Blurred Lines Page 51

I look away, hoping he doesn’t see the guilt on my face.

“It’s just—” He breaks off as though trying to think of the right words. “You know, like if Ben and I were in two different car accidents and were at different hospitals…I was never really clear on which one of us you’d come visit first.”

“That’s…gruesome,” I say.

It’s a deliberate nonanswer to his hypothetical scenario, and I hope he doesn’t notice.

“You know what I mean,” he says with a half smile. “A guy wants to come first.”

I freeze as the simplicity of his statement hits home. He’s exactly right, but the implications are staggering.

Because it means that Ben and I can’t keep just going along like we are. We both deserve to have an all-encompassing, all-consuming love, and we’re not going to do that as long as we’re clinging so desperately to each other.

And when I mentally reorient myself, I feel something click into place: the realization that my mom and Lance are absolutely right.

Ben and I can’t keep just going along like we are. We both deserve to have an all-encompassing, all-consuming love, and we’re not going to do that so long as we’re clinging so desperately to each other.

Lance is also right in that we’re all grown-ups. The platonic, buddy-buddy thing was cute and fun in college, but I’ll be twenty-five in a couple months. Hardly old, but old enough to know that I want something real.

I want what I have with Ben—the laughter, and the commitment, and someone to talk my problems over with….

But I want the other stuff, too. The flowers on Valentine’s Day, the kisses in public, the eventual ring on the fourth finger.

I want someone who will hold my hand at the mall or at Starbucks. Not someone who will only ever touch me on a quiet deserted beach at midnight.

“What do you say, Parker?” Lance’s voice is pleading now. “Move in with me?”

Chapter 24


When Parker comes back in the house, I’m watching TV, but not really watching it.

Mostly I’m grinding my teeth, hating myself for bringing up Lance’s name last night. It’s like I summoned the bastard by uttering his name out loud.

Because how else, after three weeks of us not even mentioning him, has it come to be that he’s on my goddamn front porch, talking to my—

Best friend.

I hear the front door close with a quiet click, and I tense, listening for the second set of footsteps that would indicate that Lance has been invited inside.

When Parker appears in the living room alone, I breathe out a quiet sigh of relief, although I never look away from the TV, not wanting to give away too much.

Not wanting her to see…Hell, I don’t even know what it is I don’t want her to see.

Only when she sits beside me and breathes a big sigh do I turn to face her, silencing the TV as I do so.

“Talk or mute?” I ask, defaulting to our old game. Because although a part of me wants to shake her and demand that she spill every last detail of whatever Lance said to her, she’s still my friend, first and always, and I’ll be whatever she needs me to be.

Even if that’s quiet.

She blows out another long breath. “Lance wants to get back together.”

The words tear at me a little, even though I’d been pretty prepared for them. I mean, why else would he wait around on our front porch like a loser, and then go and throw in that little reminder of when he used to sneak into Parker’s bedroom on family vacations?

And that—that—is what’s really clawing at me. The knowledge that not only was I just a stand-in for Lance on the Blanton family vacation, but that I’d also been a stand-in in Parker’s bed last night.

Here I’d been romanticizing the whole thing like some sort of dope, whereas for Parker it was old hat.

“How do you feel about that?” I force myself to ask. How do you feel about him?

Her head falls back onto the couch and she looks exhausted.

Which, I guess, is better than her being all giddy about the fact that Lance finally saw what an idiot he’d been. But I’d prefer if she was maybe just a touch scathing, and a bit more forthcoming with some sort of over-my-dead-body proclamation at his get-back-together request.

“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m…it’s all so weird and confusing.”

She turns her head then, meeting my eyes for the first time really since last night, and I get the feeling she’s asking me something, but I don’t know what, and even if I knew the question, I sure as fuck wouldn’t know the answer.

“You’ll figure it out, Parks.” It’s the only thing I can think of to say.

“Do you think I should get back together with him?”

Oh God, don’t ask me that.

“I think you should do what you want to do,” I answer carefully.

Her arm swings out and she thwacks me across the chest. “Don’t be that guy. I need advice, damn it. Be my friend.”

I smile a little at her joking tone, because maybe things aren’t so changed between us after all.

Maybe last night was just a weird fluke. A moment of weakness, or whatever.

There’s no reason we can’t go back to how we were before, with our easy jokes. Even if she gets back together with Lance. Maybe that’s exactly what we need to pick up where we left off.

Back when our weekends involved harmless trips to IKEA, not trips to the beach that ended in mind-blowing sex.

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