Playing the Game (Providence University #6) - Ali Parker

Chapter 1


After a day of cramming and classes, I went back to my apartment and found that Clara, my sister and former roommate, was there to gather the last of her things.

“Hey, Avery,” she said, peeking over the bar. She was down on the floor, and pots and pans rattled in the cabinet as she rifled through them. “I’m taking the extra skillet. Dillon is sick of microwaved eggs, and I can barely stomach regular food, much less that microwaved mess. Have you ever seen what a microwave does to an egg? It’s disgusting. It looks like a sponge, and I’m pretty sure it tastes like one too.” She made a face and kept on digging.

“Yeah, they’re gross,” I said, dropping my bag on the table. I went to the fridge for a drink and watched as she dug through a different cabinet.

“Now that he’s in camp, I’m using the time to gather the things we need to function normally. I feel like we don’t have anything we need, and too much of what we don’t.”

“Other than a sad lack of household wares, how are you doing without Dillon around?” This was my subtle way of asking her if she was still eating. Part of her recovery was to keep her strength up. Her heart was fragile from her anorexia, and while she had been doing better, being alone in her own place without Dillon could trigger her to resort to old ways of starving herself.

“I’m eating three square meals, so you can stop worrying. How are things with you?” She gave me a sideward look and put a small soup pot on the counter. “You don’t have company every day, do you?”

That was her subtle way of fishing around for information about my pending relationship with Seth Mills. I hadn’t given her the update of our status and decided it would be best to let her be happy and content with settling in her new place without worrying about me.

I loved Clara and wanted the best for her. My problems would only make her worry, so I played it off as if everything were good, doing my best to keep a big smile on my face and a positive attitude.

“No, you can relax. Things slowed down considerably with Seth and me.”

“Why?” she asked with a suspicious look in her eye.

“I just decided to hit the brakes and take it slow.” I tried to keep a bright smile to hide how I was really feeling.

“Good,” said Clara, not even knowing the look was fake. “You’ve come to your senses. I was actually afraid I might find him here. It would have given me great pleasure to ask him to leave.” She hated Seth, and I knew she’d never change her mind about him.

“Oh no, it’s my place now. Only I get to throw people out.” I just wanted her to give him a chance.

Clara laughed. “Is that right? I’d think our father would disagree.” She took the cookie sheet from the oven drawer, and I quickly snatched it back.

“He didn’t disagree when you and Dillon decided to shack up together.” Our father had never cared so much what we did as long as he didn’t have to deal with any drama.

“That’s only because he’s scared that I’m going to die before I get a chance to live. And he’s happy that I have Dillon to take care of me, so he doesn’t have to. Trust me. You don’t want the consequences of his approval. It sucks not being as healthy as I used to be. I’ve been working really hard at getting it back. Well, as hard as I can.”

She walked over and opened the pantry. “Do we still have that soup you hated?”

“I think you already took that.” She had come in and cleaned me out twice already. Granted, most of the stuff we had was hers before it was mine when she first came to college two years before me, but I was afraid she wouldn’t leave me anything. “I’m certain you did.”

She waved her hand and closed the cabinet. “Dillon eats like a horse. He probably ate it while I was in class.”

I thought the topic of Seth was behind us. But Clara gave me a another look as she opened the utensil drawer. “So, what happened between you two? Did Seth do something inappropriate? I could have Dillon kick his ass. I’m sure he’d love that.”

He might try, but it wasn’t like Seth was going to sit