Isn't She Lovely Page 39

Then I came home on that gorgeous April afternoon, and my parents were waiting for me with the news.


From then on, I had no interest in getting to any base. I certainly wasn’t thinking about losing my virginity.

Then that night with Caleb happened, and it was all I could think about because the choice had been taken from me. And the one person I might have told—the one person I wanted to tell—was dead. My virginity and my mother gone on the same night.

If my dad knew the whole story, maybe he wouldn’t wonder why I went from a peppy little cheerleader to a despondent college student in the span of a few months.

Still, my crappy history can’t explain why after four years of not having even the slightest interest in sex, it’s becoming all I can think about with Ethan. I tried to fake interest with David and a handful of guys before that, but I always chickened out at the last minute.

Because of that, I almost can’t blame David for hooking up with Leah. I mean, he’s still an ass, but the guy didn’t make it a secret that he wanted sex. And he wasn’t getting it from me.

So what gives? I didn’t want to go all the way with my real boyfriend, but I’m lusting after my fake one?

But then, David never kissed like Ethan kisses. Nobody kisses like Ethan kisses. Perhaps if they did, things would be different. Perhaps if past boyfriends kissed like Ethan Price, my sexual experience wouldn’t be limited to a single night I can’t even remember.

Don’t go there, Stephanie.

I drop my bag onto my bed and contemplate taking one of the bubble baths that I seem to be getting addicted to, but I can’t get my mind off Ethan’s crankiness on the car ride home. I thought I’d come to know all of the different Ethans, but this quiet version is unfamiliar. And kind of unnerving.

I wander into the kitchen and find him making a turkey sandwich. He cuts it in half and holds out one of the triangles to me, but I shake my head.

“You don’t have to share your food,” I say with a little smile. “You have a couple days off from being a boyfriend before your cousin’s wedding.”

He meets my eyes and takes a big bite of the section he just held out to me. “Great. Guess that means you can stop with the accidental touches for a few days too.”

I blink a little at him, surprised by the edge in his voice. “What are you talking about?”

He chews and swallows, never taking his eyes off me. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. For the past two days you couldn’t even pass by me to go take a piss without touching my arm. Couldn’t scoot by me in the kitchen without your boobs brushing against my back.”

Immediately I feel my face flame. “I was just playing the part. You said Andrea thought we were jumpy when we touched. I was just trying to make it real. Like we touched each other all the time.”

“Except we don’t.”

I throw my hands up. “Of course we don’t, Ethan! When there’s nobody around, we can barely stand each other.”

His head tilts back a little. “Really?”

No, not really.

“Well, I mean … I guess we’ve become friends of a sort,” I hedge.

God, when did this all of a sudden become so complicated?

Oh, right. Probably when we made out on the bow of Andrea’s boat.

But that was all for show. So what’s with his bad mood?

“Hey, Ethan,” I say, watching as he finishes his sandwich as though I’m not there.

“What’s up?”

I smile sweetly. “When are you going to tell me what crawled up your butt?”

The question catches him off guard, as though he’s never had to explain a foul mood to anybody before. Hell, he probably hasn’t. He’s had no siblings to answer to, and his parents, while perhaps overly interested in his love life, don’t seem the least bit interested in what makes Ethan tick.

Maybe Olivia was, but the girl cheated on him, so somehow I’m thinking she probably wasn’t exactly all that invested in what Ethan was thinking or feeling.

I soften a little at the thought. Looking at it that way, it’s sad, actually. Maybe someone who’s had everything material handed to him doesn’t have the first clue about how to ask for something that money can’t buy. Maybe he doesn’t even know what he wants.

Although if that’s the case, I’m hardly the one to teach him. I quit wanting things a long time ago, much less asking for them.

“I already told you,” he says sulkily. “I’m just tired.”

I shrug. “Got it. So take a nap already. This bad-tempered Ethan is ruining the feng shui of our apartment.”

“My apartment.”

I lift an eyebrow. “I just spent an entire weekend faking being in love with you, and I have to do it all over again next weekend. Until we’re done, it’s our apartment.”

Something flashes across his face then, and all of a sudden the apartment, which was huge by Manhattan standards, feels stiflingly small.

I don’t know why I threw out the L word, I really don’t. We’ve never talked about it before, and honestly it’s not even necessary considering that we’re telling people that our relationship is only a month old. There’s no reason we have to pretend to be in love; we just have to pretend to be moving in that direction.

So why did I say it?

“Do you want to go to a movie?” I blurt out.

“A movie?”

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