Isn't She Lovely Page 5

I put air quotes around that last part, and I see her grind her teeth a little bit.

“I knew it,” she said, leaning forward. “You’re not a film student.”

“Eh, no. Whatever gave me away?”

She nods in the direction of my upper arms. “The biceps. No respectable film student would be caught dead with guns like that.”

I let out a small laugh. “Goth, nobody calls them guns anymore.”

For a second I think she’s blushing, but then she resumes that dead-behind-the-eyes look. “So why are you in this class then? I thought it was Tisch students only, and I know there was a waiting list. I was on it.”

The guilt stabs again, and I just try to remember that had I not weaseled my way into this course, I’d be all gussied up in a suit right now for yet another Price Holdings internship. Which normally I would actually enjoy. But not this summer.

Since Stephanie looks pretty gung-ho about her little movie class, I’m not about to tell her I enrolled only because there were no summer business courses available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Nor am I going to spill my guts and explain that I’ve got school is the only excuse my father would accept for why I can’t be his right-hand man at the office.

And I’m certainly not going to tell her why I don’t want to be spending a lot of time with my dad this summer.

I force a smile. “I guess something opened up.”

Big blue eyes roll. “I’m sure. Anyway, I’ll check out that website tonight. I’ll figure out the easiest theme to work with, and I can email you the game plan.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” I hold up a hand. “I get no say? Because I’m pretty sure this is a group project.”

She leans forward, looking all fierce and scary and weird. “Do you know what a ditty bag is used for?”

I choke out a laugh, my eyes inadvertently dropping to her chest. “That’s a thing?”

She doesn’t even crack a smile. “It’s for hauling around camera equipment on set. And can you name even one Hitchcock film? Do you know what a key grip is?”

Shit. Of all the possible partners, I get a pit bull puppy.

“Okay, look, you caught me,” I say, raising my hands. “This isn’t my thing. But I do have a four-point-oh GPA, and I’d like to keep it that way. And how do I know you won’t go rogue on this project and turn in our screenplay with a dead bird smashed on the front?”

By now I’m done expecting a laugh from this girl, but she surprises me, letting out a little giggle that reminds me of a rainbow escaping from a mud puddle.

The laugh fades as quickly as it appeared, but she leans back in her chair, and she seems to have relaxed a little. “Look, I promise not to screw it up, okay? Screenplay writing’s not my focus, but I know my way around a script and I get pretty decent grades myself. And I wouldn’t hand in a dead bird on a school project.”

“Good to know,” I mutter.

“I never take my dead bird collection out from under the bed.”

This time it’s me who’s caught off guard, and I laugh, but she’s already moving on to a lecture about what the assignment will be, based on the course description in the NYU brochure. Yeah. Because everybody reads those.

I dutifully try to pay attention as she rambles on about how once she figures out our narrative focus, we’re supposed to come up with modern cinematic examples.

As I listen to her babble, I try not to stare at her boobs, absently wondering why all these film geeks are lurking around in New York City instead of invading Hollywood. Not that I can picture this little gremlin in Southern California, but she obviously knows her way around the world of movies.

“Your backpack’s buzzing,” I say, gently kicking her bag and interrupting her tirade about why she thinks Casablanca’s overrated.

“Sorry,” she mutters, grabbing the bag and digging around for her phone. Why she doesn’t utilize the front pocket of the bag is beyond me.

I’ve never understood why the girls in my life make everything needlessly difficult. With Olivia, practicality ranked somewhere between monster truck shows and fishing on her priority list. Her car keys were always in the bottom of her purse, never the side pocket. She never could tie back her hair when it was windy. An umbrella on a rainy day? Forget it. And apparently this is a trait shared by Park Avenue princesses and whatever graveyard this girl clawed her way out of, because Stephanie’s still digging for her phone.

I mean, it’s not as though I expect them to carry around flares and a Swiss Army knife on their belt or anything, but sometimes it’s like chicks go out of their way to be unprepared.

“Hello?” Stephanie finally finds her phone and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear as she listens to whoever’s on the other end. I notice that she has like five earrings, and for some reason I find it kind of hot. Olivia only ever wore the pearls that I got her for high school graduation.

I realize that Stephanie’s doing a lot more listening than talking, and I tear my eyes away from her ear long enough to see that she looks distraught.

“It’s no biggie,” she says finally to the person on the other end. “I have until the end of the week before I have to be out of campus housing. I’ll find something before then.”

“Everything okay?” I ask as she drops her phone back into the bag. The bottom of her bag.

She shrugs. “That was my cousin. I was supposed to be subletting her apartment for next to nothing while she went home to Arizona, but her plans there changed, so she’s staying in town.”

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