Isn't She Lovely Page 18

Back in high school—back before everything happened—I used to imagine what college would be like. I pictured late-night study groups and gossiping with my girlfriends, beer pong and parties, and maybe a few cute boyfriends here and there so that when I finally met the one, I’d know what I was doing.

My vision wasn’t even close to reality.

Instead, my social circle consists of a handful of fellow film nerds, a cheating ex-boyfriend turned roommate, and now a beefcake of a rich boy who probably plays rugby and drinks wine coolers in his spare time.

I frown and push my notebook away. I’ve been thinking about Ethan Price a good deal more than I’d like lately. As a film partner, he’s absolutely wretched. But he hasn’t been half bad company. For a second there in that pub, it almost felt like we were friends. Or at least as close to friends as a punk arts student and a whitewashed business student can be.

Because, charming or not, the guy doesn’t know the first thing about me.

You could go home, he said.

No, Price, that’s the one thing I can’t do.

David and Leah could start having sex on the couch I was supposed to sleep on, and I still wouldn’t go home.

And judging from the way David’s hand is now fully palming Leah’s boob, that scenario isn’t nearly as far-fetched as I might wish.

There’s a knock at the door, and all three of us look at each other in expectation. But apparently nobody is expecting a visitor, because Leah and David merely turn their eyes back to the television.

“I’ve got it,” I mutter. For as little as I’m paying David to stay here, the least I can do is play butler.

I stand on my toes to look through the peephole, as is an automatic reaction for any sane female living in a non-doorman building in New York City.

My heart jolts a little, and I drop back to the flat of my feet. Then I rise again to get a second look, just to be sure.

Yup, still him.

“Who is it?” David asks.

I ignore David and slowly open the door, giving my mind time to recover from the tricks it’s playing on my eyes.

But there are no tricks.

Ethan Price is standing on the other side of my door, looking 100 percent out of place in his unwrinkled khaki shorts and blue-and-white button-down.

“Hey, partner,” he says with an easy grin. “Can I come in?”

I don’t move.

“Steph?” David asks.

I mutely move aside, letting Ethan step into the tiny apartment, and fiercely resist the urge to run around and pick up the random piles of clothes, the empty beer bottles, and the all-around filth that results when three people share seven hundred square feet.

“Whoa, it’s like a J. Crew catalog just came to life,” I hear Leah whisper.

“Ethan, welcome to my—”

“Home,” David says with an easy smile as he stands and comes to face Ethan. “I’m Steph’s roommate. And you are …?”

“Ethan Price.”

The two shake hands, and I want to karate-chop their hands and request that they not exchange words. My two worlds are colliding, and it’s … weird.

I notice that Ethan doesn’t identify his role in my life, and from the slight narrowing of his eyes, I see that David notices as well.

David was a semi-jealous boyfriend—ironic, since he’s the one who strayed. I just hope to God he isn’t going to prove to be a jealous ex as well.

“David, you’re missing the movie,” Leah says, oblivious as ever to the slight tension in the room.

Ethan catches my eye and wiggles his eyebrows. “The foreign vagina?” he mouths, careful not to let David see.

I ignore him. “How did you find me?”

“When you were on the phone with your bank the other day, you gave them your updated mailing address.”

“And what, you memorized it?”

He taps his temple. “Steel trap, Kendrick. Nothing escapes.”

“And yet you’re apparently selective about what goes in,” I mutter, thinking of the futile hours I spent rambling at him only to realize that he hadn’t absorbed a single fact.

David is still watching us carefully. “Dude, you’re stalking her?”

“At least I’m not cheating on her,” Ethan says, never losing the white smile.

I pinch Ethan’s arm hard before moving between them. “David, you don’t get to be protective anymore. And Ethan, why don’t we sit down and discuss the project.”

Translation: Let’s sit down and you can explain why you’re invading my personal space.

David reluctantly goes back to Leah on the couch, and Ethan joins me at the kitchen table. There are four chairs, and he needlessly picks the one closest to me, rather than the one across from me, which makes way more sense.

“What is going on?” I hiss.

His eyes skim my face briefly. “You still wear all that black stuff on your eyes, even when you’re sitting at home in sweats?”

I flutter my eyelashes. “Well, one never knows when one can expect gentleman company.”

Actually, the truth is, I feel naked without my eye makeup. It’s stupid, but I always imagine that the gunmetal-gray shadow and the black eyeliner are my shields against prying eyes.

A sympathetic expression flits across Ethan’s face, and I have the oddest sensation that he’s on to me.

“So I had an idea for our screenplay,” he says, reaching out to fiddle with one of my earrings.

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