Isn't She Lovely Page 47

“You should go, David.”

I smile. She’s mad at David.

Then her blue eyes find mine, and I’m not entirely sure they won’t actually shoot poison darts at me. She’s definitely pissed at me too.

I rein in my caveman mood enough so that I don’t follow them to the front door, but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t try to eavesdrop, just a little. But they’re whispering, and I can’t make out any words. Then the whispering stops altogether, and I strain to hear anything at all. Are they kissing? I force myself to go sit on the couch so that I don’t completely lose my shit. If they want to get back together, that’s their business.

Except damn. The very thought burns my throat.

I hear the front door click shut, and Stephanie stomps back into the living room, looking every bit as angry and mutinous as she did that day I first ran into her in the hallway. Only this time I’m pretty sure she’d stab me with her pens, rather than just drop them tamely into her little-kid backpack.

She doesn’t say a word as she rummages around in one of my cabinets and pulls out a bottle of bourbon. I raise an eyebrow. “Rough day?”

Stephanie manages to simultaneously pour a couple of fingers into a tumbler and give me the bird. She drops a few ice cubes into the glass. Whisky actually sounds perfect right now, but I know better than to ask her to pour me some when she’s in Ethan-must-die mode, so I set my barely touched beer aside and pour some for myself, sans ice.

She commandeers the couch after I get up, and I know I should give her space, but I live here too, so I sit next to her. Not close enough to touch, but closer than roommates would, considering there’s a half dozen other spots to sit in the room.

I expect her to give me a blistering lecture about respecting boundaries, and What the hell were you thinking? and You’re such a Neanderthal, but she’s just sitting there quietly, patiently, taking tiny sips of bourbon.

I can tell out of the corner of my eye that she’s watching me. Waiting for me to explain. Except I don’t have an explanation other than that I was jealous, and we both know that’s crazy, so I say the only other thing that comes to mind.


She lets out a little Stephanie snort before setting her glass aside and starting to untie her combat boots. I watch her fingers unwind the laces, and I want her to say something. Anything. I want her to say, No problem, Price, but more than that, I want her to tell me there’s nothing going on with that douche bag David.

I want her to tell me that she wants me to kiss her again.

Perhaps most of all, I want her to explain why she pushed me away from that kiss in the library in the first place. Because she was every bit as into it as I was. I could tell.

But maybe I have to give a little to get a little.

“My mom’s having an affair,” I say.

Well. That came out of nowhere. I’m suddenly remembering why I haven’t really touched whisky since the night of my twenty-first birthday several months back, when I got hammered and spent the rest of the day puking. But worse than the hangover, whisky makes me chatty. Disaster.

Her fingers falter for a second on her boot laces, but she doesn’t look up. “And?”

And? And?

“Well, it totally sucks,” I say, feeling like a little boy, even though I’m pretty sure I’m justified in being upset about this.

She nods, takes a drink, and then starts on her other shoelace. “How’d you find out?”

Here we go. “I um … I saw her with Michael’s dad. Right after I saw my friend with Olivia, actually.”

I thought it’d suck to say it out loud, but although it still sounds as farcical as it did in my head, I realize that some of the sting is gone.

She does look up then, her eyes meeting mine. “You walked in on your girlfriend with your best friend, and then saw your mom sleeping with your best friend’s dad? And you’re sure this wasn’t a dream? Or a hallucination?”

Despite the fact that her words are flippant, her eyes are concerned, and I belatedly become aware that her hand is on mine, her thumb rubbing against my knuckles. I glance down at her small hand on my larger one.

It looks right.

It feels right.

“It wasn’t a hallucination,” I say, trying to give a half smile. “It was definitely my mother kissing another dude. And it wasn’t just a peck, if you know what I mean.”

She kicks off both boots and scoots back on the couch, facing me. “Oh, I do know what you mean. In fact, I received a kiss like that just a few days ago. Weird thing, though—the guy quit talking to me after.”

I widen my eyes in mock surprise. “Weird thing happened to me too! Similar experience, except the girl darted away from the kiss like a terrified little rabbit.”

Her eyes fall to her glass and she stabs at the ice cubes with one skeleton fingernail. “A rabbit, no. Terrified, yes.”

Ah, shit. She was scared of me?

“Why?” I ask, keeping my voice as soft and nonconfrontational as possible.

She doesn’t answer for a few seconds, and when she does, it’s not to address my question. “Your whole experience with Olivia and your mom … is that why you went all weird when you saw me and David together?”

I tilt my head back. “I don’t see the connection.”

Her eyes narrow slightly. “I think you do.”

I hate when girls do this, and I struggle to follow her train of thought. It doesn’t take me long.

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