Crushed Page 63

She looks at me. “Um, wouldn’t going back to your place fuel her theory that we’re on a date?”

“Maybe. But I need to talk to you.”

I expect her to badger me about what I want to talk about, and why I didn’t bring it up in the restaurant.

She looks out the window and is silent for a couple minutes before speaking again. “Scott Henwick called me.”

It takes me a second to place the name. Right. The skinny guy from the Fourth party who had a crush.

The one I told her to flirt with to make Devon jealous.

Not one of my better moments.

“Oh, yeah?” I ask.

“Guess he heard a rumor that you and I ‘broke up.’ Not sure how he even got the message that we were together. Anyway, wanted to know if I wanted to go out before we both head back to school.”

I glance at her, but she’s still looking out the window, so all I see is hair. “What’d you say?”

“I said I’d think about it.”

I ponder that. “Are you? Thinking about it?”

She lets out the tiniest of sighs, and there’s a hint of sadness to the noise that makes my chest squeeze. “Yeah, I’m thinking about it.”

I frown. “Thought he didn’t get your lady parts juicy.”

She snorts. “He doesn’t. But … maybe it’s time to move on.”

I turn onto my street.

“From Devon,” she clarifies, when I don’t say anything.

“Yeah, Chloe. I figured you meant from Devon. He’s the only guy you’ve cared about since you realized that boys and girls had different parts.”

“They do? I thought some of you men just had misshapen vaginas.”

I parallel park on the street outside my place. “Get out of the car, weirdo.”

Once inside, I drop my jacket on a chair, and Chloe plops herself on the couch like she owns the place. “Don’t you ever make your bed?”

I head to the fridge, grab two beers, and pop the cap off both. “Sometimes. When I’m expecting company.”

“I’m company,” she says, accepting the beer and turning to face me as I sit next to her.

“Yeah. But you’re not that kind of company.”

I instantly regret it, remembering her words last time we were in my apartment together.

I want to be wanted by you.

But instead of getting all weird, she just scrunches down on the couch, propping her flip-flop feet on my coffee table. “True, true. So tell me, Beefcake. Why bring me back to your lair if not to ravish me when I’m wearing this super-sexy outfit?”

She runs a finger down the front of her chest jokingly, drawing attention to her ugly, too-large shirt that looks like something an out-of-style grandma would wear.

She means it to be self-deprecating, but as I follow the line of her finger, I have a flash of wondering: What does she look like under that?

I mean, I’d seen it for a split second in bikini Chloe. But she’d been tense and self-conscious then. I’d practically had to bribe her into it.

If I ever got to see naked Chloe, and I wouldn’t … but if I did, it damn well would be because she wanted to show me.


“I went over to the Pattersons last night,” I blurt out, desperate to change the course of my thoughts.

She freezes, then sits upright, setting her beer on the table. “Seriously?”

I nod. “Devon came to me. Suggested it …”

She reaches out a hand to grab my wrist, her face intent. “Was it okay? Tell me it was okay.”

I glance down at where her fingers wrap around my wrist, her fingers pale compared to my tanner skin, her nails neat and short and unpainted. She has pretty hands.

I meet her eyes. “Yeah. It was okay.”

She licks her lips and searches my face. “So you told Tim.”

I take a sip of beer. “Yeah.”

Chloe shakes my arm in exasperation. “Details, Beefcake.”

I glance at her. “You could get them from Devon.”

“And I will,” she says, tucking her legs up beneath her. “But first I want to hear them from you.”

I sigh and relent. Only it’s not really relenting, because this is why I’d brought her over here in the first place.

Because I needed to talk about it.

Wanted to talk about it.

With her.

I tell her about how Tim Patterson had opened the door and shown me into his office because Devon had told him there was something I needed to discuss.

I told her how I’d blurted it out like a fucking moron. No preamble. No lead-up.

Just a blunt Twenty-five years ago you had an affair with my mother.

“He put the pieces together?” Chloe asks, taking her hand off mine to retrieve her beer. I miss the contact.

“It took a few seconds,” I say, fiddling with the label of my beer.

What are you trying to tell me, son?

Just that. I am your son.

Chloe whistles. “Did he lose his shit?”

I take a sip of beer and lean my head back. “No. I mean, he looked sort of like someone had kicked him in the balls. Then he looked like he might throw up. But to his credit, he didn’t doubt it. Didn’t demand a paternity test or kick me out.”

“Well, yeah,” Chloe says. “Because he’s a good guy, and because this is not a made-for-TV movie.”

I turn my head to look at her. “Feels that way sometimes, though, doesn’t it? Like this is a terrible movie? This entire summer—”

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