Blurred Lines Page 19

“Uh-huh,” I say, noncommittally, even though I barely know what she’s talking about. Something about her grandfather being diagnosed with some degenerative disease and everyone in the family taking turns getting him to various appointments.

A setup that Terri’s apparently not a fan of.

I can’t help but think back to when Parker’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Parker dropped everything to help out with the chemo appointments and the devastating aftermath of the appointments.

Hell, so did I.

Mrs. Blanton all but became a surrogate mother during my college years when my own family was on the other side of the country. I’d have moved heaven and earth to be there for her on those afternoons when she lay weak and nauseous on the couch as we watched nonstop reruns of Gilligan’s Island, or whatever show she felt like binge watching.

My attention skips away from Terri once again as I watch Black T-shirt, whose name is Tad—seriously?—touch Parker’s hip.

Atta girl.

She may need a little help with the setup, but clearly she’s got enough moves to reel him in. Still, she can’t possibly be thinking—

I meet her eyes, and, sure enough, she’s glancing at me as often as she can without being obvious, and when our gazes lock, she widens her eyes slightly.

I hide a smile. Okay, so obviously we’re going to have to coach her on the setup and the gracious exit. I’m mentally running through my long list of fail-proof excuses when Lori appears in front of us.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Blanton, but it’s eleven,” Lori says, hitching a thumb over her shoulder toward the door.

“So?” Terri asks bitchily, giving Lori the same once-over she gave Parker.

Lori barely looks at her, focusing instead on a confused-looking Tad. “Parker and I made a pact. We’ve got to be heading home by eleven or we’re really going to regret it at our eight a.m. meeting tomorrow.”

Parker’s nose scrunches for a second, and I suspect she’s about to point out that they don’t have an eight a.m. meeting tomorrow. And I know for a fact that there’s been no previously discussed eleven o’clock curfew, but Terri and Tad don’t need to know that.

I push back from the bar. “All right, fine,” I say, fishing a few bills out of my wallet as a tip for the bartender. “But next time you two drag me out, do it on a Friday,” I say with a little wink for Terri.

She frowns. “You’re leaving?”

I shrug. “I’m their designated walker.”

Lori snorts, but I actually mean it. Parker and I are about a ten-minute walk from the bar, and Lori’s a fifteen-minute walk, and no way am I letting either of them do it alone, even if it’s a tame Monday night in even tamer Portland.

Lori gives Parker about thirty seconds to mutter something soothing to Tad before reaching forward and grabbing Parker’s wrist. “Gotta go.”

When we’re outside the bar, Parker skids to a halt and stares at the two of us. “Wait, so that’s it? We’re done?”

“You said you wanted practice,” Lori says with a shrug. “You got it.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No way were you going home with that dude,” I tell her, catching her elbow as she teeters just slightly in her high heels.

“Yeah. No, I mean…no, I didn’t want to,” she says. “He spent the entire time talking about football plays. But what about you guys? I don’t want the evening to be a total waste just because my first attempt at a hookup was a dud.”

“Oh, not a total waste,” Lori says, grinning as she fishes a business card out of her back pocket and flashes it at Parker. “I got myself the phone number of a guy who’s co-owner of that new Mexican place on Twelfth.”

“Of course you did,” Parker says with an indulgent sigh, before turning to me. “What about you? That redhead was totally giving you signals.”

“Ah, Parks,” I say, hooking an arm around her neck and pulling her in the direction of home. “I know.”

“But…don’t you want…you usually…”

Mimicking Lori’s motion just seconds before, I fish a cocktail napkin out of my pocket with a phone number scribbled on it.

Parker stares at it dumbly. “How…when?”

“She shoved it in my pocket as we were leaving,” I explain, shoving the napkin back in my pocket, even though I have no intention of calling bitchy Terri.

“I have so much to learn,” Parker says with a sad sigh.

“That’s what we’re here for,” I say. “Soon you’ll be a female version of me. Just not as good-looking.”

She punches my side, and I grin.

But as I walk the two girls home, I can’t stop the strangest, most nagging thought.

I don’t want Parker to become a female version of me.

Chapter 7


A year and a half ago, my mom called me up on a random Wednesday and asked if I wanted to grab coffee.

It was a weird request. Not because I don’t like coffee, and not because I don’t love my mom. But not only do my parents live in the suburbs, but my mom works in the suburbs, too. She’s a high school science teacher.

So there was absolutely no reason she should be downtown on a random Wednesday, but somehow my brain didn’t register alarm bells.

It should have.


She and I sat in at the café for nearly two hours, but when I walked away, only that one word stuck with me.

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