Ugh. Why do guys have to be so complicated?
Maybe he’s just playing with me because he’s bored or something. Because I’m fresh meat out here in the middle of nowhere. But he didn’t look bored after the snowball fight—in fact, he looked pissed as hell at Flint. Which is ridiculous, considering Flint saved me from a concussion or a broken leg or worse.
But a guy who isn’t interested doesn’t act like Jaxon did, right? He doesn’t have the kind of temper tantrum—and it was a tantrum, despite how cold it was—that Jaxon had in the middle of that forest because he thought Flint had put me at risk.
I don’t think so…but then, what do I know? I’ve only ever had one boyfriend, and the way I felt about Gabe was nothing like this. I mean, it was a decent relationship, I guess. We had been friends for years, and it just kind of drifted into something different for a while. We went places together, made out sometimes, did all the usual stuff. But it was easy with Gabe. He never made me feel like Jaxon does, never made my breath catch and my hands sweat and my stomach flip from just a look. I never spent hours obsessing over his every word, never found myself longing for his touch the way I do for Jaxon’s.
I just wish I knew how Jaxon felt.
“Oh my God.”
Apparently, Macy has finally snapped out of whatever weird Jaxon-induced coma she’s been in for the last five minutes. I shoot her a look. “Don’t start.”
“Oh. My. God. OmigodOmigodOmigod. What just happened?”
“I fell out of a tree. Flint saved me from dying. Jaxon carried me back to the dorm because I sprained my ankle.” I say it all very flippantly, hoping if I keep it casual, if I don’t let Macy know how messed up my own head is, she’ll let things drop.
“Those are just the details.” She flops down on my bed, careful not to jostle my ankle as she does.
“I’m pretty sure the details are what’s important here.”
“Not right now they aren’t! Right now, it’s all about the big picture.”
“And what exactly is the big picture?” I ask.
“That the two most popular boys in school are obsessed with you.”
I nearly strangle myself on my sweatshirt as I try to get a look at her face to see if she’s kidding or not. “I wouldn’t say they’re obsessed,” I finally manage to get out once I untie my hoodie strings and stop strangling myself in the process. “And aren’t you the one who was just warning me to stay as far away from Jaxon as I could get?”
“Yeah, but that was before.”
“Before what?” I demand.
“Before I saw how he looks at you.” She closes her eyes and makes a sound very close to the one she made when Jaxon smiled at her. “I wish Cam would look at me like that.”
“You want your boyfriend to look at you like he’s an arrogant prick used to getting his own way?”
“Yeah, he pretty much does that already,” she says with a roll of her eyes. “I want him to look at me like it physically hurts him not to be touching me.”
“Jaxon doesn’t look at me like that.” I’m beginning to think it’s how I look at him, though.
Macy snorts. “Baby, if that boy wanted you any more, he would spontaneously combust.”
Her words warm me, make me feel like I might spontaneously combust—especially if I spend much longer thinking about Jaxon. That guy is way too hot for his own good…or my own peace of mind. And if Macy’s right, if he’s thinking even a quarter of the things I’m thinking about him…
“Is it hot in here?” I start to shrug out of the million and three layers of clothing I’m currently wearing.
“After three days of watching you be miserable in the cold, I never thought I’d hear you say that,” Macy teases as she grabs hold of my snow pants and starts tugging at them hard enough to pull me halfway down the bed. “Guess all it takes to warm you is getting up close and personal with the most dangerous boy at Katmere Academy.”
I slap at her hands. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to help you. These things are hard to get out of if you can’t stand.” She yanks and tugs some more and still doesn’t get much accomplished.
“It’s okay; I can do it.” I bat her hands away and stand up so that my weight is balanced on my unhurt leg as I slide off both the snow and fleece pants I’m wearing. Which leaves me in long underwear and wool socks, both of which are a million times more comfortable than the outerwear I’d been sweating in.
Macy strips off her own layers and doesn’t say anything else until we’re both settled back on my bed again. Then she looks me straight in the eye and says, “You’ve procrastinated long enough. Now spill.”
“There’s nothing to spill.” I slip under the covers and lean my back up against the wall. “You’re the one who said the different cliques never mix.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t have a clique yet, so apparently the rules don’t apply to you. And as for having nothing to spill, I call bullshit on that. You’ve been here exactly seventy-two hours—and I’ve been with you most of those hours, by the way. Not all of them, obviously, because I had no idea the two hottest boys in school were going to have a massive pissing contest over you in front of half the senior class.” She gives me an incredulous look. “When did this happen? How did this happen?”
“Nothing’s happened, I swear. Flint and I are just friends—”
“I’m serious. He’s really nice, but he’s never done anything even remotely un-friend-like.”
Macy rolls her eyes. “You mean like carrying you up the staircase or going out of his way to invite you to a snowball fight?”
“You asked him to carry me up the stairs. Altitude sickness, remember?”
“Yeah, and did I also ask him to dive out of a tree to save your life?”
“I’m sure he thought you would have asked if there was time.”
“Oh my God! You are so annoying.” She flops back against the bed. “I can’t decide if you’re lying to yourself or if you’re just this naive.”
“I’m not lying. And I’m not naive.” I give her my most sincere look. “I swear, Macy. There’s nothing going on between Flint and me.”
She studies me for a second, then nods. “Okay, fine. But I notice you didn’t say the same thing about you and Jaxon.”
“Jaxon and me… Jaxon is… I mean, we’re… I don’t…” I trail off, cheeks burning, because even I can tell how incoherent and ridiculous I sound. “Ugh.”
“Wow.” Now Macy’s eyes are huge. “That serious, huh?”
I don’t know what to say, so I almost don’t say anything at all. Except Macy has gone to school here a lot longer than I have, which means she knows a lot more about Jaxon than I do, and I would really like to benefit from a little of that knowledge.
“It’s complicated.” I expect her to ask what’s complicated about it, but she doesn’t. Instead she just nods like, of course it is. “He’s not really dangerous like you said, is he?”
Even as I ask the question, I know the answer…which is, hell yeah, he is. And you should stay as far away from him as you possibly can.
I mean, he’s never been anything but gentle when he touched me, but it’s as plain as the scar on his face that Jaxon isn’t like the other boys I’ve known. Every single thing about him screams danger—of the dark and brutally wounded variety. It’s in his eyes, in his voice, in the way he holds himself and the way he moves.
I recognize it, even acknowledge it. But when I’m near him, that doesn’t matter. When I’m near him, nothing matters but getting closer, even though it’s obvious he’s been hurt before and just as obvious that he’s determined to protect himself. Was it his brother’s death that did this to him? Or is Hudson just one piece of a much bigger puzzle?
My instincts say it’s the latter, but I haven’t known him long enough to be sure.
Silence stretches between us for several long seconds. I watch Macy, who pretty much has the opposite of a poker face, as she tries to figure out what to say. It takes a little while, but finally she settles on, “He’s not Silence of the Lambs dangerous. He’s not going to drop you in a pit and starve you so he can make a dress out of your skin or anything.”
I burst into incredulous laughter. “Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got? He’s not going to make a dress out of my skin?”
She shrugs. “I also said he wouldn’t starve you in a pit.”
“It’s Alaska. You’d need a professional oil drill to make a pit in the frozen ground.”
“Exactly.” She holds her hands out in an obvious gesture. “See, told you he wouldn’t do it.”
“Are you trying to be reassuring here, or are you trying to scare the hell out of me?”
“Yes.” She bats her eyes at me. “Is it working?”
“I have no freaking idea.”
My phone buzzes, and I almost ignore it. But it has to be Heather—Macy’s the only one at Katmere who’s got my number—and right now, I could use a little of my BFF’s brand of sanity.
Heather: How was your first day of classes?
Heather: Any hot guys in your English class?
Heather: Or hot girls? Asking for a friend…
She includes the dtf emoji in the last one, and I laugh despite myself. Then take a quick pic of Macy in her tank top and long underwear, who fakes a pouty pose when I say it’s my BFF back home, and answer:
Me: ALL the hot girls.
Heather: Ugh. Mean
Heather: How was class?
Me: Altitude sickness kept me home. But I’m going tomorrow
And then, because Heather can go on forever and I want to finish this conversation about how Jaxon isn’t an actual movie serial killer, I text: