Wait for You, Page 2J. Lynn
“Damn, girl, if you say messy in a I-don’t-care-I’m-a-sexy-beast kind of way, I want to run into this guy.”
Brittany giggled. “Love hair like that.”
I wondered if my face looked as hot as it felt. “Yeah, it was like that. He was really gorgeous and his eyes were so blue they looked—”
“Wait,” Brittany gasped, her own eyes widening. “Were his eyes like so blue they almost look fake? And did he smell like really good? I know that sounds creepy and weird, but just answer the question.”
That was kind of creepy and weird and really funny. “Yes to both.”
“Holy shit on a shoe.” Brittany let out a loud laugh. “Did you get his name?”
I was starting to get worried, because Jacob also had this dawning expression on his face. “Yeah, why?”
Brittany elbowed Jacob and then she lowered her voice. “Was it Cameron Hamilton?”
My jaw hit my lap.
“It was!” Brittany’s shoulders shook. “You ran into Cameron Hamilton?”
Jacob wasn’t smiling. He was just staring at me in… awe? “I am so incredibly envious of you right now. I would give my left testicle to run into Cameron Hamilton.”
I half laughed, half choked. “Wow. That’s pretty serious.”
“Cameron Hamilton is serious, Avery. You wouldn’t know. You’re not from around here,” Jacob said.
“You’re a freshman, too. How do you know about him?” I asked, because Cam looked too old to be a freshman. He had to at least be a junior or senior.
“Everyone on campus knows him,” he replied.
“You’ve been on campus for less than a week!”
Jacob grinned. “I get around.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I don’t get it. Yeah, he’s… hot, but so what?”
“I went to school with Cameron,” Brittany explained, glancing over her shoulder. “I mean, he was two years older than me, but he was like the shit in high school. Everyone wanted to be around him or with him. It’s pretty much the same here.”
Curiosity rose in spite of how what Brittany had said reminded me of someone else. “So you guys are from around here?”
“No. We’re from outside of Morgantown—Fort Hill area. I don’t know why he chose this school instead of WVU, but I did because I wanted to get out of town versus being stuck with the same old people.”
I could understand that.
“Anyway, Cameron is known around campus.” Jacob smacked his hands together. “He lives off campus and supposedly throws the best parties ever and—”
“He had a reputation in high school," Brittany cut in. "A reputation that was well earned. Don't get me wrong. Cameron has always been a really cool guy. Very nice and funny, but he put the 'or' in man-whore back then. Seems to have settled down a bit, but a leopard and their spots…”
“Okay.” I fiddled with my bracelet. “Good to know, but it doesn’t really matter. I mean, I ran into him in a hallway. That’s the extent of my knowledge of Cam.”
“Cam?” Brittany blinked.
“Yeah?” I shoved to my feet and grabbed my bag. Doors would open soon.
Brittany’s brows knitted. “People who he doesn’t know call him Cameron. Only his friends call him Cam.”
“Oh.” I frowned. “He told me people called him Cam, so I assumed that’s what people called him.”
Brittany didn’t say anything, and I honestly didn’t see what the big deal was. Cam/Cameron/Whatever was just being polite after I ran him over. The fact that he was a reformed party playboy meant nothing to me other than to stay far, far away from him.
Doors swung open and students spilled into the hallway. Our little group waited until it cleared before we headed inside, picking three seats in the back, with Jacob in-between us. As I pulled out my massive, could knock someone out if hit with, five subject notebook, Jacob grabbed my arm.
Mischief and total mayhem filled his gaze. “You cannot drop astronomy. To get through this semester, I must live vicariously through you and hear about Cam at least three days a week.”
I laughed softly. “I’m not going to drop the class—” Even though I sort of wanted to. “—But I doubt I’m going to have anything to tell you. It’s not like we’re even going to talk again.”
Jacob let go of my arm and sat back, eyeing me. “Famous last words, Avery.”
The rest of the day wasn’t nearly as eventful as my morning had been, much to my pleasure. No more innocent hot boys almost knocked over or other humiliating incidents. Although I had to relive the experience all over again at lunch for Jacob’s entertainment, I was happy that he and Brittany had a break around the same time I did. I’d really been planning on spending most of my day being a loner, so it was nice to actually talk to people… my own age.
Being social was like riding a bike, I guessed.
And besides Jacob’s unneeded advice, which entailed me purposely running into Cam the next time I saw him, there hadn’t been any awkward moments. By the end of the day, I honestly had pretty much forgotten about Cam.
Before I left campus, I headed down to the financial building to pick up an application for work-study. I didn’t need the money, but I needed the time suckage to keep my mind occupied. I had a full load—eighteen credit hours—but I would have a crap ton of free time. A job on campus seemed like the right thing to go for, but there were no spots open. My name went on an extended waiting list.
The campus was really beautiful in a quaint, peaceful sort of way. It was nothing like the sprawling campuses of huge universities. Nestled between the Potomac River and the tiny, historical town of Shepherdstown, it was like something you’d see on a postcard. Large buildings with steeples mixed in among more modern structures. Trees everywhere. Fresh, clean air and everything you needed within walking distance. I could actually walk on nicer days or at least park on West Campus to avoid paying the meter.
After giving my information for the waiting list, I hoofed it back toward my car, enjoying the warm breeze. Unlike this morning when I’d been running late, I got a chance to check out the houses on the way to the train station. Three houses, side by side, had porches full of college-aged guys. Most likely this school’s version of fraternity row.
One guy looked up, beer in hand. He smiled, but then turned as a football flew out from the open door, smacking him in the back. Curses exploded.
Definitely fraternity row.
My spine stiffened as I picked up my pace, hurrying past the houses. I hit an intersection, stepped out and nearly got slammed by a silver truck—one of those big ones, maybe a Tundra—as it sped onto the narrow road I needed to cross. My heart jumped as it slammed its brakes, blocking my path.
I took a step back onto the curb, confused. Was the driver going to yell at me?
The tinted passenger window rolled down, and I about fell flat on my face.
Cameron Hamilton grinned at me from behind the wheel, baseball cap on, turned backward. Wisps of dark hair curled up under the band. And he was shirtless—totally shirtless. And from what I could see of him, just his chest, it was a mighty fine chest. Pecs—the guy had pecs. And a tattoo. On his right chest, a sun burst, flames trailing back over his shoulders in vibrant hues of red and orange.
“Avery Morgansten, we meet again.”
He was the last person I wanted to see. I had the shittiest luck known to man. “Cameron Hamilton… hi.”
He leaned over, dropping an arm over the steering wheel. Correction. He also had some really nice biceps. “We have to stop meeting like this.”
And that was the truest thing ever spoken. I needed to stop staring at his bicep… and chest… and tattoo. Never thought the sun could be so… sexy. Wow. This was awkward.
“You running over me, me almost running over you?” Cam elaborated. “It’s like we’re a catastrophe waiting to happen.”
I had no idea what to say to that. My mouth was dry, thoughts scattered.
“Where you h
“My car,” I forced out. “I’m about to run out of time.” Not necessarily true, because I had been generous with the quarters so I wouldn’t end up with a parking ticket, but he didn’t need to know that. “So…”
“Well, hop in, sweetheart. I can give you a ride.”
Blood drained from my face and rushed to other parts of my body in a really odd and confusing way. “No. It’s okay. I’m right up the hill. No need at all.”
The grin spread up on the side, revealing that one dimple. “It’s no problem. It’s the least I could do after almost running you over.”
“Thank you, but—”
“Yo! Cam!” Beer Guy jumped off the porch and jogged down the sidewalk, passing me a quick look. “What you up to, man?”
Saved by the frat boy.
Cam’s gaze didn’t veer from me, but his grin started to slip. “Nothing, Kevin, just trying to have a conversation.”
Giving Cam a quick wave, I hurried around Kevin and the front of the trunk. I didn’t look back, but I could feel him watching. Over the years, knowing when someone was staring at you when you weren’t looking had become a talent of mine.
I forced myself not to run to the train station, because running away in front of the same guy twice in one day was beyond the acceptable level of weirdness. Even for me.
I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath until I was behind the wheel of my car and the engine humming.
I dropped my head against the steering wheel and groaned. A catastrophe waiting to happen? Yeah, sounded about right.
Sitting through a three hour long sociology class Tuesday night hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, but by the time class let out, I was starving. Before I headed back to my apartment, I stopped by the Sheetz—a convenience store/gas station we didn’t have in Texas—and got a MTO. A Made To Order salad, heavy on the fried chicken strips and ranch dressing.
The parking lot was packed with cars, some even in the nearby field that butted up to west campus. It hadn’t been like this when I’d left for my evening class and I wondered what was going on. I managed to find a parking spot all the way near the main road and as I turned the ignition, my cell rattled in the cup holder.
I grinned when I saw it was a text from Jacob. We’d exchanged numbers earlier in class since he lived in one of the dorms.
Art sucks was all his text said.
Laughing, I sent him a quick text back about our homework, which was to identify what painting belonged to what era. Thank God for Google, because that was how I was completing the assignment.
Gathering up my bag and food, I climbed out of my car. The air was sticky and I lifted my hair off my neck, wishing I had pulled it up into a ponytail. The scent of autumn was in the air though and I was eager to see cooler weather. Maybe even snow in the winter. I headed across the brightly lit parking lot, toward the center cluster of apartments. I was on the top floor—the fifth—it seemed like a lot of students lived here and most hadn’t really started to arrive until today, but as soon as I stepped up on the sidewalk, I knew where all the cars were coming from.
Music thumped from somewhere inside my apartment building. A lot of lights were on and I could pick up pieces of conversation as I headed up the stairs. On the fifth floor, I found the culprit. The apartment across the hall, two doors down, was throwing a party. The door was cracked open and light and music spilled into the open hallway.
A little bit of jealousy wiggled inside my chest as I unlocked my door. All the laughter, the noise, and the music sounded fun. It all seemed so normal, like something I should be doing, but parties….
Parties didn’t end well for me.
Closing my door behind me, I kicked off my shoes and dropped my bag on the couch. Furnishing this apartment had put a dent in my account, but I’d be here for four years and I figured I could sell it when I left or bring it with me.
And it was all my stuff. That meant a lot to me.
The party raged on across the hall, long after I finished my not-so healthy salad, changed into sleep shorts and a long sleeve shirt, and finished my art homework. It was just after midnight when I gave up on reading my English assignment and started back toward my bedroom.
But I stopped in the hallway, my toes curling into the carpet.
A burst of muffled laughter rang out and I knew their door must’ve been open, because it sounded louder than before. I was frozen, worrying my lower lip. What if I opened the door and recognized someone from class? It was obviously a college kid throwing the party. Maybe I would know the person? So what if I did? Wasn’t like I was going to join in when I was braless, wearing my jammies, and rocking the messiest ponytail known to man.
I turned and flipped on the bathroom light, staring at my reflection. Scrubbed of all makeup, the freckles on the bridge of my nose stood way out and my face seemed more flushed than normal. I leaned against the sink my mom would’ve laughed at and pressed my face closer to the mirror.
With the exception of my reddish-brown hair that was from my father, I was the spitting image of my mom. Straight nose, rounded chin, and high cheekbones, with all the cosmetic help she’d had over the years to stay looking fresh, we looked more like sisters instead of mother and daughter.
Footsteps echoed out in the hall. More laughter.
I made a face at my reflection and pushed away from the mirror. Back in the hall, I told myself to go to sleep, but I found myself walking toward my front door. I had no idea what I was doing or why I was being so nosy, but everything sounded… warm and fun out there and everything in here was cold and boring.
Warm and fun?
I rolled my eyes. God, I sounded lame. It was cold in here because I had the central air cranked like a mother.
But I was at the door and there was nothing stopping me. Yanking it open, I peered out into the stairwell, seeing two heads disappear down the steps. The door to the party was still open, and I stood there, torn. This wasn’t home. No one was going to send me a scathing look or yell obscenities at me. If anything, they’d probably think I was some kind of freak just standing there, half out my door, all bug-eyed, and letting all the cold air out.
“Bring Raphael back!” exclaimed a familiar voice and a deep laugh that had my stomach dropping in stunned disbelief. “You fucktard!”
I recognized that voice! Oh my God…
It couldn’t be. I hadn’t seen the big ass silver truck outside, but then again, there were so many cars and it wasn’t like I was searching for his truck.
The door swung all the way open, and I froze as a guy stumbled out, laughing as he set a tortoise—what the fuck?—on the floor. The thing stuck its head out, looked around, and then disappeared into its shell.
A second later, the guy who’d put the tortoise outside was pulled back into the apartment and Cam appeared in the doorway in all his shirtless glory. He reached down and scooped up the little green guy. “Sorry Raphael. My friends are complete, fucking….” He looked up.
I tried to jerk back inside, but it was too late.
Cam saw me.
“Assholes…” He did a double take. “What the…?”
Would dive bombing into my apartment seem weird? Yes—yes it would. So I went with a very lame, “Hey…”
Cam blinked several times, as if he sought to clear his vision. “Avery Morgansten? This is becoming a habit.”
“Yeah.” I forced myself to swallow. “It is.”
“Do you live here or are you visiting…?”
I cleared my throat as the tortoise’s legs started moving like it was trying to wiggle away. “I… I live here.”
“No shit?” Those baby blues widened and he swaggered around the railing. I couldn’t help but notice how his gym shorts hung way low on his narrow hips. Or his stomach. It was ripped, taking six pack into eight pack territory. “You really live here?”
I forced my gaze
up and got stock on the sun tattoo. “Yes. I really live here.”
“This is… I don’t even know.” He laughed again, and I met his stare. “Really crazy.”
“Why?” Besides the fact he was standing in my apartment hallway, shirtless and barefoot, holding a tortoise named Raphael?
“I live here.”
I gaped at him. The whole half naked thing sort of made sense now and I guess so did the tortoise, but it couldn’t be. Way too many coincidences. “You’re joking, right?”
“No. I’ve been living here for a while—like a couple of years with my roommate. You know, the fucktard who put poor Raphael outside.”
“Hey!” the guy yelled from inside their apartment. “I have a name. It’s Señor Fucktard!”
Cam laughed. “Anyway, did you move in over the weekend?”
I found myself nodding.
“Makes sense. I was back home, visiting the fam.” He shifted Raphael to his other hand, cradling the squirming thing to his chest. “Well, hell…”
I was gripping the door until my knuckles ached. “That’s… um, your tortoise?”
“Yeah.” A half grin appeared as he lifted the little guy. “Raphael meet Avery.”
Giving the tortoise a little wave, I kind of felt stupid afterward for doing so. It just stuck its head back in its green and brown shell. “That’s a very interesting pet.”
“And those are very interesting shorts.” His gaze dropped. “What are they?” Leaning forward his eyes narrowed, and I stiffened. “Pizza slices?”
Heat swamped my cheeks. “They’re ice cream cones.”
“Huh. I like them.” Straightening, his gaze drifted up me slowly, leaving an unfamiliar wake of heat behind. “A lot.”
I immediately let go of the door and crossed my arms over my chest. The corner of his lips tipped up. My eyes narrowed. “Thanks. That means a lot to me.”
“It should. They have my seal of approval.” He bit down on his lower lip as his lashes lifted. Those eyes pierced mine. “I need to get Raphael back in his little habitat before he pees on my hand, which he’s bound to do, and that sucks.”