Home > The Boy I Hate

The Boy I Hate
Author: Taylor Sullivan

Chapter One

Samantha Elizabeth Smiles sat across from her boyfriend of the past six years and blinked. A slow, sloth-like blink, as she simultaneously filled her lungs with just enough air to keep her heart from jumping out of her chest. “Wha-what do you mean you can’t go?”

Her voice cracked with the question, but she couldn’t help it. In only two days they were to leave on their trip, a three thousand mile journey across the US. Yet here he sat in the middle of the restaurant, telling her, in the nonchalant way he did everything, that he couldn’t make it.

She searched his deep brown eyes, desperately looking for any sign she’d misheard him, but there was nothing. Not a hint of remorse that he was breaking a promise. Not a bit of understanding that he was leaving her with little choice but to make the drive from Los Angeles to New York alone.

But it was more than that; it wasn’t a broken promise that left her breathless. It was the fact that he didn’t realize how important this was. He didn’t realize that everyone on the planet expected him to be there. That everyone would expect her high-school sweetheart to be there for her best friend’s wedding. But they did, she did, and her cheeks heated at the thought of trying to explain his absence.

Steven leaned back in his seat, taking the folded-up napkin and tucking it neatly into his lap. “I didn’t say I couldn’t go, I said I couldn’t drive with you; big difference.”

She choked, trying to keep the panic in her throat from bubbling to the surface. “What do you mean?”

His face softened, and he leaned across the table to take her hand. “I wouldn’t miss seeing you in your bridesmaid dress for the world.” He played with her fingers, turning them over in his to see the dark stains beneath her fingernails. “But Renee is your best friend, not mine. She doesn’t need me to be there. She needs you.”

The room began to spin slightly, and Samantha took back her hand to reach across the table for her glass of wine. “I need you, Steven. Doesn’t that matter?”

“Samantha…”

“Everyone expects you to be there.”

“I’m sure they’ll understand.”

“It’s not just that.” She took a large gulp of chardonnay, closing her eyes for a second before opening them again. “I’ve never driven cross-country before. I really don’t want to do it alone.”

He sat back, his face hardening with a disapproval that wasn’t foreign to her. “Where’s my strong, independent girl? Where’s the Samantha who’s not afraid of anything?” He adjusted in his seat, rolling his shoulders back in the way he always did when they argued. “This internship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can’t expect me to give it up for a wedding. You can’t expect me to give it up to drive a slab of concrete across the US.”

She cringed. “Slab of concrete?” Though truthfully, the insult wasn’t a big surprise. He’d been growing impatient with her sculptures for months… She’d never expected him to use such derogatory words to describe her art. Slab of concrete?

“Sammie.” He closed his eyes, setting his napkin softly on the table. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” His voice softened, and he waited for her to look back up again. “I love your work. I know Renee will love it too, but why don’t you fly, honey, give it to her when she visits this summer?”

Samantha took a calming breath and shook her head. “I’m not flying. I promised Ren—” But she stopped herself, realizing the argument would fall on deaf ears. “You know what, never mind. It’s obvious you don’t understand.”

His brows furrowed and he tilted his head to the side. “Sammie, I support you in everything. I thought you supported me, too. This is my future. This is for us, baby. For our future.”

She whipped her eyes up.

Us.

Our.

Future.

There it was again. The words that sent her heart racing like a stampede of wild cattle. Though it wasn’t the words, per se, it was the meaning behind them. It was the talk of finality. The end. Forever. Because marriage, to Samantha, was what her parents had. The laughing so hard at the kitchen sink you peed a little. About something no one could understand but the two of you. The eternal kind of love that didn’t even end with death. And it wasn’t even that she was opposed to that future with Steven. She could see it. He was the perfect catch. He did everything right… But he was all she’d ever known. All she’d ever been with…

She took a calming breath, chanting in her head that this was just Steven. The planner, the man who knew every step he would make ten steps before he actually made them. Her friend. The guy who’d been by her side since junior high, her boyfriend since junior year…

“But if it means that much to you…”

She raised her hand, cutting him off before he could say more. “No. No—you’re right.” Her brows pulled together and she looked down at the table. “This is a big deal.” It had been his dream forever. She couldn’t bear the thought of taking that away from him. “I’m being selfish. You can’t pass this up. You can’t.”

He took her hand, pulling it forwards again until she rose slightly from her seat. “Are you sure?”

She swallowed, looking him dead in the eye. “Positive.”

He lifted her fingers, pausing briefly before kissing each one. “I already have my pinstriped suit at the cleaners and a flight booked for Friday afternoon. You won’t miss me, baby. I promise.”

He finally released her hand, allowing her bottom to settle comfortably on the soft, cushioned chair. She took a deep breath, hoping the action would cause her heart to slow to a normal speed, then opened the menu. “Good.”

The rest of the evening went by without any surprises. It was filled with conversation, mostly about Steven and his news about the new position: the recognition, the honor. And like before, he reminded her of how rare an opportunity his internship truly was.

Connor and Associates was the most prestigious Law Firm in Los Angeles, representatives of the rich, the famous, and the top secret. They allowed exactly five openings outside of Ivy League schools per year. Five. Which meant that Steven, who graduated summa cum laude out of UCLA’s law program and would have a bright future ahead of him no matter where he went, had just had the granddaddy of opportunities fall into his lap. This opening would never come again. There was no question about it.

The more he spoke, the brighter his eyes became, and Samantha loved it. To watch his face glow. To see him actually giddy with excitement, like he’d gotten an autograph from his boyhood idol—or better yet, been asked to play in a game with his favorite team. It was awesome, because she’d practically grown up with Steven…and he was her best friend outside of Renee. Samantha was proud and excited for him, and she wouldn’t let her disappointment diminish that.

It was late that evening when Steven finally pulled alongside the curb outside of Samantha’s apartment. She leaned forward, fetching her bag from the floor of his Prius where the long strap had somehow gotten tangled around her foot.

“Are you sure you’re not mad at me about the trip?” Steven asked.

He normally wasn’t so considerate, and the fact that he was made her glance up, finding him subdued and contemplative. She untangled the strap of her bag, took her time slowly rising in her seat, and narrowed her eyes “You mean about the internship? No, why would I be?”

He lifted his shoulders. “You said everyone was expecting me.”

She bit her bottom lip, looking down to her lap before responding. “They’ll get over it.”

“Will you?”

She met his kind brown eyes that were honest and sincere. “It’s a gift, in a way.”

His eyes narrowed, but he adjusted in his seat to humor her. “How so?”

“Ammunition.”

“Ammunition?”

“Yep. I’ll be able to hold this over your head for all eternity.”

He laughed. “Is that right?”

“It will go something like this: ‘Honey, I want a new car… Oh, and do you remember that time you ditched me?’, or ‘Steven, go get ice-cream, oh yeah, and do you remember that time you forced me to drive cross-country alone?” Samantha beamed. “See, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.”

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