“Nice analogy.”

He winks at me and bites his stick of celery. “Speaking of analogies. What’s up with your locker? It was covered in sexual analogies and metaphors today.”

I laugh. “You like that? Took me a while, but I was feeling creative.”

He nods. “I especially liked the one that said ‘You’re such a slut, you screwed Breckin the Mormon.’”

I shake my head. “Now that one I can’t lay claim to. That was an original. But they’re fun, aren’t they? Now that they’ve been dirtied up?”

“Well,” he says. “They were fun. They aren’t there anymore. I saw Holder ripping them off your locker just now.”

I snap my gaze back up to his and he’s grinning mischievously again. I guess this is the secret he was having trouble holding in.

“That’s strange.” I’m curious why Holder would bother to do such a thing. We haven’t been running together since we spoke last. In fact, we don’t even interact at all. He sits across the room now in first period and I don’t see him at all the rest of the day, aside from lunch. Even then, he sits on the other side of the cafeteria with his friends. I thought after coming to an impasse, we’d successfully moved on to mutual avoidance, but I guess I was wrong.

“Can I ask you something?” Breckin says.

I shrug again, mostly just to irritate him.

“Are the rumors about him true? About his temper? And his sister?”

I try not to appear taken aback by his comment, but it’s the first I’ve heard anything about a sister. “I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve spent enough time with him to know he scares me enough to not want to spend more time with him.”

I really want to ask him about the sister comment, but I can’t help which situations my stubbornness rears its ugly head in. For some reason, probing for information about Dean Holder is one of those situations.

“Hey,” a voice from behind me says. I immediately know it isn’t Holder’s, because I’m indifferent to the voice. About the time I turn around, Grayson swings his leg over the seat bench next to me and sits. “You busy after school?”

I dip my celery stick into a blob of ranch dressing and take a bite. “Probably.”

Grayson shakes his head. “That’s not a good enough answer. I’ll meet you at your car after last period.”

He’s up and gone before I can object. Breckin smirks at me.

I just shrug.

I have no idea what Grayson wants to talk about, but if he’s thinking he’s coming over tomorrow night, he needs a lobotomy. I’m so ready to just swear off guys for the rest of the year. Especially if it means not having Six to eat ice cream with after they go home. Ice cream was the only appealing part to making out with the guys.

At least he’s true to form. He’s waiting at my car, leaning up against my driver’s side door when I reach the parking lot. “Hey, Princess,” he says. I don’t know if it’s the sound of his voice or the fact that he just gave me a nickname, but his words make me cringe. I walk up to him and lean against the car next to him.

“Don’t call me princess again. Ever.”

He laughs and slides in front of me, gripping my waist in his hands. “Fine. How about beautiful?”

“How about you just call me Sky?”

“Why do you have to be so angry all the time?” He reaches up to my face and holds my cheeks in his hands, then kisses me. Sadly, I let him. Mostly because I feel like he’s earned it for putting up with me for an entire month. He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of return favors, though, so I pull my face away after just a few seconds.

“What do you want?”

He snakes his arms around my waist and pulls me against him. “You.” He starts kissing my neck, so I push against him and he backs away. “What?”

“Can you not take a hint? I told you I’m not sleeping with you, Grayson. I’m not trying to play games or get you to chase me like other sick, twisted girls do. You want more and I don’t, so I think we just need to accept that we’re at an impasse and move on.”

He stares at me, then sighs and pulls me against him, hugging me. “I don’t need more, Sky. It’s fine the way it is. I won’t push it again. I just like coming to your house and I want to come over tomorrow night.” He tries to flash me that panty-dropping grin. “Now stop being mad at me and come here.” He pulls my face to his and kisses me again.

As irritated and as angry as I am, I can’t help but be relieved that as soon as his lips meet mine, my irritation subsides, thanks to the numbness that takes over. For that reason alone, I continue to let him kiss me. He backs me against the car and runs his hands in my hair, then kisses down my jaw and to my neck. I lean my head against the car and bring my wrist up behind him to check the time on my watch. Karen’s going out of town for work, so I need to go to the grocery store to get enough sugar to last me all weekend. I don’t know how long he plans on feeling me up, but ice cream is really starting to sound tempting right about now. I roll my eyes and drop my arm. All at once, my heart rate triples and my stomach flips and I get all of the feelings a girl is supposed to get when a hot guys lips are all over her. Only I’m not having the reaction to the hot guy whose lips are all over me. I’m having the reaction to the hot guy glaring at me from across the parking lot.

Holder is standing next to his car with his elbow on the top of his doorframe, watching us. I immediately shove Grayson off of me and turn around to get in my car.

“So we’re on for tomorrow night?” he asks.

I climb inside the car and crank it, then look up at him. “No. We’re done.”

I pull the door shut and back out of the parking lot, not sure if I’m angry, embarrassed or infatuated. How does he do that? How the hell does he incite these kinds of feelings from me from clear across a parking lot? I think I’m in need of an intervention.

Friday, August 31st, 2012 4:50 p.m.

“Is Jack going with you?” I open the car door for Karen so she can throw the last of her luggage into the backseat.

“Yeah, he’s coming. We’ll be home….I’ll be home on Sunday,” she says, correcting herself. It pains her to count Jack as a “we.” I hate that she feels that way because I really like Jack and I know he loves Karen, so I don’t understand what her hang-up is at all. She’s had a couple of boyfriends in the past twelve years, but as soon as it starts getting serious for the guy, she runs.

Karen shuts the backdoor and turns to me. “You know I trust you, but please…”

“Don’t get pregnant,” I interrupt. “I know, I know. You’ve been saying that every time you leave for the past two years. I’m not getting pregnant, Mom. Only terribly high and cracked out.”

She laughs and hugs me. “Good girl. And wasted. Don’t forget to get really wasted.”

“I won’t forget, I promise. And I’m renting a TV for the weekend so I can sit around and eat ice-cream and watch trash on cable.”

She pulls back and glares at me. “Now that’s not funny.”

I laugh and hug her again. “Have fun. I hope you sell lots of herbal thingies and soaps and tinctures and whatever else it is you do at these things.”

“Love you. If you need me, you know you can use Six’s house phone.”

I roll my eyes at the same instructions she gives me every time she leaves. “See ya,” I say. She gets in the car and pulls out of the driveway, leaving me parent-free for the weekend. To most teenagers, this would be the point at which they pull out their phones and post an invite to the most kick-ass party of the year. Not me. Nope. Instead, I go inside and decide to bake cookies, because that’s the most rebellious thing I can come up with.

I love to bake, but I don’t claim to be very good at it. I usually end up with more flour and chocolate on my face and hair than in the actual end product. Tonight’s no exception. I’ve already made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a batch of brownies and something I’m not sure what it was supposed to be. I’m working on pouring the flour into the mixture for a homemade German chocolate cake when the doorbell rings.

I’m pretty sure I should know what to do in situations like this. Doorbells ring all the time, right? Not mine. I stare at the door, not sure what I’m expecting it to do. When it rings for a second time, I put down the measuring cup and wipe my hair out of my eyes, then walk to the front door. When I open it, I’m not even surprised to see Holder. Okay, I’m surprised. But not really.

“Hey,” I say. I can’t think of anything else to say. Even if I could think of something else to say, I probably wouldn’t be able to say it since I can’t freaking breathe! He’s standing on the top step of my entryway, hands hanging loosely in the pockets of his jeans. His hair still needs a trim, but when he brings his hand up and pushes it out of his eyes, the thought of him trimming that hair is suddenly the worst idea in the world.

“Hi.” He’s smiling awkwardly and he looks nervous and it’s terribly attractive. He’s in a good mood. For now, anyway. Who knows when he’ll get pissed off and feel like arguing again.

“Um,” I say, uneasily. I know the next step is to invite him in, but that’s only if I’m actually wanting him inside my house, and to be honest, the jury is still out on that one.

“You busy?” he asks.

I glance back into the kitchen at the inconceivable mess I’ve made. “Sort of.” It’s not a lie. I’m sort of incredibly busy.

He looks away and nods, then points behind him to his car. “Yeah. I guess I’ll…go.” He takes a step back off the top step.

“No,” I say, much too quickly and a decibel too loudly. It’s an almost desperate no, and I cringe from embarrassment. As much as I don’t know why he’s here or why he even keeps bothering, my curiosity gets the best of me. I step aside and open the door further. “You can come in, but you might be put to work.”

He hesitates, then ascends the step again. He walks inside and I shut the door behind us. Before it can get any more awkward, I walk into the kitchen and pick up the measuring cup and get right back to work like there isn’t some random, temperamental, hot guy standing in my house.

“You prepping for a bake sale?” He makes his way around the bar and eyes the plethora of desserts covering my counter.

“My mom’s out of town for the weekend. She’s anti-sugar, so I kind of go crazy when she’s not here.”

He laughs and picks up a cookie, but looks at me first for permission.

“Help yourself,” I say. “But be warned, just because I like to bake doesn’t mean I’m good at it.” I sift the last of the flour and pour it into the mixing bowl.

“So you get the house to yourself and you spend Friday night baking? Typical teenager,” he says mockingly.

“What can I say?” I shrug. “I’m a rebel.”

Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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