Crushed Page 42

I shake my head. Only Chloe could take a topic that feels like it could literally kill me and act like it’s no big deal.

And with her by my side, I’m half-convinced that it’s not. That it doesn’t matter that I’m a bastard, or a reject, or have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life.

With Chloe, it’s easy to forget that I’m nobody.

Because she makes me feel like somebody.

“Chloe,” I say, forcing my voice to have the same casual, whatever tone that she has so perfected.


I turn my head a little toward her head, letting my lips touch the springy curls, hoping I can play it off as an accident.

“What, Beefcake?” she prods, when I don’t respond right away.

Fuck it. I kiss her head. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”

Chapter 18


Michael must have been listening when I prattled on about romantic movie clichés, because we wake up to the biggest cliché in the history of romantic clichés.

The ol’ accidentally fall asleep and wake up tangled in the other person kind of cliché.

And in real life, it’s even more amazing than it is in the books and movies.

I sleep on my side, and apparently Beefcake does, too. It should set us up for the classic spoon position.

What’s happening right now is better than spooning, which I find kind of hard to believe, because despite making it through a couple of sort-of college boyfriends, I also live in a girls-only dorm with an iron-clad no-sleepover policy, and, well, I’ve never been with anyone worth breaking the rules for.

Although I confess I have been intrigued by spooning. Mostly because I want to be Little Spoon, so that for once I can feel, well, little.

But anyway, this is better.

So much better.

Somewhere between him telling me about his dad and me deciding that he needs me more than I need fireworks, we fell asleep and rolled toward each other.

My nose is pressed against his chest, his chin resting on the top of my head.

My hands are crushed between us, one of them sort of smashed between my boobs, the other tangled in the front of his T-shirt.

And his arms? Oh, yeah. They’re around me. One’s supporting my head, the other half-crushes me on top, so I’m cuddled—yes, cuddled—by Beefcake.

I should move. For starters, I don’t like Michael like that. Do I? And he definitely doesn’t like me.

Plus, I’m sort of scared he’s here for some sort of Hamlet-esque revenge on his father, who just happens to be … wait for it … the father of my guy.


The one I’ve always loved.

The one that—

Oh, God, Michael smells good.

Okay, confession time: Devon Patterson makes me feel all warm and fluttery. He always has.

But Michael St. Claire? Michael makes me feel hot. And, um, okay, a little bit horny. It’s not my fault, really. He’s just one of those guys whose hot stare reminds a girl the exact reason she has lady parts.

So I don’t do what I should. I don’t ease away and chalk it up to proximity and mutual loneliness.

I snuggle closer.

It’s pitch-black in the room, but I don’t think we’ve missed the fireworks. There are still too many party noises from outside, as though the evening hasn’t reached its crescendo yet.

I slowly release his shirt from my fingers, but I don’t pull back. I flatten my hand against his chest. Yup. Pecs are as hard as they look.

His head shifts just slightly, and I feel the way his slight stubble catches in the mess (always a mess) that is my hair, and for some reason the sensation causes a fierce stab of longing to ripple through me.

So this is why people have meaningless, no-strings-attached sex. Because guy-to-girl contact feels good.

I swallow and let my fingertips trace over the firm planes of his chest, and I wiggle just the tiniest bit closer, half-aware that I’m sort of using the guy, half-aware that the thought of moving away is unthinkable.

I freeze when my squirming brings our lower bodies into contact.

Michael has morning wood.

Or evening wood.


The point is, Michael’s hard, and it should absolutely be a sign that I need to get the hell out of here, but I can’t move.

I don’t want to move.

I want him.

Damn hormones.

My fingers tangle once more in his shirt, and although I want nothing more than to tilt my head up and press my lips to his throat, I take a deep breath and slowly began to ease away from him.

Half the women outside right now either want to use him for sex or already have.

I don’t want to be one of them.

And that’s assuming he’d even want me.

Which he doesn’t.

Because he’s freaking asleep.

“Sorry,” I whisper, feeling as guilty as I am horny. What the hell is this? Annoying. That’s what it is. And what the hell is wrong with me, loving one guy like I do while feeling all hot about another?

It’s the proximity. And the intimacy of what he shared earlier. That’s it. And, okay, maybe it’s the fact that whatever he has going on underneath his swim trunks seems distractingly impressive.

And just while I’m thinking a lot more about his erection than I should be, he wakes up.

I know he’s awake because I sense it.

His breathing, once slow and even against my hair, stops, then starts again, a little heavier. His arms, which had been draped kind of carelessly around me, tighten almost imperceptibly.

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