Isn't She Lovely Page 40

“Yeah. You know, overpriced tickets, sticky floors, fake-butter popcorn … a movie.”

He tilts his head. “Are you going to make me go to one of those snooty theaters where they only play highbrow shit?”

“And listen to you whine the entire time? No way. I’ll save those outings for my fellow film students. You can pick.”

“How magnanimous of you.”

I give him a toothy grin. “Reward for sleeping on the floor.”

He crosses his arms across his chest and studies me. “Fine. How about …”

I carefully hide my wince at the blow-’em-up blockbuster he names. That sort of bigbudget CGI monstrosity is my personal nightmare. But having a couple of hours to sit by Ethan without having to pretend? It sounds nice. Really nice.

I want to get back to the easy companionship we had before the trip. Before that kiss. Because now I don’t just have to play pretend when other people are around. I also have to put on a show when we’re alone. And in some ways, the act when it’s just the two of us is that much harder.

Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending you are?

Chapter Fourteen


Stephanie and I are back to normal.

And by normal, I mean we’re treating each other as asexual roommates who bicker over who gets to choose the channel and whether we get chicken or tofu on our pad thai takeout, and we have yet to agree on the minimum distance to a destination that justifies when we can get a cab.

The kiss on the boat? Forgotten.

Those sleepless nights up at the Finger Lakes where we listened to each other toss and turn and want? Forgotten.

That day in the kitchen when I almost stupidly proposed a friends-with-benefits scenario and she saved me by suggesting a movie? Also forgotten—mostly.

Except now we’re at my cousin’s wedding, and we have to be back on. Although the change between faking being a couple and being ourselves doesn’t feel as drastic as it did before. Before, when we were in front of other people, it felt like someone had flipped a switch: we’d go from two opposites who are doing each other a favor to a goopy, over-the-top couple.

But tonight? Tonight as we dance, flirt, and drink champagne?

Tonight doesn’t feel fake.

I keep telling myself that it’s simply because we’re getting more used to the whole process. I tell myself that it’s not because the lines are being blurred.

Besides, there is one big thing tonight that’s different from the past few days: tonight the touching is back.

God help me.

“We should dance,” she says under her breath as she gulps some water.

“We’ve been dancing,” I say, discreetly wiping sweat from the back of my neck. My aunt and uncle are paying through the nose for this wedding, which is at one of the city’s fanciest hotels, so of course there’s air-conditioning. But there are also three hundred people crammed into too small a space, and it seems like half of them have been jumping around on the dance floor with us.

“No, I mean we should dance dance,” she says, gesturing toward the swaying couples.

I glance down at her head. “It’s a slow song.”

“Exactly,” she says pointedly.

She’s right, of course. I’ve been feeling my mother’s eyes on us all evening. She’s probably hoping for some sign that the newness is wearing off and that we’re on our way to breaking up. I also saw the way that every single member of my extended family jolted when I introduced Stephanie—when they saw that she isn’t Olivia.

So yeah, I guess we should dance. Except I don’t want to. Not like that, not with her looking the way she does.

Her cocktail dress is bright green, and it’s one of those tie-around-the neck deals that keeps her fantastic rack covered up while leaving her back bare. A back that I’ll have to touch if we dance.

But she’s already grabbing my hand, expertly weaving through the fancily dressed guests until we’re in the middle of the dance floor. We’re right next to the bride and groom, and I watch in surprise as my cousin grabs Stephanie’s arm and whispers something before the two of them giggle like a couple of schoolgirls.

Just when did Stephanie have time to befriend Paige?

And where the hell is that black-clothed artsy-fartsy gnome who once lectured me on the underappreciated appeal of film noir?

Paige’s new husband reclaims her for their dance, and I take a deep breath as Stephanie steps toward me, fitting her body easily against mine as she slides a hand around my shoulder and cuddles up. My hand finds her back, and I think I hear her let out a little sigh as we begin to sway to some sappy nonsense.

I was right in thinking that touching the bare skin on Stephanie’s back wasn’t a good idea. The warm smoothness of it reminds me of that moment on the boat when I slipped a hand beneath her, tilting her up—

“Your relatives seem nice,” she says against my shoulder.

“That’s because it’s my dad’s side of the family,” I say, grateful for a topic of conversation that doesn’t have to do with kissing. Or skin. Or touching. “You’re lucky there are no Clark family gatherings while we’re doing our little charade. They’re a bunch of vipers.”

“Your mom seems to have warmed up to me, though.”

I hesitate. “That’s only because the Middletons are in Europe, so she can’t spend the entire evening foisting Olivia on me.”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies