Crushed Page 28

At first I think my less-is-more approach is going to backfire, but she takes the bait after all.

“They used to be super close,” she says, almost more to herself.

“Used to?”

“Well, he has me now, so they’re not all BFF like before. But sometimes I think …”

She breaks off, and I don’t fill the silence.

“I should probably go find Devon,” she says abruptly, climbing to her feet.

“Sure,” I say, as though I don’t give a crap whether she stays or goes. Which is easy, considering I don’t. “Send Chloe when you find them.”

My phrasing is deliberate and her smile shows she’s irritated that I clearly assume where she’ll find one, she’ll find the other.

My brief surge of triumph is dampened only by the strange realization that, all games aside, I really do hope she sends Chloe down.

Strange how I miss that girl when she’s not around.

Chapter 12



The knock at my door has me diving for the cover-up, which I struggle to pull over my head.

“Go away, Beefcake.”

The doorknob rattles.

With another glance in the full-length mirror to ensure that all the wobbly parts are completely concealed, I open the door.

And damn it, the sheer attractiveness of Michael St. Claire takes my breath away, just a little. I mean, not that I’m attracted to him, of course. Just in sort of a damn, that’s a fine piece of work kind of way.

I’d warned him that most of the guys wear swim trunks since it’s generally in and out of the boat all day, and he’s already wearing navy trunks with a long-sleeved form-fitting white shirt that confirms what I’ve always suspected: eight-pack.


“Happy Fourth.” He gives me a once-over, looking a good deal less impressed by me than I am by him. “Where’s the suit?”

I roll my eyes and start to close the door, but he moves inside, shutting the door behind him like he belongs in here.

“I’m wearing it. But nobody will be seeing it.”

“What about our deal?”

“Oh, you mean the one where you help me steal my sister’s boyfriend? I’m not doing that. It’s tawdry.”

He lifts an eyebrow. “Tawdry?”

I rummage around in my makeup bag, searching for my waterproof mascara. “Yes, you know, like sleazy.”

“I know what tawdry means. I’m wondering what caused the change of heart.”

Oh, I don’t know…. How about the way my boobs bulge out over the top of this stupid bikini top? Or the fact that my stomach doesn’t even know the meaning of flat? Or the way my hips are, like, twice the size of Kristin’s?

I say none of this as I lean over the dresser toward the mirror and swipe on the mascara.


“What?” I snap, giving him a dark look as he moves up behind me, arms crossed.

“Let’s see the swimsuit. I’ll tell you whether it’s a go or no-go.”

“No!” I say. The very thought of disrobing in front of Michael is unthinkable.

“Come on, I’m not asking as a dude. I’m asking as your personal trainer.”

“Oh, gosh, well, in that case, let me just go ahead and get naked,” I mutter, pulling out my bronzer compact.

He rubs a palm over his jaw thoughtfully as he watches me. “Who was that guy yesterday?”

“What guy?”

“The skinny one. Tall, reddish hair. Wouldn’t stop looking at you?”

I frown as I think. “Scott? He’s my dad’s partner’s son. They have a house a couple houses down. We grew up together.”

“Well, Scott has a thing for you.”

I turn around to stare at him. “He does not.”

Nobody ever has a thing for me.

Beefcake shrugs and flops backward onto my bed. I notice he keeps his feet just off to the side, not putting his boat shoes on the comforter. Seems there’s a bit of a gentleman beneath all that cocky alpha.

He picks up the romance novel on my bed. It’s one with a black cover and a mostly naked couple on front. He glances at me and wiggles his eyebrows.

I stomp over, grab the book, and push his legs aside with my hand to make room for me. I sit beside him on the bed and stare.

“What do you mean Scott has a thing for me?”

“Maybe I’m wrong. You just assured me that he didn’t, right?”

I pinch the skin above his knee. Hard.

“Ouch, Jesus. I just noticed that he went out of his way to sit by you, stand by you, fetch you drinks, stare at you … and I’m pretty sure he was sporting wood.”

I start to pinch him again, but he bats my hand away.

“Scott’s just a friend,” I say.

“Well, then, I’d say he has the same friendly thoughts about you that you have about Patterson,” Michael says, his expression as bored as ever.

I chew my lip. Scott Henwick is a nice enough guy. Sweet, considerate … and I’m not attracted to him.

At all.

Still, it would be nice to be wanted for a change….

Michael sits up. “No way, Bellamy. Don’t even think about it.”

I give him a wide-eyed innocent look, and his narrowed gaze tells me he sees right through it. “Don’t settle for this dude.”

“Then why’d you bring him up?” I mutter.

Beefcake sighs. “You’re clueless.”

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