Waking Olivia(2)

By: Elizabeth O Roark

Not show a hint of temper? Impossible. You’re on the verge of 'a hint' right now. I somehow manage to nod my agreement.

“The other thing is your extracurricular activities,” he says. “According to the reports from your last coach, they had a huge impact on your ability to practice. That can’t happen here, understand?”

He has no idea what my extracurricular activities really were. How they were so much worse than what he’s imagining. How I couldn’t stop them if I tried. And believe me, I’ve tried.

Just when I think the meeting is over, it gets worse. McEwan stands and says he’ll give me and Langstrom time to chat. My throat grows dry watching him walk out the door, and once it closes I reluctantly turn back to my new coach, who I already fucking hate.

"I don't want you here," he says flatly. "I'm not buying this whole good-girl-made-a-mistake crap. You nearly killed someone."

I stare at the ground, at anything but him, trying to rein myself in. I brace myself, tighten my thighs and my biceps, draw everything in so that I don't explode. Fuck you fuck you fuck you. Why should I have to listen to this guy anyway? He’s tall and broad, the body of a swimmer or football player, not a runner. I wouldn't tell a mechanic how to change my oil, so why should this guy get to tell me how to run?

"I'm curious," he says. "Are you even sorry?"

People always ask me this, but they don’t really want an answer. They simply want to remind me that I should be sorry. And I am. I'm sorry I lost my scholarship. I'm sorry I had to leave and that I’ll never run for a Division 1 school again. But I'm not sorry I did it. When I think of Mark Bell, with his smug smile and that ugly thing behind his eyes, it’s hard to feel much regret.

I’m going to try not to say that last bit out loud.

"I didn't mean to hurt him as badly as I did," I mutter. It's the one true statement I can offer that doesn't make me sound like a sociopath.

"That's not really the same thing as being sorry," he says.

No, it's not, asshole.

"Your running is crap. You haven't placed better than third in nearly two years, and the last time you ran a 4:30 mile was three years ago. I think you've lost it."

These are words I hear in my own head daily. "I can get it back," I tell him. "I just need to apply myself."

He crosses his arms in front of his chest. He has particularly nice biceps, which would totally distract me if we were having a different conversation. "You're a liability and I don't feel like taking time away from really talented athletes so that you can 'apply' yourself, but Peter sees something in you. Claims you're a diamond in the rough."

The words console me, momentarily. Peter McEwan thinks I'm a diamond in the rough. That's got to be worth something.

His mouth goes to a flat line. "I disagree.”

If I were a smarter girl, I’d pack my bags right now. Because one of us has to go, and I’m guessing it won’t be him.

Three guys sit along a brick wall outside the athletics building as I walk out. "Hey, new girl!" one of them shouts. Athletes are cockier than the general population. They don't worry about being shot down as much as everyone else.

I stop, letting my dark hair swing over my shoulder as I turn my head toward them. It's soothing that no matter how much I fuck up, I still always have this one thing. Being attractive is the next best thing to a superpower. It's a get-out-of-jail-free card, causing men to overlook my many other terrible qualities. And I have so, so many terrible qualities.

"Yes?" I ask with an eyebrow raised.

They all grin like naughty children, and the boldest one saunters forward. "So you're new here?" he asks as he catches up with me.

"I thought we'd established that." He's hot. Broad. Football player. I like that. A skinny runner’s build does nothing for me.

"I'm Landon," he says, and inwardly I flinch. Landon is a private school name, one of those kids who wears a pink collared polo shirt and beats up gay kids after class. But he’s cute. The whole super-all-American boy thing isn't necessarily my type, but after a few beers I have a whole lot of types.

“Hi, Landon," I reply, but I keep walking because men love to chase. And he chases. Of course he does. They are all so fucking predictable.

"You didn't tell me your name," he says, catching up.

"You didn't ask."

"Okay, what's your name?"


He stops in his tracks and I keep walking. "That's a boy's name!" he shouts.

"I know.” I laugh.

"I want you to be my girlfriend, Finn!”

Yeah. I know that, too.

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