Crushed Page 45

I still tease her about her hair; she still calls me Beefcake.

But there are differences between us, too.

She no longer tries to cop a feel, and I no longer catch her shamelessly checking me out in the mirror.

Which is too bad, because I can’t seem to stop checking her out.

I can’t stop looking at her, because I can’t stop remembering what it was like to touch her. I can’t forget the way she felt beneath me, or how perfect her mouth tasted, or how when she all but begged me to take her, it had been the hardest thing in my life to say no.

Even harder to try to explain to her that I didn’t deserve what she was offering.

Because the shitty part of all this is, I want to deserve a girl like Chloe Bellamy.

“We done here, Beefcake?” Chloe says, pulling her turquoise towel off the bench and mopping back her forehead. She doesn’t look all that winded. Not compared to where she was when we started a month and a half ago.

We still have seven minutes left of our session, but before I can open my mouth and suggest one last interval round on the treadmill, Mindy McLaughlin saunters over.

At least she tries to make it look like a saunter. It feels a bit more like a stalking.

But today, I’m not her prey. Chloe is.

“Chloe, sweetheart.”

Chloe turns, and I catch only the briefest glint of annoyance in her gaze before she turns one of those full-beam smiles on at Mindy. “Hey there.”

The slim blonde approaches Chloe with arms open, but instead of going for a hug, she grabs Chloe’s elbows and does that lean back and let me look at you thing that only women can pull off without looking totally creepy.

“Honey, can I just say, wow!”

Chloe’s face turns bright red, and I pause in the process of taking the weights off the machine, because Chloe blushing is a new thing.

“Wow?” Chloe repeats, her voice too high.

“Honey, you are looking good. Donna and I were just chatting across the room when we saw you with Michael here, and I have to say … I didn’t even recognize you!”

Chloe gives a forced ha kind of laugh and rubs the towel over the back of her neck.

“You’ve got to tell me your secret,” Mindy says.

“No secret,” Chloe says, with just the barest edge to her voice. “Just started exercising. Eating better.”

I lift an eyebrow. That last part is a surprise. I mean, I’m glad to hear it. I like to see a woman enjoy food, but I’ve always wondered if the surplus of candy Chloe keeps in her gym bag is really about chocoholism, as she calls it, or if it’s more like eating her feelings.

Although, come to think of it, I haven’t seen her eating a whole lot of crap lately.

Hell, the other day, I watched her pull out an apple.

I look at her again, a bit more critically, and I see what Mindy sees: a bombshell body.

The curves are still there, and every bit as lush as they were the first day I met her. But the curve of her waist is more pronounced, the arms a bit more defined, her posture more confident.

In six weeks, she’s gone from being the chubby Bellamy to the curvy one.

I wonder if Kristin knows it.

As though reading my mind, Mindy leans forward and not-so-quietly whispers, “I bet your sister is green with envy over your boobs, huh?”

Chloe’s smile is big and fake. “I’m not sure Kristin’s been green with envy over anything in her life.”

“Where is your sister, anyway? We were just saying we haven’t seen her around. Or Devon Patterson, for that matter.”

Chloe drops the towel on the bench and, putting her hands on the small of her back, stretches a little as she studies Mindy, as though trying to determine whether she’s friend or foe.

The position makes her butt stick out a little, and I turn away to hide my groan. Jesus. I don’t know at what point I got the hots for Chloe Bellamy, but it’s starting to get damn inconvenient.

“Kristin’s visiting a college friend in Seattle,” she says finally. “And I’m not sure about Devon.”

I frown at that last part, mostly because I’m pretty sure it’s a lie. I’ve been asking Chloe about Devon, too. That was our deal, after all. I help her get the guy.

But she’s been clamming up every time I mention him, and she’s doing the same to Mrs. McLaughlin. Either something’s going on with her and Devon that she’s trying to hide, or she hasn’t seen him since the Fourth.

I hate that I like the latter scenario a hell of a lot better.

“So is it you that’s been occupying our Michael?” Mrs. McLaughlin asks.

I stiffen as their attention shifts to me, and I have a feeling that I’ve been the target of Mindy’s mission all along. She’d been all but slipping her panties into my pocket during our tennis lessons, and from the hot look she’s giving me now, I wonder if she’s about to up her game.

Chloe lifts an eyebrow before giving Mindy a little smile. “Definitely not.”

“Mmmm,” Mindy says, running her finger over her mouth in an almost ridiculous come-hither motion. “Well, rumor has it he has a girlfriend.”

I jerk a little. What the fuck? I most definitely do not have a girlfriend. Far from it.

But I have stopped sampling the wares of the bored Dallas housewife set. Apparently word gets around.

“Huh, interesting,” Chloe says, in a tone that says she finds this news anything but. “Well, my time is up, so I’ve gotta get going. See you on Friday, St. Claire.”

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