Isn't She Lovely Page 15

She fiddles with one of her billion earrings. “You caught me. There’s nothing I like better than having to explain basic story structure to a spoiled brat who’s staring at my boobs.”

“And your ears,” I add, gesturing. “And if you don’t want the ta-tas ogled, maybe you should cover them up.”

Stephanie shrugs, doing fantastic things to the twins in question. “It’s the middle of summer. And I’ve got better things to worry about than horny frat boys.”

I shoot a finger pistol at her. “That you do. Like worrying about horny hipster cowboys whose privates went a-wanderin’ with a girl who now wants to share birth control.”

Without a single change in expression, she closes her notebook and moves to put it in her backpack. “Well, this has been a great session. A good use of my time, and fun.”

“Hey, hold on,” I say, reaching out to grab her wrist. “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention—I just can’t concentrate in here, ya know? Libraries and summers do not go together.”

“They do when you sign up for a summer elective course. What else would we be doing right now?”

I stare at her, trying to figure out if she’s serious. She totally is.

I shake my head. “You know, for a creative arts student, you have zero imagination. You hungry? Let me feed you in exchange for the riveting discourse on films of the eighties.”

“I could eat,” she says. “But don’t even think about taking me to one of those uppity multi-course, tiny-plate monstrosities.”

I roll my eyes. “No prob. I’ll just cancel all the dozens of reservations I made in hopes that my film partner would want to go to an elaborate ten-course meal at four in the afternoon.”

“You’re very sarcastic.”

“Me?” I ask. “Honey, your sense of humor is drier than astronaut food.”

Her eyes drop to the table, and too late I realize that I’ve been holding her wrist for waaaay too long. Suddenly I’m all too aware of the fact that her skin is really soft, and that she smells kind of good. It still takes me a full ten seconds to finally remove my hand.

I’m annoyed to realize that my fingers feel hot, and the way she snatches her arm back makes me think I’m not the only one getting ridiculously worked up over a little chaste physical contact.

Ten minutes later, the two of us are walking across campus toward the Slaughtered Lamb, which is one of my favorite restaurants near the university. Plus it has a sort of kitschy, zombie-type vibe, so my mini-Morticia buddy will fit right in.

“Ugh, I hate New York in the summer,” Stephanie mutters, plucking at that tiny tank top. I start to suggest that she pluck just a tiny bit harder, to see if those straps can do their designated job, but then I remember that I got a near-boner from touching her arm. The last thing I need right now is to see her boobs.

Even if I am becoming embarrassingly obsessed with them.

I push the thought away.

“So why’d you stick around, then?” I ask, opening the door and ushering her into the pub.


“Why not go home for the summer? Or is the class that cool?”

“I’m excited about the class.”

She says it with all of the enthusiasm of a DMV employee, and I give her a look. “Uh-huh. Excited enough to put up with this shitty-ass weather? Excited enough to be living on your cheating ex’s couch?”

Stephanie rolls her shoulders and pinches her lips together in the universal girl language for I don’t wanna talk about it.

The place is mostly empty this early, and we find a table in the corner where we can spread out all of her boring notes, should it come to that.

Except, oddly, I’m finding I don’t really care about the project at the moment. Maybe it’s just that misery loves company or something, because I find myself continuing our conversation.

“So where’s home?” I ask.

She buries her face in the menu, and for a second I think she’s not going to answer. Finally she says, “I’m from Rhode Island.”

Progress. Although I don’t know why I care. “What’s that like in the summer? Better than here?”

Another beat of silence. “It’s been a few years.”

I bat the menu out of her hands so I can see her face. A little cavemanlike of me, perhaps, but it’s not like she’s facing hard menu choices. It’s nachos or chicken wings. “You haven’t been home in a few years?”

“I guess it’s not technically home. Not anymore.”

I’ve had more rewarding conversations with a doorknob, but I press on anyway. “So home would be …?”

She lets out a huff. “My dad lives in North Carolina now.”

“So … North Carolina’s your home.”


“Ah,” I say. I let the word carry a good deal of meaning. As though I know what she means by it. And, strangely enough, I think I might. Maybe the whole home-is-not-actually-home thing is part of what’s made her so grumpy.

“What are you, a psych major now?” she snaps.

“Nope. Just seen all the classic teen movies. Parent-related angst is a given,” I say, standing to go fetch us a couple of beers and something to eat.

“Well, those are apparently the only movies you’ve seen!” she calls after me.

Since my back is to her, I don’t have to bother hiding my smile. Everything about Stephanie Kendrick should be a total boner killer, but I kind of like it.

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