Focus (Page 24)

“This morning.”

“How’d you know it would come up?” I opened the paper packaging on my chopsticks.

“I didn’t think it would be tonight, but I knew you’d come asking for help eventually with a paper due so soon.”

“Owen.”

“Yes. Can we stop worrying about how I know, and enjoy our dinner?”

“Sure.”

“Good. I’d suggest we find a movie, but that’s not why you’re here.”

“Don’t remind me.” I took a bite.

After finishing our meal and cleaning up, Levi sat down with me at the table. “Let me see what you have so far.” I pushed my notebook over to him. “Is there any reason why you handwrite your papers?”

“Just the first draft, and just French. I type the rest.”

“Where’s your laptop?”

“In my room. It’s too clunky to carry around.”

He leaned on his elbow. “You need a light weight one.”

“No, I don’t. I just need help.”

“Fine, let’s see if I can read this chicken scratch.”

I was about to defend my perfectly neat handwriting when I noticed the playful expression on his face. He was trying to be funny.

“One of these days I’m going to figure out when you’re joking.”

“Maybe in the next ten years.”

He looked down at my paper, and I felt uncomfortable watching him read it. I knew there were tons of mistakes.

I tapped my foot nervously, hoping he wouldn’t give me too hard of a time.

He laughed. “You met a boy and ate him?”

“I did not write that!”

“Yes, actually you did. I’m guessing you meant to say you met and went out to eat.”

“Of course. Arrh.” I put my head in my hands. “Why is it that I can handle every subject but foreign languages? It’s like I’m cursed.”

“Come on, it’s really not that bad. The rest of it looks pretty good. You just need to be careful with your verbs.”

“You make that sound easy.”

“Okay, why don’t we finish up this paper, and then just do some verb exercises.”

“Verb exercises? Have you tutored in French before?”

He nodded. “I helped out a little in high school. It was the only way I was allowed to take French.”

“You were fluent before high school?”

“Yeah. My dad insisted on it. It’s just a family thing. Our kids will have to learn it too.”

I’d never heard Levi talk about us having kids. Obviously I knew he had to think about it, because unless he had an heir his line died, but it sounded so strange hearing it from him.

“Okay, let’s get this over with.” I pulled up my legs and sat with them crossed on the chair.

Levi leaned over me, pointing out all of my mistakes, and showing me how to fix them. “When’s this due, anyway?”

“Monday.”

“Okay, so you can just type it up later.”

“Thanks for the help. I really appreciate it.”

“You know I don’t mind.” Once again, Levi sounded serious. As much as I wanted him to stop messing around sometimes, it was harder to push reality aside when he was this way.

Levi was making me go through the various verb forms of “to be” when my phone rang. “Mind if we take a break? It’s Anne.”

“Go ahead.”

I picked up. “Hey, Anne.”

“Hey. You’re still at Levi’s right?”

“I’m guessing Hailey told you?”

“Yeah, I’m not interrupting anything am I?” she said suggestively.

“Yeah, you’re interrupting some hot French studying.”

“Hey, you know Levi would be happy to tutor you in other things.”

“Don’t start.”

The look Levi gave me made me think he might have heard her. I hoped not. Either way, he got up and refilled his glass with water.

“Okay, okay. I’m calling because a bunch of us are going to Rock ‘n’ Bowl .”

“Rock ‘n’ Bowl?”

“Yeah, there’s a Cajun band playing that Brandon was raving about the other day.”

“Brandon? You’ve been talking to him more?”

“Yeah, he’s in my psych class, remember?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Are you in?”

“I don’t know. I have an econ test in the morning.”

“Don’t you know that stuff ridiculously well? And if you don’t, why are studying French?”

“I do know it. I just don’t want to stay out too late.” My responsible side kicked in.

“Then come for an hour or so. We can leave early.”

I considered it. Music and bowling sounded a lot better than studying. “Maybe. I’ll let you know.”

“Okay, bye.”

Levi was back in his seat when I hung up. “Rock ‘n’ Bowl, huh?”

“Have you been there? Is it cool?”

“Yes, I’ve been there. And it’s definitely an experience.”

“An experience?”

“Yeah, want to go and find out?” He flipped my pen around in his hand.

“Sure, for a little bit. Could you drive me home kind of early though?” If Levi was going, it would make things easier. We’d gone out as a group a lot, but this was actually the first time since the summer that we’d be arriving somewhere just the two of us.

“Of course. I wouldn’t want you too tired for your econ test.” He smiled. I knew he was making fun of me, but I refused to let him get a rise out of me.

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

“And, as always, the offer to come back here is on the table.”

I shook my head. “You just had to add that in, huh?”

“Come on, you can’t blame me.”

“All right, I’ll let Anne know.”

***

Rock ‘n’ Bowl wasn’t at all what I expected. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind how closely Levi stuck to my side as we walked inside. He easily moved us through the crowds of people who were drinking beer while listening to the loud music. We found my friends on a lane.

“Here you go.” Hailey tossed me a pair of socks.

“Thanks.” I caught the rolled up socks. “Wait, you really think I’m going to put on bowling shoes?”

“Of course. I’ve got your size eight and a half’s right here.” She gestured to a pair of red and blue bowling shoes.