Read Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Alpha Males Online

Authors: Kelly Favor,Locklyn Marx

Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Alpha Males (7 page)

“How do you know it’s
not serious?
 
Just because I go to a
good college?”

“You probably think
you have it rough.
 
School’s harder
than you thought it would be, you’re not the smartest kid in class anymore, and
you freaked out.
 
Maybe you and some
other spoiled girl got into one of those fights where you pull each other’s
hair.”

Caelyn felt suddenly
calm as she watched him talking.
 
She knew she was angry, but in a way, his fantasy of who she was and
what she was running from had brought her back to earth.
 
There
was
a reason for what she was doing—a real reason.

“You’re so wrong,”
she told him.
 
“But I have nothing
to prove to you.”

“Why don’t you tell
your mother where you really are?” he said.
 
“What are you so scared of?”

“It’s none of your
business.”

He laughed.
 
“Sure.
 
Because you know that I’m right.”

“Believe it if it
makes you feel better about yourself.”

“I believe it because
I’ve seen enough kids like you.”

“You know nothing
about me, Elijah.
 
Nothing.”

He glanced at
her.
 
“I know more than you
think.
 
I grew up seeing kids like
you around Boston—being jealous as hell because I didn’t have shit.
 
I wished that I had parents who weren’t
always drunk, throwing shit, hitting each other and hitting me and my
brother.
 
I would have loved to live
in a nice house with a nice yard, get a decent car for my sixteenth
birthday—or even just have enough food in the house so I wasn’t going to
bed hungry most nights.”

She swallowed.
 
Maybe he’d gotten some things
wrong—they weren’t that rich, for one thing.
 
But he’d gotten a few things right.
 
Her family did live in Avon,
Connecticut, which was a very nice town and with a great school system and most
of her friends had been quite wealthy.
 
She’d never had to worry about having nice clothes, or spending money,
or having enough food in the house.

“I’m sorry you didn’t
have those things,” she told him, and meant it.
 
“But you don’t know anything about me or
my life.”

“I know enough.
 
I know that you left an ivy-league
school that most people would kill to attend, and you’re lying to your parents
about it.
 
I know that you’re
running away to Florida with hardly any money, and you don’t have the first
clue what it’s going to take to survive on your own.”

Caelyn licked her
lips.
 
“I have my reasons.”

“Sure.
 
Sure you do.”

Her stomach was on
fire now.
 
He was painting her as
some spoiled rich kid with a silver spoon in her mouth—some stupid, selfish
girl being immature and silly.
 
And
he had no right to do so.
 

“What makes you so
great that you can sit there and judge me?” she said.
 
“You’re lying to the police about your
name.
 
You’re running away too.”

He nodded.
 
“That’s right.
 
Because I have no choice.
 
I don’t have an education, I don’t have
parents that give a shit.
 
All I had
was baggage that was going to drag me down.”

“Those are just lame
excuses,” she said, firing back, trying to hurt him the way that he’d hurt
her.
 
“Plenty of people come from
poor homes and have parents that are alcoholics and they still do well in
school and end up very successful.”

“Sure they do.
 
That’s what they tell people like you,
so you don’t have to feel bad when you step over some drunk bum on your way to
your cushy corporate job.
 
Or when
you see some guy getting cuffed and stuffed in a police cruiser, you can just
feel superior because he didn’t pull himself up by his bootstraps.”

“Maybe he should
have.
 
Maybe he could have.
 
Maybe it’s the truth,” she replied.

“But it’s not.
 
If I had the same breaks that you’ve
gotten, I’d be going to Cambridge University too.
 
Only I wouldn’t cut and run.”

She stared at
him.
 
He looked at her for a long
moment and then turned his attention back to the road.

“You don’t know
anything,” was all she said.
 
But
she was starting to wonder if maybe he didn’t have a point after all.

 

***

 

When they crossed
into Washington D.C. later that day, she noticed that Elijah was starting to
fade.
 

Traffic had begun
building up on the highway, and the slow driving was getting to him.
 
He was restless, moving in his seat,
shifting his weight, fidgeting with the radio.

She could see it all
over his face, plain as day.
 
He was
exhausted.

Despite the fact that
they hadn’t spoken much since the argument, she was worried about him.
 
He’d been up driving for hours and
hours.
 
They hadn’t had very many
breaks, and it was clearly starting to wear on him.

And even though she’d
had a brief nap or two, she was completely strung out as well.
 
Her mind and her body had been taxed to
their limits.

“Maybe we should stop
soon,” Caelyn said, as the traffic slowed further.
 
“It’s getting to be rush hour and the
traffic’s only going to get worse.”

“That’s not a very
positive attitude.”

“You’ve been driving
for hours and hours.
 
At least let
me take a turn.”

He gave her a look
like she was crazy.
 
“I’m not
letting you drive.
 
I saw what you
did to your car, remember?”

“I didn’t do
anything.
 
It just broke down.”

“Sure it did.”

She rolled her
eyes.
 
“Do you plan on just driving
straight through to Florida?”

“Sure.”
 
He checked the time.
 
“It’s only…what…another fourteen or
fifteen hours.
 
I can do that
standing on my head.”

“You’re practically
falling asleep at the wheel, Elijah.”

“I just need to stop
for coffee.
 
I’m fine.”

They continued on for
another hour or so.
 
Traffic was
slowing to a crawl.
 
Caelyn found
her own eyes closing, opening and closing, and she was dozing.
 
She’d snap awake periodically to find
Elijah staring out at the endless line of cars in front of them.

She opened her mouth
to say something a couple of times and then thought better of it.

Traffic broke up as
they got deeper into Virginia.
 
Elijah stopped at a gas station to fill up and grabbed them both
coffees.

As they were leaving,
Caelyn tried to give him twenty dollars.

“Get that away from
me,” he said, refusing to take her money.

“Fine, I’ll just put
it in your glove compartment.”

“I’ve got plenty of
money,” he told her, “and I’m pretty sure you don’t.
 
You should save it for Florida.”

“I can’t let you keep
paying for me.”

“What were you
studying?” he said, as they left the gas station.
 
He handed her a coffee and stretched,
his shirt pulling up and revealing a flat, washboard stomach with six-pack abs.
 

She tried to avert
her gaze but couldn’t help but stare.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Huh?”

“What were you
studying at Cambridge?
 
Were you
going to be a doctor or something?”

“I was studying
sociology.”

“What’s the good
for?” he said.

“What does that
mean?”

“Like, what would you
do for a job after college?”

She shrugged and took
a small sip of her coffee.
 
It was
hot and good.
 
“I don’t know.
 
Supposedly the FBI likes hiring people
from that field.
 
Maybe I’ll track
serial killers or something.”
 
She
smiled to show she was joking.

“Well, when you get a
job with the FBI someday, you can pay me back.
 
But for now, just think of it as a
long-term loan.”

“I can’t—”

“Hey,” he said
softly, putting a hand on her shoulder.
 
“I know I’m not always the easiest person to get along with.
 
Just let me pay for the trip, okay?”

She nodded slowly,
relishing the way his hand felt on her shoulder, glad that they weren’t
fighting anymore.
 
She wanted him to
stay that way for just a little while longer—and she’d probably have
agreed to anything to make him do so.
 
“Okay.”

“You can always pay
it forward,” he said.
 
“Help
somebody else out who needs it sometime.”

A moment later, he
pulled his hand away.

 
Once they were back in the SUV, Elijah
was about to pull out of the parking lot when his cell began buzzing.
 
He impatiently grabbed it from his
pant’s pocket and stared at it.
 
He
had a look of concern, or maybe anger, on his face.
 
“Damn it,” he muttered.
 
He started furiously texting.

“Everything okay?”
she asked.

He didn’t
respond.
 
He finished texting and
then his phone started ringing.
 
Elijah’s expression darkened.
 
Finally, after waiting for a few rings, he answered.
 
“Yeah.”
 
His tone of voice was different than
what she was used to hearing from him—deeper, more aggressive.
 
He listened to whatever the person was
saying on the other end of the phone.
 
“You know I can’t do that,” he said.
 
“Because.”
 
Pause.
 
“Because I’m done, that’s why.”
 
Another long pause.
 
He was staring down, his eyes distant as
he listened to whatever was being said.
 
His jaw flexed and the muscle twitched, like a pulse.
 
“Listen to me,” he said, his voice an
intense whisper.
 
“No, listen to
me.
 
If I see you again, it’s not
going to be pretty.
 
Understand?
 
Just go on back
to the rest of the boys and tell them my message.
 
I’m done.
 
Stop calling me, stop texting me, don’t
look for me.
 
If you find me, I can
guarantee you’ll wish you didn’t.”
 
And then he took the phone away from his ear and hit the end button.

As they pulled back
onto the highway, Caelyn could feel the tension radiating off of Elijah like
heat.
 
His whole body gave off a
kind of dark, violent energy—and yet it didn’t scare her for some reason.

She knew that what he
was feeling had nothing at all to do with her.
 
Still.
 
She knew better than to ask him what
that call had been about.
 

After they’d been
driving again for a few minutes, his shoulders visibly relaxed.
 
He glanced over at her.
 
“I didn’t want you to have to hear
that,” he said.

“It’s okay, I don’t
mind,” she told him.

He smiled.
 
“I doubt the kind of guys you’re used to
hanging around have those kinds of conversations.”

She thought of Jayson
and winced inwardly.
 
That
conversation was nothing compared to what she’d had to deal with from the guy
she’d been hanging around with.
 
“I
think you have a strange idea about people that I spend time with.
 
You seem to think that everyone who goes
to a preppy school is just sheltered and rich and happy.
 
It’s not really like that.”

“It’s not?” he
smirked.

“A lot of them are,
sure,” she admitted, “but some of them are depressed and miserable.
 
Some of them are mean.
 
Some of them are worse than that.”

“I guess that makes
sense,” Elijah said.
 
“But believe
me, you would take the nastiest of your bunch and put them in my neck of the
woods—they don’t last twenty-four hours.”

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