He laughs, "I turn into the Godfather for some reason."
"Remind me not to piss you off when you're drunk, then," I say, widening my eyes, pretending to look scared for a moment.
"Don't worry, I'll be keeping Caleb off you." I'd rather you were keeping Cayden and John apart, but there you go.
Now I really do sound like a possessive asshole. I give myself a mental slap and just smile.
"You sure you're okay?" No, not really.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I need to change my patch and sit down somewhere. Panic attacks wear me out," I sigh, fiddling with the box of patches in my hand.
"Alright then. Come find me if you need anything, Cayden won't be much use since Mom moved everything around," he smiles and I nod, muttering another "thanks" as he walks out. I push a hand through my hair, exhaling heavily, and turn around, pulling the box open. Rolling up my sleeve, I rip off the patch I put on this morning and replace it with a fresh one, scowling at the sting that's left behind from tearing off the old one.
"Bastardy fucking little shit," I growl, flicking it into the bin. "Getting cancer's easier than this," I mutter under my breath, before wandering off to find Cay.