Isn't She Lovely Page 31

As if on cue, Stephanie lifts her foot to adjust the strap of her little sandal, exposing slim, toned calves, and I find my mouth watering.


We say good-bye to my parents, my dad all enthusiastic and booming, and my mom … not.

Outside, I lift a hand to hail us a cab, and Stephanie shakes her head at me. “You’re only a few blocks over. Why don’t we walk?”

I shove her into the cab. “Nobody willingly walks outside in summer, Goth.”

She scoots across the cab seat, quickly tugging down on the hem of her skirt, but not before giving me an eyeful. I don’t bother to look away, but she doesn’t seem to notice, or care. It’s like it doesn’t even register that we’re of the opposite sex, and damned if that doesn’t bug the crap out of me.

“Your parents are nice,” she says quietly.

“If by nice you mean my mom’s part shark, sure.”

“She’s not so bad,” Stephanie says with a shrug.

I hear the slight censure in her voice, and I’m pretty certain I know what she’s thinking: At least you have a mother.

“Why didn’t you tell me about your mom?” I ask, already pulling out cash to pay for the ridiculously short ride.

She shrugs. “Never really came up.”

I should probably let her off the hook, but hell, we’re roommates and in a weird sort of relationship. She can’t go on being vague about big details like this.

“Well, actually, it did come up.” I extend a hand to help her out of the cab. Her eyes meet mine when our hands touch and I have to force myself to let go of her fingers once she’s out of the car. Since when did I become so addicted to touching this girl?

She tugs her hand free and heads toward the front door of my building. No, our building.

“I’ve asked you before where home is,” I press. “You don’t think that might have been the time to be forthcoming?”

She storms past the doorman and punches at the elevator button. “You’re not my boyfriend, Ethan. I don’t have to spill my guts.”

I open my mouth to protest, but I close it just as quickly. She’s right. I’m not her boyfriend, nor do I want to be. The irritability and anger pent up in that pint-sized body aren’t exactly appealing.

“Got it,” I say curtly as we step into the elevator. “Perhaps we can just exchange fact sheets with each other’s vitals for the rest of the summer and call it good.”

She glares at me out of the corner of blue eyes. “What’s got your designer boxers in a bunch? I thought the night went pretty well, but now you’re jumping down my throat.”

“It went fine. I wouldn’t say well,” I say as we step into the hallway.

“Well, it’s not my fault your mother is hung up on your ex-girlfriend. Does the girl have golden ovaries or something?”

“My mom seems to think so,” I mutter as I unlock the door. I immediately head to the fridge and pull out two beers. I pop the top off both and hand one to her.

Stephanie takes a long sip before turning on her heel, flouncing to the couch, and sprawling out on it. The horrible posture is so incongruous with the tidy, country-club appearance that I nearly smile.

“Why don’t you just tell her to piss off?” she asks. “Tell her that your old girl is boring and dumpy, and your new girl has it going on.” She gives an uncoordinated little wriggle at this, and I make a face as I sit in my favorite chair across from her. Apparently we’re done fighting.

“Got it going on?” I ask incredulously. “When was the last time you heard anyone use that in a sentence?”

Stephanie shrugs. “For someone who’s so keen on being up with the times and all, how about you start by telling your mother that we don’t live in some sort of ancient empire in which you and Olivia should feel obligated to stay together just to produce an heir that pleases your parents?”

“It’s not like that,” I say. But it sort of is. “She … my mom just has a sort of vision of my future, and her own. And it involves Price/Middleton offspring and lobster Christmas dinners with everyone all together.”

Stephanie nods and takes a sip of beer. “So she doesn’t want any Kendrick riffraff blood in there.”

I salute her with my bottle. “Precisely.”

“I thought I was looking pretty good, but clearly I need to up my game,” she says, looking thoughtful.

My eyes catch on her legs, which are a little overexposed in her current position. “You did great. You look great.”

She blinks at me for a second, but immediately looks away when I meet her eyes.


“No, seriously,” I say, pushing on, although I don’t know why. “You played it like the ideal girl next door. Like you’d been that girl before.”

Her shoulders go back, and she tugs at the hem of her dress. “Yeah, well. My focus is cinematography, but I still had to take a few acting classes freshman year.”

I nod, but I don’t buy it for a second. She knew exactly what she was doing around my parents, and it had nothing to do with a couple of acting classes. She knew when to smile, when to laugh, how to keep the conversation going …

I don’t know what her story is, but I don’t think she comes from a fleet of angsty musicians.

Which means that someone or something made her change into the stompy, cranky version I met on that first day of summer classes.

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