Focus (Page 21)

We were back outside before Jared answered me. “Levi seems to think you’re back together, but for some reason you’re holding sex over him.”

I pushed his arm. “For some reason? The last time I slept with him I got quite a surprise.” I couldn’t believe I was talking sex with Jared.

“What’s done is done. I assure you, more sex won’t change things—other than Levi’s sanity that is.”

“His sanity? Because lack of sex has been known to cause insanity?”

“I live with the guy. Trust me, it’s causing it. You can’t give a guy the night of his life and then take it away from him. It screws with you.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Like you know anything about that? Have you ever been with the same girl more than once?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not talking about multiple times in a night, or a weekend.”

“Okay, you weren’t specific. No.”

“You’re so disgusting.”

“What?” He smirked.

“Forget it.”

“You’re the one who asked.”

“All right, let’s change the topic. I was meaning to ask you something.” I stopped at a bench. We were getting close to the dorms and this talk could take a while.

Jared sat down next to me, tossing his backpack onto the bench next to him. “We’re sitting down for it? This I’ve got to hear. But if you’re trying to come on to me, please don’t. You are my best friend’s mate.”

“Dream on, Jared.”

“This isn’t fun. I can’t even throw it back at you.”

I laughed. “I’m not going to come on to you.”

“Lay it on me then.”

I adjusted my bag in my lap and turned to look at him. “You owe me a favor, and I’m calling it in.”

“Okay. What kind of favor?”

“Teach me to fight.”

“Teach you to fight? Are you joking?”

“I need to be able to defend myself.”

“You can’t defend yourself against these enemies.”

“I need to be able to try. And if I can’t fight off paranormals, I should at least be able to stun them or something.”

“Why don’t you ask Levi?”

“You know what he’d say. Besides, I want to learn from the best. I heard you were the best.”

“Kissing my ass isn’t going to help.”

“It won’t?”

He laughed. “Levi would kill me if he found out.”

“I don’t care. I need this. Will you help? Somehow I don’t think the self-defense classes they offer at the gym are going to cut it.”

“Yes and no. I’m willing to help you get in better shape and teach you some basics, but that’s it.”

“Better shape? Are you implying I’m not in good shape?” I looked down at my body. No one had ever said anything like that to me before.

He rolled his eyes. “You’re hot, Allie. Let’s face it, if you weren’t with Levi, I’d have had you by now, but that’s not what I mean. You do lots of cardio, right?”

“Yes.” I ignored his sex comment, figuring that snapping at him wasn’t good for my cause. “And I use weights and stuff.”

“And stuff? That proves my point. We have to get you in shape.”

“Okay. I’m willing to work hard.”

“Fine. We’ll have to do it when Levi’s in class so he won’t show up at the gym.”

“We’re meeting at the gym?”

“In the beginning. When I know you can handle actual training, we’ll figure out somewhere else.”

“Okay, so when do we start.”

“Hmm, tomorrow at two o’clock.”

“All right.”

“But you better be ready to work hard. I’m not going to baby you.”

“I don’t want you to. I can handle it.” I sat up straighter.

“We’ll see. Can we go? As fun as this is, I’d like to get home sometime.” Jared stood up, slinging his backpack on in one swift movement.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s always a pleasure talking to you.”

He grinned. “The feeling’s mutual.”

***

I could barely eat lunch the next day. Despite all my talk, I was nervous about working out with Jared. I usually could hold my own in sports, but I certainly wasn’t a fitness guru.

“Are you ever going to tell me what’s up?” Hailey finished the last of her sandwich.

“Only if you promise not to tell Levi.”

“Do you really have to say that?”

I took a sip of my water. “I’m meeting Jared at the gym. He’s supposed to train me to fight.”

“What?” Hailey’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. “Why would you willingly subject yourself to that kind of torture?”

“Because he’s the best, besides Levi, and I can’t ask Levi.”

“I can’t argue that Jared’s good, but why can’t you ask Levi?”

“Don’t get me started.”

“But I thought things were better with you guys.” She picked at the fruit salad on her plate.

“Things are good, but I don’t think Levi would approve. He’d just tell me to let him protect me.”

“I get it. But if Jared pushes you too far, just let me know. I’ll kick his ass for you.”

I laughed. “Good to know.”

After lunch, I did some studying and then changed for the gym. I opted for a tank with a built in bra and some running shorts. Jared was waiting for me outside the weight room when I got there. He was in shorts and a t-shirt, and I caught more than a few girls checking him out. “It took you long enough.”

“Shut up. I’m, what, thirty seconds late?”

“Forty-five.”

“Big difference.”

“Hey, you’re the one who wants my help. The least you can do is be on time.”

“Don’t forget you’re returning a favor.”

“Yes, and that my best friend would kill me if he knew I was doing this. I still don’t get why you don’t ask him—and don’t give me those stupid excuses again.”

“Fine Jared, I admit it. I just love getting sweaty with you, and since we can’t have sex, this is the best I can get.”

He laughed. “All right, let’s get sweaty then.”

“So where do we start?”