I scrub a hand over my face, along my jaw. “I was angry when I said that. You’re right, business has gotten slower and I’m getting tired. Tired of running it, tired of dealing with it. But I’m not giving up on it yet. Not giving up on you either.”
The relief on his face is clearly visible. “Thanks, man. I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry too.” I offer my hand out to him and he takes it, giving me one of those macho, complicated handshakes us guys are so good at doing. “We’re good?”
“Yeah, we’re good.” The devilish glint in Tristan’s gaze is familiar. “Let’s tell Shep we’re closing the casino. See if we can fuck with him for a bit.”
I start to laugh, shaking my head. So typical. “Fine, but you do all the talking.”
“Deal.” He grins and slaps me on the back and then bellows, “Shep!”
Shep enters the kitchen and Tristan launches into our bogus plan, skepticism written all over Shep’s face the deeper Tristan’s story gets. I just sit there, going for solemn and lots of nodding, not saying a word. I play along but it’s not easy. I’d rather be with Lucy than with these guys. I want to talk about what happened between us. Ask for her forgiveness. Hopefully she’ll apologize too for the lies. If I can forgive her for that, hopefully she can forgive me. I want another chance.
I need another chance.
I need Lucy.
I go to my marketing class because I don’t have a choice. Somehow I missed the point where I could still withdraw and have it count as only that. Now if I don’t go to class, I have the potential to flunk and there’s no way I could let that happen.
My appointment with Professor Bailey turned out better than I expected. He actually listened to my brief excuse—I claimed illness—and nodded along as I rambled, making sympathetic noises like he understood. He let me make up my missing assignments but told me I couldn’t avoid the group project. And considering groups had already been chosen and their projects were well underway, he paired me with the other student who missed a lot of class and was making assignments up just like me.
His name is Gabriel Walker.
No way could I explain my relationship with Gabe to Professor Bailey so I just smiled and nodded and agreed that I would work with him. No problem. I could handle this.
I sit in the back row during class, taking copious notes and praying like crazy I can work up the nerve to approach Gabe afterward and tell him we need to work on our project together. I don’t even know what our project is supposed to be. I haven’t looked at the description sheet Professor Bailey gave me because I didn’t want to freak myself out.
After the numerous freak outs I’ve gone through these last few months, I think I’ve had just about enough.
I confessed everything to Mama a few days ago. About Gabe, lying to him, falling in love with him, even the pregnancy scare. She burst into tears when I told her about the last part and I had to reassure her numerous times that I’m not pregnant. I think she finally believes me.
Though truly, I’m not exactly sure.
Gina and I have become closer. She’s not going to see Chad as much, giving him a little breathing room and herself too. Jade has become a good friend and I’m so thankful that she stayed loyal despite everything that happened between Gabe and I. She admitted telling him that I wasn’t pregnant after all and I was glad she did that.
And sad he didn’t bother talking to me about it.
I need to move on, though. It won’t be easy, dealing with him for the marketing project but what can I do? This will be a good test for my future. We all have to deal with things we don’t want to at some time or another in our lives. This is a part of life. So Gabe and I were involved for a short period of time. So what? I can deal with this. So can he. We’re mature adults who can remain friends.
When Professor Bailey releases us, though, my stomach starts to churn with nerves. I stuff my tablet into my backpack and slowly rise to my feet, slinging the backpack over my shoulder as I watch everyone fight their way out of the room. I smile at a girl as she passes by, my gaze flicking from hers when I see him.
He’s watching me.
My knees wobble and I try my best to smile at him but my lips quiver so I stop. I wait for him to approach as he comes up the stairs, his gaze never leaving mine, his always smiling mouth somber, his entire expression solemn.
Oh God, he hates me. I know it. And I can’t blame him. Maybe this won’t work out after all. I’m a liar. I broke his heart and he broke mine and there is no way we can play nice while trying to put a freaking project together. I’m delusional I just know it—
“Hey Luce.” His deep, warm voice washes over me, making me weak and I release a shuddery sigh.
He stops directly in front of me, scooting into the aisle so he’s not in the way of the other students leaving. “You look good.”
I glance down at myself. I’m wearing yoga pants and a light gray hoodie I picked up at WalMart for super cheap. My hair is in a sloppy bun and I have mascara and lip gloss on, that’s it. I thought about dressing up for him but was afraid that would be too obvious.
So I went for the extra shabby chic look instead.
“Thanks,” I finally say because how else can I reply? “You look good too.”
And he so does. He’s wearing jeans and a black long sleeved T-shirt that molds perfectly to his chest and arms. His hair is even longer than the last time I saw him and he is just mouthwateringly delicious.
I wonder if he’s moved on.