Isn't She Lovely Page 12

But I’m not.

I reach out to grab her arm, and it’s so skinny, my fingers can wrap all the way around her bicep. “This is Stephanie Kendrick,” I say, ignoring the way she tries to tug her arm free. “We’re friends.”

She lets out a strangled sound at that. “Oh, God, no.”

“Good friends,” I say emphatically, just to annoy her.

“Um, okay,” Gary says with a shrug. “Well, how about you and your friend get inside so we can finish off this school year right. The beer’s waiting.”

“Gosh, I’d love to,” Stephanie says sweetly, giving me the eyelash flutter she threatened me with earlier. “But I’ve gotta go. Lots of cats to kill tonight.”

She looks pointedly at my hand on her arm, and I realize I’m being ridiculous by holding her here. Boorish, really. But still I take my sweet time letting her go, letting my fingers brush the soft skin of her inner arm.

I think I hear her give a sharp intake of breath, but that’s probably wishful thinking, because her eyes never lose the look that says Go ahead and die before she wrenches free and backs up several steps.

“See you around, friend,” she says, discreetly lifting her hand and flipping me the bird.

I can’t help it. I smile.

And suddenly the next few months don’t look so shitty after all, because I know exactly how to keep myself occupied all summer.

I’m going to figure out what makes Stephanie Kendrick tick.

Chapter Five


“Hey, babe.”

Don’t call me babe. Don’t call me Steph. Actually, don’t call me anything at all, you cheating turd.

“Hi, David.” I push past him into the familiar apartment. I’ve lived on campus for all three years of college, but David moved off campus after freshman year to a tiny one-bedroom in the East Village. His semi-famous musician dad pays for it, and although it’s small, it has a classic coolness about it that I’ve always loved.

“That’s all the stuff you have?” He looks in surprise at my backpack and one suitcase.

“Yeah. Camille was planning to leave most of her stuff behind when she went to Phoenix, so I put mine into a storage unit.”

A storage unit whose fee was nonrefundable, leaving me with the option of having to find a cheap furnished place at the last minute (impossible) or eat the cost of the storage and try to pay rent in a new place (also not possible).

David grabs a beer from the fridge and gives me a kind are-you-okay look. “I was surprised to hear from you. I thought pigs would fly before you’d ask to move in.”

Me too. I throw my backpack on the couch and wheel my suitcase into the corner, shaking my head at the beer he offers. “I’m only here until I can work something else out. And I’m not moving in, just sleeping on the couch for a couple of days.”

Please, God, let it be just a couple of days. Still, it’s nice of David to let me crash here. Especially since I’m pretty sure that the last time we talked, I told him I’d deep-fry his balls if he came near me again.

And how pathetic is it that my cheating ex-boyfriend is my only option for a last-minute housing crisis? For the millionth time, I wish Jordan wasn’t picking this summer to go home to Rhode Island. She did her best, exhausting every possible option in her vast network in an effort to find me a place. But few college students are crazy enough to stick around New York in the summer, even if they can afford it. And the ones who are going to be here already have like a dozen too many roommates. So that leaves David. The guy who cheated on me. Something I’m still not sure I care that much about.

“What do you wanna do for dinner?” he asks.

I gape at his casual tone, as though we’re going to go back to the way we were when we were a couple. “Look, David, I really appreciate that you’re letting me crash here, but we’re not even close to getting back together.”

He runs a hand through his too long sandy-brown hair and gives me his signature hooded look, which I’m pretty sure he knows is sexy as hell. David is gorgeous in the sulky, slacker kind of way. He’s lanky, with smoky hazel eyes and this impossibly good skin. He’s an engineering major, although he could easily be an art major or a deep philosophy guy, or pretty much anything you want him to be.

Including a first-rate man-skank, apparently. Although I didn’t see it coming, and that sucked.

Oddly, though, I don’t find him nearly as attractive as I once did. Not that I was ever hot for him. I haven’t been truly turned on by a guy since … before. But after being away from him for a few weeks, I don’t even find him good-looking in an objective kind of way. He’s too skinny, too greasy. His shoulders are too narrow, his eyes too dark, and …

Oh, shit.

I realize that I’m inadvertently comparing David to Ethan Price.

David’s definitely in second place. A distant second.

“I know we’re not together, Steph, but there’s no reason we can’t at least be friends,” David is whining.

I raise an eyebrow. “I walked in on you and Leah going at it like rabid dogs. Not so sure I want to be friends with that.”

To his credit, he doesn’t point out that he doesn’t have to let me stay here, but his lips are pressed together in the way that usually means he is disappointed at my lack of understanding.

My phone buzzes from my back pocket, and I hesitate before pulling it out. Honestly, the thing’s brought me nothing but bad news for the past week. A lot longer than that, actually.

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