The drive back to my house is quick, filled with easy conversation and I wonder if I should try and make some chemistry happen between us. This would be so much easier with Steven. There’s no drama, no ridiculous games or crazy conversations. We have mutual friends. He’s cute without being so outrageously sexy that women will constantly chase after him. He could be all mine and I’d never worry about him straying. I know without a doubt he’d be loyal.
Determination filling me, I turn to look at him as soon as he parks his car in front of my house. He swivels his head in my direction, his eyes going wide when I lean across the center console, my intent clear. Panic flashes in his eyes for a quick second before he’s reaching for me too, our mouths brushing yet not quite connecting fully.
I rear back, rub my lips together and move in once again, pressing my mouth to his more firmly, making full contact this time around, my eyes closing just as his do too. The kiss is soft. Sweet. Bland.
Pulling away, I study him. He fidgets in his seat, glancing out the window when his eyes light up. “Isn’t that Kelli’s car?”
Hmm. Yeah, it is. “What is she doing here?”
“She gave Conrad her number.” Steven makes a face. “He’s gonna jump all over that, trust me. I don’t know what she sees in him.”
Well, holy shit. I think Steven likes Kelli. “I think she gave him her number because she likes hanging out with you guys, playing video games.”
“Really? She’s into that? I mean, you don’t seem into that.” Steven tries to look cool and is failing miserably. The eagerness flashing in his eyes is hard to miss. “I figured you just tolerated us.”
“I do,” I say with a little laugh. “But I think Kelli genuinely enjoys hanging out with you.”
“Has she ever said anything about—Conrad?” Steven asks hesitantly.
I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation about my roommate Conrad. What cruel parent gives their child that name anyway? “She’s never talked about Conrad. But she’s talked about you.”
“She has?” He visibly brightens, then immediately tones it down. “I mean, yeah, okay, cool. So she has? What um, what did she say?”
Oh, Steven is a dog sitting here on a date with me while trying to dig for information about Kelli. “She said you were adorable.”
“Wow, really?” The panic on his face is full blown now. “Yeah, I don’t really care what she thinks…”
I reach out, place my hand over his. “You like her.”
“No way.” He furiously shakes his head. “I like you.”
“Steven. It’s okay. Be real with me.” I remove my hand from his and stare at him. Hard. He won’t even look my way but I bet I’m starting to make him sweat.
“I’m a prick,” he mutters, sounding miserable. His head falls back against his seat and he closes his eyes tight. “You’re really nice, Alex. I have fun with you. You’re pretty and nice and—”
“There’s no chemistry between us,” I finish for him.
He opens his eyes, now looking miserable. “Yeah. It’s so messed up. But that awkward as hell kiss we just shared confirmed it.”
“You’re right,” I agree. “It was bad.”
He smiles. “So bad.”
“Hey.” I wave a finger at him. “Don’t mess with my self-esteem now.”
The panic’s back just like that. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
“Stop.” I reach out and squeeze his hand before I let it go. “You better get inside and make sure Conrad isn’t going after Kelli.”
Steven’s expression relaxes. Somewhat. “You’re not mad that I like your friend?”
“No.” I shake my head. “I get it. Kelli’s pretty special.”
His eyes go dreamy and for one quick second, I wish he looked like that when he thought about me. But that’s a purely selfish wish on my part and I refuse to behave that way.
I’ll leave that particular horrible habit up to Tristan Prescott.
We enter the house minutes later, the guys cheering when they see Steven walk through the door. Conrad and Jeff have some friends over and Kelli’s sitting on the couch, her legs tucked up under her while she scrolls through her phone.
Steven, being the shy dude that he is, offers her a quick hi as he passes her and immediately joins his friends.
“How was your date?” she asks as she lifts her head to smile at me.
“Revealing,” I say truthfully, flopping onto the couch next to her. “What are you doing here?”
“Conrad texted me this afternoon and invited me over. We had a Mario Kart battle earlier but then I got bored. Then I thought I’d wait for you.” She shrugs and turns to watch the guys as they start a new Call of Duty battle. “Don’t they ever get tired of killing people every day?”
“That would be a no.” I nudge her knee to get her attention. “I have something to tell you.”
She smirks. “I have something to tell you, too. But you go first.”
I lean in close, my mouth at her ear. “Someone has a crush on you,” I whisper.
“Who? Conrad?” She makes a dismissive noise and waves her hand. “I already knew that. He tried to make a move the last time I was here.”
“Seriously?” I’m shocked. These boys may act like nerdy twelve year olds most of the time, but they aren’t afraid to go for it when it comes to girls.
“Oh, yeah. It’s all good now, especially when I told him who my secret crush was.” Her gaze goes to Steven super quick before returning to me. “I said I was madly in love with Jeff.”
“Really? Why would you say that?” She’s a liar. “Because I know who’s hot for you.”
“Who? Not Conrad? Don’t get my hopes up.” She rests a hand over her chest.
I go to her ear again and whisper, “It’s Steven.”
Kelli rears back, her eyes wide. “Wait a minute. What?”
Jerking my head toward the kitchen, I indicate we should talk in there. She follows after me, immediately going to the freezer and pulling out a relatively new bottle of Ketel One.
We go through a lot of vodka in this house, I guess.
“You just got back from a date with Steven and say that he has a crush on me. You’re either fucked up on drugs, want to have a threesome with me and Steven which is ew, so weird, or you’re serious,” Kelli says after she takes a swig straight from the bottle.
I pull a shot glass from the cupboard. Conrad’s childhood collection has come in handy lately. “No drugs,” I say as I pour a hearty shot. I need it. I’m feeling all sorts of weird this weekend. “And definitely not a threesome. God, Kel.”
“So you’re serious.”
“As a heart attack.” I fill another shot glass and hand it to Kelli. We do a quick toast before we tip the glasses back simultaneously and drink. Damn, that burns. “He likes you.”
“And you got him to admit this?”
“Yeah. Don’t ask. Just know that you have my blessing if you two started seeing each other.”