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Devour (Devoured #1)(7) by Shelly Crane

“Hey! Ready to sell the mess outta some t-shirts? Mrs. Collins said if we don’t sell the t-shirts tonight, she won’t order anymore. I say we kiss whoever buys one. They’ll sell like hotcakes.”

“You go right ahead,” I told her laughing. “I’ll stick to the buttons and mugs.”

Sarah was the quirky friend. She wore these outrageous outfits and her crazy curly red hair was always bunched into some kinda wild bun or pigtails. She was so very pretty and guys liked her because she was fun and outgoing, and her skirts were usually shorter than they should be.

Within no time, the people started pouring in and I saw Eli. He looked casual and did a subtle double take when he saw me. He smiled and made his way over to me but Sarah intercepted him. I couldn’t hear them because her back was to me but I saw her put her hand on his arm and I felt a flare of something strange go through me. Jealousy? Me? No...

I looked back up to see Eli watching me with a slightly shocked expression. He seemed almost pleased about something and it irked me even more, though he was looking at me not Sarah. But I had no right or claim to him. I had a boyfriend and felt bad enough as it was. I wiped those thoughts away and concentrated on the people flowing by.

“So, anyway,” she was saying as she walked towards me with her arm in his. “I sit in the middle behind the home team. I’ll find you when I’m done, ok?”
“Alright,” he said smoothly and detangled himself from her. “Clara, hey.”

Sarah bristled and a frown appeared as she heard his tone. She huffed silently and turned to take care of a customer.

“Hey, you made it.”

“I told you I would.”

“Listen. Are you ok? You seem to be acting a little...strange and you ran out of class today. I’ve never been the new kid before but I’m sure it sucks.”

“It’s not that. I’m just going through something, I guess.” He stuck his hands in his pockets. “I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“No. No, I was just worried about you,” I assured and turned the ring on my finger to keep from looking at him.

“You were worried about me,” he repeated and smiled crookedly at me.

“Yeah...Ok. Well, we’ll be done here in a few minutes. We’ll join you, if you want to sit with us,” I said, giving him an out if he wanted it.
“Yeah,” he said softly and flicked his eyes to the table. “And I’ll take a...hmm. What’s a big selling item?”

“Mugs and buttons are our biggest.”

“What’s your lamest?”

“T-shirts.”

“Well them I’ll take a t-shirt.”

I laughed and picked through them to find his size and took his ten dollars.

“You want the lamest item? Why? Trying to go against the flow?” I joked.

“Nope, just don’t want the t-shirt to feel left out,” he said and winked before walking away.

“OMG. He was so flirting with you,” Sarah said loudly and I shh’ed her.

“No, he’s not. You’re just like Tate. Just because a guy talks to me doesn’t mean he wants to date me, ok?”

“Yeah but I want to date him and he wants to date you. I can tell these things.”

“Well then get your radar checked,” I yelled playfully. “Everyone needs to get over it. I’m dating Tate, end of story.”

“We’ll it better be. You already got a hunk!” she chimed. “Well, let me sit next to him when we go out there, ok? I need a little help. Maybe I came on too strong earlier,” she mused and bit her thumb nail.

“You? Never,” I said, my sarcasm dripping.

We laughed as we put up our wares and made our way to the packed bleachers. It seemed the whole town came out for these things. I let Sarah sit next to Eli and other than a quick look from him, I received no reaction. Once we sat down I remembered that I hadn’t had any supper and was going to get a hotdog. I turned to Sarah to say as much but Eli stood and waved me off.

“I’ll get it. I was going anyway.”

“Ok, great, thanks.”

“You want anything, Sarah?” he asked politely.

“Diet Coke, no ice, please.”

“Sure thing.”

As soon as he was gone she leaned over and put her head on my shoulder dreamily.

“His eyes. Oh my gosh, those eyes! Have you seen them? The most gorgeous purple eyes ever.”

Yes, I wanted to say. Yes, I’d seen his gorgeous eyes. In fact, I saw them first. But I held my tongue and looked out to see Tate about to take the mat. As Sarah droned on in my ear about Eli’s accent, Tate looked for me and when he found me he smiled. He made kiss lips at me too, making Sarah produce gagging noises beside me. I punched her arm playfully and she laughed before starting a chant for our team. Eli came back a couple minutes later with our food and drinks and passed them out before taking a seat...next to me.

I heard Sarah huff beside me and I tried not to giggle. I glanced at Eli and he was smiling like he knew a secret.

We watched the match and I finished my hotdog in record time. Sarah was going on and on about the opposing team. About how hot Tate’s wrestling opponent was and how she was going to get his number after the match. Eli was forgotten, just like that.

The match didn’t last long. We won, of course, and Mike and Deidre finally made their way over to us.

“Hey, guys. Snitzy’s right? Let’s go get a burger,” Mike reminded.

“We just ate,” Sarah groaned but then changed her expression to a smile. “But I’d love to go and hang out. Eli, you in?”

“Are you in?” he asked me and I saw Deidre put a hand on her hip in my peripheral.

“Yeah. It’s still early. My curfew’s midnight.”

“Then, I’m in,” he answered and smiled slightly at me.

Deidre pushed Mike aside, squeezed herself towards us and then plopped herself on Eli’s lap. Eli remained still and expressionless as he watched me. When she wound her arms around his neck, I closed my eyes and shook my head as I looked away.

“So,” Dee started, “Clara, why don’t you go get your boyfriend?”

“I’m sure he’s coming.”

“Well then let’s go. I’m riding with Eli.”

Being able to tolerate Dee was getting harder by the minute. So I got up without a word and walked to the locker room. Tate was all showered and changed, checking his phone when I came up. I apparently startled him because he looked shocked at seeing me. He put his phone away quickly, like he’d been waiting for a call or text maybe.

“What’s up? Are you ok?” I asked.

“Yeah. I was about to text you but here you are.” He kissed my cheek and threw an arm around my shoulder. “What’s up with you? You never come to the locker rooms after matches.”

“Everybody wants to go eat, remember? You still wanna come with us?”

“Everybody who?”

“Mike, Dee, Eli-”

“Ok. Cool.”

We all piled into Tate’s truck and Mike’s car and made our way across town. Dee and Eli rode in the back seat of the truck with us and I heard Dee trying to coax him into taking her out this weekend. He didn’t say much but once when I glanced back, she had her lips on his chin, nipping playfully and then kissing it. Eli and my eyes locked for a second before I looked away.