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University Dances: Book Blitz

Girl, don’t do it; it’s not worth it. Don’t do it… Don’t do it, Cami. Last time was supposed to be it! Don’t…
Paper crinkled under Cami as she shifted on the exam table, facing the cabinet on the wall. It held a box of gloves, a thermometer, an otoscope, and the little disposable thingies that went with it. She exhaled shakily and squeezed her eyes shut. I swear I’m just thinking about stealing the doctor’s glove; I’m not gonna do it. Last time was it… They are good for cleaning. It would be awful if Devin had to bail me out of jail for stealing gloves in a doctor’s office. I’ll get expelled from school and be forced onto the mean streets of the Tenderloin. I’ll have to fight cats for chicken bones and steal cough syrup to stay high.
Cami’s karma was shot to hell based on her last six months of existence. She didn’t want the big man upstairs to send a bolt of lightning down to obliterate her.
She would be good…
Pushing herself up, she strained to hear any footsteps in the hall. The doctor wouldn’t notice a few missing gloves, would she?
Her phone dinged twice with a text message. It was her best friend, Deja. Saved by the bell.
Where are you?? I thought we were getting lunch? Winter and I are in the restaurant.
Cami slapped her forehead. How could she forget? It was their annual back-to-school tradition. Lunch in Japantown and mochi ice cream afterward. A staple in their friendship since freshmen year and even more important since last semester.
I had to meet with my adviser. 🙁 Let’s meet for dinner?
Deja’s reply was instant.
Fine. Take a sneak pic of your adviser. Clark is foine.
Cami hung her head. Why did I lie? Deja and Winter, her best friends, knew about her hospital stint. They visited her every day until they had to go home for summer break, right before she finally received her diagnosis. Cami still couldn’t utter the words chronic disease…
She told herself she would confess to them, but when the moment came, she found herself saying viral infection instead. Each time after that, the lie flowed easier and it became harder and harder for her to backpedal. She told herself lying was for a good reason. Cami was tired of being the one people needed to look after. She was reinventing herself after this setback, presenting herself as independent and poised. Even if it was a façade.
Anxiety churned in her stomach, and she hoped her doctor would come back with the results she wanted. A glance at her phone let her know the time.
12:04 PM.
How long had she been sitting here? Twenty or thirty minutes? It was the first day of the semester, and Cami wasn’t letting it slip through her fingers. It was late August and freezing in San Francisco because of the coastal fog and wind. She tugged at the pink chunky sweater she’d paired with a skirt and combat boots. She pulled her knotless braids over her shoulder, biting her lip with a glance at the door before she pushed herself off the exam table.
“I’m just gonna take one. I’ve been through a lot,” she muttered, justifying the petty theft.
Cami plucked a glove from the box and held her breath as if alarms would sound. Once the coast was clear, she took another. Then another. Her hands were full as someone knocked at the door. She squealed, dropping some contraband as she darted across the room and shoved the gloves into her book bag, and plopped her butt back on the exam table, winded from that simple yet covert act.
“Y-yes?”
She tried placing a neutral expression on her face, hoping it didn’t reveal how fast her heart was beating, or her fear that a minor sprint consumed most of her energy.
The door opened, and her doctor’s head appeared. “Camille?”
“Dr. Aguilar.”
The last time Cami was in a hospital, besides her own illness, she found out her father had died. Of course, she didn’t remember this. She had been a toddler; her mother and brother recounted the story solemnly to her years later. It was a good enough excuse to avoid hospitals ever since.
Dr. Aguilar almost changed her mind about hospitals. The older woman’s aura of calmness and matronly appearance never failed to put her at ease. Bracelets adorning both arms and rings on all fingers. Plump. Graying hair. She smiled and her eyes went to the blue glove lying on the floor.
“The gloves fell out of the box…” That was a lame excuse.

Hot – Hot: Book Blitz
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Hot – Hot: Book Blitz

Why are we here?”
“I haven’t quite figured that out yet,” I admit.
It’s not a lie. My hastily thought-of plan drove me here. But part of me hasn’t decided if it also wasn’t simply the desire to see her again. Or an exercise in self-control. Dangling what I shouldn’t take in front of me to see if I possess enough discipline to keep my hands to myself, to walk away. Or tempt myself with this sensual form of edging by embracing what I shouldn’t.
The ambiguous answer seems to be the correct one, though. The tension slowly ebbs out of her body, and she props an elbow on the chair’s arm.
“That makes the two of us, then, because I haven’t figured out yet why I came here.” She huffs out a soft breath. “I’m certain of one thing, though. This isn’t right or smart.”
“Why? Because you’re Val’s friend?” I slice a hand between us. “She’s already seeing someone new. Probably was before she sent you to do her hatchet job. So I don’t care about that.”
“Is that what this is, then?” she murmurs. “Revenge? Payback? You plan to throw”—she twirls a hand in the air—“whatever we’re doing here back in her face one day for breaking up with you and moving on too quickly?”
I almost laugh long and loud at that bullshit.
“There aren’t many things that are a one hundred percent certainty. Weather, election outcomes, the price of gas, Hollywood marriages. But this I can state without a shadow of a doubt. Not happening.”
She studies me, and I can practically read all the questions in those brown eyes. How can you? Why? What happened?
But she lifts her cup and drinks, and instead of asking what she so clearly wants to know, she says, “Not my business.”
“Isn’t it? When you chose to put yourself in the middle of our relationship, it became your business.” The moment comprehension dawns, her eyes widen, then narrow. But I lean forward, a smile curving my mouth. And that smile? It’s possible it isn’t nice. Because nice doesn’t accurately describe this uncomfortable and unwanted gnawing inside of me. I’m feeling hungry. “You owe me.”
I both hear and see the hitch in her breath. The almost nonchalant note in her voice belies the worry in her eyes. Too bad for her; I make a living at reading people. Too bad she’s shit at hiding her emotions. God, I could fucking feast, become a damn glutton on her honesty.
“What?” she whispered.
“You heard me.”
“Yes, I heard you.” My own breath really shouldn’t quicken or my blood pump hotter at the sound of those words coming through clenched teeth. Or the sight of her hand wrapped tighter around her cup. As if only her grip on the cardboard container is preventing her from transferring it to my neck. “But obviously I don’t understand your meaning. I owe you for what?”
For witnessing my weakest moments since leaving my aunt’s house. For reminding me that my life, my world, is not in my control. For throwing me back to that twelve-, fourteen-, sixteen-year-old uncertain boy again.
For refusing to be evicted from my head like a sexy, stubborn squatter.
For being my answer, my salvation, in this moment, when for years I’ve vowed to depend only on myself.
And her most heinous sin? For deviating from my carefully laid-out plans. For stepping outside those lines and hungering for something, someone, I have no business desiring.
But I say none of that because those reasons are mine and mine alone.
She gets, “For not stepping back and letting Val have the guts to do her own dirty work. Instead, you allowed yourself to be her patsy, and I’m pissed with you and her about that. I’m also mad as hell that you both stole the chance for me to have my say.”

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