His brows flew up. “Steph—”
“Don’t.” I lifted a hand, stopping him. My middle finger might have been extended as I stepped around him and snatched up my purse. “This conversation ends with a—how about you go fuck yourself.”
Dressed in cotton sleep shorts and an old Shepherd University sweatshirt, it was a little after one in the morning. I’d returned from the bar and eaten half a carton of ice cream. Now I clutched the gray chevron pillow to my chest as the countdown began on TV and the camera zoomed in on Drew Barrymore. Her eyes were big, reflecting all the hope and anticipation every girl has ever felt when it came down to the moment you’d find out if your one true love felt the same way.
God, this—this—was one of my all-time favorite scenes in all the movies in the whole wide world. The moments leading up to when Sam appears at the baseball field, proving that he cared for Josie despite her betrayal.
Man, I was such a goober.
But I had no regrets. None at all.
One of my girlfriends from college, Cora, absolutely hated Drew Barrymore. It was the most bizarre thing ever, but her rage had never been able to dampen my love for this movie.
Granted, there was very little romantic about a twenty-something going back to high school and pretending to be a teenager while falling in love with her über hot and sensitive English teacher. That movie would so never be made nowadays, but there was just something about that first kiss between them that caused my heart to turn to goo.
I sat up, squeezing the pillow as the clock ran out of time and poor Josie looked heartbroken. Cameras panned on the audience, capturing their expressions of sympathy, and then a low murmur rose, turning into cheers. Everyone turned and there he was. Sam. A.k.a. Michael why-won’t-you-be-my-baby-daddy Vartan. He hurried down the bleachers, and I could feel a girly squeal building in its intensity as my hold tightened on the pillow—
“Ouch!” Dropping the pillow, I folded my arm over my breasts and pushed against the sudden ache in them. They’d also been tender this morning. “Owie.”
I had started to mentally calculate when my period was due when there was a knock at the door, jarring me. “What in the world?”
A sliver of unease brewed. It was damn near one-thirty in the morning and someone was at my door? Hell. The time didn’t really matter because hardly anyone knew me well enough to know where I lived.
Snatching the remote off the arm of the couch, I paused the movie right when Sam hit the field. The knock came again just as I stood. I tugged down on my sweater and crept toward the door, visions of serial killers dancing in my head. Stretching up, I peeked through the peephole.
“What the hell,” I muttered.
Nick stood on the other side of my door, his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans as he looked around the empty hall. I dumbly stared at the distorted view of him. I had no idea why I realized he didn’t have his helmet with him, because that wasn’t important. What was he doing here? I was sure my parting words earlier in the night made it clear that we were so not on friendly terms. Nick was arrogant, but he couldn’t be stupid enough to come here to hook up.
Curiosity overrode my common sense in about a nanosecond. Knowing I should just turn off all the lights and ignore him, I reached down and opened the door.
Nick turned to me, pulling his hands out of his pockets. Those light green eyes dipped briefly, all the way to the tips of my fluffy sock-covered feet and then back up. Seriously? Pressing my lips together, I folded my arms across my chest and cocked an eyebrow.
A faint pink bloomed on his cheeks and he offered a sheepish grin as he extended his hand. “Hi. I’m Nick Blanco.”
Uh, what? I eyed his hand and then my gaze flicked up.
“I was thinking that we could start over,” he continued, wiggling his fingers. “We kind of have gotten off to a bad start.”
“I think we got off . . . to a very good start.”
The grin became amused. “Okay. That’s a good point. We did get off on a very good start.”
“But then you ruined it.” I shifted my weight from one foot to the next. “Really ruined it.”
Now the grin slipped a fraction. “You’re right. That’s why I’m here.” His fingers wiggled once more. “I want to start over.”
Suspicion seeded. Normally I wasn’t a paranoid or distrusting person, but I didn’t get the point in this. “Why?”
“Why?” he repeated, his hand still hovering between us.
I nodded. “Yeah, why? We hooked up. That’s all. And it seems to me that you’d be fine with never seeing my face again. That you prefer that, so why would you want to start over?”
My statement must’ve caught him off guard, because there wasn’t a faint flicker of a grin on his face now. “I . . . I don’t know.”
Both my brows flew up. “You don’t know?”
He shook his head. “Normally, I would be fine with never seeing a girl’s face again. That’s the way it is—the way I like it.”
My eyes widened. “Well . . . at least you’re honest, but that kind of just reinforces my question.”
“I know.” Nick’s fingers danced again, beckoning me. “I just . . . look, can I come in and talk? It’s kind of chilly out here and I really don’t think your neighbors appreciate our one-in-the-morning conversation.”
I glanced over his shoulder and shifted my weight again. “I don’t know . . .”
“You’re a hard one to crack.” He lowered his hand.
“I’m uncrackable, that’s why.”
His lips tipped up. “I don’t think uncrackable is a word.”
“What are you? The grammar police?”
The grin was now back, softening the harsher lines of his face. “I am that person who silently corrects everyone’s grammar.”
“Oh. Wow. So not only are you a dick, but you’re also an annoying dick.”
Nick laughed deeply, surprising me. It was the same kind of laugh I’d heard at the bar tonight, before he realized I was there. A deep and infectious laugh. “And you really do say whatever is on your mind, don’t you?”
“Pretty much,” I replied. “You have a problem with that?”
“No. Not at all.” He sounded surprised. “So you’re going to let me in or is this it?”
I mulled over what to do. Nick had been a jerk to me, and his view on hookups was beyond archaic. He thought that he could tell girls that once they had sex they weren’t allowed back in the bar? What in the hell? But then again, maybe the girls fully knew that going into it. I hadn’t, but for some reason, Nick thought I had.
People made mistakes and screwed up all the time, and it wasn’t like me to hold a grudge, but this had just happened. And truthfully, underneath the anger there was hurt. While I hadn’t expected much from Nick, I wasn’t expecting that kind of greeting. It stung. I was only human.
“By the way, not sure if you’ve realized this yet or not, but Reece lives in the same condo. Upstairs,” he said, flicking his gaze up. No. I had not known that. “And Roxy spends a lot of time here. They’re probably on the way here once she gets off, so it’s going to get real awkward, me standing out here and them strolling on by.”