Blurred Lines Page 41

Then he puts his hands on my cheeks and kisses me, and that, too, is nice.

It’s only after I’m in the cab on my way back home that I realize how often I’m applying the word nice to Brandon.

Nice is fine.

But nice is not…

Nice is not what I’m after.

I want more.

I just don’t know what.

I pay the cabbie, pulling my keys out of my purse as I head toward my front door.

All hopes of a quiet evening with a good book and a glass of red wine are dashed the second I walk in the front door.

Music is blaring, struggling to compete with the TV (also blaring), as well as with the high-pitched din of a bunch of drunken voices.

I sigh as I set my purse on the console table by the front door. Looks like Ben’s big plans of a wild night out on the town have transitioned into a wild night in.

I can’t really blame him, as I’m sure he thought he’d have the house to himself.

I’d definitely given the impression that I’d be going home with Brandon, as was our agreement.

Maybe I can sneak upstairs and he’ll never know….


Damn. I’ve been spotted.

It’s Ben’s friend John Harris. I haven’t seen him since the night he came over after Lance dumped me, and the details of that evening are fuzzy at best.

“Hey!” I say, pasting a smile on my face. I’ve always liked John. Way better than douchebag Jason as far as Ben’s friends go.

He gives me a hug, and I mentally give him points for not getting handsy despite the fact that my black dress is very, um, tiny.

“Ben said you weren’t coming home tonight,” he said.

Bless him. John’s voice is apologetic, probably because he knows my house sounds like a freaking rave right now.

“Change of plans,” I say with a smile. “Sounds like you guys are having a good time, though.”

“For sure,” he says. “You should grab a drink and join us.”

I hesitate, wanting to go directly to my room.

But John will for sure tell Ben that I’m here, which will then have Ben wondering what the heck is going on, and, even worse, Ben will know that I’m avoiding him.

I take a deep breath. “Sure!”

I pour myself a weak vodka tonic from the boozy selection sitting out on my kitchen counter and venture into the living room.

The scene looks pretty much exactly like it sounded.

A bunch of half-drunk people are plopped around the room alternating among watching TV, talking over one another, and singing the wrong lyrics to the music.

I recognize a few of the guys as Ben’s football buddies; they’re an okay bunch. A little noisy whenever they come to our place to watch a game, but polite. And they’ve always been pretty cool about using coasters without my having to remind them.

But coasters are clearly not on the agenda tonight. Red keg cups cover virtually every surface, and I feel a little surge of annoyance because it all feels so…college-y.

An overly muscled guy in the corner notices me first—Roy? Ray?—I forget his name.

“Hey, it’s Roomie!” he says, in a too-loud voice.

Eight heads swivel around to see me standing awkwardly in the doorway.

Roomie is what Ben’s friends call me. Probably because they don’t remember my name, but I don’t take offense since I didn’t remember Roy/Ray’s name just now.

I lift a hand in a dorky hi gesture, and I tell myself that I’m not going to let my eyes seek out Ben, but of course they do.

Hard to miss him with the big-boobed blonde sitting in his lap.

Ben’s eyes go wide. “Parks?”

I smile faintly.

“What happened to—” Ben starts to get up, but clearly isn’t sure how to maneuver Blondie off his lap, and I hold up my hand quickly, telling him to stay.

I debate my next move, wondering if it’s too late to retreat upstairs.

A couple of the guys give me a what’s up before turning back to the TV, but most of the girls are still staring at me curiously.

I’m used to this.

Not because I think I’m something to look at, but because it’s a boozy Friday night. Sex is likely on everyone’s brain, which means everybody’s trying to figure out who will pair with whom, and none of the girls like that there’s another female in the mix.

John comes up behind me with his refilled drink, his hand finding rest on my back. “What are you doing in the doorway? Come sit. Joe, move your ass, man. Make room for Parker.”

There’s really no choice but to move forward, and I let John maneuver me next to a zoned-out-looking girl with pink tips in her blond hair. John settles on the other side of me. He sits close, but not too close, and I have a feeling he’s protecting me from Joe, who, honest to God, seems to be staring at my crotch.

I shift, wondering why I feel so awkward. It’s certainly not the first time Ben’s had people over whom I don’t know all that well.

Nor is it the first time I’ve watched him make moves on a girl right in front of my face.

It didn’t used to bother me.

It doesn’t bother me now.

So why do I feel like I’m going to be sick to my stomach?

I take a sip of my drink, letting my eyes sneak back over to my left, where Ben and Blondie are sitting on the L part of our sectional couch.

I’m struck by the irrational thought that it’s my couch. My Ben.

Snap out of it, I tell myself.

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