Crushed Page 82

“Yeah,” he says.

I search his face, but he seems strangely indifferent to this revelation.

I push him. Gently. “I know why I came,” I say. “But what I don’t understand is why he asked me here.”

“Got me,” he says, releasing his glass and shoving his hands into his suit pockets.

“You didn’t … tell him to ask me here?” I hate how feeble my voice sounds.

“I didn’t even know,” he says, his eyes on the counter.

“Seriously?” I laugh, my voice high. “Oh my God. I’m an idiot. You must think I’m such an idiot.”

I turn and head toward the door, my hand fumbling at the doorknob in my haste to end this humiliating moment.

He’d told me he wouldn’t come after me.

He’d told me he wouldn’t love me.

And I’d believed him.

And yet, like a fool I come chasing after him the second I think there’s even a chance.

I jerk the door open, but Michael slams his palm against the door, over my head, and slams it shut again.

He’s behind me.

I can feel him. Smell him. Sense him.

But I don’t turn around. I stand there like an idiot, both hands on the doorknob. Stupidly I twist and pull, desperate to get away. “Please,” I beg. “Just let me—”


His mouth is near my ear, but it’s not the warmth of his breath that I notice first. It’s the warmth of his voice.

“What?” I use one of my hands to wipe away the tears.

He lets out a little laugh. “Look at me.”


He laughs again, gentle. Sweet. “Chloe.”

I keep my back to him.

“Please.” The laughter is gone from his voice now. “Please.”

I take a deep breath. Turn. “Okay, what?”

His eyes roam my face, and they seem to heat each of my features.

Oh, hell no.

I put a hand on his chest. “You don’t get to do this.”

His eyes cloud over. “Do what?”

“Toy with me.”

He swallows. “They told me I’d have to grovel.”

“Who told you?”

His chin nods over my head, in the direction of where his friends have gone. “Them. Well, the girls, mostly.”

“That’s because women know what’s up,” I mutter, crossing my arms.

He crosses his arms, too, his white, even teeth nibbling his full bottom lip. “The thing is … I don’t know how.”

I freeze. “Are you saying … do you … do you want to grovel?”

His lips tilt. “Will it make a difference?”

“No,” I blurt out, too quickly, and his eyes glow with hope.

“You told me, Chloe … you told me that if I let you walk away, that you would move on.”

My eyes fill at the memory of that night, but I nod and keep my chin up. “Yes.”

He swallows. “Have you?” His arms move, as though he means to unfold them and reach for me, but instead he tucks his hands more firmly into the crooks of his elbows. Like he’s holding himself back.

No. Like he’s holding himself together.

“Have I what?” I whisper.

“Moved on?”

My eyes flit away from his. “It’s only been a couple weeks. Believe it or not, I haven’t yet found a new guy to drag to the altar.”

His eyes seem to burn a little bit brighter. Hopeful.

My heart begins to pound, only not with dread. Or maybe with dread. Oh, hell, I don’t know. It’s dread and anticipation and want all muddled into one big mess.

Very slowly, his arms uncross, his hands dangling at his sides. Then he takes a step closer, his dark eyes blazing. “Did you move on, Chloe?”

I gasp out a little laugh of pain and look away. “This is your idea of groveling? You’re making me do all the work.”

His finger hooks under my chin, gently bringing my face back to his. “Did you?”

“Did I what?”

I swipe at the tears on my cheek. I was never a crier until I met this guy.

“Did you move on?”

I keep my eyes on his Adam’s apple. No way am I answering that. No way am I making this easy for him.

I don’t even know what this is.

“I have to tell you something,” he says, holding my face still so I have to meet his eyes. “That girl who was here. That was Olivia.”

“Yeah. I got that. And I have to tell you, it was super great being in the same room as the woman who you’re in love with, but if we’re done with this torture—”

“I don’t love her.”

That shuts me up.

His fingers release my chin so his palm can slide along my cheek. “I think I let go of her long ago. And I wish I could say I knew it long ago, but the truth is, I didn’t realize it until that night in the parking lot.”

He eases closer. “I thought losing Olivia was my dark moment. But, Chloe … that moment when you walked away. Telling me that you’d move on, knowing that you’d stop loving me … That was my dark moment.”

“But you let me go,” I whisper.

“I know,” he says, his other hand coming up to my face.

A tear runs down my nose, and he catches it with his finger, his expression tormented. “Don’t cry.”

I let out a gross, sobby laugh. “You hurt me.” My hands come up between us, forming fists that beat uselessly on his chest. “You hurt me!”

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