I immediately break out into a sweat. Do I actually like Alexandria? As in, do I want to spend time with her beyond the usual fucking around and being done with it?
Nooo. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. My anti-relationship stance is still firmly in place. I’m just like Dad. My mom has said that more than once when I was growing up. He’s a decent guy, hard working to the point of obsessive. Sometimes a little callous. Has a hard time showing affection. When pushed he’ll joke around with enough bite beneath the words to make you feel like shit. I know if I were to become involved with a woman, I’ll most likely end up treating her just like Dad treated Mom. Driving them away, driving them to drink, pushing them into another man’s arms, pushing them into madness.
I can’t do it. I refuse to do it. Better to be alone than to make someone you might care about absolutely miserable.
“She’s a pretty fine piece of ass, don’t you think?” I say with a smirk as I stand, grabbing my empty coffee cup so I can throw it in the garbage on my way out. “Gotta go, K. Hope you do well on your test tomorrow.”
“Tristan, wait,” she calls after me but I ignore her. I toss the cup into the trash, offer the barista a flirtatious smile and a wave and then get the hell out of there.
My plan to earn my way into Alexandria’s good graces didn’t work out quite like I wanted to. Maybe I should move on.
Or maybe I should move on to plan B.
“Steven asked me out,” I say conversationally, waiting for the impending reaction.
It comes within seconds, as expected.
“Get out.” Kelli shoves my shoulder with the tips of her fingers and I make like I’m going to fall over. “Why are you wasting your time on that guy?”
I shrug, watching him in my living room, in his usual perch on the beanbag playing video games with Conrad. “He’s nice. I like how attentive he is.”
“Suffocating.” Kelli yawns.
“If you like nerds.”
“Oh my God, are we still in high school?” I turn to glare at her. “He’s smart, he’s cute and he’s respectful. What more could I ask for?”
“I don’t know, maybe melting hot passion? Undeniable chemistry?” She peers at me, her narrowed eyes trying their best to see everything. I throw up that wall that I’ve become so good at, blocking her attempts. “Do you feel any of that with good ol’ Steven?”
I scowl. “You’re being mean.”
Her eyes pop wide, her expression one of complete innocence. We’re sitting at the small dining room table going over our stats homework on an otherwise boring Monday night. We got our grades back on our tests that we took a week ago—I got a C+. Kelli got a B-. Clearly she wasn’t as distracted by our study guide as I was.
I refuse to think of his name. It’s easier that way.
“How in the world am I being mean? I’m asking you a simple question, that’s it. Have you even kissed that guy?” She waves a hand in the general direction of the living room.
“No,” I whisper, shaking my head. “He hasn’t made a move yet.”
“What’s he waiting for?”
I don’t know. I almost wish he would kiss me so I can wipe the memory of my last kiss from my brain once and for all. I told myself I wouldn’t become involved with Steven or Tristan and so far, Steven’s been the more persistent one, which is surprising. I haven’t heard from Tristan since I walked out of the Starbucks last Sunday. It’s been an entire week and I haven’t caught a glimpse of him, heard a single word uttered about him, nothing.
I tell myself I prefer it that way. The faster he’s out of my life completely the better.
“When are you two lovebirds going out?” Kelli asks.
“Friday night.” Dinner and a movie. So normal. Just the way I prefer it.
Kelli’s face falls. “But Jade’s having a party on Friday night.”
“What sort of party?”
“A special lady party.” She lifts her brow, a weird smile on her face. That’s the thing about Kelli. Her moods shift constantly. “Sexual aids and the like.”
I gape. “Are you serious?”
“Shep put her up to it. He wants the free shit, is what he told her. The more she sells at her party, the more she earns in free product. It’s like Tupperware but with vibrators.”
My cheeks go hot at the word vibrator. I mean—I own one. Received it as a joke birthday gift two years ago from one of my high school friends and promptly threw it in a box where it remained until I moved in here a few months ago. I found it when I was unpacking, took it out of the package, put some batteries in it and sent myself straight into orgasm land the Sunday before school started.
Talk about relieving the tension. I might’ve used it a few times since then too.
“Well, I guess I can’t go since I already have plans,” I say.
“Screw that.” Kelli stands and cups her hand around her mouth. “Steven!” she shouts. “Get in here!”
“What are you doing?” I hiss whisper at her when she sits.
“Watch and learn,” she says with a pleased smile.
Steven practically runs into the dining room, coming to a skidding stop right beside my chair. “What’s up?” he says, trying to sound cool.
I’m amazed at how fast he did her bidding. She yells and he comes running.
“Listen, I know you and Alex have a date on Friday night and I think that’s fabulous. You two make the cutest couple.” He blushes. “But…I really want Alex to come to a party with me on Friday night.”
“Oh. Uh, well…” He sounds so sad. I’m about to say something in his defense and tell her to knock it off, but Kelli sits up straighter, giving me a look before she continues.
“Trust me, you’ll eventually benefit from this party we’re going to attend,” Kelli says mysteriously. “And I’m sure you two could get together Saturday night, right?”
“Is that okay with you, Alex?” Steven asks.
I glance up at him and smile. I like that he asks me first. He doesn’t just assume or take what he wants. “I work Saturday afternoon but I’m off at five.”
He nods. “That works. I’m cool with it.” He turns to look at Kelli. “She’s all yours on Friday, Kel.”
She beams. “Thanks Steven. You’re a doll.”
He blushes and nods some more before he heads back to the living room.
“Maybe I didn’t want to go to your sexy party,” I tell her the moment Steven’s gone.
Kelli laughs. “You sound like Stewie from Family Guy. He was always throwing sexy parties. And please, you so want to go.”
“No, I really don’t,” I stress. I’m sure it’s at Jade’s house. Which is really Shep’s house. Which is also Tristan’s house.
Um, yeah. No way.
“Stop being such a prude. It’ll be fun.”
“And what’s up with you calling Steven a doll?”
“He’s like a cute little doll with those big brown eyes always blinking behind his glasses. He’s adorable. I can see the appeal,” she explains as she resumes doing her homework.