Isn't She Lovely Page 64

I almost snicker. Sure. If by “grew up together” he means “had pretty much been betrothed.” I’d paid enough attention to last names enough to know that I was meeting Olivia’s dad. And although the man was nothing less than polite, his puzzled expression said it all.

My daughter’s being passed over for her?

“Well, we should get something to eat before we head out,” Ethan is saying.

“Sure, sure. Good game yesterday, by the way. Maybe the four of us can head out next weekend for another round if it cools down a little bit?”

“Sure, definitely,” Ethan mumbles before saying some sort of lame good-bye and pulling me toward the buffet table.

I glance at his profile. There’s something else warring with embarrassment on his face now. Guilt.

And I’m pretty sure I know what’s causing it.

“The four of you?” I say casually as we begin mechanically heaping food onto our plates. Everything looks flawlessly prepared, although I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to eat a bite.

“Sure, same foursome from yesterday’s round,” he says, taking way too long to select the right serving of eggs Benedict.

“So you, your dad, Pat, and … Olivia?”

He drops the spoon with more force than necessary. “Yes, I played golf with Liv, okay? It was hardly salacious.”

Except you didn’t tell me about it.

It’s not a big deal, really. I mean, golf isn’t the sexiest of sports, and their dads were there. And to be fair, I didn’t ask about his golf game. I was completely willing to buy that it had been a harmless round of the world’s most boring sport.

Except …

It was a sport that I’ve never played. Will probably never want to play. I’ll never be invited to join “his people” for a round of golf next weekend.

“Well, have fun with Liv next weekend,” I say, hating the petty jealousy in my voice at the thought of the two of them in little matchy outfits with their clean-cut dads and probably some mesclun salad lunch to follow, but unable to change my tone.

“Christ, Stephanie. Don’t pick a fight. Not about this.” Ethan heads to one of the vacant round tables and I follow, feeling like an outcast foreign exchange student. Except I’m not from another country, I’m from another freaking world.

I let my plate clank to the table, delighted when a strawberry rolls off my plate onto the white cloth. Hope that shit stains.

“I’m not picking a fight. I just want to know why you didn’t tell me that you spent most of yesterday with your ex-girlfriend.”

He shoves a pile of some truffled potato shit in his mouth, and I have a sudden craving for diner-style greasy hash browns, just because it’s normal. “Probably because I knew you’d respond like this,” he says irritably.

Ethan has a point. I’m acting like that totally immature bitch of a girlfriend from the movies, the one who always gets dumped. But I’m apparently a glutton for punishment because I keep going.

“Was it fun?”

“Was what fun?” He drops his fork on his plate, and we quit bothering to pretend we’re hungry.

“Your little country-club expedition. Was. It. Fun?”

“Sure …” he says slowly. He doesn’t meet my eyes.

And then I know why he didn’t bother mentioning it. Maybe nothing sexual happened with Olivia, maybe not even anything flirty.

But there’s something more dangerous than sex.


Ethan and Olivia have it.

Ethan and I do not.

It’s the same reason he was freaked out this morning by my attire. Hell, it’s the very reason I put on these clothes; I just didn’t realize it. Because my subconscious knew what I didn’t. That although he cared about me—and I didn’t doubt for a second that he did—it wouldn’t be enough. He wouldn’t be happy on the outskirts of his world, when the rest of his friends were yachting and I was trying to drag him to some one-man off-off-Broadway show.

He would miss out on golf games, tennis matches, and whatever other preppy crap because of me.

And because I care about him too, I won’t let that happen.

It’s why I have to let him go.

I feel my lips curve into a gross semblance of a smile. “Guess we have the end of our Pygmalion movie, huh?”

“What?” he snaps, looking exasperated.

I tell myself to shut up and walk away, but my stupid mouth keeps running. “You know, all this time, I sort of thought it was going to be one of those trashy romantic comedy scripts. I’m actually kind of relieved that it’s real.”

“Stephanie …”

I keep going. “It’s pretty standard, actually. You, as Pygmalion, are forced to realize that what you thought you cared for was something of your own creation and not real. And I, as the subject, am forced to realize that it was too good to be true. That someone like you wouldn’t fall for damaged goods with multiple piercings.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “That sounds like a bunch of melodramatic babble.”

“Give it time. You’ll see I’m right.”

He frowns, his bored expression turning intense. “Wait—what are you saying?”

You know what I’m saying. “We do what we always planned to do at the end of all this,” I say, hoping he doesn’t notice that my voice cracks. “We go our separate ways. No harm, no foul.”

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