“We’ll see.” The pain exploded, radiating across my back as she rubbed the Neosporin into the cuts and put on the band-aids. Gently, she helped me back into the shirt.

“Let’s see the lip.” She gave my lip the same treatment, going light on the Neosporin and leaving off the band-aid.


She sat down beside me on my bed and gave me that look, the one that said that if I even tried to lie I would be in serious trouble. “Did someone hurt you?”

“Please, Mom. Can we talk about it later?”

She pressed her lips together as she thought about it, and then finally sighed. “Fine. Go back to bed. I’ll come check on you in a bit.”

It was humiliating the way everything always went wrong for me. I lay back down and Mom tucked me in.

“We will talk about this after you get some rest.” She kissed my forehead and left my room.

The next time my eyes opened, the clock read 1:56 PM. Mom was back in my room, sitting on the bed with her hand to my forehead. A million of her unasked questions slammed into me. She wanted to know what happened, who did this, and why. But she was mostly worried about me and angry that someone had hurt me. Angry was the wrong word. She was furious.

“It’s really high,” she said to Dad who was standing over us. “Definitely over 100.”

He raked his fingers down his face, and then patted Mom on the back. “We’re going to take you to the hospital, Tess.”

Dad left my room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Mom grabbed a pair of jeans from my closet. I sat up and picked up my bra from on top of the comforter.

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“Don’t worry about the bra. It’ll only make your shoulder worse.” She crossed her arms. “You ready to talk?”

I cleared my suddenly dry throat. “Not really.” I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready. It was too embarrassing. Only Tessa McCaide would have to get stitches because of a kiss.

“It was a boy at the party?”

God. She wasn’t going to let it go.

I nodded.

“He can’t get away with this. Tessa.” She paused, taking a deep breath. “Did he do anything else to you? Hurt you—”

My face burned. “Jeez, Mom. No. He kissed me and got a little carried away. I don’t know how he did that to my shoulder. He must have had something in his hand or I dunno…”

“Sweetie. They’re deep. There’s no way it wasn’t on purpose.” She sat back down on the bed, putting her face on my level, so that I was forced to look her in the eyes. “We’re going to have talk to your principal about this. Get a meeting with the boy’s parents. He could have really hurt you. What if he does this or something worse to another girl?”

The thought of Dastien with another girl made me monumentally pissed off. I tried to rein my anger in, but my shoulder burned, deeper into my arm and torso.

Somewhere underneath it I knew I was losing my mind over a boy who hurt me. “I don’t want to make a huge deal out of this. It’s fine. Really. It wasn’t even one of the guys from school.”

She crossed her arms. “If it wasn’t someone from school, then who was it?”

Perfect. She thought I was trying to lie to her. “Dastien,” I whispered. Saying his name felt equal parts relief and betrayal.

“Madre Santa. The teacher from St. Ailbe’s?” She sucked in her breath. “Teresa Elizabeth McCaide!”

And now she’d used my full name. Only I could manage to get in trouble for being hurt.

“I hope this doesn’t mean…” She paused for a second, and my heart started to pound. “We’re going to have to talk to Michael Dawson when we get back from the emergency room. This could be really bad, Tess.”

That was so not cool. “Mom. Seriously. It’s fine.”

“No. It’s really not. You’re a minor.”

“Only for like a few more weeks! And he’s only two years older than me. That’s like nothing. Let’s not make a national disaster out of this. He was really nice. I’m not even sure how it happened. He seemed pretty shocked. He apologized and everything.” I don’t know why I was defending him.

Mom sat there quietly, waiting for me to continue.

It wasn’t embarrassment anymore. I was mad. Furious even. Those people at the party had been flat out rude to me. For no reason. It wasn’t even something I could blame on my weirdness. I was physically hurt, bleeding, and they kicked me out. Not even an “are you okay” or “do you need some ice for that” before they shoved me out the door.

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