Isn't She Lovely Page 27

“I bet you’re regretting not finding a more biddable ivory statue to participate in your charade,” she says as we weave through the usual midtown crush.

I glance down at her shiny brown hair and newly fresh face.

Oddly, I don’t have any regrets at all.

Chapter Nine


“Stephanie, you in there?”

I sink deeper into the tub, loving the way the bubbles threaten to overflow but don’t.

“No,” I call through the bathroom door. “I went out to run some errands.”

“Can I come in?”

Can he come in? “Seriously, Price?”

“Are you taking a dump or something?”

“No! But normal people don’t ask to come into an occupied bathroom.”

He’s silent for a few seconds. “I want to talk about this weekend.”

I sigh. I’ve been doing a good job so far not thinking about this weekend. I’ve been living in Ethan’s second bedroom for eight days now—eight glorious days in which I haven’t had to worry about hot water, rat traps, or keeping an eye out for roaches—and I’ve conveniently let myself ignore the fact that while I’m not paying with money to stay in paradise, I’ll be paying with something else entirely: my dignity.

“We can talk when I get out of the bath,” I call.

“Yeah, right. You’ll just pretend to go to bed early like you have the past three nights.”

Damn. He’s definitely on to me.

“I’m coming in.”

The doorknob rattles, and I squeal, “No!”

Why did I not lock the door? Oh, right. Because I didn’t think being barged in on was even an option.

But he’s already poked his head through the door, his hand covering his eyes. “Are you decent?”

“Ethan, I said I was in the bath.”

“But with bubbles, right? If you’re like most girls, you used half the bottle and the suds will cover up the interesting bits.”

It’s true. I did use half the bottle. And the only visible part of my body is my head.

“Fine,” I mutter. Not like there’s any stopping him anyway. He seems to think that our little partnership has made us BFFs. Platonic BFFs—he’s made that part very clear.

“This is all very Pretty Woman,” he says, sitting on the edge of the tub like it’s totally normal to have a conversation with a naked girl who isn’t his girlfriend. Or at least not his real girlfriend.

“Beginning to regret showing you that movie,” I grumble.

“You’re not wearing any makeup,” he says, his eyes scanning my face.

“Weird, right? Because I usually get all dolled up before climbing into the tub.”

He sighs. “Think you could tone down the sarcasm before you meet my parents?”

I give him a look. “Do you tone down your sarcasm around your parents?”

“Good point. But we do need to talk a little bit about our game plan for dinner this weekend.”

I close my eyes and lean my head back, trying to act like I couldn’t be more relaxed if I tried. But, honestly, I’m dreading this. Sure, I have my new Pollyanna outfit, and my bouncy new haircut, and I’m pretty sure he stole my favorite steel-colored eye shadow, because I can’t find it. Still, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to play nice. And I quit that gig for a reason.

“Why aren’t you with your girlfriend anymore?” I ask, wanting to get under his skin the way he gets under mine. “If we’re going to do this, really do this, I need all the facts.”

His eyes darken for a second, but then he just shrugs and makes himself more comfortable on the side of the tub. “All the facts, huh? Just like you’re giving me all the facts about your home situation?”

My stomach knots at the reference, but I get his point, because I’m the one who made the rules: no details, nothing personal.

“Fine,” I say more quietly. “But at least help me understand why your mom is so involved in your love life.”

He sighs, tilting his head back against the wall. His Adam’s apple bounces when he swallows, and I have a little hankering to nibble on it, just to see what he’d do. But considering the fact that Ethan barely seems to register that I’m naked here, I’m guessing he wouldn’t be all that keen on my licking his neck. For the hundredth time, I wonder why he didn’t pick a girl he was actually attracted to for his little charade.

But that’s the point, I guess. The fact that we’re 200 percent wrong for each other makes this whole thing fairly risk free.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

“So you know my family’s wealthy,” he says quietly.

I glance around in surprise at the ridiculously lavish bathroom. “Whaaaaat?”

He gives me a half smile. “Well, let’s just say rich people like other rich people, and their rich kids are expected to hang out with fellow rich kids. Really rich,” he specifies.

I want to say something sarcastic, but I let him finish.

“But when you’re a kid,” he continues, “you’re not really thinking about that. All you care about is that your friend’s parents are friends with your parents so that you can all hang out. Not unlike the average American family, except with a lot more caviar and a lot less barbecue sauce.”

“Sounds awful.” I extend a foot out of the tub, tracing the faucet with my newly painted coral toe. “So these fellow snobs, one of them’s your ex?”

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