Isn't She Lovely Page 26

I slide a food menu her way, feeling her eyes on my face.

“What?” I say.

“Are you sure it’s okay? I feel a little …”

She doesn’t finish the sentence, so I turn to glance at her, and … ah, hell, she looks vulnerable. Those wide blue eyes are silently begging me to reassure her that yes, she can pull this off, and yes, she’ll be okay without her black-eyeliner defense against the world.

“You look beautiful,” I say softly.

Despite the fact that she has a shopping bag stuffed full of girly crap, there’s nothing in-your-face about her makeup. I remember once I complained about how long Olivia took to get ready, and she told me that looking natural takes a good deal more skill than looking made up.

If that’s the case, I apparently picked the right salesperson. Stephanie looks glowing, pretty, and fresh, but not obvious. Her eyes are all sparkly but not glittery, and whatever stuff is on her lips is pink and kissable.

“You’re staring, Price,” she says with a little half smile.

“Just trying to make you feel better. You know, you being so scowly and all.”

“At least I’ve still got the boobs,” she says, giving them a little jiggle.

I choke on my beer. “Can you not do that?”

At least not in public. Back at my place, on the other hand …

I push the thought aside, and we order our lunch as she chatters on and on about next year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and I make a mental note to ask Martin how difficult it is to get tickets. There are definite perks to having a godfather who’s won an Oscar.

“So I’ve packed up my stuff at David’s,” she says, pulling a tomato off her club sandwich and discarding it before taking a huge bite of the sandwich.

I shake some ketchup on my plate and dunk a fry. “How’d he take you moving out?”

“He seemed a little appalled that you were his replacement. Kept calling you a bleached gym rat.”

“As opposed to an unshowered art rat?”

“Something like that. Anyway, he gave me all sorts of warnings about ‘dating out of genre,’ but mostly he was cool with it.”

“So you didn’t tell him it’s fake?”

“Nah. The guy made me live with the girl he cheated on me with. He hasn’t earned my honesty.”

I nod. “What about your family. Did you tell them?”

I feel her stiffen. “No, I haven’t told them.”

Her tone makes it clear it’s the end of the discussion, but I’m curious. The girl never talks about her family.

“But you at least told them that you’re moving, right?”

She snorts. “My dad still thinks I’m subletting my cousin’s place. Since the cousin is on my mom’s side, he’s not likely to find out otherwise.”

“Your parents are separated?” I ask, putting the pieces together.

“Can we not do … this?” she asks, wiggling her finger around, as though to encompass our entire conversation.

“ ’Kay,” I say, keeping my tone casual. “But if you’re posing as my girlfriend, I’ll at least need to know the basics about it.”

She’s silent for a few moments. “I really don’t like to talk about it, Ethan.”

Her voice is dead serious, and I immediately feel like crap for pushing, even though I’m curious why she acts like a cougar in water every time her family comes up in conversation.


We sit in companionable silence for a little longer as we finish our lunch, me watching the last few minutes of the game while she scrolls through her phone.

“So when can we go get my stuff from David’s?” she asks as I pay the bill. She insists on stuffing a twenty into my wallet to pay for hers, and I let her. I’ll just drop it back in her purse later.

“Only a few more stops,” I say, signing the bill. She wrinkles her nose suspiciously. “What kind of stops?”

“We need to get you new clothes,” I blurt out.

Stephanie scowls. “I already said no to that. I tolerated the bubble-gum lipstick, the snobby perfume, and the overpriced haircut, but I want to stay in my own clothes.”

As much as I love those tiny tank tops and her endless supply of tight T-shirts, her current wardrobe isn’t going to cut it.

“Picture our situation as a movie,” I say. “You really think a half-assed makeover is going to cut it? We need the full deal.”

She chews her lip, and I know she knows I’m right. “Okay. A few things, but I’ll only wear them when we’re around your people. At home I get to wear whatever I want.”

Home. Which we’d be sharing. I tear my eyes away from her mouth.

“That sounds fair,” I say.

“And no pink.”

I hesitate, picturing Olivia and the rest of my upper-crust female friends. “There might have to be a little pink.”

“Ethan …”

“It’ll look pretty on you.”

Wrong thing to say. She looks pissy.

“Do I look like the type that cares about being pretty?”

Actually, yeah. She does. I think she cares a hell of a lot more than she lets on.

“How about we leave it up to the salespeople?” I say, hoping for a truce. “If they suggest pink, you’ll consider it. If they don’t, I won’t push it.”

“No pink,” she mutters again, scooting off her barstool and grabbing her shopping bag and purse. But she waits patiently for me to finish signing the bill, and lets me lead her in the direction of Bloomingdale’s.

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