[27] December

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B A D
B O Y ' S
G A M E

One week, it's been one whole week since I last saw Archer.

I can't say that I don't miss his sarcastic remarks and his egotistic personality because I do. This is a confirmed fact because I've found myself saying a few lines of his under my breath.

"Ellie?" I hear Liam call out, I blink a bit in an attempt to focus on what we're doing.

It's then that I remember that we're baking cookies, sugar ones. The process is a lot different from when Archer made cookies with me. It's different mostly because Liam and I are only making small talk and he isn't going to end up almost kissing me.

Spending time with Liam is always safe, I know that he won't hurt me in any way. But, I also know that there won't be a thrill in hanging out with him. Liam and I work great together, there's just not an enormous romantic spark between us in my opinion. He's safe, the safe choice.

I said that I would give him a chance, but I feel like those were just words. At that moment I was emotionally vulnerable and felt a sense of dependency, now I know that I can't compromise things like love. I can't give Liam a chance because I know that I won't ever love him like he may love me. It isn't fair to him for me to continue to lead him on, Liam deserves more than a half-hearted companion. Liam deserves a wonderful girl who will always be there for him, he deserves someone with charisma and a great sense of humor. He deserves the world and a girl who will be a large part of his whole world.

She just couldn't be me. She wasn't me. She will never be me.

You can't force feelings.

"I'm sorry, Liam," I whisper.

He turns away from the bowl he's mixing and gives me a confused look.

It's the same confused look he had on his face when I told him about the whole Archer and Ryder situation.

"Sorry for what, Smelliot?" he asks me with a small frown.

"Sorry, I'm sorry," I begin, just to trail off.

He raises an eyebrow and waits for my answer, an answer I can't manage to spit out.

"I'm sorry, but I don't think I can help you anymore with the cookies. I'm not feeling well," I tell him, partially lying and beating around the bush.

That wasn't what I was sorry for, I'm certain that he knows it too. He just simply nods and tells me to lie down on the couch, that he'll be by my side soon.

It's true though that I don't feel well, my stomach is churning with a feeling that is like having sick butterflies fluttering around.

Five minutes pass of me trying to relax before Liam comes to my side.

I sit myself up and he takes a seat next to me on the couch.

"Ellie, don't force yourself to try and like me," Liam says, a small smile forming on his face.

A small hurt smile.

"I want you to be the Ellie I fell in love with and not some girl who has to force up a smile."

I give a smile, one that isn't forced up.

Silence fills the air until I decide to speak.

"I'm an idiot, aren't I? I like some smirking asshole rather than the boy who has always been there for me," I say softly, the words falling out of my mouth.

"You like some smirking asshole?"

"I do," I whisper, realizing that I, in fact, have feelings for Archer West.

He runs a hand through his hair.

"So you finally realize it," he states.

I give a raised eyebrow, what does he mean when he says that I finally realized it?

"Ellie, you bailed him out of jail after he admitted that he helped Ryder cheat on you. You voluntarily spend every weekend with him when you guys are only supposed to be school official. You smile when he walks into a room. You sigh when he's not around. You've liked him for a long time, Ellie," he explains, almost as if he's giving a lecture.

I bask in the moment, thinking about everything that has transpired over the course of the past few months. The past two months with Archer fills my head with memories.

"I'm going to leave you alone so that you can take this all in. I'll see you at the party on New Year's Eve. Sound good?"

I give a robotic nod.

"The cookies are going to burn if you don't get them in the next five minutes."

I give a robotic nod.

"I love you, Smelliot."

This time I refuse to give another robotic nod, instead, I give a small smile as my cheeks begin to turn a soft shade of pink.

I hear Liam give a small chuckle, Liam obviously expecting for me to change up my response to his words with his last statement.

Before he leaves, he grabs a CD from a bookshelf and plops the disk into my CD player. He presses play on track eleven, walking out the door once the music begins.

It takes me a bit to realize that the song playing is the same song that Archer and I danced to at his cousin's birthday. It's the auto-tuned Kidz Bop song from the CD Archer gave me for our one month.

I sit and stare at the stereo as the track plays, realizing that Liam may have been right. The feelings I felt for Archer weren't ones that could just grow overnight.

They were feelings that have been growing ever since he first kissed me.

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