I twisted around and saw Cody standing there, a bottle in his hand. Why couldn’t I just hide in my corner and marinate in my foolishness alone? Was that too much to ask?

“Yeah,” I muttered.

“You look pretty pissed over it,” he remarked.

I took a deep breath and lifted my gaze. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re very observant?”

He laughed softly, raising the bottle. “Hey, I’m not the one who threw you into the pool like a basketball.”

Wrapping the towel around my shoulders, I mentally counted to ten. Cody hadn’t done anything wrong. “So, what are you up to?”

“Nothing really.” He took a swig from the bottle. “Trying to decide if I feel up to staying here or heading elsewhere.”

While I wasn’t in the mood for conversation, I wasn’t doing anything else. Abbi was still arguing with Keith, and Sebastian was with Phillip and Megan, by the lounge chairs. “What else do you have planned?”

“No idea. Just not really feeling it today, you know?” Crossing his legs at the ankles, he leaned against the side of the pool house, looking out toward the pool. “You’re missing a friend, aren’t you?”

I nodded. “Dary. She’s doing the family thing in DC.”

“Sounds like fun.” He didn’t sound like he believed that. “How late are you planning to be here?”


Dusk was settling, so I knew it had to be past eight. I’d already stayed later than I’d anticipated. “Not much longer.” I pretty much just wanted to go home and eat the Pop-Tarts Mom had picked up.

“You’re obviously not feeling it either.” He shifted his body toward mine. “We could steal Sebastian’s keys and go for a ride.”

I swallowed my snort. “Yeah, I don’t think that would be wise.”

“What?” A playful grin tugged at his lips. “It would be fun.”

“Uh-huh.” I kicked off my flip-flops, hoping the stone walkway was baked with enough heat that they’d dry. “First off, pretty sure you’re not going to be able to steal the keys that are currently in the pocket of his shorts.”

“You have such little faith in me,” he replied. “I have sneaky fingers.”

“I’m sure you do, but since I’ve heard you’re back with Jessica, I seriously doubt she will be happy to hear that we stole Sebastian’s car together,” I told him. “And I really don’t want that kind of drama.”

“Damn, news travels fast, huh?” Cody shook his head. “Jessica can be...feisty.”

“That is a really tame description of Jessica,” I said, laughing a little. “Not trying to be mean or anything.”

“Nah, I get you.” He nudged my arm slightly. “We’re about to get company.”

I didn’t get a chance to glance over my shoulder.

“Hey,” Sebastian said from behind me. “Am I interrupting something?”

Tensing, I refused to let myself turn around and look at him. “Cody and I are talking.”

“I can see that.” Sebastian moved to stand beside me, so close I could feel the warmth radiating off his body. “About what?”

“We were plotting nefarious things,” Cody answered.

Sebastian snickered. “Do you even know what nefarious means?”

“Damn, Seb.” Cody coughed out a laugh. Stepping to the side, he tipped his bottle at me. “Have fun with all of that.” He then pointed at Sebastian with the mouth of the bottle. He grinned. “Good to hear you got extra practice tomorrow with the coach. You’ve been gone all month. Don’t want to be holding the team back.”

“You don’t have to worry about me holding anyone back,” Sebastian replied.

“Sure, sure,” Cody said as he pivoted and walked away.

I glanced at Sebastian. “That was kind of rude, don’t you think?”

“Not really. Figured I’d come over here and save you from being stuck in a conversation with him.”

“I don’t recall sending up an SOS signal.”

“Wow.” He moved in front of me just as the twinkling lights strung along the trees blinked on. His brows were furrowed together. “That was a little—”

“I’d proceed with caution with what you’re about to say,” I warned, staring up at him. “Choose your words wisely.”

He opened his mouth and then snapped it shut. Turning sideways, he whipped off his baseball cap and thrust his fingers through his hair before he pulled the hat back on. “Are you ticked off because I interrupted you guys?”

Oh. Yeah. That was the reason. I could feel my cheeks heating up, and I was grateful that the outdoor lights weren’t that bright. Frustration swept over my skin like an army of fire ants. “Whatever.”

“Wait.” He laughed, but that sound was hoarse. “Are you, like, interested in Cody?”


“Are you into Cody?” he repeated.

I tugged the towel closer. I could not have heard him correctly. I’d just kissed him and he was asking me this? “Why would it matter if I was?”

He looked like I’d admitted to dropping out of school to pursue a career as a professional street performer. “Cody is a player, Lena. He’s been with half the school. He’s back with—”

“I know what he is, but what I don’t know is why you care,” I shot back, struggling to keep my voice low.

Sebastian stared down at me, disbelief etched into his face. “You’ve never been interested in him. Ever. And now you are?”

Okay, so I wasn’t interested in Cody whatsoever, but this conversation was ridiculous. “Why are we talking about this? Weren’t you hanging all over Skylar last night?”

Sebastian’s chin jerked to the side. “What does that have to do with the conversation we’re having?”

The breath I took scorched a hole into my chest, and I could taste the metallic bitterness and rancid jealousy, feelings that had existed beneath the surface for far too long. Feelings I’d hidden and pretended didn’t exist for years. But now it was like I was stripped bare, my skin flayed open, and there was just no more hiding.

He rubbed his palm across his chest, right above his heart. “I actually cannot believe we’re having this conversation.”

I jolted. “You can’t believe we’re having this conversation? You started it and, you know what, I don’t want to talk to you right now. I’m mad at you.”

“Mad at me?” His brows flew up. “About what?”

Dropping the towel, I looked down at myself pointedly. A small puddle of water had formed under me. I knew in the back of my head that being pissed at him for throwing me into the pool had nothing to do with the actual act. Hell, he’d done that before. I’d actually pushed him into Keith’s pool a few times. But I wanted to be mad, because being mad was better than being embarrassed and hurt and disappointed.

“You’re seriously mad at me for that?” He stepped back. “What the hell? Are you—”

“I kissed you!” The moment I said those words, a knot formed in the back of my throat.

His jaw tightened as he lowered his head toward mine. “What?”

“I kissed you on Monday, and I...I didn’t mean to. It happened and before...before I could say anything, you practically ran away. And I thought you were going to kiss me when you threw me in the pool,” I said, breathing heavy and feeling a little sick. “That’s what I thought you were doing.”

In the failing light, his eyes looked like the ocean at night, a dark and deep endless blue. “Lena, I thought—”


He jerked back at the sound of Skylar’s voice and then he looked over his shoulder, chest rising and falling deeply.

Oh for crap’s sake...

She was coming down the walkway, clad in a strapless dress that skimmed the top of her thighs. She was walking so fast her hair lifted off her shoulders. It looked like she was prowling down a runway. “There you are. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”