Isn't She Lovely Page 48

“You think I was pissed that David was here because I thought you were cheating on me?”

She shrugs. “You tell me.”

No. “No,” I say. “That’s not it. I mean yeah, I did think you guys were, um … on the verge of something. But I wasn’t mad because I was jealous. How could I be when we’re not really together?”

“Exactly,” she says, her eyes boring into mine.

“Exactly,” I repeat back.

What the f**k is going on here? I swear to God, talking to her when she’s all gothed out is a trip down a f**king rabbit hole.

“So we agree,” I say. “I’m not jealous.”

“Okay,” she says simply.

“But are you and David … um … together?”

She gives me a look. “You’re not the only one who’s been cheated on, hotshot. You really think I’d go back to him?”

“But his hand …”

“Was creeping, yes. And I was actually relieved for about a half second when you came home because I thought you’d help protect me.”

Terrified. Protect. Her choice of words to describe physical contact with guys is odd.

But of course it would be. Her senior year … the roofie … her piece-of-trash ex-boyfriend.

I haven’t pressed her about that night. Not because I don’t care. On the contrary, I probably care too much. And she clearly doesn’t want to talk about it with me. But now I feel like the world’s biggest dick for letting it sit there between us unaddressed. Because I know—somehow I know—that that night has everything to do with why she is the way she is. And why she seemed mostly unfazed by David’s infidelity. And maybe even why she seems scared to death about whatever’s between us.

Only I don’t have a f**king clue how to bring it up. I guess I could just ask her what happened, but I want her to want to tell me on her own. I want her to make the first move.

Forcing myself not to beg her for answers, I lean my head back on the couch and close my eyes. Trying to be content for now that she doesn’t seem to hate me. That we’re at peace for the first time in weeks, neither of us dodging the other’s company.

It hits me then that I’ve missed this. Missed Stephanie. And that I’m going to miss her even more when she moves back into the dorms in a week, after my parents’ Hamptons party.

Of all the things I’m expecting then, it isn’t the feel of Stephanie’s cool fingers on my forearm. I keep my eyes closed, thinking maybe I’m imagining it, but then the pressure becomes firmer as she scrapes her nails lightly down my forearm.

“I like this part of you,” she says, her voice husky. “This part of your arm. Weird, huh? But it’s one of the first things I noticed.”

I don’t open my eyes yet, still confused about whether we’re supposed to be keeping things light. Keeping things distant. “Is it all that sexy arm hair?” I ask.

“That,” she says, and I can hear the smile in her voice. “But mostly the contrast between the blond hair and the tan skin and the corded muscle. It’s very …”

“Yeah?” I ask when she doesn’t respond. Jesus, did my voice just crack?

“Hot,” she says.

I deserve a medal, I really do. Because I don’t kiss her, even though every single part of my body is demanding that I do.

And then I feel her breath on my ear. Her lips on my neck.

There goes my self-control.

I tilt my head toward her, my free hand cupping her cheek, feeling her smooth skin as her lips explore my neck. She moves slowly, her lips never breaking contact with my skin as she leans toward me. Over me. And then her lips are on mine, and I guess I don’t deserve that medal after all, because I’m kissing her back, my fingers tangled in her hair.

She has the wherewithal to move both of our glasses to the table, freeing our hands, and then our hands are everywhere.

Her arms are around my neck, her nails clawing at the skin at my nape, and I realize that it’s the first time she’s really touched me. The first time that she’s initiated.

She wants me.

The thought sends me through the roof, and it’s all I can do to keep my hands on her waist, on her back … and not move them to the places that I’m dying for them to be.

As though reading my thought, she arches into me, wiggling restlessly, and I hope to God I’m not reading the signs wrong. That I’m not going to scare her off.

I lift one hand to the back of her neck, keeping her head still so my tongue can circle hers as I slowly move the other up over her rib cage, brushing for one heartbreaking moment against her breast before settling my palm against her collarbone, my fingers toying with the strap of her tank top.

“These stupid tiny shirts drive me crazy, you know,” I say against her lips.

I feel her smile. “Yeah? Even though they’re not pink and couture?”

“They’re little,” I say, wrapping my fingers around a strap. “I’ve always wondered how much give they have. How hard I’d have to tug to break one.”

“Sounds painful,” she says, gasping against my mouth as my fingers drift infinitesimally lower on her chest.

“I guess we don’t have to break it. We could simply remove it,” I say.

I hold my breath then, knowing this is the moment when she’ll either send me to the moon or cut bait and run.

She freezes and starts to draw back, and I stifle a groan of disappointment even as I school my features into a mask of understanding. Because I do understand. I do.

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