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I'm Not Letting Go

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“What is he doing here?” I ask as soon as I'm inside, the front door shutting.

“Oh, hi sweetie,” Mum says from the kitchen.

“Hey, Piper,” He says as I cross to them.

“Seriously, Mum,” I reply, ignoring him. “What is he doing here?”

Piper!” She scolds. “That's not the right way to behave in front of our guest.”

“Oh, & not telling me that he was coming? Is that the right way to behave?”

Mum looks at him, & then ushers me back into the lounge.

“You remember what he did to Dad & Josh, right?” I ask, as we go all the way across the room.

“Yes,” She says, firmly but quietly so he doesn't hear. “He says he's sorry, & he wants your Dad to coach him again.”

“So you invited him here?”

“He deserves the chance to be heard.”

“What he deserves is to remain out of our lives.”

She narrows her eyes. “Why are you so against this?”

“Our family has been through enough the last year,” I reply. “Do you think it's wise to let someone who we once considered family but ended up being betrayed by back in?”

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” She says. “What Brodie did to us is in the past. You don't have to forgive him, but at least give him the chance to talk to our family.”

“Right, so… As usual, instead of consulting us, you go ahead & force us to accept the decision you’ve made.”

Piper!

I shake my head, trying to contain my anger. I look over to him- he’s watching us, but quickly looks away when he sees I’m looking at him. When I found out Mum & Dad were separating, I begged him to come back with me. But he chose swimming over me. I still haven't forgiven about it. And now he’s here to shake up my family once again.

“Fine,” I say, looking at Mum. “Play happy families. But you know what?” I shrug. “I’m not going to stand here & watch it.”

I head for the front door.

“Piper!”

I yank the door open, step out & slam it behind me.

****

All I want is to go back to Tyler, to cry & fall into his arms. But he’ll be busy with Mark & Paige. So I turn right & walk down the street. Mum calls my mobile.

“Urgh! Leave me alone!” I angrily say as I reject her call.

Eventually I end up at the Lassiters lake. I sit at its edge, hurling rocks into it.

“Wow, what's got you so mad?” Xanthe asks.

I look over my shoulder. She's walking over to me. I turn back around with a sigh, hurling another rock into the water. She settles on the grass beside me.

“Remember that boyfriend I had when I was in Canada?”

“Yeah,” She says. “The mysterious Chas.”

“Yeah, well… Mum turned up at home with him.”

What?!” She gapes. “Oh my god! This is brilliant! Two star-crossed lovers, torn apart by a family crisis & he comes all this way to win you back.”

“But I don't want him back.”

“Uh… Why not?”

“Because he betrayed my family, & then I was in Canada & I stupidly gave in to my silly little crush on him,” I reply, throwing another rock in the water. “We dated, & things were going good for us. But then I found out about my parents, & I knew I needed to come home. I asked him, begged him to come back with me, but he chose his swimming career over me. He broke my heart.”

“And now he's here.”

“Yeah… To get Dad to coach him again.”

“But your family doesn't know you two dated, right?” She asks. “Have you considered that he's just using that as an excuse to be close to you again? Maybe it's just a cover.”

“But I don't want him back!” I snap. “I want him gone. I want him to go back to Canada & leave me be.”

“Woah! You really feel strongly about this.”

“Because I’m finally feeling like I fit in here, & he just had to come swooping in & shake it all up,” I reply, fighting back tears. “And the one person that I so desperately want to vent this to is too busy dealing with personal stuff, so I’m having to deal with this on my own.”

“I’m sure if you just call Tyler, he’d make time for you.”

I look at her, gaping. “How did you-”

“I’m observant,” She replies. “Besides… Ever since the wedding, you two have been giving each other some serious heart eyes. I think everyone knows there’s something happening there.”

“Yeah, well… There wasn’t,” I reply. I throw another rock into the lake. “Until today.”

“Ooooo!!! The plot thickens!” She replies excitedly. “This is like a Hollywood romantic chick flick!”

I tell her about Paige's panic attack, & the decision I made about my feelings for Tyler.

“Oh, pleeease tell me he took you in his arms & confessed his undying love for you!”

“Not everything is some romantic chick flick.”

“Uhh… When you have a hottie like Tyler, it deserves a story worthy of a romantic chick flick,” She replies. “So come on! Tell me!”

“He decided that he couldn't deny it too.”

“Ooooo!”

“We ended up…” I look at her, letting it speak for itself.

She gapes. “Get… Out!” She says, way too loudly.

“Would you keep your voice down?! We’re in public!”

She shifts closer. “So how was it?”

I scrunch up my face. “I'm not going to tell you.”

“I bet he's amazing.”

“He was really sweet. He made sure that I was sure I wanted to do it. He took things slow, knowing that it was my… First.”

She rests her chin on her hand. “Now I know why you’re so wound up about Chas being back.”

“And it's more infuriating when Mum not only knows that I don't want him there, but she keeps on trying to make me accept that he's here,” I say, throwing another rock. “Instead of sending him packing, she wants me to ‘give him a second chance’, & let Dad & Josh hear him out.”

“So what exactly did he do?”

“What?”

“I’m just… Curious,” She says. “You say he betrayed your family.”

“It doesn't matter. The point is, he did something that nearly cost Josh his career. And Dad’s coaching career,” I reply. I sigh, deciding I may as well tell her. “He accused them of cheating with steroids. And then he broke my heart. There's nothing more that you need to know.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Hope that Dad has the sense to turn him away.”

“And if he doesn't?”

“I hide & ignore Brodie.”

She frowns. “Brodie?”

“Chas is his nickname,” I reply. “His real name is Brodie Chaswick. That's what my family knows him as.”

“Good to know.”

“I can't believe he came back.”

“Piper!” He calls from behind us.

I groan, covering my face with both hands.

“Is that him?” Xanthe quietly asks.

I nod. I just know she's looking at him.

“He's cuuute!”

I drop my hands. “Don't even think about flirting with him.”

“Hey,” He says, stepping up to us.

“What do you want?” I ask, glaring up at him.

“Can we talk?”

“I'm busy.”

“I actually have to go,” Xanthe says.

I shoot her a look- Please don't go! She stands up.

“Hey, I’m Xanthe,” She says, holding out her hand as I get to my feet. “I'm Piper’s best friend.”

“Brodie Chaswick,” He replies, taking her hand & shaking it. “Nice to meet you.”

“Well, I’d love to stay & chat, but… I better get home.”

I grab her arm, giving her a pleading look. She leans in.

“Talk to him,” She whispers.

No!

She gets her arm free, turns around, flashes a flirty smile at Chas & then leaves.

“Wow,” He says. “Colourful one.”

“Yeah, that's Xanthe for you,” I reply. “I… Gotta go too.”

“I’ll walk you home.”

“I can do it myself.”

“I’m heading back there anyway.”

I sigh. “Why can't you just leave me & my family alone?”

“Your Dad is the only one that's able to bring out the best in me,” He replies. “I’ve never beaten my personal bests since I stopped being coached by him.”

“Right. So… When I begged you to come back with me, you turned it down. And now you're here to beg Dad into taking you back.”

“Piper,” He says, stepping closer. I step back. He sighs. “I regret how I treated you. I’m sorry.”

“It's too late for that,” I reply, before walking away.

****

It's getting dark when I'm walking back home. I’ve been walking around all afternoon, avoiding home in the hopes that I don't have to see or deal with Brodie. I turn into Ramsay Street when my mobile rings. I look at the ID, expecting it to be Mum. But it's Tyler.

“Hey,” I say, as I bring it up to my ear.

“Hey, I just saw Xanthe. She said you were upset before. I just wanted to see if you're okay?”

“Uhh… Not exactly.”

“What's going on? Did I do something to upset you?”

“No! You were…” I sigh. “It's not you. My ex turned up just after I left you. And he's trying to get Dad to coach him again.”

“Wait… You dated someone Brad coached?”

“Yes, though he was an ex trainee when I dated him in Canada.”

“Chas is here?”

“Yep,” I reply, bitterly. “And now I don't want to go home cause he's going to be there.”

“I’d offer for you to come stay here, but… Things are pretty tense here.”

“How's Paige?”

He sighs. “Yeah, she's okay. She opened up about everything to the psychologist, which is good. But it's a long way from being over.”

“Awww, poor Paige. And here I am kicking up a fuss over nothing.”

“Having an ex rock up unannounced isn't nothing, Pipes.”

“It's nothing compared to what she's going through.”

“Where are you?”

“Almost home,” I reply. “I can't keep avoiding Mum’s calls. I don't wanna go in, but… I have to. Don't have anywhere else.”

“Well, you can always call me later to vent.”

“I would give anything up to curl up in bed in your arms right now.”

“I wish I could comfort you too,” He replies. “But running the risk of Mark finding you…”

I nod. “Yeah, I get it.”

“Call me later, okay?”

“I will just to hear your voice.”

I can tell from his exhale that he's smiling.

“I guess it's time to face the music.”

“Hey,” He says. “You can do this.”

“Don't have a choice.”

****

I step inside, instantly seeing Mum, Imogen, & Josh standing in the kitchen. I quietly shut the front door, & try to sneak upstairs.

“Piper?” Mum calls.

I freeze three steps up the stairs & grimace. Bugger. Mum walks over.

“Come into the kitchen,” She says.

“Why? So you can force me into accepting you're letting him back into our family?”

“So we can discuss it as a family.”

“You know where I stand,” I reply, before continuing up the stairs.

“Piper, please come talk with us,” Dad says.

I look down at him. “You're going to take him on, aren't you?”

“I’m considering all the options,” He says. “Just come down & hear him out.”

I stare at him, shocked. “He's here?

“He has the right to be a part of the discussion,” Mum replies.

“Just like I have the right to go to bed,” I reply.

“Piper!”

“I’m tired, Mum. I just want to go curl up in bed.”

“What about dinner?”

“Not hungry.”

They look at each other. I hate it when they communicate without saying a word. Mum heads back to the kitchen & I sigh as Dad comes up the stairs.

“Tell me why you're so against Brodie being back?”

“Am I the only one that remembers he accused you & Josh of using steroids?”

“That was years ago, Piper. He's older. Wiser.”

“But still the same liar.”

He looks shocked. “This isn't you.”

“I don't want him back in our lives, Dad. I don't get why you & Mum are making it out like I’m in need of being punished when I’m trying to give my opinion. I’m trying to show you that he’s not worthy of having you coach him again.”

“Just come & talk,” He says. “You’ll see that he's not the same as he was back then.”

I shake my head. “I’m done talking to him today.”

“Fine, don't talk,” He says. “But at least come & eat. Listen to him. Just be there.”

“How about we save the torture for another day? Surely you have enough to deal with, given your other daughter hallucinated a psycho was about to kill her.”

“Paige is in good hands with Mark.”

“Right. So you're here to force your youngest daughter to have dinner with the kid that lied & brought your & Josh’s careers extremely close to being destroyed.”

“Can you please just put all this anger aside & come have dinner?”

I sigh. “Fine.”

I head back down & into the kitchen. I avoid making eye contact with Brodie, slumping down in a chair as far away from him as possible.

****

“So Dad’s gonna coach him, even though I protested,” I say into my mobile. After the torture of having Brodie at dinner, & Dad’s bombshell, I retreated to the sanctuary of my bedroom. I’m lying on my bed, having called Tyler the second I got up here. “Josh was against it too, but he changed his position by the end of dinner. So basically I’m been shunted to the side like an outsider by my own family.”

“I think you're over exaggerating,” Tyler says.

“Nope, I’m being accurate,” I reply. “They like Brodie more than they do me.”

“That's so not true, Pipes, & you know it!” He says. “You're amazing.”

“Urgh! I wish they'd show me that they see that.”

“Maybe you should…”

“Should what?”

“I dunno… Come clean about you dating him.”

What?!” I bolt up. “And risk Mum murdering me for hiding it? No thanks.”

“I was actually thinking it would make them understand why you are so adamant about not letting him back into your lives.”

“Huh. Didn't think of it that way.”

“So… You’ll think about it?”

“Maybe.”

“And then you might wanna tell them about us.”

“Haha. One secret relationship exposed at a time, thanks. I have no idea how extreme they’ll be in reacting to hearing about me & Chas.”

“Eventually they're going to find out.”

“About which one?”

“Both.”

“Urgh!” I say, flopping back down.

“I wish I could hug you & tell you it will all work out.”

“I could sneak out & sleep in your bed?”

“Much as that sounds nice, your parents would kill me if they found out you snuck out to have a sleepover with me.”

“It's nothing compared to what we did earlier,” I reply, smirking as I think about our afternoon sex.

“Oh, that alone qualifies me for Brad to murder me.”

“I wish I could go back to then. Before all of this stupid drama ruined what had been the best day of my life.”

“Well… I can't do much to improve things right now, but I can start tomorrow off in a good way.”

“Oh?”

“We’ll go have breakfast or brunch somewhere,” He says. “My shout.”

“Awwwwww!!! That would be lovely.”

“Good. Meet at 10am?”

“Sounds good. But down the road. In case anyone sees us.”

He chuckles. “To everyone else, we’re just friends.”

“Yeah, but you don't know what my Mum is like…”

He laughs. “Okay, okay. I’ll keep in touch so we can meet up.”

“Sure. Can't wait.”

“Me too.”

“Sleep well.”

“You too,” I reply. “And Tyler?”

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Pipes.”

****

The next morning, I slip out & meet Tyler at a park down the road. I smile when I see him waiting. And then I can't help but run over & jump into his arms. It feels like it's been forever since I saw him. He holds me tight, kissing my neck.

“I missed you,” I say, pulling back to look into his eyes.

“It's been less than a day.”

“Yeah, well, you know how bad the rest of yesterday was for me. It could very well have been a week since I saw you.”

He cups my face with both hands. “Well I’m here now.”

I grab his shirt, pulling him so his lips crash into mine. We share a long kiss, & I wish there was somewhere we could go & make love again.

“Where do you want to go eat?” He asks.

“Somewhere where I don't have to deal with my family.”

He smiles. “I think I know the perfect place.”

We go to this cute café & order food. We're not near Lassiters, so we can be like any other couple. He sits next to me, draping an arm around me. We talk, our attention only on each other until the waitress brings our food out.

The food is delicious. And we're having a good time. That is, until we're almost done…

“Piper?” I hear Brodie ask.

I look up & drop my cutlery. He’s walking over. Shit.

“Who's this?” He asks, frowning at Tyler.

“Her boyfriend,” Tyler replies, putting his arm around me again.

“Your mum didn't tell me you were seeing someone.”

“One, not something you should really be told,” I reply, bluntly. “And she doesn't know.”

He smiles. “Well… Some things never change with you.”

Tyler's arm tenses. I place a hand on his leg.

“Well… You may be happy now, but… Eventually you’ll be back with me.”

Tyler starts to stand, but I dig my fingers into his thigh to make him sit. Brodie laughs. He walks away.

“I can see why you hate him,” Tyler says, glaring at Brodie’s back.

“Yep,” I reply. “Hopefully Dad comes to his senses soon.”

Tyler looks at me. “Do you think he’ll mention us to him?”

“Ohhhh, I hope not.”

“I reserve the right to punch him if he does.”

“Tyler, don't.”

“What? The smug idiot needs to learn a lesson.”

“And how will Mark react if he finds out you punched him?”

He presses his lips into a thin line. “Good point.”

“But I do appreciate the thought of you defending me like that.”

He smiles. He leans in & kisses me.

****

The rest of Sunday is better than Saturday. I didn't see Brodie after our encounter at brunch, which was a huge relief. In fact, I went without seeing him at all until Friday. I came down for breakfast before school, finding him eating with Dad. I just grab some food & then head into the lounge to eat.

I meet Xanthe & we walk to school, & I vent to her about seeing Brodie at home. School is no different than usual. Tyler sends me a text at lunch, asking if I want to come to the garage after school. I reply saying I will & that I can't wait to see him.

After school, Xanthe & I head off together. We eventually part ways, her on route to Harold's.

“Have fun with baby Brennan!” She calls back to me.

“Ha ha!” I call back.

I walk alone for several meters. And then a car pulls up beside me.

“Piper!” Brodie says, getting out.

I roll my eyes. “Leave me alone, Brodie!” I say, still walking.

He jogs to catch up with me, stepping in front of me so I nearly crash into him.

“Do you mind?” I snap, glaring at him.

“Only way to get you to stop.”

“Get the hint,” I reply. “I don't want to talk to you. Its bad enough I have to see you in my home. The least you could do is give me as much space as possible everywhere else.”

 

“But why would I do that? I’m trying to prove to you that I’m not the guy I was when you broke up with me.”

“And I’m trying to prove to you that I’m not interested.”

“You belong with me.”

I raise my eyebrow. “Excuse me?

“You know we're meant to be together.”

“That's where you're wrong,” I say, stepping around him.

He grabs my arm. I try to shake free, but he holds on tighter- so tight, his fingers dig in to my skin.

“Let go.”

“You're coming with me.”

No!”

I try to keep walking, but his hold is too much & I can't move. I struggle, but he's surprisingly strong. He pulls me closer.

“I’ll scream,” I angrily say.

“We’re surrounded by nothing,” He replies. “No one will hear you.”

I struggle, pushing & kicking in the hopes he’ll let go. My schoolbag falls off in the struggle. He ends up pulling me against him, my back pressed against his chest- his left arm wrapped around my waist. I try & wriggle free, but he holds me tight.

“Come willingly, & this will be much easier,” He whispers into my ear.

“Let me go!”

“I'm sorry, Piper,” He replies. He kisses my cheek. “I can't let you go. Not again.”

I keep struggling. And then he covers my mouth with a white cloth. I fight harder, knowing exactly what he's trying to do. But my mouth & nose are covered- there's no way to avoid breathing it in.

Despite my best efforts, my body gives in to the chloroform. I start to go limp, & he pulls me back to his car. He gets me into the passenger seat, clicking my seatbelt on & slams the door shut. I keep my eyes open long enough to see him get in & roar off. And then I can't keep my eyes open any longer.

****

She should be here by now…

I check my mobile again. Still no text. So I call Xanthe.

“Tyler! Hiiiii. I thought you’d be playing snookie with my bestie.”

“So she's not with you?”

“No, of course not! She's been dying to be with you ever since you texted her! I even left her not too long ago… She was on route to you.”

I sigh, fearing the worst. “Well, she hasn't turned up & I’ve heard nothing from her.”

“Have you tried calling her?”

“Yeah, it just rings out.”

“Okay, don't panic,” She says. “I’m at Harold's. Why don't you close up, & head for the school. You know our usual route, right?”

“Yeah I do.”

“Good. Okay. I’ll meet you at the intersection where our route splits off. That's where I last saw her.”

“Okay. Keep in contact.”

“Of course!”

****

We meet up at the spot. Neither of us have seem her. I try calling her again, & it barely rings when I spot it. I hang up, walking over to it. I crouch down beside the bush, reaching under it & pulling out a school bag- Erinsborough High. Xanthe steps up just as I open it & dig through the belongings to determine if it's hers. My heart sinks when I find her printed vlog.

I drop it back in, zipping it up & stand up.

“What now?” She asks.

I hand her Piper’s bag. “Go home & take this with you.”

“What?”

“I think I know where she is.”

“You do?”

“I have an idea.”

“Take me with you.”

“No, it's too dangerous,” I reply. “Besides, I need you as back up.”

She frowns. “How can I be back up if I’m not there?”

“Because if you don't hear from me in an hour, I need you to go to Mark and tell him everything,” I reply. “Okay, leave out the fact that I’m dating Piper… But the rest. And I need you to tell him to get to Paul’s motel.”

She frowns. “Why there?”

“Xanthe! Just do it, please!” I snap. “I'm sorry, but I need to go.”

****

I force open my eyes, feeling groggy. He's definitely given me something stronger… The room comes slowly into focus, & I see that I’m lying on a bed in Paul's motel. And then Brodie leans over me, kneeling beside me.

“You should have come willingly,” He says. “But your resistance needs to be addressed.” He starts pushing my skirt up. “And I have just the right method.”

I try resisting, but I can't move. Whatever he’s given me is very strong- it's keeping me from moving. He pushes my legs, forcing me to spread them. He then moves to sit between them, & I know he's about to rape me. I know & yet I can't move. He pushes my skirt up more & rubs my undies. Tears fill my eyes as I try desperately to move my hand or even a leg- anything to stop him.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to make love to you,” He says, still rubbing me. “It's a shame you’re not willing to be with me. I really didn't want to do it this way, but… You’ve given me no choice.”

He reaches to the top of my undies & hooks his fingers under it.

“PIPER?” I hear Tyler call.

I try calling out but I can't.

Brodie laughs.

“PIPER?” Tyler's closer.

“Ty-” I force myself to speak. “TYLER!” It's weak, but I pray that it's enough.

Brodie starts pulling my undies down, determined to not let Tyler's interruption stop him. I'm starting to feel my fingers again. Brodie sees. So he pulls my undies off much rougher than he had been. He unbuckles his belt, undoing his jeans.

“TYLER!” I manage to get it out a bit louder this time.

Brodie grabs my neck, pushing down on it enough to make it hard for me to breathe.

“Call out again, & I will make you regret it.”

He lets go, needing two hands to push his jeans & boxers down. Knowing how close he is to raping me, I know this is my last chance to stop him.

“TYLERRRRRR!!!” I scream as loud as I can.

Brodie slaps me hard across my left cheek. The door into the room moves, but jams as the lock holds it in place.

“Piper?” Tyler says from the door.

“Tyler,” I say, weaker than the last time.

But it's enough for him to hear. The door bangs, & I know he’s hitting it with his shoulder to force it open.

Brodie snarls, & moves to push inside me. He gets the tip of his dick’s head inside when the door opens. Tyler stumbles a little, & takes in the view. I stare at him, & he knows that I’m unable to move. He storms over, grabbing Brodie & hauling him backwards off the bed. I watch as Tyler knocks him out, letting him drop to the floor.

Tyler then rushes over to me. He kneels on the bed, pulling my skirt down to cover me. He then cups my face with both hands.

“Hey, you're going to be okay,” He says with a reassuring smile.

I don't have the strength to respond. He pulls out his mobile, & calls someone.

“Mark,” He says into it, one hand still on my cheek. “I need you to come to Paul’s motel. And call for an ambulance.” He looks at me, clearly listening to Mark. “Cause Brodie just tried to rape Piper.”

I black out.