Blurred Lines Page 59

“You guys are talking about Ben Olsen, right? Parker’s bestie?”

Neither Lori nor I confirm, but she keeps prattling on anyway. “It’s so obvious what’s going on with him. Inferiority complex.”

I scoff. “You’ve met him, what, like, five times at company functions?”

“Yes. And all the times he’s tagged along as your plus-one at team happy hours, or whatever. I have to do something while you guys are all ignoring me, so I watch.”

I feel a little sting of guilt. Eryn’s so flipping annoying that it’s never really occurred to me that maybe part of the reason she’s so obnoxious is because she’s always on the outside.

I wonder which comes first…someone being left out in the cold because they’re annoying, or someone becoming annoying because they’re left out.

“Look, you said he just got promoted, right?” Eryn asks.

Lori’s eyes bug out. “Exactly how often do you eavesdrop?”

Eryn waves at this. “Oh, all the time. You guys talk super loud, and keep in mind our cubicle walls only come up to boob level. Not exactly soundproof. Anyway, so Ben’s recently been promoted but refuses to tell anyone about it, which means he thinks he doesn’t deserve it. He also has, like, an endless string of bimbos, and then he finds someone he thinks is nice”—Eryn gives a skeptical once-over of Lori here—“and he dumps her because she deserves more?”

I stare at her, my mind racing.

Eryn gives one last snotty little shrug. “Like I said. Inferiority complex. The guy thinks he’s no good at anything—that he doesn’t deserve better.”

Lori starts to lay into Eryn about how she doesn’t know crap and how she should get her own life, but I sit back in my chair, taking in everything Eryn’s just said.

Because while Lori’s right—Eryn doesn’t know Ben—I think she might actually be right about this.

Oh my God.

Lori and Eryn’s catfight is interrupted by the appearance of our boss, and I try to focus on the meeting. I really do.

But I keep hearing Eryn’s words over and over. He thinks he’s no good at anything—that he doesn’t deserve better.

Suddenly I’m replaying everything.

The way he denied deserving that damn promotion.

The way he refused to tell anyone about it.

I replay the way he clams up every time he has to go home to visit his all-star family.

The way he plays down everything important about himself, and instead jokes only about his Call of Duty skills or his prowess in the bedroom.

And then, worst of all, I replay the fight we had the day before I moved out.

The one where I’d all but laughed out loud at the thought that he could actually be somebody’s boyfriend.

My reaction had been borne out of shock—maybe even jealousy—but what if Ben saw it differently?

What if he thinks I think that he’s not capable of being a good boyfriend?

What if he thinks I think that nobody would want to date him?

The thought makes my heart hurt, because as at odds as we are right now, I know that Ben cares what I think, just like I care what he thinks.

I am—I was—important to him, and I’d all but told him he was good for nothing more than a roll in the hay.

And this thing with Lori…

Does he think he’s not good enough for her?

I start to get angry the more that I think about it, because Ben is good enough for anybody.

Ben is the freaking best.

But just as I start to get really good and fired up about this, I deflate.

Once upon a time, I could have been his champion. The one who’d go find him right this second and give an animated monologue about how he was being an idiot and that any girl would be more than lucky to have him love her.

I could have done that once. But not now. Because I’m too afraid that I’ll slip up. Say something I shouldn’t.

Something like I want to be that girl.

Chapter 28


Turns out, I kind of like living alone.

John didn’t work out as a roommate. His landlord freaked at the thought of him moving out, so he gave John a killer deal to stay at his old place.

Which means that I’m still on the hunt for a new roommate, but I’m not in a hurry.

Parker rather decently volunteered to pay two months of her share of the rent, given the short notice of her move. Plus, the recent promotion at work came with a nice boost in salary.

For the first time ever, money’s really not an issue. It feels very…adult.

Of course, the extra income didn’t take any of the pain out of dropping my credit card at Portland City Grill that night with Lori.

Not that the meal with Lori had been unpleasant.

It had been fine.

But that was the night it hit me: Lori deserved more than fine.

She was a nice girl who deserved more than a guy who’d really agreed to date her only to prove a point to a friend.

And that’s the real kicker.

I’d said yes to Lori mainly to prove Parker wrong, only to belatedly realize that Parker didn’t give a shit one way or another who I dated, or even if I dated.

Parker had moved on. And moved out.

“Wanna go out?” This from John, who, while not my roommate, has been spending a fair amount of time over at my place since my TV’s bigger.

I glance at the clock. It’s eight o’clock on Saturday, and I want nothing more than to stay exactly where I am, vegged out on my couch, contemplating whether or not I want pepperoni or sausage on my pizza.

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