Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #1)(8)By: Charlotte Stein
And on his face.
She couldn’t look away from his face, tiny and blurry but still noticeably not right.
“I just thought maybe you’d want to see this version. If you know what I mean?”
“It…it just looks like all the others.”
Lydia raised an eyebrow.
Letty did her best to ignore it.
“Yeah. Positive. He was just…being a good Samaritan. That’s all there is to it, I swear to god. We aren’t dating—he would never have wanted to date me. So if you’re interested you should totally go for it. I mean, you’re super hot so I can’t see any problem and even if there was I—”
“Are you aware you’re talking really, really fast?”
Not just fast, she thought. Calling it just fast was generous.
Her breath had gotten all high and tight, and every word was hurting her as it escaped. She had to take several breaths before she could answer, and even then it wasn’t right.
“I just heard it then, yes. But even that’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not trying to cover for anything he…he…” She gulped another breath in vain. Lydia was still looking at her with curiosity—of the kind sort, but curiosity all the same. And it was definitely making her jump and stutter and breathe in a completely clumsy way. “He’s just an acquaintance. I knew him in high school.”
“Well, I guess that’s the mystery solved, then.”
“Yeah. Definitely. Nothing more to it.”
She nodded, relieved that she could now safely escape. In fact, she was halfway down the hall to her own room when she heard Lydia speak again. Almost at her door, and through to safety.
Though she was actually glad she hadn’t quite made it, after the words.
“But you know, if you ever wanted to talk about how little there is to it, I’m right next door to you. Tap it in Morse code, if you feel more comfortable doing that. Send me smoke signals from a burned cheesy pita.”
“I will. Thanks.”
“Anytime. College is hard.”
“God yeah, sooooo hard.”
“Guys are even harder. In more ways than one.”
She laughed in response, sudden enough that it startled her. She couldn’t remember the last time she did that while talking to another person. Not so loudly at least, and certainly not as carelessly. It just popped out of her, new and alien enough that she tried to cut it off. She clamped her teeth around it as she disappeared into her dorm, but the laugh would not be denied.
It filled her tiny room, briefly.
And stayed with her all through the night.
She didn’t think about his expression again after the conversation with Lydia. Mainly because Lydia was very good at taking her mind off it. She did things like suggesting they walk to class together, without a single bit of hinting. And when they got there, Lydia sat with her. She pulled the armrest desk up for her and admired her array of pens and laughed about the last lecture when Harrison had said shit instead of sits.
As though friendship was supposed to be this effortless.
Watching out for the insults hidden in every word was the aberration.
Life could be normal, she thought.
And then she went through the double doors that led to the south-side stairwell, and there he was. Just sitting on the steps that led up to the library, as if lying in wait like he used to. What other reason could he have for being here? Though even as she thought it, she was taking in all the little details that told a different story. He wasn’t just sitting on the stairs, primed to leap as soon as the doors opened. He was hunched over something, oblivious to anyone who might come through.
And that something was a notepad. He was writing with all the care and attention of someone who definitely did not think trying hard was for losers. She could see from here how much he had written—his tiny, blockish handwriting smothered page after page, each word so firmly rendered it created a kind of jagged Braille on the other side. In places he had even torn the paper.
But he appeared as oblivious to that as he did to her.
He didn’t look up—not even when she started backing away. Usually he seemed to sense when she tried to escape, yet somehow that didn’t happen here. He was too intent on his task, to the point where she was able to figure out that they were class notes. He was copying class notes from the page he had clenched in his left hand, occasionally squinting at the even shittier handwriting of the owner before painstakingly transferring it to his own notepad.