Focus (Page 16)

There were only about twenty people inside when we arrived, so Tiffany, Hailey and I took a seat on a couch after grabbing some Abita beers. It didn’t take much time in the city to realize it was a great local beer. Anne continued to chat with Brandon. There was definitely something going on between them.

A guy with shaggy, brown hair squeezed in next to me, pushing me closer to Hailey in the process.

“Hey, I’m Nick.” He held out his hand, shifting his beer to his other hand.

“Hi, I’m Allie.” I accepted the handshake. His hand was wet from what I hoped was condensation from his beer.

“Cool. I don’t think I’ve seen you out before.”

“Probably not. I’m a freshman.”

“Really? I wouldn’t have thought so.”

“Because I look old?” I tried to discretely wipe my hand on my skirt.

“No, not at all.” He looked panicked. “I just mean you seem more mature.”

“Oh. I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

He smiled. “You should.”

There was something almost helplessly nerdy about Nick. He tried to hide it behind a frat boy front, but it was definitely there. I’d have felt bad for him if he wasn’t blatantly violating my personal space. I scooted closer to Hailey, but I couldn’t move far. The couch wasn’t built for four.

“Hello, Hailey,” a brunette said snidely. She was tall. Her long legs exposed in a short, black dress. A pair of three inch heels only added to the effect. No one had to tell me she was a Pteron. The confidence she carried screamed it.

“Hi, Michelle.” Hailey almost flinched when she said her name.

“What are you doing here?” Michelle didn’t even glance at me.

Hailey played with the clasp of her purse, obviously flustered. “We were invited.”

“I didn’t think these guys had such bad taste.”

“Excuse me, who are you?” I asked. The girl was a brat.

She turned to study me, clearly not impressed by what she saw. “Was I talking to you?”

Hailey laughed. “Do you know who this is, Michelle?”

“Should I?”

“Allie, Allie Davis.” Hailey grinned.

Michelle coughed, nearly choking on her beer. “You’re Levi’s Allie?”

I wouldn’t normally want to admit to it, but I figured this had to be the daughter of the woman I’d met at Commander’s. “Yes.”

“Oh, wow, I didn’t know.” Her cheeks flushed.

I shrugged. “I don’t usually go by Levi’s Allie. Just Allie is fine.”

She crossed her feet at her ankles in what I assumed was a nervous motion. “Can I get you something? A beer or anything?”

“I’m fine.” I held up my half full beer in evidence. “You can stop trying to kiss up to me.” I was still mad about the way she treated Hailey.

Tiffany looked between Michelle, Hailey, and I trying to figure it out. I was really glad it was Tiffany with us and not Anne. She didn’t say anything.

Michelle’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Does Levi know you’re here?”

“He knows I’m out with my friends.”

“He lets you go to parties without him?”

“Wow, you need to dump your boyfriend if he’s that controlling.” Nick leaned closer to me.

Michelle broke into a smile. “He’s more than her boyfriend.”

“Okay… still you need to ditch him.” Nick put a hand on my arm. I shrugged it off.

“It just surprises me he’d be okay with it. I’d have thought Levi would be more protective.” Michelle leaned in like she was challenging me. Maybe being rude to her was a bad idea.

“I think I know Levi better than you do.” I stood up. I didn’t like having to look up at her. If it weren’t for her higher heels, we would have been close to the same height. “Besides, he doesn’t own me.”

Her eyes darkened, but then she calmed down. “I guess you would know him better. It just seems odd that you’d be here flirting with other guys. I can’t imagine Levi, or his father, would like that.”

“His father?” Tiffany asked, talking for the first time.

“Yes, his father really wouldn’t like it.” I didn’t like the way Michelle was looking at me. Warning bells went off. I couldn’t let Robert find out the truth from Michelle. It was up to Levi to tell him.

“I’ll be right back,” I said to Hailey and Tiffany.

I walked out onto the front porch and texted Levi. I glanced up at the cross streets. I’m at a party on Broadway and Maple. We planned to meet here. Come.

I reclaimed my seat on the couch, knowing he’d be joining me soon.

Nick and Michelle were nowhere in sight, but I assumed neither had gone very far. “Everything okay?” Anne asked, abandoning Brandon.

“Everything’s great.” I smiled.

Hailey gave me a quizzical look before continuing to rip the label off her beer. She looked bored.

We sat for a while before I heard a very familiar voice. “Hey, I’m just looking for someone.”

I turned and stood up. I saw Michelle out of the corner of my eye as I launched myself into Levi’s arms. “Finally!” As his arms came around me in surprise, I kissed him. He responded immediately, his arms tightening. I heard Jared and Owen laughing in the background.

I pulled away in a slight daze—it was supposed to be just for show, but it didn’t feel that way.

“Hey, love, it’s good to see you too.” I could tell he was trying to figure out what was going on.

“I just met a friend of yours.” I pointed to where Michelle stood with her arms crossed over her chest.

Understanding flashed in Levi’s eyes as he led us over to her. “Hi, Michelle. So you’ve met Allie?”

Michelle moved her arms and stood up straighter. “Yes, and I definitely get why you chose her. She’s amazing.” She gave me the biggest, fakest smile.

The forced nature of it didn’t go unnoticed by Levi. “Good. As nice as it is to see you, I’m going to be taking Allie now. We’ve got some plans of our own.”

I groaned internally. I tried to help and, of course, he had to take advantage of it. “Before we go, let me make sure my friends don’t mind.”

“We don’t mind at all,” Anne said immediately. “Go have fun.” She winked at me.

“If you want to go, we understand.” Tiffany was trying to figure out what I wanted her to say.