All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1) (6 page)

BOOK: All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1)
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After doing some reading for a few of my classes, I dial Mum’s number. I have spoken to her only once this week. Mum finished work a few hours ago, so right now she is probably watching soaps with my sister.

She picks up straightaway. “Hey, Indi.”

“Hey, Mum,” I reply, feeling a little homesick. I hear the TV in the background, so I know that she is still watching something.

“So, are you going to tell us all about Braxton? You have been very secretive lately,” she says with her usual high-pitched tone.

“Classes started, so I got my timetable sorted, and I went to my first rowing session today,” I announce proudly.

“That’s great, sweetie. So how is Dora settling in? Do you like the campus?”

I don’t respond immediately, wondering if I should mention anything about Dora finding a new boyfriend already. Mum knows Dora, but I don’t think she realizes that my best friend doesn’t settle in well in strange places without the company of men. “She is dating someone. A guy from the rugby team.”

“Dora isn’t wasting her time, I see. So how did she meet him?”

“By accident. Oliver threw the ball and it hit me and—”

“Hold on. Oliver? Do you mean Oliver Morgan? Christian’s brother?” she asks, making that terrible assumption. Mum can tell that I’m talking about “my” Oliver because of my tone of voice. She always used to ask me why I went out with a guy like Christian. I want to bite my tongue and just forget about what I said, but I know that Mum won’t let me.

“Yeah, it turns out that he is here in Braxton,” I say quietly as the heat blazes over my spine. Even talking about him brings that unexpected twist in my stomach, the warmth that I can’t get away from.

“Indi, what is he doing in Braxton? I heard from his mother that he was in Scotland.”

“That’s what I thought,” I mutter. “But now he is here and he’s changed, Mum. He cut his hair, started working out and he plays rugby.”

“I sense that you aren’t very happy about that, Indi. From what I remember, you guys kind of drifted apart.” Mum always knows what is going on in my life, even if I don’t. She knew that I stopped talking to him right after Christian’s death.

“He is nothing like in high school. Here he is the captain of the rugby team and the girls are all over him. Dora thinks that he is amazing, but I’m annoyed that he ended up in Braxton. He knew that I always planned to end up here.”

“Maybe that’s why he is there, because of you. I haven’t seen his mother in a while, but he had a scholarship in Scotland. He was doing really well, so I don’t understand.”

She is right. Oliver’s decisions are confusing. He was always interested in politics and he was adamant about moving far away from his family. That’s why he ended up in Scotland. He achieved that, but I don’t get why he decided to throw all that hard work away. Dora mentioned that he is studying Sports and Management. I’ve known him all my life and he was never interested in sports. He couldn’t even kick a ball. This doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Mum is right: maybe Oliver moved here because of me, because he wants revenge.

But even if I agree with her, I don’t intend to drag her into the subject of Oliver. “I don’t think that I have anything to do with his decision. We don’t talk. He made it clear that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

Mum and I talk about my classes, about Braxton and my plans. Mum has been out with a few guys, but she isn’t dating anyone seriously. It’s been almost five years since Dad died and she is finally starting to come back to her normal self. Then I chat with Josephine a little. My sister is currently studying for A-levels. She wants to be a doctor and is planning to come to Braxton in a few years.

Later I curl up in bed with my books and text Dora, trying to find out if she’ll be at home tomorrow. She assures me that she needs a little time for herself, so I should expect her at home.

Then I fall asleep thinking about Oliver, wondering if deep down he really wants a payback. It’s been two years. Maybe it’s time to let go. We’ve both changed, but he still doesn’t know what happened to me at that party. If he had been there, maybe things would be different now.

Chapter six

Going forward

Present

The weeks pass by and everything is slowly falling into place. I attend my classes and rowing training not thinking about the fact that I’m a target. I’m aware that Oliver hasn’t abandoned his cruel game. He still wants to get rid of me. Dora spends a lot of time in Jacob’s house that he shares with Oliver and a few other guys. When we have a chance to see each other she gives me a full report on what is going on up there. Only last week she mentioned that she saw at least three girls leaving Oliver’s bedroom in the space of a few days. Mackenzie was the one that left his room more often than the others.

Whenever Dora mentions him and who he is sleeping with my gut twists with jealousy. I don’t even know why I care about those girls. They have him and they own him. He is my dark past. He is the shadow of his brother, no matter how much he’s changed.

October passes and nothing has happened since that day in the canteen when Oliver ruined my food. I don’t see him that often and when I do, he treats me like I don’t exist. I tend not to notice him, but sometimes I feel like he is watching me, waiting for any moment of distraction.

I stayed and he doesn’t seem to be bothered, but deep down I know that he is planning something. Christian was perfect in everyone’s eyes, but I saw his dark side, his sadistic games and twisted thoughts. I understood him on much deeper lever than anyone else ever had, that’s why he choose that time in the party to show me his true self. The pain that he caused shredded my soul and it still does. Bullying Oliver helped me to deal with the nightmare. If I made him miserable, I felt healed.

Rowing training is going well. In the past week I started seeing Oliver more than I would want because he keeps picking up Mackenzie just after the session. Every time they leave she gives me a smile as if she wants to show me that he is hers.

I beat her a few times, but she is much fitter than me. I don’t know what I’m trying to prove to myself. That I’m better than her? That Oliver would change his mind and he would look at me the way he is looking at her? He will never forget what I did to him, and he would never choose me.

***

In the beginning of November I walk to the library hoping to study a few cases for the assignment that is due next month. I choose the quiet corner since I’ve got a few hours. I’m the only person in that section. I need to get on top of the reading. Some of the classes are tough, so I need to work harder for the good grades I want.

I haven’t posted anything on my blog, but I’m planning to go to the cinema this weekend with Dora, if she hasn’t made any plans already. It will be hard to persuade her to see a horror film. The library is peaceful and I’m glad that I’m the only one in the room. Braxton is my new home now, and it’s much more that I imagined it would be.

I’m alone for the first hour, but after that a student takes the table in front of me. He is studying economics, judging from the materials that he has with him. He is tall, built like an athlete, with longish baby blond hair and flat nose. He stares at me for several seconds before he goes back to his books.

“Hey, have you got a pen?” he asks, smiling after a few minutes of intense searching in his pockets. I reach into my bag wondering if I brought any extra pens. Luckily, I find one and pass it to him. I have to give him points for a nice smile and his fabulous T-shirt. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like he has a foreign accent. Swedish or Norwegian maybe.

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” I reply.

I get back to my case, and he starts taking out all his books. For the next hour and a half we both work in silence. Sometimes I have to read the text several times because I think that the guy in front of me keeps staring at me. I glance at him once or twice, but he doesn’t look at me. My mind wanders off to Gargle. Mum insists that I visit before Christmas, but I’m not quite sure if I can take a break, I’ve got so much coursework to hand in before December.

“Hey, I’m going to be that lame guy and ask what are you studying?” this blond guy with the cutest accent on this planet says unexpectedly. “I’m only asking because I need to have a reason to talk to you.”

I lift my head and look into his incredible blue eyes. “I’m doing law, as you can see. Boring and predictable,” I reply, smiling.

“Law. Wow, so you’re brainy then?”

“No, just determined and probably stupid. I have no idea what is coming to me in the near future.” I laugh. My films pushed me into studying criminal law. I’m just fascinated about the power that I could gain because of who I am. “By the way, I’m going to ask a lame question. Your accent, is it—”

“Swedish. Yeah, it’s noticeable, I guess.” He laughs.

“So what’s a guy like you doing studying in the evenings instead of enjoying university life?” I ask, chewing my pen. It’s only the beginning of the term.

He frowns, scratching his head, still staring at me. Then he gets up and walks to the table next to me and sits down. “The same as you, trying to study, but it was just a waste of time because I’ve been distracted since I came into the library.”

“I don’t get it; this is the best place to read. It’s quiet,” I tell him, feeling a little nervous talking to him. Since Christian’s death I’ve mostly stayed away from men. I survived because I hated Oliver. I tried to date a few other guys, but after losing my virginity to some loser I gave up on acting normal. The panic attacks kept coming back, so I decided to stay away from opposite sex.

He smiles, playing with the pen. “It’s difficult not to get distracted if a beautiful girl like you sits in front of me.”

I blush. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to distract you.”

“It’s okay. I just needed an excuse to talk to you. I’m Alexander, by the way.”

“India.”

“Are you done with your reading?” he asks, getting up.

I don’t know what to say or how to react. My stomach is in knots, and I glance around wondering if this is one of Oliver’s traps or if he is watching me right now. “No, but I doubt that I could concentrate on this right now. I must have burned my brain.”

“You’ll probably think that I’m crazy or rude, but I want to take you out for a coffee. I know that we just met, but I might regret this for the rest of my life if I don’t ask.” He bites his lips, folding his large arms together.

I have to admit his accent is super cute and I like him being that forward. My demons won’t leave me alone if I don’t even try to move on. I need to give myself another chance and just start seeing men. Not all of them are bad.

“I think that might be a little bit difficult as the coffee shop is now closed. It’s after nine.” My voice cracks and I blush again. I don’t know what is wrong with me. Alexander is probably a nice guy and I’m panicking because he took an interest in me. I need to get a grip.

He starts closing my books, smiling. His blue eyes are so different from Oliver’s. I shake my head.
Stop thinking about him. He isn’t worth it.

“Don’t worry I know where we can go,” he says, watching me intensely. “If you want to, that is.”

What the hell. I can do this.
“Yeah, sure. Why not?”

“Are you sure?”

I pack all my books in my rucksack and push him forward. “Chill, it’s fine. I need to get out of here anyway.”

Maybe I’m out of my mind pretending that I’m emotionally stable and agreeing to go out with some random guy that I just met, but I have to at least try. I can’t stay miserable for the rest of my life.

It’s raining when we get outside, but Alexander is prepared. He has an umbrella.

I keep telling myself that I’m going to be fine. Fifteen minutes later, we run to a small cozy bistro. He comes back with a liqueur coffee that I accept with a smile.

We start chatting away, and soon I realize that Alexander is a decent guy who has been in the UK for a while. He studied in Braxton last year and loved it so much that he decided to come back for the next year. He is originally from Oslo, studying economics. Alexander sounds like he really wants to get to know me. He asks the right questions and doesn’t talk about himself all the time.

“So your friend Dora bailed on you for that new hot guy?” he asks, once I go over my past few weeks on campus. Dora is always a hot subject and I wish that she could be here with me. She always knows how to behave when it comes to guys. She can just wrap them around her little finger. Dora is an expert in flirting, like I used to be—before that terrible party at Christian’s house.

Sipping my amaretto coffee, I start ranting about films and my blog for about half an hour. When I finally let him say something, he shares with me his obsession with extreme sports. It turns out that he is some kind of adrenaline junkie. He is doing a bungee jump next month somewhere in Cornwall. He lives in the south part of the city with a few French guys. We talk for while and before we even know, it’s after eleven and I need to get going as I have an early lecture.

He walks me to my apartment that I share with Dora. “I had a really good time. Is it all right if I take your number?”

I hesitate. I have this odd gut feeling that I should say no, but Alexander seems like a nice guy.

He narrows his eyes, watching me closely before he adds, “Okay, I’m backing off. I know that I shouldn’t ask, but I feel like I’ve known you for years.”

“It’s okay, of course. I’m such an idiot. I had a really good time as well.”

Alexander types his number into my phone and smiles. “You’re not an idiot; you’re just careful, I presume,” he says looking straight into my eyes. “I’m taking you to the cinema this weekend…of course if you don’t have any other plans.”

“That sounds good. I really wanted to see that new horror film, and I don’t think that Dora would go. She isn’t a big fan of scary movies.”

“We got a deal then.” He laughs.

I turn around and walk back to my apartment, and he goes off his way. Once I get in, I try to take a few deep breaths because my heart beats faster with every step. I can only hope that it’s not another panic attack. I don’t think I can handle any more disappointments. Our attraction is mutual. Alexander wouldn’t ask me out again if he wasn’t interested.

BOOK: All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1)
3.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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