Crush, p.14
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       Crush, p.14

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Eleven


  How R U? U awake? I retyped, pushed send and waited, lounging on my bed while I listened to some music, trying to calm my nervous energy. I couldn’t stand not knowing any longer.

  My phone buzzed, and I opened the text immediately. Hey. I’m good, thx. I kinda crashed after U brought me home. Sorry.

  I breathed a sigh of relief as I read her message and then dialed her number.


  It was good to hear her voice. “I’ve been worried.”

  “Don’t be. I’m fine, just wiped out. You know you’re my hero now, right?”

  I snorted. “Hardly, I was scared to death.” That was an understatement of epic proportions. I was pretty sure my heart had stopped beating from the moment she slipped under to the second she was finally able to gasp for a breath.

  “You didn’t show it. You just swooped in and saved the day. You work well under pressure.”

  “I’m not so sure about that, but I was happy to help.” I paused before continuing. “I guess you should go ahead and tell me how your dad is going to ban me from ever seeing you again.”

  “Actually, he’s coming around. After I explained everything he even seemed a little impressed with your quick actions. I think it was my lack of clothes that bugged him the most . . . and knowing you’d seen me that way.”

  “Well, I couldn’t very well leave you standing there dripping wet and freezing.”

  She laughed. “It’s okay, Hunter, really. He gets it. He was nervous about you to begin with. I’ve never really dated guys like you before.”

  “Guys like me? Why does that sound like a bad thing?”

  “I don’t mean it badly at all. It was a compliment. Let’s just say the guys I dated in the past were . . . geekier guys, for lack of better terminology. You’re definitely not one of those, but I think geeky is what he’s comfortable with.”

  “What are you comfortable with?” I wanted to know.

  There was silence on the other end for several seconds. “I’m pretty comfortable with you, if that’s what you’re asking. I didn’t think I would be, but I am. It’s strange really.”

  “I’m glad you feel that way. I don’t want you to be uneasy around me.”

  There was a moment of silence. “Would it be bad if I said I miss you?” she asked, and my pulse rate picked up. “I’m sorry I fell. I wanted to watch the sunset out there with you today. My carelessness cut our date short.”

  “Don’t worry about it. There will be other dates.” I groaned internally. I was determined to dig myself into a deeper hole it seemed.

  “There will be?”

  “If that’s what you’d like.” After today I was pretty much willing to give her whatever she wanted. I just needed her to be safe.

  “I’d like that a lot.” She gave a short laugh. “Did you know I dreamed about you while I was sleeping? I can smell your aftershave or something on your blanket. Sorry I didn’t give it to you before you left. I’ll wash and return it.”

  The image of her body wrapped up tightly in my bedding with her gorgeous red hair splayed about her pleased me to no end. Seventeen, dude, I reminded myself. Rein it in. “Keep it,” I said. “I want you to have it.”

  “No, I don’t want to steal your blanket,” she protested.

  “You aren’t. I just gave it to you. Now you can tell me how much you like me.” I grinned.

  “Nice try.” She laughed, and the sound warmed my heart.

  “I will win this,” I promised her.

  “I don’t think so.”

  “Go back to sleep. You can tell me how much you like me tomorrow at school, and you can fill me in on this dream you had.”

  She laughed even harder. “Good luck with that, playboy.”

  “I don’t need luck, Goody. It’s gonna happen. Now go back to sleep.”

  “Yes, sir!” she said in military fashion.

  I smiled, wishing I could brush my hand over her beautiful face. “Goodnight, Cami.”

  “Goodnight, Hunter. Thanks for being there.”

  The call clicked off, and I missed her already. I sat there for several moments staring at the white ceiling. This was going to be rough. I knew things weren’t in a good place right now, and part of me wanted to run far and fast in the other direction. Unfortunately, the part that didn’t want to seemed the most in control. I’d been excited for the move here at first, eager to get into the local scene and live the party life. It was easy for me—natural.

  I thought back to my stuck-up jock years before this—playing sports, chasing and catching more than my fair share of girls, attending some pretty wild parties. I’d loved being part of all that before things really changed for me, sending my life in a completely different direction.

  I chuckled wryly to myself. I was so stupid. This had seemed like it would be an easy playtime for me—lay low, party, chill. I hadn’t really planned on knowing people well enough to actually like them, or to have them like me either. I was starting to feel like I was part of them. Now I was falling hard for this girl, and it didn’t seem like anything I told my brain made it want to change. If Cami had been a girl in my old high school, I would’ve grabbed onto her with both hands and never let go. She was different—the kind of girl a guy would want to keep all to himself.

  Ugh, I should quit sitting here mooning like a lovesick kid. This was getting ridiculous. I barely knew her.

  I rubbed my temples and glanced over to the stack of papers sitting beside my bed. I still needed to go through them and do my homework for school as well. Maybe I could get Chris to do my assignments. I snorted, that request probably wouldn’t go over too well. I hated doing all this class work.

  I groaned as I pulled myself out of bed and went to my desk chair. It was going to be a long night.

  “So I want you to check out your cameras and carry them with you all week. Take pictures of anything in and around the school that catches your eye. Concentrate on building the composition of your images. I want a triangular aspect to your shots, something with three points of interest, which allows the eye to circle through the picture with ease as we discussed in class today.”

  I was stoked as I listened to Mr. Adams give this assignment. I liked taking pictures and seeing what the camera caught when people weren’t looking. Of course, the biggest reason I was excited was because I couldn’t wait to get shots of Cami.

  “No digital cameras either,” Mr. Adams continued. “I want you in the dark room developing this film.”

  I glanced at Cami who was alphabetically seated in the desk next to me. “You ready to pose for some pictures, Goody?”

  “Pose?” she asked, giving me a confused smile.

  “You heard him. We’re supposed to take pictures of things around the school that catch our eye. You’re what catches mine.” I glanced over her and gave my tried and true sexy grin of appreciation.

  She blushed right on cue. Heck yeah, I thought. I’ve still got it.

  “I don’t think that’s what he meant, Hunter.” She laughed sweetly as she closed her notebook.

  I shrugged. “I don’t care. I don’t have any pictures of you, and I want some. You like me enough to do this, right?”

  She shook her head in amazement, a wide grin plastered across her face. “You really aren’t going to give this up, are you?”

  “Nope. Not until I hear you say you like me. It’s not that difficult, Cami. Even grade school kids can do it. In fact . . . ,” I reached into my binder and pulled out a pad of sticky notes I used to keep track of assignments and started writing on it.

  “What’re you doing?” she asked, leaning to look.

  “No peeking,” I teased, shielding it with my other hand while I continued. When I was finished I peeled off the top paper and stuck it on the front of her notebook. “Do you like me? Check a box, yes or no. I can’t make it any simpler.”

  Cami busted up laughing, causing several others in
the class to glance at us, but I didn’t care. She was gorgeous, mesmerizing even, and I could’ve stared at her smile all day long.

  She shook her head as she stood and walked past me. “Come on, let’s go get our cameras.”

  “You forgot to check your little box thingy on the paper,” I said pointing, and she paused, looking over her shoulder. “It’s easy. You just take your pen and put in a check. It’s a line really, no biggie. No one sweats over a line.” I pulled another paper off and demonstrated how to make a check. “See just like that.”

  She was still grinning as she turned and continued to the front of the room.

  “Do you need me to show you again?” I called after her. I couldn’t help chuckling under my breath. She was so fun to tease.

  I got up and followed after her to where the cameras were lined up on the shelf. They were all identical, so I didn’t spend any time choosing, instead just grabbing one and then getting in line behind her to put the serial number and my name on the sign-out sheet.

  Her hair was full of its usual natural bounce and curl again today, and I touched it lightly. She looked at me questioningly. I smiled softly. “Just admiring the view. How’re you feeling? Not catching a cold or anything are you?”

  She shook her head slightly. “I’m feeling pretty okay, actually.”

  “That’s good. I was worried you might get sick afterward.”

  We both took turns signing the paper before leaving the classroom together.

  “You want to walk around and take pictures with me?” I asked, looking for any excuse to spend more time with her.

  “Sure, I enjoy the entertainment your company provides.” She bit her lip in an attempt to hide her grin.

  “Ah, so I’m just the comic relief, then. I get it.” I bumped her with my arm and she laughed.

  “Where do you want to wander first?”

  “Let’s go over by the football field,” I suggested. “I bet we could find some good shots over by the field house and stuff. They have the track equipment set up out there for practice.”

  “Did you ever do track?” she asked as we headed in that direction.

  I shook my head. “No, just football and basketball. I did try baseball once with one of my buddies. It was all right, but not really my thing.”

  “I bet you were really good at basketball. You’re so tall. How tall are you?”

  “Six foot three, and I was one of the shorter ones on the team.”

  “Did you play a lot?”

  “Yeah, I was a starter—top scorer, actually.”

  “And were you a starter in football?”

  “Yep. I played both ways. Offensive tackle, defensive end.”

  “Why’d you quit playing?”

  I shrugged and gave a little sigh. I wanted to tell her I hadn’t quit, that I’d been a first team all star every single year before things changed. I wanted to tell her why things were different now. “Got in with the wrong crowd, after my parents died, I guess.” I hated lying to her. Telling her these things was going to kill my conscience.

  “I’m sorry about your parents. How’d they die?”

  “Car accident into a river,” I said casually, repeating the history, which had been drilled into my head.

  Her face went white. “Oh my gosh! Yesterday . . . that must’ve been horrible for you.”

  My mind scrambled for a second, trying to keep up. “What? Oh! You falling in the water? No, it’s okay.”

  She looked away. “It must’ve brought so many uncomfortable memories to the surface. I’m so sorry.” She seemed distraught.

  I slipped the camera strap around my neck and pulled her into an alcove behind the building.

  “Listen, Cami,” I said as I squeezed both of her shoulders. “Don’t feel bad. I honestly never even thought of my parents once yesterday. Any concern I felt was strictly in regards to you and your wellbeing. I won’t lie, it was a scary thing to see, but only because I care about you.” I pulled her closer, and she slid her arms easily around my waist, laying her head against my chest.

  I wrapped mine around her tightly and allowed one hand to drift up the back of her neck, sinking my fingers into her soft curls.

  She lifted her face. “I’m glad you were there.”

  Our eyes locked, and I felt something strong flare between us. I knew she felt it too because the desire was written in her eyes.

  I wanted to kiss her so badly my mouth watered in anticipation. My gaze traveled down to her glossy lips, and the tip of her tongue darted out, licking them slightly. Her breathing increased, and I knew then she wanted me as badly as I wanted her.

  It took every ounce of will power I had to lift my chin and place it on the top of her head. I briefly hugged her tighter for one moment longer before I released her.

  “Come on. We better go take pictures before someone stumbles on us hiding back here.” I walked away without waiting to see if she was following.

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