Flight (Page 31)

I talked to Jess a few times, but not nearly as much as we usually would. It’s not that it was that awkward, but it felt like we were in different worlds for the first time ever. I hoped she didn’t secretly blame me for what happened with Jared. We had one ridiculous game of phone tag that lasted two weeks. I was relieved when we finally broke it.

She must have been holding her phone because she picked up on the first ring. “Hey, we finally made contact.”

“Does that win for longest game of phone tag ever?” I laughed.

“Maybe. But how are you? Are things going well with Levi?”

“Yeah, they really are. I’ve discovered there’s a lot more to him than I thought.” I smiled to myself realizing just how true that statement was.

“I told you so.”

“Yeah, well, I have no idea where it’s going to go, but it’s fun.”

“Sure. You can’t have changed that much, Allie, but I don’t have time to argue, I actually have to run.” I could tell she had put me on speakerphone and was moving around her room.

“Any place interesting?”

“Emmett’s coming over. We’re giving it another try.” I could almost hear her smiling through the phone.

“That’s awesome, good for you. I always thought you guys were great together.”

She laughed. “I know, you had a harder time with us breaking up than I did.”

“I’m really happy for you, Jess.”

“Thanks! And he’s going to Fordham so we’ll be able to see each other all the time even when school starts. He says we’ll have to make next year a re-do of the senior year we never had together.”

“Ha ha, good plan.”

“All right, so I’m glad we talked, call me when you get back in town.” She rushed to end the call.

“Definitely. Tell Emmett I said hi.”

“Same to Levi.”

“Okay, bye.”

I sighed with relief as soon as I hung up. It sounded like Jess was doing okay. Something still felt weird with us, but I hoped when I saw her again things would get back to normal.

***

One of the perks of staying at the hotel was that we got to use the pool. I learned pretty early on that a pool was a hot commodity with such intense heat in New Orleans. Hailey and I spent a lot of time laying out on my days off.

“Can you believe it’s August?” Hailey asked as we lounged by the pool.

“Not at all. This summer has flown by.”

“Are you ready?” She didn’t say what for, but I knew she meant college.

“I guess so, but I’m nervous too. I just want it to be great. You know? Your freshman year of college is supposed to be incredible and I’m scared it’s just going to be some major letdown. What if I mess up my classes, or Toby doesn’t leave me alone, or I have horrible girls on my floor?” Once I started, the worries just spilled out.

“So I’m not the only one? I can’t tell you how good it is to hear you have the same fears. Well, aside from the Toby part.” She laughed.

I smiled lightly and thought about the one worry I had left out—Levi. Things with him were heating up and I wasn’t sure I wanted to say goodbye at the end of the summer. Trying to quell thoughts of a long distance relationship, I reminded myself that he probably had no interest in one, and besides who wanted to start college in a relationship?

“If it makes you feel any better, he doesn’t want you to leave either,” Hailey said as she lathered on some more sunscreen. Her pale skin burned easily, and she was ultra-careful in the sun.

“How’d you know I was thinking about him?”

“You always get that the same look when he’s on your mind.”

“What look?”

“The love-struck one.” She saw my face and backtracked. “Okay, well the far off one.”

“Do you really think he cares that I’m leaving?”

“Umm yeah. He even—” She stopped herself.

“What? He even what?”

“I really don’t want to get myself in any more trouble. Levi is already annoyed at me.”

“Please, you have to tell me. I won’t tell.”

“Fine,” she said dramatically but I sensed she wanted to say it anyway. “I heard him talking to my brother about whether he could handle something long-distance.”

“He what?” That was the last thing I expected to hear, and I didn’t know how I felt about it. On the one hand, it terrified me that there could be something real between us, but on the other hand, the same thought thrilled me. This was not what I needed.

“I’m sure he wasn’t really serious about it. We’ve known from the start whatever this is between us is just for fun.”

“Whatever you say.” Hailey smiled but dropped it. I loved how she always knew where to draw the line.

***

I woke up to a knock on the door at 10:30 that night. I’d fallen asleep on the couch watching a dumb reality TV show. Hailey had some sort of family obligation and Levi had a meeting with his dad, so I had settled in front of the TV after taking advantage of time to myself to finalize my class schedule.

“Who is it?” I called, expecting Levi or Hailey to answer.

“It’s me, honey.”

“Mom?” I asked as I threw open the door.

We nearly knocked one another over pulling each other into a huge hug. She rolled a bag into the room. “I heard you had an extra room. Your dad tried to talk me into taking my own, but I figured this would be more fun.”

“Good! But what are you doing here?”

“Does a mother really need an excuse to visit her daughter?”

“Come on, Mom.”

“Okay, you sounded distant the last time we talked and I’d thought I’d check in.”

I sensed there was more to her visit than she let on, but I didn’t press. “Well, I’m glad you’re here, whatever the reason. I was thinking about making popcorn, you want some?”

“Definitely.” Mom strolled around the suite while I waited for the popcorn to finish. “Nice place your dad set you up in.”

“Yeah. It’s a little large for just me, but the space was nice when Jess was here.”

“Have you talked to her?”

“We’ve talked a few times, but it feels off, like we’re only chatting superficially.”

We took a seat on the couch, munching popcorn.

“Now that we’re face to face, do you want to tell me what really happened?”

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