Crush, p.28
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       Crush, p.28

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Twenty-Five


  “Morning, Goody. How are you today?” I asked, leaning against the locker next to hers with what I hoped was my sexiest grin.

  “Morning,” she replied brusquely, slamming her locker and stepping around me. She continued on down the hall.

  Crap. Something was wrong.

  “Hey, where you off to in such a hurry?” I moved quickly to keep pace with her.

  “It’s called class, Hunter. I do the same thing every day. Maybe you’ve noticed.”

  I searched for a reason she’d be upset with me.

  “What’s wrong, Cami?”

  She shot me a glare. “As if you don’t know.”

  “I wouldn’t ask if I knew. Tell me what’s wrong.”

  She stopped dead in her tracks. “Don’t play dumb with me. I saw you.”

  “Saw me?” A little dread crept into my voice. I knew what she was talking about.

  “Yes, unless you let someone else borrow your car to sit parked down the street from my house all night. Why are you watching me?”

  I scrambled for something to tell her, anything that might make sense.

  “Oh. You saw my car.” I laughed trying to buy some time. “Um . . . I got a flat after I left yesterday. I called my uncle to come get me, but we had to take the tire in and have it fixed. We just left it there until early this morning when he had to leave.” I was lying to her . . . again. I couldn’t tell her what I’d really been doing on her street. She’d never believe me anyway.

  She visibly relaxed. “Why didn’t you come and ask my dad for help?”

  “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not very high on the list of people your dad admires right now. Having him stay up to help me get a tire repaired wasn’t about to endear me to him any further. Besides, Chris was more than willing to help me.” I smiled, trying to soften things. “Can I carry your books?”

  “I’ve got her books,” Clay said, sweeping up beside me and taking them before she could respond. “We have band together, remember? Come on, Cami.”

  He linked arms with her and practically dragged her down the hall. She shot me an apologetic glance, but continued on her way.

  I headed toward class, my mood instantly boiling at the sight of Clay. I was tired of having this kid always interfere, and after what I’d seen last night, I knew he wasn’t good for Cami. I’d been right to call him a psycho, but there was no way I could call him out right now. It would only draw more attention to me—something I couldn’t have happen. I’d give anything to go a round or two with him, just to show him what was what. That sparked another thought in my head. If I couldn’t beat the crap out of him, maybe it was time to start messing with him instead.

  I purposely waited as long as I could so I’d be the last guy into the weight room. Cami had choir class second period, but Clay had this class with me. Casually, I walked in and surveyed the area.

  He was against the farthest wall, doing the bench press. I moved to the bench alongside him, pausing and obviously checking out how heavy he’d weighted his bar before adding ten pounds more to my own. He glared at me as I started easily lifting. I pretended not to notice, continuing my workout. He finished one set before getting up to add more weights, so we were equal.

  I couldn’t help the internal smile. We were so going to play this game, and I was going to win. I went through my rotation, got up, added more weight, and started again. Soon after, Clay was readjusting to match me. I had to admit, while I knew he’d been working out, I didn’t think he would do so well. Kudos to him, but I was getting tired of this.

  I stood and loaded the bar to my max weight, watching his eyes grow bigger and a little desperate looking. There was no way he’d come even close, and he knew it. I finished lifting and moved on to a new station. Clay didn’t make any attempt to best me for the rest of the period. Hopefully, he’d get the underlying, subliminal message as well.

  I groaned and rolled my eyes, wanting to bang my head aimlessly against the cafeteria table.

  “Hey, Hunter,” Gabrielle said, sliding into the empty seat beside me.

  Could this day get any worse? I glanced at Cami, who was shooting daggers at me. I looked over at Russ. He gave me a confused shrug; there wasn’t going to be any help from that corner. Clay on the other hand was looking quite pleased with the whole situation, and I wanted to mash his face in. For once I wished the school had an open campus. Situations precisely like this one would be so much easier to avoid.

  “Can I help you?” I asked, trying my best to sound polite through gritted teeth.

  “No. I’m fine. I just thought we could hang out together again.” She smiled and took a sip of her drink.

  “Again?” I was so confused.

  “Well, I had fun with you at the party, so I thought we could do something together again.”

  It took all the control I had not to let my jaw drop. “Are you really this delusional, or actually insane?” I was done being nice to this girl. She had a serious problem with accepting “no” for an answer.

  “What do you mean?” She blinked, her eyes wide and innocent.

  “I mean that I keep beating you off, and you just don’t seem to get it.” I was starting to feel a little angry. “Let me make it plain and simple for you. Gabby, I don’t want anything to do with you. Give it up already.”

  She studied the drink in her hand. “There’s another party this weekend. I know where you can score some good stuff. You want to go with me?”

  I stared at her, my mind going completely blank for a moment. “Did you hear anything I just said?” Everyone at the table had quit eating and was watching the exchange with avid interest.

  She nodded. “Yes, but I think if you’ll just give me a chance, you’ll really like what I have to offer.”

  I sighed. “And what is that exactly?”

  “All the things you aren’t getting from her.” She gestured toward Cami. “Guys have needs . . .” She let her sentence dwindle off, as Cami rose, her expression mottled.

  “Leave now, Gabby,” Cami spoke up. “You aren’t welcome here. And stay away from Hunter. He’s made it plain he’s not interested.”

  Gabrielle shrugged. “You know where to find me if you change your mind.” She stood and walked away, trailing her finger across my back as she went.

  “What the hell just happened?” I said, looking at the others.

  Russ shook his head and laughed. “She wants you bad, dude.”

  “Why?” I replied in exasperation, watching Cami sit back down dejectedly. “I’ve never shown any interest in her whatsoever.”

  “She’s never had a guy tell her no before. I think it’s damaging her ego.”

  “I think you should go for her,” Clay piped up, snidely. “You two were made for each other.”

  Cami elbowed him hard in the ribs, clearly angry. “Stop it.”

  “No, let him talk, Cami.” I looked at Clay. “Since you seem to know Gabby so well, perhaps you can tell me how you arrived at that conclusion. Maybe you’ve been banging her too?”

  Cami choked on her food, and I absently reached over to pat her on the back while staring pointedly at Clay. His face reddened, and he glared at me. I knew he hated me, but I didn’t care. I also knew what else he’d been up to—the sick prick.

  “Even if I was, it wouldn’t be any of your business,” he spat out, not denying it. I knew without a doubt he’d done precisely that. Man, he had Cami snowed.

  “Exactly,” I replied angrily. “So stay the hell out of mine. Quit professing to know what kind of guy I am. You don’t know crap.”

  “I think lunch is over for me,” Cami threw her sandwich back into her lunch bag. “I can’t stomach anymore of this.” She got up from the table and left the room, depositing her bag in the garbage on the way out.

  “Quit trying to push the school hooker on me, especially one that’s willing to sleep with you.” I scowled at Clay. “And quit trying t
o get Cami to hate me. It doesn’t matter what you do or say, I won’t leave her, and I especially won’t leave her with you.”

  “She doesn’t belong with you,” he growled.

  “Then that’s for her to decide.” I glanced at Russ. “Come on, man. Let’s get out of here.”

  “You barely even know her,” Clay called after me.

  “I know her well enough.” I was so tired of messing with this dang kid. He had extreme issues. I wished I could make Cami see that.

  “She’ll always be mine.”

  He was baiting me.

  “I seriously doubt it, but feel free to keep dreaming.”

  We went through the cafeteria doors into the adjoining hallway.

  “Dude, that guy is friggin’ nuts,” Russ said with a nervous laugh. “Are you sure Cami is worth it?”

  “She’s worth it.”

  “You’re really into her—like for keeps?” he asked.

  “Yes.” I scanned the hallway, looking but not seeing her anywhere. I continued around the corner in time to catch her disappearing into the bathroom.

  “I’ll wait here,” Russ said wisely, knowing I would go in after her.

  “Thanks, man.” I hurried and pushed the door open. She was leaning against the wall with her arms folded. A quick glance at the stalls showed me we were alone.

  “One of these days you’re gonna walk in on something you’ll wish you’d never seen.” She glowered. “There’s a reason there’s a sign that says Girls outside the door. It’s meant to keep boys from coming in so we can see to our private needs, you know.”

  I gave her a lopsided grin and leaned against the wall next to her. “You don’t look like you’re taking care of anything . . . private. Besides, I need to know you’re okay.”

  “I am taking care of something. I’m trying to get away from you and Clay and the testosterone battle going on out there.”

  I sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean for you to feel caught in the middle. The guy just rubs me wrong.” I wanted to tell her what I knew, but I didn’t know how.

  “Yeah? Well, I hate feeling like I’m being forced to choose between the two of you all the time. It’s making my life very uncomfortable.” She looked angry.

  “Oh. I guess I didn’t realize there was actually a choice. I wasn’t aware you were truly considering him.”

  She raked a hand through her hair and stood in front of the mirrors, staring at herself. “I don’t mean that kind of choice. I’m saying I hate having to choose between my best friend and my boyfriend.”

  “Your best friend wants to be your boyfriend. You realize that, don’t you?” His little display outside her bedroom window the other night had left no doubt about that. He was beginning to cross the lines of depravity.

  She sighed. “Yes, unfortunately.”

  I moved around behind her, brushing my hands over her shoulders. “Have you stopped to consider that maybe your boyfriend wants to be your best friend too? The jealousy goes both ways, I’m afraid.” She needed me to stay close to her, whether she knew it or not.

  She stared at me through the reflection in the glass. “Why do things have to be so complicated?”

  “Because you’re making them that way. The answer is very easy.”

  “How so?” She looked truly curious.

  “Quit thinking about what Clay and I might want or need and search inside yourself. What do you want, Cami? That’s all that matters. What will make you happy?”

  When she didn’t answer, I let my hands drift down, slipping them around her waist. I pulled her back against me and nuzzled my face in her thick hair, placing small kisses there while the two of us stared at the intimate scene in the mirror.

  “Tell me what you want,” I whispered against her.

  She closed her eyes. “I want you to be honest.”

  I stiffened, pausing as she opened her eyes to lock gazes. “I want that too. I really do.”

  “Then what are you afraid of?” she asked, turning to face me.

  I shook my head and stepped away. “It’s not the right time.”

  She moved, closing the distance between us again. “What are you afraid of, Hunter?”

  I swallowed, watching as she slid her hands up my chest. “I’m afraid I’ll lose you.”

  She stared for a moment before dropping them back to her sides. “I’m afraid of that too.” She shifted away.

  “Cami, I’d tell you the truth right now if I could.” My hands were tied. I felt completely helpless.

  “Then what’s stopping you? Just do it!” she snapped. She was frustrated and so was I.

  “I can’t.” I knew there was no way to make her understand. “You’ll just have to trust me when I say that—for now—it’s better this way.”

  “And why should I trust you?” She pointed her finger. “And don’t tell me it’s because you’d never do anything to hurt me. You’ve already proven you can.”

  I sighed. “You’re right, I suck.” I meant it. “It’s true I’ve hurt you, but the fact of the matter was I didn’t want to. There’s a big difference.”

  She made a grunting sound.

  “Let’s table this discussion, shall we? Go out with me tonight. We’ll talk more then.”

  “I can’t, I’m working at the theater.”

  “Tomorrow then?” I asked, hopefully. Seeing her like this was tearing me up inside. Maybe by then I could come up with something that would appease her.

  “I don’t know. I’ll think about it. Can you please give me some time alone right now?”

  I stared at her for several long moments before I nodded and left the restroom.

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