Crushed Page 72

I don’t want my sister to be miserable. I just want her to grow up. Hopefully into a nicer version of herself.

It’s quieter outside, the light noticeably dimmer. There’s hardly anyone around.

In other words, it’s perfect.

Isn’t it? Why doesn’t it feel more perfect?

“Excited for school to start?” Dev asks.

I inhale. “Yes. So excited. This summer’s been … weird.”

“Yeah?” he asks. “How so?”

I lift an eyebrow. “You broke up with your girlfriend of forever. Don’t you think it’s been a weird summer?”

His smile fades. “Yeah. Although, I think the breakup had been coming for a while.”

“Oh, bullshit,” I say with a friendly laugh. “You were all over each other at the beginning of the summer.”

He looks a little surprised that I’m not letting him off easy, but he recovers. “Touché. I guess maybe a part of me knew. A part of me didn’t.”

“Mm-hmm,” I say, taking a sip of my wine. “I’m assuming the part of you that didn’t know is …”

I point at the lower half of his body, and Devon laughs, giving me an incredulous look. “Jeez, Chlo, what’s gotten into you tonight?”

“Sorry,” I say, shaking my head and setting my glass on a nearby table. “Too much wine, maybe.”

I head over to the railing overlooking the dark, silent golf course and he comes up beside me. “So I know this summer’s been weird for me,” he says. “But how has it been weird for you?”

His question sounds genuinely curious, and it hits me then how little Devon Patterson knows me. I mean, he knows me, the old me. He knows my history and my interests and my personality. But there’s so much he doesn’t know, too.

I’ve always put him in that category of people who know me better than anyone.

But does he? Really?

“Just …” I bite my thumbnail a little, then drop my hand, staring straight ahead. “Guy trouble.”

“Guy trouble?”

His voice is incredulous, and I give him a look. He quickly backpedals. “I just … I didn’t know you were seeing anyone.”

“I’m not. Really. It’s just … complicated.”

He turns to face me, his expression unreadable. “But you’re interested in this guy?”

Oh, God, this is weird.

Devon Patterson is talking to me about my love life. I mean, we’ve talked about guys before, when I had other, lame excuses for boyfriends, but that has always been different.

It’s always been my sister’s boyfriend showing a token interest in his old friend while holding hands with Kristin.

This … this is single Devon. Asking single Chloe who she is interested in.

It’s time. It’s the perfect time to tell him.

I’m interested in you. I love you. I’ve always loved you.

But the words don’t come out.

I don’t know if the words are true.

Not anymore.

My hand goes up to my smooth, boring hair. The last time I wore my hair like this was at the bar with Devon and Michael.

I hated it. I’d promised Michael I wouldn’t change.

And yet here I am in a too-tight dress with too-flat hair.

All night, I’ve been disappointed that Michael didn’t show up to the party.

But now I’m glad.

I don’t want him to see me like this.

“Chloe?” Dev asks.

“It was just a little … thing,” I say, having absolutely no words for whatever happened between Michael and me.

“So you’re not with anyone?”


“Chloe.” Devon’s hand touches my arm and I jump a little.

He laughs nervously. “Sorry. Just trying to get your attention. You seem distracted.”

I laugh then. I’ve been spending most of my postpubescent life trying to get this guy to notice me. Now he is noticing me, and all I can think about is a dark, angry guy who’s one big ball of damaged.

“Chloe.” Devon is closer now.

My breath catches, and I look up at him. He’s so … pretty. Blond hair, bright blue eyes, perfectly chiseled features.

I want to want him.

Correction: I want to want him like I used to want him.

His hand moves up, and his thumb brushes against my temple. Gently. Tenderly.

I close my eyes.

Forget Michael. He’ll never want you.

Only … Devon hadn’t wanted me, either. Not until …

I push aside the warning.

“You look amazing tonight.” His voice is soft. Sexy. “I love your hair like this.”


He drops his hand but moves even closer, and his face is more urgent now. He frowns as though frustrated by what to say next.

“Chloe, I think I’ve been blind. Really blind.” He laughs nervously. “For like, years.”

My eyes go wide as I search his face. “What do you mean?”

His smile is knowing then. The smile of an old friend who knows your every tone, even if he doesn’t know your heart. “I think you know what I mean, Chloe.”

I close my eyes and try to take a step back, but his arm is there, touching my hip. Just barely.


His other hand comes up, rests on the other side of my waist. “You’ve always been there for me, Chloe. You’re the one I talk with, laugh with … you listen. I’m myself when I’m with you.”

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