Enemy Down - Cathryn Fox Page 0,1
I toss my words over my shoulders. “Okay, I have one lap left. After I shower, I’ll meet you out front.”
She nods and wanders off the track as I keep running. I pick up the pace, wanting to feel the burn in my legs—and expel images of Christian from my brain. My lungs expand, and I enjoy the rush of endorphins racing through my body. Nothing, and I mean nothing—sex included—feels as good as running. Not that I’ve had a lot of sex. I’m practically a virgin. A few years back, my buddy Ryan—the boy next door back home—and I, decided we didn’t want to be virgins when we went off to college. So, we did the logical thing and had sex. It was awkward and fumbling, and it was over before it ever began. I’m not even sure I climaxed. Pretty sure I didn’t. I can barely get myself off with my own hand. Usually, I have to switch to battery operated, which I hate to do in an old house with nothing but seaweed between the walls. I have four roommates, and I’d die of embarrassment if they ever heard.
Dear Mom, thanks for that strict Catholic upbringing and all the teachers who body shamed us. At Sweetwater, our uniforms were constantly assessed. I was told numerous times my skirt was too high. Um hello. Tall girl. Long legs. Capri pants on other girls are like shorts on me.
I’m about to slow my pace, but the next thing I know, something big and hard hits me in the side of the head, and I lose all sense of balance. The direct hit, combined with my speed, sends me flying forward, and the sound of bones popping, and skin ripping as I hit the ground hard, reverberates around me, over the ringing in my ears.
My jaw skids shut with an audible click as my face hits the track, and I skid. It takes forever for my body to stop moving and the world to stop spinning. When everything slows, I lay on the ground face down, too afraid to breathe…to move.
What the hell just happened?
“Are you okay?” I try to move, to check my limbs, but whoever is hovering over me puts his hands on my back to hold me down. “Don’t move.”
Move? I almost laugh, because I’m not sure I can move and that seriously freaks me out. I turn my head to the side, and that’s when Christian puts his face down, right there, inches from mine.
“Maize, I’m so sorry.”
What is he talking about?
“My football,” he begins obviously reading the question in my eyes. “I don’t know. I threw it, and Kyle missed it, and then you were right there, perfectly aligned for it to hit. You weren’t there a second before. You must have picked up your pace.”
“Oh, it’s my fault, is it?” I manage to get out.
His brow furrows, and he shakes his head. “No, that’s not what I mean.”
Voices echo in my brain as everyone comes running, and embarrassment floods me. I need to get up, to move, to run all the way to Canada, never to be heard from again. I move my hand, and once again Christian presses down, to stop me.
“Can you stop doing that?” I whimper. “I’m fine. I don’t feel anything.”
His face twists. “Yeah, that’s because of the adrenaline rush. Give it a second.”
I swallow. Why do I get the feeling he knows something I don’t? “Christian—”
“You’re going to be okay,” he says, but the strain in his voice tells another story.
A burst of panic floods my body, and I slide my hand and touch my forehead to find an egg-sized lump. It’s possible I have a concussion. The world spins and my stomach lurches from the movement. Great, now I’m going to vomit in front of everyone. This ground might as well open up and swallow me whole.
“Here,” he says, and slides his jersey under my head to cushion it from the ground. I sink into the soft material, heavy with the scent of soap and…Christian. Okay, I definitely have a concussion, because no way on the face of this earth would I be reveling in the stupid aroma of his shirt.
A siren sounds and I try to shake my head no. All I need to do is get up, throw a little dirt on my wounds, and I’ll be okay. I give a very unladylike snort. That’s what my Mom used to say to me when I