The Lies That Define Us(9)

By: Micalea Smeltzer


“Thanks for this.” I motioned to the outfit I wore.

“It looks good on you.” She smiled reassuringly, and I knew she understood how hard it was for me to accept help. She eased the door closed quietly, and in a hushed tone, asked, “How’s it going with Liam?”

I shrugged. “Okay, I guess. I’ve mostly been in my room, though, so it isn’t like we’ve really interacted.”

“I want you to know that Liam can be…” She paused, searching for the right word. “Intense. He’s hard to get to know, and he’ll do his best to force you to hate him, but don’t let that get to you. He really is a nice guy if you can push past his bullshit.”

“Noted.” I nodded, but I really had no interest in getting to know Liam. Living there was only a temporary situation, and I wasn’t looking to make friends, not even with Ollie and Talia. Making a connection would make it hard to leave, and I couldn’t afford that.

She appraised me quietly for a moment and finally said, “Don’t let him try to bulldoze you. Liam needs someone that won’t back down from him.”

“I really don’t plan on hanging out with him, so…” I trailed off, hoping she’d let the subject drop.

She smiled sadly and nodded. “Yeah, I get it. You’re not planning to be here permanently.”

“How’d you—” I started, but she quickly cut me off.

“You’re easier to read than you think,” she explained.

I inhaled a shaky breath and looked away.

She clapped her hands together and pointed over her shoulder at the door. “Shall we go?” she asked.

“Yeah.” The word came out as barely a whisper.

I followed her out of the room and down the steps. I heard the echo of Liam and Ollie’s voices, and when we rounded the corner, we saw them sitting in the family room.

Liam was reclined on the couch with his arm tossed across the back of it. He looked relaxed, and he was actually smiling. When he glanced up and saw us his smile quickly disappeared.

Ollie noticed and glanced over his shoulder at us. “Ready?” he asked, his own smile growing.

“Yeah, we’re ready.” Talia bounced over to his side and bent to kiss his cheek.

Liam stood and left the room without a word.

I shook my head at his actions. It hadn’t even been a full day, and I could tell already that living with him was going to test the limits of both of our patience. I kept reminding myself that I was doing what I had to do. I couldn’t let his behavior get to me, and if he was friends with people like Ollie and Talia he couldn’t be that bad, right?

I followed Talia and Ollie out the front door and to their beat-up VW camper van parked in the driveway.

It didn’t take us long to get to the restaurant. It was a small little shack of a place called Mo’s. The outside was painted teal, and it had a bright yellow door, which made it impossible to miss.

“It’s a local place,” Ollie explained, unbuckling his seatbelt and reaching for the door handle. “We hang out here a lot and know pretty much everyone that works here, so it seemed fitting to try and get you a job here.”

I nodded at his words and slid the back door open before stepping outside.

My palms were sweating, and my heart raced.

Talia closed the van door and gave me a reassuring smile. “It’s okay, you’re basically already hired. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“I don’t know why I’m scared.”

Lie.

I knew exactly why I was scared—because it didn’t matter how many miles I put between Blaise and myself, I was always going to worry about him or one of his henchmen, for lack of a better word, popping up somewhere.

I might’ve had the freedom to walk around on my own and breathe in the fresh air, but I’d never truly be free. I’d always be looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ollie came around the side of the van and tilted his head slightly. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah.” I steeled my shoulders and lifted my chin. “I needed a moment.”

Ollie reached for Talia’s hand and tugged slightly so she fell into his chest. He caught her easily, and her giggle filled the air. Ollie lowered his head and pressed a quick kiss to her lips. There was something so sweet and effortless about their relationship. I didn’t even know them that well, or at all, really, but it was obvious they were perfect for each other.