“No, he’s not,” Becca agreed.
Callie sighed and reached for the syrup. She was going to need a lot more sugar to get through this. “It’s a very long, very boring story.”
“I love long, boring stories,” Olivia said.
Great. “Okay, well…I had a crush on him in high school,” she admitted. “A big-time crush.”
“Tanner’s pretty crushable,” Becca said, and when Olivia slid her a look, she shrugged. “What? I’m engaged, I’m not dead. Those dark eyes, that hard body.” Becca sighed dreamily. “His body language always seems to say that he’s been badass before and he has no problem being badass again if the need arises.” She shook herself. “The man is hot.”
“Yes, well,” Callie said, “he’s also out of my league.”
“Don’t make me set down my fork to smack you,” Olivia said. “Because I don’t want to stop eating but I’ll totally do it.”
“I mean it,” Callie said. “Look, I was the nerd in school. You know, the girl that guys like him paid to do their homework. And I know it sounds stupid, but when I see him sometimes my tongue gets all tied up like it used to.”
“Because he’s hot,” Becca said. “Not because he’s out of your league. Honey, whatever you were, you’re the equally hot girl now. Brains are in. Own it.”
Callie smiled at her. “You’re sweet.”
“Yes,” Becca said. “And I’m smart too, so believe me.”
Callie did. Maybe she’d felt a little invisible at first, but that had been before Tanner had brought her doughnuts.
And kissed her.
She hadn’t been invisible then. Tanner had been as gobsmacked by their chemistry as she. Nope. She no longer felt invisible at all.
Now she just felt…longing.
“Okay, so now that that’s settled,” Becca said. “Explain the bakery breakfasts.”
Fine. This was easier anyway. “I was there first and Tanner came in and took the only empty seat.” She paused. “Next to me.”
“Three times?” Becca asked.
Hmm. Maybe not so easy. “Well, the first time anyway,” she said, diving back into her pancakes. “Maybe the next two times I sort of saved a seat for him.”
Becca and Olivia grinned at this, and Callie sighed. “We told each other we were sitting together in order to not have to socialize with anyone else.”
“Interesting,” Becca said slowly.
“Very,” said Olivia. “Which do you find more so, the evasion technique or the out-and-out lie?”
Callie rolled her eyes. “It was stupid. Hanging out with him renewed my stupid high school crush. And then he saw the whole thing with Eric, which was mortifying. So I didn’t go for coffee the next day. And…
“And?” Becca and Olivia asked in unison, leaning forward.
“And…” Callie grimaced. “Tanner showed up on my doorstep with coffee and doughnuts.”
“What kind?” Becca asked.
“An entire baker’s dozen. Assorted.”
Her avid audience sighed dreamily.
“No,” she said, pointing her fork at them. “Don’t do that. No sighing like that. It wasn’t cute.”
“No,” Becca said. “It was sexy.”
“Sexy as all get-out,” Olivia agreed. “I heard the whole thing as it happened.”
Callie stared at her. “What? Then why did you ask me about it? And how? How did you know?”
“No insulation,” Olivia said.
“Oh my God,” Callie said. “I’m calling our landlord!”
“Good luck,” Olivia said. “And I swear I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop. At least not at first. Cole and I were in bed and then you two started talking, and before we knew it we were trying not to listen with our ears pressed against the wall.”
Not Callie. “Cole heard?” she asked on a moan. “Oh, God.” She dropped her head to the table and thunked it a few times, which didn’t help whatsoever. “Okay, you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s done. Seeing Eric reminded me that no good comes from crushes. Or relationships. And since Tanner agrees, subject closed.”
Becca’s expression went from amused to troubled. “He said that?”
“Didn’t have to,” Callie said. “He left in a pretty big hurry after the kiss.”
“There was a kiss?” they both screeched together.
Callie went back to thunking her head on the table.
“It’s okay. I know how to fix this,” Olivia said.
Callie lifted her head. “We wipe Cole’s memory?”
Olivia ignored that and turned to Becca. “I really thought out of the three of us, I was the most screwed up and that you took second place.”
“Hey,” Becca said. Then she sighed. “Okay, true.”
“But it’s her,” Olivia said, and looked at Callie. “You’re the most screwed up.”
“Gee,” Callie said. “Thanks?”
“Oh, no worries,” Olivia said. “We can fix this.”
“Fix what exactly?” Callie asked warily.
“Well, Tanner’s in a bad head space,” Becca said. “He’s had a lot on his plate and it’s all about the people he cares about. It’s time for him to do something for himself for a change. And you’re perfect as that something.”