The Lies That Define Us(5)

By: Micalea Smeltzer

“And you’re rude.”

Ollie snickered and began to slow clap. “Liam, I think you’ve met your match.”

I snorted and glared down at her. “Not likely.”

“Before you two claw each other’s eyes out or something, we all need to talk,” he explained.

“Talk?” I repeated. “About what?”

“Ari needs a place to stay. You have the room. Let’s make this easy and all agree.” Ollie grinned like what he’d said was no big deal.

“What?” I growled. “No.”

“Him?” She glared at Ollie and pointed at me. “You want to me to live with this asshole?”

Ollie snorted. “Well, yeah. Liam, you have like five spare bedrooms. What’s the big deal? You guys will probably never see each other.”

“You know I like my privacy,” I ground out the words between my teeth.

Ollie shook his head. “Your privacy,” he mimicked my tone, “is your downfall. Stop isolating yourself.”

“I know you like your strays, Ollie, but she’s not my responsibility.”

“Jesus Christ, Liam, can’t you do something selfless for once in your life. Ari needs some help getting back on her feet.”

“How do I know she’s not going to sell stories about me to the media?”

Ollie sighed heavily. “Dude, you need to realize not everyone is out to get you. Please, she needs help.”

“She is standing right here.” Ari pointed to herself. “And I have no desire to live with this asshole.”

Ollie grinned at me. “See, she doesn’t even like you. It’s perfect.”

I tore my beanie off and ran my fingers roughly through my hair. I pinched the bridge of my nose and tried to sort my thoughts.

I hated people in my space.

Especially people I didn’t know.

But I wasn’t a complete asshole, and I knew if I left I’d feel guilty for not helping her.

I didn’t do well with guilt.

“Fine,” I huffed out.

“Excellent!” Ollie cheered.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Ari’s exclamation cut through Ollie’s cheers. “Do I not get any say in this?”

“No,” Ollie and I said simultaneously.

She threw up her arms and mumbled something under her breath.

“Look,” Ollie said softly to her. “It’s a temporary thing. Liam’s place is huge, you won’t even have to deal with his sorry ass, and we’ll help you get a job so you can save some money to get back on your feet.”

She nodded at his words and looked up at me. “I hate to impose, I honestly do, if you just give me a few days I can—”

I held up a hand to silence her. “No.”

“No?” she repeated, her dark brows furrowing into a thin line.

“You’ll stay with me as long as you need. Ollie’s right, I have plenty of space, but there will be rules,” I warned her.

She nodded. “I would expect as much.”

“Good.” I glared at Ollie and pointed at him. “You owe me for this.”

“Of course.” He grinned and moved toward the bedroom. “Lock up on your way out, will you?”

I shook my head and turned toward Ari. “Grab your things. Ollie woke me up, and I need more sleep or I’ll be an even bigger asshole than you’ve witnessed here.”

She picked up a small pile of clothes. “I’m ready.”

“That’s it?” I questioned, an air of shock to my voice.

She nodded.

Well, fuck. I feel like a huge dick. This girl literally has nothing.

“Okay, then, let’s go.” I nodded at the door.

She went first, and I closed the door behind us, purposely leaving it unlocked.

“Yours?” she asked, nodding at my white Jeep.

“Yep.” I pushed a button and unlocked the doors.

She climbed inside—which was highly entertaining to watch with her short little legs—and set her clothes in her lap. I slid in and stared at that small pile of clothes like it had personally insulted me.

“You can drop me off at a shelter or something. It’s okay.”

I looked up at her face with her softly spoken words. “Are you fucking crazy?”