Crushed Page 26

“It’s not going to be a pretty sight.”

He puts his hand over my mouth, taking a half step closer, and even though he’s pulled this move about a million times in our short acquaintance, I feel a weird little awareness at how close he’s standing.

Very slowly he removes his hand. His eyes locked on mine.

“Tomorrow,” he says gruffly. “For the Fourth. Wear it.”

I cross my arms. “So let’s say I play along, and figure out a way to get these tiny triangles to somewhat cover my boobs. You get eye candy. What do I get out of it?”

His eyes never leave mine. “I’ll help you get Devon.”

Chapter 11


On a scale of awesome to I want to kill myself, the situation at the Bellamy lake house isn’t nearly as bad as I’d been expecting.

Granted, it’s the day before the actual party, and the majority of party guests won’t show up until tomorrow, but, so far, the snobbery level is surprisingly low.

Gary and Gemma Bellamy in particular surprise me. For some reason I’d been expecting them to be more Kristin’s people than Chloe’s: gorgeous, pretentious, and all too aware of their status at the top of society.

Instead, they’re somewhere in between Kristin’s polished self-awareness and Chloe’s infectious warmth.

They don’t flinch upon learning that a country club employee is lurking in their midst. For that alone, I give them credit. My parents would have shit a brick had a lowly bartender crashed one of their summer parties.

But Chloe’s parents barely blink. In fact, I get the distinct feeling that they’re used to Chloe bringing around all manner of lost creatures.

Not that I’m lost. Or, if I am, it’s deliberately so.

Chloe tells me that tomorrow will be catered, “very red, white, and blue, very creepy,” but tonight Chloe’s dad is gearing up to throw burgers and hot dogs on the grill and it all feels strangely … normal.

“Mr. Bellamy, can I help?”

He pauses in the process of pouring a glass of wine for himself. “You’re Chloe’s friend in addition to her trainer, right?”

Only because she seems determined to give me no choice.

“Yeah,” I say, cautiously.

“Then don’t call me Mr. Bellamy. It’s Gary.”

I nod. “Sure.”

“Speaking of my youngest daughter, where is she?” he asks.

Great question.

After setting me up with a beer and introducing me to her parents and a couple family friends, she’s disappeared.

“Actually, for that matter, where’s my other daughter?” Gary asks, taking a long sip of wine. “You’ve met Kristin, right?”

“Yeah. She takes tennis lessons from me.”

“Oh, that’s right,” he says, shaking his head a little and staring at his wine. “Chloe said that. Maybe I should slow down on this, huh?”

I shrug and take a sip of beer. Whatever.

I used to be good with parents—better than this. But that was back when I cared.

“We’re so glad to see Chloe is getting more active,” he says. “We’ve always been reluctant to push, because, body issues, you know? We’ve read the parenting books. But it’s hard to watch someone with as much energy and vibrancy as Chlo shy away from healthy habits.”

Yeah, okay. I’m not having this conversation.

“Can I take over the burgers?” I change the subject.

“Nah, go play,” he says, pouring himself just a bit more wine. “I’ve told some of the other old guys they’ve got ten minutes to get over here and help.”

I start to open my mouth to ask if one of the guys is Tim Patterson, but I stop myself just in time with another sip of beer.

My eyes have been scanning the small crowd the entire time I’ve been here, but there’s no sign of him.

It’s just as well.

I’m not ready for that.

After Mr. Bellamy jokingly reaffirms that I’m twenty-one and that I’m not driving, he pushes another beer into my hands, which I gladly accept before heading down to the dock.

I should probably look for Chloe, but since I’m guessing she’s in animated small talk with one of the half dozen aunts and uncles she introduced me to, I head to the dock instead.

Chloe’s twin cousins, Marlie and Molly, or something like that, give me a flirtatious invitation to join them in the hot tub when I pass by. They’re cute and already sporting Chloe’s dreaded red, white, and blue bikini. They’re freshmen at UT Dallas, if I’m remembering correctly, and, once upon a time, freshmen sorority twins would have been a jackpot of sorts.

Except … I’m pretty sure these girls know it, and their smug awareness of their appeal strikes me as unappealing and far too easy.

So instead of joining them and their skimpy suits, I continue toward my original destination of the dock.

After three hours in a car with Chloe I could use the solitude.

I kick off my flip-flops and lower my feet to the water. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Texas in the summer, but Texas in the summer by a lake?

Not so bad.

The Bellamys have neighbors, none so close as to feel crowded, but nearby enough to catch the sounds of happy families, tipsy friends, and the smells of a half dozen BBQs.

For a second, I feel something that might be homesickness.

It reminds me of summers in the Hamptons, back when I’d belonged. Back when it had been my family hosting the barbecues, my friends playing music too loud, laughing too much.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies