Crushed Page 36

“So this is it then?” he says. “This is how we end?”

Oh my God. Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod. Is this really happening?

“Guess so,” Kristin all but hisses. “Just remember when you start to miss me, you did this to us.”

My sister’s voice is a combination of devastated and pissed, and I start to back toward my own bedroom door, sensing their conversation is wrapping up.

Just like their relationship. Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod.

I’m just closing my door when I hear Devon’s final words.

“See ya, Kristin.”

Her bedroom door slams shut in response, and I turn, back against my bedroom door, sliding down until my butt hits the ground.

Holy crap.

For the first time in the better part of a decade, Devon Patterson is single.

Chapter 15


Something is going on. Something big.

Thirty minutes after she disappeared to find her sister, Chloe returned. Alone. And although not too long ago, I probably would have registered her wide smile as status quo, I know her a little better now.

This is not Chloe’s real smile. When she real-smiles, her teeth sort of part as though she’s about ready to start laughing at any minute.

But right now, her teeth are clenched, and although she makes eye contact with everyone she talks to, she blinks too often, almost out of rhythm, as though her body is out of sync with itself.

I dig a water bottle out of the cooler and twist off the cap as I casually scan for Kristin or Devon.

I can’t find either.

Not a huge deal, but considering this is a Fourth of July party hosted by their respective parents? Weird.

I may not know Kristin well, but I can’t imagine she’d easily forgo an opportunity to pose for her people. And I’ve heard enough “Where’s Devon?” over the course of the past hour to know that his absence isn’t typical, either.

I start to move toward Chloe when a tall, thin guy moves in front of me.

It’s Scott, that dude with the boner for Chloe.

“Hey,” I say.

He sticks out a hand, arm perfectly straight, sort of the way an intern would introduce himself to a CEO. “Scott Henwick.”

Unfortunate last name.

I shake his hand. “Michael St. Claire.”

“You’re here with Chloe.”

I run a tongue over my teeth wondering how to play this. “Yeah.”

From a distance, the guy had looked like a useless boob, but up close he strikes me as a pretty straight shooter. Slightly awkward, but also self-aware. And shrewd.

“She likes you,” he says.

I freeze a little at that. “We’re friends.”

He gives me a look. “Don’t insult me. Girls like her don’t like guys like me when guys like you are available.”

“Huh?” I ask, deciding to play the dumb-jock card.

But then he gives me that no bullshit look and I take pity on the guy.

“Look, Scott. You seem like a decent guy. But you’re right. You and Chloe are probably not going to happen.”

I don’t bother to explain that it’s Devon, not me, that’s standing in the way of his crush, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The dude gets the big picture.

He inhales before nodding. “I figured. Even when she kissed me—”

All of my attention snaps back to Scott, and I feel my fingers clench around the water bottle.

“Even when we kissed, it wasn’t right.”

I hold up a hand. “Dude. Too much info.”

Seriously. I don’t want to hear this.

He shrugs. “Just felt like she was kissing me, trying to think about someone else, you know?”

Oh, I know. I know all too well. I’d been that guy. I’d been the one head over fucking heels in love with Olivia Middleton.

And I’d kissed her. And she’d kissed me back.

Only one of us had meant it.

But for some reason, that memory feels hazier than ever before.

My eyes jerk over to Chloe with her too-big fake smile and fuck-me hair, and I feel … mad. Mad that she’d kissed a guy while thinking of another.

Mad that neither one had been me.

“So I just wanted to say good luck, man,” he says.

I force my attention back to Scott. “Good luck on what?”

He says nothing but merely offers his hand again, this time in a man-to-man-agreement kind of way.

“Sure,” I say, not really sure what luck I’m accepting. It seems he has it in his head that I’m the one Chloe’s panting after, and since I can’t go explaining that it’s her sister’s guy that wets Chloe’s panties, I just nod and roll with it.

He gives me a paternal thump on the shoulder as he walks away, and I shake my head at the weirdness of the exchange. It’s like the dude’s from a different decade and I just got pep-talked by my grandpa.

I look over to see Chloe watching me, although her gaze flits away when we make eye contact. I frown. What the fuck is that?

I move toward her, picking up a margarita from the much-talked-about margarita bar as I pass. The girl looks like she could use a drink.

I take a sip off the top. I need a drink just to deal with her.

When I move up beside her, she’s in the middle of telling an older couple some hyped-up version of how she’s so excited for her senior year, and it’s so great that she and Kristin get another year together at college.

I withhold my skeptical snort.

I place a hand against her back, and she jumps a little. I push the drink at her before introducing myself to the couple, making the requisite comments about the great weather and the gorgeous scenery before I politely explain that I need to borrow Chloe for a second.

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