Isn't She Lovely Page 20

David, thank God, opts not to engage and retreats to the bedroom, closing the door with a communicative slam.

“You happy now?” I say, glaring at Ethan.

He shrugs. “Revenge for your comment about the bath bubbles. Plus I can’t stand dudes like that—the ones who treat a girl like shit but still try to mark their territory when a new lion’s on the scene.”

“Okay, what is with all of the Animal Planet references tonight? First the bobcat, now the lion … and you’re hardly a new lion on the scene, by the way. You’re more like—”

His fingers tighten briefly on my knee, and I completely lose my train of thought.

“Like what?”

“Never mind,” I say, ordering myself to break eye contact. Except I don’t.

His hand slowly slides off my leg, and I don’t think it’s my imagination that it lingers. Not that I think the guy’s into me or anything, but this isn’t the first time he’s accidentally-on-purpose touched me and not moved away immediately. And at that stupid party, I would have guessed he was a second away from kissing me.

I feel like I’m in the middle of some game and nobody’s told me the rules.

He clears his throat and gestures at my fridge. David’s fridge. “You mind if I grab a beer?”

“Sure,” I say with a shrug. Anything to get him to stop looking at me just for a second so I can catch my breath.

“So, this Pygmalion thing,” he says, removing the bottle cap and putting it in the garbage. “I’m thinking that we should deal with college-age kids. It’s what we know, and it hasn’t been done in this Pygmalion context.”

I gesture for him to continue, even though I’m pretty sure I’m about to hear an exact duplicate of She’s All That, which was set on a high school campus. When it comes to movies, high school and college campuses are almost interchangeable. Same drama. Same schoolwork. Same insecurities. Same hormones.

I realize that I’ve been studying the pattern of golden hair on his forearms, and jerk my gaze away. His arms, Stephanie? Really?

He’s still going on about this screenplay idea, and my ears catch on one particular phrase. A crucial phrase.

“Hold up. Did you just say that the Pygmalion character of this pretend movie is a preppy rich kid and the girl is a short, edgy type with big boobs?”

He grins, although it’s not his usual shit-eating don’t-give-a-fuck grin, it’s a now-you’re-getting-it gloat.

“Exactly,” Ethan says, leaning back against the tiny kitchen counter.

I take a deep breath. “Okay, I’m going to go ahead and ignore the incredibly shortsighted idea to base our characters on personal experience, and tell you to hurry up and get to the Pygmalion part.”

“Well, I’d be there already if you hadn’t interrupted, but it’s like this. Our incredibly handsome, smart, and all-around good guy of a hero needs a girlfriend.”

“What’s the motivation?”

Ethan’s eyes flit away from mine, and for a second he looks nervous. Even more alarming, he looks guilty. What am I missing here?

He clears his throat again. “Well, I was thinking … what if this guy had been telling his parents that he’s been seeing someone?”

“And why would he do that?”

“Because his ex-girlfriend is the daughter of a close family friend, and his parents are relentless about having them get back together. Good for business and all that …”

I watch him carefully. Warily. “And he’s resistant to get back together with this girl because …?”

His light brown eyes find mine. “Doesn’t matter. We’re done.”

I expect him to be indignant. Sullen. Annoyed. Instead he looks … sad. And all of a sudden I feel in over my head.

Ethan’s not talking about the movie character. He’s talking about himself.

Even worse, I want to ask if he wants to talk about it. I want to be the person he wants to talk to.

But I don’t ask. Instead, I take us back to safer territory. “So he needs a fake girlfriend to get them off his back,” I say. “Surely such a hunk of beefcake would have dozens of female friends anxious for the role of girlfriend.”

“Too anxious for the role of girlfriend,” Ethan mutters.

“You poor, in-demand baby.”

“So you’ll help me? Play the girlfriend?”

And just like that, we drop the facade of the movie altogether. We’re talking about him. And me. We’re talking about us even though there is no us.

I gape at him. “Are you freaking kidding me? You were for real with that garbage?”

He moves quickly, pushing back from the counter and sitting back down beside me. He’s not touching me, but he may as well be for all the heat he’s giving off. I’m annoyed that I’ve noticed.

The last thing I need is to be aware of Ethan Price. Particularly when he’s gone off the deep end about a real-life Pygmalion scenario, one I don’t think I’m going to like. At all.

“You have to admit it’s a good idea,” he says. “Think about how much better our screenplay will be if we can base it on our own experience.”

“To say nothing of what you’ll get out of it,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “If you want to be a modern-day Pygmalion, have at it, but find some other girl to be your stone statue.”

“Ivory,” he corrects.

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