Crushed Page 14

Chloe grins. “Why, because you feel bad for assuming I’m a friendless loser? Orrrr”—she wiggles her eyebrows—“because of that crush?”

I don’t bother to respond, but when she flounces away, chestnut curls streaming behind her … damn it …

I’m smiling.

Chapter 6


Barf alert.

I’ve been watching Kristin and Beefcake at their “tennis lesson” for nearly twenty minutes and I don’t know whether I’m shocked or just plain disgusted.

I mean, for starters, Kristin doesn’t even actually need tennis lessons. She plays in college, for God’s sake. Surely we can stop with the theatrics.

And, sure, she needs someone to play with over the summer to keep her sharp, or whatevs.

But someone to help her with her serve?


The only reason Kristin signed up for these lessons in the first place was because Jackie Zender told her the new tennis pro was hot and “into her,” and Kristin can’t stand for five minutes that a hot guy would be into anyone but her.

I’d almost feel sorry for Devon, but if the guy hasn’t figured out by now that Kristin likes male admirers more than I like Snickers, then he’s beyond help.

I turn my attention back to my own court and swing at a ball so hard I nearly fall.

People do this for fun?

For the hundredth time, I try to remember what I’m doing, disguised in a hat (shudder) and trying to make contact with balls shooting out of a machine on a semi-regular basis.

Why am I pretending to be athletic in eighty-something-degree heat?

Because I’m worried about Beefcake. Of all things.

The guy may have lady-killer written all over his sulky gaze, but I saw his expression when he’d locked eyes on all of the sweet perfection that is fakey Kristin.

I know that look. I know what she does to guys.

It has always been this way.

When I was in tenth grade, my lab partner—along with the rest of the school—had a killer crush on Kristin. I’d asked him what it was about her, and poor smitten Bobby had explained it to me:

She’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, and you know you have no chance. … But then she looks at you for the first time, and there’s this surprise on her face, like she’s been waiting for you.


Did I mention Bobby Burns wanted to grow up and be a poet?

I sure hope he succeeded, because he sure as hell wasn’t any good at helping me dissect that frog in honors bio.

But, anyway, the point is I think Bobby had a point.

As far as I know, Kristin has never cheated on Devon. She knows they’re the perfect couple, and she wouldn’t risk that for anything.

But she’s pretty damn good at letting other guys think she might cheat on Devon.

At least that’s what I’m seeing happening with Beefcake. There’s more accidental touching than an eighth-grade coed birthday party.

Kristin gives a pathetic excuse for a backhand and giggles nervously as Michael wraps his arms around her to fix her pretend-bad form.

“Ouch,” I mutter as I swing and something in my shoulder pops. I have this ball machine set to the slowest setting, but it still has absolutely no respect for the fine art of spying on one’s sibling. That, and hand-eye coordination’s never really been the shining star on my résumé.

I needn’t have bothered with the hat. Neither of them have looked over once to see the inept chubby girl chasing balls around the court.

Talk about hiding in plain sight.

Plus, it’s not like it would occur to either one that I’d be willingly active.

I watch as Beefcake’s hand moves toward Kristin’s hair, plucking what I’m sure is an imaginary something-or-other from her ponytail. Yeah, right. Like anything could actually get stuck in all that glossy silk.

I bet he’d never manhandle her hair into a ponytail. Kristin’s hair doesn’t have an impressive track record for breaking rubber bands whenever it’s threatened with containment.

Finally, finally, their handsy session is over, and they linger over their water bottles for too long before Kristin heads back up toward the clubhouse. I don’t miss the little over-the-shoulder glance she gives Beefcake, although she makes it fast, as though she’s embarrassed to be caught looking back at him.

I’m about 89 percent sure that whole impression is manufactured.

I’m pretty sure it all is. Everything about her rings fake to me.

It’s an awful thing to say you don’t like your sister, huh?

I mean … I would never say that out loud.

And I love Kristin; I really, totally, do. I’d jump in front of a train for her, I’d give her a kidney, and I’d hold her hair while she puked up Jäger shots. And, actually, that last one’s not a hypothetical.

But sometimes I also feel like I’m the only one who really sees her.

She came out of the womb looking like a freaking Gerber baby, and with the exception of all things academic, she sort of just floats through life easily.

I don’t even blame my parents for keeping her up on that well-deserved pedestal, and I don’t blame Devon for choosing to see her sweet and funny side instead of her manipulative and caustic side.

But for some messed-up reason, I do blame Michael St. Claire for making a move on what is clearly someone else’s girl.

I mean, sure, am I trying to get my shit together and lose the cellulite so that Devon will notice me?

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