“I am.” I smile despite my exhaustion. I could probably collapse in bed right now. “I got a job.”
“You did? That’s awesome. We should celebrate.” His smile grows and I feel bad that I’m about to disappoint him.
“Let’s get pizza,” Conrad calls from the couch.
Steven makes a face as I say, “That sounds perfect.” It does. I don’t want to go out and make small talk. And what if he tries to take me back to the casino, gambling house or whatever that Tristan runs? I don’t want to see him again. Not now.
He frowns at me and lowers his voice. “Really?”
“Since I’m a working girl now, I’m kind of tired.” I step closer and touch the edge of his frames, my index finger grazing the skin just beneath his eye. “What’s up with these?”
His cheeks go red and I let my hand drop. I shouldn’t touch him or lead him on. That’s messed up. “I wear contacts most of the time but they were bugging me.” He looks sheepish. “I fell asleep wearing them last night and my eyes felt gritty when I woke up. So out come the glasses.”
“You look good in them,” I say truthfully.
“You think?” Steven looks surprised.
I nod, wishing I could like this guy. He’s so nice. Humble. Modest. Polite and sweet and cute—all words I could never use to describe that sexy jackass Tristan Prescott.
Here I go again, thinking about him. When can I not?
“You don’t mind that I’m here, do you?” Steven asks worriedly, endearing himself to me even more. “Conrad texted earlier and invited me over.”
“I don’t mind. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go change and then I’ll hang out with you guys.” I smile, trying to be nice but not too nice. I don’t want to lead him on.
“Well, yeah.” I normally don’t hang out with Conrad and Jeff and their friends. But it’s different tonight. Steven’s here and I want to get to know him better. Maybe spending time with him more will help drive Tristan out of my system once and for all.
I’m mentally contradicting myself. This isn’t good.
“What kind of pizza do you like, Alex?” Conrad asks as he gazes at his phone.
“Whatever. I’m easy.” I smirk at Steven. “Just don’t let that get around,” I tease him, making him blush even further. Jeez.
Conrad hesitates a little before he says, “Got any friends you want to invite over, Alex?”
Not really. Well, there’s Kelli, but will she want to hang out with these gamer nerds? Anyone else I know would be through Kelli and they have boyfriends already…
“Let me see what I can put together,” I tell Conrad, offering Steven a quick smile. “Be right back,” I tell him as I turn and head for my bedroom.
Well. This ought to be an interesting night.
After driving aimlessly for over an hour, I ended up at Gabe’s because I had nothing else better to do on a cold Saturday night. When I left the house, Shep was with Jade locked away in their bedroom—and we know what’s happening in there. I decide to go to the casino because why the hell not. It’s Gabe’s night to work but the minute I walk through the door, I see he’s got Lucy with him, sitting on his lap for God’s sake, her arms looped around his neck as she stares at him lovingly.
Of fucking course.
“What are you doing here?” Gabe asks as he shifts Lucy off his lap and rises to greet me.
“Bored,” I mutter, shoving my hand through my damp hair and pushing it off my forehead. It’s raining out, the drops like ice and so fucking miserable. What else am I going to do? All I can think about is fucking Alexandria. Alex. Ali. Whatever the hell her name is.
I need a drink.
Gabe tries to keep his expression neutral but I see the surprise flare in his eyes. “You’re bored? But it’s Saturday night.”
“Go to a bar. Find a girl. Buy her a drink. Take her home. The end.” Gabe shakes his head. “Isn’t that your normal mode of operation?”
“I don’t want to go to a bar.” Only if it’s a guarantee that Alexandria will be there. Otherwise, fuck it.
“Say what?” Gabe clutches his heart and stumbles backwards, the asshole. “Are you sick? Or maybe my hearing’s going on me.”
“Shut up.” I shrug out of my jacket and hang it on the coat rack by the door. “I thought I’d come help you.”
“It’s dead.” Gabe waves a hand at the near empty tables. “I think it’s the weather. No one wants to go out in this rain.”
Yeah. Me either. But here I am, with nowhere to go. I guess I have options, girls I could call, text, whatever. Ask them if they’re down to fuck.
Just thinking those words make me think of her. And I refuse to text Alexandria. She never answered my text from last night so forget it. I’ll just suffer through alone.
It sucks. What the fuck is wrong with me? I should go to a bar, pick up a hot blonde with small tits and long legs and fuck her until sunrise. Or maybe fuck her for only thirty minutes. Just enough time to come and get out of there before she sinks her claws into me too deep. That’s what they all seem to want. Except her.
Hell. I don’t want another blonde with small tits and long legs.
I want her.
“Where’s Kelli?” I ask Lucy.
She shrugs. “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to her all day. Why do you ask?” Those dark brown eyes are watching me closely. Too closely.
“You shouldn’t lead her on, Tris,” Gabe warns. “That girl used to like you.”
And here we go. Can’t a guy be friends with a girl he made out with for all of five minutes? “Thanks for the advice, Dad, but I’m a big boy and Kelli is a big girl. And besides, she used to like you,” I remind him.
He sends me a look, one that says he does not like me saying that in front of Lucy. Well, tough shit. That’ll teach him for getting all cautionary tale on me. “You shouldn’t lead her on.”
“I’m not leading her on. I don’t like her like that and she knows it. I like someone else.” The second the words leave my mouth I want to grab them back, stuff them down my throat and hide them away in the darkest, most secret place inside me. Where they belong.
Lucy’s eyes go so wide I’m afraid they’re going to pop out of her head. “Who do you like?” she practically breathes.
Gabe crosses his arms in front of his chest and tilts his head, looking full of doubt and muscles. “Alex.”
I say nothing. Just pull my phone out of my back pocket and send a quick text to Kelli.
Where are you?
She replies almost immediately.
You would LOVE to know stud.
“Are you texting Alex?” Lucy asks excitedly.
I ignore her, my fingers flying over the screen. I’m pretty good at this typing with thumbs thing. And why the hell is Kelli calling me stud? She’s so fucking weird.
You’ll be jealous.
Now you have to tell me.
Playing video games with a bunch of sweet nerds. They’re kind of cute.
I frown. Kelli doesn’t like nerds. Well, that ex of hers was a total dickhead, but not what I would consider a nerd. Huh.