Charade, p.1
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       Charade, p.1

         Part #1 of Games series by Nyrae Dawn
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Page 1


  Author: Nyrae Dawn ~CHAPTER ONE~


  I stare, unable to take my eyes off the scene in front of me as I try to process what my boyfriend just said.

  “How exactly is being naked in bed with another girl not what it looks like?” My voice comes out completely smooth even though my stomach is a mess. It’s dropped to my feet and I feel like I could throw up at any second.

  Please don’t let me throw up in front of them.

  I look at him, in bed next to some redhead and all Gregory can do is stare back. This is the guy I’d stupidly allowed myself to begin to trust after so long together—against my better judgment since I know, I’ve always known you can never really depend on someone.

  Panic threatens me. Like the burned edge of a paper, flames threatening to take me over. My heart speeds up. My chest hurts. My vision starts to blur.

  No. I cannot have a panic attack right now. I haven’t had one in years and I refuse to let this bastard get the best of me. But still, my body’s trying not to listen. My hands curl, opening and closing into fists. It’s like a flood of energy sent to every part of me, sending me into overdrive.

  With everything inside me, I fight to stamp it down.

  “Cheyenne, baby. . . I’m sorry,” Gregory says.

  I shake my head back and forth, take a step back, more pissed and petrified than I’ve been in so long. He jumps out of bed. Naked.

  “You know I love you. It was so hard last year…” He’s reaching for his boxers, tugging them on while he talks and moves toward me. “When you were still in high school and I was here. I just missed you so much, but this was the last time. I told her this was the last time. ” He glances at her like he wants her to verify this fact, but she just scowls at him and starts to yank on her clothes. Gregory looks back at me. “I screwed up, but you know you’re the only one I love. ”

  Nausea hits me again. Lies.

  “You missed me so you screwed some other girl?”

  Red huffs, but we both ignore her.

  “I’m a guy, Chey…” He shakes his head as if I’m being unreasonable for making a big deal of a little mistake.

  “You’re a guy? That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard. We were together all summer at home, and we’ve been here at college two weeks already, and you’re still screwing her? That makes perfect sense! And yeah. . . thanks for not making me ask how long it’s been going on. A smarter man might have waited to see if I assumed this was the first time. ”

  Gregory’s eyes stretch wide as he realizes his mistake. Never admit more than you have to. With his attorney parents, he should know that. Jackass.

  My eyes sting, but there’s no way I’m giving either of them the satisfaction of tears. I stopped giving people the satisfaction of knowing how they affect me a long time ago.

  Red stands and glares at me, bumping Gregory’s shoulder as she passes him, saying, “I’m outta here. ”

  “Wait,” I say, recognizing her. “Didn’t you introduce me to her at the welcome party two nights ago?”

  Red has the nerve to blush at this before she stomps out. She definitely has no right to toss any evil glares in my direction considering she knew Gregory has a girlfriend. Had. The word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. He was supposed to be safe. Our families are friends. He treated me so good when we were together. What is it about me that makes people think they can take advantage and toss me aside? Why am I so easy to betray?

  A wave of dizziness hits me as I think about my mom. I try to shake the thoughts from my head. I’ve worked so hard not to be that girl—the girl whose own mother couldn’t love her enough to stay around. This isn’t the way my life is supposed to go. Not anymore. Everything’s been perfect for the past ten years. I’m a new person now and things were supposed to keep getting better. An easy, simple, perfect life to make up for what I didn’t have before.

  I’m Cheyenne Marshall. The captain of the dance team. Voted most popular girl in my high school. I have friends. Tons of them.

  But that was then. . . in high school. And now I’m here with Gregory in his territory where I have no friends yet. Every single person I know here, I know through him. I close my eyes and reach out a hand to steady myself against the wall as the reality of my new life slams down. I’m stuck here. Alone.

  No, no, no. I can’t cry. Can’t lose it. I’m going to lose it.

  The muscles in my fingers tense, trying to curl again.

  “Chey…come on, baby. You know I love you. We belong together. ” He steps toward me and there’s a second—one second where I consider holding my hand out to his. This is Gregory. I lost my virginity to him. I planned to marry him, because we fit. He wouldn’t leave me. I worked hard to be the kind of girl people don’t walk away from. I…oh God. I trusted him. How could I have let myself trust someone?

  He’s been screwing other girls! I can’t look past that.

  I fight back the tears smashing against the dam of my eyelids. “No, Gregory. We don’t belong together. ”

  He stands between the bed and me, his boxers all crooked, looking very. . . shall we say, deflated? “What are you saying, Chey? You want to break up?” He huffs a frustrated laugh. “That’s a crap idea. You don’t even know anybody here. None of the guys are going to go after you. They know you’re mine. ”

  His ego makes me nauseous. I won’t be that girl. Won’t be alone, and need him like he thinks.

  “I am not yours. ”

  “Chey…” He’s trying to sound all gentle. “I’m just saying that’s how they’ll always see you. ”

  “Not everyone,” I say, trying to smirk. Trying to show him I don’t need him.

  His face hardens and his eyes slant.

  “Who? Someone’s been hitting on you?”

  The pissed off look on his face fuels me.

  “That’s none of your business,” I say, crossing my arms. “All you need to know is, while we were together I never cheated. But we’re not together anymore. ” Let him suffer with that thought the way I’ll suffer with the images of him and Red in bed naked together. I turn to leave.

  “Cheyenne!” he calls after me, but I keep going, slamming the door to his apartment. I don’t drive very far before pulling off to the side of the road. In the safety of my car, I give myself five minutes to let go. Five minutes for the loud sobs to wrack my body.

  How could I have given him power over me? Any power? Gregory was supposed to be my normal. Constant. He wasn’t supposed to leave me. More tears. My head drops forward against the steering wheel. All the pain inside me wells up, sloughing up old dirt I haven’t let myself think about for so long.

  “Baby, Mommy, will be right back, okay? You stay in this room till I come back. ”

  Mama kisses my forehead and walks out of the room. It’s loud. So loud with the music and the banging that I put my hands over my ears. She said she wouldn’t leave me. That she’d never leave me alone again.

  I huddle in the corner, my knees pulled up to my chest and my hands still on my ears and my eyes squeezed closed. She’ll be right back. She promised. The door pushes open and I don’t know how I know, but I do. I let out a breath, knowing it has to be her. My eyes jerk open. A guy, a big guy with a beard comes in and a woman too. They’re kissing and it’s gross. Their hands are all over each other. What are they doing?

  “Vince. There’s a kid in the corner. ” For a second I wonder if they’ll help me. If they’ll find my mama for me, but then they both start to laugh. My eyes are stinging and tears slide down my cheeks.

  “Get out of here, kid! You don’t wanna see this. ” The scary man yells. He’s right. I just want Mama. I want to go home.

I push to my feet and run out of the room. There are people everywhere. So many people I can hardly get through. They push me and step on me and the music is so loud it makes my heart pound.

  I keep searching through the house. Searching for people. For Mama. The house stinks, but I don’t know what the smell is. Someone spills a drink on me and I cry harder. This smell I know. It’s beer. Mama’s old boyfriend used to like to drink it.

  No one offers to help me.

  I can’t find Mama.

  She left me alone.

  Another voice. Another man… “I’ll help you find your mama…”

  Sitting up, I shudder and wipe the tears away. I’m not that kid anymore. I don’t want to be defined by those memories. I try to focus on the here and now.

  I might not have completely let Gregory into my heart like normal girlfriends do, but I trusted him more than I should have. I vow to myself right then and there I will never make that mistake again. People hurt you if you let them. I won’t be hurt again.

  With a glance in the mirror I see that I look halfway decent. There’s only a light pink tinge to my dark brown eyes. No red blotches mark my clear skin. Opening my purse, I pull out my eyeliner and reapply. Mascara comes next. I even add a little lip gloss. Still looking in the mirror I reiterate, “I’m not that kid anymore. ”

  That quickly, I’m Cheyenne Marshall again. Not the little girl at that party—the girl who gets abandoned and panics. I’m stronger than that. I’m the Cheyenne Marshall I fought to become.

  One deep breath later, I start the car again and drive away.


  “Men are such assholes. My last boyfriend cheated on me, too. Things are so much easier with Veronica. ”

  My eyes snap over to my dorm-mate. School’s only been in a couple weeks and we’re never here at the same time. This is probably only the third time I’ve spoken with her. “How—”

  “I’m bisexual,” Andrea sits up on her bed. “Problem with it?” Her pink hair is tied back in a ponytail and she’s wearing a pink volleyball shirt.

  I’ve never known someone who likes both girls and guys before. I don’t know why, but I would expect her to look different.

  I stop studying her when her question sinks in. I straighten up as though that will make me less transparent. One look at me and she knew about Gregory. “No. I was going to say how did you know my boyfriend cheated on me?” See how nonchalantly I said that? It’s because I don’t care.

  I need her to think I don’t care.

  Without waiting for her to reply, I turn over, facing the wall as I settle on my bed. The last thing I want is for her to see I really am upset. How embarrassing is this? My first two weeks in college and I find out my boyfriend is sleeping with other people. Or at least one other person.

  How did this happen to me?

  “Hiding in your bed, isn’t going to make it go away. ”

  “I’m not hiding,” I tell her without moving.

  “He’s not worth it. Don’t let him get you upset. ”

  How does she know what Gregory is worth? That isn’t what I say because I’m not supposed to be upset. Not over a guy. I’m better than that. “Please. Like I’d let him hurt me. I’m over it. Just tired, Andrea. ”

  She shuffles behind me and I’m pretty sure she stood up. “Sure you are. And the name is Andy. ”

  The door creaks open and then slams closed. My heart jumps at that sound. Who does that girl think she is? Pretending to know me when she doesn’t have a clue who I am. I bounce back. Move forward. Forget the past where people leave me behind. I’m definitely not going to let Gregory and Red get me down.

  Which is exactly why I should get out of this bed right now and move on. Find that guy I lied about or go to a party. Do something. I’m in college and nothing should have me lying in this bed.

  But I’m tired. Too tired to do anything, so instead of getting up, I pull a blanket over my head and try to figure out what happened to my life.



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