Isn't She Lovely Page 36

The fact that Andrea has always been able to sniff out my lies from a mile away is one of the reasons I dragged Stephanie here for a spontaneous weekend trip. Actually, it’s the primary reason, because I don’t even really need to pretend around Andrea. She doesn’t give a shit if I’m with Olivia or not. She never said so out loud, but I don’t think she ever even liked Olivia. I could have come up to the cabin alone and simply told her I was single, and she wouldn’t have batted an eye.

But this weekend is the ultimate test. If we can fool Andrea into thinking we’re together, then we can absolutely take on the rest of my family and social circle, who are a good deal less observant.

“Been together about a month,” I reply finally, resisting the urge to elaborate. I figure the less detail, the better. It keeps the charade easier to maintain.

“Huh,” Andrea says.


“Huh what?” I ask, fishing a beer out of the cooler.

She shrugs and lets her hand drape over the side of her parents’ boat, her fingers skimming the cool lake water. “A month? Really?”

“Just spit out whatever it is you want to say,” I say, tipping the beer back and preparing for the onslaught. Might as well figure out Stephanie’s and my acting weaknesses while we’re here, before the real show starts.

“Well, you’re just strange around each other,” Andrea says. “I mean, on one hand, you’re totally comfortable with each other. Like, you’ll answer a question before she asks it, or you help yourself to her potato chips and she barely notices.”

“And on the other hand …?”

“On the other hand,” she says, grabbing a beer for herself, “you guys completely stink of sexual tension. She leaped a mile when you brushed a bug off her arm. And every time you look at her, I think you’re going to set her on fire. The whole thing seems very unconsummated for a one-month relationship.”

Andrea’s boyfriend rolls over onto his stomach from where he’s been lounging on the back of the boat, half listening to our conversation. “Lay off him, Andi. Maybe Stephanie doesn’t put out on the first date like some girls we know.”

Andrea reaches back and tries to roll him into the lake. “I did not put out on the first date, Brian Barlow.”

Brian tips his sunglasses down so he can meet my eyes before mouthing, “She totally did.”

This earns him another slap on the head. Brian and Andrea met in college, and she brought him out last summer to hang with her family, and again this summer, so I’m guessing they must be pretty serious. I’m glad. He’s a good guy.

“So what’s the story, Eth?” Andrea asks, turning back to me.

“No story,” I say, keeping my voice light. “I mean, we’ve been taking it kind of slow, but we’re not totally ignorant of each other, if you know what I mean.”

“Translation: they’ve been doing everything but the thing that can actually make babies,” Brian supplies.

Andrea studies me. “Is it true?”

I stand up and stretch. “Christ, what’s with the interest in my sex life?”

She shrugs. “Just happy you have one is all. Thought maybe you couldn’t get it up after ending things with Princess Olivia.”

I grunt. “I can get it up.”

“Good,” Andrea says, digging around in her bag for more sunscreen. “I like Stephanie. She’s normal. And pretty.”

My eyes go to the bow of the boat, where Stephanie’s been sunning herself for the past thirty minutes, blissfully unaware of the inquisition I’m getting back here.

“Yeah. She’s pretty,” I say, my eyes taking in the absolute f**king miracle that is Stephanie Kendrick in a bikini. I was a little nervous when she insisted on going swimsuit shopping alone. In my experience, a guy’s opinion is always a good thing when it comes to clothing consisting of string. But she did well. The swimsuit is a tiny white net concoction—what did she call it? Crochet?—and it does really amazing things for her even more amazing rack.

She turns around then to see where I am, giving me a shy little smile when she realizes I’m watching her. I can’t see her eyes through her big sunglasses, but I know she’s holding my gaze on purpose. Giving Andrea and Brian a show.

“I’ll be up front,” I say, grabbing a beer for Stephanie and heading her way.

“Uh-huh,” Andrea says. I feel her eyes on my back, and I can’t tell if I’ve fooled her or not. I’m thinking not, but that could just be my own paranoia. Because Andrea’s right about one thing: Stephanie and I are not acting like a couple who’ve gotten used to each other’s physical presence yet.

Time to fix that.

Stephanie’s lying down again by the time I get to her, and I let my eyes linger on her tiny waist, perfect hips, and, well … those br**sts.

I tell myself that I’m staring because Andrea’s probably watching, but the truth is, I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. How the hell I’m supposed to sit by her and not peel that bikini off is beyond me, but here goes nothing.

“I think Andrea’s on to us,” I say, settling beside her on the oversized towel.

She flings an arm over her face to shield her eyes and turns her head toward me. “What do you mean, she’s on to us?”

I set our beers on top of the book she was reading earlier and stretch my legs out beside her, noting that mine extend several inches beyond hers. I always forget how short she is.

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