Blurred Lines Page 10

I should put my shoulders back. Sniffle back the snot, and drive home.

I lift my head. I should—

I suck in a hiccupping breath, but no tears come. It’s as though I want to cry, but can’t, because my body’s too confused about how just an hour ago I was putting on Victoria’s Secret’s finest, and now I’m single and alone in a car on a Saturday night.

I’m twenty-four and dressed up, and have nowhere to go.

I see a grungy-looking dude carrying a skateboard under his arm checking me out as he passes my car and I squeeze my eyes shut, only to have them fly open again when my cellphone buzzes.

It’s from Lance.

I’m sorry.

That’s it. No I take it back. No I didn’t mean it.

Screw him.

I delete the text with a hiss and lift my hands to the steering wheel only to realize that they’re shaking wildly.

I drop them back to my lap, and a little surge of panic settles in, because I know I’m in no state to drive, even though it’s only a couple minutes to home.

With a shaking hand, I reach for my cellphone again. Generally speaking, I’m more of a texter than a phone talker, but there are times when you need to hear someone’s voice. When you need to connect with someone who cares.

This is one of those times.

Ben’s name is in my FAVORITES list, and I hit DIAL.

He answers on the second ring. “Parks.”

And then, for some weird reason, that’s when the tears come. All at once, they flood my eyes and are running down my cheeks as I make an ugly blubbering noise.

“Parker?” Ben’s voice is sharper now.

I try to take a deep breath and it sounds like a honk. “Can you come get me?”

“Anywhere. Always.”

Chapter 4


I’ve seen Parker cry a bunch of times.

When her grandfather died. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Anytime we’ve ever watched a movie where an animal’s in distress. That time she slept through her world geography final sophomore year.

Once she had too much wine and said that the rain made her cry.

And no matter how legit the reasons (see: sad movie, mom getting cancer) or how absurd (the rain), I always do the same thing.

I hold her. I pet her hair. I let her soak my T-shirt with her tears, and supply her with ample tissues to cry into. (She’s not a dainty crier, this one.)

Whatever the cause¸ the tears always rip at me a little bit, like there’s this pressure on my chest that I don’t know how to relieve. I mean, all girls’ tears do that.

But Parker’s especially. She’s my girl.

And that weird feeling in my chest is definitely there this time. But it’s accompanied by something else, too.


All the other times, her tears were out of my control. I couldn’t stop her grandfather dying, or her weird reaction to the rain.

But this time I have options.

One of which is beating the shit out of Lance Myers.

And right now, I want to.

I’m not a violent guy, strictly speaking.

But from the second I saw her trying futilely to hold back tears as she sat behind the wheel of her car, looking lost and devastated, to the moment I took her home and held her in my lap on the couch, I’ve thought about nothing except how good it would feel to plant my fist into Myers’s preppy face.

He’s a friend of mine, sure. I like the guy. I might even be a little bummed when my anger fades and I realize we won’t be hanging out anymore.

But this isn’t about Lance. It’s about Parker.

And he hurt her.


I’m pissed at myself, too.

Wasn’t I just thinking this afternoon that something was off between them?

Could I have spared her this?

I could have. Or at least, I could have warned her.


Her tears seem to have eased up slightly, and mostly she’s just curled in a ball with her head under my chin as she hiccups into a Kleenex. I pull back slightly, but I stop when her fingers clench my shirt.

I put my hand over hers, rubbing my thumb against her palm. I want to tell her that the jackass isn’t worth the tears. No relationship is, but that’s not what she needs to hear right now.

Still, I squeeze her hand, and start to set her aside again.

“You’re leaving?” she asks.

“Just for a few minutes.” I plant a spontaneous kiss on the side of her head.

She watches me with swollen, bloodshot eyes. “I’m ruining your night. You should go out.”

I squeeze her knee. “Don’t make me make a house rule about you not being an idiot.”

“I make the house rules. Not you.” She gives me a weepy smile.

I smile back. There’s my girl.

“Give me ten minutes,” I say, squeezing her knee again.

I grab my wallet off the counter before dashing to my car. I make it back in an impressive eight minutes, armed with supplies.

A quick peek in the living room shows she’s still on the couch, although she’s curled up on her side now.

I rummage around in our cupboards, but I can’t find any champagne flutes. I swear we used to have, like, ten, but then, this is a twenty-something house. Fine stemware doesn’t last long. I settle for a clunky wineglass-type thing and, after popping the cork, fill the glass nearly to the brim.

I return to the living room where Parker’s pulled herself into a sitting position. “Sorry I was lame,” she says, looking embarrassed.

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