All about you (love hat.., p.30
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       All About You (Love & Hate series #1), p.30
 

         Part #1 of Love & Hate series by Joanna Mazurkiewicz
Past

  I didn’t come to visit Mrs. Morgan. It was just an excuse to see Oliver one last time, before he left Gargle forever. I didn’t even know he was going to be home. He and his mother didn’t get on. But I went around the house and stood on the porch. I was probably the last person Oliver wanted to see, after what I put him through at school.

  I was just about to knock at the Morgans’ house when I heard voices coming from the kitchen. I stood there, frozen, listening and thinking he wouldn’t want to even look at me. His voice always comforted me, so when I heard him then, it was like we were back together before everything went wrong, before the party.

  “Ollie, let’s talk about it. You don’t want to abandon everyone.” Mrs. Morgan sounded desperate and broken. After Christian’s death, she stopped talking to Oliver, but she wasn’t bitter anymore.

  I bit my lips, feeling like a coward. It was a bad idea showing up like that. I wasn’t welcome in the Morgans’ house. Nothing had been how it used to be. I knew he was leaving, but I needed to hear him one last time.

  I’d been vicious towards Oliver, but his misery gave me the strength I lost when Christian violated me.

  “Now you want to talk, after the insults, after all the drama?” he roared, and I heard something being smashed. Oliver must have lost his temper and thrown one of the dishes.

  “I want to say I’m sorry, but even if I apologise, nothing is going to happen. I know I should be ashamed of myself for what—”

  “Please don’t pity yourself. You made me miserable. You favoured the dead boy and now you just expect me to forget that you hated me?” he asked. I knew I should leave, but I stood on their porch, unable to move, feeling maybe I was meant to hear everything.

  I heard Mrs. Morgan’s sobs. Oliver was right in some ways. She couldn’t expect him to stay and forget he was treated like garbage when Christian was alive. Now he was old enough to leave. He didn’t need her anymore.

  “Where are you going exactly? I’ve seen the letters from Scotland. Is that where you’re planning to study?” she asked.

  “Stay out of my business and my life. You stopped being my mother when you chose him. Now leave me the fuck alone and die!” he shouted again. I heard steps and then I instantly knew he wasn’t going back to his room, but he was leaving through the backdoor.

  I turned around and started running away, my heart pounding with abnormal speed. Behind me, the door opened, and I knew it was already too late because Oliver probably saw me hurrying through his grass. I didn’t look back. I just carried on running.

  “Gretel! You will get what you deserve one day!”

  That last sentence was meant for me, but I was too afraid to stop. I went there to see him, thinking he would want to talk to me. In that moment, I regretted that I turned my back on him. I wanted to jump into a time machine and fix everything that was broken.

  Present

  “Maybe she does, but I can’t just forget. She didn’t show me any care or affection. Instead, she abused me,” he says, pressing his lips together. “Why did you run away that night? What were you doing outside on the porch?”

  I drink some more cocktail, feeling like a coward for keeping so much important stuff from him.

  “I wanted to see you. I knew you were leaving Gargle.”

  “But you ran away. I was confused because a day before that, you spread the rumour that I slept with the bloke from another school.”

  A hot flush creeps over my cheeks. We promised each other we wouldn’t talk about the past.

  “This is the past, and we both agreed we weren’t going into that,” I say quietly. His eyes glaze with mischief and curiosity. I tell myself I can’t go there, not yet, not here.

  “You were the one that brought up my memories about the woman I have to call my mother.”

  “I’m only saying you should talk, try to have a conversation with her,” I tell him, feeling like an intruder. Mrs. Morgan needs to gain Oliver’s trust again, and I want to help both of them.

  I place my palm on top of his and give him a smile.

  “I know what you’re trying to do, India.” He sighs and my stomach flips. “But this isn’t going to work. I won’t go back to Gargle just so she can pretend I’m Christian.”

  Even now, after all this time, that name sickens me, but I try not to show anything. He thinks Mrs. Morgan wants him back so she can replace Christian. Oliver is wrong, but right now I can’t tell him what’s going on. I have to be careful what I’m implying.

  We both finish our drinks and leave. Our whole relationship is based on the events from two years ago, and it’s hard to separate that from the present.

  We pass the cinema again, and I stop for a moment, looking through the movies that are coming to the screen. Films are my passion, and now that I have Oliver back, I don’t have to go alone anymore.

  I point at a few and Oliver nods, saying we should book the tickets before the release day.

  “You’re right. I read the reviews and…”

  I don’t even realise when Oliver walks away from me. I glance back, seeing him in front of two guys. I recognise one of them from rugby practice, but Oliver doesn’t look too happy. One of the guys is staring at me, smirking, holding a mobile phone, while Oliver talks to him. Before I can even analyse this whole situation, it turns violent. Oliver pushes the guy against the wall. He seems to be saying something to him.

  I hurry towards them, but his teammate is already back safely on the ground.

  “What’s going on, Oliver?” I ask, but he pulls away, breathing heavily.

  “I’m just teaching Marcus manners. That’s all, right, buddy?” he asks the guy he just threatened. Marcus looks apprehensive, but he gives me a quick nod. The other guy with him seems tense.

  “Yeah,” replies Marcus, and before I can say anything, the two guys start walking away. Oliver’s eyes stay on them until they vanish around the corner.

  “What was that about?” I ask him.

  “It was about practice. They’re trying to discredit me as a captain,” he explains, taking my hand.

  “What? Why would they do that? I mean, you’re a great player.”

  “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. Let me take you home before we get caught in the rain.”

  “This didn’t look like nothing, Oliver.”

  “He was trying to provoke me. He knows I have a bad temper.”

  I keep pressing on, but Oliver isn’t planning to explain exactly what that whole argument was about. After we get home, we don’t have much privacy there, as Dora is making out with Jacob on our sofa. Oliver stays for the night. We sleep together, cuddled up. When I wake in the morning, I have a smile on my face, and for the first time in years, I slept through the night without nightmares.

  Present

  “He will get bored of her as soon as he realises how dumb she really is,” says Mackenzie during our rowing practise. She is having an intense conversation with another girl, making assumptions about my relationship with Oliver, and she knows I can hear her. Mackenzie has been stirring rumours about Oliver and me. Since that unlucky race just before Christmas, she has been reminding me how much she wants to make my life miserable. People still remember the fact that I humiliated myself during the rowing competition and the fact that he liked to prank me.

  Coach has been on my back about the swimming lessons. I know he won’t let me compete if I don’t learn how to swim at least a few meters. My lessons are slow, and I’ve made some progress, but I’ve a long way to go.

  “Well, he dumped you first, didn’t he?” I ask with amusement in my tone. “So he must have thought you weren’t that intelligent after all.”

  “You’ll be the one crying. Everyone knows he doesn’t date. He fucks girls and then moves to the next one.”

  “Are you sure about that? So far it’s been over six weeks and we’re still together. People change—well, some people. Others stay the same, bitter and unhappy,” I a
dd, tossing my hair behind me and walking back to the changing room.

  Mackenzie twists her lips and shoots me a look that could kill. I make a habit of going into the changing room first, especially after she locked me up in there, hoping to teach me a lesson. I couldn’t quite believe when she stole all my clothes and left me locked up. At first, I though it was Oliver that led her to it, but he was the one that sent Jacob to let me out as soon as she told him what she did. The tiny voice in my head reminds me that I used to be like that. I treated Oliver with so much more hatred. I’m walking and talking proof of the fact that people can become monsters if they want to hurt someone.

  When I get home in the late afternoon, I switch my clothes and rush back to the local stadium. It’s Oliver and Jacob’s practise today. They have a very important match this weekend, and Dora has been insisting that we should both go.

  “They’re our boyfriends and we should support them. Jacob has been ranting about this practise all week,” she says.

  “But you don’t even understand rugby, Dora.”

  She disappears in the bathroom, muttering something about the fact that she doesn’t need to understand the rules to enjoy herself.

  “Are you ready yet?” she shouts half an hour later when I try to put on the rest of my makeup.

  “I’ll be out in five. We have plenty of time.”

  “No, we haven’t. Jacob just texted me, saying Coach changed the time, so we have to leave now,” says Dora.

  I curse silently. I hate being rushed like that. In the past, people have spread filthy rumours about me, and I want to prove that I’m happy, so I need to look decent. I heard Oliver is only dating me because he wants to get back at Russell. There’s no limits to what Mackenzie will say just to get people’s attention.

  “You look good in those boots and jeans, so stop fussing around and let’s just go. Jacob said something about having a drink later on.”

  I take a look at my reflection in the mirror and smile. Dora is right. I look hot and even my makeup isn’t ruined. I do feel like I’m going there to prove something today. Making such an effort just to please my boyfriend and others. I know I don’t need to do that, but it’s Braxton, and I’ve always classed this university as my second home. People don’t respect me and I want to turn my reputation around. Show that I care about Oliver and that he doesn’t consider me just one of his other girlfriends.

  We reach the stadium just before five. Oliver, Jacob, and the rest of the team are already on the pitch. Their coach talks to an older man in a suit. It’s a typical rugby practise, but it looks like there’s more than a dozen people around. Girls mostly. I spot Mackenzie in the back and that odd uncomfortable feeling settles in my stomach. She’s with a group of girls.

  I look away, watching the warm-up. Dora doesn’t even pay attention to what’s going on. She’s texting furiously on her phone. I wish Oliver had told me how important this is for him. Maybe he didn’t tell me because he thought I would compare him to Christian.

  In the past, I had to be at every rugby match Christian played in. I had a choice, but I always felt bad if I didn’t show. Christian was very manipulative like that. He often told me it was my responsibility to support him. Otherwise, other girls wouldn’t want to hang out with me. He made it sound like his career was more important than anything else. He kept telling me if I missed one of his matches, people would think our relationship was going through crisis.

  I think I was too young to notice what he was doing, but right now, I want to be in the stadium, watching Oliver. I don’t feel any pressure.

  Dora finally starts paying attention when the match begins. Oliver dominates from the start. Jacob gets points, along with Russell. Dora keeps cheering, and I look curiously around. Oliver’s coach is talking to the older man in the suit, pointing at players. I lean towards Dora and ask, “Who do you think that guy is?”

  “What guy?”

  “The one in the suit, standing by Coach Trevor. Do you think he’s a scout?”

  She stares at me blankly. She obviously has no idea what I’m talking about. “That guy in the suit, you know, by the trainer,” I add, pointing at the older guy.

  “Oh, well, maybe. Jacob was nervous about today. Well, I guess maybe he is important.”

  Dora doesn’t care much about rugby. She keeps cheering even if the other team scores, but her heart is in the right place. The match moves smoothly, and after the first half, Oliver’s team is slightly ahead.

  Halfway through the second half, Oliver gets the ball. He takes down two defenders running to the right-hand side of the field. He’s moving so fast that no one is going to catch up with him. Some girls start cheering for him, so I get up to have a better view.

  He takes a sharp turn to the right close to the line at the end of the field. Then someone tackles him from behind, crushing into him with dangerous speed. Oliver crashes in the grass. The whistle goes off and a few guys run towards him when he doesn’t get up. A couple of people around me get up to have a better view of what’s going on. One of the guys shouts something to the coach. For about twenty minutes, I have no idea what’s going on. Oliver doesn’t get up, and more and more guys gather around him. They’re on the other side of the field, and it’s hard to tell if Oliver has been seriously injured. My stomach tightens because Oliver still hasn’t gotten up, so I automatically assume he is too battered to move, and that isn’t a good sign.

  After what seems like hours, I spot Oliver being carried out towards the benches. Everything around me moves in slow motion. Dora starts talking to me, but I can’t hear her. All I can do is wonder if he is all right. The wind picks up and heavy clouds start gathering in the south. Then the pitch is empty; everyone runs to the changing rooms.

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Phone Call

 
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