Chloe needs a place to crash for the summer before college. When Chris offers, she moves in with him. It’s just for two months, no biggie. But soon she realizes she may have made a mistake. He’s too perfect—a former snowboarder, laid-back and kind to boot. And he’s smitten with her. But she’s got trust issues and a relationship feels daunting. When he keeps trying to win her over, the temptation becomes overwhelming.
Just as she gives in and decides it’s not worth fighting their emotions anymore, Chris reveals he’s made a stupid mistake which might ruin Chloe’s trust in him and tear them apart.
“Remember Chris? He was in History with us this year,” I say over my shoulder to Isabelle, as I lead the way into the deli. Isabelle’s expression is confused, but I know she remembers Chris. We’ve talked about him before. A lot of girls from class were all ‘gaga’ over him because he was hot and a snowboarder––or a shredder, as he called himself. Except for Isabelle, who’s had love troubles with Harper and Jamie, two brothers from Atlanta. Harper won. I like him well enough. I even had a crush on him way back when.
“That cute guy with iPod earphones practically glued to his ears?” she asks, recognition lighting up her face.
“Yes. I’m going to crash with Chris for the next two months,” I say quickly, hoping that Isabelle won’t react too strongly to the news.
“What do you mean?”
I drop into a chair.
“Aren’t you going to stay with me?”
Isabelle said I should come live with her. But Harper hangs out at her place constantly, because their relationship is still in the head-over-heels stage, too.
“I don’t want to be in the way. You and Harper need some alone time, Izzy.”
The waitress takes our orders and then rushes back with a small bowl of peanuts.
“My dad’s there, too, and he’s not in the way,” Isabelle says, taking a peanut and munching it absent-mindedly.
“Because he’s holed up in his study all day long.”
I smile and keep the tone light, but the thought of everyone around me starting their new lives, with their new, happy relationships, makes me feel lonely. Deserted. Even though I’m not looking for a relationship.
“It’s just for the two months until I go to college.”
“You wouldn’t be in the way, Chloe. You could never be in the way.”
“Okay, okay, I admit it. Watching you two being all crazy about each other would just make me envious.”
Izzy’s my best friend, which means I know her well enough to have predicted such a response. Fact is, I broke up with Adam a few weeks ago. For the second time, but this time it’s for real. Of course Isabelle thinks I’m broken-hearted about it. I am sad, but not too much. I’ve never really thought our relationship would last. He was just a pretty boy, selfish and immature. I wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship, anyhow. I’m too young for that. Or maybe I’m too selfish and immature, too.
“Yeah.” I sigh. I feel a bit guilty for not being entirely honest with Isabelle, but the waitress bringing our drinks distracts me so I forget it quickly enough. Besides, I’m doing it to give her some space. Well, her, and Harper.
“So … You’re just moving in with this Chris? I didn’t know you were tight.”
“We’re not. I mean, I saw him at Adam’s birthday party. We started talking and he was sort of cool. We stayed in touch.”
“And he just asked you to come live with him?” She looks incredulous, a bit worried, perhaps.
“I told Mark—Jamie’s friend? The lacrosse team captain?—about my situation, and apparently he told Chris. He called me last week and said I could crash with him for the two months, no prob. He’s got enough space now that his roommate went back home for the summer.”
“Hm.” Isabelle looks thoughtful as she sips her drink.
“How are things with you and Harper?” I say to change the topic, because I don’t like her frowning. I grin when I see Izzy’s cheeks warm up. “That cozy, huh?”
“We’re … great.”
“Uh-huh.” I’m amused by Isabelle’s short answer. She has always been very private and reserved. I wonder how that works with Harper, but my thoughts quickly veer into the gutter territory. Good thing Izzy can’t read my mind.
“Okay, okay,” Isabelle says, holding up her hands in surrender. “He’s wonderful. He’s so much fun, and experienced and …”
I wiggle my eyebrows just to taunt her and it has an immediate effect. Isabelle turns scarlet and starts to protest.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I meant in a general sort of way, like … he can teach me about life and such.”
“Sure.” I can’t help my lips stretching into a wide grin. This is better relaxation even than yoga.
“Well, he’s experienced … like that, too.” Isabelle stumbles over the words, but it is obvious that she is more than happy about it.
I snort in my tea, spilling it all over the table. “Good for you.”
Isabelle’s face radiates with happiness, different than when she was with Jamie, Harper’s younger brother. I’ve always known Harper was the right one for her, but Isabelle didn’t believe me until she spent one long day with him on the way home from Atlanta. That road trip made her see that Harper wasn’t just an arrogant jerk that taunted her at every opportunity he got. I saw right through him the first time I saw him with Isabelle, long before they ended up together. I could tell he’d fallen for her and that he wasn’t the bad person everyone thought.
I’m pretty good at that, reading people and their deepest secrets. I think that’s because I have experience guarding my own heart against selfish bastards, so I know all the tricks in existence. I’ve even invented some.
“You sure you’re going to be okay with Chris?” Izzy asks.
“It’s just two months. He’s a cool guy. Honestly. I wouldn’t accept his offer if I wasn’t sure I could handle it.”
Bridie Hall sold her first story at fourteen. Since then, she has written dozens more, translated books, studied writing, and started writing novels. Her days revolve around stories and words, her sleepless nights involve plotting and inventing fascinating new characters. The only activity that takes up more of her time than writing, is reading.