Read The Trouble With Flirting Online

Authors: Rachel Morgan

Tags: #happily ever after, #Humor, #musician, #sweet NA, #Romance, #The Trouble Series, #mature YA, #Love, #comedy, #nerd

The Trouble With Flirting (11 page)

BOOK: The Trouble With Flirting
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A waiter, tall and skinny with an electric shock of white hair, walks up to our table and grins at Adam. “Hey, man, what are you doing back here so soon?”

“Just thought I’d introduce Livi to the cool beats of
The Flying Monkey Train
.”

“Oh, hey, you’re Livi. I’m Hugo.” The waiter reaches out and shakes my hand, his expression suggesting he’s heard of me before. Which is a little weird.

“Um, hi.”

“Anyway, can I get you guys anything?”

Adam asks for a beer, and, after a quick look at the drinks section of the menu, I order a glass of red wine.

“Ooh, sophisticated palate,” Hugo says. He nods appreciatively, then heads back to the bar.

I turn to Adam with narrowed eyes. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Uh … I may have neglected to mention that I now work here. I guess I told Hugo about you and Luke when we were chatting.” Adam leans over and whispers, “Hugo’s in third year and still lives with his parents, but he’d appreciate you not mentioning that to anyone, especially the drummer of the
The Flying Monkey Train
, whom he happens to have a crush on.”

I look over at the tiny brunette girl behind the drum set, then back at Adam. “Wait. Back up. Since when do you work here?”

Adam settles back in his chair. “Not long. For about a week now.”

“Oh. I didn’t realise you were planning to work this year.”

“Well, uh …” Adam pulls a menu towards him and runs his finger along the edge. “I wasn’t. But living away from home is turning out to be more expensive than I anticipated, and my parents … Well, my dad isn’t getting as many clients as he used to, so things are tight for him and Mom. So I don’t want to bug them for money.”

I nod, but I’m not sure what to say. Money has always been an awkward topic of conversation for us, mainly because my family has far too much of it and Adam’s family has never quite had enough. Fortunately, his parents managed to produce two brilliant children, so their education has always been taken care of by scholarships. But they always had second-hand, falling-apart versions of all the things I took for granted.

The Flying Monkey Train
finishes their current song with a cymbal crash so loud, even the tiny drummer who created it looks startled. After a smattering of applause, the lead guitarist launches into a slow solo. His deep, husky voice captures the attention of the room, bringing in some enthusiastic applause after the first few lines of song, and even a ‘Woo-hoo!’ from several of the tables.

“Could be you up there soon, hey?” Hugo says to Adam as he sets our drinks down in front of us. “Charming the ladies with your guitar skills.”

I pick up my wine glass and open my mouth to tell Hugo that Adam doesn’t play guitar, but Adam’s already saying, “We should get Livi up there on open mic night.”

“Whoa, what? I don’t think so.” I swirl my wine and bring it to my nose to sniff it. English toffee and … something berry-ish. My parents are wine snobs, and this is one of their recent favourites, which is how I know I like it.

I wonder if they’ll ever drink wine together again.

“Come on, Livi,” Adam says. “You’re always singing at home. You should share your talent with others.”

“My talent?” I start laughing. “What talent?”

“You were in the choir,” Adam reminds me.

“Right.
Group
singing.”

“You did a solo once at a school function.”

“Which was a terrible mistake.” I turn to Hugo, who’s leaning against the empty chair on the other side of the table. “I was so nervous I could hardly breathe. And, as I’m sure you know, breath is required for singing.”

He smiles. “Sounds embarrassing.”

“It was a nightmare. So—” I lean back and raise my wine glass towards the band on stage “—how about we enjoy our drinks and listen to the people who
can
sing.”

Adam picks up his beer bottle and taps it against my glass with a
ping
. “Excellent idea.”

From:
Alivia Howard

Sent:
Sun 16 Mar, 11:02 pm

To:
Carl

Subject:
Dear Carl

You know what? You might have had a grand castle with beautiful grounds and tennis courts and a lake and a helicopter to fly you to every European royal’s birthday party, but sometimes the only thing a person needs is a comfy seat, great music, an excellent glass of wine, and good company.

(And a red leg-shaped lamp covered in feathers. Just because.)

___________________________________

After a weekend of no studying at all, I have to bury myself in my notes and textbooks in order to survive the Stats test on Tuesday and the Ecos test on Thursday. With only three weeks left until the end of the quarter, we can’t go anywhere without having tests and assignments thrown at us.

By the time Thursday evening rolls around, I’m desperate to spend time with Jackson—although I don’t tell
him
that, of course. The last person I want to speak to is my dad, but it’s Dad’s face I see on my ringing phone seconds after I arrive home and dump my varsity bag on my bed. I’ve ignored every call since the first one last Saturday evening, which probably makes me childish and immature, but I didn’t want to have to listen to a stream of excuses and apologies. The past few days have given me time to come up with some questions, though. And Dad is the only one who can give me the answers.

I accept the call and bring the phone to my ear.

“Livi? Hello?”

“Hi.” I sit on the edge of my bed.

“Oh, Livi, I’m so glad you answered. I just … I just want to talk.”

“I gathered.”

The silence on the other end of the line tells me he isn’t quite sure where to go from here. “Our, uh, last conversation ended rather abruptly,” he says. “You didn’t really get a chance to tell me what you were thinking and … and feeling.”

“Really, Dad? You can’t figure that out for yourself? You want me to
tell
you that I feel hurt and betrayed and not good enough?”

“Not good enough? Livi, you have always been the most—”

“Stop.” Dad sounds close to tears, and I don’t want to feel sorry for him. “If it wasn’t because Mom and I weren’t enough for you, then what was the reason?”

“It …” He sighs. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it was complicated.”

“Great. Question number two, then. How long did it go on for?”

“Only a few months—”

“Months!”

“—and then I ended it. Things were already over when I found out Helen was pregnant.”

Helen.
I’ve never hated a name so much. “So then what? You abandoned your lover and your illegitimate daughter?”

“Livi …”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are we supposed to be sugar-coating this? Would you like me to say
Helen
instead of
lover
?”

Another sigh from Dad. “I did not
abandon
them. Helen and I agreed to go our separate ways. I already had my family, and she didn’t seem to mind the prospect of being a single mother. I send money every month, but that’s the only role I play in their lives.
You
are my daughter, Livi. You and your mother are my family. I don’t want to lose that.”

“Well, you really messed up then, didn’t you.”

“I did. I know I did. But I want to fix this. I want to be a family again. I’ve … I’ve been to a counsellor, and she suggested it might be a good idea for you and Mom and me to have some sessions together as a family. I was thinking that when you come home in April, we could—”

“Have you run this idea by Mom yet?”

Dad hesitates. “I … I still need to sort that out.”

“She isn’t speaking to you, is she?”

“Livi, that’s between your mother and me. Most of this, actually, is between her and me. You can ask your questions, and I will be as transparent as possible wherever appropriate, but there are some things you don’t need to—”

“What’s her name?”

Dad doesn’t need to ask who I’m talking about. There’s only one other person in this mess who hasn’t been named yet. “Andrea.” Dad clears her throat. “Her name is Andrea.”

Andrea.
I try to hate the thought of her, but I can’t.

“Livi, please will you consider the counselling option.”

“I don’t know if—” I break off as I hear a shout from Adam’s room. “Hold on.” I stick my head into the passage. I can hear Adam’s raised voice on the other side of his door, but I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. I bring the phone to my ear again. “I need to go, Dad.”

“Okay. If you want to talk about anything, please phone me. No matter what time of day or night. I will answer.” Coming from the guy who’s spent most of my life in meetings, I’m not sure I believe that one.

I end the call and throw my phone onto my bed. I cross the passage and stand in front of Adam’s door. I listen carefully, but there’s no sound. No shouting, no talking, no music, nothing.

I knock.

No answer.

I knock again.

“Not now!”

I frown at the door. Something’s definitely happened. Should I go in? See if I can do anything to help? I raise my hand to knock a third time, but something holds me back. The anger in his voice. The anger that might explode all over me if I go in there.

I lower my hand, walk to Luke’s room, and knock on his door instead. An uncertain “Come in” follows, and I open the door and look inside. I’ve never been in here before, and I’m surprised at how messy it is. Unmade bed, clothes on the floor, a bowl and several mugs on the desk.

“Oh, hi, Livi,” Luke says from his seat at the desk.

“Do you know why Adam’s upset?” I ask.

Luke frowns. “Adam’s upset?”

I sigh. “Okay, never mind.”

I head back to my room, flop onto my bed, and type a message to Jackson to ask if he’s finished playing squash with Rob yet. My thumb is hovering over the ‘Send’ button when the phone starts ringing and Jackson’s name shows up on the screen. A thrill shoots through me as I force myself to let it ring a few times before answering. “Hey, Jackson.”

“Hey, sexy bunny. Have you been missing me?”

I bite my lip, but that doesn’t stop the smile spreading across my face. “Perhaps. Just a little bit.”

“Do you want to go watch another movie tonight?”

I roll onto my tummy. “You mean do I want to make out with you in the dark again?”

He chuckles. “Well, you know, I was trying to keep it classy by
not
saying that, but ya. That’s pretty much what I was getting at.”

I giggle. “In that case, I would love to watch another movie with you tonight.”

After giving him my address so he can pick me up this time, I examine my wardrobe for an appropriate outfit. Jeans? No, I enjoyed the feel of Jackson’s hand on my bare knee last time. Maybe the skirt I bought when—

Adam’s door opens. I hurry across my room and look out the doorway, but Adam’s already at the other end of the passage. “Adam?” I call after him. He doesn’t answer, disappearing into the lounge instead. “Adam, is everything okay?” I take a few steps out of my room as he exits the lounge while pulling a jacket on. “Did I do something wrong?” I ask.
Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
“Are you mad at me?” He stops at the front door, his hand on the doorknob. “Please talk to me, Adam. I just—”

“Not everything is about you, Alivia!” he yells, swinging around to look at me. In that moment before he yanks the door open, I see red-rimmed eyes. He walks out and slams the door shut.

Crying. He’s been crying. I’ve
never
see Adam cry.

I run into the lounge and look out the window. Adam slides the gate open just wide enough to squeeze through, then lets out a yell and kicks it when it gets stuck and won’t close properly. He heads down the street and out of sight.

***

My second date with Jackson is similar to the first, although it takes us less time to get to the making out, and we skip the Burger King dinner afterwards because I ate something at home earlier and Jackson got takeout with Rob after their squash game. After driving me home, Jackson suggests we continue our make-out session in his back seat—cliché style—but I remind him that we both have early lectures tomorrow, and with more tests next week, we should be responsible and get to bed at a decent hour. I don’t add that I’m worried about Adam and want to get inside to check if he’s home. Jackson probably wouldn’t appreciate the fact that my thoughts are occupied by another guy.

I hurry to Adam’s room the moment I get inside, but his door is open and he isn’t there. I check the rest of the house, but I already know I won’t find him. I pull out my phone and call him, but he doesn’t answer. I check the time. 10:51 pm. Where would he have gone on foot? The
Jazzy Beanbag
? Well, it seems a good place for me to start looking. Maybe I shouldn’t go searching for him, though. I mean, he’s probably fine, and when I do find him, he’ll get mad that I’m interfering. Trying to get involved.

Not everything is about you, Alivia!

The echo of his words hurts almost as much as the words themselves did when they were flung at me.

I press my fingers to my temples.
What do I do, what do I do?

I hurry to my room, remove my skirt, and pull on a pair of jeans. I push my feet into a pair of Tomy Takkies, then rummage in the drawer of my bedside table for my car keys. I clutch them in my hand, sit on the edge of the bed, and stare at my phone. I’ll give him until 11 pm. If I haven’t heard from him by then, I’m—

My phone’s screen lights up.

The
Pirates of the Caribbean
main theme blasts forth.

I grab it and answer. “Adam? Are you okay?”

“Hi, Livi,” says a voice that isn’t Adam’s. “This is Hugo. From
Jazzy Beanbag
. Um …”

Oh crap oh crap of crap.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”

“No, nothing serious. It’s just … Adam’s had a bit too much to drink.”

I let out a groan of relief. “Okay, next time you need to start with, ‘Hello, this isn’t Adam, but Adam is fine.’”

“Right, sorry. Anyway, he’s not, like, hectic drunk. He can still walk—sort of. But I’m worried if he walks home alone, he might pass out on the way or something. Are you nearby? I mean, are you able to come get him? If you’re not, that’s cool. I can probably take him in about twenty minutes. It’s just quite busy here right now and—”

“I’m coming now,” I say.

“Great. Thanks.”

I feel ridiculous driving to a place that’s so close, but it’ll be easier to get Adam home in a car than to drag him by foot. I park and run inside. Hugo, having just collected a tray of empty glasses from a busy table, looks up and walks over to me. “Hey, thanks for coming. I moved him to a table around the corner where fewer people are disturbed by his random shouting.”

“His random shouting?” I repeat as Hugo leads me to Adam’s table.

“Yes. Things like ‘All girls are just out to break your heart’ and ‘My ex-girlfriend is the devil.’”

“Oh, crapazoid,” I mutter. “Jenna broke up with him.”

“Yes. He didn’t actually say that, but I’m ninety-nine percent sure that’s what happened.”

We find Adam with his arms on the table, his chin resting on his hands, and his eyes staring half-open at the band on stage. He raises his head. He looks at me, then at Hugo. “Thanks a lot, dude,” he slurs. “A babysitter is exactly what I need right now.”

“Well, at least he recognises me,” I say to Hugo.

“I can hear you, you know,” Adam says loudly.

“Great. Hopefully you can stand too.”

Adam can stand, but walking straight turns out to be a challenge. He bumps into three tables trying to get out of
Jazzy Beanbag
, and, once we’re outside, he walks into a rubbish bin while trying to avoid the street light pole beside my car. I open the passenger door for him and push him inside.

“Stupid cow,” he mutters.

“Excuse me?” I might have to dump him on the sidewalk after that one.

“Not you,” he says, leaning forward and grasping his head. “My demon ex-girlfriend.”

I climb into the driver’s seat and start the car. “I’m really sorry, Adam.” I touch his shoulder, then pull out of the parking spot and use a side road to turn around in.

“She cheated on me,” Adam says to the floor between his legs. “Did I tell you that? And it wasn’t just a kiss. Oh no. No no no stupid cow. She slept with some other dude. Slept. Sex. The thing we were waiting for. We were waiting for each other. And I’m …” He sits up and leans his head against the window. “I’m … such a loser. A virgin loser.”

“Adam, you’re not—”

“Loser loser loser,” he mutters.

BOOK: The Trouble With Flirting
13.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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