Scars of My Past(5)

By: D. C. Renee

Stuck in my position on the floor, I was mesmerized by the display before me, but as soon as Marc ran off, I snapped back to reality. I gathered my things before standing up so I could thank the guy properly.

“Here, let me help you,” he said and grabbed the last book off the floor. We stood at the same time, and when I finally lifted my head to look at him, and I gasped. He looked so much like … no. It couldn’t be. “Are you all right?” he asked. I was still in my fog, memories assaulting me. He couldn’t be him; he just couldn’t, but the resemblance was so uncanny. Maybe they were related. Cousins perhaps. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked again. “He didn’t hurt you, right?” It definitely wasn’t him. Tyler Haywood was an asshole of epic proportions. He wasn’t a knight in shining armor ready to take down dragons on my behalf.

“Oh, uh, yeah, thank you. Thank you for that,” I said as I found my voice; my reservations were pretty apparent despite my true appreciation of what he’d done for me.

“You have Writing 140 right now?” he asked. I nodded. “Me too,” he said and then stuck out his hand. “Cameron, by the way. Cameron Dents, but you can call me Cam.”

And just like that, any lingering uncertainty vanished. I took his warm hand in mine as I studied his face for a moment. He was stunning, absolutely stunning. Dark brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, and a tan that rivaled Amanda’s. I’d already gotten a glimpse of his body, and I knew it was the kind I’d only ever seen in magazines and on TV. I blushed for the first time in a long time as I responded. “Genevieve Breitling,” I said with a wide smile.

“Genevieve,” he repeated. “Beautiful name.”

“Thank you, truly, thank you for helping me. Not everyone would have stepped in.”

“Anyone worthy would have,” he said with a shrug, clearly not good with taking appreciation.

“Well, uh, I guess we’d better get to class,” I said.

“After you,” he said, and I led the way inside. And when he sat down beside me near the back, I realized two things. One—Cam had just given me hope that not all guys were assholes, and maybe I wasn’t done with them after all. And two—I had a feeling Writing 140 would be my favorite class.




Three months earlier …

“WE’D LIKE TO offer you a spot in our spring semester class,” the woman calling from USC had said. I’d held my breath, waiting to hear what she’d say as fear, dread, and anticipation stole the very air that tried to find room in my lungs.

“I … uh … yes, wow, thank you,” I said, shocked and grateful.

“You’re very welcome,” she said, and I could hear the smile in her voice. “You’ll be getting a formal acceptance letter in the mail along with scholarship information.”

It wasn’t common practice to receive a call from an admissions representative telling you that you got into college. But then again, although it did happen, it wasn’t common to get accepted in the spring semester rather than in the fall. I’d heard of a few cases, though—geniuses, kids whose parents donated way too much money, admission appeals. And, of course, cases like mine—the ones where I had something big enough to offer the school to warrant a spring admission.

I hung up the phone and breathed deeply, expelling the air trapped inside in one quick huff. I could literally feel the tension leaving my shoulders as the relief seeped in.

What was it like to find out you get to move far away from the home you’d known all your life? Liberating. Absolutely fucking liberating.

The home I knew wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. It was far from it. The things I’d lived through sent shivers down my spine every time I thought about my life. You’d think I would have fought against my binds once I was old enough to fight, right? I couldn’t. For a few reasons. The first was that no matter how strong I got, how tough I became, how scrappy I got at fighting, it was never enough. When I fought, I got beat down harder. I’d learned that if I wanted to survive, I just had to take it.

When you’d lived with something for so long—when you’re constantly told you’re nothing, a piece of shit, a loser—you eventually believed it. You think you deserved the wrath, the pain, and the humiliation. Some people said it was a form of brainwashing. Maybe it was ... or maybe it was just a spirit being broken down.

And the last reason was embarrassment. I was a guy, a strong guy, a popular guy, a good guy. Things like that didn’t happen to guys like me. But they did. They had.

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