Crush, p.5
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       Crush, p.5
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           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Two


  Dude, the girl is freakin’ hot, I thought to myself for the thousandth time as I stared at her during chemistry lab. Initially, I’d been disappointed this class didn’t have alphabetized seating like the others, but I’d grown quite happy with admiring the view from behind without her knowing.

  I cast another glance over her form—slender, yet round in all the right places. Her curly, red hair bounced with every shake of her head as she talked animatedly to her best friend, Clay.

  He was almost the classic nerd stereotype. Slick hair combed with a rigid part, plaid shirts, with pens in his pocket protector. He wore glasses, but they were decent looking ones—not the typical thick coke bottle glasses that were taped in the middle that most people associated with the type. My attention returned to the beautiful girl at his side.

  What a pair. I wondered if she knew he was the real reason guys didn’t ask her out much. She was considered nerdy by association, which was a shame seeing how she was drop-dead gorgeous. Even though Clay claimed to have a girlfriend in another town, there was still some speculation on whether or not these two might actually be an item.

  I released a frustrated sigh. I wished I hadn’t talked to her yesterday. I liked her instantly. It was fun to push her buttons and mess with her for a bit. But I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, nerd or otherwise—no way, no how. There was enough on my plate right now, and having a relationship with anyone, especially her, would complicate things so badly I didn’t want to consider the repercussions.

  I dragged my stare away and looked at the lab sheet in front of me, as I tried to forget the conversation we’d had. She was unsure of me. I could tell from the way her honey eyes rounded in surprise and how she chewed on her apricot colored bottom lip, her perfect skin blushing softly like an overripe peach.

  Growling, I shifted slightly in my seat. I made her sound like she was a fruit salad just waiting for me to take a bite. There will be no biting of anyone, I reminded myself, frowning at my internal dialogue. Strictly off limits.

  “You okay, man?”

  I glanced over to find my lab partner and new friend, Russ, staring at me strangely.

  “Fine, why?”

  He shrugged. “No reason. You were just making some funny noises.”

  “What’s the next step in this lab?” I asked. If he wondered why I was taking a sudden interest in the project I’d basically been letting him do alone, he made no comment about it.

  He chuckled. “We’re done.”

  “Oh, sorry.” I wasn’t really. I could think of a million other things I would rather be doing right now. I hated being stuck in this dumb science lab, or any class for that matter. I was so over high school.

  “It’s okay. You seemed . . . preoccupied.” He cast a glance in Cami’s direction before looking back.

  I gave a soft grunt and ran a hand over my face. I needed to pay better attention to what I was doing and who was watching.

  “I get it,” Russ continued on as if we’d actually been having a conversation. “I’ve always thought she’s pretty.”

  “Who?” I asked, trying to bluff my way out of this situation.

  He grinned. “That’s really the way you’re gonna play it?”

  “Play what? I have no idea what you’re talking about, bro.”

  He shook his head looking perplexed. “Okay, I get it. You don’t want to talk about the girl you obviously think is hot. I don’t understand it, but whatever. It’s your deal.”

  “Going to any good parties tonight?” I asked, desperate to change the subject.

  “I’m planning on heading to the one at Billy Barker’s. His parents are out of town. You going?”

  “If that’s where the good stuff is, then that’s where I’ll be.” I needed to see if I could score something.

  “Then look me up while you’re there,” he said. “We can chill together.”

  “Will do.”

  The house was easy enough to find, thanks in part to the massive amount of cars parked up and down the long driveway. I climbed out of my black Camaro and glanced around, noticing there didn’t seem to be any neighboring residences close by. This was probably a good thing since the music was pounding so loud I was sure they would’ve called the cops by now. I grinned slightly at the idea of the house being surrounded and watching people scream and scatter while they tried to avoid arrest.

  The gravel crunched under my boots as I made my way toward the two-story adobe, Santa Fe styled home. It seemed like the party was in full swing. The tree outside had already been toilet papered, and I could hear some poor person puking their guts out in the bushes.

  I walked up the steps to the covered porch, choosing to avoid any eye contact with the couple heavily making out on the swing, and went inside.

  Weaving my way through the crush of bodies that danced to the heavy bass, I moved toward where the kitchen appeared to be located. I found the giant keg I was looking for and grabbed a plastic cup off the counter.

  “Fill me up!” I yelled over the loud music to the guy manning the alcohol, Johnny, if I remembered his name from school.

  He grinned. “Will do!” He opened the tap until the amber liquid was close to foaming over. I nodded at him before lifting it and downing a healthy swig, draining the glass to nearly halfway.

  Careful to keep from spilling, I moved through the gyrating crowd toward the open glass doors that led out to a pool area.

  “Hunter!” A voice caught my attention, and I saw Russ give me a wave, motioning me over.

  I turned in his direction, handing him my cup before I jumped up to sit on the short wall next to him.

  “Wassup, dude?” I asked, as he handed my drink back. I sat it carefully beside me while I fished my cigarettes and lighter from my pocket. I lit up and took a long drag before blowing the smoke out the side of my mouth.

  “Nothin’ much. Just scoping out the girls.”

  “Finding anyone good?” I surveyed the ladies both in the pool and out and shook my head. I didn’t think large crowds, beer, and water were probably the best mix. Plus, there was no way I’d be getting in any pool in March, unless of course it was heated. The weather this week had been quite a bit warmer though, so maybe it wasn’t too bad.

  “There’s a couple I might try hookin’ up with later.” He grinned, ruffling a hand through his light-brown hair. “See anyone you like?”

  I gave a slight shrug and shook my head. “Not really.”

  “Well, Gabrielle Martinez has been asking everyone if you’re coming tonight. I think she has her eye on you.”

  I looked over to where the striking brunette was standing beside the pool in a skimpy turquoise bikini talking to her friends and groaned. The lights under the water were sending glowing ripples across her smooth, caramel-colored skin, highlighting her near-perfect body. She laughed at something—her smile lighting her face—and cast a glance in my direction.

  “She’s pretty, but not my type,” I replied to Russ, reiterating my complete lack of interest in having any of these girls as a girlfriend.

  “Oh, I already knew that. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that your tastes tend to run toward the nerdy, redheaded variety.” He chuckled.

  I stiffened at his reference to Cami and the disturbing fact I immediately knew who he was talking about. Images of the stunning redhead filtered through my mind, causing my pulse to jump up a notch. This wasn’t good. If I were being totally honest, she was the first person I looked for when I walked through the door tonight, although I knew she wouldn’t be here. I was glad she wasn’t.

  “Cami’s gorgeous, but she’s not my type either.” I reached for my beer and took a sip before taking another drag on my cigarette.

  “Could’ve fooled me with the way you’ve been staring at her in school. If she’s not your type, who is? I’m sure we can find you someone good to hook up with.”

  “No one’s my type, I don’t want a
girlfriend. They’re too complicated.”

  Russ arched his brow, looking at me as if I was crazy.

  I decided to get chatty. “The last girl I was with did a real number on me. She was super possessive, always wanted me to meet her and do whatever she wanted. It seemed as if nothing I did was ever good enough. Then I found out she was cheating on me the whole time with some college guy. I broke up with her and she threatened to tell my parents and the cops I was doing drugs. She wanted me to stay with her while she was with this other guy.”

  “Wow, that’s crazy. What did you do?”

  “I told her to go ahead and tell them—she couldn’t prove anything. Besides, she was the person I was always getting stoned with. I could’ve gotten her in just as much trouble.”

  “Sounds like she was a real winner.”

  I chuckled. Dang, I was a friggin’ good liar. He totally bought it. “She was something. Who can I hit up here to score a little blunt?” I asked, successfully redirecting the subject as I glanced around the large group. “The last party I went to provided all the goods for us, but it was smaller. I guess that’s not the case this time.”

  “Talk to Derek Johnson.” He pointed to a guy standing by a girl in the far corner over by the house. “He can hook you up. I’m not sure where he gets his stuff, but he always seems to have something on him.”

  I saw the girl give Derek some money, and he slipped a small bag into her hand.

  “Thanks. I couldn’t find anyone at the party last weekend to spot me something for my personal stash, so I had to make do with alcohol. Thank goodness my uncle left his liquor cabinet open when he went out of town. That helped me pass the week a little easier.”

  “I heard you live with your uncle. Sorry about your parents.” He looked at me sympathetically. “We’ve known each other for a couple of weeks now, but you’ve never really brought stuff up when it comes to your past. I didn’t want to pry—figured you’d talk when you were ready.”

  I took another swallow of my drink and shrugged. “Accidents happen. I try not to think about it.”

  He looked uncomfortable. “So your uncle is gone a lot?”

  I nodded. “Yeah, he seems to enjoy that jet-setter lifestyle of his—always flying around to his big corporate meetings around the country. I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled to be saddled with me, even though we get along. I don’t mind, though. I’d rather be alone.”

  “Well, if you ever need someone to just hang with, you know where to find me.”

  “Thanks, dude.” I crushed out my cigarette, clapped him on the shoulder, and hopped off the wall. I headed toward Derek, feeling pretty good with myself—until the very curvy brunette, who’d been eyeing me since I arrived, waylaid me.

  “Hey Hunter,” Gabrielle said sliding up close and blocking my path.

  “Hey,” I replied, trying to keep my eyes on her face and not the rest of what she was so generously flashing.

  “I’m glad you came tonight.” She boldly traced a finger over my chest.

  “Really? Why’s that?” I tried to gauge if she was drunk, but I couldn’t smell anything.

  “Haven’t you noticed I’ve been watching you at school?” She smiled flirtatiously, tossing some of her long hair over her shoulder.

  “No.” That was a lie. I’d noticed and was doing my best to avoid her. I knew her reputation and exactly what she was hoping to get from me.

  “Well, I have been.” She pressed in closer. “Wanna come sit by me at the pool? We can put our feet in together.”

  “No thanks. The chlorine bothers me.” Another lie. I noticed Derek slipping into the house, and I felt irritated. I didn’t want to lose him. The whole reason I came to this party was to get some sort of illegal refreshment.

  Gabrielle gave me a pouty look. “Okay. How about taking me for a ride in that sweet car of yours then? I know a place with a great view of the city where we can go park.”

  Wow, this chick didn’t take a hint very well, and she certainly didn’t waste any time.

  I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and glanced at it. “Sorry, Gabby, but my uncle will be home soon,” I fibbed again. “I was just dropping into the party for a quick beer and to say hi to Russ. I gotta get going.”

  “Oh. All right.” She looked truly put out. “See you at school then.”

  “Sure thing.” I ducked around her, making a mental note to do my best to avoid her completely from now on.

  I hurried into the house, looking around for Derek, but couldn’t find him anywhere. “Hey, did Derek just come through here?” I shouted at the guy standing by the door so he could hear me over the music.

  “I think he went upstairs,” he yelled back and pointed.

  “Thanks.” I weaved through the throng in that direction, quickly ascending the staircase, but only saw a couple making out in the hallway. I walked around them, pausing by a door that was ajar. I knocked, opening it enough to stick my head in and was rewarded with a shriek.

  “Lock the friggin’ door people,” I grumbled, wishing I didn’t have that image stuck in my head. I paused, staring at all the other doors, afraid to open them now. “Derek Johnson! Are you up here?” I shouted.

  The couple who’d been kissing stopped and stared at me like I was crazy. There was no answer from any of the rooms, and no one emerged.

  “We haven’t seen him up here,” the guy said.

  I gave a frustrated sigh and headed back down the stairs. After searching the whole ground floor unsuccessfully, I finally left the house and headed toward my car.

  Damn. What a wasted night.

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