( For his brother’s friend …. 😇 )
Written by:- Williams Kendall____✍🏽
🏈 CHAPTER SIXTEEN.
CHARLOTTE’S POV :
As I woke up, before the events of last night returned to me, I already knew I had slept at Archer’s. I was tucked against his broad chest with his large hands holding my back. The scent of spices and cedar filled my nose as I sucked in a breath and arched my spine in an attempt to stretch.
I wriggled myself up enough to perch my elbow on the pillow. Archer’s arms stayed wrapped around me but dropped to my waist. A giggle escaped my lips as I looked behind me. Emmett was sprawled out on his back, starfishing on the far side of the bed. His arm smooshed into poor Madeline’s face as she seemed to be shoving herself as far into me as she could.
My breath hitched as Archer tightened his hold on me, tugging me closer in his sleep. The motion, from my partially sitting position, caused his cheek to nestle into my breasts. Warmth spread from his cheek to my heart as he let out a contented sigh.
I let my eyes trace his face as I cradled his head with my arms. Gosh, he is so dang handsome. Dark, long lashes rimmed his closed eyes. His nose was strong and straight as it led down to his slightly pouted lips. Staring at his lips, I had a sudden urge to kiss him awake. They just looked so firm and smooth. I had kissed boys in high school, but it never quite lived up to the magic that romance novels had promised. Would kissing Archer be different? Geez, get it together ya horn-dog…
Before my imagination could run wild, Archer’s lashes fluttered open. His sleepy stare locked with mine and we both smiled. Waking up with Archer had become one of my favourite feelings. There were a few moments, just as he opened his eyes, where he was so relaxed and happy. For those few minutes, it was as though his heart was clear of any stress or anger.
“Morning, Sweetheart,” he mumbled against my chest. It was then that he realized where his head was resting as he pulled back for a moment before dropping his face back down. “Well, this is about the best pillow I’ve ever had,” he smirked, making me laugh out loud.
“Ugh, shhhhhh it’s too early,” Emmett grumbled from the other end of the bed. Archer’s eyes narrowed as he reached around me and snapped his two fingers like a whip on Emmett’s shoulder. I sucked air between my teeth at the smacking sound against flesh. That must have hurt…
“How about you get the fuck out of my bed, Rookie.” Archer smiled as he rested back into my hold. Clearly happy with himself.
“Don’t listen to him Emmett, you’re fine,” I said sweetly as Archer glared at me. I poked his cheek with my finger getting him to chomp at me like a shark.
“Y’all need to shut up,” Madeline whined as she stretched widely, almost punching Emmett in the face. She smiled at me as she sat up, fluffing her hair. “How’re you doing, girl? After last night?” Both Emmett and Archer stilled to listen to my answer as well.
In my current cuddle sandwich, it was hard to feel sad about Brit and Kayla. I loved them and I wanted our friendships to last. Although, I also knew I couldn’t continue to be treated the way I always had. It almost felt unfair to suddenly expect the girls to change the way they treated me after all these years. But after only a few months at USC, I felt myself growing and changing. Would it continue the longer I was here? If so, would it become even harder to stay friends with Brit and Kayla?
“Should I text them? Or just leave it?” I asked after telling them my thoughts.
“I say, leave it,” Madeline answered first with a grunt of agreement coming from Archer. “You told them everything you needed to last night, let them stew on it for a bit and if they really care about the friendship—they’ll come to you.”
“Thanks, guys.” Gratitude flooded me as I smiled softly at the three most unlikely—and amazing—friends I never expected to have.
Emmett propped himself up on his elbows as he appeared deep in thought. “Should we… I mean, I can’t be the only one who feels like we should have a group hug right?”
“Yeah, I think the fuck not. Everyone out of my bed,” Archer grumbled as he stood up pulling me with him.
The rest of our Sunday was spent lazily. In the midst of my first—albeit minor—hangover, all I wanted to do was watch movies and relax. Archer and Emmett had practise so it became a girls’ day back at our dorm. Madeline used her Postmates app to order face masks, iced coffees, and soup for us to enjoy our day together.
The petty child inside of me couldn’t help documenting some of it on Instagram. Madeline had snapped a selfie of the two of us with our faces covered in purple goop. She was beaming at the camera as I winked and stuck out my tongue. I really did love the picture and wanted to commemorate Mads and I’s friendship. But I can’t deny I also wanted to show Brit and Kayla that I wasn’t wallowing.
Soon it was Monday, and I was rushing to get ready for class. My outfit was a pair of white-washed boyfriend jeans with ripped knees, an oversized baby pink crew neck, and of course—my white converse. I didn’t have time for my hair so I threw it up in a messy bun with a pink velvet scrunchie.
The elevator was taking forever so I had to run down the stairs of my dorm building. My class started in twenty minutes and I was determined to get coffee beforehand. I continued my race out into the Quad where I took the path that would lead me past a coffee shop then to the History Building.
Luck was on my side, as the usually busy coffee shop was empty. I grabbed my beloved iced coffee and still managed to get to class with a few minutes to spare. I settled into the front row of the large lecture hall, placing my notebook and pencils in front of me.
I rolled my pencils under my fingertips, trying to get them perfectly parallel with the notebook. My nerves still got the best of me in these lectures sometimes, so it had become a habit to focus my brain on something I could control.
A side door creaked open revealing my professor as he sidled into the room. He was an ageing man, with softly curved shoulders, and a small belly protruding from his tweed suit. The lecture began similarly to all the others, with his low but firm voice washing over each student as we listened intently.
I was enraptured as he spoke about perspective and biases in history. He referenced historical texts we had all come to trust implicitly and questioned us as to what the author’s motives could be. He then asked us how we as potential-future historians were any different.
A well-dressed boy in the middle of the hall raised his hand confidently. “We know better now. As scholars, it’s our job to take the bias out of our work. We look at things only as facts, not as feelings.”
“Ahhhh”-the professor nodded slowly-“So you are of the opinion that you are without bias? Does anyone else agree? Disagree?” The rest of the students in the hall stayed quiet, some looking to their neighbours to see if they would speak.
My hand twitched, I wanted to contribute but this was one of my larger classes. Not to mention, the boy who raised his hand had gotten into a few debates with other students. Taking a deep breath, I pursed my lips slightly—hoping for the best as I raised my hand.
“I-I disagree,” I said softly after he professor waved to me. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as being without bias.” I went on a little stronger. “We all have a lens that we view the world through, whether your bias is positive or negative—doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
“Excellent. Excellent.” The professor laughed gently as he moved to the board. “I personally, am prone to agree with you, Miss Avery. Great chat everyone, let’s move on.”
The rest of the class went by quickly. Pride plastered a small smile on my lips as I copied notes into my book. Every time I spoke in class, it got a little easier.
The sun warmed my face as I stepped out of the building, adjusting the strap of my bag over my shoulder. My next class wasn’t for an hour so I strolled towards a grassy area where I could sit down.
“Hey there,” I heard being called from behind me. I turned to see the boy from class jogging to catch up to me.
He slowed his step slightly, approaching me with a smirk, “Way to show me up in class.”
“Hello,” I said with a shy smile.
“Oh… I-I’m sorry,” I exhailed nervously, “I think you had a r-really good point too.”
The boy laughed loudly as he ran his hand through his sandy blonde hair. “Don’t worry about it. I just wanted to introduce myself, I’m Nathaniel Blake. ” He stretched his hand out confidently for me to shake.
“Charlotte Avery, nice to meet you,” I replied quietly. Another student walked by us and called out to Nathaniel, giving me a second to assess him. He stood just under 6 feet tall by the looks of it and was lean without being scrawny—as though he was a runner or something. He wore a polo shirt and blue jeans, looking every bit a typical Frat Guy.
“So, you going to the Sigma Pi party next week?” Nathaniel asked as he returned his attention back to me. Nailed it…
“Really? I swear I saw you at their last party at the beginning of the year?”
“Oh no, I’m not actually really big on parties.”
My shoulders stiffened and my throat contracted as I realized which party he was referring to. “Yeah… I uh, just went to that one to h-help my friend.”
“So, you wouldn’t be interested in going with me then?” He quipped with what I’m assuming he thought was a charming smile. But all it did was send chills down my spine. I didn’t like how his eyes kept raking over my body, lingering on my chest unabashedly.
“Uhm, no I-I’m sorry. I really don’t want to go to that party.”
Nathaniel stepped a little closer to me and dipped his head slightly. I froze as he invaded my personal space. “Awe c’mon, you’re breaking my heart here.”
I inhaled a shaky breath as I regained my bearings. Just as I was about to try and excuse myself I was pulled back into a large chest. Every muscle in my body relaxed as I was wrapped in the familiar arms I knew to be Archer. Resting my head back, I tipped my chin up and beamed at him.
“Hey Sweetheart, you good?” He asked softly with a tiny smile. It dropped though as he flicked his hard eyes to Nathaniel.
“Oh yeah, my classmate and I were just chatting.”
“Yeah well uh,”-Nathaniel coughed to clear his throat-“I better get going Charlotte, it was nice meeting you. See you in class.”
I didn’t bother responding, instead, I spun in Archer’s arms to face him. “Thank you, you just saved my butt—again,” I laughed.
“Anytime,” he whispered then dropped a quick kiss on my forehead. A blush warmed my cheeks as a few heads turned in our direction. I always forgot that Archer was a celebrity on this campus, and here he was openly showing little ol’ me affection.
Archer had time to kill before his class as well, so he walked with me to the field. He kept his arm locked around my shoulders as I chatted about my classes. We settled on a sunny spot that was away from other students taking breaks on the lawn.
My relationship with Archer was so different than any other I’d ever had. In every scenario, I was the quiet one, always. But Archer stole that crown right off my head. So, I had become accustomed to filling the silence with my rambling thoughts. Sometimes I felt like I must be annoying him, but he never complained. He’d just nod his head quietly and pull his eyebrows together as though he was deeply concentrated.
That’s what he was doing currently as he lay his head in my lap. I brushed my fingers through the waves in his hair as I explained the last episode of the Bachelor that had me riled up.
“Wait,”-he squinted one eye open to stare up at me-“So this guy gets to date 20 women at once?”
“Yes. Have you not been listening? Don’t tell me, ‘What a lucky man’?” I mimiced in a deeper voice. “That’s what Ollie always says when I make him watch.”
Archer smirked up at me, “Actually no, I was going to say ‘what a headache, being around that many women at once’.”
What. A. Jerk. Prepare to meet Hulk, sir… With a scoff, I whacked Archer in the chest and then the arm. A laugh erupted from his lips, “Don’t tickle me, Sweetheart.”
“Excuse yourself… That wasn’t supposed to tickle.” I argued as I punched him again, only resulting in a louder laugh from the jerk. What the heck… Normally, my inner Hulk did more damage than this.
“Alright. Alright, stop… you’re gonna hurt yourself,” Archer chuckled. “We’ve gotta work on your strength training,” he added as he grabbed my forearm and flopped my hand around, pointing out my weak wrists.
I was about to lecture him on how strong I was and that I just needed to be sufficiently worked up to unleash it when my phone vibrated in my pocket.
Oliver’s voice came through my phone slightly muffled, “Baby ssiss! How’s the college girl doing!” Something in what I heard made me frown. A familiar tinge of worry spread in my abdomen as I told Oliver about school.
“So, are you driving home for thanksgiving?” He asked excitedly.
“Yeah,” I smiled, “Actually, I’m not driving—Archer is. But we will be home Thursday afternoon.”
“Archer? You are driving with him?”
Looking back at the man himself, I realized that our families might be thrown by our new status. His mom had gotten a glimpse of it at the Football game, but it felt like every day we grew closer.
“Yeah…” I drawled as Archer rose his brows at me, “We have been… hanging out. So he offered to drive me to save gas.”
“Huh… well I’ll be… I never thought I’d see the day,” Oliver laughed before someone on his end caught his attention. “Yeah, grab me a shot I’ll be there soon.”
Pulling my phone back from my ear, I saw that it was 11:30 am. “Oliver, are you drunk? It’s not even noon.”
“It’s all good sis. I’m just having a few with the boys. We had a slow day at the shop so we came to the golf course to hit some balls around. Anyways, they’re calling me so I better go. Love you, Lotty!” Before I could respond he hung up the phone.
I looked at Archer to see his reaction, but he was suddenly very interested in a blade of grass in front of him. “Don’t you think that’s a bit weird? Him partying this early?” I prodded. Archer grimaced as he threw the grass in his hand to the side, lifting one shoulder into a shrug.
“C’mon Archer, you must have an opinion.”
“Of course I do,” he said shortly.
I let out an exasperated sigh, “Well then tell me!”
“Don’t do that Charlotte.” His sharp tone made my eyes snap back to him. “Oliver’s my best friend and you’re his little sister. I’m not going to talk shit about him with you.”
I flinched noticeably, making Archer release a huff of breath. His assumption that I wanted to trash talk Oliver stung, but so did his label of me. I’d almost forgotten for these last two months that Archer was Oliver’s friend first. But the assessment of me as only the little sister showed that Archer clearly hadn’t.
“I need to get to class,” I said dejectedly as I stood and collected my things.
“Charlotte-” Archer began but I didn’t let him finish as I scurried away.
Disappointment crept over me as I walked back to my building. Since coming to USC, my self-confidence had risen significantly. Part of that had come from my friendship with Archer. I just felt so special, that someone like him would choose me. He was so grumpy with everyone else, but with me he was sweet.
My negative thoughts spiralled as I entered my lecture hall and found a seat near the back. My professor began speaking but I couldn’t hear her. I just felt so pathetic. Did I really think I was special? That what Archer and I had was special? I’d spent my life being a third wheel to Oliver and Archer, then to Brit and Kayla. Why would it be different now? It was as though any growth I’d had in the last two months was gone, and I was just little Lotty again.
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