Isn't She Lovely Page 46

Mike senior has to have noticed that I’m not over there every other day anymore, but he doesn’t say anything about it. I wonder if Michael’s fessed up about banging Olivia.

“He’s good, he’s good,” Mike says, shifting his briefcase to his other hand. “Been interning over at my accountant’s firm, actually. Thought it would be good for him to get some hands-on experience with managing books.”

Tell him you saw him with Mom, a voice inside me prods. Tell him you don’t care that he and Dad are business partners, that he should stay the hell away from your family. Instead I just give an awkward little nod, as though I give a flying f**k what my former best friend is up to these days. “Well, I’ve gotta get going.”

“Sure, sure. You’ll want to beat the worst of rush hour. See you around, son.”

Don’t call me son. “Sure. See you around.”

For about five seconds after walking away from Mike, I debate stopping by my parents’ house to confront my mother. Rip off the Band-Aid and all that, because the shock of realizing Mom’s having an affair is wearing off and now it’s just getting … sad.

But I keep thinking about how stressed she’s been with this whole Hamptons party next weekend. It’s pretty much the biggest thing she takes on all year, and it has professional and personal ramifications. And the Hamptons weekend is also important to my dad. At the very least, I owe it to him to wait until it’s all over before I risk blowing up our family.

Plus, selfishly, I’d rather do it when I can escape back to school full time. Where I can lose myself in the jam-packed fall semester ahead and, I hope, a bevy of girls who have been look-but-don’t-touch the past three years because of Olivia. Now I’ll be able to touch if I want to.

I head home. Stephanie will be there, but then that’s my own fault, isn’t it? My brilliant idea to bring a big-boobed roommate into my home.

Of course, I didn’t know then that she’d be a fantastic kisser. Or that under all that ill humor there’s a funny, sweet side. Didn’t know that I’d feel like she knows me better after three weeks than Olivia did after a decade.

I owe her an apology. For my moods, for the kiss … for letting her think that day in the library that I wouldn’t—couldn’t—be attracted to her.

Because while I still don’t think a girl like her and a guy like me are headed to the altar or anything, the attraction is definitely there. And maybe it’s time we do something about it.

I let myself into the apartment, in the best mood I’ve been in for days, only to stop short at the sight in my living room: Stephanie’s douche bag of a boyfriend is on my f**king couch, and his hand is on Stephanie’s leg. They both jerk when they see me, and I don’t have to be Einstein to know I’ve interrupted something.

I don’t say a word as I set my bag down, but my eyes never leave Stephanie’s. She looks guilty at first, but after studying my expression, the guilt is replaced by something that looks like stubbornness.

“What’s up, man?” I say casually, tearing my eyes away from Stephanie and glancing at David.

“Elliot,” he says, giving a little nod.

I don’t bother to hide my eye roll as I grab a beer from the fridge. The fake messing up of the opponent’s name is the oldest trick in the male handbook.

“What’s going on?” I say.

“Just brought Steph’s DVDs back over. You know how she is about her movies.”

I see his hand move a little higher on her thigh as he says it. A thigh that’s covered in cargo fatigues.

Belatedly my eyes skim over the rest of her, and I see what I didn’t notice when I first came in: the boots, the tough-girl pants, one of those trademark tiny tanks, and the gray shit on her eyes. She’s been dabbling with pieces of her old self for the past few days—the boots, the nails, the pants—but apparently she decided to go all out tonight, because it’s the full-goth Stephanie.

It should make me want her less. It should remind me that it’s David who’s her type, not me.

But mostly I want to tell him to get his hands off her.

I take a sip of my beer and keep my face perfectly blank. “Stephanie, you have all your DVDs?”

Her eyes narrow at my casual tone. It’s like I said—she knows me. “Yeah.”

“Excellent,” I say with my best smile before turning to David. “Get the f**k out.”

David may be a skinny artist type, but he’s apparently not a pushover, because he stands to face me and his expression is pissed.

Can’t say I blame him. I’m being a dick, but it’s my house, and this ass**le’s hand was on Stephanie when he has another girlfriend—

Shit. At least I hope he has another girl. What if he broke it off with that Leah chick and wants Stephanie back?

The thought makes my beer taste like piss.

“Dude, can you give us a minute?” David asks, doing a far better job with manners than I am.

“For what?”

He ignores my question and turns to Stephanie. His eyes go sappy and pleading, and I think I’ve got a pretty good idea what’s coming. The guy’s realized that he threw Stephanie over for a skank, and now he wants the good one back.

I no longer just want to ask him to leave. I want to throw him out on his hipster ass.

“Stephanie?” I ask.

She sucks in her cheeks and looks angry, but I can’t tell if she’s mad at me for acting like a possessive dick or at David for daring to touch her after cheating on her.

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