Belonging to Lust

Chaprer 228: Sheltered Refuge

Getting to her school locker with Louise Leon, Miley Finley, and Eiliesse bidding her farewell along the way as they headed to their first class, Zaiyia got to compiling the books she’d need for today with her locker neighbors Carmen Lodge and Madelaine Blossom nearby and alongside the McCoy sisters and Chastity when Grace Smith and Grace Duke both came striding over with looks of concern on their youthful faces. Whatever was bothering had them on the verge of shedding tears, it was enough to get both Carmen and Madelaine’s instant attention while Zaiyia tried to mind her own business.

“Gracie, Grace, what’s wrong with you two?” Madelaine asked them, closing her lockers and giving them her undivided attention. It hurt her when her friends were upset. Truly, she saw all of them as her own sisters since she was an only child. She took all of their pain and suffering seriously!

Also greatly concerned and wanting to get to the bottom of their misery, Carmen emerged alongside Madelaine to scrounge for answers like an overprotective big sister would. “What happened? Is someone messing with you guys?”

“No, of course not. It’s nothing like that.” Gracie, or Grace Smith answered, trying to manage her emotions by taking several deep breaths. She’s always been extremely fragile when it came to her emotions. Years of therapy have been teaching her tools to get a better grip on them so she could live a regular life…or as much as she can. Grace used them all the time, and dodged anything drama-related like it was a deadly plague that would kill her if she came too close. Sadly, when Alan broke up with Alice and she started quarreling with Zaiyia…well, that drove Grace into an emotional war she was still recuperating from to this day.

“Alice is in the girl’s room by herself. She won’t come out and doesn’t want anyone around her!” Grace Duke vented in frustration, wishing she could be there for the one friend who was always there for her through thick and thin. She too had a challenging life at home, and that was one of the many things she and Alice connected over. She’d always been there for her and so Grace sought to always return that favor, she was indebted to Alice. “We’re scared to death for her!”

“Oh no!” Chasity gasped, finding this outcome to be very frightening.

Both Assata and Aishah exchanged a secluded eye roll over how dramatic all these girls were when it came to Alice. You’d think the girl had gone and died on the toilet or something with the way they were grieving!

Zaiyia’s ears perked up at the mention of Alice. Glancing over her shoulders at the four girls, she could tell they were consumed with dread for the delicate blond. They practically looked like they were huddled together at some memorial vigil for Alice…who was very much alive and well in the girl’s bathroom. Figuring this would be a good time to check on her girl, Zaiyia shut her locker door before turning towards them. “Which bathroom?”

“Huh?” Grace Duke asked before Zaiyia’s words registered with her. “Oh! She’s in the one in the science hall.”

Tugging on her backpack, Zaiyia calmed their grieving nerves. “Cool. Imma go check on her real quick.”

“A-Are you sure you wanna do that?” Grace Smith tentatively inquired with her arms wrapped around her trembling form. “Alice seemed extremely upset when we saw her last. She might get mad at you if you decided to show up and ask questions too.”

“I don’t mind taking the fall for you guys to have peace of mind.” Zaiyia shrugged carelessly. Unlike the rest of Alice’s friends, she honestly didn’t care if the blonde got pissed at her for showing up. Zaiyia was confident she’d get over it and soon come crawling back to her to apologize for it later on anyway.

Arching a brow at Zaiyia, Monnique offered her good friend some advice. “If I were you, Zai, I’d walk into that bathroom and pretend I had no idea what had gone on with Alice and that boy. That way, she can’t really be mad at you for something you never witnessed in the beginning!”

Nodding at Monique's brilliant idea, Zaiyia gave her a side hug in thanks and wished everyone else farewell. “Alright, I’ll see you all later. Don’t stress yourselves over Alice. I got this!”

Heading straight for the science hall, Zaiyia located the girls’ bathroom with ease and strolled on in like it was a typical day at school. No fuss, no drama. Standing at the bathroom sink was Alice in a pair of blue jeans, white tennis shoes, and her pastel pink hoodie. Her small hands were gripping the edge of the white porcelain sink for dear life as her head hung low so her blonde hair was curtaining her entire face. The long glossy strands probably gave the girl the feeling of being in her own sheltered refuge away from the rest of the world, or maybe an invisibility cloak kinda vibe. But no one could mistake that something was wrong solely by the trembling coursing through Alice’s entire body. The sight of her would’ve scared any of her friends away who didn’t have the gall Zaiyia seemed to always have.

“Morning, girl!” Zaiyia greeted Alice as she made her way to the second sink-over with a fake smile on her face. Leaning close to her mirror, she pretended she was checking up on the state of her makeup and then proceeded to pull out a tube of red lipstick from the small makeup bag in her backpack. In between touching up her full red lips, she aimlessly chatted up Alice without once glancing in her direction. “Fuck me, I had a lousy night last night that you wouldn’t believe! I swear to fucking god, Alice, an army of cats was outside my window battling it the fuck out. I was like ‘What in the Battle of Mordor is this fuckery’, you know? Cats these days are fucking nuts!”

Alice didn’t say anything. She didn’t even move a single muscle. She told herself if she just remained still, Zaiyia would just go away and not question her about what happened between her and Alan. All morning that’s all she’s been bugged about and she hadn’t even been at school for a full hour yet! Needing time alone to process what she had been through before she told anyone else, she took refuge in the girl’s bathroom. She told herself if another person bugged her she swore she’d lock the bathroom up and seal herself forever away in it!

Taking Alice’s lack of response as her cue, Zaiyia stopped what she was doing to put her lipstick away. Glancing her friend’s way with a look of concern on her face, she innocently inquired in a soft tone. “Alice? You okay, girl? You’re very quiet this morning.”

Finally, Alice made a sound. It was a wet snotty thick sniffle before she made herself nod to Zaiyia. Because her nose was also runny, she had to use her sleeve to wipe at her bright red nose.

Genuinely feeling bad to find that Alice was THIS emotionally upset over Alan yet again, Zaiyia went to grab a paper towel for her from the dispenser and extended it over. “Oh no, honey! Did something go wrong with the adoption process? I hope not! I was looking forward to having you as my neighbor.”

“N-No. No, it’s not that.” Alice stammered with a shake of her head as she took the paper towel to blow her nose which was somehow both runny and stuffed at the same time.

If this was anyone else asking her, Alice would’ve honestly shooed the person away from her, but because it was Zaiyia asking, she felt like she could open herself up to her like she was a walking diary. It was likely due to how much Zaiyia knew of her relationship with Alan.

Her friends knew of her relationship with Alan too, of course, in fact, they knew the full history of it all, unlike Zaiyia. The difference was that Zaiyia knew the tragic and tumultuous epilogue of it and that’s exactly where they are now. She needed her because that’s the hell where Alice was stuck in right now! Not the warm romantic past.

Cleaning herself up, Alice sensed a very patient Zaiyia waiting for her to talk. She really appreciated that, the patience. The rest of her friends were impatient, digging and probing for every last drop. It wasn’t out of nosiness or malicious intent though! They all just wanted the same thing, to help Alice’s pain go away as fast as possible so she could be happy again.

Combing her long hair back from her pale but super pink face, Alice made herself turn to face Zaiyia and look her straight in her nonjudgemental brown eyes. “It’s…It’s Alan.”

Zaiyia already knew this was about Alan. Since she moved into town and regrettably caught the guy’s eyes, it’s always been about him. It’s dumb for anyone to ask Alice what was wrong anytime she was upset because it’s always been over the same common denominator…Alan!

But that doesn’t matter right now. Zaiyia had to play dumb here. She had to pretend she knew nothing about the drama unfolding this morning between Alice and Alan in the school parking lot. So she asked Alice with a curious tilt of her head and an expression of pure clueless that could only come from someone completely unaware. “Alan? What about him? Did something happen I don’t know about?”