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Her Touch(7)

By:Alexa Riley



“I really do want pizza,” she finally says.

“And French fries,” I add.

“Okay.” She slides her book into her backpack, and I lock my arm with hers again as we head into the cafeteria. I hear people get a little quiet, probably wondering what the hell is going on. The girl who was dating Nick is now hanging out with the girl he’s been spreading lies about all over school.

I glance over to the side of the room and see Nick. I almost miss a step when I see his face. I wonder what he’s telling people about what happened to him. He looks like his face met a concrete wall a few times. I’m guessing he’s not telling anyone he got his ass kicked. I hope that him seeing me with Alice makes him rethink the crap he’s been saying about her, too. I narrow my eyes at him, trying to give him a warning. He quickly looks away.

“I love your shoes,” I tell Alice, pulling my eyes from Nick and trying to change the subject.

“Really? I made them myself. Well, not the shoes. I just decorated them.”

“Wow,” I tell her, impressed. And like that, we let everything else slip away and enjoy our lunch.

We talk about what we did over the summer and how we hope this school year flies by, and I ask her if maybe she wants to go shopping with me soon. I need a few things before the weather starts to turn a little colder and would love if she could make me a pair of flats, too. We talk for a while about what styles she can do and what I should have her put on mine.

After lunch we go back to class, where we get our packets to help study for an upcoming test.

“This test is going to be brutal,” I tell her as the bell rings, releasing us from school.

She shrugs. “I can help you study if you want. Numbers are easy to me. Actually they are kinda fun. It’s like a puzzle.”

We walk out together toward the parking lot, and she gets a set of keys out of her bag.

“You drive?” I ask.

She points to an old VW. “Yeah, you need a ride?”

“No, someone is picking me up.”

It’s then I see Eli pull up in his truck. His eyes aren’t trained on me, but behind me. I look over my shoulder to see Nick frozen in place before he turns and takes off back into the school. I have to bite back a laugh.

When I look back, Eli’s eyes are on me, and a warmth fills my belly like I’ve never felt before.

“Who’s that?” Alice asks from beside me.

“The man I’m going to marry someday.”





Chapter 4





Eli




“You look happy. Have a good day at school?” I ask as I wait for Maggie to buckle up.

“Great,” she answers, and smiles at me.

She’s a beautiful young woman, with bright blue eyes and blonde hair that falls past her shoulders. There’s something about her that is so enticing. It’s like being around her makes me feel happy, so I want to be around her. I noticed it when she got out of the truck today, and I feel it now that she’s sitting next to me. She’s like a buzz of excitement, and I’m happy to be near it.

“So you want to go with me to work?”

“What do you do?” she asks, reaching over and playing with the radio.

It’s a small thing, but it seems so familiar. Like she’s comfortable around me. Strangely, I like it. Normally being a kid in foster care, and even in a military school, things that are mine are important to me. I always had a problem with sharing, and the things I owned I protected fiercely. But Maggie seems so innocent that I don’t have the fear that she’ll take something from me. In fact, I feel as if I want to give her pieces of me.

I shake that thought out of my head and focus on driving.

“I work at the rehab facility, with veterans who come back from combat injured. I go in the mornings to do my own physical therapy, and then in the afternoons I work in the offices, meeting with anyone who wants to talk.”

She gives me a thoughtful look. “You must be a good listener.”

“I think my own personal experience has helped. And the fact that I majored in psychology and got licensed when I was in the military. Most combat vets don’t want to talk to a head shrinker. They want someone they can trust. And I think even though I’m young, I’ve experienced a lot.”

“How old are you?”

I glance over and see a little blush on her cheeks. I’m not sure why she’s being shy. Maybe she feels like that’s too personal.

“Twenty-five.”

“Oh.” She sounds disappointed. “I’ll be seventeen soon.”

“We’ll have to celebrate,” I say, and that seems to pull another smile from her. She’s adorable when she grins like that.

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