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   Chapter 10 Does that Make Me a Gold Digger

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 17865

Updated: 2018-01-09 17:22


Note: I changed this chapter from past to present tense. The entire story up to this chapter is in past tense, but recently I've been preferring the present. Hopefully it's not too confusing, so let me know what you think and which you prefer. Thanks! :)

"Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart."

― Charles Dickens

~~~

"I thought you were riding horses, " is the first thing my mind thinks to say.

Oliver says nothing, instead choosing to smile wider than the Grand Canyon, his full lips and sparkling white teeth on display.

Ugh. His face made me angry.

By now my blush had crept up my neck and stained practically my entire face, labeling me a tomato in front of a guy that looked nothing less than immaculate ninety-nine percent of the time.

A high pitched giggle escapes my throat, yanked out by the awkwardness of the situation.

"We were riding horses, " my brother answers, and I look at him for the first time since I entered the house. He's sitting at the dining room table, lazily sprawled across one of the chairs, face neutral. He turns to Oliver, smirking. "This oaf here bet he could beat me in a race."

I look between the both of them, realizing for the first time how close Oliver and James actually were.

"Hey, " Oliver objects at being called an oaf, "watch your name calling, because if I remember correctly, this oaf beat you in that race." His face is utter cockiness, but my brother smirks.

James suddenly launches from his chair, a smile plastered on his face as he dives toward Oliver. They land on the ground with a "hey!" and the thud of a limb banging against the counter. The two boys laugh as they each land punches to each other's chests, scrambling across the floor while I stand there scratching my head.

There were two eighteen-year-old boys, one my brother who was leaving next month to be a supposed "adult, " wrestling like first graders on the floor of my kitchen.

I was no longer embarrassed about belting out a few Beyoncé lyrics.

Oliver rolls on top of James, and for a second it seems like his winning, but then James swings his leg up and the next thing I know, their places are reversed.

I blink, mouth slightly ajar.

The conversation James and I had just days before comes back to me.

"I wouldn't be against you liking Oliver, you know."

This was probably a set up - a way for James to interfere with my love life. A stubborn feeling takes hold in my chest. I'd be damned if I let him have any say in the guys I choose to spend my time with.

Then something occurs to me. "Wait, " I say loudly, and the boys stop their fighting, each looking up at me, their fight interrupted. Green and brown orbs blink boyishly back at me. "Where'd you get a horse?"

There's a moment of silence.

"Horses, " Oliver corrects, picking himself off the ground and leaning his arms down against the countertop next to him.

"Oliver's grandfather has a whole stable full of them, " says James, still on the floor.

I raise my eyebrows. "Is he a farmer?"

James laughs somewhat mockingly and stands up, making his way to the fridge. "Ha ha. A farmer - funny."

I wasn't sure what was so humorous about what I'd suggested, but Oliver cocked his head, looking at me like I was a foreign lab rat. It made me feel ignorant for even suggesting such a thing.

"So, not a farmer, " I say awkwardly.

James turns around, now holding a plate of chocolate cake. He stabs it with a fork and shoves a piece into his mouth with all the grace of a three legged toad. "No, stupid, Oliver's grandfather is filthy fuckin' rich."

Oliver is still staring at me, confusion painted across his face, which I'm sure now mirrors my face of surprise and inquiry.

Rich? My head swims.

Oliver is still looking at me, mouth painted into a frown.

"What?" I finally spit out. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

He shakes his head, pressing the palm of his right hand to his forehead, as if fighting off a headache. "Nothing. It's nothing, I just-"

"You just what?" I interrupt. James gives us both a quizzical glance.

"I don't know, I guess I just thought you knew, " Oliver finishes.

Considering I hadn't even really known him until a few days ago, it seemed perfectly reasonable that I also hadn't known that his family was sitting on a huge pile of cash.

"The huge estate his grandfather owns, " my brother starts, "is literally called Manning Manor."

I laugh. I can't help it.

"Manning Manor?" I repeat, almost choking on the words. "That's like - that'd be like calling something Ranch's Ranch or, like, Manny's Mansion or something like that."

Neither of them even smile, but that doesn't stop me from nearly falling on the floor and wheezing out hiccups of bubbling laughter.

I laugh a few more times before sighing loudly. "Tough crowd."

Oliver finally cracks a smile. "It's been around for centuries, so there's no room for change, but it does sound kind of stupid, doesn't it?"

"No offense to your ancestry or anything, " I say, laughing.

When he looks at me, his green eyes look brighter than usual. "Hey, I won't tell them if you don't."

I pinch my thumb and forefinger together and run them across my lips, as if closing a zipper.

We smile silently at each other for a moment.

"Well... o

at's new. Pissed or drunk."

"I'm sorry, " I say. Sorry is something I say too often. There was hardly anything else to say, and there certainly wasn't anything I could do. Cora wouldn't admit to anything, and to snitch on her dad would mean destroying the lives of two of my best friends.

Park sighs. "I think it's getting worse." We find a spot on the sand, right at the edge of the water. Taking off his jacket, Park places it down on the sand for me to sit on.

"Worse in what way?" I ask softly. Cora only talked about what happens between her and her dad when she was drunk, and even then it was just the bare minimum.

"Worse because my mom won't do anything to stop it, " he says. "Worse because all I want to do is take Cora far, far away where he can never find her. Worse because-" he chokes up, but turns away from me so I don't see. "Worse because I can't fucking do anything to stop it. Not when she won't admit it's happening."

An overwhelming feeling washes over me, an intense sadness mixed with paralyzing anger. A miserable breeze teases the ends of my hair, picking them up and making them waltz to empty music.

We sit like that for a moment, staring out into the blue water. I feel like I'm not above the waves, but beneath them.

I know Park feels the same way.

I lean my head against Park's shoulder and wrap myself around his torso. "I'm sorry, " I say again, because there's nothing else. There's never anything else.

We sit until the sun goes down, until the silence is screaming so loudly our thoughts get drowned out by the sound. We've been talking in our heads, the same conversation over and over until, "Please change the subject, " Park interrupts.

I think, shifting because my legs have long since fallen asleep. "Um, I have a date on Saturday."

I say it because it seems lighthearted, but Park frowns.

"With whom?"

I watch his face carefully. "Oliver Manning."

He frowns further, his eyes darkening.

"What?" I ask, defensively. "Why are you making that face?"

Park shrugs, trying to play it off. "Nothing."

"No, " I object. "You made a face and I want to know what it meant."

He hesitates. "He's not good enough for you."

Barking out a laugh, I say, jokingly, "No one's good enough for me. I'll just have to settle for someone mediocre."

I mean it to lighten the unnaturally heavy mood, but Park's face reacts negatively.

His lips purse, like he wants to say something but doesn't know if he should. Brows furrowed, he whispers, "You deserve perfection. You deserve someone who's all about you, and see's you as nothing less than the beautiful light that you are." He opens his mouth as if to say more, but then stops. He pauses. "Don't settle - you're way too amazing to settle."

And suddenly there are emotions in my chest that I can't even name, and it's gotten so dark that the water is ink and so is the sky. The wind creeps up behind us and blows a heavy gust in our direction. Pieces of my hair fly in my face, getting caught in tears that I didn't know were there.

I reach up to fix it, but Park beats me to it. His fingers wrap around the locks and push them back behind my ear. His thumb catches the tears and wipes them off my cheeks. His face is coming closer to mine, leaning leaning leaning until his nose is nearly touching mine, and my brain is frozen and my eyes are glued to his, and nothing is making sense.

And I pull away.

Without reason, my face turns away.

He clears his throat. I look at the water. And rain begins to fall from the sky.

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