Crushed Page 80

Ethan puts his hand over hers, shoving it downward. “We agreed not to talk about that. Ever. Remember, sweetie?”

She purses her lips. “Nope. Do not remember committing to something so stupid.”

“Guys, focus?” Liv says, nodding her head toward mine. “Okay, so how did you guys last leave it? Ethan gave us the short version, but spell it out for us.”

I rub the back of my neck. “It went, um, badly.”

“How badly?” Liv asks.

I love you best. More than I love anyone. More than you’ve ever been loved.

“She told me she loved me,” I say.

“Good, that’s good,” Stephanie says. “And then …?”

Go to Devon, Chloe. Go to Devon, and let him love you, because I can’t.

“And then I told her that I couldn’t love her. I told her to go back to this other guy, who was … safer.”

“Yeah, okay, that’s not so good,” Ethan says. “That was … well, fucking idiotic.”

Stephanie pinches his arm. “You did much worse. So’d Pauly here. Way worse.”

I glance at Paul, but he shakes his head. “Not talking about it.”

I take a sip of my drink. Then a bigger one.

“What is it?” Olivia says, refilling her wine glass. “I know that look. There’s something else.”

I reach for the bottle of bourbon, but Stephanie moves it out of my reach. “Speak, boy. Confess thy idiotic sins.”

I love you, Michael St. Claire. But this is a onetime offer. I’m done waiting for some guy to pull his head out of his ass.

“She told me I only get one shot,” I say, my voice rough.

“Ruh-roh,” Stephanie mutters.

I set my glass down, linking my hands behind my head and turning in an agitated circle as it hits me just how good and truly I fucked up my one chance at real happiness. She handed me her heart on a silver platter, and I pissed all over it.

“Fuck,” I say. “Fuck.”

“Okay, so she goes to college in Dallas, right?” Olivia says, trying to soothe me. “You could go to her dorm, or whatever. Show her you’ll follow her. Paul did that, and it worked.”

“Um, no, boring,” Stephanie says. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Ethan’s going to lend you his leather pants….”

“No,” the rest of us say in sync.

“Dude,” Paul says, giving Ethan a look. “Seriously.”

Ethan holds up a hand. “I can’t even.”

I brace my hands on the counter, my head bowed as I try to get my thoughts straight. I need to do something.

I have to get her back.

A life without Chloe is so colorless I can’t even picture it.

If you let me walk away, I will move on.

My throat burns. All of a sudden, I hate that they’re here. I hate that they’ve forced these feelings to the surface, forced me to feel agony I swore I’d never revisit.

“Do you have any inside jokes we can work with?” Olivia says, her voice a little desperate. “A place that’s special to the two of you?”

“Forget all that shit,” Ethan says, cutting her off. “Look, there’s no way around it. You have to grovel.”

“I can grovel,” I say, roughly.

I see Olivia and Stephanie’s eyes meet, and they exchange a worried glance.

“What?” I ask, my voice sharp. Panicked.

“Well, if she’s dead set on not seeing you, getting to a place where she has to listen to you might be tough,” Liv says, her voice gentle.

There’s a knock at the door.

Everyone looks surprised.

Everyone except Paul.

“Expecting someone?” Ethan asks.

“Nope,” I say. “Then again, I wasn’t expecting you.”

“I’ll tell them to sod off,” Stephanie says.

“What, because you’re British now?” Olivia asks.

Paul grabs Stephanie’s arm before she can open the front door.

“Wait, give Michael a second.”

She scowls. “Why? A second for what?”

Paul glances at me. “It’s Chloe.”

Everyone turns to stare at him, and my ears are buzzing.

“Why? How?” I hear myself ask.

“Google’s a magical thing,” Paul shrugs. “I called some people who called some other people who had some questionable connections to phone databases … and then I called her.”

I stare at him. That is just … beyond weird. It’s like a motherfucking spy movie. But I don’t have time to deal with the fact that Olivia’s boyfriend is apparently buds with someone in the NSA.

I have bigger things to deal with.

Like the love of my life standing outside my apartment.

Chapter 34


Of all the things I’m expecting when I knock on Michael’s front door in a fancy apartment building in Dallas, it’s not to have a goth-looking girl open the door.

The girl is adorable. Her lips are pink and glossy, her bright blue eyes made brighter by dark, smoky makeup, and her outfit the cutest-ever combination of badass and girly. If this is Michael’s new girl, I hate her on sight.

“Is your hair for real?” she asks.

But I don’t answer.

I scan the scene behind her.

I recognize Ethan and Olivia from Michael’s picture. They’re even more attractive in person. Annoying.

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