I dreaded for that following Tuesday to come. It meant I would have to face Khit again and sit among an entire class of people who probably thought I was a two-timing slut, leading on both Darryl and our professor. Liana assured me that was not the case, and I was being too self-conscious about the situation, but I couldn’t help it.
That episode had been the most mortifying experience in my entire existence.
But class was normal, and nobody even commented on what had happened. Khit didn’t even look fazed, but he did avoid eye contact with me.
At the end of lecture, he placed a stack of bluebooks at the front of the room.
“Make sure to pick up your tests before you leave,” he said.
I waited for the crowd to pick up their tests before I went and found mine. Now that Khit had decided to grade me fairly, I knew I didn’t have to worry about getting any more D’s. That test had been easy, and I was sure I had aced it.
The big fat F on the top of the first page stared tauntingly at me. I blinked in disbelief, thinking I had seen it incorrectly. But there it was, and there were no other markings on the rest of my test to explain why I had flunked.
Incredulity fled as irritation settled. Khit had struck again. He was taking out his anger on me for what had happened the other day since he could no longer punish Darryl.
Why had I even thought of defending him? Darryl was right. Khit was an unfair professor who used his personal feelings to grade his students.
I looked up from my test paper to see where he had gone so I could give him a piece of my mind. But he was nowhere to be found. I would have to wait until his office hours.
After telling my roommates that I would take the bus home, we split up, and I waited for Khit’s office hours. At 2:30 sharp, I arrived at his door.
Without looking up from his desk, he stopped typing at his computer for one second to gesture for me to come inside. “Close the door.”
Good. With the door closed, I could yell at him in private.
“I never expected you to resort to this unacceptable behavior again.”
My voice was already rising with my annoyance, and I started blabbing out the speech I had rehearsed to myself while waiting for office hours to begin.
“You know I don’t deserve an F. I got all the answers right, and don’t give me that crappy excuse about my writing not being good enough. I know you only failed me because of what happened with Darryl last week. And let me tell you…it’s not professional to take out your anger on your students. Professors should—”
“I thought you said that kid wasn’t your boyfriend.”
His calm statement shocked me into silence. He hadn’t even lifted his gaze to my face, but he’d stopped typing to fold his hands together. He was clasping his hands so tightly that I could see the whiteness of his taut skin. It was as though he had to force himself to keep his hands to himself for fear that he might do something dangerous if he didn’t.
I backed away slightly, but I refused to let anything deter me from giving him a put down. “I fail to see how my personal life is related to this.”
To my horror, I could hear the slight tremor in my words, but I had to continue for the sake of justice. “Professors shouldn’t let personal feelings towards their students get in the way of how they grade. You’ve done this twice to me now. I understand why you did it the first time, but I’ve already promised that I’ll never reveal who you are, not even to my boyfriend.”
His eyes had now flown to my face, flashing dangerously. “Is he your boyfriend then?”
Again, I took a step backwards. “That has nothing to do with—what are you doing?”
Khit had stood up from his desk and was walking closer to me. For every step forward that he took, I tried to take a step back, but his little office was cramped, and I had run out of room. My back hit the wall.
Now he was using his height to intimidate little five foot two me, and I couldn’t help but cower a bit, especially as I remembered that this man was half animal. His eyes were so focused on mine that I could see bits of gold flaring off his hazel irises.
“Answer the question.”
Seeing as I had no choice but to answer because he most certainly would not back down, I decided to be completely honest. “Darryl is not my boyfriend at this time, but I know for a fact that he is my soul mate because my dream told me so.” Then just to explain things further, I told him about my library dream, and how my soul mate was the man who would reach up and grab the book for me. Then I told him that the same exact scene had occurred in real life, at the same exact spot in the library, and the guy who had reached up to help me get the book had been Darryl.
“I’m not sure why you’re so interested about this,” I continued to say. “Liana thinks it’s because you’re jealous, but I know that’s not true. What I think is that you’re scared I’ll blab your secrets to Darryl when he becomes my bo—”
I was not given the chance to finish that statement, as Khit’s head descended, as his lips forcefully covered mine. At first, I was too shocked to struggle. I had never been kissed before, having been romantically inclined to believe I should save my first kiss and first everything for the man I loved.
So I could hardly believe this was happening…it was so surreal. By the time I realized that I had not consented to being kissed, it was too late to even try struggling. He had pinned my hands to the wall, and I couldn’t move at all.
It didn’t stop me from trying. I wriggled frantically and tried with all my strength to retrieve my arms.
The kiss went on and on, and then I stopped trying to struggle. My head was reeling, and I felt so luxuriously warm that I thought I had melted. He tasted and smelled of summer—of warm golden Californian beaches and salty, sparkling oceans, of sunflower meadows, of sunshine.
I didn’t even know when he had let go of me until he lifted his head away from mine, which felt lonely and disappointing. We were both breathing hard, and all I wanted to do was grab him again.
“You can let me go now,” he said hoarsely.
I blinked as his words jerked me back to reality. Then I realized that I had my arms wrapped around him, and his hands were no longer even touching me.
I jumped back, as if scalded, horror racking my entire body.
He saw my reaction and swore. “Caren, I’m really sorry. I lost control, and—”
I didn’t hear the last of his words as I had already run out the door.
I didn’t know where I was going. I just ran to the closest bus stop, and luckily a bus was coming my way. Oblivious to what number it was, I hopped on, eager to go anywhere, as long as it was far away from here.
What had just happened? My first kiss had been snatched away by him of all people! I was supposed to save it for my soul mate, for Darryl.
And what was wrong with me? I had just stood there, letting him kiss me.
This was a disaster. What was I supposed to do now? I could never face either Khit or Darryl again. Khit would probably rub it in my face, the way I had clung to him even after he had let me go.
Tears blurred my vision. The sad fact that I couldn’t deny was that I’d enjoyed the kiss. I had cheated on Darryl. I had become a two-timer, just as the rest of the class thought.
I rubbed the tears from my eyes furiously. This was, by far, the worst sin I had ever committed in my life. As I tried to sort through my feelings, I happened to glance out the window, and for the first time realized that I was heading downtown.
Perfect. I could really drown myself in my miseries there. Alone.
I had never tested my limitations to alcohol before, and the most alcohol I’d ever chugged down had been a glass of wine during my 21st birthday last March.
That actually had been the first and last time I’d had the horrid-tasting stuff. Never wanted to try it again after I found that wine tasted like…well, it just didn’t taste good to me, and it smelled like a chemistry lab. If I wanted something tasty to drink, I preferred sweetened tea or fruit juice.
But just because I didn’t like the taste of alcohol didn’t mean I disapproved of my friends drinking the vile-tasting stuff. I had always been the designated driver among my roommates, the lucky friend who ended up holding back everyone else’s hair as they puked out the contents of their stomachs into the toilet.
So I knew where all the good bars were downtown, and as I stepped off the bus, Inferno Club and Bar was my destination. I was determined to drink the nasty stuff, not until I was drunk enough to miss the bus going home, but at least until I could relax a bit and forget about my troubles for just a little while.
The place was pretty packed. The blaring music throbbed in my ears, the bass causing my entire body to pulsate to the rhythm. Flashing lights on the dance floor gave an animated feel to the wild dancers, making me feel a bit lightheaded just watching.
I made my way to an empty seat and plopped myself down.
The bartender carded me, and he looked at my driver’s license and back at me, doubt flickering across his face. I knew what he was thinking.
“It’s not a fake ID,” I said, lowering my voice to sound a little older. “Haven’t you seen enough Asian girls to know we usually look younger that our actual age?”
He shrugged, not about to argue. “What’ll it be then?”
I ordered a Pina Colada, simply because that was the first name that came to my mind, and I had always wanted to see how it tasted.
To my surprise, the first sip was absolutely scrumptious. It was actually better than juice. I thought there had to be some mistake…there was no way that the drink could possibly contain alcohol. Then I thought that maybe it was one of those alcoholic beverages that contained mostly artificial flavorings and almost no alcohol. If that was the case, then I wouldn’t have to worry about becoming drunk.
Before I knew it, I had drained the whole thing, so I ordered another drink. This one was called Angel’s Kiss, and I chose it because I liked the name. Again, it tasted nothing like alcohol. It was kind of fun, choosing drinks simply based on their interesting names.
After my fifth drink, I knew I was in trouble when the bartender multiplied into six of himself. The room throbbed to the beat of the heavy music. I handed the bartender two twenties and told him to keep the change. Then I staggered to my feet and almost fell.
“Are you all right?” I heard the bartender ask.
I thought I nodded, but the whole room wouldn’t stay still enough for me to be sure I had completed that nod. All I knew was that I had to reach the bus stop and get home before I passed out. Already, little black spots were appearing in my field of vision.
Like an inexperienced passenger on a ship for the first time, I swayed to and fro, bumping into people on the dance floor. I was pretty sure they were giving me dirty looks, but I was too dizzy to care.
And then…a scantily clad server, balancing five drinks on a tray, appeared from out of nowhere. A collision was inevitable.
Liquid sprayed everywhere, glass went flying, and I ended up on the floor.
She screamed at me, and even in my drunken stupor, I winced at the crude name she called me. Never in my life had I been called the “b” word. But never in my life had I been drunk either, or kissed. Today was a day filled with firsts.
In all the haze of the atmosphere, a tall man stepped in front of me, trying to appease the angry waitress. I wasn’t sure what he whispered to her, but I did see him take something out of his pocket, and I assumed he must be paying her off.
Then everyone resumed their normal activities, ignoring me once again, and the tall man knelt down to me.
I could have screamed as I recognized him. I should have identified him sooner, but the dim lights of the bar had made it hard for me to make out his distinct bleached hair.
He lifted me into his arms, and although I tried to punch him, my drunk, uncoordinated attempts were completely off. Nothing I did could have put him off from his task. He strode out of the bar without a single word.
The fresh summer air was a relief from the stale smoky stench of the bar, but still, I could feel the beginnings of nausea in my stomach. Khit put me down just in time as my stomach lurched, and I tossed up what felt like half my stomach, into an unfortunate bush. When it seemed like I had finished, Khit picked me up again, and I was too weak to try to protest.
It was then that he started his tirade. “Of all the stupid, idiotic things to do, you had to get on a random bus and drink your way to oblivion! Do you know what would have happened if I hadn’t followed you?”
My head hurt, and he needed to stop yelling or my head would likely explode. I told him this fact.
He promptly ignored me, obviously believing that his lecture was more important than easing my headache. “You would never have made it safely home in your condition. You could have been mugged, or even worse, raped! Do you know that?”
His voice was beginning to fade on me, even though I knew he was still yelling. And then I couldn’t make out his words anymore.