Hooked by Love (Bellevue Bullies #3)(4)

By: Toni Aleo





Me: Yeah, but usually, they say it in the context like, we are about to whoop it up. I think you should have said whoop whoop!

Mom: Oh. Well, WHOOP WHOOP! I knew I could count on you to support me when I’m old.

Me: Good job, Mom. And yes, I got you.

Mom: Thanks, love you. Miss you.

Me: Love and miss you too.



I go to tuck my phone into my pocket when it signals another text. Glancing down at it, I find it’s her again.



Mom: Did you pick your meds up? I called the doctor and she said she sent them to the pharmacy on campus.



Swallowing loudly, I type back.



Me: Yeah, picked them up this morning. All is well.

Mom: Good.



Sucking in a breath, I start for my dorm, putting my phone in my pocket. It is only a two-minute walk from where I was sitting to play around on my guitar. I had been getting ready for the video I wanted to post and I wanted fresh air. I wish it weren’t hot as hell, but it’s okay. I dealt, and because of it, I met Lame Line Larry, so I feel I’m winning.

When my dorm comes into view, I smile. It’s okay, small, but I love my roommate. She is a very quiet and sweet girl named Mekena Preston, and she doesn’t mind all my sound equipment. Probably because all she needs is her bookshelf of books and she is good. Nonetheless, I like her and we are getting along effortlessly, which is great.

The thing is, I am happy. Like, really happy. I love the campus. It has everything I need, even a coffee shop with an open mic night twice a week. Along with that, the other big reason I applied to go here was the fact that everything was on one campus, so I really didn’t need to leave unless I wanted to. They have a great music program with teachers who have worked in the industry for years. For once, I actually have something to be excited about. It is mind-blowing. Not only that, but I am so close to the heart of Nashville and that is awesome since I am trying desperately to get an internship at a music label.

This is what I want, and I am doing it.

I am almost to my dorm when my phone rings, vibrating like mad in my pocket as Ed Sheeran sings “Thinking out Loud.” In my opinion, that is one of the best-written songs, lyrically. Dude is a genius. But when I see it’s my dad, I groan. “Damn it.”

Well, there goes my good mood.

“Hey, Dad.”

“Hey, baby. How’s everything?”

“Good, just going back to my dorm. I was playing outside. It’s so warm here.”

“Yeah, I like Tennessee fall. It’s nice… Oh, one second.”

Rolling my eyes, I shut the door behind me, laying my guitar on my bed before sitting down.

“Sorry about that.”

“No big deal,” I say, crossing my legs as I listen to him shuffle around paperwork. I’m not sure why he called when he is at the office, but I figure it must be important. “So, what’s up?”

“Oh, not much, just calling to see how everything is going.”

“Great, I’m moved in and happy.”

“Good. You got your meds, though?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Great, have you decided… Oh, wait. Hold on, honey,” he says quickly and I sigh. This is why I hate talking to my dad on the phone. I am always on hold. “Avery, sorry, have you decided if you are coming up for the opening game? I haven’t spoken to you since you left.”

Yeah, because he is always busy and also because he is still a little bitter I didn’t go to school close to home. He works a lot, I know, but come on. I’ve been gone for two weeks, and this is the first I hear from him? And also, it’s about hockey? Yeah. He’s mad.

“Yeah, I don’t know.”

“Honey, remember it’s a tradition.”

“That I don’t like,” I say, but before he can scold me for it, I quickly start talking. “I’ll think about it. Depends on my classes.”

“Okay, well, Seth is playing that night against the Devils, so it would be nice if you are here— One second.”

Leaning my face against my hand, I listen as he tells his assistant that he needs something by three. I don’t know. I start to zone out.

“Okay, so Laurence is gonna fly in from Wisconsin, and you know that Matty will be here.”

“Of course he will,” I mutter as I roll my eyes. He is such an ass-kisser.

“Well, it is an easy drive for him. Crap, hold on.” Closing my eyes to his stoppage again, I lean against my hand, wishing this call could just end.

“Dad, do you want to call me back later?”

“Yeah, I’ll call you back. We have some scheduling issues I have to work out.” He sounds relieved, and that bothers me more than it should.

“That’s fine.” The annoyance in my voice could be heard from the moon.

“Love you.”

“Love you,” I mutter before hanging up the phone and rolling my eyes. I understand that he is busy, that he has a very demanding job, but it’s annoying. If I were one of my brothers, he would have made time to talk to me. I’m just the daughter with the unattainable dream who is going to school for some music degree that won’t get me anywhere. His words, not mine.

Whatever.

My dream isn’t unattainable.

It will happen.

Going to my desk, I lift the lid on my laptop and open QuickTime to record. When my face appears on the screen, I smile at myself. I’m living my dreams, and the smile on my face speaks volumes. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and I basically skip the short distance across my room to get my guitar out of its case. Sitting back down, I scoot my chair back so I’m in the frame on my computer. After messing with the angles and making sure I look good, I glance at the clock to see that I have at least an hour before Mekena gets back.

That’s more than enough time to get this video done.

Hitting record, I smile, feeling almost euphoric as I say, “Hey, Avery Rose here, and thanks for checking me out. This is my cover of ‘Tee Shirt’ by Birdy. Hope you enjoy it. Make sure to subscribe to my channel and leave a comment. I love hearing what you think. So, okay, here we go.”

Then I start playing, my voice adding to the chords in perfect unison. As I look up to make eye contact with whoever will watch this, I love how joyful I look. I love the sparkle in my eyes, the way my face is hurting from grinning so hard. It’s perfect. I’m not sure if I’m still on the high of moving to Nashville and doing what I want or if it’s Lame Line Larry that has me giddy.

Which is a little concerning.

I know that Lame Line Larry is a bad idea; he’s a total player. Plus, he’s a hockey player, and I know what that means. Hockey is all he lives and breathes. He probably only sees me as his next goal, a new notch in his sheet of ice, and that’s fine. Really. I mean, nothing says I can’t enjoy him for what he can give me.

A good time. And some laughs.

No ties, no heartache.

And that sounds awesome to me.





“Thank God! Some of us are hungry.”

“What took so long?”

“About time, dweeb.”

Rolling my eyes at siblings’ comments, I shut the door behind us as my mom greets us in the foyer. When she wraps her arms around Markus and kisses him loudly on the cheek, I stick my tongue out at my brothers and sister, who all look very annoyed. While I hate being late, I love pissing them off.

“Shut up, some of us have things to do,” I throw back at all three of them and Jude scoffs.

“Aw, look, he thinks he has stuff to do.”

“Aw, does Jace have big-boy things to do now?” Lucy teases, her eyes playful but her face in full bitch mode.

“Of course he does, he thinks he’s hot shit now that he’s the only one left. Our little boy is all grown up.”

“I am hot shit.” I glare as my mom wraps her arms around me, squeezing me tightly. “Screw you guys.”

“Of course you are,” she says, kissing me on the cheek before squeezing me again. “But shame on you for making us wait.”

“I told him to hurry up, that everyone was waiting,” Markus says then, and my jaw drops as everyone glares at me.

“Seriously!”

Mom’s eyes narrow as she tsks at me. “Jace Ryan.”

“Mom, no,” I complain as she turns, still shaking her head before heading down the hall. “It was him. He had to get his hair right.”

“Yeah, but then you were trying to holler at that girl,” Markus says, further throwing me under the bus. I wouldn’t have cared if the image of her hadn’t popped up again, leaving me breathless. Man, she was gorgeous. But soon my brother is running his mouth, and I put my thoughts of No Dating Diane on hold.

“Aw, he’s trying to holler. Like a big boy,” Jude mocks, and I love my sister-in-law extra hard when she smacks his chest.

Before she can say anything, though, Jayden is right behind him. “Dude couldn’t get laid if he tried.”

“And Lord knows he tries,” my sister-in-law Baylor laughs, her eyes dancing with amusement.

“I screwed your best friend, thank you,” I shoot back at her before glaring at Markus. “And it took maybe three minutes to talk to this girl, unlike your forty-minute hairdo!”

“Because you have no game what-so-ever,” Lucy sings as she leans on the chair, crossing her legs.

“Hey, when you look this good, you have to make sure your hair matches,” Markus yells back at me, and then he points at me. “And it took more than three minutes. You stood there and just stared at her for like ten.”

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