Crushed Page 61

“See you Thursday.”


As far as brotherly bonding moments go, it’s not much.

But it’s something.

More than I expected.

More than I hoped for.

“Hey, Devon,” I call after him.

He turns.

“What made you change your mind?”

He smiles. “More like who made me change my mind.”

Chapter 26


For as long as I can remember, my mom has tried to coax me to go back-to-school shopping with her.

Well, actually, for a long time, it wasn’t so much a coax as a demand.

And let me tell you, the only thing worse than being the largest size in the juniors section?

Having an older sister who was the smallest size.

Once I got my driver’s license, I put the kibosh on that shit. I’d happily wave my mom and Kristin away as they drove off to the mall, pretending it didn’t bother me that they had some mother-daughter bonding while I tried to tell myself that I loved my body and sneaking the bag of Doritos my mom kept on the top shelf of the pantry into my room.

Still, Mom didn’t entirely give up on me. I think she knew the real reason I didn’t want to go wasn’t so much disinterest in fashion as disinterest in looking like a whale (must have been her mom Spidey sense), so she’d always try to give me her credit card and say that I should “pick up some things for myself sometime.”

In high school, I did this as little as necessary. Most people thought I had a shit ton of school spirit, but mostly I just stuck to the blue hoodies with the school logo because nobody questioned their bagginess.

I got a little less ridiculous about it in college. I finally got wise to all of those “Dressing for Your Body Type” articles in Cosmo, and did the best I could with what I had (read: lots of tunic tops that were long enough to cover my butt, and shiny, wide belts to distract from the muffin top).

But today … today is a first for me.

I actually want to go shopping for back-to-school clothes.

No. I have to.

Nothing in my closet fits.

Now, don’t freak out on me. I haven’t gone all anorexic. I’m not living at the gym, or subsisting on celery. I’m not trying to morph into Kristin.

I just … I feel good.

I’ve been working out five days a week at this fancy gym in Dallas, where my personal trainer is a fabulous bald ex-boxer with a gold tooth. Seriously.

And I’ve learned to like salads, while still occasionally enjoying fries. I just don’t eat them every day, multiple meals a day.

The girl who’s been helping me raid Nordstrom knocks on the dressing room door. “Chloe, it’s Denise. How’s everything fitting?”

I shift so that I can see the way the dress looks from the back, and scrunch my nose. “I dunno. Nothing is looking quite right.”

“Can I see?”

I shrug. Why not?

I open the door, and Deb, a tiny black woman with fabulous hair, motions for me to turn around. “It’s too big. It doesn’t fit right.”

“It’s not too big,” I say automatically.

It’s already a size smaller than my clothes at home.

“It is. Let me grab a smaller size,” she says, reaching out and experimentally pulling at the fabric where it gaps at my waist.

“I don’t wear a smaller size,” I mutter.

She gives me a funny look. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you, honey. This dress doesn’t fit you right because it’s too big. What about the rest of the stuff?”

I glance at the discarded pile of rejects, all of which had been just a little too baggy. I’d assumed it was because they just weren’t a flattering style, but …

“Okay. I guess I can go down a size.”

Two hours later, my shopping bags barely fit in the trunk. There went my shopping budget for, like, the next decade.

But it was worth it.

Turns out I did need a smaller size in that dress. In fact, I have a whole range of sizes. As Denise pointed out (with no small amount of envy, if I might brag), my hourglass figure necessitates smaller clothes in some styles, larger in others.

And I’m okay with that.

I am healthy.

I am strong.

I am fit.

I … should totally thank Michael St. Claire for it.

I wonder how my miserable nonfriend is doing. I haven’t seen him since the day I stormed out of his apartment in a good old-fashioned (but totally gratifying) snit.

Is it bad that I thought he’d call? Apologize? Need me?

Yeah, it’s bad. Michael St. Claire doesn’t need anyone. He’s made that quite clear.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from texting Devon and suggesting that he reconsider his stance on his newly discovered half brother, but he was about as receptive to my interference as Michael was, because all I got was a terse Stay out of it, Chloe.

Guess this is what you get for caring about a bunch of a-holes.

Not that Devon’s an a-hole. But … I haven’t been seeing much of Devon. We text, occasionally, but we haven’t seen each other since Kristin got back.

On the flip side, he hasn’t seen Kristin, either, that I know of.


So, she’s back. Yay.

If anything, she somehow managed to become more self-centered while she was away. Her short fling with the Seattle musician repaired any damage done to her ego, so she’s been even more of a prima donna since getting back.

We leave for school in a couple weeks, and it can’t come soon enough.

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