Focus (Page 52)

“Good night, Levi.” I got out of the car smiling. We’d had a huge fight—but we’d gotten through it. Maybe things really could work between us.

Chapter Twenty-One

“What do you mean you can’t meet me?” I whispered loudly as I walked out of the stacks at the library. A few kids turned to glare at me as I walked past.

“I’m sorry. My dad needs me for something.”

“Can you at least drop off my notebook?” I slumped down on a couch outside the glass doors. I was technically allowed to be on my phone now, but I still felt rude. A study group sat together a few feet away.

“Not now. I’ll bring it by tonight though.”

“But the art history test is in the morning,” I grumbled. I’d forgotten my notebook in his car after we’d studied the other day.

“I’m not in the city right now…”

“Oh, so how do you know you’ll be back tonight?”

“Because I will.”

“Fine. See you later.”

“Men can be frustrating sometimes, can’t they?” Michelle snuck up on me. She took a seat on the couch.

“Yeah, they can.” I was too tired from studying to put on an act. It’s not like a couple had to be happy one hundred percent of the time.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. Levi has your art history notebook?”

“Yes. I left it at his place. And before you say it, I realize it wouldn’t be an issue if I’d just take notes on a computer like everyone else.”

She smiled. “I wasn’t going to say that. But it’s true…”

“Well, I probably should get back to trying to reread the entire text.”

“Who’s your professor? Is it Anders?”

“Yeah.”

“I made a pretty awesome study guide when I had her last semester. I could send it to you.”

“Really?” Then I thought about it for a second and my excitement waned. “Wait, why would you help me?”

She laughed dryly. “Okay, I know we didn’t get off to the best start, but I’m not out to get you.”

“And I should take your word because…?”

“What choice do you have?”

I shrugged. “None.”

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for being a bitch.”

“What?”

“I was jealous, and I took it out on you. It wasn’t cool. Okay?”

“You were jealous? Why?”

“I thought you had it easy. You got to spend your life with the guy you loved.” She paused. “Funny, huh?”

I smiled. “Easy? That’s a good one.”

“But then I realized I had it wrong. I heard the rumors. I know what happened.”

My chest tightened, here came the blackmail.

“Whoa, calm down.”

I guess she read the panic on my face.

“Levi didn’t tell you what you were getting yourself into, did he?”

I looked away, wishing I had a way out of the conversation.

“Everyone knows. Everyone.” She gave me a knowing look.

“Everyone?”

She looked over her shoulder. Satisfied the study group wasn’t listening she continued. “Even the king.”

“Oh my god.”

“He doesn’t care. As long as you stay with Levi, it’s fine. He’s going to make sure you stay.”

“It’s not like I want to leave…Levi and I are making things work.”

“But you don’t really know how to handle it all, right?”

“I guess. I just need some time to think.”

“Are you going home for break?”

“Kind of. I’m meeting my mom in Vermont. Hailey volunteered to come with me.”

“She hates me, doesn’t she?”

“She thinks you look down on her.”

Michelle laughed. “Maybe I did, but I don’t anymore.”

“Good. If we’re going to be friends, you’re going to have to at least try to be friends with her too.”

“I know. I’ll go email you that study guide.”

“Thanks.”

“If I don’t see you, enjoy the break.”

“You too. Good luck on exams.” I waved goodbye and shook my head in wonder. Michelle being nice?

***

“Pick up your phone or shut it off,” Hailey grumbled.

I looked at my digital alarm clock. It was two thirty a.m.

I picked up my phone and squinted to read the display. Another missed call from Levi. Before I could put it back down, he sent a text.

I know it’s late, but I have your notebook. Can you come down?

Late? It’s the middle of the night.

Please come down.

Fine. I eventually relented. As annoyed as I was about him ditching me, I couldn’t deny how much I wanted to see him. I missed him, and I knew I’d probably miss him a whole lot more in the days to come. I needed time to clear my head, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t craving his presence.

He leaned against the wall outside, dressed in a tank and jeans. He must have flown. “Hey.” He straightened out when he saw me.

“Hi.” I pushed my glasses back toward my eyes.

“You’re mad, aren’t you?”

“You’d be dead, except Michelle saved you.”

“Michelle?”

“Yeah, she gave me her study notes from last semester.” I zipped up my hoodie, realizing how exposed I was since I hadn’t bothered to put on a bra.

“So, in other words, I owe her.”

“Yes.”

“Well, here’s this if you still want it.” He held out my notebook.

“Want to know what to get me for Christmas?”

He smiled, probably thinking our previous discussion was over and he was off the hook. “Yes, although I’m probably going to surprise you anyway.”

“An ultra-light laptop. Find me one to bring to class. This isn’t happening again.”

He laughed. “All right, I’ll get you one. You’ve never asked me for anything before.”

“You know how much I hate dealing with technology, and I won’t be near an electronics store over break.”

“Are you sure I can’t come with you?” His expression suddenly turned serious.

“No. It’s not because I don’t want to spend the holidays with you, but I need time with my mom.”

“If you change your mind, I can get there anytime.”