The Fill-in Boyfriend

Chapter 37

We sat on the ground, our backs pressed up against the Camaro, our shoulders pressed together, tossing a baseball back and forth between his right hand and my left.

“Thank you,” he said after we’d completed several catches each.

“For what?”

“For texting me. For giving me another chance.”

The ball he’d just thrown me dropped onto my lap.

“What?” he asked.

“I texted you?”

“Yes.”

“What exactly did I say?”

“You don’t remember?”

I held out my hand. “Let me see your phone.”

He shifted a little so he could get his phone out of his pocket then he handed it to me. I opened his messages and saw the text from me. It said, Hayden, meet me at Will’s place. I’ll be the one destroying a car. I want to talk.

I pursed my lips. How did Bec know I’d be attempting to destroy a car?

“I take it that wasn’t from you?”

“Bec stole my phone.”

He shook his head. “Normally I’d be indignant at her sneakiness but this time not so much.” He planted a kiss on my lips and I crossed my leg over his, needing to be closer. He responded, slipping his hand around my waist, sending chills up my spine.

When he pulled away, he asked, “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that?”

“Well, sometime after Eve’s party, I’m assuming.”

He shook his head. “I wanted to at Eve’s party, but I didn’t think it was fair to kiss you that night when I was playing head games, when Eve was about to walk around the corner. I wanted to take my time.”

“And that you did.”

“You were sending me mixed messages. I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to.”

“Mixed messages? How so?”

“I’d try to hold your hand, you’d let go. I’d try to get you to talk, you’d close up.”

“I thought you were doing it out of duty. I didn’t want to be some fake scene you were performing. Someone to practice lines on.”

“Ouch.”

“Sorry. I just really, really liked you.”

He smiled. “Liked?”

“Like. I really, really like you.” I got up on my knees and faced him. I kissed his cheek then the corner of his mouth. “We should get your sister back.”

His eyes, which had been closed, popped open. “What?”

“Your sister.”

“Not really who I want to think about in this moment.” He pulled me onto his lap and kissed my temple then my neck.

“No, really.” I pushed away a little. “She totally tricked us today.”

“I thought we were happy about this.”

“We are, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get her back.”

“Did you have something in mind?”

“We let her think this didn’t happen.” I pointed between the two of us. “Put your beautiful acting skills to work.”

He laughed. “I’m totally in. Let’s start now.” He got his phone and began to type. I twisted around, my back to his chest, so I could read what he wrote.

Where are you? I’m at Will’s and no one is here.

“Do you think she’s still on my phone and will respond to your texts as me?”

“We’ll see.”

His phone chimed. You’re at Will’s?

“There’s your answer.”

“I’m beginning to think we’re having those immature brains again that your mom talked about.”

“I think my mom might approve in this case.”

I gestured for him to hand me his phone. He did and I took over the texts.

If you’re going to play head games with me, Gia, I’m out of here.

Hayden laughed. His phone rang and I almost dropped it. Bec’s name flashed on the screen. Hayden cleared his throat and turned his smiling face into a serious one.

“Hello?”

I leaned close and he angled the phone so we could both hear.

“Hayden, hi. What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Where are you?”

He shook his head and mouthed, She should go into acting too, right?

I nodded in agreement.

“Nowhere. I’m actually just about to head home.”

I tapped his leg. “Tell her you’re going to stop by Eve’s first,” I whispered.

He bit his lip trying to contain a laugh. His voice didn’t reflect it, though, when he said, “Eve just called. I’m going to stop by her house.”

“Don’t you dare. I saw Gia today.”

“And? I don’t really want to see her. I think she’s playing games with me. She asked me to meet her somewhere and then wasn’t there.”

“She had a rough day. Everyone at school is gossiping about her. I think her friends must’ve found out about prom. You need to talk to her.”

Hayden’s playful act was gone as his whole face turned serious. He looked at me. My smile had disappeared too.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I had no idea.”

“Don’t tell me that,” Bec said. “Tell her.”

“I will.”

“What?”

“I have to go.”

He hung up to her objections then pulled me into a hug. “I’m sorry.”

I shrugged. “It’s fine.”

“You did not just say that.”

I laughed a little. “Okay, it sucks. My best friend won’t talk to me.”

“Claire?”

“Yes. I tried to apologize. She’s really mad. Not that I blame her. I’d be mad too, but I think she doesn’t want to be my roommate anymore. She and Jules are going to room together.”

“No.”

“Yes . . . maybe. I honestly don’t know. I think she just needs some time to decide if she wants to forgive me or not.”

He kissed the top of my head. “She’ll forgive you.”

I filled him in on the rest of my week, and with his arms around me, it all didn’t seem so bad.

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