Crush, p.13
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       Crush, p.13

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Ten


  What to do? I sat sprawled on the plush black leather sofa in my condo, flipping my phone around in my hand while I tried to decide whether or not I should text Cami and see how she was doing.

  Her dad was not at all happy with the nearly naked state I’d returned her in. Her mom was all worry and concern, thanking me profusely for helping her daughter before shuttling her off into the other room. I hadn’t waited around long enough to get my blanket back, and it was the actual comforter for my bed.

  It had been several hours now. The words, How R U? were typed onto my screen, I hadn’t pressed send yet. There were a million things running through my head—things I was having extreme difficulty sorting out.

  If I sent this text, it would give the message I was still thinking about her, and I really did care. It made me out as being committed enough to keep an interest in her, which I honestly was, but shouldn’t be.

  There was a jingle of keys at the door and it swung open. “Hey, Uncle Chris,” I said to the tall, thin man as he walked inside carrying his briefcase.

  He shook his head. “Would you cool it with the whole uncle thing?” he asked in exasperation. “It’s not funny anymore.”

  I chuckled. “Maybe not for you. I find it quite funny.”

  “Well, I’m glad I can amuse you, even though I’m way too young for you to call uncle. How are you doing? You look like you could use a little cheering up. You’re worried about something, I can tell. What’s eating you?”

  I sighed, and sat up. He knew me too well. “Can I confess something? I’m really struggling here, and I need a second opinion.”

  “Sure,” he said, tossing the briefcase on the coffee table between us. “What’s up?”

  I decided to plunge in. “I’ve met this girl . . .” I held my breath, waiting for the explosion.

  “What? You’re kidding me. Please tell me you’re kidding.” He looked astounded.

  “I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m sorry. I noticed her right from the beginning. I’ve been trying to fight my attraction for her, but it isn’t working so well. Now I find myself jumping from the kettle into the fire. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know each other a little more, and not only do I like her, she seems to really like me.”

  Chris groaned and loosened his tie. “This is wrong in so many ways.”

  I nodded. “I know it is. I’m totally torn. If I walk away from her now, she’s going to wonder what happened. She knows there was a real connection there. If I don’t walk away from her . . . well, you can see where I’m going with this.”

  “Hunter,” he warned. “This isn’t good.” He stroked a hand over his face. “What’s her name?”

  “Cami Wimberley.”

  Chris rubbed his temples. “How old is she?”


  He gave me an incredulous look. “She’s a freakin’ minor, Hunter, and you’re not. You can’t be involved with someone like that. She’s too young, and it’s too dangerous.”

  “I know!” I growled, jumping up and pacing to the window.

  “How close are we talking here? Boyfriend/girlfriend status? Have you kissed her?”

  “No, I haven’t, but I would’ve today if we hadn’t been interrupted. The sad thing is I want to.” I leaned against the window and folded my arms. “Being with her is the most natural thing in the world. I swear it’s like she’s perfect. It doesn’t matter that she’s all wrong for me. It all melts away when I’m with her. There’s just this amazing connection.” I pinched the bridge of my nose. “What should I do?”

  Chris shook his head. “I don’t know, but we need to maintain a low profile here. We can’t afford to draw any undue attention to ourselves right now.”

  “Well then, I need some advice. I like this girl, and I don’t think I can stay away. I want to be with her.”

  He shook his head. “You’re a legal adult. If you cross any lines with her and someone found out, it could land you in jail. We can’t have that.”

  “She’ll be eighteen next month. I checked.”

  “Why’d you ask her out? You know we’re trying to lay low.”

  “She was in a bit of a pickle with another guy who likes her. I decided to help her—thinking it would be just a onetime deal. Things progressed from there.”

  Chris snorted. “Oh, so now you’re saying you’re in some sort of a love triangle? You’re not supposed to star in your own romance novel! What the heck are you doing when I’m gone?”

  I smiled wryly. “Apparently making a big giant mess of things. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Do you have any advice?”

  “Probably nothing you want to hear. I guess try to be careful and not get involved with kissing her. That’s when the lines will get sticky for you and could cause problems.”

  I nodded. “Okay, so look, don’t touch. I got it.”

  “Be careful. This sounds like it could go south really fast.”

  “I’m aware. I hate having her in the middle of this. I don’t want her caught in the crossfire if something actually does go down.”

  He stared at me for a minute. “We’re playing a dangerous game here. You need to be careful. How would she handle things if you just up and disappeared? It could happen, you know.”

  “She’d be terrified. I imagine she’d think I overdosed on something. She’s very concerned about my current drug use. She’s had a bad experience with that.” I ran a hand through my hair.

  “So, here’s my question. If you’ve been growing closer since you’ve been here—why the extreme concern all of a sudden? Surely you’ve thought of all this before.”

  I sat down on the couch again. “We went out together today, and she had a near death experience this afternoon.”

  “What?” Chris sat up straighter.

  “It’s not as bad as it sounds, but she fell into a river—more like a fast-moving creek really. She got caught in the undercurrent and couldn’t get up. I thought she was going to drown before I got there. It was the most terrifying few seconds of my life.”

  “That sounds horrible. Is she okay?” He seemed genuinely concerned.

  “Yeah. She was mostly cold, wet, and exhausted. I wrapped her up in a blanket I had from our picnic and took her home.”

  “I’m glad you were with her.”

  “Me too, but something happened out there. Seeing her like that really solidified what I’m feeling. This isn’t about trying to help her, like I’ve been deluding myself. I really want to pursue . . . whatever this is.”

  Chris watched me for several moments before he spoke. “I can see this is kind of like walking a tight rope for you. You’re going to have to be aware and try balancing things properly. Guess we’re finally going to see what you’re really made of, aren’t we? Be careful. You could end up blowing everything.”

  He got up and walked into the kitchen.

  “That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said under my breath.

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