Focus (Page 51)

“Helen, let’s eat please.” Robert’s demand let me know our talk was over.

Levi gave me a quick glance, as if to warn me to stay quiet.

I barely touched my dinner, only pushing the meat around on the plate to avoid offending Helen. As I sat there staring at my plate, I made a decision. If Levi didn’t support me on this, then we were over.

“Would you like some dessert? Coffee?” Helen asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“No, thank you. I really need to get back and study.”

“Right now?” Levi finished off the last of his meal, placing his silverware down on the plate.

“Yes. If you want to stay, I’ll just call a cab.” I hoped he heard the coldness in my voice.

“No, I can take you.” He jumped up.

I put my napkin on the table and pushed in my chair. “Thanks for dinner.” I addressed only Helen. I couldn’t stand to look at Robert. I didn’t bother to get my cardigan.

“Hey, slow down.” Levi caught up with me just as I reached his car.

I turned to face him. “Please tell me you don’t agree with him. You’re going to tell him there’s no way I’m quitting school, right?”

He put his hands in his pockets, a decidedly non-Levi mannerism. “Allie, it’s just a year. This is really important. And my dad’s right, there are all sorts of online programs now.”

I tried to swallow down the huge lump that was stuck in my throat. “I can’t just get my biochem degree online. Didn’t you hear anything I said?”

“Come on, get in the car. I’d rather they not watch us fighting.” He gestured to the house.

I didn’t particularly want them watching either, so I got in. He closed my door and got in himself, starting the engine just as I’d buckled my seatbelt.

“I’m waiting.”

“For what?” He took his eyes off the road to look at me.

“Did you hear anything I said? I can’t do labs online.”

“You just decided on that major a few months ago. You can just change your mind again.” I’m not sure if it was the actual words, or the fact that he didn’t look at me when he said it that made me angrier.

“Stop the car!”

“No way, we’re going back to my place.”

I twisted my hands in my lap. “Not a chance in hell.”

“Calm down.”

“Calm down? You know how important school is to me!”

“And you’ll get a degree one way or another. Who cares how you get it?”

My anger nearly choked me. “Either stop this car now, or I jump out while it’s moving.”

“I’d like to see that.”

I fumbled with the automatic lock on my door, pushing it open.

Levi slammed on the brakes and pulled over. “Jesus, Allie.”

“I warned you.” I got out, needing to get as far away from Levi as possible.

“Calm down.” He came around to my side of the car.

“No, I’m not going to calm down. You promised me I wouldn’t have to give up anything else to be with you. Now you’re asking me to drop out of school.”

“No, I’m asking you to take classes in a different way.”

“You got to do four years of college traditionally, why can’t I? Why do I have to go with you?”

“And you say I don’t listen?” He wrung his hands. “I can’t do it without you. You are the symbol of my power. Get it through your head.”

“The symbol of your power? What about my power?”

“Your power? A few months ago you didn’t even know about The Society.”

“I’m not talking about The Society. I’m talking about power over my own life. I finally move out from under my parents and now you do this to me?”

Levi finally looked at me. “Are you crying, Al?”

I nodded, and seconds later his arms came around me. “This is really important to you, isn’t it?”

I tried to compose myself. “Yes.”

“Then we’ll figure something out.”

I looked up at him from underneath wet eyelashes. “You’ll talk to your dad?”

“I think we can work this out ourselves.” He brushed a few tears off my face.

“How?”

“I’m thinking. Maybe we can just pack your schedule with Tuesday/Thursday classes so you can take long weekends.”

“And we’re just going to travel the world on the weekends?”

He put a hand under my chin to make me look up at him. “I don’t mind spending my Thursday nights on a private jet alone with you? Do you have any problem with it?”

“A private jet?”

“How did you think we were traveling? You thought I was going to fly you across the globe?”

“No, but…”

“Will you get back in the car now?”

I barely had the energy to stand. “Yes.”

“Will you come home with me?”

“Not tonight. I really just need to catch my breath.” Everything was happening too fast. I just wanted things to move at a normal pace.

“Tomorrow night then?”

“I have a final in two days.”

“Normally I’d make a comment about how obsessive you are about school, but I’m guessing that would be a bad idea right now.”

“You’re learning.”

“Come on. Let me get you to your dorm.” With an arm around my shoulder, he led me back to the car. He bent down and gently kissed me before closing the door.

We rode back to campus in silence, but he had his hand on my leg the whole time. I think that was his way of letting me know we were okay.

He pulled to a stop in his usual spot. “I don’t like fighting with you. Let’s try to go a few days without it.”

“I’d like that.”

“Want to meet up and study tomorrow?”

“You want to study?” I didn’t think Levi ever studied.

“Sure. We should probably go over art history.”

“All right, what time?”

“Ten. We can go to breakfast first if you want.”

“Then make it nine.”

“Nine? Isn’t that a little early?”

“Do you want to meet up or what?”

“Yes. I’ll be there at nine.”

“Perfect.” I leaned over and kissed him.

“You sure you won’t come home with me? It’s not too late.”