Crushed Page 30

He lifts an eyebrow. “Can I see?”

I punch his shoulder.

Beefcake sighs. “Look. Just have a little too much to drink. Get a little handsy with Scott, while making it very clear that Devon is in the friend zone.”

“Like he’s always done with me whenever he’s with Kristin,” I say, starting to understand.

“Exactly,” Michael says. “Don’t be so damn available. Also, fireworks make for an excellent make-out session.”

“With Devon?”

“Slow down there, home wrecker. I mean Scott.”

“Eew. I’m not kissing Scott.”

“Why? He’ll like it.”

I bite my lip. I’m not so sure about that. “He might not. Like it, I mean.”

He closes his eyes. “God, you’re tiring. Is this conversation on a fucking repeat loop? The guy was practically hanging off your every word, which is impressive, considering you spew forth a lot of words.”

“Well, that’s sort of the problem,” I say, glancing down at my feet. “I’m really good at talking. Not so good at the other thing.”

“What other thing?” He looks half-confused, half-annoyed.

“Kissing. Jesus, keep up, Beefcake.”

He frowns. “You’ve never kissed a guy before?”

“Of course I have,” I snap. “I’ve kissed plenty of guys.”

Well, not plenty. But enough.

“So, what’s the problem?” he asks.

“I just … it’s never like it is in the movies.”

Michael makes a strangled noise and turns toward my nightstand, opening the drawer.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Looking for a gun,” he mutters, before shutting it again. “Are you fucking kidding me? You’re one of those girls waiting for the movie kiss?”

I scrunch my nose at his disbelieving face. “They do exist.”

“Sure, they do.”

I shove a finger at his chest. “They do. I just haven’t really figured it out. Yet.”

“Well, see, there’s your problem. You think there’s something to figure out. It’s just kissing. It’s hands and tongue and touching.”

He says this like it’s no big thing, and I’m both annoyed and saddened by his cynicism.

I mean, I get that he’s a twenty-something dude. Obviously, he’s going to be thinking fucking while we chicks are thinking making love.

But he’s got this look on his face like he doesn’t deserve anything more than a casual lay, and it bothers me.

Michael St. Claire is not your project, Chloe.

“Fine,” I say on a huff of breath. Not because I’m done with the conversation, but because my stomach is rumbling, and pancakes with blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream is sort of a Fourth of July tradition.

Unless you’re Kristin, and then your breakfast tradition is black coffee and some sort of celebrity-sponsored juice cleanse that she read about in Us Weekly.

“Fine what?” he asks.

“I mean fine, I’ll stick my tongue in Scott’s mouth and play with his hair while I let him pet my boob.”

I start to walk away, but Michael’s laugh stops me. Both because it’s a rare noise, and because I’m not sure what the funny part was.

“Chloe, I don’t know how you do it, but you just managed to take the sexy out of the idea of making out.”

I blink in surprise at his words, then look away quickly before he can read my expression of hurt.

See, this is why I don’t even bother. Not with the kissing, not with the chasing of Devon.

People act like I try to be unsexy. Can’t they see that this is just the way my brain works? I don’t get the whole male-female thing.

I mean, I want it. My body longs to be touched just like any other twenty-one-year-old girl’s. I want someone to hold my hand, and make me pant, and even though I’m not technically a virgin, I might as well be, because those two times with Keith Moderatz? Awkward. Slightly painful. Super boring.

“I’m going to go get some breakfast,” I mutter.

Michael snags my hand before I can make it to the bedroom door and pulls me back, first so that I’m facing him again, then even closer so there’s just a few inches between us.

His face is softer now, and my heart starts to pound. I’m pretty sure his expression is just pity for clunky, unsexy Chloe, but some distant part of my brain wants it to be something more than pity.

“Practice on me,” he says, his voice easy and casual.

It takes too long for his words to register because my eyes have latched on to his mouth. It’s as sulky as ever, but for some reason the sulky now looks appealing rather than just annoying. Like, I want to be the one to banish the sulky.

“Huh?” I say.

“Your kissing skills. Practice them on me.”

Shock lurches through me, and I start to take a step back. “Are you freaking kidding me right now? The old fake-kiss thing? And you’re giving me crap for watching romantic comedies?”

He reaches out to grab my elbows before I can escape, rolling his eyes as he does so. To his credit, he doesn’t look like a guy who’s trying to score a free kiss.

And why would he? He could get any girl to make out with him without tricking her into it.

His expression is strangely guileless. Like he actually wants to help me.

I start to shake my head, but I don’t think my body actually moves.

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