Isn't She Lovely Page 59

I pause in front of the first door on the left, my hand hovering over the doorknob.

And then I open it.

Chapter Twenty-Two


My first thought when my door opens is that I really should remember to lock it when my parents have house guests. But I spent too many carefree summers in this room as a kid, and now the concept of a lock doesn’t even occur to me.

I sit up in bed, ready to tell whatever old fogey is wandering around without their glasses that they got the wrong room.

But it’s not an old fogey.

I can’t see her face, but I’d know that silhouette anywhere.


She stands there in the doorway for several seconds, clearly terrified that I’ll send her away or ask what the hell she’s doing here.

Doesn’t she know it took every bit of self-control I had to send her into her bedroom alone a few hours ago?

But I had to. My parents aren’t fools. I can do whatever hanky-panky I want at my own place, but under their roof, it’s separate bedrooms all the way. I was expecting a “goodnight, darling” visit from my mother at the end of the evening, just to ensure that Stephanie and I were, in fact, where we were supposed to be, and I was right: my mother knocked softly and quietly opened the door, although I pretended to be fast asleep.

But I’m not pretending to be asleep with Stephanie, only she probably can’t tell that since it’s pitch-black in here and she has no way of knowing that I’m awake and that I want her here.

She starts to take a step backward, and I reflexively reach out a hand. “Stephanie.”

There’s a startled little breath from the door, and then she moves again, this time toward me. The door closes behind her, and I will her to lock it.

She does.

The room is silent except for her soft footsteps as she approaches the bed. She stops by the side of the bed, and I’m really wishing I brought some water up to my room because my throat is completely dry.

I rack my brain for something to say—the right thing to say—but I don’t want to f**k this up, so instead I stay silent, lifting the covers up several inches, inviting her in. My heart is pounding, and she’s close enough now that I can just make out the glow of her eyes, the shape of her face.

For one crushing moment I think I’ve misunderstood. That she’s here to tell me to f**k off, or to say good-bye, or to say something else that will feel like it’s putting my heart through a meat grinder.

Then she’s slipping beneath the blanket, and all I can think is, Thank God.

“Couldn’t sleep?” I ask, loving the way she curls into my arms even as I reach for her.

She burrows closer, her nose against my bare chest. My boxers aren’t doing much to protect her from the fact that I’m really digging the tiny-ass shorts and tank top that are her pajamas.

Then she speaks.

“Caleb wrote back.”

She says it so softly that at first I’m not even sure I’ve heard her correctly. I’m careful not to let my body tense, keeping my touch easy, even as I know how important this is for her. For both of us.

“Yeah?” I ask.

I can hear her swallow. “He, um … we didn’t …”

Stephanie dips her head as her voice breaks off, and I hear a sniffle a second before I feel the moistness against my chest, and I’m torn between wanting to kill this Caleb because he’s a f**ker who made her cry and wanting to kiss the tears away.

She tells me the story in soft whispers. Her voice is steady, but she’s more or less quoting his email word for word, so she’s clearly read the damn thing at least a dozen times. That tells me how much it matters.

“How do you feel?” I ask when she’s finished.

She gives a little sigh, and then she shifts so that her palm’s against my chest. Her touch is tentative, and there’s nothing overtly sexual about it, but I suck in a breath all the same at her touch.

Knock it off, Ethan. This isn’t about sex.

“I feel relieved, I think. And a little surprised. I guess I just always assumed … I mean, when you wake up naked in your boyfriend’s bed, you’re kind of inclined to believe the worst. All this time I’ve been blaming him, and I guess now … well, I blame myself too. He tried to explain. I can’t tell you how many times he called. Even came over …”

I hook a finger beneath her chin, tilting her face up to mine. “Stephanie. This is not your fault. Absolutely no part of it.”

She holds my gaze for several seconds before she very slowly nods. “Okay.”

I don’t release her chin. “I hate that any of it happened to you, and I’m not going to give you any bullshit about a silver lining, but for what it’s worth, I’m glad that that your first time will be separate from that horrible night.”

Her eyes widen a little, and I hurry to correct her impression. “For your sake, I mean. I didn’t mean, you know … I don’t expect that your first time will be now.…”

Her hand moves from my chest to my lips, her fingers very lightly tracing the outline of my mouth. Even though I fully intend to be simply a comforting friend tonight, I can’t help flicking the pads of her fingers with my tongue, watching as her eyes close and her breath goes shallow just from that tiny contact.

I know the feeling, sweetheart.

I stay perfectly still, waiting for her to make the next move, and when she opens her eyes again, they’re burning hot, and my heart starts to thud with anticipation, even as I’m terrified that I’m misinterpreting.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies