He must’ve had a party last night.

My thumb stopped moving as I saw a pic posted by Skylar.

My heart dropped, and all I could think was that I was stupid, so stupid.

She was sitting on the edge of one of those rattan lounge chairs, her hands planted behind her. She had on a royal-blue two-piece that showed off her banging body. Sitting across from her was Sebastian. He was smiling. Both were smiling. They...they looked amazing together.

I stared at the picture for God knows how long. Too long.

Why oh why was I following her?

I knew the answer. I’d started following her years ago because she was dating Sebastian and apparently I was into self-punishment. I even liked her pictures just to prove that I wasn’t a jealous bitch.

But I was a jealous bitch of the highest order.

I couldn’t stop what I did next. I quickly went to Sebastian’s account to see if there were any pictures from last night, but the last post was from three weeks ago. He wasn’t big on social media, sporadically popping on and off.

Now I wanted to pitch myself off the balcony for a totally different reason.


Sebastian had texted a few times since Thursday, but I hadn’t seen him since the kiss. There was no fooling myself. Things had changed. When Sebastian was home, even when he was dating Skylar, I saw him nearly every other day, if not every day. The only time I didn’t was when he wasn’t home.

So he was avoiding me.

I cursed under my breath, tapped out of the app and dropped my phone on top of the book on the floor. Edgy anxiety churned my stomach, and I shook my head as I stared at the large maple in the backyard. Was he back with Skylar, a handful of days after I kissed him? Did it even matter?

It shouldn’t, but it did.

Disgusted with myself, I opened up the paperback, needing to lose myself in something unrelated to me.

I’d made it a couple of pages before I heard footsteps on the stairs leading up to the balcony. I lifted my chin and I froze when I saw the top of Sebastian’s head, torn between wanting to dive back into my bedroom and rush him with my arms spread wide.

I did neither of those things.

Heart thumping heavily in my chest, I slowly closed the book as he crested the last step. All the air leaked out of my lungs.

Oh, come on.

Sebastian was shirtless. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen him half-clothed, but each time was like the first time.

Chest defined, stomach chiseled like he was cut of marble and hips lean. He wasn’t overly muscled. Oh no, he was just a prime example of how football could do a body good. And he was wearing a baseball cap. Backward.

I just imploded into mush and goo.

I hated him.

One side of his lips quirked up as he swaggered across the small balcony.

“Hey, nerd.”

For a moment, I couldn’t respond. I was thrust back to the lake, me in his lap and his mouth oh so briefly on mine. Heat flushed my cheeks and spread lower, much lower.

Oh my God.

I needed to get control of myself and go about things as if nothing had happened. That was what he was doing. I could do it, too. I had to, because if I couldn’t, how could we be friends?

He looked up and his gaze met mine for a second before flickering away. I thought I saw a faint pink infuse his cheeks. Was he blushing? Maybe he wasn’t as good at pretending as I thought he was.

Clearing my throat, I cradled the book to my chest. “Hey, dumbass, did you forget to get dressed before you walked out of the house?”

His eyes glimmered as they moved back to me. His shoulders loosened. “I was just so excited to come visit you that I didn’t want to waste time finding a clean shirt.”


“I thought about texting you.” He leaned against the railing, next to my feet. “But figured you were out here.”

“Am I that predictable?”


“Well then,” I muttered, searching for something to say. “Did...did you have practice this morning?”

Sebastian nodded. “Yeah. Till twelve. Than I took a nap when I got back.”

“Late night?” I asked innocently enough, but my pulse was spiking.

He shrugged one broad shoulder. “Not really,” he answered, and I tried to determine if that was code for getting back with Skylar or hooking up with someone else.

But really it was just two words that didn’t mean anything.

“Keith ended up getting plastered and setting off a stash of fireworks.” He folded his arms, drawing unneeded attention to his chest. “I’m still surprised he didn’t blow off a couple of fingers. Or a hand.”

“Me, too, actually.”

“Anyway, I’m over here for a reason. He’s having a barbecue today. Actually, his older brother is. Only a few people are going to be over there,” he said. “You should come with me.”

My heart started dancing all over the place, screaming, Yes, yes, yes! My brain recoiled and immediately told my heart to shut the hell up, because my heart was stupid and it made me do stupid things. “I don’t know...”

“Come on.” He grabbed my foot. I tried to pull it away, but he held on, wrapping his fingers around my ankle. I refused to read anything into that. “We haven’t had the chance to see each other the last couple of days and I just got back last weekend.”

Yeah, and I kissed you and obviously you weren’t into it. He was acting normal, totally normal, though. So much so I almost wondered if I’d hallucinated the lake.

“Spend time with me. Quality charbroiled-cheeseburgers time.”

I dropped my book in my lap and grasped the arms of my chair. “I’m not hungry.”

“Turning down grilled cheeseburgers? Now I know you’re just being difficult.”

My eyes narrowed as I tried to pull my leg free again.

Sebastian dipped his chin. “I’ll drive and you’ll have fun. All you have to do is get your pretty butt out of that chair and I’ll handle the rest.”

I froze, eyes wide.

He thought I had a pretty butt?

The grin on his face spread, and a second later his fingers danced over the bottom of my foot. I immediately shrieked. “Stop! Stop it!”

His fingers hovered over my foot as he raised his brows. “Are you going to come out with me?”

I was breathing heavy, paranoid that he was going to start tickling my feet again. “You’re not playing fair here.”

“Why play fair when I can just tickle you into doing what I want?” he replied, placing one finger on the center of my foot. My whole leg jerked. “So, what’s it going to be, Lena-bean?”

“Lena-bean?” I shouted, fingers digging into the arms of the chair. When was the last time he called me that? Before I needed to wear a bra? “I’m not ten years old, Sebastian.”

His lashes flicked down, shielding his eyes. “I know you’re not ten anymore.” His voice deepened. “Trust me.”

My lips parted as his words cycled over and over in my head. His gaze flickered up and met mine. There was no dancing in my heart, only a wild beating I felt in every single part of my body.

Why didn’t you kiss me back?

“Come with me,” he said again. “Please?”

I closed my eyes. I wanted to go, but...if I did, I needed backup. “Can I see if Megan and Abbi can go?”

“Hell yeah,” he replied. “Keith will be ecstatic to hear that. You know he’s—”

“Trying to get with Abbi. Yes.” I inhaled deeply, opened my eyes and then nodded. “Okay.”

“Perfect.” He flashed a wide smile and then lowered my leg back to the railing. His fingers lingered for a few seconds and then he let go. “Knew you couldn’t resist me.”

Deciding to pretend I hadn’t heard him say that, I dropped my legs to the floor and swiped up my books and phone. “Give me a few minutes.” I rose and stepped over to the door, feeling my cheeks heat. “Got to let Mom know.”

“Get a swimsuit,” he ordered, pushing off the railing and dropping into my chair.

I thought about Skylar in her bikini and decided I would accidentally forget mine.

After placing my books on the bed, I quickly texted Abbi and Megan and then dropped my phone in my purse.