Focus (The Crescent Chronicles #2)


by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Chapter One

“All right, I think that’s everything.” I flopped down on my new bed, sweaty and exhausted yet unbelievably excited.

“It’s official… we’re in college.” Hailey mirrored me, sitting up on an elbow across the room. “Umm, you boys can go now.” She made a shooing motion at the three large guys leaning against the wall under the air conditioning vent.

“Just like that, you’re kicking us out?” Jared complained.

Hailey sat up, sitting with her legs crossed. “Oh wait, I forgot. Ground rules. Under no circumstances can you flirt, hook up with, or otherwise interact with any of the girls on this floor. Is that understood?”

Owen and Levi both laughed, the rules weren’t for them.

“You can’t tell me what girls I can hook up with.” Jared ran a hand through his black hair.

“Yes she can. You are not making things weird for us.” I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to make myself look more intimidating.

“And how are you going to enforce it?” Jared challenged.

“Do you even want to go there? Do you want us to tell every freshman girl you have an STD, or just our floor?” I threatened. “Don’t test us.”

“Okay, okay.” He held up his hands in mock defeat. Knowing Jared, he was already trying to find a loophole. He wasn’t one to step away from a challenge.

“Hey, Al, can I talk to you for a second?” Levi used his nickname for me instead of calling me Allie like everyone else.

“Uh, sure.” I looked at him, waiting for him to continue.

“Alone.”

Hailey glanced at me to gauge my reaction. I nodded. Levi was nothing if not persistent, so it was probably better to get the conversation over with.

“All right guys, time to help me buy my books.” Hailey walked toward the door with Owen and Jared on her tail.

“You’re lucky you are my sister or you’d be dead right now.” Owen touched the molding above the door on his way out.

“What’s your excuse, Jared?” I called after him.

He grunted, and Hailey laughed. She loved her new power over the guys now that they were willing to do anything to keep me happy. They left the room. Jared slammed the door behind him.

It was the first time Levi and I had been alone in a room together since the night that changed my life forever—or really the morning after.

I sat up on my bed and Levi took it as an invitation to sit next to me. I could tell he was itching to touch me, but he knew better.

“So I was thinking we might get dinner tonight. Maybe Jacques-Imos?” His brown hair had grown out a little longer than when I first met him. I was tempted to tell him to get a haircut, but he’d probably enjoy that too much.

“Why would I go to dinner with you?” I smoothed out the light blue comforter.

“Why wouldn’t you? I’m really glad you agreed to let me help you move in. I’ve missed you so much.”

“Why would the fact that I was interested in using you for your physical labor, equate with us going out?”

“Come on! I just spent the better part of the day lugging boxes of your stuff up three flights of stairs.” He crossed his arms, which only accentuated the muscles underneath his shirt. Carrying boxes couldn’t have been too hard for him.

“And I appreciate that, but it still doesn’t change anything.” I knew how cold I sounded, but he deserved it.

“Please, Al. You can’t stay mad forever. It’s just dinner. Or if you don’t want to do dinner, let’s go out later tonight.” His gray-blue eyes pleaded with me, but I looked away before I could even be tempted.

“I can’t do this. You’re supposed to be giving me space.”

“Space? I never agreed to that. What do you expect me to do? I’m dying here.” He put his head in his hands. It was still weird to see Levi look so defeated.

“Why? Because you can’t handle going a few weeks without getting some?” Out of habit, I tugged at the ring that was at the center of all of my problems.

“I waited a lot more than a few weeks for you the first time around.” By the expression on his face, he probably regretted the words instantly. “This isn’t about sex and you know it.”

“Then what is it about?”

“Us. We are so good together, let’s give it another chance.” His voice was low and husky.

I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the dull ache inside that made me want to reach out and touch him. He took advantage, but really I left myself open.

His lips met mine as his arm wrapped around my shoulder, turning me toward him. A voice in my head told me to cut him off, but I ignored it. He pushed to deepen the kiss, and I let my resistance fall away. He leaned into me, moving me so I was lying down. I felt his weight shift on top of me, his lips moving to my neck and trailing downward. I snapped myself out of it. Kissing Levi was a really bad idea.

“Stop!” I pushed against his chest. He didn’t respond at first, but he reluctantly moved to let me sit up. “What the hell was that?”

He grinned. “Don’t say you didn’t want that.”

“Don’t look so proud of yourself. It’s never happening again.” I straightened my hair out with my fingers, trying to get rid of the evidence.

“So about tonight?”

“What about it?” I snapped.

“What do you want to do?” He sat up, still looking way too proud of himself.

“I’m going to a party with Hailey. She says all the freshman will be there.”

“Please tell me you aren’t talking about Disorientation.”

“Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called.”

He shook his head. “No way. You’re not going!”

As if on cue, the door started to open. “Are you two decent in there?” Jared yelled obnoxiously.

I groaned. “Of course, we are.”

Hailey and the boys pushed into the room.

“Are you sure about that?” Owen asked.

I probably blushed wondering what evidence still existed. I followed his gaze and realized my tank top was pulled up on one side. Levi pulled it down before I could, letting his hand graze my skin in the process. The goose bumps that formed were completely coincidental—or so I told myself.

I stood up, needing to put distance between us. “That was fast.”

“Yeah, we heard the line was out the door and came back. We’ll have to try again later.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Not with our help.”

Levi turned his attention to Hailey. “Al seems to think you two are going to Disorientation tonight. Where would she have gotten the idea that that was acceptable?”

“Why wouldn’t we go?” Hailey took a seat on her desk chair.

“You have got to be kidding.” Owen slumped down on the floor, fanning himself with his shirt. “You really think Levi is going to let Allie go to a party like that?”

“One of the only good things about living in this dorm is being close to the frat houses. We’re not missing this party.” Hailey made no secret about how mad she was about living in an all-girl dorm.

“Then we’ll go with you.” Levi stood up.

“No way. Absolutely not!” Hailey yelled. “We want to have lives. We can’t have them if you are hovering over us all the time.”

Anger built up inside me. I was tired of people talking about me like I wasn’t there. “Why would Levi have any say over what parties I go to? I can do what I want.”

“Fine. You want to go to that party? Go.” A sly grin crossed Levi’s face.

“Uh oh. What are you planning?” I sighed in frustration.

“Why would you assume I am planning anything?” he said with mock innocence.

“Because you never give in that easily.”

“Well, I guess you’ll have to wait and see.” Levi took a step toward me, kissing me quickly before I could react. “See you around, Al.” He winked before heading towards the door.

Jared and Owen got up to follow him. “Try to stay out of trouble, Hailey,” Owen warned as they filed out.

“Yes, Dad!” Hailey yelled back even though the door had already slammed shut. “My brother has to be the most annoying person on earth.”

“Second. Levi gets the first place prize.”

“What about Jared? I think he wins too.”

I laughed. “Maybe they’re all tied?”

“All right, let’s call it a three-way tie.”

***

“Oh my god. I figured it was going to be you!” The door burst open, and a small girl with her black hair pulled back into a bun ran into the room.

“Anne…hey.” I put down the dress I was about to hang up in my closet.

“Hi, Anne,” Hailey said carefully. We weren’t sure how the girl who was supposed to be Hailey’s roommate was going to react to the change in room assignments.

“So you decided to stay in New Orleans after all?” She moved into the room.

I nodded. “Yeah, I just wasn’t ready to leave.”

“I totally get that.” She sat down on my bed. “So how did you two manage to get the rooms switched? I’m not mad or anything, I’m right next door, so we’ll still be able to hang out a lot.”

“Yeah? That’s awesome. Hailey’s dad called and was able to move things around. It turned out there was an extra spot on the floor.”

“Okay, cool. My roommate seems nice, but really quiet.” I couldn’t quite suppress a smile. Quiet: the exact opposite of Anne. It would be an interesting combination.

“Great.”

Anne picked up the orientation packet I had sitting on my bed. “Do you guys want to meet her? She’s just sitting in there all alone.”

“Yeah, definitely.” I deliberated on what to bring with me, finally settling on just my keys, phone, and my newly minted Tulane ID. Thankfully, the photo had turned out well.

Anne led the way into her identically laid out room. “Hey Tiffany, this is Hailey and Allie, our neighbors.”

A girl looked up from putting books on the shelf above her desk. “Hi.” She brushed her blonde hair off her shoulder.

“Hey, it’s nice to meet you.” I smiled.

She smiled back shyly, and I took a seat on Anne’s bed.

“So where are you from, Tiffany?” I’d been really shy as a little kid and knew how tough it could be.

“St. Louis.” She sat down on her desk chair, turning it to look at us.

“Oh cool. I’ve never actually been there, but I’ve heard good things.”

Tiffany put a hand on the arm rest of her chair. “Where are you guys from?”

“I’m from New York, and Hailey’s a local.”

“A local? You’re actually from New Orleans?”

Hailey laughed. “Yes. I know there aren’t too many of us here.”

“That must have been cool. But then again, growing up in New York City would be cool too.”

“Oh, I’m actually from the suburbs. I probably should have been more specific.” I crossed my legs.

Tiffany smiled. “I do the same thing. I’m from the suburbs too.”

“Am I the only non-suburbanite here?” Hailey took a seat next to me on Anne’s bed.

“I’m really from Jackson, but it’s not exactly a bustling metropolis.” Anne zipped up a suitcase and jammed it into her closet.

Hailey laughed. “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Jackson.”

Anne smiled. “Says the girl from New Orleans.”

“So do you guys want to go to a frat party tonight?” Hailey asked.

“Yes!” Anne answered excitedly.