Author's note: Still in progress, but feel free to read and critique as I write!
Broken TrustI shoved my books into my locker as fast as I could, desperate to get to class. Quinn was back. He'd been gone all summer and the first month of school, but now he was back. I had already heard the whispers, felt the stares
as I walked down the hall. I prayed we wouldn't have class together. I slumped down into my seat in history class, remembering that awful day last May.
I checked my phone for the thirteenth time; still no answer. I hoped Quinn wasn't sick. I'd had a long day at school--failed one test, took three quizzes and another test, received two essay assignments, and had Bekah Langley
make fun of my new bangs. I was so glad it was Friday. I wanted Quinn to come over to "watch a movie," which for us pretty much meant snuggling close on the couch, leaving the TV on so my mom wouldn't hear us
whispering, flirting like we were the only two people on earth. I lounged around my room, listening to my iPod and checking Facebook every few minutes. Finally, I decided to walk to his house two streets over; I wasn't ready to
tackle my homework yet. I chaned my clothes, grabbed a granola bar, and jogged down my driveway and up the street. As I turned the corner where Quinn lived, I saw three police cars sitting in his driveway. I was shocked. I
stared at the cars, at the front door, at Quinn's window, trying to work out what might have happened. Suddenly, my adrenaline kicked in and I sprinted toward his house, praying everyone was okay. I reached his driveway just
as he walked out the front door--handcuffed, and followed by two officers.
"Quinn!" I screamed, and starting crying uncontrollably. Why was he handcuffed? He hadn't done anything! His mom had come to the door, crying as well.
The officers weren't very excited to see me. "Ma'am, step away from the convict. Step back, please." All business, no sympathy.
"He's not a convict, he's my boyfriend!" I turned to Quinn, who stared me right in the eyes. He barely shook his head, just enough for me to notice and remember he couldn't talk. I saw his eyes were red and swollen, probably
from crying as well. They were dark with fear and confusion, but I also knew when he softened his face that he was trying to let me know he would be okay and he still loved me.
"Ma'am," said the other officer, who apparently actually had feelings. "We're just taking him to the station for fingerprinting. He'll be back home tonight under house arrest." I stared numbly, hardly believing this was happening.
Calm down, Ashley, I told myself. It's a mistake, the fingerprinting will clear his name. He didn't do anything wrong.
I ran back home, collapsed on my bed, and cried myself to sleep. I woke up around dinnertime, eyes so swollen they felt like lead and chest tight and sore from sobbing. I was so thankful my parents had decided to go out that
night. I made myself Ramen noodles, planning to go back to Quinn's around seven to see if he was home. I made the mistake of turning on the TV while I ate.
"Just today a teenage boy was arrested for illegal drugs," The reporter announced, and I knew immediately who they were talking about. Quinn's house showed on the screen next. "The teen was found in a ground-floor
bedroom with a friend, smoking marijuana. The friend jumped out a window and ran through the woods in the backyard; he is still at large. Quinn Keller was caught in the room, alone, with almost a pound of marijuana, which he
initially tried to stuff under a mattress with the police watching, but finally handed over. He has been released on three weeks house arrest with a six month parole following."
I turned off the TV with a shaking hand. I couldn't understand what I had just seen. Quinn was guilty. Sweet, charming, polite Quinn. Brilliant, straight-A-student, popular Quinn. My Quinn. Why had he done it? As the truth began
to sink in, so did anger and hurt. Had he been doing drugs for months and never told me? Was there anything else he wasn't telling me? Why hadn't he tried to let me know he wouldn't be at school; he never wanted me to
worry. Did he not care about me anymore? Thoughts whirled around in my head, making me feel sick. I couldn't focus on homework if my life depended on it. I tried to take a nap and couldn't sleep; I couldn't listen to music
because every song made me think of Quinn; I was no longer hungry. If he didn't care, then I was done with him.
I walked for the second time that day to his house, not really knowing what to expect. It was raining, hard. I hesitantly rang the doorbell and he answered, stepping out onto the porch and closing the door behind him. He looked
at me, then shifted his gaze to the ground.
"So it's true." It was more of a statement than a question. He slowly nodded. I started to speak again, but he quickly put his hand over my mouth and pointed to the open window at the end of the porch. He took my hand to lead
me to the magnolia tree in their front yard where we often sat and talked for ages. I pulled my hand out of his grasp, but I followed him.
"My parents assumed you'd come over and they wanted to see if I'd tell you anything I didn't tell the police. I didn't lie to the police or anything, but I didn't want my parents to hear us talking..."
"Fine. You tell me what happened." I was absolutely livid. I'd never believed he'd do something like this; how was I supposed to trust him with other stuff?
"This boy rang my doorbell this morning. I'd only ever seen him once, at the neighborhood tennis courts. So I assume he lives in my neighborhood. Anyway, he said he was bored, did I want to smoke? I said no, but he looked
me straight in the eye and said, 'Yes, you do. I can tell.' And it was the scariest moment of my life--I did want to smoke. My parents were both at work, so I let him in. He had this huge bag of marijuana. I started feeling sick, but
I just couldn't tell him to leave. He pulled out some leaves and rolled them and handed it to me. I probably smoked three and he had about eight. I felt terrible, and we were totally stoned. I don't remember much else. The police
said he jumped out a window when they walked in. That's all I know," he finished with a deep breath.
"You could have said no." My voice was dull, like rain on soaking wet dirt. "You didn't have to smoke. You were on the news; the whole school knows by now."
"I know, but I've taken responsibility for it. I can handle it."
"But what about me? I'm dating you! If I don't do anything, it says I was okay with it!"
"I'll tell them you didn't know!" Quinn looked scared now. I glared at him.
"Who believes a druggie?" I stood up to leave, but Quinn caught my hand.
"Wait, we don't have to do this. I know you have a good reputation and I want you to keep it as much as you do. If you don't think anyone will believe you didn't have anything to do with it, we can take a break until the summer.
It's only two and a half weeks."
"And then what?" I felt like he wanted me to think he cared, but I could see he just wanted to keep his girlfriend. "Just pick back up where we left off the day after exams? Think about it, Quinn. You're stuck at home for three
weeks. You'll have to go to summer school. And people will still know; it's not a fool-proof plan. How do I know you're not hiding other stuff? How am I supposed to trust you after this? No. We're done." I pulled my hand away
from his and and walked away. I was almost to the street when he caught up with me.
"Ashley, this was the first time, I swear! What have I ever done to make you not trust me?" I jumped as lightning cracked behind him. I looked away, back toward my house, but he gently took my cheek and pulled my face back
to look at his. "You know I love you. Please tell me?"
For half a second, I considered forgiving him. I was going to forgive him anyway, but I didn't want to be his girlfriend again until I was sure he was straightened out. I was so thankful it was raining; he couldn't see me crying.
"Quinn. I believe you're a good guy, and I don't think you'll do it again. But I think this all needs to blow over before we do anything. I'm sorry."
I tried to leave again, but Quinn was desperate. It was obvious now that he needed the status of having a girlfriend, and no one would want him now. I was his only option. So he begged. "Please, Ashley. I'll do anything. I'll--"
I slapped him. Hard. I saw him blink back tears, and I think it got the message across. He let go of my face and said quietly, "Fine. See you later." I turned on my heel and ran home as fast as I could.
Quinn did stay home for three weeks, and he did have to do summer school. But he also violated his parole. I was at his house one day mid-June, helping with his summer homework. We had remained friends, but I heavily
stressed the "friends" part. He had gone to get a drink, and I went into his room to get his calculator. I opened a few desk drawers looking for it, and found another, albiet much smaller, bag of weed. I took it out, went back to
the kitchen and set it down in front of Quinn. His eyes grew as big as saucers and his face went beet-red. I crossed my arms, waiting for him to talk. He swore he didn't know where it came from. I was ready to let him talk and
give him the benefit of the doubt, but his mom chose that second to finish her grocery shopping and saw it sitting on the table as she walked in the back door. She dropped her grocery bags, stared for a full minute, and then I
heard her call the rehab center from her bedroom. When she came out, all she said was, "Say goodbye to Ashley, Quinn. You probably won't talk to her much for the next four months."
Today ended that four months. I saw him in the hallway; I heard the whispers. I didn't think he'd have the nerve to come talk to me.
I was wrong.
After history was lunch. I usually packed my lunch to save money, but all my friends buy lunch. I was the only one in the hallway getting my lunch out of my locker when Quinn walked up.
"Ashley? Can we talk?" He looked tired, upset, anxious. I closed my locker and leaned against it to face him.
"What?" I didn't bother to keep the sharpness out of my voice.
"Please just listen to me for a second. I know you already don't trust me," he began, not yet meeting my eyes. He just stared at our shoes. "But please believe that I told you the truth. I don't know where that last bag of
marijuana came from. I didn't put it in my desk; I hadn't even touched any kind of drug after I was arrested in May. My parents didn't believe me either--well you know that, you know I was in rehab. But there was a counselor at
the center that I had to talk to once a week. And after a couple of months I spilled my guts to him. I told him I was in love with a wonderful girl, but I was afraid when I got home she wouldn't want me back. And he said if she
was the right girl, she would. So I wanted to ask how you felt about getting back together." He finally looked up to meet my gaze.
Everything ran through my mind at once. I did believe Quinn now. I didn't think he'd smoke again. I missed him and the relationship we'd had. But then I thought about Caleb. What if I'd moved on? I couldn't read my own
thoughts any more than Quinn could read my mind. I took a deep breath.
"Quinn, there's just... a lot to handle. But I'm not saying no. Can we just ease back into it and see what happens?"
He leaned in as if he was going to kiss my cheek, but then apparently thought better of it and just whispered in my ear, "Of course." He started to walk toward the lunchroom, but turned around and came back. "Hey, will you go
to Starbucks with me tonight? I can pick you up at seven?"
I bit my lip. "How about I meet you at Starbucks at seven?"
He looked slightly disappointed, but nodded. "See you then!" He waved and walked back down the hallway.