Footsteps outside the apartment force Chloe up from the sofa and out to the balcony.
For the last three hours she’s had the place to herself and now her family is back from their trip to the beach. Her dad’s booming voice and Jamie’s high-pitched whine explode into the apartment as her mum opens the door. Chloe presses a hand to the side of her head. She’s had two paracetamol and countless glasses of water and she still feels as though a small creature is sharpening its claws on her brain. She’d fully expected to see her dad pacing the room when she crept in just after midnight but everyone was asleep. After puking all over her shoes in front of Sam and Ed she’d run off, tripping and weaving her way through the theatre as the sound of the boys’ laughter followed her. She puked again when she got outside and then again, into a bush, as she stumbled towards her apartment block. Once inside she’d thrown herself onto the small uncomfortable sofa in the living area and burst into tears. She pressed a musty-smelling cushion to her mouth to stifle the sound but the tears continued to fall for a long time. How could she have been so stupid, believing she stood a chance with Sam? It was the vodka. It had stripped away her inhibitions and self-doubt and made her believe that maybe she wasn’t a fat loser after all, that she was as desirable as Katie, Charlie and Leticia. What a stupid bitch. Of course Sam wouldn’t want her. Even a forty-nine-year-old man with deep crow’s feet and a bit of a gut had lost interest. Everything her dad said about her was true. She was useless, worthless and a waste of space. And that was never going to change.
‘Chloe?’ her mum says now, making her jump. ‘How are you feeling?’
Chloe, holding on to the balcony railing to steady herself, looks over her shoulder. ‘Horrible.
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