Crush, p.20
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       Crush, p.20

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Seventeen


  “Hey, Clay,” I said as I walked up to Hunter’s Camaro. I leaned against it, next to him. “What’s going on?”

  His eyes were downcast, arms folded, and he looked miserable and lonely despite the fresh, new style he was still sporting.

  “I miss you, Cami,” he finally mumbled. “A lot.”

  I sighed heavily. “I miss you too. Honestly, I do, but I’m not dealing well with the weirdness between us right now.”

  “So it’s my fault then.” He kicked a small rock, sending it shooting across the parking lot.

  “Well, kind of, yeah.” I didn’t know how to make him understand. “I mean, I love the transformation you’ve done to yourself, but I loved you before. It was always fine with me because you were Clay—my best friend who’s always been there since I was a little kid. Do I think you look hot and amazing now? Sure! But just because you’ve conformed to a new style, it isn’t going to change the way I feel about you. I feel the same way I always did. I want my best friend back.”

  He lifted his head, glancing at the window where Hunter and Russ were both watching us with avid interest.

  “This is our place. Why did you start bringing him here? Do you know how much it kills me to come by and see you in there laughing with him?”

  “I’ve had other boyfriends in the past. That never stopped you from walking in and sitting down next to me before. Me being on a date with someone else doesn’t make our best friend relationship null and void. You’re always welcome to come join us.”

  “Boyfriend?” he questioned, and I didn’t miss the hint of alarm in his eyes. “Is that an official thing or just random terminology you’re using?”

  I folded my arms and looked at him pointedly. “Yes, he’s my boyfriend.”

  He chewed on his bottom lip and glanced away. “So, I guess that means you’ve been making out with him.”

  “That’s none of your business.” I couldn’t believe he went there.

  “It is my business,” he replied angrily. “We talked about this—about the kind of guy he is and what he’s really after. He only wants you for your perfect rockin’ body—like half the other guys in this school who sit in the locker room and talk about all the things they’d like to do to you.”

  I was shocked. “What’re you talking about?”

  “You think he’s the first?” he spat out. “He’s not. Before he died, I sat and listened to Jordan Henley tell a bunch of other guys how he was going get you. They didn’t know I was in there. He even made a bet with some of them about how fast he could do it too. Thankfully, fate intervened before he could get his hands on you. This guy is no different. He’s only after one thing.”

  “And you feel you need to protect me?” I was trying to follow his thought process while still reeling from the information he was giving me.

  “I’ll always protect you, Cami. No matter what.”

  “Really?” I asked, staring him down.

  He nodded.

  “Then tell me, what is it you want to do with me, Clay?”

  He looked at me funny, blinking a few times in confusion. “Wha . . . what do you mean?”

  “I mean, what is going on in your head? You claim to have made all these changes for me, so I would notice you, correct?”

  He swallowed hard, watching me closely.

  “I think you’re just as guilty as Jordan. You want to do the same things with me that he did, don’t you? You’re jealous, and you thought he’d get to me first. Now you’re thinking the same thing about Hunter. You don’t want me with anybody else because you want me. Admit it.”

  He was silent for several seconds before he lifted his hand to gently stroke my cheek. “You belong to me, Cami. You’ve always been mine, even if you don’t know it yet. I’m waiting for you to wake up and see I’m the one who’s always been there for you. Other guys have come and gone. Hunter will too, you’ll see, and when he’s finished with you, I’ll still be the one standing here wanting you, because I love you.”

  I was dumbfounded, unable to reply.

  He moved closer. “Choose me, Cami. Please.” He slipped his hand behind my neck and pressed his lips to mine.

  I flattened my hands against his chest—shoving him away roughly—but he struggled to keep hold of me. “Stop it, Clay! Quit doing this! Do you hear me?”

  The door to the restaurant banged open, and Hunter ran across the parking lot, followed by Russ. He grabbed Clay by the shirt and slammed him up against the car, hard.

  I couldn’t help it—I screamed.

  “So help me if you ever touch her like that again, I’ll have your sorry ass thrown in jail for harassment—after I’m done beating the crap out of you.”

  “Careful, man,” Russ warned, placing a restraining hand on Hunter. “Someone will call the cops if you fight him here.”

  Clay grinned. “I’ll touch her whenever and however I want. You won’t be able to do a thing about it. She doesn’t belong to you.”

  A dark flush crossed Hunter’s face, and he looked dangerous. “No one will ever touch her without her permission—not you, not me, not anyone—and you best remember that. I don’t know what kind of sick game you think you’re playing here, but trust me when I say you don’t want to mess with me. I’ll make you pay in ways you’ve never thought of.”

  Clay laughed and glanced at me. “Are you hearing this, Cami? Your boyfriend is threatening me. What kind of guy are you dating?”

  “Just go home, okay? Let’s all go and stop this before things get any worse,” I said, my voice hoarse from strain.

  Hunter released Clay and stepped back, but stayed in between us, holding a protective stance. Clay straightened and looked down, smoothing his shirt.

  “Take it easy on the clothes, Hunter. This thing cost a pretty penny.” He looked at me. “Remember what I said, Cami. I’ll be right here waiting as soon as you’re ready.” He smiled appreciatively.

  I sighed and left. “Stay away from me, Clay,” I called over my shoulder, and I suddenly started crying. I stormed into the restaurant and headed straight for the restroom, not stopping until I was leaning over the sink. Sobs racked my body as I tried to process everything that had just happened.

  The door squeaked open and strong, muscular arms wrapped around me. I turned into them, burying my head against his chest.

  “Let it out,” Hunter said, running his hand gently over my hair as he placed a soft kiss on the top of my head.

  “You’re in the girl’s bathroom,” I moaned. It was such a stupid thing to say.

  “I needed to make sure you’re okay, which you obviously aren’t.” He swayed gently, and the rocking was soothing somehow.

  “What happened to him? That’s not my friend I’ve known my whole life. Was it something I did? Am I responsible somehow?” I clutched his jacket like it was a lifeline.

  “No. This is nothing you did, Goody. Come on. Let’s go somewhere we can talk about this. I need to know what he said to you.”

  “I don’t want to tell you. It’ll make you angry.” My lips were brushing against his chest as I spoke, and I wondered if he could understand my muffled voice.

  “I’m already angry, so it won’t matter.” He continued his soft stroking.

  “I don’t want to face him again.”

  “You won’t have to. Russ is making sure he’s leaving. Besides, I think he accomplished what he came here to do.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “I mean, I think he’s deliberately trying to stir the pot. You need to tell me what he said, so we can sort things out and make a game plan for dealing with him in the future.”

  I couldn’t help the wry laugh that escaped against his chest. “You mean there will be more?”

  “I think we can count on it, yes. I’m sorry, Cami.”

  Releasing him, I rubbed my hands over my face before turning to the mirror. I groaned at the black mascara, which ran down my cheeks i
n streaks.

  “I look like a monster from a horror movie,” I complained. I turned the water on and splashed some on me.

  “You look beautiful, like always, just a little upset is all.” Hunter got some paper towels and handed them to me so I could dry off.

  A waitress stepped into the restroom. “Sir, this is the ladies room. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, please.”

  “Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be rude. I was checking on my girlfriend,” he apologized.

  She held the door open, clearly expecting him to go.

  “I’m okay, Hunter. I’ll be out in a minute.”

  He nodded and left the room. The waitress gave me a stern look before she followed after him.

  I was so ready for this day to be over.

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