Isn't She Lovely Page 6

It takes me a second to comprehend what she’s saying because her tank top’s slipped down a little bit, and I’m not a pervy lecher, but damn …

“What are you going to do?” I ask.

She stares out the window for a second, and I’m expecting her to look a little annoyed or worried, but instead she looks totally resigned to the shit card she’s just been dealt. As though she doesn’t deserve any better.

“I’ll see if I can crash with David, I guess. At least he lives close to campus.”

“Who’s David?”

“My ex.”

I squint at her profile as I try to put the pieces together. “Wait, the guy you caught exploring a dodgy vagina?”

“That’s the one.”

She says it in this flat, whatever voice that totally bums me out, and I almost open my mouth to offer something stupid, but that haunted look on her face stops me. I have no use for new girls in my life at the moment, especially weird ones. Nobody’s ever accused me of being the sensitive type, and I’m not going to start now. I’ve got my own shit to figure out.

“That sucks,” I say, pushing my gross drink toward her as though it’s supposed to be consolation to a girl who’s probably a vegan or some crap like that.

Stephanie gives an apathetic shrug. “Pretty much par for the course, actually.”


Maybe somebody else’s life does suck worse than mine.

Chapter Three


I’m not what you’d call a girl’s girl. Like, at all.

I used to be.

I used to have vitally important debates with my friends about whether we should paint our nails blue to match our cheerleading uniforms or yellow because we read in some magazine that it was that season’s “it” color.

I used to pay attention to brands of lip gloss, whether my lingerie matched, and pedicures. When my mom told me that lime green wasn’t my color, I listened, and when I found that my best friend had a crush on the boy I secretly liked, I backed off simply because that was the girl code. I used to know who’d be at every party, and would plan my outfit accordingly … a month in advance.

In other words, I was your typical teenage nightmare.

That was before my whole world went to shit. But now?

Now I find female friends suffocating and interfering. They ask too many questions and demand too many answers.

And parties? Parties are my personal version of hell.

But I do make exceptions. Both on the friend front and the party front.

Jordan Crawford would never admit it, but NYU was never her dream the way it was mine. I mean, sure, it was on her list of schools when we used to sit around eating ice cream and talking about life after high school. But I don’t know that it would have even been on her radar if I hadn’t been so dead set on New York. Although back then it wasn’t about film school. It was about the bright lights and the high heels and the fact that people in New York were doing stuff.

And New York was big. When you grow up in the smallest state in the country, big can feel really important.

Anyway, Jordan and I have never really talked about why she came to NYU. But senior year of high school, after my mom was gone and Caleb was out of the picture … Well, all of a sudden Jordan was going to NYU with me. Just like that.

Which is not to say we’re in each other’s back pocket or anything. When I miraculously got into Tisch School of the Arts, Jordan merely said “Yikes” and showed me her pamphlet for NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute. She wants to be a sportscaster someday. It sounds awful to me, but Jordan will totally rock it. She’s got that classic just-one-of-those-guys charm, but without looking like one of the guys. Basically, she’s every dude’s dream girl.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to see if there’s an extra room at the sorority house this summer?” she asks, linking her elbow with mine.

I give her a look. The one that says, Do I look like I belong in a sorority house?

She acknowledges the validity of my silent point with a long sigh. “I can’t believe that between the two of us, we can’t find a single alternative housing arrangement for you for the summer.”

“I can believe it. My social circle’s more like a social dot.”

Her glossy lips press together for several seconds, which I’m able to translate perfectly since we’ve been friends since eighth grade: You used to have a social circle.

“Well, I’ll ask around at the party tonight,” she says. “We have three days before you have to be out of campus housing. We’ll find something.”

“Okay, so about this party,” I say, feeling the familiar tug of dread. “You’re sure it’s just a small get-together?”

She stays silent, and I groan. “Jordan. This is a Greek party, isn’t it?”

Jordan gives me a guilty smile. “Please, Steffie? It’s the last one of the season. Finals are over, summer’s here … Don’t you want a break?”

My stomach has more knots than a chapter of Moby-Dick. “You know why I don’t go to big parties.”

“But I’ll be right there by your side the whole time,” she says, grabbing my hand and giving my fingers a reassuring squeeze. “Just don’t drink anything unless I hand it to you. It’ll be fun. And we haven’t hung out with each other on a Friday night in forever.”

That’s not entirely true. We hang out a fair amount. It’s just always in my dorm room. Usually watching some black-and-white movie with wine. Not frat parties with keg cups and puking sorority girls.

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