Crushed Page 8

It’s the latter, but if she keeps running her mouth there just might be a knife fight.

“Quit stalling,” I say, moving toward her and wondering how inappropriate it would be to gag someone while teaching them proper form for squats. “Now let’s do this in front of the mirror so you can see what you’re doing. We want to train you to do squats and lunges correctly from the start so you’ll eventually be able to do them on your own.”

“Yeah, that’s gonna happen,” she says. But then she lets me move her toward the wall of mirrors on the far side of the gym. “So can I see your tattoo?”

Hell no. I stand beside her, both of us facing the mirror, her face pink and animated, mine dark and glowering.

“Okay, do what I do,” I say, meeting her blue eyes in the mirror. “We’re going to lower ourselves to a sitting position, making sure our knees don’t extend beyond our toes.”

I do a squat to demonstrate. Generally I do squats with weight—lots of it—but since the most physical exercise Chloe seems accustomed to is running her mouth, I figure I’d better start at the beginning. The very beginning.

“Okay?” I say, doing another, since she didn’t mimic my motion the second time.

She watches my movement in the mirror. “One more time,” she says.

I comply, and then mutter a string of curses because Chloe Bellamy has just reached out in the middle of a busy gym and patted my ass.

“Very nice,” she says, sounding surprised.


She shrugs. “You just got so upset when I was ogling that other guy instead of you, so I wanted to make you feel good.”

For a second I want to laugh, and because of that I’m tempted to tell her that this arrangement is over. That she can go back to being her chocolate-munching lazy self, because I don’t laugh.

Not anymore.

Chloe’s different, and I hate different.

She’s not like the women who eye me like a piece of meat, nor like the love-struck girls at the bar who act like I’ll settle down once I find the right girl.

And she’s definitely not like her sister Kristin, who knows exactly how gorgeous she is and knows that all she has to do is wait for the guys to come to her.

Chloe is …

I don’t even know.

She gives a long sigh. “I’m sorry I fondled you.”

She does a quick half squat. “Okay?”

I hold her wide blue gaze in the mirror, startled to realize that without all that hair distracting from her features, she’s actually quite … well, I don’t know what.



I don’t know if pretty’s the word.

“No, not okay,” I snap, annoyed by the train of my thoughts. “You need to go down farther.”

“That’s what she said.” Chloe tries again for another squat, and I keep my hand on her shoulder, gently forcing her to go just a little bit lower.

“But that’s hard,” she protests.

I give a grim laugh. “Yeah. That’s kind of the point.”

Chloe turns her head to face me then, meeting my eyes for real instead of in the mirror.

Awareness flashes across her face, and I jerk my hand away, feeling a little unnerved, because I have the strangest feeling that Chloe Bellamy knows that when I say it’s hard, I’m not talking about the squats.

I’m talking about life.

My life.

Chapter 4


I love college.

I spent my entire senior year of high school gnashing my teeth in annoyance that Kristin got to go to college first.

That sort of jealousy was actually a first for me. See, Kristin and I are so different that even being a mere year apart (usually a recipe for disaster with teenage daughters, I’m told), we never really fought, because, well … what were we going to fight over?

I didn’t want to borrow her lip gloss. She wasn’t exactly fighting for my spot on the debate team.

So high school was fine. I mean, it was … whatever.

But I was jealous when she went to college, because I knew college was going to be my thing.

Even though I knew we’d likely end up at the same school (I’d always had my eye on Davis, as had Kristin. As had every Bellamy since the history of Bellamys), but even knowing my big sister would be there, I’d had every intention of thriving.

And I have.

So far it’s been as great as I imagined, from the first day freshman year to last year’s kick-ass internship.

I prayed my little heart out that I’d get hooked up with an awesome roommate, and the big guy came through for me. Tessa is this tiny redheaded bundle of awesome. Next year will be the fourth (and last, sniff!) year that we’re roomies, but it won’t be the last that we’re best friends.

The rest came pretty easily, too.

I’ve got a rock-solid group of friends. I love both the econ and bio departments and all the faculty there.

I even met a couple cute boys who kinda sorta seemed to dig my quirkiness, dated them awhile, traded in my V-card on principle to one, and then ultimately dumped them both, because, well, I’ve been sort of hung up on you-know-who.

And it’s that you-know-who that brings me to the flip side of college life: the bittersweet phase known as summer break.

See, Cedar Grove has the not-so-great nickname as the Silver Spoon of Dallas.

The town is about twenty-five minutes away from the city: close enough for the residents to fool themselves into thinking they’re urban when it suits them, far enough away to be elite when it suits them.

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