Isn't She Lovely Page 8

My shirt’s ridden up a bit, and when he puts his arm around me to help steady me, his hand finds the bare skin of my lower back and we both suck in a breath at the contact.

Suddenly I’m way too hot, and it has nothing to do with the stifling hallway we’re standing in. It’s him.

What the hell is going on here? Just three days ago I was cursing his very existence, wondering if there was a subtle way to poison his coffee. I don’t even like this guy. I didn’t like the snarky smart-ass version, and I certainly don’t like this macho, sulky version.

But I don’t move.

Neither does he.

Ethan gives a quick glance over his shoulder before his free hand moves, and he’s hooking a finger beneath my jaw and tilting my face upward.

His hand is warm, his fingers gentle, and for some stupid reason my breath catches. He scans my face and gives a quick nod—I guess to reassure himself that I’m not oozing blood all over the ground.

Okay, then. Time to back away.

His hand shifts again. Barely. Just enough to run a finger along my jaw, and although I’m pretty sure he’s just making sure he didn’t do any serious harm, the sensation feels oddly like a caress.

“What the hell are you doing here, Goth?” His voice is quiet. Annoyed.

Our eyes meet, and I’m dying to see the same sort of confused attraction on his own face, but he’s totally unreadable. He’s completely unlike the guy who teased me and bought me coffee and crashed my film class. Although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the real Ethan Price either.

I’m dying to know which version is the real one. I suspect it’s neither.

A huge black-haired guy appears next to us. “Dude. Price. What the f**k are you doing?”

Ethan jerks his arm back so fast, he almost elbows another girl, and I want to ask if he’ll go caress her face too, except I don’t really want to know the answer.

I tear my eyes away from his and start to move away, even as I hear his friend make some lame joke about how I look like an extra from The Crucible. I’d bet that uncultured jackass has never even seen The Crucible.

I lift a hand to my jaw, not because it hurts … but because it tingles with awareness.

An awareness I haven’t felt in so long.

Unable to help myself, I give a quick glance backward, only to find a pair of sulky dark eyes watching me.

He looks away the second my eyes find his, and I’m oddly gratified that he was watching me against his will. Or at least I would be gratified, if only I knew what the hell just happened.

Chapter Four


What the hell is she doing here?

The odd little munchkin from that godforsaken film class is skulking around my house’s end-of-the-year party, and it’s bugging the shit out of me.

She doesn’t belong here.

After the hallway groping, I saw her seek out Jordan Crawford, which is weird. Jordan is one of those cute, smiley blondes whom everybody likes. Pretty much the opposite of the edgy, dark brunette who’s skulking in corners, not drinking so much as a soda.

But her presence isn’t what bothers me. Everyone else is too drunk to care whether or not she’s Greek, and we let friends of friends into parties all the time.

What’s bothering me is that my eyes won’t stop seeking her out. Every time I move to a new room or go for another drink, she’s there. Standing in the corner, mostly. Her posture is nonchalant, as though she doesn’t notice the occasional second glances she’s getting. Like she doesn’t care that she stands out.

But I’ve seen those wide blue eyes up close. Seen them go wary. She cares more than she lets on.

I’ve also seen those blue eyes go hot and smoky.


What the hell was I thinking, touching her like that? I’ve had a few beers, but I’m not damned near drunk enough to be attracted to a tiny, angry brunette.

But for a second there, I felt something. A little zip of awareness when she pushed against me. The same awareness I felt when she rammed into me that day in the hallway.

It doesn’t make sense. Between the piercings and the biker-chick makeup, she’s pretty much Olivia’s exact opposite.

Maybe that’s why I like her.

Except I don’t like her. Not really. She’s irritable, skittish, and a little weird. But hot. Definitely hot.

I hear an enormous beer belch to my left and don’t have to turn to know it’s Cody Wagner, better known as Wag. He’s a big blob of a guy who’s somehow gotten it in his head that chicks find these nasty beer burps sexy.

Wag is perpetually single.

“Where’s Liv?” he says, taking an enormous swallow from his keg cup.

I tear my eyes away from Stephanie Kendrick’s cle**age and take a sip of my own beer, even though it’s lukewarm and tastes like piss.

Wag sways slightly, but he’s still looking at me as though waiting for an answer. Obviously he didn’t get the memo that Olivia and I are no longer together.

Not surprising. I certainly haven’t been advertising the fact.

“Not here,” I say, keeping my voice neutral.

He nods, as though it’s totally normal that I’m attending a party without my long-term girlfriend. It’s not. Olivia and I weren’t joined at the hip or anything like that, but her sorority girls were tight with my frat guys, so we almost always ended up attending these things together. Hell, half the time we ended up planning them, like some sort of king and queen of the Greeks.

For the first time I realize that if I’m not Olivia’s boyfriend, maybe it means I won’t have to play that role anymore. The thought is oddly freeing.

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