Focus (Page 8)

“But we’re practically there already.” Like French, Art History was right next to my dorm.

“So, it’s really not a big deal.”

“Fine,” I sighed. It was impossible to shake him off.

“I’ll be over to get you at seven.”

“Hailey and I can just take a cab.” One of the annoying parts of being a freshman is that we couldn’t have our cars on campus.

“What are you talking about? Hailey isn’t coming.”

I grabbed his arm. “Yes, she is. I’m not going without her.”

“Are you serious? Do you realize how ridiculous that is?”

“What’s ridiculous is you expecting me to go to a meeting with you with zero advance warning. What if I had plans?” I released his arm, backing away.

“Plans? You don’t have plans.”

“It’s a Thursday night. Everyone goes out on Thursdays. We were going to check out Margarita Night at Vera Cruz.”

“If we get out early, I’ll take you.” He put a hand on the back of his neck. “Besides, I can get you cheap Margaritas anytime.”

“That’s not the point of going, and you know it. Anyway, I’m not budging. You want me to come, Hailey’s in too.” I put a hand on my hip.

“Fine. But I’m driving you both. There is no way we’re showing up separately.”

“Deal. See you at seven.”

“It’s a date.”

“No, it’s a meeting.”

He ran a hand down my arm, giving me goose bumps. “Remember what I said, one day we’ll be laughing about this.”

“Keep telling yourself that.” I pulled my books from him and prepared to walk away.

“Oh, and try to wear something red tonight. If it happens to be short, I won’t mind either.”

I glared at him. “What’s with you and red?”

“It’s a family color.”

“See you later, Levi.”

***

Hailey was highlighting in her anthropology book when I got back to our room. “Hey, how was class?”

“Levi was in it.”

She laughed. “So, in other words, it was fantastic.”

“I think I’d use another word.” I dropped my books on my desk, leaving my tote bag on my desk chair.

“Yeah, I bet.”

“But, he did tell me about some meeting at Commander’s Palace. He’s picking us up at seven.” I kicked off my flip flops.

“What? Did you just say us?” Hailey set her book down.

“Yeah. I refused to go without you.”

“Oh my god, I love you, Allie Davis.” She threw her highlighter across the room when she got up to hug me.

I laughed, detangling myself from her embrace. “I take it you wanted an invite?”

“This is huge. I never get invited to meetings, let alone one this big. Owen didn’t even get to go until last year. Wow. I can’t believe it.”

“Owen didn’t go until last year? Why? Was that Levi’s first?”

“No, Levi’s been going for years, and so has Jared. They didn’t invite Owen until he was twenty-one and only because Levi insisted on it.”

“So why did Jared get to go?” I kind of assumed Owen and Jared were pretty much equals.

“Jared gets to go because of his dad. Do you know anything about Jett Florence?”

“That’s Jared’s dad, I take it. I have no idea who he is.” I sat down on my bed, leaning my back against the wall.

“I guess you could call him our General. He runs all security and military for The Society.”

“Oh. So where do you and Owen fit in?”

Hailey picked up her highlighter from the floor. “My dad’s an engineer. He doesn’t have an official position with The Society. You can’t repeat this, but they’re banking on Levi giving Owen a spot so our family gets more clout.”

“So they must like that we’re friends and everything.” I had no clue where Hailey and her family fit in the hierarchy. I’d always assumed they were high up.

“Definitely. I think they’re just scared I’m going to do something to screw things up. I did send you running into the arms of the Cougars.”

“You did not! That was all Levi. Don’t let anyone blame you.”

“I just couldn’t lie to my friend, even if it was to help Levi.” She sat back down on her bed.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” Hailey looked nervous.

“I think I already know the answer, but I need to hear it from you. You’re not just my friend and roommate because it’s a job, right?”

“No way! I liked you way before any of that. It just works out that I can protect you at the same time, you know?”

“Yeah, it does.”

“So, now can we talk about fun things?”

I laughed. “Fun things?”

“What are we wearing tonight?”

“Levi wants me to wear red.”

She picked up a skirt she had lying out on her bed. “Of course, he does.”

“What’s all of that about? He just said it’s his family color. It has to do with all the ruby stuff, right?”

“Yeah. The ruling family chooses a stone to represent them.”

The pieces started fitting together. “Oh…so my wearing red, like I did at the party at his house this summer, shows that I’m one of them.”

“Yes. But I think Levi also just thinks you look hot in red.”

“He also asked me to wear something short, so you’re probably not too far off.”

“Are you in the mood to torture him?”

“Torture him?”

Hailey went over to her closet and pulled out a short, red, halter dress.

“Are you serious?”

“It’s going to look incredible on you, and technically you’re doing what he asked. It’s red and short, but it’s also going to drive him mad. It’ll probably remind him who really has the power.”

“Does the fact that I’m totally going to do it make me evil?”

“No, it makes you normal. You’re mad at him, but you also want him—a sexy dress serves both purposes.”

I threw a pillow at her. She ducked out of the way. “What? Are you going to deny either of those charges?”

I wanted to deny the second one, but I couldn’t. “We kissed.” I buried my face in my hands.