Blurred Lines Page 24

“Exactly!” Her eyes light up, her voice excited. “I can’t even carry on a conversation with these bozos for more than a minute without wanting to blow my brains out.”

“Ah, and you want to know how I manage to carry on conversations with girls that I’m not really interested in,” I say, finally catching on. Or so I think.

“Um, no,” she says. “I don’t really give a crap.”

God help me, I might strangle her. “Do I even need to be here for this conversation?” I ask. “Seems to me like you can talk yourself into a circle all by yourself.”

She stands. “When I said I’m giving up on the casual sex thing, I meant I’m going to give up on doing the casual sex thing your way. Haven’t you ever wanted to enjoy the person you sleep with? To finish up doing, you know, and then not want to shove them out of bed?”

“Um, sure, but…”

“Don’t you wonder if it would be better with someone who didn’t drive you nuts? Someone you cared about?”

Warning bells sound in my head. I’d take a step back if I weren’t already backed against the counter. “Please tell me you aren’t going to set me up with one of your friends. I thought you were against that kind of cross pollination.”

“Oh, I am,” she says with an easy smile. “And don’t worry, what I’m proposing won’t end in you having to give anyone Valentine’s Day flowers or remember one-month anniversaries”

“That’s great, but I still don’t understand what this proposal is?”

And since when have she and I had such a hard time understanding each other?

Parker holds her hands out to the sides, then lets them drop. “I think we should hook up.”

I would just like to state—for the record—that I should win a goddamn medal for not laughing, fainting, or straight up walking out of the room.

“How much wine did you have?” I ask, even though I know she didn’t have more than two glasses, and stopped early in the evening since she was driving us home.

“I know,” she says, clasping her hands in front of her and biting her lip. “I know it sounds crazy, and I know I’m springing this on you—”

“You think?” I say, feeling the rare urge to lose my temper. “What the hell am I supposed to say to that, Parker? You’ll forgive me if I’m feeling a little blindsided here.”

She looks at the floor and, despite my anger, I feel a little twinge of guilt, because it can’t have been easy for her to say what she just said. It was a bold move. I’ll give her that.

But we’ve spent years trying to explain to everyone in the world about how we’re not friends with benefits, that we’re not friends with latent, unexplored romantic feelings, and here she is, willing to throw it all way for—

“Why?” I ask, realizing that that was the question I should have asked from the beginning. My voice is a little softer now. Knowing that there’s got to be a reason behind her sudden burst of insanity.

Her eyes meet mine again. “All the reasons I said. I want…I want to have fun with sex, you know? But I can’t do that as long as I’m preoccupied with how bored I am by the other person, or how annoying he is, or how do I know he wasn’t lying about being free of STDs, or how do I know he’s not a psycho…”

I smile a little at that, because it’s so her. “You’re overthinking it.”

“Exactly! My brain won’t let me do this with a stranger, because there are too many unknowns. I wouldn’t be able to relax and get lost in the moment. Maybe if I had years of practice like you, or even Lori…”

“Don’t bite my head off for suggesting this,” I say, holding up my hands. “But do you think maybe you’re just not meant for the casual sex thing? Why not wait until the right guy comes around and get your rocks off that way?”

To my surprise, she doesn’t lay into me for having a double standard, or even for using the phrase get your rocks off, which she’s always hated.

“I can’t risk it,” she says quietly.

I frown. “Can’t risk what?”

Her voice is small. “My heart.”

My stomach clenches at that. She looks so damn fragile.

“Getting dumped hurt,” she continues. “I don’t know that Lance was the love of my life. I’m guessing not, since I’m not exactly up in my room pining for him. But I did care about him—loved him—and he didn’t love me back, and I don’t want to do that again, Ben.”

I squeeze my eyes shut, feeling so wildly unprepared for this kind of conversation it’s not even funny.

I answer carefully. “I get that. I do. But the answer is not…you and me,” I finish awkwardly.

What would that even look like? Be like?

“But you have flings all the time,” she argues. “Why not with me?”

I give her a look. “You know why. It would mess everything up.”

“Not if we didn’t let it,” she says, taking a half step forward. “We trust each other. Make each other laugh. And we’re both attractive—”

“Yes, but not attracted to each other,” I’m quick to clarify.

She tilts her head and looks me over. “I bet we could get over that.”

I remember my strange reaction to a drunken Parker taking her shirt off a couple weeks ago and realize she’s right. I could get over the It’s just Parker thing real fast if I saw her in that sexy little red bra again. Or a black bra. Or no bra. Or…

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