All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1) (7 page)

BOOK: All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1)
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Instead of dwelling on what is going to happen, I take a long bath and call Dora. After all, she is my best friend, and when I tell her what’s happened tonight she nearly has a flip. She is going to ditch Jacob tomorrow and meet me for lunch to discuss my new hot crush.

When I finally get her off the phone, I go to sleep wondering if I will be able to handle the date.

Then I remember the past and the way I treated Oliver.

Past

Me and the rest of my pack had been spreading rumors around school that Oliver had an STD. Girls believed me even though I knew that Oliver didn’t sleep around. It was just easier to hate him rather than carry on being friends with him and pretend that nothing had happened. Last week he was beaten up by big Richard because he stared at him for too long. I should have felt bad, but when I saw Oliver’s face this morning I felt liberated from the pain that his brother had caused me. My physical wounds were healed, but I’d been left with large burn patches all over me. I lost the ability to function that night, and even after my mother informed me that Christian died, I didn’t feel better. The relief sank in later. That night I wanted to slash my wrists and die. I told no one. Instead I kept away the secret. After all, Christian was now dead, so he couldn’t pay for what he had done.

Hurting Oliver was just part of the healing process. When I passed him in the corridor, he looked at me with those empty eyes expecting me to apologize that he was beaten up. I was the only one who knew that the rumors about his STD were false, but I carried on hurting him, fighting for my survival.

The first couple of years I thought that I loved him unconditionally. Then after Christian’s death I started hating him. He never understood why, but it was better that way. He didn’t react when I insulted him in front of the girls, he just stood there watching me like it was all my fault that he couldn’t stand up for himself.

Present

When I meet Dora later on for lunch she doesn’t stop nagging me with questions about Alexander, while Jacob stares at her like she is the only girl in the canteen. Today it’s my second official date with Alexander, and I have been chewing my nails all day wondering if I should cancel. We are going to the cinema, but still, I have that bad gut feeling like something isn’t going to go according to plan and I’ll screw everything up. People are staring at me, more than usual. I feel like I’m under surveillance 24/7, like people are waiting to see how Oliver is going to win his bet.

It’s just after lunchtime, when I see Oliver walking in with Mackenzie, scanning the space. I don’t know if he notices me, but he tightens his grip around her shoulders, heading towards opposite side of the canteen. He looks relaxed and happy. I have never seen him like that, not even when his brother was alive. I try to spot Alexander, but he doesn’t seem to be around.

“Oh, India, are you even listening?” Dora asks, throwing me away from my thoughts about Oliver.

“Yeah, sorry. I am now,” I reply, pulling my hair in a tight knot. It seems like every girl in this room is aware that Oliver is here. Most of them are staring, the others whispering or giggling nervously. People used to react like that when I walked into the room. Others were aware of me because of Christian. He had power and people looked up to him—but only I knew about his dark, vicious side. No one else.

“So, what’s the deal with that Swedish guy? I thought that you didn’t want to date at all,” she says, staring at me intensely.

“Dora, can we not have this conversation in front of Jacob? It’s kind of personal,” I hiss when Jacob leaves her table to talk to a group of guys.

“Chill out. Jacob is fine. He is on your side, so don’t worry about him,” she says, waving me off like it’s not a big deal talking about my personal life in front of her new boyfriend —who is also a friend of the guy that made a bet to destroy me. Yeah, this can’t get any more promising.

“If you want to talk to me, then I’ll be at home after twelve,” I tell her and get up.

“But, India! I want to see him. Don’t be a bitch, come on,” she calls after me. But I ignore her. She can’t keep her mouth shut. A few people glance at me as I pass by carrying my tray.

Before I turn toward the bins, I trip on something and fall on my face. My tray flies through the air in the slow motion slopping the food everywhere. I crash on the ground making a hell of a noise. For a split second or two no one reacts, as I try to pick myself up off the ground.

“Sorry there. I didn’t see you,” says someone. I hear the laughs all around me, and I turn to see a tall dark-haired bloke who is smirking. Then he gives the thumbs up to someone on the other side of the canteen. I follow his gaze, pissed, but my jaw drops when I spot Oliver, who is laughing with Mackenzie and nodding towards the bloke.

A cold sweat covers my body from head to toe; our eyes meet only for a brief moment. He looks satisfied and indulged with my humiliation. Everyone in the canteen is staring and laughing at me. I pick myself up, trying to cover my scarlet face. I run towards the entrance, forgetting about food, still hearing Oliver’s laugh behind me.

He should be satisfied. He got what he wanted. I fell over and made myself look like a right idiot. God, I hate Oliver so much that it hurts. I have been squishing the truth deep inside me when he was around, not able to let it go.

A year after he vanished from Gargle I bought a ticket to Edinburgh. I was ready to see him. I had a year to think about what I’d done and the way I treated him. A year to gain the courage to tell him the truth. The day I was scheduled to leave I went to see his mother to tell her what I planned. When I got there, she was lying unconscious on the sofa with a bottle of pills in her hand. That day I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed until the ambulance came and then later her husband. I wrote more letters, but yet again I never had the guts to send them.

Chapter seven

Bully

Present

Sadly, I don’t see Alexander on campus that day. I think that Dora was right: Oliver will do anything to crush me, hurt me, and show that he won’t leave me alone until I disappear. The bet is only there to prove his point. I try to get on with my lectures while everyone keeps staring and whispering behind my back. I know it’s because of Oliver. He is everywhere.

By the time I get home, I feel like I should curl in bed and hide, but I don’t want to miss my date with Alexander. To take my mind off today’s events I have a shower and take my time with makeup. My hands are shaking when I put my clothes back on. It’s been a year since I went out on a proper date with anyone. Men make me nervous and the past still haunts me. Slowly and steadily, I’m going to get there.

A few hours later, Alexander picks me up at my apartment. He looks handsome and he complements me. My nerves are slowly eating me away. My pulse is racing and my chest is tight, so I excuse myself to the rest room once we reach the cinema. For a long moment I stand in front of the mirror, hoping that this panic attack will pass. Nothing seems to be going according to plan. I keep telling myself that I’ll be fine and I can go through with this.

Finally, my breathing comes back to normal. When I leave the bathroom Alexander seems concerned, but I lie and say that I’m fine. Once we’re inside the screening I try to relax. Our last date was perfect, so I don’t want to ruin anything for him.

Soon the film starts, and I lose myself in the undiscovered fictional world. Alexander seems to be absorbed with what is going on the screen. We talked while we were walking here, and he seemed to be really interested in this film. Halfway through the screening, I begin to wonder if Alexander is really that into me. A few times I cover my face with my hands pretending that I’m scared, but he doesn’t try to touch me once or comfort me in any way.

During one particular scary scene, I grab his hand and hold it for several minutes, expecting him to pull me towards him. What I get is a smile and pat in the back.

I don’t try it again, wondering if I missed something. After the film is finished, we have a quiet drink in one of the bars in town. Alexander asks about my interest in criminal law and my obsession with films. I give him the address to my blog.

The date is pleasant, but he doesn’t seem to be as relaxed as on the first date. The chemistry between us is suddenly gone. Maybe I’m paranoid and he is just a gentleman. He walks me to my apartment. All of a sudden I feel like that perfect date in the coffee shop wasn’t so perfect anymore, because the connection that we had is gone. Alexander looks tense when we stop in front of the entrance to my apartment.

“I was just wondering if you are doing anything this weekend?” he asks.

Right, now I’m totally confused. At first he does everything to show me that he isn’t that into me and now he is asking me what I’m doing this weekend.

I shift my weight to the side and look at him, raising my eyebrow. “Nothing, no plans as usual,” I reply, smiling.

“There is a secret party that I have been invited to. Do you want to come along?” he asks, smirking.

“A secret party?” I ask “You know that I don’t party that much.”

“I’ll get the text an hour before with the details. Come on, let me take you out,” he says leaning closer. For a long moment we stare at each other. My heart begins to race. Alexander’s lips turn up in a smile, and I know that this is the moment that I have been waiting for. He is going to kiss me.

“Give me a call on Saturday. I don’t mind going,” I say quietly.

“Great. See you on Saturday, India,” he says, and then he turns and hurries away. For a moment I stand there completely startled, watching as he walks away. He had a perfect opportunity to kiss me, but he just left me here, hanging. Sighing, I walk back to the apartment. It takes me a while to find the keys.

“Hey, come here and start talking,” Dora says, pulling me back on the sofa. I forgot that I told her to wait up for me.

“Is that ice cream you’ve got there?” I ask as she hides something behind the sofa.

“You will get some if you tell me everything that happened. Did he kiss you?” she asks as soon as I flop on the sofa next to her.

“It was a total disaster.”

“What? Why?”

“He didn’t kiss me and he didn’t even try anything in the cinema. Then he just invited me to some random party on Saturday and left,” I explain, indulging myself with the delicious ice cream that Dora finally decides to share. I would’ve had so much more fun if I’d stayed at home and eaten the whole tub. “What is wrong with me, Dora? Why do men hate me?”

“They don’t hate you. It’s Oliver. I told you that he made a bet with others. Alexander isn’t from here. Someone probably saw you with him and decided to tell him to ditch you.”

I might have to agree with Dora’s version. “All right, maybe, but he invited me for a party on Saturday night. This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well, I don’t know, then. I would come with you, but Jacob is taking me to London this weekend. He has something planned for us,” she tells me with the wide smile.

“London? But you’ve only known each other a few weeks. And you’re already going away together?”

“He suggested it, and I said yes. He is nice, India. I kind of like him, more than the others.”

“He is also Oliver’s best buddy. Maybe it’s just part of the plan to get you on his side,” I suggest, feeling sick in my stomach that Oliver would be capable of doing something like that. After all, he learned it from me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d use Dora to get to me.

“I think you’re being paranoid. Oliver is hot, girls are queuing to get his attention, and I don’t believe that he would use his own friend just because you bullied him in high school.”

“It wasn’t just bullying, Dora. I kind of ruined his life.”

“We both did, but it’s you he is adamant to pay back.” She sighed. “Just keep your eyes open. He ruined your food the other day. I don’t think he knows what to do. He hasn’t got a plan, so I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I don’t offer my own comment and let her believe that she is right. She obviously didn’t see him in the canteen. The way he was pouring that hatred out like he didn’t give a flying fuck if I was alive or dead.

We chat a bit more until Dora tells me that I shouldn’t have taken him to the zombie film as that probably clicked him off. I like Alexander and the way he is, but today’s date sure didn’t go according to plan.

I change into my pajamas and put Beth Orton music on. I love her soft tunes. Her music always calms me down. Just before I go to bed I check my mobile, but Alexander didn’t send me any text massages. Maybe this is just the way Swedish men are with women. They like to leave them hanging. I need to let him know that I’m not one of those women.

***

The rest of the week passes in a blur. Mackenzie gives me a hard time during training. She keeps describing her intensive nights with Oliver loud enough for me to hear when we’re in the changing room. I shouldn’t be jealous, but I can’t help imagining her face when I win the competition in front of the whole crowd, waiting for Oliver to congratulate me. It’s lame. He would never do that.

I see Alexander during lunch. He sits with a bunch of French students. He can see me, but he doesn’t approach me or try to talk to me, which is odd. We had a great time, but now he treats me like he doesn’t even know me. Dora thinks that he is gorgeous but gay. He confuses me so much.

I don’t hear back from Alexander until Saturday night. Dora left for London with Jacob yesterday, packing a suitcase of clothes. She told me to go out and have a good time if Alexander calls, but now I’m not so sure. On Saturday morning I wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a long TV show marathon with my favorite
CSI Miami
.

I buy a lot of junk food and stay in bed with my laptop until early evening. My phone starts ringing later on and I don’t pick up, seeing that it’s Alexander. After around five phone calls, I give up and answer.

“What?”

“India, it’s me, Alex.”

BOOK: All about you, part 1 (Love & Hate series #1)
3.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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