The Internet is full of naked pictures of pretty girls. Curvy girls splayed on beds. Busty girls gripping their breasts in ecstasy. Blondes getting pounded, pistoned, defiled. Brunettes taking the money shot, the deep throat, the back door.
Any Google search will find you these images. And one of them might be me.
I’m the redhead. The one with her back arched, her eyes wide, her mouth open with desire. The one with her legs spread and her arms tied tight above her head.
I’m the one shot with her own camera and uploaded for the world to see.
And now I’m the one with the secret.
I’ve never been so thankful for the oily smell of Chinese food and the subtle whiff of socks.
“I thought you weren’t coming home until tomorrow?” Neil lounges in our living room with his feet up and a half-empty takeout container beside him.
“I missed you, too.” I muster a little sarcasm for my roommate and drop my overfull camera gear bag at the entry beside my suitcase. My eyelids are leaden with exhaustion. “I waited at the gate forever to get on standby.”
“You look like shit. Long flight?”
I snort. “Don’t sugar-coat it, Neil. Tell me what you really think.” My phone pings and another text shatters me.
When I fuck you, I’m gonna pull that pretty red hair of yours until you scream.
My breath hitches and my shoulders begin to shake. I can’t keep ignoring these texts. My legs refuse to take two steps into the living room and I collapse, gulping for air.
“Violet! I’m sorry!” Neil springs off the couch and reaches for me but I recoil.
I pull my knees to my chest and my phone slips through my fingers and lands with a clunk on the floor. “Don’t touch me. Don’t even touch me.” I want to curl into a ball and sleep until I can wake from this nightmare.
Neil takes a step back. “What happened to you?” He picks up my phone and glances at the screen, his jaw hardening when he sees the message.
“Is this from Brady?” he demands. “That asshole. I thought you dumped him before you went to Europe.”
I try to control my breath against sobbing hiccups. I thought I was all cried out, but turning on my phone after the long flight slammed me back into the reality of the past several days.
Each text is more poisonous than the last.
“We did break up. But I’ve been getting these texts.”
Neil waits for me to explain. When I don’t, he nudges me. “From who?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know. It’s not Brady’s number.”
Neil sits quietly at my side, then reaches a tentative hand to my shoulder. When I don’t flinch, he cups my elbow and pulls me up off the floor and to the couch.
He goes to our kitchen and pours a few fingers of gin for each of us. I hear the refrigerator door open and close and I know he’s adding olives, making his martini dirty and mine muddy, just the way I like it.
He places a drink in my hand and clinks my glass, even though I’m too numb to make the gesture. “I’m glad you’re home, Vi.”
I take a sip and my shoulders convulse, a sob shaking my chest. I hear another ping and Neil leaps for my phone, tilting the screen away from me as he reads it.
He shakes his head.
“Another one?” I ask.
“Yeah. But this one’s from a different number.”
I let out a faltering breath.
“How many have you gotten so far?”
“Twenty. Thirty. I lost count.” My cheeks are hot with embarrassment but I trust Neil. After what happened with Brady, he’s the only one I trust.
“How do they have your number?”
I shrug, totally at a loss. I wanted to believe it’s a wrong number, but the text about my red hair says otherwise.
I finally gather the strength to go to my room and unpack. Neil lurks in my doorway.
“Vi? I was planning to go out tonight, but the girl who stayed in your room, Stella, she’s supposed to come by and pick up her stuff. Are you going to be OK here without me?”
I nod and he hangs at my door for a moment longer. He enters my room and picks up my phone from the top of my dresser. “Shut this off and get some sleep, Violet.”
I promise him I will.