Focus (Page 9)

“You kissed? When? Was it on move in day? It was, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“What kind of kiss?” She sat forward.

“The ‘it almost became much more’ kind.”

“Yeah, you really want him.”

“I know.” I turned and flopped back on my bed.

“You do realize that it isn’t a bad thing, right? It makes things easier, and it isn’t something to feel bad about.”

“Is this friend Hailey speaking, or Pteron Hailey?”

“Both.” She came to sit on the edge of my bed. “Are you going to tell me about the kiss?”

“It was just a really good kiss.”

“As good as before…”

“Yeah, if not better because I missed kissing him. Oh my god, what’s wrong with me, Hailey? I can’t feel this way after what he did to me.”

“Why not? I’m not telling you to go jump him or anything, but you can’t just ignore the feelings either—why not have some fun? Wear the dress.”

“Only if you wear something sexy too. I’m not going to be the only one.”

“Deal. There are a few boys going I wouldn’t mind catching the eyes of.”

“You could probably attract them in pajamas.”

“Just like you could turn on Levi, but if you’re doing it, you might as well do it in style.”

“All right, let’s do this.”

Chapter Five

I checked my reflection in the mirror one more time before grabbing a black clutch and following Hailey out of the room. I’d opted to go with some stilettos, and I hoped my feet wouldn’t hate me by the end of the night.

If someone’s jaw could actually be on the floor, Levi’s would have been when we walked outside. He was waiting for us impatiently. His face was set in a frown until he noticed us approaching. The frown quickly became something else entirely.

“Wow, you look incredible.” He took a few steps closer to me.

“Thanks.” I turned around to give him the full effect. “Does it meet your specifications?”

“Do I need to answer that?”

“What about me? Do I look incredible?” Hailey teased.

“Of course, Hailey. Although you’re not old enough to wear a dress like that.”

“I’m the same age as Allie.” She glared at him.

“You’ll always be twelve to me.”

Hailey shook her head. “You’re worse than Owen.”

Levi shrugged. “I’m just being honest. Shall we?” He gestured toward where he parked his black BMW over on the street.

“Sure.” I linked arms with Hailey before he could even try to put an arm around me.

Levi opened up both the passenger door and the backdoor behind it.

I moved toward the back. “You can sit in the front, Hail.”

“No, I don’t mind the back.”

I didn’t miss the look that passed between them.

I took a seat, and Levi lingered for a moment before closing my door.

“I don’t have to remind you how important it is that you go along with everything tonight, do I?” He pulled out onto the road.

“No, I get it.” I looked out the window, annoyed at myself for how much I liked the way he looked in the navy sports coat he was wearing. I distracted myself by watching how the moonlight lit up the beautiful live oak trees. There really was something almost magical about New Orleans.

He put a hand on my bare leg. “Al?”

“Yeah?” I looked toward him.

“You really do look incredible.”

“You don’t look so bad yourself.” I heard Hailey laugh and turned around to see her making a kissing face. She was lucky I couldn’t reach her.

Levi laughed. He must have seen her in the rearview mirror.

“So, is there anything I should know before we get there?” If I was going into the lion’s den, I wanted to be prepared.

“Nothing other than the fact that my dad thinks you agreed to marry me next summer.”

I reached up and grabbed the ‘oh my god’ bar. “Excuse me?”

“Chill out, we can always tell him we pushed it off further, but he was worried. If I didn’t say that, he would have called your dad to make sure he wasn’t the problem. I figured you preferred it this way.”

I sighed. “It is preferable to getting my dad involved. It was bad enough telling him I wasn’t going to Princeton.”

“I told you I’d talk to him…”

“And what would that have helped?”

“He likes me—or at least he likes my name.” That was the first time Levi had acknowledged my dad’s response to his background and money.

“Please tell me the wedding is the only surprise.”

“It is. You might get a few questions about why you aren’t living with me. The wedding is just a formality for you and the outside world.”

“I’ll just say I’m traditional.”

Hailey laughed again. “You obviously realize they know you two have slept together, right? I mean you wouldn’t be his mate otherwise.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I’d want to move in with him.” I looked at Levi even though I was answering Hailey.

Levi turned, and I knew we were getting close. I took a deep breath; I could handle this. Levi squeezed my leg, and I realized he hadn’t moved his hand the whole drive. I hadn’t stopped him. Levi grinned as he watched my realization. I groaned.

Levi stopped the car, and a guy came around immediately to open his door. There was something funny about him, but I couldn’t place it. He was large and bulky. “Hello, Sir. Welcome.”

Levi nodded, leaving his keys and coming around the car to open the door for both of us. He helped me out and put an arm around my waist. I didn’t shake it off. I needed to play the part. Even Hailey had reiterated about twenty times how important this meeting was.

“That valet wasn’t human, was he?” I asked quietly before we reached the entrance.

He leaned in. “Nope. He’s a Silver.”

“Oh, but he wasn’t silver.”

Levi laughed lightly. “Silver as in silverbacks.”

“A gorilla?” I gasped.

“Exactly.”

I nodded. I guess I’d eventually get used to all of these new groups. Well, only if I stuck around long enough to find out.

“You ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I glanced behind me to make sure Hailey was with us. She was grinning. At least I was able to get her into this meeting—one positive thing.