Crush, p.27
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       Crush, p.27

           Lacey Weatherford
 

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Cami-

  Clay and I were still huddled together on the couch searching through costumes on my computer for the upcoming Masquerade when the doorbell rang.

  “I wonder who that is?” I said, glancing toward the hallway.

  “I’ll get it,” he replied, jumping up and heading from the room. I listened for a second and could hear him talking to someone.

  “Who is it?” I called.

  “No one,” he answered back.

  “Apparently I’m no one now,” Hunter said with a grumble as he entered the room, coming to sit on the other side of the couch.

  Clay stood in the entryway frowning at Hunter. “I didn’t invite him in, Cami.”

  “No, he didn’t,” Hunter said, glaring. “But it didn’t stop me from getting in here anyway, did it?” He glanced at me before picking up the remote and turning on the television.

  I had no idea what was going on. “Did you need something, Hunter?”

  “No.” He waved a noncommittal hand in the direction of Clay. “You two continue with whatever you were doing. I’ll just watch something.”

  “You don’t have a T.V. at your own house?” Clay asked, coming to sit between us. He wasn’t happy at all.

  “I have three actually,” Hunter replied.

  “And you can’t watch them there because . . .” Clay prompted.

  “Because Cami isn’t there.”

  Silence. Neither of us knew what to say, but I couldn’t help the little thrill that went through me. I was surprised to see him. I figured he would walk the other way after our talk today, but it looked like that wasn’t going to be the case.

  “Clay, what do you think about this one?” I asked, trying to redirect his attention. He was looking at Hunter like he hoped he would spontaneously combust.

  He glanced at the screen. “King Triton and a mermaid?”

  “Yeah. It’s kind of cool.”

  “Clay doesn’t have the abs to pull that off,” Hunter spoke, peering over. “You on the other hand would look fabulous as a mermaid.”

  I could feel Clay’s temperature starting to boil. “I suppose you think you’re the perfect one to pull off this costume?” he accused.

  Hunter snorted. “I wouldn’t be caught dead dressed up like that, but yeah, my abs would work.” He was staring at me with a smoldering look, and suddenly it felt hot. It should be wrong for anyone to carry so much power in one expression.

  I swallowed. “Okay, so no mer-people. How about some traditional costumes? The fancy ball gown, tuxedo, and matching masks?”

  “Let’s look,” Clay said successfully redirected again. “I like that idea.”

  We combed through several images before coming across a beautiful gold dress and mask, with an accompanying black tuxedo, gold vest, tie with accents, and matching black mask.

  “I love the mask on this costume, Clay. It reminds me of the Phantom in Point of No Return. It’s sexy.”

  Hunter shifted uncomfortably.

  “Then that’s the one. I know how much you love that musical. I’m more than happy to be your Phantom-come-to-life for the night. Maybe I’ll get you to sing for me too.”

  I laughed nervously. Boy, he was laying it on thick. “Sounds like fun.”

  “Cami and I watched that movie the other night on my bed,” Hunter piped up. “Well, I should say we tried to watch it. We kept getting . . . distracted.”

  Clay’s face colored a shade I’d never seen before.

  “Okay, then! Who wants a snack?” I snapped my laptop shut and grabbed Clay’s hand, dragging him into the kitchen, hoping to avoid an explosion.

  “On his bed?” Clay retorted, frowning.

  “Just drop it, okay? It’s none of your business.”

  “Has he tried anything with you?”

  I leaned against the counter. “No, Clay. He hasn’t done anything I haven’t wanted him to do.”

  “Oh, that makes me feel a whole lot better,” he said facetiously, rolling his eyes. “Did you have sex with him?”

  “No, and it’s none of your business.”

  “It is my business. You’re my best friend, and I need to know if something is going on.” His fists were clenched tightly at his side.

  “You’re misunderstanding the role of best friend, I think. You only need to know what I deem necessary to tell you. This is not one of those things, so quit asking.” I was starting to get angry.

  “Problems?” Hunter asked, leaning casually in the doorway.

  “Yes!” Clay and I both shouted.

  “Anything I can do to help?”

  “No, I think you’ve helped enough already. Thanks.” I took a glass from the cupboard and got a drink of water, not asking either of them if they wanted one. I didn’t care if I was being rude.

  Hunter pulled out his phone and glanced at it. “Four-thirty, Bradley. Looks like it’s time for you to head off to work if you want to make it by five.”

  “I’m highly capable of keeping track of the time by myself, thank you.”

  Hunter shrugged. “Okay. Just trying to help.” He walked through the kitchen, outside to the back patio, and stood by the pool with his hands in his pockets.

  “What is his deal?” Clay asked incredulously.

  I shook my head. “I’m not sure. I’m as surprised to see him here as you are. I kind of gave him an ultimatum today. Maybe he’s here to talk about it. I don’t know yet.”

  “I don’t want to leave you here with him.” He folded his arms over his chest.

  “You need to go to work. I’ll be fine.”

  “I can call in sick. I’ve never done it before. Jon would believe me.”

  “Clay. Go to work. That’s an order. I’ll be fine.”

  “Come with me. You can hangout, maybe catch a movie or something.”

  I laughed. “I’ll be fine. Now go. I need to talk to him. I’ll email you a link to the page so you can order your tux later.”

  He looked so disappointed. “Okay. Don’t let him bully you. If you need help, just call me.”

  “All right,” I replied, mostly to get him to leave.

  I followed him into the living room and watched as he gathered his things.

  “I’ll text you later,” he said, giving me a hug.

  “Sounds good. Bye.” I waited until I heard the door close behind him before I turned around, and found Hunter leaning against the wall watching me.

  “You should probably know I don’t like him.”

  “Really? Wow. I would’ve never guessed! Thanks for telling me.” I went over and plopped on the couch.

  “I mean it. He gives me the creeps. I don’t like it when he’s around you. Something about him is off.”

  “Hunter, he’s been my best friend for my whole life. You and I, we’ve been—whatever we are—for a very short time, even if it doesn’t seem that way. You don’t get to say who’s my friend and who’s not.”

  He came and sat next to me. “I’m not telling you who to be friends with. I’m just saying he legitimately gives me concern. He’s very possessive of you.”

  “And you aren’t?”

  “I am, but only because I care about you, and I’m concerned.”

  “Clay loves me and is concerned about me too. He’s convinced you’re going to hurt me, and he wants to put a stop to it.”

  “No, he’s convinced I’m going to steal you from him, and that’s what he’s trying to put a stop to. He honestly believes he still has a chance with you. I, on the other hand, actually do have a chance. There’s a difference.”

  “Is that so? Have you come to spill your secrets to me so we can move on with this relationship then?” I crossed my arms and bit my lip as I looked at him pointedly.

  His face clouded over, and it reminded me of brewing storm clouds. “No, I haven’t.”

  I sighed in exasperation. “Then why are you here? I thought I made myself pretty clear on things.”

  “Becaus
e I like being with you, and regardless of what you said, I still think we are great together—secrets or not. If you don’t want me as a boyfriend, that’s fine, but I’m not leaving. You can consider me your new best friend.”

  I snorted. “You’re kidding, right?”

  “Not even a little.”

  “Why?”

  “I need to know you’re okay.”

  He was maddening.

  “Why wouldn’t I be okay?”

  “I thought I just explained all that.” He gestured toward the door. “Hello . . . psychotic guy.”

  “Clay is not psychotic. Confused at times, maybe, but not psychotic.”

  “That’s your opinion.”

  “And it’s the right opinion.”

  “Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.”

  “I guess so.” I was feeling extremely frustrated. I wanted to hit Hunter and then kiss it better. He was driving me insane.

  He stared at the television again. When had things become so awkward with us? Wasn’t it this time last week we were making out with each other in this very spot?

  “Did you get your class work done, or do you have homework you want to do together?” I was grasping for straws to fill the silence.

  “No, I’m good. I finished in class.”

  “So what do you want to do?”

  He stared at me pointedly, his gaze wandering slowly over me and back up again. My breathing increased as if he were actually touching me.

  “Do you really have to ask? I thought you already knew exactly what I like to do with you.”

  I swallowed thickly. “I think I need another drink. I’m so thirsty today.”

  I went into the kitchen, knowing I was running away, but he was driving my senses crazy. I wanted to forget everything I’d said and make out. I wanted him to share his secrets and be honest with me, yes, but I also just wanted to be with him. This was going to be hard.

  Filling my glass, I stood at the sink for a minute, staring out the window into the backyard. I didn’t know he’d entered the room until I felt his hands slip along my sides, leaning against the edge of the counter, trapping me there.

  “What are you thinking about?” he asked, nuzzling his face against my hair.

  My racing pulse and how much I want you to kiss me, I thought with a sigh and closed my eyes for a moment to enjoy him being there. His breath filtered through my hair, sending goose bumps trailing over my skin.

  I set my water down and faced him. He was so close, his lips a hairsbreadth away, his eyes, like melted chocolate and caramel, staring with obvious desire. He didn’t close the distance though, staying a small fraction away. I held my ground, every nerve in my body screaming in protest, knowing the pleasure that waited if I gave in. I wanted to give in.

  He continued to stare, his glance traveling between my eyes and my mouth, waiting for me to make a move. “Kiss me, Cami.” His voice was low and seductive. “You know you want to.”

  I licked my lips, and his eyes instantly diverted to that spot. “You’re right, I do want to,” I replied in a quiet voice, wondering if I might melt right here, trapped in the circle of his arms, yet hardly being touched.

  “Then do it.”

  “I can’t, Hunter. You know how I feel.”

  There was hurt in his eyes. “Yes, I do. I wish there was some way you could trust me anyway—some way for you to know I wouldn’t ever willingly do anything to hurt you.” He didn’t move, his gaze continuing to rove over my face as if searching for an answer.

  “I want to believe that,” I replied honestly. “It’s just hard to trust blindly after everything that’s happened recently.”

  “Let me make it up to you.” His mouth was so close to mine I could almost feel it brushing against me as he spoke.

  “Hunter,” I licked my lips again, knowing I was faltering. “I . . . I . . . ”

  “Cami, we’re home,” my mom’s voice echoed through the house.

  “They’re early,” I whispered in dismay, knowing our moment was interrupted. “We’re in the kitchen,” I called out louder.

  Hunter sighed heavily. “We aren’t even close to finished with this discussion.” He picked up my glass of water and slipped it into my hand before moving to lean against the counter next to me.

  I gulped the water down, trying desperately to calm the fire he’d ignited. How could he stand there so casually, as if nothing had happened? I looked up at him and he winked.

  “Later,” he promised, and little butterflies of anticipation took flight in my stomach.

 
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