Tormented

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Americano

Salem

I frown as I read the text, wondering when I agreed to run errands for Nathan. I’m next in line at the coffee shop when my phone buzzed in my pocket.

Grab me an americano?

I step up to the counter and order my latte, grudgingly adding his drink to my order. The barista winks at me.

“I see you’re adding a coffee to your order,” she says, wiggling her eyebrows at me suggestively. “Who is it for?”

Did I miss the part where we became friends?

“A boyfriend?” She asks when I don’t say anything.

“No,” I answer her.

“Well, who’s it for?” She demands, smirking and looking at something behind me. I hand her my card, ready to speed things along. I can’t understand why she’s asking me so many questions.

“Why does it matter?” I ask her, trying not to be rude but probably failing.

“I just haven’t seen Leo in a while…” she says, trailing off. “And an americano isn’t his order. So I just wondered if you’d moved on to someone else.” I just stare at her. “So, have you?”

I sigh. “It’s for a friend,” I finally tell her, though calling Nathan a friend was merely to avoid more probing.

“A guy friend?” She asks, smiling sinisterly as she hands me back my card.

“Yes. I’m going to be late for class,” I lie.

“No, you aren’t,” she quips in a sing-song voice. “But I’ll quit bugging you anyway.”

I nod and move down the counter to wait, scrolling through social media.

“I thought you didn’t do friends,” says a voice from behind me, sending shivers down my spine.

“I don’t,” I say, slowly turning to him.

“Sounds like you do,” Leo says, taking a step closer to me. “That’s what you told Clarice, anyway. A guy friend.”

So that’s why she was asking me so many questions—it must’ve been Leo that she was looking at behind me.

“I did.”

“And yet you don’t do friends? Makes perfect sense.”

Did he really come back just to bug me? I try to hide the fact that my feelings are hurt but I can’t.

“Where have you been?” I ask, hearing the crack in my voice and wincing.

He smiles softly at me and closes the distance between us, his arms sliding around my waist. I pull back but he won’t let me move away from him. “You missed me,” he accuses.

“Leo,” I scold, trying to push him away.

He places a kiss to my neck. I hate that it gives me butterflies.

“I missed you,” he murmurs in my ear before straightening up and looking at me seriously. “I’m sorry, Salem.”

“Where were you?” I ask again.

“Careful, Salem. It almost sounds like you care.”

“Well, I don’t,” I say angrily, grabbing the coffees off the counter as they’re sat down in front of me. I turn to leave.

What an arrogant asshole.

He’s made me wait all this time and he can’t even be serious for one moment? He told me he’d call me eight nights ago… and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I do care about him.

His hands on my waist felt really good.

“Salem. Wait, please,” he says as he follows me out the door.

“No, I’m going to be late.”

“It was a family emergency. It’s personal,” he says sheepishly.

“That’s the best you’ve got?” I counter.

“I guess we both have our secrets,” he mumbles and my eyes snap to his. He looks immediately apologetic but I shake my head.

“You’re right. I’m being unfair.”

“No,” he says, pulling me to a stop and taking my face in his hands, careful not to spill my coffees. “I’m the one being unfair. Yes, it was personal, and no, I don’t want to talk about it—but I should’ve been more remorseful. I never meant to hurt you, beautiful. If I could’ve called you, I would’ve. I was so worried that you’d be mad at me, that whatever headway I’d made with you would be lost when I got back.”

I sigh. “I’m so stupid,” I say, mostly to myself. “This,” I gesture between the two of us, “it can’t happen—regardless of whether I care or not.”

“Why can’t it happen?” He demands. “A real answer.”

“I’ve already told you so many times! How can you not get it? I don’t deserve you.” I pull away and begin walking again, headed towards my first class of the day… and Nathan. Will Leo see Nathan? What will he think?

“Why don’t you let me decide that for myself?” He asks, easily keeping up with me. “I think that you’re scared, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be together.”

“Yes, it does,” I insist. “I could hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anyone else.”

“Hurt me physically?” He wonders out loud. All this time he must’ve been thinking I’d break his heart.

“Yes, physically,” I tell him sadly, and then, in a random bout of honesty, I let him in a little more. “I don’t have control over my magic, and I don’t have control over myself. I have hurt people, Leo. I’ve hurt people that I cared about. I don’t want to hurt you, ever, and the best way to do that is to stay away from you.”

“I’ll take my chances,” he smirks.

Why is he so stubborn? I’m trying to get away from him, to give him an out, but he just won’t take it. The selfish side of me is glad.

I am wholly enamored by the auburn-haired man.

We’ve reached my class now, and Nathan is leaning against the wall waiting on me, clad in joggers and a sports coat. He’s not as adorably handsome as the guy next to me, but he isn’t too hard on the eyes.

Leo visibly stiffens when he sees Nathan there. He takes a half step ahead of me, as if he’s shielding me or something.

“Nathan,” Leo greets him coldly.

Of course they know each other—isn’t that my luck?

“Leopold,” Nathan grins, walking up to us. He reaches past Leo to take the coffee from me with one hand, the other grabbing my now empty hand and placing a kiss to my knuckles. “Thank you, lovely.”

Leo raises his eyebrows at me. “You were getting coffee for Nathan? Nathan is your… friend?”

“Hmm,” Nathan hums. “Don’t tell me this is the old TA,” he smirks, looking at me with devilish eyes. “I thought you said you didn’t really know him.”

“I’ve got to go,” Leo announces, annoyed. Before leaving, he leans in close, pressing his lips against my neck right under my ear. “I’ll come over later,” he promises. “We’ll finish this conversation,” he tells me, and then presses his lips gently to mine. He throws a cocky wave at Nathan and leaves us to get to class.

Nathan throws his arm around my shoulder, pulling me inside.

“He’s really no good for you,” he confides as we take our seats.

I can’t shake the feeling that I’m now caught between these two, whether I like it or not.
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