Crush, p.19
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       Crush, p.19

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Sixteen


  I was mesmerized. To be totally honest, listening to her sing made me excited to watch the movie—something I hadn’t been sure about before. I couldn’t stop staring as she wrapped me up in the sound of her voice and the story she was telling. She was completely in character, and I totally believed she was a young girl pining at the grave of her father.

  She isn’t good—she’s gifted. I was pretty sure it wasn’t just me who thought so, either. A passing glance around the theater showed everyone watching intently, some even had tears in their eyes—it was incredible. I stood up and clapped when the performance was over, not caring if it was the right thing to do. She was awesome and getting a standing ovation from me. Thankfully, a few other people did too, so I didn’t look like a complete idiot.

  Her gorgeous blush stole across her face, and she gave a quick bow before returning to stand with the rest of the choir for their remaining numbers. I settled back into my chair and watched her every move for the rest of the concert. She was a star in the making; someone who came alive on stage and it was as if I was seeing her for the first time. Suddenly I felt inadequate to be around her.

  Who are you to try and lay claim to this girl? I thought. To sweep in and turn her life upside down—what gives you that right? My conscience nagged.

  She had dreams and goals, things that didn’t include me. I’d taken one look and barged right in, without giving a second thought about what was going on with her prior to my arrival. I’d allowed myself to be totally ruled by my attraction for her.

  Was it wrong for me to want her so badly? Really? She was almost eighteen, in exactly three weeks to be precise. I actually had the day marked on my calendar because it meant one guilt trip I could finally be free of. I hated all the secrecy I was involved in. I wanted to be open and honest with her, to tell her who I really was. I wanted her to fall for me—the real me, not some fake imposed person she thought she knew. When things were all said and done, I hoped she felt there was enough truth in our relationship to keep seeing me.

  I sighed, sinking farther down into my chair. I’d certainly made a mess of things. But there was nothing I could do now, except try and make the best of the situation and hopefully ride it out to the finish.

  I glanced around at the people in attendance. There were enough to fill the auditorium about halfway. I’d chosen my customary seat in the back of the crowd, so I could carefully observe everyone, but I’d been too caught up in Cami to notice anything.

  They were starting the last number when I noticed Clay sitting across the room. It was obvious he was staring at Cami. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, not liking him here. Cami still hadn’t spoken to him. He’d quit calling, but he continued texting, begging her to talk to him. She wanted to handle it her way, so I stepped back, not offering any more advice. She knew my opinion on the matter.

  He turned suddenly, looking straight at me. I didn’t look away as he stared me down. I could plainly see he was angry, and I knew he was trying to intimidate me. He had no idea who he was dealing with if he thought he could make me cower. I was totally down for winning a juvenile contest against this hotheaded. We were both legal adults, let him show me how ‘man’ he thought he was.

  Neither of us looked away until the applause after the final number. The choir and instructor bowed, and the students began making their way into the audience to greet friends and family.

  I waited while Cami paused to hug her parents, and I saw Clay making his way in their direction. She didn’t see him though and turned to hurry up the steps to where I was sitting. Clay stopped, glaring at me before walking away.

  I stood and she threw her arms around me, a giant grin plastered on her face. “Well? What did you think?”

  “You were amazing!” I said hugging her back.

  “Really? You liked it?”

  I leaned away so I could look at her. “Like doesn’t begin to encompass what I felt. People told me you were good, but I really had no idea. You were phenomenal. I felt like I should be standing there with a sign that said “that’s my girlfriend,” or something.”

  She laughed and slapped my shoulder. “Now you’re just messing with me.”

  I chuckled and pulled her closer. “I’m not. It was fantastic. I could totally see you doing this for a living someday.”

  She blushed and ran her finger in a lazy circle over my leather jacket. “Really?” Her eyes moistened up.

  “Are you okay?” I asked, concerned.

  “Yeah. It means a lot to hear you say something like that, though. I know this isn’t really your thing.”

  I nuzzled my face into her hair. “Cami . . . you’re my thing. Period.”

  We sat in the farthest corner booth in Francesca’s, where the lighting was softer and we could look out the giant window and watch the traffic go by. I was thoroughly enjoying observing her as she sipped her thick shake from the straw, then licked her lips with tiny repetitive darts of her tongue. It was driving me crazy . . . in a good way.

  “Your dad doesn’t like me,” I stated out of the blue.

  She sighed, shaking her head. “I think you’re right. You haven’t given him a reason to chase you off yet, though.”

  “Oh, I’ve given him plenty of reasons, he just hasn’t witnessed any of them. I’m pretty sure some of the places I’ve put my hands on you were not on his list of acceptable locations.”

  She snorted. “There’s no list of approved locations when it comes to where you can touch me. Hand holding is crossing the line in his opinion.”

  “Then I’m definitely screwed.” I grinned and winked, taking a drink of my shake.

  “I like it when you touch me.”

  I choked a little. “Me too,” I finally managed, looking over her gorgeous body.

  She bit her lip shyly as if she were waiting for me to do something.

  “What?” I asked.

  “Why are you sitting way over there?”

  I chuckled and raised an eyebrow. “Would you like me to sit on your lap? I don’t think we can get much closer than we are.”

  She bumped her shoulder into mine. “No. You’re just . . . all to yourself.” She gave a frustrated sigh. “You know what I mean.”

  “Are you saying you’d like me to put my arm around you?” I did it as I spoke, hugging her.

  “Yes, that’s much better.” She snuggle her head against my shoulder. “I like cuddling with you. It feels nice.”

  “Can’t argue with you there.” I placed a quick kiss near her hairline.

  “Hey, bro, wassup?” Russ said, sliding into the booth, catching me by surprise. “Hi, Cami.” He gave her a little wave.

  “Hi, Russ. How are you?”

  I loved her leaning against me—comfortable enough to stay where she was.

  “I’m good. I was driving by and saw your buddy, Clay, on the corner by Hunter’s Camaro, so I figured you all must be meeting here.”

  Cami stiffened in my arms. “Clay’s here?”

  I looked through the window and sure enough, there he was, leaning against my car.

  “Be right back, okay?” Cami said, sliding from my grasp.

  “Cami . . . ,” I warned, feeling insecure about her leaving.

  “It’s okay, Hunter. I need to talk to him. He’s not going to drop this until I do.”

  I didn’t want to let her go. “Stay where I can see you—in case you need me.” I had to try and play things cool. I couldn’t come off as an obsessive boyfriend.

  “I will.” She gave me an apologetic look and headed out the door.

  “Everything all right?” Russ asked, looking concerned.

  I shrugged, attempting to play off my worried attitude. “They’re still having some issues.”

  “Were they dating or something?” Russ seemed confused. “Why’s he freaking out so bad?”

  “No, they weren’t, but apparently he wanted to be. Cami, thinks of him like
a brother.”

  “Hmm. Interesting and a little weird if you ask me,” he added.

  “My thoughts exactly,” I replied, my eyes never leaving the two in the parking lot.

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