Crush, p.32
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       Crush, p.32

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Twenty-Nine


  I laid my head against the table in the break room. I was so tired I truly believed I could fall asleep right here. I didn’t know how many more questions Hunter and I could answer.

  We’d been questioned by the police and theater management, explaining every detail of our night and what we were doing with Russ. We’d even had lights shined in our eyes as our pupils were checked to see if it appeared we were on anything. I felt like a filthy criminal, and I was completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

  Hunter had been brutally honest too, telling everyone exactly what we’d been doing out back. I wasn’t sure if either of us had a job anymore.

  Clay, Mandy, and Shane had been released to go home after the cops questioned them. Hunter and I were the lucky ones to stay behind, since we were the people “involved.” The only plus side was the others had finished doing our jobs for us, so we didn’t have to stay and clean.

  “Can we go now?” Hunter asked, his irritation at being detained evident. “I’d like to get over to the hospital to check on my friend.”

  “Yes, you may leave. We’ll let you know if we need anything else. Thanks for your help.” The officer closed his notebook.

  “Can I call you later about our jobs?” He glanced between Jon and Jen.

  “You still have your jobs. You were technically off the clock when you were outside,” Jen said. “Go home and get some rest. We can discuss it later if needed.”

  Jon didn’t say anything, but there was a worried frown on his face and his brow was wrinkled together.

  “Thank you,” Hunter replied before turning to me. “Come on, Cami. Let’s go.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. I followed after him without speaking as he made his way down the hall toward the back exit. My nerves were shot. I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to hold it together.

  When we reached the car, Hunter opened the passenger side door, and I slipped inside without a word of thanks. He didn’t seem to notice, closing the door and going to his side and getting in.

  “You okay?” he asked gently, placing his hand on my knee.

  I saw the concern in his eyes. That was the last straw. I started bawling, unable to keep the sobs back as I buried my face in my hands.

  “He looked exactly like Jordan did.”

  Hunter leaned over, holding me against his shoulder. “I’m so sorry, honey . . . so sorry you had to see that again.”

  “Do you think it was drugs?” I asked, slightly hiccupping with my tears.

  “I hope not, but it looks like it.” He kissed the top of my head.

  “You have to stop, Hunter! You can’t ever use again. I know I said I’d try to understand, but I can’t. Don’t you see? It could’ve been you lying there! That would’ve killed me! Killed me! Please, please, stop before you get hurt.” I knew I was hysterical, but I had to make him realize somehow.

  “I will, Cami. I’ll do anything to make you feel better—anything to stop you from crying. You’re breaking my heart.” He squeezed me tighter.

  “Don’t say it to appease me, Hunter. I mean it. No more drugs or . . . or . . . we are through. I can’t handle knowing you’re treating your life so carelessly. That could be you . . . it could be you.” I couldn’t stop the tears; they were flowing faster than I could wipe them away. I’d never been so scared for someone before. I loved him—but I was angry—with him, with Russ, with Jordan, all of them. Couldn’t they understand how they were hurting the people who loved them?

  He lifted my chin, and I looked him straight in the eye, wanting him to see all the hurt there.

  “I’m serious,” he said, never breaking his gaze away. “You have my word. I won’t use again. You win.”

  “Why? Why now? Why not when I asked you earlier?” I knew I was pushing, but I didn’t care. I wanted some answers. He’d always been so stubborn before.

  “That was . . . a . . . scary thing,” he replied slowly, carefully, as if he were deliberately choosing his words. “But I also don’t like seeing you this way, either. I know it brings up painful memories for you.”

  I pulled away and glanced through the window, trying to calm myself down. “I still have nightmares about that night, you know . . . with Jordan. Sometimes I’m afraid to fall asleep.”

  “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, Cami—for everything.”

  I wiped my eyes as silence hung in the car between us. “Let’s go check on Russ,” I said.

  “Are you sure you’re up for it? I’m more than happy to drop you by your house on the way there.” He ran his hand down my arm, and squeezed my hand.

  “No. He’s your friend. I want to be with you when you go.”

  He stared as if he were measuring my capability of handling it.

  “Really. I want to go—if you want me there.”

  “I always want you with me. You should know that by now.” He smiled and lifted his hand to wipe one of my tears away.

  I gave a choked laugh. “I love you.”

  He smiled softly, his eyes roaming over my face. “I love hearing you say that. I love you too.”

  The emergency room waiting area was blessedly empty. We were told Russ’s parents had arrived shortly after he did and were with him while he was being worked on. A nurse had come and said only one of us could go back. I told Hunter to go, I’d wait here for him. He’d been gone for a while now, giving my mind plenty of time to wander freely, covering many topics from drugs, to Clay, back to Hunter, our relationship, and even death.

  Death. It was one thing I’d never deluded myself over. I wasn’t like those teens who thought they were invincible. I’d had enough close friends and relatives die to know life was both fleeting and precious—not to be wasted. I was determined to live mine the best I knew how, and I’d made the personal choice to avoid certain things—one was drugs and drinking alcohol, the other was sex.

  A friend of mine was killed in a drunk driving accident with her father a few years ago, and an uncle of mine—who had been very sexually active in his youth—was diagnosed with AIDS. I knew my decisions were a little fear based, but my opinion was better safe than sorry. I didn’t want those things to happen to me.

  I’d done well holding up to my moral values until recently. I met Hunter and suddenly realized why kids sometimes did the things they did. He put off this natural charismatic energy, which drew me to him like a moth to a flame. I couldn’t quite describe it . . . he had all this swagger and confidence, but it was more than that. I simply looked at him and knew he was my weakness, my temptation. I’d heard the term, ‘like sex-on-a-stick’, and thought it described him perfectly—he was carnal, delicious, something I craved. I’d never felt that way about anybody before. It was both thrilling and terrifying because I knew, under the right circumstances, I’d be willing to cross the line I’d so carefully drawn around myself.

  This brought up all my old fears. I knew enough about Hunter’s past to know he’d been with other girls . . . but what did that mean to me? Was it safe for me to be with him? Was I really ready for it or only being driven by hormones?

  I pushed a breath out the side of my mouth, blowing some of my wayward curls from my eyes. None of this really mattered, because—for whatever reason—he didn’t seem to be ready to cross that line with me. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. He acted like he wanted to, but he always put the brakes on, and his weird little speech earlier made it sound like he didn’t think he’d be the one I would do it with. Why not?

  I was so confused.

  The doors to the emergency room swung open and Hunter came out. I stood to greet him, noting the solemn expression on his face. He embraced me, burying his face in my hair.

  “How is he?” I asked as I slid my arms around him.

  He didn’t answer for a moment. “He’s bad. They’re flying him to a larger facility in Albuquerque. He’s in a coma, and things don’t look good.”

bsp; “Did they figure out what happened?”

  “They did a drug screen. It showed he had amphetamines in his system.”

  “So it was a meth overdose?” I felt sick.

  “That’s what it’s looking like.” He squeezed me tighter.

  “Why would he lie to you about it? Wouldn’t he want you to know so you could help him?”

  Hunter released me and walked away, running a hand through his hair. “That’s the weird part. He was with us the whole time. I never saw him take anything. Did you?”

  I shook my head. “What are you saying?”

  “I don’t know. I guess . . . things don’t seem to add up. Did you call your parents?”

  “Yeah. I told them I’d be home as soon as we were done.”

  “Well, I better get you there. Come on, let’s go.” He held out his hand, and I slipped mine into it.

  “I’m really sorry about Russ.”

  “Me too, Cami.” He sighed heavily. “Me too.”

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