Blurred Lines Page 67

“You’re not deciding whether you talk or mute,” she explains. “You’re deciding whether I talk or mute.”

What the hell?

“Why would I decide whether you talk or not?” I ask.

She meets my gaze steadily. “Because there’s a very, very good chance you’re not going to like what I have to say.”

I’m not really loving the sound of that, but…

“This something you want to get off your chest?” I ask warily.

“I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

I blow out a long breath. “Then tell me.”

She opens her mouth, then seems to lose her nerve, because she shuts it. “Can we do this in the living room?”

“Um, okay,” I say, because she’s already walking away.

“And I could use a drink for this!” she calls.

Do I need one? I wonder quietly to myself.

“You should get one for yourself, too!” she calls again.


I dig around behind some embarrassingly old leftovers until I find a bottle of prosecco left from when this used to be Parker’s fridge, too.

I pop the cork and dump hefty pours into two coffee mugs.

As I pour, I wonder if I hadn’t left the sparkling wine in the fridge for precisely this reason.

A hope that she’d come home.

And here she is. And I’m glad to see her, I am. It’s just…I almost wish she hadn’t come over.

Because all I can think about is begging her to stay.

But we have to get through whatever big announcement has her all wound up and pacing around the living room like a caged animal.

I hand her a mug and she stares at it for a moment, but doesn’t move to take it.

“Sorry it’s not crystal,” I say. “This is a bachelor pad now.”

“Obviously,” she says. “Demi seemed…um, partially clothed.”

I take a big sip from my own mug. It’s not my favorite drink, but my beer supply is low and I need the booze.

“For the record, I didn’t know she was crazy when I brought her home,” I say.


The skepticism in her tone says she clearly thinks I’m still sleeping my way through Portland, and I open my mouth to refute her, but think better of it.

The last thing an almost-engaged woman needs to hear is that her best friend is still hung up on their last sexual encounter.

I freeze as a horrible thought occurs to me.

Suddenly, I know exactly why Parker is here.

I know why she’s so tense.

And I know why she thinks I won’t want to hear what she has to say.

Because I don’t. I don’t want to hear it.

I don’t want to hear that Lance proposed. I don’t want to hear that she’s going to get married to someone else.

“Mute,” I say a little desperately. “I want you to mute.”

Her eyes flicker. “But you said—”

“I changed my mind. I don’t want to hear it.”

I know it’s selfish. Of course I know.

And eventually I’ll hear, and I’ll congratulate her and I’ll even toast her wedding, but I just can’t hear it right now.

I can’t hear that the girl I love is going to get married to someone else.

I love her.

I swallow and turn away from her, squeezing my eyes shut.

I love her so much.

“Ben, wait,” she says, coming toward me. “I won’t talk if you don’t want me to, but at least tell me why you changed your mind—”

I spin back to face her, and my pain must be all over my face because her eyes widen and she takes a step back in surprise.

And all of a sudden, it becomes too much. She’s too damn beautiful, and I care too damn much.

“Talk or mute,” I say roughly.

“But you just said—you’re confusing me, Ben.”

“Me,” I say. “We’re talking about me now. Do you want me to talk?”

A little line appears between her eyes. “Do you have something you want to get off your chest?”

It’s a nearly verbatim replay of our earlier conversation, except with the roles reversed, and suddenly I lose patience with all our stupid word games and how we’re tiptoeing around each other.

“Sit down,” I say.

“You’re being weird,” she says.

She moves toward the couch anyway, but then I change my mind about her sitting, and my hand snakes out, grabbing her arm and pulling her around so we’re face-to-face.

We’re both breathing harder than the situation calls for. But maybe that’s not true, because the bomb I’m about to drop on her is a big one.

“Parker, I—”

“Don’t go to Seattle,” she blurts, interrupting me.


She moves closer, her eyes full of panic. “Don’t go to Seattle.”

I shake my head. “I already turned in the applications—”

“So? You can do more applications here. To Portland schools.”

This so isn’t what I want to be talking about right now, but I suppose it’s as good a segue to what I have to say to her as any, so I go with it. “I can’t stay here, Parker.”

“You have to,” she says, her voice breaking. She reaches out her hands toward my chest then yanks them back so they’re cradled against her own chest. “You can’t leave me.”

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