The way with you the way.., p.3
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       The Way With You (The Way #2), p.3

           Anne Mercier
 
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  "You know what?" I ask, changing the topic to a lighter one.

  "What's that?" he asks.

  "You call Alexa, Lex; you call me Livvy or Three. I hate the nickname Seb like your, uh…"

  "Sluts," Alexa fills in for me.

  I nod. "Yeah, your sluts call you. I think you need a better nickname. One that we," I say, pointing between Lex and me, "won't share with anyone else. It'll just be ours."

  He grins. "Yeah?"

  I nod.

  "Let's hear it."

  I tap my finger on my lip and look to Lex who's also thinking. "Elevator Boy is just too long," I tease.

  "I'll give you a boy." He tickles my side and I let out a squeal.

  "Stop," I laugh. "Okay, okay, we're not using that anyway."

  He eases up and pulls me in tighter to him. It's comfortable. It's how we've always been.

  "I know!" I exclaim. "Remember how we met?"

  "In the elevator?" he asks.

  "Yeah, kinda, but more when we really talked the first time when I was going out the front doors…"

  "And you face planted into my chest," he chuckles.

  I nod. "Exactly. Something that goes with your name too."

  "Well, let's hear it!" Lex urges.

  "Bash."

  They both go quiet, their expressions contemplative.

  Lex nods. "Yes. That fits. It keeps that bad boy thing he's got going on and it's sexy too."

  I turn to Sebastian and see he's looking at me with just a tip of his lips to the right. "I like it."

  "Good! Bash, it is," I give him a quick hug and feel him smell my hair. There's that line again. He's been skirting it the last couple of weeks and if I'm not careful, I'm going to start to like it.

  I stand up and go back to my chair. "Let's finish this pizza before it gets cold. I've got a ton of homework to get through."

  "Oh screw that," Lex says. "You have one class tomorrow and I know for a fact your homework is already done. We're going to gorge on pizza and popcorn and soda and ice cream and watch a movie. It's been a long week for all of us, it seems."

  Lex has secrets—ones she's not ready to share yet and I can respect that. She knows whenever she's ready, I'm here to listen and support her however she needs. Just like she's done for me even though Cam is her brother.

  "Sounds like a plan," Bash tells us.

  "No she-whores tonight?" Alexa teases.

  "Nah. I'm taking a break from that."

  "What?" I ask. "Did you have another clinger? Poor Bashy."

  He narrows his eyes. "You know I can still reach you from here right?"

  I'm sure he could and he'd tickle the hell out of me for that, but I think he knows I'm not a huge fan of tickling. He's cut way down on that.

  "I know," I tell him, lifting my chin and taking a bit of my pizza.

  He chuckles at my false bravado.

  "What movie?" I ask Lex.

  "Jurassic World," she states, her tone makes it possible for her to leave off the "duh".

  "More Chris Pratt for Alexa," Bash teases.

  "He is so fine," she purrs. "I'd do him seven ways till Sunday and come back for thirds."

  I laugh. "What happened to seconds?"

  "I'll seconds the hell out of him."

  "Damn," Bash snickers.

  "That's one serious crush," I say aloud.

  Bash leans over to me as Lex gets ready to put the DVD in. "She does realize he's married, right?"

  My eyes widen and I shake my head.

  "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you say that because if you had said that, I'd have to cut out your tongue," Lex states flatly.

  I think she'd really do it.

  "I didn't say a thing," Bash tells her, then pulls me over to the sofa by him. "You can't see from there." He grabs my plate of pizza and hands it to me.

  "Thanks. I'll just be your ragdoll you can whip around at your will," I mock.

  "More like a porcelain doll he'd put on a pedestal," Lex murmurs so quietly I almost don't hear her—and because of what she's said, I pretend I don't.

  "What was that?" Bash asks.

  She shakes her head. "Nothing. Now be quiet. My lover's coming on screen."

  I look at Bash out of the corner of my eye and see him doing the same to me. I elbow him softly in his side and he wraps his arm around me, kisses the top of my head, and we settle in to watch the movie.

  four

  I wake up in my bed the next morning. I remember being lifted and carried to my bedroom and my shoes being removed before I curled into the softness of my bed. I think it was Cam. I hope it was Cam because whoever it is gave me the softest, most tender kiss on my lips that had me sighing.

  I open my eyes and turn my head. He's not there, but the indent on the pillow tells me he was. I can only imagine how tired he is. He's been doing football practices and watching films every waking minute he's not in class. I understand—at least I'm trying to. It sucks when your boyfriend has no time for you.

  I want this for him, for him to go pro. The fact that scouts are already looking at him, in his sophomore year, means he's for sure going to be drafted next year. Cam's wanted this his whole life—he told me that one night when he couldn't contain his anxiety. He's restless and excited and happy, and it'd be selfish of me to not be supportive of him… even if it leaves me alone.

  I stretch and let out a loud yawn.

  My bedroom door opens and Lex flops on my bed next to me.

  "She lives!" she teases.

  "I was tired."

  "So am I but I'm not lucky enough to only have one class on a Friday—an afternoon class at that!" she grumbles.

  "I'd say I'm sorry but I'm not."

  She flips me off and I laugh.

  "So," she begins, rolling over onto her side to face me.

  "So…"

  "I totally want a cuddle buddy like Bash. I'm jealous," she admits.

  I smirk. "I'm sure he'd cuddle with you, too, if you wanted."

  She shrugs.

  "Not who you had in mind?" I tease.

  "Not at all."

  "Tell me about this football player you're forbidden to date," I poke.

  Her eyes widen. "How did you know?"

  I roll my eyes. "Please. You keep him a secret when we tell each other everything else, and if you could, you'd totally flaunt him around because my guess is he's all big and sexy like Cam."

  "Ugh, don't say sexy and my brother's name in the same sentence."

  I laugh. "He is to me."

  "Did he wake you?" she asks.

  "No," I answer, my disappointment evident. "I didn't want sex, I just wanted him. Just some Cam time. He didn't even spoon me." I pout.

  Lex's eyes flare with anger. "What the hell?"

  I sigh again. "He's probably exhausted and thought if he woke me I'd want to fuck."

  "He should know better."

  "Agreed. I don't know what's going on with him… with us, but it isn't good," I admit.

  She grabs my hand. "I know. I see it happening, but it's just for the season, right?"

  I nod but inside I don't agree at all. I know it's not just for the season. It's his life.

  "It's probably best he didn't wake you last night. With breath like that, you'd probably have killed him," she jokes, laughing.

  I lean forward and blow my morning breath in her face.

  "Eww, gah. Stop!" she protests, still laughing, now with me.

  "I need to get up and get moving. I've got a meeting with Raven Ruiz."

  "Cheerleader Raven Ruiz?" she asks in disbelief.

  I nod. "I want to try out for the basketball squad."

  Lex's eyes are round saucers. "No shit."

  "No shit."

  "I should try out with you," she adds.

  "Do it! It'd be fun! I just need something to fill the void…" I trail off, not saying what I want to… now that Cam's barely got time f
or me. Three weeks. That's how long our bliss lasted. Fucking pro scouts.

  "I could." She pauses, thinking. "I should." Another pause. "I'm going to. Can I tag along?"

  I shrug. "Sure. I'm sure Raven will be great about it."

  "Cool! Go shower and get rid of that raunchy-ass breath you've got going on," she teases, shoving me out of the bed. I land on the floor with a thud and I can't stop laughing.

  After showering and beautifying myself, I slip on some leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, lace up my Chucks, and declare myself ready. Alexa gives me a look of disgust.

  "Hideous outfit yet you look hot. How do you manage that?" she asks, then adds, "Bitch."

  I smirk. "Not everyone finds it necessary to wear designer labels every second of the day."

  "Fools," she retorts.

  "Let's grab a coffee on the way. I hate cafeteria coffee. It's bitter and tastes burnt all the time," I tell Lex.

  "It's nasty. One time, because I was pissed off at—" she stops herself.

  "Almost slipped. You're going to tell me if I don't figure it out at the next party."

  She scoffs. "There's no way you'll figure it out. But anyway, I was pissed at someone so I poured cafeteria coffee into my Starbucks cup. He sat down next to me and took a drink and came out the other side sputtering."

  "You're so devious. It's both scary and entertaining."

  "Live in fear."

  "I shall."

  We order our coffees and are waiting for our names to be called when in comes the walking bottle of perfume that is psycho bitch Alison. Shit.

  Lex leans over and whispers, "At least since she's here, she won't be there, you know?"

  I nod, trying not to make it obvious I'm anxious. I can't even imagine what she has up her sleeve this time. I glance over out of the corner of my eye and see her glaring at me with that evil smirk on her face.

  "Let's get our coffee and get out of here so she doesn't get a chance to pour her scalding hot drink on you."

  "That sounds like an excellent idea." I pause. "I'm not afraid of her. She's just such a pain in the ass, you know? It seems like she's everywhere. And I'm tired of doing laundry."

  Lex nods. "Oh, I know you're not and that's what keeps her coming back. Then again, she'd feed off your fear, too, so there's no winning with that psycho."

  The barista calls our names, we grab our coffees, and head over to meet Raven.

  "So. You want to be cheerleaders."

  I look at Raven and nod. Raven is everything I'm not. She's tall with the perfect figure. She's gorgeous with her naturally tan skin, dark brown eyes, and long, silky black hair. I'd kill for that hair.

  "We do," Alexa answers.

  "You'll have to go through tryouts. There are three spots on the team this year. The competition isn't too bad, so if you're willing to work hard and take this seriously, that'll show during your routine," Raven tells us. She's super serious and it makes me wonder if I'm doing the right thing. Do I want to have something consume my life that much?

  Yes. I do. And this time, cheerleading will be for me. I'll actually get to enjoy it because I'm going to want to do it. I won't be as intense as Cam is with football, but I won't do a half-assed job either. I'll do the happy medium.

  "Beginning tryouts are Monday afternoon at five. We'll show you a routine and give you until Thursday to learn and practice on your own. If you need help or want to work on it with some of the girls on the squad, just say the word. That's what we're here for," she finishes.

  "Sounds good," I answer, not knowing what else to say.

  "Now that the business is out of the way," Raven begins, "tell me how you wrangled Cameron Stone, self-declared bachelor for life."

  I've been getting this question—a lot and I hate the attention. I like to blend into the background a bit when I can, but those days are gone. As Cameron Stone's girlfriend, I'm constantly in the spotlight.

  "I don't know. It just happened," is my lame response.

  "We all grew up in the same town," Lex adds.

  "Ah, so you knew each other before," Raven deduces.

  "Yes, but we didn't like each other," I admit and immediately wish I could take it back when I see Raven's friend standing behind her with excitement in her eyes. Great. I just gave the gossipmongers more to gossip about.

  "So it's one of those love/hate things. That's so hot," Raven tells me.

  I just shrug. Not so hot when I was on the receiving end of the 'hate' part.

  I look at the clock and curse under my breath. I'm going to be late if I don't hurry.

  "Time to go or I'm going to be late."

  Lex nods.

  "We'll see you on Monday," Raven chirps. I lift my hand in a wave and that's when I see her. Alison. She's standing there with that smug smirk on her lips again—the one I'd love to slap off her face.

  Alexa looks over at me. "What's wrong?"

  I just sigh and turn to leave. "Alison."

  Lex looks over. "What the hell? She's got a serious problem."

  "I know."

  "It's creepy."

  "And then some."

  "Does it scare you?" Lex asks.

  "Honestly? A little, yeah. She's crazy," I whisper.

  I make it to my appointment just in time. Everyone thinks I have a class right now. I don't know why I'm hiding this from my friends—my family knows. This is something I need to do to get past—things.

  "Olivia?" Dr. Wheeler says softly, a smile on his face. I know him well enough by now to know that it's not fake—the smile and kind voice. It's who he is. I got lucky when I randomly picked a name.

  "Hi doc," I reply walking into his office. He closes the door behind me and I take a seat on the sofa across from his chair. It's a lovely wingback chair I'd love to have in my home some day. I'm a fan of wingback chairs—don't ask me why because I don't know the answer.

  "What's been going on this week, Olivia?" he begins.

  I start fidgeting, picking at my cuticles. "More of the same. School and homework."

  He nods. "Any social activities?"

  I nod. "I hang out with Lex and Bash, as you know."

  "Bash?" he questions.

  I smile. "Yeah. I hate having to say Sebastian all the time, and I am not calling him Seb or Sebby. Those nicknames don't fit him. Bash seemed to fit."

  He nods and writes something down.

  "Anything else?"

  "We went to a party last weekend. I didn't drink but everyone else did," I tell him reluctantly.

  "Why do you say it like that?"

  "Well," more fidgeting, "as you know, Cam's been really busy with football and I hardly ever see him."

  I pause.

  "Go on. What you say here, stays here."

  "I just wish that he wasn't drunk during the little time we do have together." I sigh.

  "How does it make you feel when he's drinking and partying when you'd rather be alone?"

  "Hurt. Angry. Disappointed. Mostly disappointed. I get it. I do. It's important. It's his future, but…" I trail off, picking at the invisible lint on my leggings.

  "But you should be important too," he finishes for me.

  I nod, breathing deeply past the disappointment and hurt filling my heart. "I don't know how long it will last."

  Admitting that rips the tear in my heart a little more.

  "You think it will last longer than just the season?"

  "Yep. He already told me about some camps and things his coach has lined up for him—which is good," I say, trying not to cry.

  "It's good for him, that's true. But what about you, Olivia?" he asks, pinning me to the wall with the question I've tossed around in my mind the last three weeks—since Cam all but disappeared from my life.

  "What about me?"

  "What's good for you? Is waiting around for Cam good for you? This may go on indefinitely."

  I look up at the doc. "What are you trying to sa
y? You don't have to hedge. Lay it out there."

  "All right. This is ultimately your decision as it's your life. But, you don't know how long Cam's vacancy in your life is going to last—if it ever ends. This could very well be permanent with his career goals," he tells me, a touch of sympathy coating his voice.

  "I know. And we've only been together a few months." Thinking about it, how it all came into play, I start to get angry. "Do you know he didn't even tell me he wasn't going to be around? He promised phone calls and texts. Those don't happen much at all now. He just kinda faded away."

  "You did mention that."

  "I only see him Friday and Saturday night—if I'm lucky. And if I'm really lucky, he's not drinking and he'll want to spend time with me. Too bad I have shit luck, huh, doc?" I question, the defeat weighing on me heavily.

  "Have you discussed any of this with Cam?"

  "I tried."

  "What happened?"

  "The same thing that happened when I tried to tell him about psycho Alison and her bullying—nothing. He blew it off—he blew me off. He told me it wouldn't be so bad and that it was just for a little while… but I'm not sure I believe him anymore," I confess.

  "It seems you have a decision to make. I can see the unhappiness growing each time you come see me, but this week it's been so pronounced it's worrisome. You can't continue to live in limbo."

  "I know. I just… what really pisses me off, doc, is that he doesn't take the bullying Alison has been doing seriously. It's like I'm inconveniencing him when I talk to him about anything other than football." I gasp and put my hand to my mouth, my eyes wide as I realize what I've just said.

  "It helps to talk it out, Olivia. You discover things you didn't know were bothering you. This bullying isn't something that sits well with me. Something needs to be done to stop it," Dr. Wheeler tells me.

  "There's not much I can do about her. She told everyone she goes to school here but that's a total lie. She's just here because of her cousin, Brittany—another of my bullies—well, that and the fact she doesn't want to go home and face her father."

  "Why's that?"

  "I guess she got kicked out of Boston because she took her bullying a little too far one night at her sorority. One of the girls was forced to drink too much and ended up having to have her stomach pumped. Another girl got hurt. She said Alison pushed her down the stairs but no one saw it so it was Alison's word against a freshman pledge," I inform him.

 
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