Previous: Chapter 6 – Chloe’s First Day at Work
That first line of powder felt better than even the first time, and once I opened the door to my old lifestyle, there was no stopping it from consuming me. Two years of almost-sobriety didn’t matter anymore. Life without drugs was boring and depressing, and the club scene held excitement! And what’s the point of life if you’re not having fun?
Days passed, blending together because I lived in a substance-induced fantasy land. Despite being back into dealing, my bank account was dry and credit cards maxed, because I spent earnings on drugs and gambling. Applying for real jobs was at the top of my to-do list, but I hadn’t bothered opening my laptop since taking over my brother’s room. Instead, I ordered takeout with my ex-company’s credit card and played video games until loneliness persuaded me to go out, and always ended up back at the bar. It became a vicious cycle: Party all night, sleep all day, hate self all afternoon, party, sleep, repeat.
My body and conscience begged me to stop, along with the people who (for some reason) cared about me. Molly was asking questions. Vic was calling me numerous times each day. I had hundreds of unread messages. I just couldn’t deal with their disappointment, it was much easier to avoid everyone.
One morning I staggered home at sunrise after an especially rough night. I’d lost a lot of money, drank and snorted too much, and was a fucking mess. Numbness spread throughout my body and unlocking the front door was a 10-minute challenge. As I stumbled to Vic’s room I smiled thinking, at least nobody will see me like this.
I kicked the bedroom door open, orange sun rays from the half-open shades nearly blinding me. Careful not to make too much noise, I began undressing, putting all my energy into maintaining balance. My jeans and shirt were tossed aside when I turned to the bed and saw a stubbled face sound asleep on my pillow; it was Toby, clothed in khakis and an undershirt, mouth wide open, drool seeping down his chin. A half-snore echoed through the room as I threw my bra aside.
Well, this is awkward.
Whatever. I was too fucked up to care. Sorta.
The room spun and my stomach twisted in knots, threatening to send everything I’d eaten that day back up (not that I’d eaten much). Partly it was the amount of alcohol I’d consumed, partly anxiety from the debt I’d racked up. Mostly it was because Toby’s presence was a sign that I’d gone too far.
I didn’t bother putting any clothes on as I climbed into bed and tugged at the blanket under my ex-Dom, forcing him to stir.
“What time is it?” he muttered without opening an eye. I wondered if he remembered where he was.
Instead of answering I snuggled up into the blanket, admiring the cool cotton against my naked skin. It felt weird to have another warm body in the bed with me, especially when he threw an arm over my stomach.
“You were out late, Violeta.” He said my name properly, just as my parents would have. It sent a chill down my spine. “Molly thinks you need an intervention.”
“Molly needs to mind her own goddamn business. Go back to sleep. Don’t lecture me in the middle of the night or I’ll start fucking you until you’re speechless.”
He groaned and swatted my hip, rolling back over, no longer interested in cuddling. “Goodnight, brat.”
A few hours later, my friends ripped open the shades and pulled off my blanket, leaving me there exposed in only my panties. Molly bounced on the bed behind me, shaking me a little, much to my disapproval. “C’mon, VyVy, you’ve gotta get sunlight or you’ll never get out of your depression. Don’t make me call Gabe to deal with you.”
“I’m not in a fucking depression, go away. I’ll talk to Gabe when I’m ready.” I pulled the pillow over my head to block everything out, but she’s persistent and had Toby as a wingman. He snatched away my pillow and Molly hopped over me, now only inches from my face.
“Come play with us… you love paintball!” She bounced again, but being so close to me, ended up knocking me in the forehead.
“What the fuck!” I growled and opened my eyes. She giggled now, rubbing her head and not concerned with my grumpy mood. “I said to go away, won’t you fucking listen?”
Suddenly her mood dropped and tears started welling up in her big green eyes. An exaggerated frown spread across her face. “I just wanna play.” Her voice was low and whiney, like a little kid.
I groaned and rolled over to glance at Toby, trying to get a little help since my brain wasn’t fully functioning and I had a bitchin’ headache from the hangover. But Toby just shrugged at me and I realized that I had a different question for him. “What are you even doing here?”
“We’re going paintballing.”
Hearing it for the second time, I noticed the pinch of excitement in my heart. It was subtle, but more than I’d felt at the idea of anything in the last few days. And I’d been brushing up on my first-person-shooter games. Paintball would be more exciting than gaming all day, and most likely I’d win which would perk up my mood. But if I was going to do it, I’d need something to help me wake up.
“You’re thinking about it… she’s thinking about it!” Molly enthused. “Coooooome! I’ll even pay for your ammo and stuff.”
“Fine, I’ll go. But please leave so I can get dressed in peace! Doesn’t anybody know the meaning of privacy?” I playfully pushed her away.
“No privacy in this apartment!” She gave me a big wet kiss on the cheek and giggled, then skipped away. Toby moved a little slower but returned my blanket and pillow, finally.
“She’s worried about you.”
“I’ve heard, but I’m fine,” I assured him, choosing now to be modest and cover myself a little.
“You’re going through a lot, I get why she’s worried. Can I help with anything?”
“Help by leaving. And believe me when I say I’m fine.”
He raised his eyebrows in doubt. “I’ll believe you’re fine when you show us.”
Before I could respond, Toby walked out, closing the door behind him. It felt like he’d told me, “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.” He was totally that type of Dom.
Instead of ruminating, I pushed myself out of bed and glanced around the room for something to wear. My suitcase laid in the middle of the floor, empty… I’d already worn everything comfortable and hadn’t bothered doing laundry since moving in. At least Vic had plenty of clothes I could use, even if they fit a little big.
I swam through the pile of takeout containers on the floor towards my brother’s dresser, pulling out his navy swim trunks and a band T-shirt with the sleeves cut out that he’d owned since high school. After dressing myself I walked to the mirror. My rat’s nest mess of hair was too tangly to bother brushing, so I swooped it into a ponytail and grabbed my ratty Yankee’s cap. I’d have to wash it after paintball, anyway. Taking one final glance at myself, I noticed how much weight I’d lost. My collar bone stuck out, and I looked paler than normal. I guess that’s why Molly said I need more sun.
Grabbing my raggedy cheap running shoes, I headed to the recliner in front of Vic’s dresser and TV. As I sat and started putting on my socks, I remembered the unopened little baggy of white powder. I’d snagged the last two from my dealing-bag before going out last night, but had wanted to save one for later. Well, now was later, right?
“VyVy! Are you ready yet??? Izaak will be here with the car in five minutes!”
For a second I wondered why we would take an Uber to paintball, but then realized that Izaak wasn’t a chauffeur, rather, Molly’s Dom friend. Ugh. I didn’t like him.
“Be there in a minute!” The friends we would play with hadn’t crossed my mind because most of Molly’s friends are the hippie type which are annoying but I can stand them. Izaak, on the other hand. I’d need to take the whole bag with me to deal with him. And a pack of cigarettes.
After inhaling two lines of powder, I stuffed the ziplock into the tiny inside pocket of the shorts, grabbed my handbag and swung the door open. “I’m going out for a smoke. Will meet you guys outside.” The rubbery taste coated the back of my throat and I savored it for a moment as I ran downstairs. My brain was waking up, pupils dilating, heart racing. Before opening the front door of the building, I pulled out my sunglasses and a pack of smokes.
I was leaning against the brick wall, lit cigarette between my lips, brain racing in maybe an unhealthy way, when the black 2018 Suburban pulled up. I wanted to hide under my cap and sunglasses, but was no longer in control of my body, only acting on impulse.
“Hey! Izaak! How’s it goin’, bro?” Without realizing I’d even been walking, somehow I’d arrived at the passenger’s side window, tempted to throw my arms in to give him a hug even though I had a cigarette that he probably didn’t want stinking up his almost-brand-new truck.
He took his sunglasses off and flashed me a pearly white smile. “Hey Violet, it’s been a while. Good to see you again.” His hand thrust towards me for a handshake, so I did, only then noticing a girl sitting right in front of me in the passenger’s seat. How had I missed her before?
Sniffling, I said, “Whoa, where d’you come from? Oh my god, your hair is goddess-like.” I reached for the soft brown tufts on her shoulders and brought them to my nose for a whiff of peachy goodness. “Woooow, so soft, what conditioner do you use? Share that shit with me. I’m Violet.”
Her big blue eyes gazed up at me as she placed her perfectly manicured fingers in mine, barely gripping me in the handshake. She told me her name, too, but I couldn’t hear it with all the noise going on outside and in my brain. Sounded like Clo.
“I needta grab water from the corner store — want anything?”
“I’ll go with you!” Clo said enthusiastically, propelling the door open so forcefully that I almost fell back.
“Here, get enough for everyone,” said Izaak, throwing two $10 bills in our direction.
Clo took the cash and hopped out, following me down the sidewalk at a safe distance. I felt skeptical about talking to her at first, being that she’s one of Izaak’s friends. He’s a tight-ass with law enforcement affiliation, so I imagined her to be a similar rule-follower. That’s why I didn’t bother with small talk as we walked, instead checking my text messages. I’d been ignoring them lately, and as I scrolled through, I remembered why: mostly bill collectors. And Andy threatening me if I didn’t pay up what I owed. Ugh. What a downer.
When we rounded the corner, Clo caught up to me and cleared her throat. “Can I have a cigarette?”
Glancing in her direction, I snickered a bit. “Sergeant Douche has you on a smoking ban, huh? Is he gonna beat your ass for this?”
“Not if he doesn’t find out,” she retorted quickly, evil grin spreading on her lips.
Stopping in front of the bodega, I took the pack of Camels from my handbag, flipping a cancer stick out. Her cherry red lips formed a perfect O and she popped the cigarette inside, glancing up at me to light it for her. The flame flickered on, dancing in the wind until she leaned forward, inhaling.
I puffed on my own cigarette, considering that I’d not have any bill collectors on my ass if I had someone like Izaak in my life. But you only live once and I didn’t want to waste my time worrying about money. “There’s a reason I haven’t gotten a Dom yet… I’m not ready to quit any of my shit.”
Clo chuckled. “I don’t blame you. Izaak’s been on me lately for everything.” She shook her head, taking a long drag off the cigarette, then flicking the ashes away. “I’ve missed this taste.”
“How long ago did you quit?”
“Like a week and a half. And I’m ready to kill everyone.”
“I know that feeling,” I muttered, now finished and throwing my cigarette butt to the ground, stubbing it out. “How about you give me that $20 and I’ll get our drinks.”
Her eyebrows raised. “You’re not really planning on buying it, are you?” When I didn’t answer, just stared at her, she continued. “At least let me distract the cashier for you. The last thing I need is Izaak ripping me a new one for not being loyal or some bullshit.”
My initial response was a laugh. “Ha! I think you just want in on the adrenaline.”
Her milky cheeks suddenly turned crimson, as if I’d caught her jerking off. “And what if I do?”
I shrugged. “Then I guess we can arrange that.”
Clo finished the last of her cigarette then passed me half of the money. I went to the back of the store stashing away a few bottles in my handbag while she talked to the man behind the counter, flirting with him. It really wasn’t a foolproof plan, but I was too high to care, and we got away with it. At least it gave us a good laugh as we ran out.
We were still giggling about how easy it was to steal when we turned the corner and saw everyone in the truck already. I considered another cigarette, but Molly sat in the front passenger’s side seat waving us over, ready to go. Then I saw that the spaces behind Molly were also full — with Toby and his latest sub, a blonde-haired college girl named Vanessa.
“Sorry, you snooze you lose!” Her shrill laughter poked at my nerves, almost enough to make me turn around and go home.
“There’s a seat in the very back,” said Izaak, motioning with his thumb.
Vanessa didn’t move an inch, so I purposely stepped on her toes as I climbed to the trunk, causing her to squeal, and sat with a huff. “Molly and Vanessa should be back here since they’re smallest, that’s what makes the most sense! And you’re welcome for the water.” I grabbed a few bottles out of my handbag and tossed them to the floor between Toby and Vanessa, then folded my arms.
“Thank youuuuuu!” the girls shrieked.
I rolled my eyes. “There are too many females here for a real game of paintball.”
“Hey don’t hate till you’ve seen me play, chica,” Vanessa said, tilting her head back to cackle as Clo climbed in next to me. “Naw I’m kiddin’, I know I’m gonna lose.” She playfully smacked Toby on the arm, giving him a flirtatious glance that made me want to gag.
“You are not cute,” I muttered under my breath making Clo snort.
Peering at us through the rearview mirror, Izaak bellowed, “Everyone ready?”
Vanessa slammed the back door shut and fastened her seatbelt, giving a thumbs up. “Yup, we’re ready!”
My eyes rolled again and I leaned back, folding my arms. Now was my last chance if I wanted to bail out.
“This car isn’t moving until everyone’s buckled in.” That was Izaak, directed at me. “And Clo, I can smell the smoke from here, which I’ll deal with when we get home.”
“Stop actin’ like such a dad! I’m pretty sure that’s me,” I said, shoving the seat belt in before grumbling, “such a mood killer.”
“Well, maybe I can deal with you, too, for giving her one.” Izaak turned all the way around to give me a playfully serious look, which made me laugh.
“You’re trippin’, bro.”
He shook his head and turned back around, pulling out of the parking spot.
“Ugh, God, he’s so annoying. How can you stand him?” I muttered to Clo.
Lips pressed together, she allowed herself a half-smile while she considered my question. It took her a minute to answer, and her voice was so low I almost missed it. “He’s annoying, but doesn’t give up on me.”
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