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Damaged Goods: Chapter 9


I’m finally not in pain anymore.

The high from the Vicodin makes me feel like I’m walking on cotton candy as I make my way back home by foot.

There’s a huge smile on my face. Lev said he is pissed and I believe him, but I have an idea how to make him forgive me for this inconsequential relapse.

I’m not even going to feel bad about Thalia because I just found out she’s a snake.

Lev is an exceptionally resourceful guy, so I’m not at all surprised when his Bugatti blinks its lights at my back not even six minutes after I leave the bonfire.

He accelerates, then makes an aggressive right turn and blocks my way with his car.

He stops horizontally in the middle of the street. Drivers honk and shake their fists from their windows, creating a long line of traffic. Lev slips out of the car, moving like a summoned demon.

“Jesus, you’re fucking freezing” is the first thing he says.

He takes off his varsity jacket and wraps it over my bare shoulders.

Am I? I didn’t even notice the temperature, which should be a bad sign. And where’s my hoodie? Where did I lose it? You’re not supposed to strip off without realizing, right?

But I still don’t like making a scene, so I say, “People are watching.”

“They’re about to get the show of their lives because I’m two seconds away from spanking your ass.” He grabs me like I’m a potato sack, hurls me over his shoulder, and dumps me in the passenger seat.

He snaps the seat belt against my waist. His jaw is clenched tight, and his eyes are a storm of thunder and hail.

I’d be scared if I weren’t higher than One World Trade Center (which happens to be the tallest building in New York, not the Empire State building). The drugs, however, give me strength.

He starts driving. Something occurs to me. “I’m wearing your varsity jacket.”

His nostrils flare. “That just occurred to you? Fuck, you’re high.”

“No.” I shake my head. “You said it’s a sign of ownership.”

Lev doesn’t say anything. That’s fair. Now’s probably not the best time to fish for compliments.

I bury my nose in his jacket, the singular scent of him hitting my nostrils. Ironically, Lev is the most addictive drug of all.

When we reach a red light, he turns to me and snatches my phone from between my fingers—I expected it—and I know he’ll look through my texts, but he’s not going to find anything because I deleted the convo with Thalia.

“If you take my phone, does that mean I get to take yours?” I grin.

He tosses me his phone, eyes still on the road. “Unlike you, I have nothing to hide.”

Shakily, I punch in his code—my birthday—and immediately go to his text messages. Thalia is the fifth conversation, which makes me pathetically happy. I get into their chat.

Thalia: I miss you’re a dick.

Lev: Dude, for the last time, grammar is important.

Not exactly the stuff Romeo and Juliet were made of. Everything before that is just dry arrangements about where they should meet and where they are.

My next stop is his camera roll. If he has dick pictures or naked pics from Thalia, I will probably open the passenger door mid-drive and plunge to my death.

My heart is a ball of anxiety in my throat as I scroll through his images, but it’s mostly boring football strategy stuff and…me.

There are so many pictures of me. Like, hundreds. Most of them, I don’t even recognize. I wasn’t aware when they were being taken.

There’s a bunch from my going-away party, for instance. I remember that day very well, but in my head, it played out differently.

I was unwrapping Daria’s gift for me, a Chanel purse, or as she called it, “A BBB. Bad Bitch Bag. Everyone needs one, Bails. Even girls like you, who are ashamed of being pretty and rich.”

It was after the Bailev fallout. I remember Lev was messing with his phone and I was hurt he wasn’t even looking at me when people presented me with going-away presents.

Only he was looking. He was documenting every moment of it. Every smile. Every laugh. Taking pictures of my reactions. All zoomed-in, cropped, and focused on my face.

Oh Marx. This is so creepy. And adorable. And creepy. Again.

There’s another set of pictures of me playing with the kiddos—Sissi and Den—and then a picture of me with my back to the camera, leaning against the kitchen counter, licking a spoonful of cake frosting when I thought no one was watching.

But I was wrong. Lev was always watching. There are maybe a thousand pictures of me just from that day.

“You done snooping around?” Lev drawls, eyes hard on the road.

My heart slides back to my chest, and I toss his phone in his lap. “All boring stuff. As expected.”

I don’t know why I’m so awful to him when he is literally the only person worth fighting to stay in this world for.

“I’d rather be boring than be a fuckup.”

“You know, I really hate you.” A rusty laugh escapes my lips.

His jaw flexes. “Doesn’t surprise me. Hate is just a cheap substitute for love.” He floors the accelerator, eager to get home. “And we both know why you’re all drugged-up and numb now, Dove—you’ve always been afraid to feel.”

Lev parks, opens the door, and storms inside without sparing me a glance. I take a deep breath and stare at my house. That wasn’t so bad.

He talked a big game for someone who decided to bicker with me lightly the entire ride home. Then I see the light flicks on in my bedroom on the second floor and realize through the sweet fog of euphoria that we’ve reached the clusterfuck portion of the night.

Because Lev is in my room and I know exactly what he’s doing there.

I zip out of his car and fly up the stairs. By the time I get to my room, it looks like the FBI raided it. Thrice.

Lev ripped apart every piece of furniture looking for drugs. My dresser is upside down, all my books and clothes are scattered on the floor, the sheets are torn, and one of my nightstands is broken.

“Stop, stop, stop!” I plead, trying to grab at his arms when he starts plucking my pillows. Feathers rain down on both of us, painting everything in white. “You’re not gonna find anything, I swear.”

But he keeps ripping linen, flipping drawers upside down, and ripping Polaroid pictures from my walls. He is like he was in the forest the day Rosie died, only about a hundred pounds heavier and ten inches taller now.

When my room is thoroughly destroyed, Lev turns to me, heaving. “Get naked.”


“You heard me. If there’re drugs on you, I’m gonna find them.”

“Oh yeah?” I snort. “Are you gonna check my rectum to see if I stashed them there?”

“Fuck yeah. Junkies do stupid shit to avoid getting caught. I have two former druggies at home, remember? You’re not bullshitting your way out of this one, Dove.” He sits on the edge of my mattress-less bed cockily, making himself comfortable. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Start by losing the shirt. Then work your way down from there. You can dance a little if you’re so inclined.”

I stand frozen, giving him a disgusted look.

His eyebrows shoot up. “You need to get in the mood?” He slides a thumb over his phone and puts “Milkshake” by Kelis on. A stripper song. “Here. That should work.”

“Fuck you,” I spit out.

Lev smiles smugly. “Planning on it. One day. When you’re deadass sober, and not a minute before.” He checks the time on his phone. “Ticktock, Bailey. You’re not getting any younger, and I’d really hate to rip the clothes off of you…no, wait. I’d actually enjoy that a lot.”

Raging, I turn around and stalk out of my room, taking the stairs two at a time to escape him. He follows me, his feet pounding on the floor, making the entire house shake.

Adrenaline pumps through my veins, making my heart pound violently hard.

I slide the back doors open. We have a long, narrow pool with round hot tubs on either side. Lev says it’s the shape of a dick with balls and he’s kind of right.

I stop at the edge of the pool and turn to smirk tauntingly at the boy who gave me his favorite GI Joe binoculars so I could spot Halley’s Comet.

“Since seeing me naked is going to be the height of your existence, and I’m actually in a good mood for once, here. Have at it.” I clutch the hem of my shirt and pull it off, tossing it on a sunbed. I’m wearing a pink satin bra.

Tugging at my scrunchie, I let my hair down. Thick waves of gold cascade down to the small of my back. I push my shorts down. Kick off my sneakers, careful to keep the plastic bag with the Vicodin and Xanax inside.

I’m wearing matching pink panties. The satin is so thin, he can see the imprint of my slit. And he’s looking. Oh, he can’t tear his gaze off of me.

“Should I lose the bra and the panties?” I arch an eyebrow, feeling so high, so powerful, so good.

This is me taking control. Driving him mad. Giving him a taste of the dish I’d never prepared for him but wanted to so many times. Me.

His throat bobs with a swallow, but he doesn’t answer, mesmerized. I can see even in the dusky night how every cell in his skin is risen to a goose bump. His eyes glittering with want. I’ve never felt so beautiful from the outside…and ugly from within.

I glide my gaze down from his sculpted face to his crotch, and I can see he is fully hard behind his sweatpants. It looks like he stuffed an entire bologna into his boxers.

“Wow, Lev, you’re packin’.” I can’t believe I’m saying this to the boy whose tears I dried each night for months. Vicodin is hella potent. “How does Thalia take it?”

“Eagerly,” he deadpans.

The thought of her fills me with fresh anger, and I decide to retaliate by unclasping my bra and pushing down my panties. I stand before him naked.

He’s never seen me like this. Completely bare. Ten seconds pass. Then thirty. Neither of us says anything. His eyes are roaming.

“Search me for drugs,” I croak. A dare. “Just try not to come in your pants when you do.”

Lev doesn’t move. He looks somewhere between haunted and bored. “Just because I popped a boner, doesn’t mean I want to touch your ass.”

I take a seat on the edge of the hot tub and open my thighs wide. He can’t stop looking. Based on the imprint of his bulge against his sweatpants, dude is so packed, he could fill an entire U-Haul truck. I want to crawl the length between us, slip his dick out, and blow him. It’d be a first for me, but I think I’d be good at it.

“Here.” I create a V shape with my index and middle fingers, parting the pink lips between my thighs, showing him the inside of my pussy.

His mouth hangs open. His eyes darken to a point they aren’t green anymore. But he doesn’t step closer. Doesn’t take the bait. “See? No drugs inside.”

His jaw sets, his thick brows slamming together. “Push a finger in, curl, and pull out slowly.”

“Didn’t know my best friend is a kinkster.”

“Your best friend wants to see that pussy is as empty as your brain is right now.”

Slowly, I push my index finger into myself and curl. I hit my G-spot and moan loudly.

I hear Lev’s breath catch as I pull out my finger slowly and erect it in the air between us as proof. It is glistening with my juices. “Happy?”

“You have no idea.” He glowers under hooded eyes, his cuttingly sharp cheekbones bright red now, matching the tips of his ears.

We’re both panting and moaning like our hands are all over each other even though we are at least six feet apart. I don’t think I’ve ever been this wet and turned on in my entire life.

“I can do that again if you’re still skeptical.” I begin stroking myself in front of him, pushing my finger in and out, playing with myself.

I’m wet. So wet he can hear the slurps my fingers produce. And the best part is, I’m too high to be embarrassed. “Should I stop?”

He doesn’t answer. My nipples pucker.

I’m almost there and it feels so good being watched by him. “Aww.” I pout. “Not so mighty and holy now, are you, Lev? Everyone’s best football hero likes watching his unrequited love getting off.”

I keep on stroking, becoming wetter and wetter in front of him. He licks his lips, and I can tell he wants to step closer. Get a better look. I know I’m taking advantage of the fact he wants me, but I can’t help it.

I slip a finger in and groan. I’m going to get off if I don’t stop soon.

“Pussy’s clean,” Lev snaps suddenly, his tone ominous. “Mouth’s full of filth but not drugs. Now turn around and show me your ass.”

Marx, I love it when he is being mean and bossy. The opposite of his usual sensible aura.

I’m probably going to be mortified when the high wears off, but right now it feels like I’m a dove cutting through the clouds with its wings, kissing the edge of the universe.

“For drugs, right?” I snort out, calling him out on his bullshit.

“Nah, I wanna see if you’re hiding Flight 19 in there,” he retorts dryly, rearranging his junk in his sweatpants.

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you,” I murmur.

“A drug addiction doesn’t suit you,” he retorts.

“How do you wanna do it?” I huff.

“Bend over the hot tub and open your ass cheeks nice and wide for me.”

Holy hell. He is serious about this.

I do as he says, resting my breasts over the cold stone. My butt is wide-open, my skin stretched tightly around my tight hole.

I can hear him behind me sauntering toward me, and my pussy is throbbing, dripping down my thighs, I’m so turned on. Lev and I are going to hook up now. He is going to confess his love for me. He is strong but not inhuman. He’s been fantasizing about this for years.

Both of us have danced on the edges of explosive sex since we hit puberty.

He will dump Thalia, and we’ll be together. I’ll keep taking the pills until I’m better.

Go back to Juilliard. We’ll do long distance—what we should’ve done in the first place. He’s always been the one.

My dove.

My destiny.

My final destination.

I can feel the heat of his body rolling onto my skin from behind now.

The ripples of the hot tub bubbles and the crickets are the only sounds engulfing us. I turn around to look at him, but he seizes the back of my neck and turns my head back to the water. “Didn’t give you permission to look at me, now did I?”

“You still need to check if I have drugs there,” I moan.

I can actually hear him swallow. “I believe you.”

“Why? I’m just a junkie, remember?” I’m begging him now, arching my back, rubbing my bare ass against his hard-on. Who even am I? What am I doing? I don’t recognize myself in this moment. “About as reliable as a broken compass. I could be lying. You said so yourself.”

“Are you lying?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Better check.”

“Goddammit, Bailey,” his voice cracks, and he is about to too. I can feel it.

“Come on, Levy. Dare.” We never skip on our dares. Heck, Lev once licked a PE dodgeball just because I challenged him to.

He spits onto his fingers, and every inch of my skin blooms with goose bumps.

He places his palm flat against the small of my back and eases one wet finger between my ass cheeks gently, wiggling it an inch. A groan escapes me. My clit is swollen and I sneak a hand to touch it, but he slaps my hand away. “This is not a hookup.”

“But it could be.”

“No, it can’t. I’m with another girl and in love with a version of you who’d fucking hate me if I hooked up with this version of her.”

But he’s just feeding himself more lies because he slips in another inch. Then another.

My ass is full of my best friend’s finger. My knees are shaking. When his knuckles hit my ass cheeks and he is all the way in, my moans become soft whimpers of elation.

I’m coming.

I’m coming.

I’m coming.

He can tell I’m coming, so he is doing me a solid by not pulling away immediately. He lets me ride his finger, thrust myself backward as the warm waves of an orgasm crash through me.

“No drugs.” He pulls out of me as fast as humanly possible.

The wetness between my legs slides from my thighs all the way down to my knees. Lev notices because he wraps his fingers around my hair, tugging my head up until his lips are at my ear. “If you were sober, I would fuck this tight, little ass with my fat dick then come in your mouth, making you drink every drop of it. I want you to remember this moment, Dove.”

His other hand finds my hip and he clutches my waist to keep me from falling.

“The moment I stole an orgasm from you?” I purr cunningly.

“Stole?” He chuckles darkly in my ear. “Baby, you missed out on the best dick you’ll ever meet for a mere finger because you’re high. But you will come down from this high you’re on. Once you do, I want you to remember how the perfect Bailey Followhill, voted Most Likely to Become the First Female President, offered a guy she supposedly hates to fuck her ass bareback. How you came when I stuck my finger inside your ass to check for drugs like a desperate little slut. I want you to remember I rejected you. I want you to remember the sting. And I want you to remember burning for me, knowing you will only have me—all of me—when you’re sober.”

His voice is low and husky. His breath leaves little earthquakes all over my skin. “Now, Dove, time for a cold shower.”

With a lazy push, he throws me into the deep end of our pool.

I resurface quickly, gasping from the temperature. I slap the water angrily. “Do you want me to get pneumonia?”

He is standing on the edge of the pool, his face icier than the water. “Not particularly, but since you don’t give a shit about your health, why should I?”

I’m tempted to tell him his precious Thalia gave me the drugs, but I don’t want to burn this bridge in case I need more.

“So glad I didn’t hook up with you tonight.” I blow a raspberry. Because…apparently I’m five now?

“So glad you’re rewriting the history of what happened.” He reaches for the small beverage fridge and opens himself a soda, resting a languid shoulder against a palm tree trunk.

“Don’t worry, Bails. I intend on fucking every hole in your body until it is the size and shape of my dick. But not like this. I want it to be with my best friend. Not the volatile rando who hijacks her body whenever she’s high.”

“Stop saying that. I’m still me. I’m just—” My foot cramps, and I can’t swim anymore.

My body curls, folding in half, and the pain is so much it feels like something snapped like a wishbone in my foot.

I begin dropping like a stone to the bottom of the pool. My head goes under. I swallow a glassful of chlorine water. My feet—heavy with painkillers—touch the bottom of the pool. Panic claws at my bones. I’m drowning and can’t tell him.

Then I see through stung, wet eyes a sharp splash. Lev slices the water like an arrow. He swims toward me, grabs me by the waist, and pulls me up.

He rolls me to the edge of the pool, hops outside, then carries me to the cabana. He is still dripping water when he shoves me into a hot shower.

Under the water spray, I grip the back of my neck and start crying hysterically. The anxiety is back, and with interest. I can barely breathe.

Lev wordlessly takes a sponge, squirts soap onto it, and lathers my back. His movements are circular and deep. He is massaging every inch of me, soothing, kneading, tickling.

My sobs become louder, ripping through my chest savagely.

“Why are we crying?” he asks very softly.

“I was scared to drown,” I sniffle. “And I was…you know.”

“Tell me.”

“Under.” The influence. Water. Everything.

“Okay,” he says, tender again. “What did you take?”

“Painkillers. Xanax.” I snort. “Marx, I’m such a loser.”

“I’m sorry, Dove.” He brushes wet strands of hair from my eyes. “Sorry I wasn’t there to protect you when it happened. Sorry that it hurts. Sorry you’re in this screwed-up cycle. But you have to get help. I can’t watch you killing yourself. Every time you poison yourself, you poison me too. Only difference is I don’t get to enjoy the high. For me, it’s just the lows.”

I’m too upset to produce any words, so I just let him take care of me.

After he’s done showering me, he pats me dry with a towel, puts me in a pair of fresh pj’s, and brushes my hair. We’re back in my room, or the room of the person I used to be before I changed completely.

While he rearranges the mattress, he tries to take my mind off what happened tonight. “Remember when we used to do shadow puppets and I would throttle your shadow and you would stomp on mine?” He grins.

I smile tiredly. “Things were so simple when we were kids, weren’t they?”

He nods, turning somber. “But some things still are.”

“Yeah?” I sniff. “Like what?”

“Like the way I feel for you and the way you feel for me.”

Lev lays me in my bed, then massages my foot to loosen the pulled muscle. My feet are on his steel-hard thigh as he digs his thumb into the center of the cramped foot.

I whimper into a pillow I’m hugging, hiccupping as I descend the Olympus of euphoria to the mortal land of my disastrous reality.

Lev was right. Now that I’m no longer high, I’m feeling all of it. Humiliation. Embarrassment. Mortification.

This is why I love the Xanax so much. It extracts me from my thoughts, my fears, my worries. It isn’t a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. It keeps the pain at bay.


“Yes, Dove?”

“Did I really let you shove your…you know in my…you know?”

“Down to the knuckles,” he confirms. “Like, I think I felt your pancreas.”

Swallowing, I contemplate murdering him. Pros: he wouldn’t remember what happened. Cons: I’m kind of attached to him.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you cleaned up.” Lev pats my knee like a fatherly T-ball coach.

“I’m going to look for rehabs for you tomorrow. I can ask Knight what h—”

“Would you have…” defiled me like a porn star? I crinkle my nose as I stare up at him.

“…you know, if I were sober?”

“In a heartbeat.” He presses the pad of his thumb into my muscle and I feel the knot unfurling. “If you were sober, I would have grabbed your hips from behind and alternated between fucking your ass and your pussy until I came in both.”

I feel myself blushing. “That would be very unhygienic for my vaginal health. A urinary infection waiting to happen. Just…” I clear my throat. “For future reference.”

“—then I’d lick it all off and suck your clit until you passed out,” he continues, ignoring me.

His words make me so shocked and aroused, I stop hiccupping. He throws a glance at me and chuckles. “You’re so fucking cute, I could eat you whole.”

“I see you’ve given it some thought.”

“Eating you out? Nah. Maybe like once every second or so.” He shrugs.

I melt into his touch, lulled by the bliss of having him here.

“You’re all I think about,” he admits. “Other than becoming a pilot. And MH370. Like, it just vanished off radar, Bails. People still can’t decide if it went to the South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, or freaking Kazakhstan. I know it’s been well over a decade, but—”

“I can’t believe you have a girlfriend.” I flip onto my belly and bury my face in my pillow.

“A girl-something.” He kisses the sole of my foot, tucking it under my blanket when I’m all massaged out and cramp-free. “Only because you told me I never stood a chance and I had to lose my virginity somehow.”

“You could’ve just hooked up with her once or twice.”

He gives me a sad smile. “Guess I’m not the type to screw around.”

“You always had a chance,” I whimper. “I was just…confused.”

“We’re not dead yet, Bails.” He kisses the back of my head, sliding the blanket up my body. “And I’m not done trying to make you mine.”

I don’t know why it hurts so freaking much to know he gave Thalia his virginity.

Especially considering I handed my own V-card to a guy who didn’t even deserve my Sam’s Club membership. A guy who saw me struggling with my performance and injuries and chose to exploit it.

“Well, now you know you have a chance.” I sulkily give him my back.

“No, now you know you have a chance.” He stands up. “If you get clean. Night, Dove.”

“Night, Big Traitor.”

He chuckles as he presses his pillowy lips against my forehead. Lev’s forehead kisses are the best. He flicks the light off, hovering over the threshold to my room.



“You know what I love the most about doves?”

Pause. “Yes?” I can hear the smile in his voice.

My eyes flutter shut. “They’re like human hearts. No matter how lost they get, they can always find their way back home.”


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