Crush, p.9
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       Crush, p.9

           Lacey Weatherford

  Chapter Six


  I wasn’t sure what had just happened. Had I just agreed to go on a date with Hunter Wilder? The guy I swore I’d never go out with—even if we were both from the same social class? Not only that, but I was clearly excited about it, much to the dismay of Clay who felt it was his moral obligation to remind me Hunter was only after one thing. His plan backfired, though. As soon as he said it, I made up my mind I’d do it, just to tick him off.

  I sighed heavily. This day had started out okay and gone to utterly confusing. Nothing and no one was where they should be. It was like living in the middle of the Twilight Zone. I kept expecting the creepy music to start playing any minute.

  When the movie ended, Clay got up and stalked from the theater, pausing only to cast an angry glare, first at me and then at Hunter, before he continued on his way.

  “What’s his problem?” Hunter asked softly as his friend Russ left the aisle and headed down the steps, leaving the two of us alone.

  “It’s a long story. Maybe I should tell you another day and go catch up with Clay.”

  “He likes you a lot. You know that, right?”

  “No. I didn’t. I mean I do now, but I didn’t. He just showed up at the house with no warning all . . . different. It’s like he’s not the same person anymore. I can tell he expects something from me, but I’m not sure what.”

  “I think he wanted you to be amazed—to finally see him in a new light. People at school told me they thought you two might be an item because of the way he acts about you. He’s very possessive.”

  I was shocked. “Really? I had no idea. Honestly, I never got that vibe from him until today. Then something changed when we were swimming. Even then, I wouldn’t have put the pieces together until my mom pointed it out. I didn’t want to believe it.” I stared at him for a moment. “If you thought we were a couple, then why did you come and ask me on a date?

  He shrugged. “I could tell something was going on, and you looked extremely uncomfortable. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

  This revelation didn’t fit into the previously judged category I’d placed Hunter in. It was . . . nice. Did popular bad boy partiers do nice?

  “Well, I appreciate your help, Hunter. But let’s get some things straight right now. I don’t party, I don’t use illicit drugs, and I won’t be a notch in anyone’s headboard.”

  He choked and sputtered before smiling widely. “Wow. You’ve been reading the daily rumor mill, haven’t you? You’ve already decided what kind of guy I am.”

  He looked disappointed, and suddenly I felt horrible.

  “I’m sorry if that sounds harsh. It had to do with something Clay said earlier.”

  “Something about me, I gather?”

  “Yeah, he told me to stay away from you.”

  “Really?” Hunter grinned. “So you were talking about me then?”

  I blushed hard. “Um, I better go before Clay leaves me.”

  “Let him leave you. I’ll take you home.”

  I shook my head, wishing I could do exactly that. “No, it would be even more unfair. I feel bad about screwing up whatever dreams or plans he had for this moment. I love him. He’s like my brother. I don’t want to hurt him—I just don’t want to date him either.”

  “I thought he had a girlfriend.”

  “He does, but she doesn’t live here.”

  “Ah, long distance relationships, huh? Those never work out.”

  I smiled. “I couldn’t say. I’ve never had one.” I stood and reached for my sweater.

  “Here, let me help you with that,” Hunter offered. He took it and held it up, allowing me to slip my arms inside, then he adjusted it on my shoulders before letting his hands smooth over it and down my arms.

  “Perfect,” he muttered, almost like he’d forgotten I could hear him.

  “Thanks,” I replied and his head popped up in surprise. “That was sweet of you.”

  “Just calling it like I see it.” He grinned.

  We were standing so close together now I could see some of those caramel highlights in his eyes.

  “Hello, Cami! Are you coming or what?” Clay’s voice interrupted us.

  “Be right there,” I called back before addressing Hunter again. “Sorry. I gotta go now.”

  “No worries, but do me a favor real quick. Can I see your phone again?”

  “Sure,” I replied digging in my purse before handing it to him.

  He pushed a few buttons and gave it back. “Number 7. Just remember Lucky Sevens. That’s my number on speed dial. If you ever need any help just call me, and I’ll come get you.”

  I blushed. Wow. This guy was beyond nice. “Thanks, I will.”

  “Good. Text me and let me know you got home okay.”

  I laughed. “Clay would never hurt me.”

  “That might be true, but you see . . . I don’t know Clay that well, so just humor me, okay? I’ll rest better.”

  “All right. Thanks again for asking me out.” I gave a little wave and walked away.

  “I’m looking forward to it,” he said softly, not moving as I made my way down to my very angry, best friend. At least I hoped he was still my best friend.

  It was bound to be an interesting drive home.

  Clay turned and huffed out in front of me. I followed him quietly to the parking lot, and he opened the door for me.

  We didn’t speak as he drove and soon pulled up in front of my house.

  “Thanks for the ride,” I said as I fumbled for the handle.

  “Why’d you do it?” he asked.

  “Do what?”

  “Agree to a date with him.” His hands were gripping the steering wheel tightly.

  “Because you were scaring me and trying to tell me what to do. It made me irritated, and then he showed up and offered a way out.” I was being brutally honest.

  “So you just did it to make me mad?”

  “Yes, partly. I like him too, I think. At least I like what I’ve seen so far, and I’d like to know more.”

  “I know everything there is to know about you, Cami, and I’d like to learn more about you still. I’ve wanted to for a long time.” He looked and sounded so sorrowful.

  “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you felt that way.”

  “Well, now you do. Will you give me a chance at least? Can I show you how good I think we’d be together?” He stroked the side of my cheek.

  My shoulders tightened, and I felt the panic coming on. I shook my head. “I’m sorry—so incredibly sorry, but I don’t think I’m on the same page. You already have a girlfriend, and I don’t want her to get hurt. Plus, it would be so awkward for me. You’re my best friend. You’ve seen and heard all my flaws and secrets. I think of you like my brother. I want things to stay as they always have been.”

  He sighed heavily. “And if I can’t do that anymore?”

  I felt the tears welling. “Then I’ll be really sad not to have you in my life.” I opened the door and got out. “Goodnight, Clay.”

  He didn’t look at me again before he drove off. I watched until his car was out of sight before turning to go up the sidewalk to my house.

  Safely home. Thanks, I texted to Hunter.

  The reply was almost immediate. Glad 2 hear it. Text U 2morrow. Night.

  I stared at the words in front of me. Hunter Wilder was going to text me tomorrow. Despite all that happened tonight with Clay, I couldn’t help the little thrill that shot through me.

  I sighed. What a crazy day.

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