Crushed Page 54

He studies my face, as though trying to figure out what I’m getting at. “Is that a problem?”

I press my lips together before pursing them as I try to get my thoughts in order, and his eyes watch my mouth.

This is so … confusing.

“I didn’t tell Kristin that we’ve been talking.”

Devon closes his eyes for a moment as he shakes his head. “I’m getting whiplash in this conversation, Chloe. You want to know why I asked you to grab a drink, then you’re asking why I told you about law school, and now you’re talking about my ex-girlfriend.”

“Who’s my sister!” The guy behind Devon turns and gives me a look, but thankfully the rest of the bar is too noisy for anyone else to notice us.

Devon’s jaw shifts, and I can’t tell if it’s out of guilt or annoyance.

“You don’t need to feel guilty. We’re not doing anything wrong.”

“Okay, then.” I tip my glass back and dump some ice into my mouth, which I chomp, irritably.

“Look, Chloe,” Devon’s voice is softer. “If you feel weird about this, we can call it a night.”

“Nope, I’m good,” I say, giving him a bright smile. “Like you said, nothing to feel guilty about. Kristin knows there’s no way Devon Patterson would be on a date with Chloe Bellamy.”

I turn my head so I don’t have to watch his facial expressions confirm this, and burn a hole in Beefcake’s profile.

Apparently he senses my gaze—maybe because it’s more of a death-beam stare—and turns his head to meet my eyes. I lift my glass and he lifts an eyebrow.

I make a bug-eyed now face, and he rolls his eyes before ambling toward us.

“Another round?” he asks, his eyes flicking between Devon and me.

“Yes, please,” Devon says, just as I say, “Obviously.”

The guy next to me finally clears out, and Devon nabs the open barstool, putting some much-needed space between us.

“Hey, Chloe—”

I ignore Devon, focusing all my attention on Michael as he returns with our drinks.

“Question for you, St. Claire,” I say, taking three large gulps of the drink he’s just set down. He drops his eyes meaningfully to the already half-empty glass.

“Save it,” I say with a wave. “I can get a ride home if I need it. So my question—”

“No, thanks.” He starts to move away, but I reach across the bar, snagging his wrist.

He freezes, his eyes flying to mine, and I can’t be 100 percent sure, what with the sudden influx of gin muddling my brain and the fact that I won’t actually look at Devon, but I’m pretty sure Devon’s eyes are lasering in on where I’m touching Michael.

Michael tugs his hand free and looks at me warily. “What?”

“You look all pissy and hostile tonight,” I say. “What gives?”

His eyes flatten in irritation. “I’m working. Sorry I don’t have time for my usual party tricks.”

I make a buzzing noise like he’s made an error. “Nope. Not good enough. What’s up?” I lean forward. “Family troubles?”

If his face was wary before, it’s downright stony now. I expect him to storm away, but he surprises me by leaning in, his face inches from mine.

“I don’t think I’m the only one with a bug up my butt today, Chloe. What’s gotten into you? Relationship troubles?”

My eyes narrow. You wouldn’t dare.

His eyes narrow back. Push me, and I might.

I fish a cherry out of my drink, popping it into my mouth without ever breaking Michael’s gaze. Then I push my unfinished drink away. I’m already feeling itchy and reckless. The last thing I need is to allow any more alcohol to let my guard down.

“You know what, boys? I think I’m going to go.”

I grab my purse and stand, finally breaking eye contact with Beefcake.

“Hey, you sure?” Devon asks. “Is everything okay, because I feel like we—”

“Devon.” I lean forward and kiss his cheek, keeping it as breezy and sisterly as possible. “We’re good. I’ve just got somewhere to be.”

He looks surprised. “Yeah? Someone you had to dress up for?”

I dressed up for you, dumbass.

But I put a hand to my collarbone, my fingers toying with the little diamond pendant my parents got me for high school graduation. “Oh, gosh, Devon … is this okay? When yousuggested meeting for a drink, I didn’t know you meant an all-night—”

“No,” he says quickly. “We’re cool. Have fun on your … date?”

Somehow I manage to wink, even though I’m pretty sure I just heard Michael snort. “Thanks. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

I definitely don’t miss the way Michael manages to sneak “horseshit” into a sudden coughing fit.

“Hey, you know what?” I say, snapping my eyes around to him before pushing my purse strap over my shoulder. “You guys should talk. I bet you have lots in common.”

And then I walk away.

I walk away from the guy I’ve loved since puberty.

And I walk away from the other guy who I …

Huh. When it comes to my thoughts on Michael St. Claire?

I’ve got nothin’.

Chapter 23


I don’t bother to disguise the fact that I watch Chloe as she walks away.

Whaddya know? When Chloe Bellamy goes full-on train wreck, she’s actually pretty damn hot.

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