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Authors: Sophie Lira

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BOOK: Safe With You
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“What’s up?” I love it how she counts out her blackberries before plopping them into her bowl of vanilla and key lime ice cream.

“I know you like to handle your business. I totally get that. But, my dad’s a lawyer if you really need anything.” I shove a heap of goodness in my mouth.

She sighs, nudging my arm. “Thanks, Ky. It’s really not that serious. Thank you for offering, though.”

We walk over to the couch and she flips through the channels, nibbling on a blackberry. It’s so adorable how she eats. She barely mixes anything together, and always finishes one thing before starting on the next.

“How’s your leg?” she says, ripping me out of my thoughts.

“It’s fine, why?” She’s the only one who ever asks how I’m doing. I know it’s basic human nature, but I feel like she genuinely cares about my well-being. It’s a cool change from the droning of my doctors who just want to maximize off my insurance plan.

“You’ve been going really hard at the fields. I know you tweaked it a few weeks ago and you should be taking it a little bit slower, just in case.” She pats my knee brace, smiling. “I like playing with you guys because it reminds me of playing in high school with Natasha. I would be really bummed to lose that.”

“They’d have to drag me off the field to get me to stop.” I kiss the side of her head and shove another spoonful of ice cream down my throat. It hits me way more than it should when I see the smile on her face as her cheeks flush.






“Dude, just ask her out.” Cam sighs. He’s been on my ass about Olivia since I told him about what happened a few days ago. “Look, obviously she’s into you if she keeps coming back. Maybe she’s scared to say something or whatever.”

I pinch the space between my eyebrows and grip my phone harder. “You keep telling me that, but you don’t know her, man. Sometimes I feel like I could blink wrong and she’d leave the country. If I ask her out, she might drop off the planet.”

“Why are you trying so hard? I don’t get it. Obviously she’s a fucking ice queen, and yet you keep running back trying to thaw her out.”

“You know what, fuck you.” I flop back on my bed and roll my eyes. It’s the same shit all the time with him. Warm bodies with no commitment. “Pardon me for actually caring about another human being. When was the last time you remembered the name of the girl you fucked the night before?”

Silence fills the air. Either he’s already on his way to kick my ass or I’m right.

“Fiona!” he exclaims. “I had to think about it.”

“Nice, Tavares.”

“Just do it, man. Look, I’m already late to meet up with some people. I’ll talk to you later.” Before I can respond, the phone beeps.

I hate everyone.

Last night Olivia came over and we watched TV until two in the morning. At one point, she dozed off as she snuggled into my side and I utilized that time to get a handle on the raging hard-on I had for the entire hour prior. Thanks to thick jeans and her pillow, no harm, no foul. Between Cam, Zach, and Noah, I feel like I’m one set of questions away from being a prisoner about to be waterboarded.

As I’m leaving my room, my phone rings again and I might smash it against the wall if it’s Cam looking to extend his tirade. But when Olivia’s name pops up, I’m more than relieved.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I slump onto a stool in the kitchen. A shuddering sob and wavering breath cut through the air. “Are you okay?” I ask, sitting up straight.

“I need … ” She sighs. “I need your help.”

“Liv, anything. What’s the matter?” I run into my room and throw a shirt over my head, shove my feet into a pair of tennis shoes, and grab my keys.

“I need a ride to LSU. Natasha … ” The sobs are so loud they actually pierce my eardrums. “Natasha was carjacked. She’s at the police station, but she’s scared shitless. I need to go see her. I’m sorry to ask you, but Aub—”

“But nothing.”
Fuck, fuck, fuckkkkkk.
“Do you want me to call Cam? He can meet up with her at the station until we get there.”

“No, no. Lafayette. I’m sorry. She goes to the Lafayette Campus.”

Shit. That’s like two hours away.

“Are you at home?” I drop my keys as I rush to lock my door.

“Yeah.” She sniffs, and stumbles through another deep breath.

“Okay, I’ll be there in ten.” My heart is racing a thousand beats a second as I shove the door open to the stairwell in the parking garage. The glass vibrates when it hits the brick wall and my mind can’t process anything except putting her face into my line of vision. By the time I get to my car, my brain hurts from trying to piece things together. I call Cam again and again. No answer.

Of all the times for you not to answer the phone glued to your hand.

I slam the gas pedal to the floorboard and jolt forward as I weave between the few cars on the short ride to her apartment. A few minutes later my phone lights up and I pray to Jesus, God, Xenu, and Chuck Norris that Cam can get out of his plans.

“Where the hell have you been?” I swerve around a cab and pull on to Olivia’s street.

“Drinking my life away like I should be on a Thursday night.” He laughs. “I talked to you like a half hour ago.”

“Well, I’m picking you up. What bar are you at?” I swing into a parking spot in front of Olivia’s apartment and jump out.

“What?” his voice booms. “What’s going on?”

“Olivia’s best friend Natasha was carjacked at Lafayette,” I manage, without putting my fist through a wall. “Olivia doesn’t have a car and she asked me to bring her there. I don’t want them to be alone if I need to talk to anyone.”

“For sure. I’m at Billy Jean’s on East Boyd. Text me when you’re out front.” The line cuts out and I don’t care about anything except her.

By the time I’m at her place, cries pierce the air like an infant. I stop in front of her door, leveling myself to be sane. When I turn the knob, the door flies open and she pulls me inside. Her thin arms wrap around my waist and I can’t hold her tight enough to comfort her.

“Shh,” I soothe as I sit on the chair in her kitchen and tug her into my lap. “She’s okay, Liv.”

“Natasha is all I have. If something happens to her, I won’t survive it.” She’s shaking so hard I feel like I’m going to fall to the floor with her at any second. When she looks up, the need in her eyes for someone to help her breaks my fucking heart. I lean in, pressing my lips to her forehead. When she sighs and grips me tighter, every horrible moment in my life leaves my memory.

“You have me if you want me,” I whisper, giving her another short peck.

“I know.” She stands and nods toward the door. I follow her outside, and after she locks the door, she slips her hand into mine, intertwining our fingers.

Chapter Nine


Cameron the Great





All I can think about is Kyle. Which is messed up because I should be worried about Natasha. His touch bolted through me like electricity. It was different. Something changed between us and I know he really cares about me, 100 percent. I have no idea how we got here so fast. The idea of us being kindred spirits seems ludicrous, even though I’m supposed to be the all-spirited yoga teacher.

Maybe it is fate.

Even the snap and hiss of his engine doesn’t take me out of my thoughts. I stare out the window admiring the buoys on Lake Pontchartrain. Their twinkling lights blur as I fix my gaze. His SUV weaves in and out of traffic effortlessly. Every time there’s a straightaway, I jerk forward as he barrels down the highway. He rubs his thumb along mine, a sweet gesture to calm me down.

“Everything’s going to be okay.” His words sink deep through me like I’m a kid upset over scraping my knee. “Did she say anything else?”

I shake my head, tears still threatening. “Thanks to her obsession with kickboxing, she hit him a few times. He’s probably sterile now, but she’s so shaken up.”

Chip, he grabbed me and shoved me to the ground.

Then he pulled me up by my hair.

I think he wanted me to go with him.

“And her car?” He pulls me closer, but thanks to the giant center console, I’m still a good foot away from where I’d like to be seated.

“I don’t know. She ran away quick enough to get inside her apartment building and one of her neighbors was home.” More tears rise as he runs his fingers through my hair.

Although I know he’s being calm for me, his jaw tightens. The once soothing caress of his touch now has a bit of bite to it. The sun sets and it turns to night as we ride along the highway through forests and swamps. The burning uncertainty and anxiety build in my chest as we get closer.

After a while, we pull off the freeway toward Baton Rouge. I turn in my seat, even more uncertain than I was before. “Do you need gas? I have money.”

Kyle swallows and shakes his head. “Don’t get mad at me … ”

“Kyle, not now. Of all times, please.” My breathing picks up and I suddenly feel claustrophobic. “What are you doing?”

“I’m picking up Cam.” He sighs, pulling onto the main strip of Baton Rouge, lined with bars and restaurants.

“Cam? It’s not like this asshole has people waiting outside the police station for us to show up.” I turn my back toward him as we slow down and stop in front of a dive bar lined with sorostitutes. “I doubt we need the reinforcement of your ass-kicking friend.”

“It’s not about that. I called my dad, and—”

The door whips open and I’m tugged out of my seat in one swoop. It’s probably the only time in my life when I haven’t worn a seat belt and I should have.

“Kyle!” I scream, reaching for him, but he laughs instead. Ragged breaths burst from my lungs as panic fills every last pore on my body. My limbs whip around as I’m set on the pavement and met eye-to-chest with a behemoth. All of a sudden, every subtle hint from Kyle snaps into place with shocking clarity.

I should have expected this.

“Let me get a good look at you!” a deep voice erupts and I swallow; my head tilts back until I’m gawking into the most striking blue eyes. His shaggy near-black hair flops onto his forehead. No one should be this tan in the beginning of October.

The only reason why I’m not running for the hills is because Kyle is dying with laughter. Also because I know Natasha is going probably tackle him in lust the moment he smiles. At least Cam will make her feel better because he is totally her type.

“You must be Olivia!” He tugs me into his chest and wraps two cannons around my torso before lifting me a foot off the pavement. “I’m Cameron Callisthenes Tavares, but you can call me Cam.” His name rolls off his tongue with an accent I can’t place. He sets me on the ground and gives me the warmest, brightest smile. Maybe it’s because I miss my brother so much, but something about Cam is so endearing I feel twenty times better.

Even if he looks like he could snap concrete by blinking.

“Hi.” I return the smile and glance back at Kyle, who is still laughing and shaking his head.

“Now that you’ve completely terrified her, can we please get a move on?” He leans forward, resting his arm on the steering wheel.

“Yeah, yeah.” Cam lifts me into his arms again before I can protest and plops me on the passenger seat, buckling my seat belt.

What am I, five?

“She is really cute. Good job, bro.” Cam holds out his fist and Kyle gives it a half-assed bump.

“She is beautiful.” Kyle winks at me and I look at my hands, a volcanic eruption heating my face at the compliment.

The next hour flies as Cam plays twenty million questions with me. By the end of it, I’m not even sure Kyle even knew my favorite cereal. I’m thankful at Cam’s thoughtfulness to keep me calm. Kyle pulls into the parking lot across the street from the police station at LSU-Lafayette. My palms sweat and I can’t stop the tremors coursing through my body. I snuggle into his chest as he helps me out of the car, letting the cool and crisp scent of his cologne relax my nerves.

He rubs my back and holds me closer. “Cam might sound like a dick, but he’s fiercely loyal and very protective of the people he loves. I told you that.”

“But he just met me,” I counter, looking up at him.

“He’d chop off my balls if I let anything happen to you.” Cam laughs and nods to the building. “I also like playing Superman. C’mon.”

I grip Kyle’s hand so hard I feel like I might break it. We walk around the front and it takes all of my courage to continue inside. I hate police stations. Hate them. Between Braden’s bullshit over the years and now this, I want to crawl into Kyle’s trunk and hide.

Cam wouldn’t stop badgering me about what Natasha looks like so I’m less than surprised when he storms through the lobby like a man on a mission to get some ass. Or
save the day
as he keeps saying. Not that I think Natasha would mind if he swept her over his shoulder and swung her through the jungle to his cave.

Since Cam’s about a foot taller than me, he jogs up to Natasha and squats in front of her before we’re halfway up the steps. Within milliseconds, a broad smile overcomes her face, still ridden with tears as she stands. I drop Kyle’s hand and run toward her, almost knocking over a husky police officer munching on a sandwich.

Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down!

“Chip!” Natasha abandons the Hulk and meets me halfway, the collision of her hug almost taking us to the floor. The anxiety of how bad this could have been is making me nauseated.

“Are you okay?” I hold her face in my hands, scanning for bruises. Her deep navy eyes are bloodshot and muted by her swollen lids. But other than a small cut caked with dried blood on her lip, she looks okay.

“I’m doing better now.” She nods and hugs me again, burying her face into my shoulder.

Cam gives me a giant wink and I roll my eyes. Kyle’s on the phone with his dad already and I really appreciate him helping Natasha. He motions Cam over and hands him his keys. Kyle glances at us, giving me a comforting smile. I take a deep breath, leading Natasha over to the sitting area.

BOOK: Safe With You
11.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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