Mad for You

By: Anna Antonia


“Emma, open the door!”

“Go away, Gabriel!”

The door knob rattled violently. “Emma, please! Don’t do this!”

I almost slammed my hand against the wall, only pulling back at the last moment. I clenched my fingers into a tight fist. “I’m not going to talk to you right now. I can’t.”

I heard what sounded like his forehead hitting the stout door. Gabriel’s voice came out low and tortured. “Baby, please don’t do this. Don’t shut me out. It kills me when you do it.”

Just like that my anger drained through the sieve of my heart. My palm rested where I imagined his beautiful face to be. “It hurts me too.”

“Then let me in, Emma. I need to be with you. I love you…”

I slid down to the door, feeling tears roll slowly down my waxen cheeks. I wondered how the hell I was going to last the next five minutes without him, much less the rest of my life. I couldn’t breathe through the pain. I whispered his name softly. He heard me and whispered mine in return.

“Please, Emma…”

Sitting there, legs sprawled and body battered with longing for the man only inches away from me, I wandered back through the corridors of my mind. Past the last devastating hours, further back to a time when I was a young girl who had done everything to stay out of Gabriel’s ruined sphere.

Back before he was Gabriel Gordon, photogenic billionaire and world’s most eligible bachelor, he was simply Gabriel Gordon—heartbreaker of Pine Woods High.

Gabriel Gordon was mad, bad, and ...well, you probably know the rest.

Despite his heavenly name and matching beauty, Gabriel was anything but angelic. Rich, spoiled, and far too cynical for his age, he could easily charm the skirt off a prim beauty or a young teacher or two. I watched him from afar in equal parts disgust and fascination for four years.

Logically, I had understood the allure. He spoke the right words, courting his targets with just the right amount of disinterest and zeal. Reputation notwithstanding, Gabriel managed to make each one think she was special—the one. Not necessarily through lies, but by showing just enough of the vulnerable boy hiding behind the exterior of polished arrogance to make him worth loving.

It always fell apart.

Sometimes quietly with just a note of farewell and our lively, lovely French teacher replaced in mid-year. Usually, it was a spectacle of gossipy delight that had the tongues wagging for weeks to come. I had stepped past enough dustups in the hallways to wonder what it was about Gabriel that made those previously well-mannered girls beat against his wide chest in rage, heartache, and more than a bit of desperate longing.

Gabriel’s eyes would lock onto mine as he bore their abuse just as stoically as he had their love—never yelling in return or raising a hand in defense.

And if it seemed that his gaze softened, looking apologetic and ashamed…well, that surely must’ve been my imagination. Studying the silent boy and the screaming red-faced girl, while skirting the ever-widening crowd, I couldn’t help but judge the tantrum that would forever mar how the rest of our classmates looked upon them.

Fallen. Ruined. Insane.

How could they be so torn up over one guy? Didn’t they understand no one was worth losing it like that?

My pride was a mighty thing once, making me hard on those who didn’t possess it to the same degree. If I only knew then what I’d become now…

Usually the rejected girls faded into the background, bitter by their loss, while others developed a ‘flair’ for dating. Apparently, Gabriel had taught his exes well. It was unfair and shitty how the girls’ reputations suffered but his had only grown more attractive.

Worse, what made the sordid affairs scintillating was the very same girls who had slapped his face for our sport were rumored to secretly come back on figurative hands and knees just for another taste of sin. Which he doled out quite lavishly as I could confirm after stumbling across one heated encounter during senior year.

Even now the image was just as razor-sharp.

Their bodies had been locked in a state of half-undress. She on her back, he over her on the lab table. Gabriel had his hand wrapped around her neck as he pounded into her. He looked at me, angelic face slack with pleasure, and mouthed the words “I’m so sorry.”

I backed up, arms limp and cheeks aflame. He never looked away. Gabriel kept me pinned with a crystal-blue stare as I silently slipped out of the empty classroom. The power of his tormented gaze stayed until I had collapsed on the ground outside by the football field.

Knees drawn up to my chest, I blindly stared at the girls twirling their turquoise banners for flag practice. The circular blur of color matched my thoughts in speed and tempo. What exactly was he sorry for? That he didn’t have enough self-control to turn down a pretty girl’s plea for more? That he exposed me to seeing something I had no business seeing?

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