“I have to go,” I whisper shakily.
“Alexandria,” he starts but I shake my head, pushing at his chest so he has no choice but to back away from me.
“I have to, Tristan.” I smile tremulously. “Good night.”
His brows furrow and he looks so confused I almost feel sorry for him. “What are you doing tomorrow?”
“I have to work.” And go out with Steven.
“After work?” He grabs my hand, lacing our fingers together. “I want to see you.”
“I—” I swallow hard. “I have plans.”
His expression grows dark. “With who?”
My phone buzzes and I glance at it. Another text from Kelli.
Hurry up. It’s colder than a witch’s tit out here!
“I have to go. Kelli’s waiting for me.” I push past him and head for the kitchen, thankful no one is there so I have to make small talk or whatever. I’m practically running, my hand landing on the door handle when he grabs me from behind, his hands at my waist, turning me around so I have to face him.
“Whatever you’re doing tomorrow night, cancel your plans,” he demands. “We need to finish this.”
“There’s nothing to finish,” I tell him. “I heard what you had to say.”
He stares at me as if I’ve lost my mind. “And that’s it? That’s your reaction?”
“What do you want me to do? Fall at your feet? Tell you you’re forgiven? Strip off my clothes and beg you to fuck me?”
“Well…” He scratches the back of his head. “Yeah.”
I start to laugh. This guy is unreal. “Words are meaningless when there are no actions backing them up. Prove to me that you feel that way. Don’t just tell me, show me.”
Before he can say another word I open the door and dart into the garage, spotting the bright green VW bug on the other side of the street, Kelli behind the wheel with the engine running. I pick up speed, about to cross when Tristan grabs hold of my hand, turns me toward him and kisses me.
Oh God, his lips should be designated lethal weapons. They obliterate all of my brain cells the moment they touch mine every single time. I tear my mouth from his and pull out of his hold. “You don’t play fair,” I cry, glancing over my shoulder at where Kelli sits waiting for me in her car.
Of course, she’s watching it all unfold, her mouth agape, her chin resting on her fist, I swear.
“Neither do you,” he accuses, his breathing ragged. “You really expect me to let you walk away after I bear my fucking soul?”
The air is cold and sharp, a fine mist falling from the sky, seeping through my sweater and chilling me to the bone. “You confessed that you have a crush on me. That’s it.”
“That’s it? Like hey, no big deal? You consume my thoughts and I’m fairly certain I’m obsessed with you, yet you hit me with that’s it?” He runs a hand through his hair, his big body practically vibrating with frustration. “I ruined it between us didn’t I?”
I don’t answer him, glancing over my shoulder once more. I hate that Kelli’s having to wait for me. Hate even worse that she’s witnessing all of this. “I need to go,” I tell him.
He grimaces. “Go ahead. Fucking go with Kelli and leave me here all alone.”
“Seriously? You’re going to play the guilt card now?” Unbelievable. I turn away from him and stalk toward Kelli’s car, anger, irritation, frustration, lust—all of it bubbling deep inside of me. He’s so incredibly arrogant and selfish. Everything revolves around him. He doesn’t get it.
I don’t think he’ll ever get it.
I’m on the passenger side of Kelli’s car, about to open the door when Tristan appears in front of me, like he’s fucking magic or something. “I don’t want to play any type of card.” He grabs hold of my hand but I shake him off. “I want to be real with you, Alexandria.”
“Then you’re going to have to work a little harder,” I tell him as I pull open the car door. A blast of heat and that damn irritating Fight Song pours out of the interior, making me wince.
“Get in, bitch! You’re letting in all the cold air!” Kelli yells. The music fades and I’m thankful. “Leave her alone, Tristan! Clearly she’s not interested.”
He backs away, holding up his hands like he’s given up, his expression unreadable. I stare at him, watching him walk backward across his neighbor’s lawn until finally he turns and jogs across the street back to his house. Never once looking at me.
Climbing into the car, I collapse in my seat, slamming the door and exhaling loudly, like I’d just held my breath for the last ten minutes.
It sort of feels like I did exactly that.
“What the hell just happened?” Kelli asks as she puts the car in drive and pulls away from the curb.
I close my eyes. “I have no idea.”
“That movie sucked,” Steven says bitterly as we walk out of the theater.
“Yeah, it did,” I reply, offering him a weak smile when he looks my way. I hadn’t paid much attention through the entire movie, my mind too occupied with thoughts of Tristan.
He hadn’t helped matters. I was trying to forget him, forget that stupid fight, confrontation, whatever you want to call it that happened last night. Pretend that it never existed, but he made it so damn hard. Sending me sweet little texts all day long. Stuff like:
Hope you have a good day at work.
I wish I could see you today.
I miss you.
The last one had the most effect on me, coming in about halfway through the movie. I was already distracted, thinking of him, the way he kissed me when my phone buzzed. I discreetly checked it, my heart leaping when I saw his name on the screen and the words that accompanied it.
Clearly he’s toying with my emotions and like the fool that I am, I’m letting him do it. Worse, I’m falling for it. He’s keeping his distance yet remaining in contact with me, and God help me I like it.
“Did you maybe want to go hit up a bar or something?” Steven asks as we exit the movie theater, the cold night air embracing us, making me shiver.
“I don’t know. I’m awfully tired.” This wasn’t a lie. I’m exhausted after tossing and turning last night and having to work all afternoon. Last night Kelli drove me home and stayed with me in my room, the both of us snuggled under the comforter together late into the night as we talked about Tristan, boys in general and how sucky relationships are. All while sharing that tub of ice cream and watching our favorite Sex and the City episodes.
Yeah, it was definitely a Mr. Big-is-an-asshole-yet-I-can’t-stop-fucking-him type of night.
“Want me to take you home?” Steven asks.
“If you don’t mind?” I smile at him and he smiles in return, then looks away from me shyly. He’s so cute. Funny. Sweet. He’s got a nice smile. Warm brown eyes.
Unfortunately, Steven does absolutely nothing for me. I need to end this. I’m just stringing him along and that’s so unfair. I’ll be his friend—the last thing he wants to hear I’m sure—but that’s all I can be. There’s no chemistry between us.