'Zoey,' Candice said to me at lunch time. 'Are you sure you're okay? You can talk to me you know.'
'It's Ben,' I blurted without thinking. As soon as I said this, I realized what a weight had slowly began to lift off my shoulders, I had no idea just how much I needed to talk to someone. Anyone.
'What about him?' she asked patiently.
'I don't know,' I sighed truthfully. 'I just feel as if we're not...connecting anymore, you know?'
Char, who must have been listening, looked over her compact mirror.
'Sweetie, you need to tell him' she raised her eyebrows. 'Issues in a relationship cannot be resolved unless they're talked about.'
'That's true,' Candice agreed.
'You're right,' I muttered. I stood up, took my bag off the chair and waved them goodbye before I could talk myself out of what I was about to do next. I headed out of the cafeteria, into the yard outside. It was a beautiful day, girls were soaking up the rays beneath their big sunglasses, some guys were throwing a football around and others were simply talking.
None of them were Ben though.
'Hey Jack,' I called over to Char's stalker. He caught the football that had been thrown at him before turning to me.
'What's up Zo?'
'Have you seen Ben anywhere?'
'Urm, I think I saw him head to your form room with Pheonix.'
'Pheonix?' I spluttered in disbelief. 'Why her?'
'Dunno,' he shrugged his shoulders. 'I think she wanted showing around or something. Hey listen - '
I didn't hear anymore. I rushed off in the opposite direction in a frenzy. My heart was hammering wildly against my chest and I had no idea why. Ben wouldn't do anything would he? All sorts of images flashed through my mind: Ben and her locked in an embrace, them flirting, god knows what else.
The steps up to the form room seemed to take forever, it was as though they were deliberately trying to slow me down, trying to give them time to do whatever it was they were doing...
When I reached the top I was panting desperately. I took a moment to compose myself, smoothing my hair flat and hoisting my bag back up onto my shoulder.
'So how are you liking Beverly Hills?' I could hear Ben's loud animated voice.
I inched closer to the room, feeling a lot like a paranoid stalker.
'It's nice, a lot sunnier. Plus the guys are hot too,' Pheonix giggled and my stomach lurched.
'Oh yeah?' his voice had gone into teasing mode. 'All of them?'
She giggled once more. It made me want to storm in there and wipe that smile off her face.
There were a few moments of silence before an unmistakable sound of a slap. Flesh hitting flesh. It made me jump and I quickly looked for somewhere to hide. The door to a broom closet was partially open and without thinking, I ducked inside.
Seconds later, Pheonix ran out the room, wiping her lips.
Oh God. So it had happened. Just as I'd thought.
I didn't know what to think then. I knew Ben and I had been having problems, but I didn't think he'd kiss another girl... I honestly thought he loved me. You don't kiss other people when you're in love, do you?
Ben soon followed and was about to head down the stairs when I stepped out of my hiding place, nearly giving him a heart attack in the process.
He jumped and his face became a mask of horror.
'Zoey!' He cried out. Then he carefully tried to compose his features. 'Babe, what are you doing here? Were you just in that broom closet?'
'Yes, I was,' my voice was flat, emotionless.
'I... I dropped my bracelet, it rolled into there.'
'Oh,' he sighed. He looked relieved.
'Listen, I'm not feeling well, I gotta go,' I ran out before he could say another word. Embarrassingly, I began crying. People stared at me as I rushed past them, probably wondering what on Earth had happened. All I could think about was Ben, Pheonix...kissing.
I had another lesson but there was no chance I was going to it.
Instead, I ran straight out into the car park, flung myself inside and drove home with the music full blast. I sang along to every single word, refusing to think anymore. If Ben wanted Pheonix he could bloody well have her. He wasn't worth my time.
And as for that little...slut. Oh well, she was going to pay.
As soon as I stepped through the front door of my house, I knew something was up. There was something in the atmosphere, a morbidness, silence...
'Mum?' I called out nervously.
I could hear the distinct sounds of crying.
'Mum!' I shouted, dumping my bag by the door and rushing into the main living room. Mum was sat with her face buried in her hands sobbing. My dad was stood awkwardly beside her looking half angry and... guilty? Maddy was no where to be seen.
'What's going on?' I asked cautiously.
'You tell her,' mum hissed between hiccups. It took me less than a second to realize she was speaking to my dad.
'Rachel I really - '
'Tell her!' she screamed, making us both jump. 'Or shall I, hmm?! You wanna know what's wrong Zoey?'
'Rachel, don't do this!! She's just a kid!' my father protested.
'Your father's been sleeping with another woman!!!'
I can't honestly say what I felt in those next few moments, everything was just... a blur. A surreal, dreamlike blur. Another thing that seemed to happen was everything slowed down, like in slow motion. It was as though I wasn't really part of my body any longer and I was watching from above. The girl with blonde hair past her shoulders stood motionlessly, her face slowly sinking. The man stood next to his wife, shouting angrily at her, words inaudible. The mother looked horrified, glancing between her daughter and her husband.
Without warning, the girl rushed out of the room, up to her own where she flung herself onto her bed and sobbed.
She cried and cried, until she could cry no more.