Isn't She Lovely Page 52

Exactly. I close my eyes briefly. “You know what I meant.”

Ethan rubs a hand across the back of his neck, and I hate that I’m starting to adore that frequent gesture. “What about our screenplay?”

“We’ll get it done. We don’t have to turn it in for a couple of weeks, and we have most of the major scenes laid out.”

I haven’t told him, but I added the whole making-out-on-the-couch episode to the scene list—omitting, of course, the abrupt ending. In our movie, the heroine wouldn’t be damaged goods who doesn’t know whether or not she’s ever had sex. In the movie, Tyler and Kayla would consummate. Professor Holbrook had said he’d wanted conflict. And sex would definitely add conflict.

I still don’t know whether I’m relieved or disappointed that that particular plot development won’t be based on a true story.

“What about the ending?” he asks.

“Still open-ended,” I say more calmly, bending down to grab the bag and hoisting it onto the bed. “I thought maybe we could get some inspiration from this trip. Maybe have a big blowup with the ex-girlfriend or something.”

He smiles at that. “You want me to get into a public fight with Olivia for the sake of a two-credit class?”

“Well, we’ve got to have something good for our denouement.”

“You act like I’m supposed to know what that means.”

“The climax. The explosive ending,” I explain. “I know up until now we’ve been loosely basing it on our own experiences, but that won’t work for the final scenes. We can’t just have Tyler and Kayla go quietly into the night.”

“As you plan to do,” he says.

“As do you,” I say, giving him a look out of the corner of my eye.

“Yeah, well,” he says, rubbing his neck again, “I suspect you’ll do it better. You hating the sunshine and all. Creeping in the night is just your style.”

He’s trying to make me smile, but I find I’m not up to it. In fact, I don’t like that description of me at all, and that scares the crap out of me. I’d better not be losing my edge after a few short weeks of wearing high heels and short skirts.

I feel his eyes boring into my back as I turn to load a pile of black shirts into the bag, and I will him to acknowledge what neither of us has mentioned: the fact we’ve now kissed twice for reasons that have nothing to do with pretending.

I want him to tell me that the movie’s becoming true. That Pygmalion is falling in love with the girl he created.

But he doesn’t.

Instead he wanders to my nightstand and picks up a picture. “Your mom?” he asks.

I don’t bother looking up. I have the photograph memorized. It’s my parents and me the night of the homecoming game. I’d just been crowned the sophomore homecoming princess, and they were proud. I remember thinking that nothing in my life would ever feel as good as that moment.

So far I’ve been right.

Ethan isn’t saying anything, and when I turn to make sure he’s not up to his elbows in thongs, I see him still staring at the picture.

“You were a cheerleader,” he says.

“Good eye,” I mutter, resisting the urge to rip the picture from his hands.

“And a tiara.”

I say nothing. I know what he’s thinking: What the hell happened to you? Except he already knows.

“Some guys have a thing for cheerleaders,” he says, his voice easy.

I roll my eyes as I start tossing socks into the bag. “Let me guess. You want to know if I still have my old uniform.”

He sets the picture back on the nightstand and moves toward the door. “Nah. Not my speed. But I think I could develop a thing for girls in combat boots.”

I spin around in surprise, wanting to see his face, wanting to know if he means what I think he means.

But he’s already gone.

Chapter Eighteen


I’m on a boat with Stephanie again. Only this time the boat is actually an enormous chartered yacht, and the tiny little swimsuit she wore last time would absolutely not be appropriate.

My parents aren’t exactly the type to break with tradition, and they kick off their Hamptons weekend spectacle the same way they do every year: a “black and white” cocktail party on a pimped-out mansion of a boat, in which everything from the food to the requested guest attire is—you guessed it—black and white.

I grab two flutes from the champagne fountain, only to realize that I’ve lost Stephanie in the crush. I told her I’d be right back with the bubbly but was stopped by about a dozen of my parents’ already tipsy friends, and I’ve left her alone for a good fifteen minutes now.

Weaving through the crowds, I keep my eye out for her shiny dark head. She’s wearing heels, which means she won’t be quite as minuscule as usual, but she’s still short. A good deal shorter than say, Olivia, whom I’m also keeping an eye out for, but not in the excited-to-see-you way.

My father warned me that she’d be here. I already knew, of course. Although her family isn’t an official co-host, they always host the clambake and bonfire extravaganza that follows this fancy cocktail party. My only consolation is that my mom muttered something about Michael having a conflict. She’d asked me for details—like I’d know.

But at least it’s looking like I’ll have to face only one demon this weekend. Although the thought doesn’t seem as heinous as long as Stephanie is by my side.

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