Better off Friends Page 36

“So, Macallan from outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” Liam said with a crooked smile.

“Sorry, I didn’t know …” I felt so stupid. I should’ve just said I was from America.

“No, ’tis fine. I love the States. Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee is the biggest city. I even watch your American football sometimes. The Packers, right?”

I couldn’t help but instantly like him. A fellow Packers fan in Ireland?

I felt my cheeks get hot. Danielle kept teasing me I’d meet a boy named Seamus O’Leary McHunky, and here I was meeting a Liam my first day.

Liam enthusiastically continued. “I hope to study abroad there while at university. I’m thinking either Boston or New York City or California.” I cringed at the mention of Levi’s former home. Liam pretended to not notice. “Have you been?”

“Oh, I went to New York once when I was little. I spend a lot of time in Chicago, since it’s nearby.”

“Ah, yes, the Windy City!” Liam pointed his finger in the air. “I’d love to talk to you about America sometime. And I will have you know that I do love Ireland, especially our fair peninsula. I’d happily be your guide.”

“That would be great.”

Liam smiled at me, and I felt a flutter. “Grand.”

I found myself walking back to Gran and Gramps’s with an extra bounce in my step. After supper, I wrote out my postcards before bed and stared at the one for Levi for far too long. I never overthought things with him. But I had trouble figuring out what to say. Things had been tense before I left. At first I was mad at him for ignoring me. Then he came over and tried to kiss me. For a few seconds I thought it was a dare from one of the guys, but I could tell he was confused. So was I. I knew it would be best for us to have a break, but it still felt weird to not write him. I didn’t want things to be strained between us. If I wanted things to return to normal, I needed to start acting like everything was fine between us. And if it wasn’t, I would fake it.

Dear Levi, greetings from Dingle (insert joke here)!

I’m sure I’ll have already talked to you by the time the owls have delivered this, but I wanted you to see where I’m spending the summer. Isn’t it beautiful? Wow, jealousy really doesn’t become you. I hope things are going well with your American football practice (yes, I’ve already changed so much). I must now go back to the flat and use the lift and the loo.

As they say in An Daingean, Sláinte!

Macallan

It took me nearly an hour to figure out how to sign it. Love would’ve been too charged, and anything else would’ve felt calculated. Which was exactly how my cheers in Gaelic felt.

I gave up for the evening and let sleep take over. I had the whole summer to fret about Levi, but for now I wanted to enjoy a good night’s sleep before my sightseeing date with Liam.

It took me only a couple days in Dingle to wonder why I’d been resisting coming to visit the past few years. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to visit my grandparents, but I guess I thought it would be strange. However, it was anything but.

It was quickly becoming the best summer of my life.

I’d start every morning with a run or bike ride and witness the green sprawling landscape, the jagged mountains, and dark blue waters. I never thought my little Milwaukee suburb was a concrete jungle, but compared to this, it was Manhattan. I’d come home and make lunch for my grandparents, then either sit outside and read or go to one of the restaurants in town and help out in the kitchen. I was determined to make “proper” fish ’n’ chips for everybody when I got home. Or I’d go get some Murphy’s Ice Cream. Hence the need for the daily run.

Or I’d hang out with Liam.

And it didn’t go without notice.

“So” — Gran linked elbows with me as we went for our daily stroll — “that Liam’s a nice fella. You two seem to be getting on quite well.”

“Yeah,” I admitted. There wasn’t really much more to say beyond that. We’d hang out and have a good time. He was a nice distraction.

But I wasn’t kidding myself. Liam was cute and that accent made him even more swoon-worthy. But I also knew the last thing I needed was to complicate my life further by getting involved with another guy. I didn’t even know if he liked me that way. And if he did, it was probably because I was the mysterious new girl from a faraway land.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Gran asked.

“I was thinking about how different my reception in Dingle has been to when Levi first came to school.”

“How is Levi? You haven’t said much about him.” I studied Gran’s face and found the same cheekbones and eyes as Mom’s. I wondered if this was what Mom would’ve looked like if she’d had the opportunity to grow older. “Macallan?”

“Oh, he’s fine.” We walked for a few minutes in silence. I’m sure she thought I was thinking about Levi, but instead I was thinking about Mom. How much she would’ve loved being here with us. “Gran, do you think about Mom often?”

She stopped in her tracks, sadness overwhelming her delicate features. “Every minute of every day.”

“Me too,” I confessed.

“It’s important to remember her. She would’ve been so proud of you, Calley. You look more and more like her every day.” She reached up and stroked my hair. “The worst thing we could ever do is forget about her. And believe me, it gets easier every day to bring up the memories.”

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