Love Me(The Keatyn Chronicles #4)

By: Jillian Dodd

Tuesday, October 25th

English is my new lover.

6:30am



I get up early, see it’s raining, and decide to improve the dreary day with a cute new uniform look. I put on the navy plaid pleated skirt, a bright yellow blouse with ribbon flowers down the front, the navy blazer, and tall Hunter lace-up rain boots in a bright marigold. Over it, I add a short gabardine Burberry belted trench coat, grab a bright yellow umbrella, and then head to the café for a hearty breakfast.

I purposely sit by myself and start studying English. The test is in two days. And for two days, I am on a no-boy diet.

No Aiden. No Dawson.

Just me and English.

English is my new lover. I’ll be like one of those girls who gets all obsessed over a boy when they first meet, and she posts all sorts of lovey shit on her Facebook. Like Ariela did with Riley. All that, Oh, baby I love you, hearts and shit.

I realize I just sounded very cynical. When did I become such a cynic about love?

Oh yeah, when Brooklyn screwed the girl in the cabana and when Dawson dumped me for Whitney.

N0! Stop that!

No thinking about boys!

English. English. English!

I go back to studying my notes.

Aiden slides into the seat across from me. I don’t have to look up to know it’s him, I feel the pull of my heart practically being sucked out of my body.

“You feeling better?” he asks sweetly.

I look up at him. He’s wearing a deep blue oxford with contrasting paisley fabric inside the collar. A navy blazer. And a purple and blue paisley tie, partially tied around his neck. His shoulders still have little drops of rain on them. He looks like he does after football practice, his hair wet, slightly messed up. But instead of being sweaty and gross, he’s all dressed up. The combination of the two make him look unbelievably, adorably sexy. I want to jump over the table and into his arms.

But instead I say, “Yeah, I went to bed early. So, um, look Aiden. I can’t do tutoring tonight. I really need to focus.”

He tilts his head at me. “I told you, I’ll help you study.”

“I wish you could, but lately all we do is fight, and it’s distracting. I really have to study.”

He looks mad. Starts to get up to leave.

“Why do you seem mad? I thought you of all people would understand how important it is that I get a good grade on this test.”

“It feels like you’re pushing me away.”

“I’m not. I just have to pass. I’ve never failed at anything.” Except relationships, I think. “But I’ll make you a deal. Thursday night you can come to rehearsal and study with me. We’ll talk. Maybe work on our framework.”

“Our framework?”

“Yeah, I want to get to know you before I build something that is going to collapse in a heap like my ceramics project.”

“You have an unusual way of thinking, but I’d like that. I don’t think I want to collapse into a heap.”



A fiery kiss.

6pm



I barricade myself in a private study room and try not to think about when I was here with Dawson. I’m making notecards and flash cards, using a highlighter, and doing anything else I can think of to help me study, when I get a call from Dawson.

“What’s up?” I say.

“Where are you hiding?”

“Library.”

“Private study room?”

“Yeah. What did you need?”

There’s a beep beep telling me that the call dropped.

A few minutes later, there’s a knock on the door. I peek out and see Dawson.

“There you are,” he says, pushing through the door and eyeing the jean skirt I changed into after school. “Damn, Keatie, you looked sexy today, but tonight you just look hot.”

“I have to study.”

“Yeah, I know. We should study fairy tales and happy endings,” he says, pulling me into his arms and giving me a fiery kiss.

“It’s happily ever after. Not happy endings.”

He shrugs. “Same thing.”

Uh, no. So not the same thing.

He unbuttons my blouse and slides his hand up my skirt.

And I like it.

Shame on me, but I do.

Because it turns out that English is not a very good lover.

Pretty quickly, I’m hot and bothered and kissing Dawson recklessly. I want him. I want to feel wanted.

When he pulls a condom out of his pocket and says, “No mess,” I practically rip it out of his hands to open it.

He picks me up and pushes me against the door.



It’s over quickly. Both of us breathing heavily and quickly getting our clothes back into place.

“Every time is so good,” he says. “So hot. I’m halfway afraid to do it with anyone else.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m afraid it won’t be as good.”

“It’ll be good if you care about them, I think. And maybe if it’s just for fun it will be good too. I’m not really sure about all that. Dawson, you’ve grown up since you and Whitney. It sounds like you did it a lot this past summer. You’ve gotten better, or more confident, probably.”

“I think I could do it with you forever. Even if we married other people, I’d still want to do it with you. Speaking of that. How are things going with Aiden?”

“After your posting about the bathtub, you mean?”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” he says with a grin.

I shake my head at him. “You are not sorry.”

“You’re right. I’m not.”

“What happened to you just wanting to go to college?”

“That’s months away. Months that we could be having fun.”



In the moonlight.

8pm





Logan is on stage practicing a really funny hot tub scene. I’m done with the first part of it and am standing on the stage with Jake. There’s a skinny black curtain in front of us to hide us until the end of the scene.

I watch Logan make out like crazy—in a funny way, lots of exaggerated hands rubbing down each other’s backs, heads smooshed together and moving in a fake passionate kiss—with the rest of the contestants. Before each one leaves, he tells her she is the girl he wants to make his princess.

The best part of the scene is that the prop hot tub sits up off the ground. There are fake water bubbles in the tub. Each contestant pops up from under the water and then pops down when the contestants change. What's really funny is the first time one of the contestants goes down you think she’s going under the water to do naughty things to him, but then you laugh when you realize it’s a scene change.

And Logan plays it up by smirking at the audience.

After the last contestant leaves, his butler brings him champagne. He leans back and says, “They’re all in love with me. I’m wooing them with my words and my lips. My brother doesn’t stand a chance. His being in love with the cheerleader has worked better than I could’ve planned. She’s ignoring him, and he’s ignoring all the other contestants. It’s brilliant.”

The stage darkens on them as the thin curtain in front of us goes up and a spotlight shines on Jake and me.

He reaches out, taking both of my hands in his. “I’m sorry I didn't tell you, but for once I wanted a girl to fall in love with me. Just me,” the Good Prince pleads.

Of course, earlier in the play, the Bad Prince told my character that his brother is a total player and that he says that to all the girls.

“Your brother told me you say that to all the girls.”

“Don't you believe in true love? The fairy tale kind?” he implores, pulling my hands dramatically to his chest.

“Yeah, I do, but not with a liar.”

I run away from him, the spotlight and little moon following me to the hot tub.

“Hey, slow down there, Boots,” the Bad Prince says to me, totally straying from the script.

“Boots?” I ask.

“Yeah, when I first met you, you were wearing those cute little cowboy boots.”

My real life flashes before my eyes.

I walk up to the hot tub like I'm scripted to do, sit down, slip my boots off, and put my feet in the hot tub.

“Do you believe in true love?” I ask with a sigh.

The Bad Prince knows now that he's in trouble. That I’m still in love with his brother. Which puts his plan to get all the contestants to fall in love with him and reject his brother in danger of failing.

While I'm staring dreamily at the moon, the butler sneaks on stage and whispers in the Bad Prince’s ear. “Sire, this one could ruin our plan.”

He shoes the butler away, swims over to me, and replies with, “Of course, I believe in it.” Then he pops out of the tub and walks with me in the moonlight. He says one cheesy pickup line after another. How my eyes are beautiful. How I must have fallen from heaven. How it was instant. That it was fate that I met his brother and that he lied to me. Because it brought us together. “You’re my one true love. Can't you feel it? In here?” He touches my chest, reminding me of Brooklyn. “You're the only contestant I didn’t kiss tonight. Yet you’re the only one I wanted to kiss. I want to kiss you for the rest of my life.”

He gently pushes my hair behind my ear and kisses my cheek.

“That’s perfect. Logan, love your improvised nickname for her. Keep that in there,” our director says.



I sit down in my seat. I want to yell at Logan for departing from the script. For including something so personal in the play. But I can’t, because I’m realizing how alike my real life and the play are.

“I’m tired of being the Bad Prince,” Logan says, plopping down next to me.

“You want to quit the play?”

“No. I mean in real life. I miss Maggie. My pride hates her, but the rest of me still loves her. Last year, all my friends told me that it was crazy. That we’d never last through high school, let alone college. Even my parents said it was just puppy love. And I guess they were right. We didn’t make it. But I'm never going to find another girl like her. And it's making me sick.”

“Lovesick,” I say with a sigh.

“Yeah.”

“Why did you just call me Boots? Is that your way of telling me that Aiden is the Bad Prince in real life?”

“Aiden is the only one of my friends who told me if she was my true love, we'd make it. Through high school. Through college. He believes in it. Speaking of Aiden. Why isn’t he here studying?”

I point at the English notes I’ve yet to look at since rehearsal started and say, “English is my new lover.”

He laughs. “Not doing well?”

“Failing. If I don’t do well on the test Thursday, I won’t be able to dance at the game.”

Logan nods and studies his fingernails. I only get through two notecards before he leans back, stretches, and says, “Screwing random girls in the hot tub of life is getting old.”

“But casual sex can be fun.”

“Once you've experienced sex with meaning, the rest never feels the same. No matter how hard you try.”

“I had that with the guy I was with before I came here.”

“The Keats guy?”

“You know about him?”

“Aiden told me about how he quoted Keats the night of the Welcome Back dance. How you kinda freaked out.”

“When I came here, we sort of broke up, but then sort of didn’t. I was confused. Love is confusing.”

“I’ll drink to that,” he says, pulling a flask with a shark on it out of his backpack. He hides it behind the seats in front of us and bends down really low to take a drink. “You know, what really sucks is that in real life, the Bad Prince wins a lot of the time. A lot of guys just tell girls what they want to hear.”

He looks up at the fake moon and sighs. “I want to be the one in the moonlight getting the kiss at the end.”



Wrapped around her little finger.

11:30pm



After Katie goes to sleep, I’m still thinking about what Logan said, so I go into the stairwell and call my mom.

“He-llow!” Gracie screams.

“Hi, Gracie. How are you, sweetie?”

She gives a little sigh. “Good Kiki?”

“Yes, how is the puppy?”

“Bad. Very bad. She stealed my kisses. Mommy says chocolate not for puppies. Puppies eat it. They die. But Kiki no die.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Bad Kiki ate my purple purse. I mad at her.”

“Well, you have a birthday coming up. Maybe you can get a new one.”

“Gracie be three.”

“I know you will. You’re a big girl.”

“Gracie wanna make sandycastles wiff my Brookwyn and my Kiki.”

Forget the damage boys have done to my heart. I’m pretty sure Gracie just caused it to split in two.

“Me too, Gracie. I miss the beach. Mommy said you have a really big backyard where you can run and play.”

“Avery kicked me.”

“Why did she do that?”

“Gracie took hers chalk. Good Kiki come to my party?”

I close my eyes tightly, trying to ward away the tears.

“I can’t, sweetie. But I know you’ll have fun.”

“Gracie hate Kiki ’venture.”

“Can I talk to Mommy?”

“No!”

Then click.

I call back.

She answers, screaming. “I hate ’ventures. I hate Kiki!”

“Gracie!” I hear Emery yell at her. “Hate is a bad word!”

“Yeah,” Ivery says. “I’m going to tell Mommy.”

I hear a commotion. Screaming. Crying. The phone dropping.

Gracie apparently picks it back up. She screams into the phone again. “Gracie hate birffdays!”

Then, click.



I sit on the stairs and cry.

Then I realize that I may not be able to give her me, but I can get her something that she wants.

I dial Brooklyn.

“Hey, Keats.”

“Hey,” I say with a sniffle.

“Are you crying?”

“Kind of. Gracie’s birthday is coming up and she’s mad I’m not going to her party. She wants us to build sandy castles with her.”

“I miss that. I love all the girls, but Gracie always had me wrapped around her little finger.”

“Me too. She’s so bold and fearless. I wish I was more like her.”

“Keats, I’ve seen you conquer waves way above your skill level. You and Gracie are a lot alike.”

“B, would you mind sending her something for her birthday?”

“I was already planning on it.”

“Really?”

“Of course. I’ve also started researching stalking cases.”

“Really?” He continues to surprise me.

“Yes. I want you back in my life, Keats. I need you back in my life.”

“My life is so messed up, B. Just when I think I’m getting somewhere, I realize that all I’ve done is screw it up more.”

“Take control.”

“What do you mean?”

“I guess maybe all this has made me cynical. Or maybe it’s because I’m not smoking much anymore. But I’m tired of relying on fate. I’m going to figure a way out of this.”

“I suggested to Garrett that we hire a hit man and be done with it.”

B laughs. “I suggested the same thing. How’s the play going?”

“Our first performance is in a couple weeks.”

“I wish I could come watch you.”

“I wish you could too. I’ve been following your surfing. You’ve been doing really well.”

“Yeah. Getting second in the last two tournaments has been amazing. But now, I want first.”

“Has my laid-back surfer boy got a competitive streak I didn’t know about?”

“I miss that the most.”

“Miss what?”

“Hearing you call me yours.”

My phone buzzes. I pull it away from my ear and see that Mom is calling.

“That’s my mom on the other line. I should probably take it.”

“Sweet dreams, Keats.”

I click over to Mom.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Keatyn, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. She’s two. She doesn’t understand,” I sniffle.

“Sweetie, don’t cry. She doesn’t hate you.”

“This isn’t fair, Mom. I’m missing everything. Every new word. Every inch they grow. Every stupid thing the dog does. I can’t do this anymore. I love it here, but I’m living a lie. I’m lying to everyone. Most of all, myself. I’m trying to make a new life, but I don’t want to. I want my old life back. I’m going to do something drastic. I can’t take it anymore.”

“What do you mean, drastic?”

“Do you know anyone in the mob?”

“The mob?”

“I want to have Vincent killed.”

“Keatyn! No. You can go to jail for that. And you’d never see the girls if that happened.”

“How many years would I get if I got caught?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t either. But what if I didn’t get caught? And even if I did, I think if I explained it they would understand. I think I’d get a light sentence. And then I’d be out in a few years for good behavior. And I have money. Why couldn’t I hire the best lawyer and get out of it? At least if I went to jail, I’d know how long I had before it was over. I think that’s what’s killing me. What will I do when I get my life back? B and I made up. Like, we’re talking. Not fighting. And I really loved him, Mom. I really did. And I was so dumb. I tried to change him.”

“Honey, you’re young. You’re going to make mistakes. Boys are a part of that. But they aren’t life-changing mistakes.”

“Like becoming friends with Vincent was?”

“Don’t you dare blame yourself for this. It’s not your fault. Even if you hadn’t become friends, he would’ve been obsessed with you. There were photos from before you met.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“Keatyn, Gracie is three. She won’t remember if you miss her party. We’ll make sure it’s fun. Just send her a present. And maybe we can do a video chat.”

“I also think I’m lovesick.”

“Lovesick?”

“Yes, one minute I think I should just choose Dawson. The next minute, I think I want to be with Aiden. It was bad enough when it was a sort of love triangle. Now that I’m talking to B again, I realize how much I miss him. Now I’m in a love rectangle. Or a rhombus. Whatever. And it’s making me sick. I even have a sore throat.”

“I wish I was there to take care of you like I did when you were little. Do you remember what we always did?”

“Watched The Little Mermaid and ate popcorn in bed.”

“Let me guess. The last boy you are with is the one that you think you like the most?”

“Yes.”

“That’s because it’s the last thing you felt. You can’t ping pong like that. Someone is going to get hurt. Probably, you.”

“Haven’t you ever been with someone and wondered if you should be with someone else? You practically had sex with your hot costar in To Maddie With Love. You can’t tell me you didn’t feel a thing.”

“My heart didn’t feel a thing. It’s late. You need to get to sleep. I love you.”

“I love you too, Mom . . . Mom?”

“What?”

“Give the girls big hugs for me. Tommy and James too.”

“I will, sweetie. I will.”

I hang up and think.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe it isn’t lovesickness. It’s ping ponging. Which is probably something like motion sickness. Only it causes you to question your feelings. And that makes you feel sick all the time.

Like a never-ending hangover.

That’s what this is.

It’s a hottie hangover.

I also think about what she didn’t say. What her body felt.

I trudge back to my room and try to go to sleep.

My phone lights up the room.



B: You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest, the last movement the gracefullest. Keats for my Keats. I want to be the last of your everythings. <3



I stare up at the stars glowing on my ceiling and think my head might explode.

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