Crushed Page 34

Having done as best I can with my wet hair, I start to wrap my towel around me all the way up to my armpits, but with a rare surge of bravery I settle for wrapping it low on my hips instead. Beefcake’s eyes follow the motion of my hands as I tie it in an awkward knot.

“You look good, Chlo.”

I swallow. He doesn’t mean it in a sexual way. I don’t think. But he does sound admiring, and it makes me feel … fluttery.

“Well, if you’ve done this after a month, just think what we can do by the end of the summer,” I say, faking confidence I don’t at all feel.

He jerks his chin in the direction of my breasts. “Sure. But the treadmill and squats aren’t responsible for those.”

In spite of myself, I laugh, slapping him on the chest with my palm as I walk by. “You are such a guy.”

He grabs my elbow before I can move past. “I am. You shouldn’t forget it.”

I halt. “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

He gives me another of his unreadable, brooding looks. Yup, definitely a guy all right. Emotionally impaired and everything.

“Have you seen my sister?” I ask, ignoring whatever heated moment just passed.

“She’s been in and out of the house,” he says, falling into step beside me. “I think she and your boy are in a fight.”

“Seems to be happening a lot lately,” I mutter, mostly to myself. Despite the fact that I don’t think Kristin deserves Devon, I am a little worried about her.

“I’m going to go find her,” I say. “You good if I leave you?”

“Sure.” He nods in the direction of one of the upper deck levels where some of my mom’s cougar friends sit sipping pinot grigio under an umbrella. “Some of my clients have been asking me to come talk.”

I snort. “And you know that by talk they mean flex, right? Maybe take your shorts off, see what you’ve got under there.”

It’s his turn to snort. “At least half of them have already seen what’s under here.”

Oh. The thought of the women’s predatory hands all over him makes me feel … funny.

I fix a smile on my face and wave him away. “Go forth and be loose with thy morals.”

He’s only half-listening, his eyes continually scanning the backyard, as though looking for someone. Come to think of it, he’s been doing that all day. Every time I look over at him, he’s looking around as though searching for something. Or someone.

But I don’t ask him about it. If it’s one of the tiny-bikini-clad girls running around with their flat bellies and perky boobs, I don’t want to know.

Leaving him to frolic in the cougar den, I stop by the table where I left my cover-up, pulling it over my head.

“There you are!”

Crap. I’d forgotten all about Scott and his drink-fetching duties.

“Thanks!” I say. It’s beer. I hate beer, but I don’t tell him that. “Hey, have you seen my sister around?”

Scott shakes his head, but Mom and her creepy maternal hearing is all over it.

“Chloe.” She pulls me aside. “Kristin’s up in her room.”

“Yeah, I’ve gathered that from the fact that she’s not on her usual sun perch,” I say, gesturing to the edge of the dock where the rest of the cute girls are lying out like really organized Barbie dolls. “What’s going on?”

She gives me a Mom look.

“She and Devon still fighting?”

“Ever since he got this law school whim.”

I hold up a finger. “Not a whim.”

“Well, it seemed like it to her,” Mom says, a slight edge to her voice. Of course she would take Princess Kristin’s side. “Their rift is starting to impact our friendship with the Pattersons.”

“Yeah, where are they?” I ask, looking around for Mr. and Mrs. Patterson.

“Exactly,” she murmurs. “I hardly think they can count themselves as cohosts when they’re two hours late.”

I nod, although most of my attention is distracted by the way Lesley Cavares has her hand all over Beefcake’s biceps. I was so right. They do want to feel him up.

“So?” Mom asks, having apparently said something I completely missed.

“Huh?” I ask.

She looks irritated. “Can you fix it?”

“Fix what?”

“Your sister and Devon’s relationship,” she says, snatching a bottle of Chard off the table and topping off her glass. Ruh-roh.

“Wait, why would I get in the middle of it?”

“Well,” she says, putting the bottle down carefully. “You and Devon are friends. Talk some sense into him.”

I stare at my mom, aghast. “You’re not seriously suggesting he should back out of Harvard freaking Law because his girlfriend is having a tantrum? He’s twenty-two, Mom. They both are. The guy needs to live.”

“No, I mean, of course we support his law career,” Mom hastens to say. “It’s just … maybe he could find a law school closer to home.”

I snap my fingers as though just inspired. “Ooh, idea alert. Maybe we could just find a way to physically transport the Harvard campus to Dallas. Would that make Princess Kristin happy?”


“All right,” I say with a long sigh. “I’ll talk to them. But only to tell Kristy to get over it, not to tell Devon to back out.”

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