Blurred Lines Page 61

The girl practically has no strings attached written across her cute, perky butt.

Five minutes later, I’ve settled up our bar tab and waved goodbye to John, who’s also looking to be on the verge of getting lucky, and I’m about to escort Ana with one n back to my place when my phone vibrates in my back pocket.

I take it out with the intention of silencing it, but my thumb freezes when I see the name on the screen.


It’s been so long since she’s called me, texted me, talked to me, that, for a moment, my face breaks out in a smile, until I remember the state of our friendship:


I tell myself to ignore it. Tell myself to focus on what’s simple, like Blondie here.

But my brain doesn’t listen, because then my thumb swipes across the screen, and I lift it to my face, although I don’t actually say anything.

Don’t know what to say.


I skid to a halt then, because I’d know that voice anywhere. It’s her crying voice.

Automatically, the sound of it brings out the I will slay dragons for you instinct in me.

Even now.

Especially now.

I will slay dragons for you, Parker.

“Tell me,” I say.

“It’s my mom.” Her voice is tiny. Scared.

My heart drops.

“The cancer came back. It’s…it’s really bad.”

“Where are you?”

“At my parents’. You don’t have to come, I just…I wanted…I needed—”

“Shut up, Parks. I’m on my way.”

And just like that, I know. Know that I’d do anything—anything—to get my best friend back.

“Who was that?” Ana asks when I hang up.

“A friend.”

“Sounded like more than a friend,” she says indifferently, taking a piece of gum out of her purse.

I stare at this tiny blonde as my brain buzzes.

It strikes me as utterly ridiculous and yet completely undeniable that this virtual stranger is the one who opens my eyes to the biggest, most crucial truth of my life:

Parker is more than a friend.

Has perhaps always been more than a friend.

The realization turns me upside down, inside out, and yet…

I can never let her know it.

Not unless I want to lose her all over again.

Chapter 29


I don’t know what made me call Ben instead of Lance.

I only know that when I open the front door of my parents’ house and see Ben standing on the porch that I’ve made the right decision.

A realization he only confirms when he steps into the foyer, closes the door, and without a single word, takes me into his arms and holds me.

I let out a shuddering breath, and for the first time in an hour, I feel…well, not good…but I feel like I can survive this.

Like I can survive anything as long as Ben’s here.

My fingers clench, tangling in the fabric of his shirt. I rest my head on his shoulder and let myself remember what it feels like to breathe. For the first time in hours.

No, for the first time in weeks.

He smells like other women’s perfume, but I don’t even care. I care only that he’s here.

That he came.

After everything we’ve been through, after the way we’ve spoken to each other, after the immature way we threw away years of friendship over a stupid squabble, he’s come, and he’s here and he’s holding me.

My eyes water, and his hand moves over my hair. “Don’t cry.”

But of course I do. I sob. Just like he knows I will.

And he lets me, never uttering stupid it will be okay platitudes. He doesn’t make weird soothing noises. He just holds me.

Eventually I manage to pull back enough to let out a huge slobbering noise, and he glances down at his white shirt, which is now smeared with black eye makeup and the faint beige tinge of my tinted moisturizer.

He points at his chest. “Well, here’s one thing I haven’t missed.”

I smile faintly.

“I’ll get the industrial-sized tissue box,” he says, running a hand down my arm before heading toward the bathroom. Then he pauses. Turns back. “Parker?”

“Yeah?” I say, wiping my eyes with the sleeves of my sweatshirt.

He points to his stained shirt again. “It’s the only thing I haven’t missed.”

I meet his eyes and melt a little at the warmth there. At the apology written all over his face.

And just like that, we’re okay again. I know it down to my bones.

I sit on the couch, and in a moment he comes back with the box of tissues, dropping it into my lap before he sits beside me. “Where are your parents?”

“Upstairs,” I say, staring at my hands. “Last time we went through this, my mom was so brave, so positive, but this time…” I swallow. “She’s been in her room ever since they learned the news.”

I stare at my hands before continuing. “My dad had to be the one to tell me. And when I went up to see her…all we could do was cry.”

This, of course, starts me crying all over, and Ben once again does the holding thing that he’s so good at.

“It’s in her lymph nodes,” I say when the latest crying jag subsides. “They’re going to start treatment immediately. Some experimental mumbo jumbo that they’ve apparently had some success with, but they’re still throwing around the word prognosis,” I manage.

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