Crushed Page 53

Today is one of those days where the stars have aligned.

My hair looks like … well … Kristin’s.

Devon reaches out a hand as though to touch it, but catches himself and drops his hand. I want to tell him that he can go ahead, but then I catch myself.

“You look like a different person with your hair straight,” he says.

I take a sip of my drink. “I look like my sister.”

The easy expression on his face fades, but I don’t regret that I went there. We’ve got to at some point.

“Yeah, I guess,” he says.

I’m dying to ask if he likes my hair like this, or if he likes it all curly and crazy.

Somehow the answer is important.

But the admiring glance he gave me when he first walked up to the bar answers that question.

I should have figured.

Maybe it’s because he’s been Kristin’s guy for so long, but I just can’t picture Devon Patterson with a girl with crazy curls. He’s totally the type to have the shiny-haired girl with freaking headbands, maybe a sleek bob as she gets older, with tasteful highlights, until she reaches the age where she can gracefully let it evolve into a sleek silver tidiness.

I can be that girl.

I mean, it’ll take all the product and the hottest of flat irons on the market, but I can make it work.

But do I want to?

I ignore the annoying little girl-power part of my brain, because hello, Devon is here with me. Looking at me. Attention on me.

And I try to focus on him. I do. I listen as he tells me about how his law textbooks are crazy expensive, and I listen as he talks about how he’s decided to rent an off-campus apartment, and how his parents have been walking on eggshells around him since the breakup with Kristin.

But although I try to keep my eyes on Devon’s familiar, handsome face, and I totally appreciate the way his blue button-down brings out the blue of his eyes, and I like that he’s let his hair grow out just a little bit longer …

My eyes keep shifting toward the other side of the bar and Michael.

He hasn’t smiled once. Not for the two stunning brunettes on the other side of the bar, not for the big-breasted blonde who wandered over and tried to coax him into taking a tequila shot with her. Not for his fellow bartender, who, from what I can tell is about as friendly a guy as ever existed.

Something’s wrong.

I mean, something’s always wrong with Beefcake. That something, I now know, being the not-so-minor detail that he found out his father wasn’t his father, and that his real father doesn’t know he exists.

But something is even more wrong today. Instead of being merely tense, he’s tightly wound, and his eyes when he glances in our direction lack the bored disinterest I’d expect.

His eyes are hot. Angry. A little wild.

And, suddenly, I’m angry. Angry at his situation, but mostly angry at him for not doing anything about his situation.

From the day we met, Michael’s been all up in my business about my confidence, and taking control of my life, and going after what I want.

And here he is, pulling beers for a living when he went to NYU, tracking down his biological father only to stand on the sidelines, and, now, serving up gin and tonics to his half brother without even a flicker of recognition.

Or courage.

Or soul.

“Hey, you okay?” Devon touches my hand, and I jump.


His smile is soft. “You seem distracted.”

I open my mouth, ready with a lie … but I’m tired of lying to Devon. I’ve been lying to him for years. About how I feel about him. About how he and Kristin are great together.

And since I can’t come all the way clean about that—not yet—I figure I owe him at least this one small truth.

“I am a little,” I admit, fishing the last cherry out of my drink.

He frowns, leaning a little closer. “What’s wrong?”

My eyes flick to Michael, and I feel the unfamiliar sensation of guilt. Guilt that I have this big, fat secret that’s not mine to tell.

But also guilt because just a couple weeks ago, I was lying beneath Michael, squirmy, half-naked, and begging.

Would Devon even care?

He shouldn’t.

Not after he and Kristin apparently had had a rather epic sex life. At least according to her.

He bumps his knee against mine. “Chloe?”

“What are we doing here, Devon?”

I suck in a breath as soon as I ask the question. So not what I’d meant to say.

He frowns. “What do you mean?”

“Why’d you ask me out to drinks? The lunch the other day … okay, I get it. You needed to talk. But this is twice in one week.”

His laugh is nervous, and he fiddles with his glass, which is now just ice. “We’re friends, Chloe.”

“We’ve been friends for over a decade. We’ve never done anything just us.”

His eyes are locked on his glass, which he spins around and around on the chipped wood bar. He looks so lost that I nearly back off and give him a break.

Then Devon lifts his gaze and looks at me. “I leave in two weeks, Chloe.”

It’s my turn to frown. “I know that.”

His blue eyes are steady on mine “Do you?”

What’s going on here?

“Yeah, I do,” I snap. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the one you’ve confided in all these years. I’m the one who knows you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, because you apparently forgot to mention that little fact to your parents and girlfriend until recently.”

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