#Hater (Hashtag #2)

By: Cambria Hebert

The Hashtag Series #2



It started with unspoken animosity. The bitter bite of jealousy. And now it’s full-blown hate.

It was during my first football game that I felt the first chill of hate. I looked it right in the eyes and felt its sticky tentacles reach out for me. I’d never experienced something so cold and empty before.

The effect of that look lingered, like an unspoken promise, long after it was gone.

Becoming a couple—becoming the other half of a campus celebrity—wasn’t easy. I let down walls guarding my heart and he looked past my glasses and accident-prone tendencies. Romeo and I are an unlikely match, a #nerd and a jock. But we made it.

And we’re happy.

Zach doesn’t want us to be happy. He wants Romeo to pay for getting him kicked out of Omega and for the night he spent in jail. He’s going to use anything and everything he can to get his revenge. Including me.

As the weather on campus grows cold and the days become dark, revenge becomes the center of someone’s life, and the happiness Romeo and I worked so hard for is threatened.

I can’t help but worry that our love is going to be overshadowed by hate.







Chapter One




Rimmel

The white-knuckled grip I punished the armrests with did not loosen until the plane came to an absolute stop.

Even then, my fingers only loosened as the loud sounds of the tunnel thing passengers walked through to enter into the airport terminal was rolled over and attached to the plane. The air was stuffy in here. Not really stale, but not fresh either. Everyone around me was restless. The flight had been full of turbulence, and the crying baby in the back did nothing to soothe everyone’s frazzled nerves.

I hated flying.

But God, I was so glad to be back. I never thought I’d miss Maryland and its cold seasons this much.

‘Course, it wasn’t really the place I missed.

It was a person.

Everyone started to file toward the door, crowding each other in their attempt to get the hell out of this flying deathtrap. I stood and waited for my turn, hefting my purse over my shoulder, and turned my cell phone back on.

The second it lit up and I was able, I shot out a text.

LANDED. GETTING OFF NOW.

Romeo’s response was instant, and I smiled.

I’M WAITING.

I glanced out the tiny window behind me as if I would see him standing out there on the tarmac. I knew he wasn’t, but I couldn’t stop my eyes from scanning the open space. Butterflies somersaulted beneath my ribcage as a man passing by my row stopped and motioned for me to go ahead.

I shot him a grateful smile and slid past him into the aisle. The flight attendant smiled and wished everyone well as we all stepped off the plane and onto the walkway that led to the terminal. I moved quickly, beyond anxious for my first glimpse of Romeo.

I’d been in Florida almost two weeks, but it felt like a freaking eternity. As I went, I bumped into someone laden with a bulky piece of carry-on luggage and another bag, but I didn’t stop. I muttered an apology and kept right on going.

When I burst into the terminal, my eyes swept around, bouncing from person to person in the crowded, bustling space. My stomach fell a little when I didn’t see him, but I knew he probably couldn’t come this far. He was probably at baggage claim.

I looked around for a sign to point me in the right direction and finally saw one labeled Baggage Claim with an arrow pointing off to the left.

But I didn’t follow the arrow.

My eyes fixed on someone standing beneath the sign.

His hands were jammed into the pockets of his well-worn slouchy jeans. The relaxed action pulled the waistband low, highlighting his flat, narrow waist his Henley tee molded to. As usual, he was wearing his varsity jacket and his blond hair was a mess.

My gaze locked on his sapphire-blue eyes and didn’t let go. His eyes, ohmigod, his eyes. The blue was so intense it served as an emergency brake on everything in my life. The second I looked at him, everything else came to a screeching halt. I no longer noticed the huge crowd rushing around.

The anxiety-causing flight was just a distant memory, and the two weeks I spent longing for his touch became something I would live through ten times over just to be in this moment with him again.

His lips pulled into a smile and the charm that oozed from every pore in his body made me almost lightheaded. Romeo pulled his hands out of his pockets and straightened, motioning for me.

I rushed across the space separating us, my bag slapping against my side as I, for once, gracefully maneuvered around the people in my path.

His chuckle brushed over me when I was just steps away, and I threw myself at him with a little sigh of relief. My legs wrapped around his waist and his arms locked around my back. I burrowed my head into his shoulder and inhaled deep, taking in his distinctive scent.

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