She tilts her head slightly, her eyes lifting to mine as if to see if I’m being sincere. “Because you’re you—a hot twenty-year-old college guy, staring up at the stars with more interesting things to talk about.”
She narrows her eyes, a small curve of her bee-stung lips capturing my attention. “You know you’re hot. Don’t deny it.”
Even upset, with slightly smudged makeup and a tinge of sadness marring her features, she’s breathtaking in the dim light.
“C’mon, mini Ross. Spill it.”
She cocks a brow. “Does that work on my brother?”
I shrug, my smirk all the answer she needs.
We sit there, eyes locked, acting like we have all night. Her eyes widen slightly before she breaks my gaze and lies back on the lounger, moving her attention to the sky. I copy her and return to the stars as I wait for her to talk.
Whatever she says will determine whether I need to run to the guest suite to wake Millen and go on a douchebag ass-kicking rampage. And if, for some miracle, he wasn’t the cause of her tears, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what happened.
Where did that come from?
A few minutes of both of us lying there is all she needs to open up. “Everything was fine until after prom king and queen were announced,” she says quietly.
“You didn’t win?” If that’s the case, then the vote must’ve been rigged because, until tonight, I’d never seen a more worthy prom queen than the girl beside me. Poise, grace, confidence and goddamn gorgeous to boot. Any guy with a dick and any girl with a conscience should’ve voted for her.
She laughs, but there’s no feeling behind it, a hollow sound that belies the action entirely. “I did. So did Dane. Then we danced the first dance together, and it was everything a senior prom experience should be… until it wasn’t.”
I clench my fists at my side. “What happened, Ash…?” My voice is low and rough, edged with tension. I’m poised to act against anyone who did her wrong.
“I really don’t want to—”
I snap my head toward her. “Ash…” I near on growl.
She holds her hands up in surrender. “Alright, already. Down, Hulk.”
If it were any other time, I’d laugh at that.
“Let’s just say that although I was going to dump Dane, he decided to get in there first and do it by making out with Lisa in the girl’s bathroom, just as I walked in. Then he made a big show of leaving with her in the same damn limo he hired to take me in.”
Before I can respond, she keeps going, sitting up to face me and hitting her stride. “I mean, one of my best friends, really? That’s so fucking cliché, right? He wasn’t man enough to pick up his balls and tell me to my face that he was dumping me, so he decided to let his dick do the talking instead. What a fuck-nugget!” She’s whisper shouting by the end of her rant, and it takes everything in me not to smile—something I fail at the moment I mirror her sitting position and catch her own lips twitching. The more I fight it, the more her eyes shine. The longer I don’t say anything, the harder it is not to pull her into my arms and give the girl a hug.
What I definitely don’t tell her is that at my senior prom, I was the Dane in a very similar scenario, but only because I’d had half a hip flask of Jack in the limo before prom. And the Lisa in my situation was the sluttiest, most ruthless girl in school who had been cheating on my best friend at the time, so that was my way of saving him a whole lot of heartache down the line.
My methods may have been flawed, but my intentions were good. Nonetheless, things were never the same between him and me again.
“You’re not hurt about him; you’re more hurt by her,” I surmise, her tear-filled nod confirming it. “You deserve better, Ash.” I rise to my feet and fish my iPod out of my pocket. I scroll through the songs in my favorite playlist until I spot the perfect soundtrack for a moment like this.
An idea forming in my brain, I quickly scan the house to make sure it’s still dark. I may kick myself for this later, but all I want to do is make things better for her. No teenage girl needs to remember her senior prom and have it marred by the recollection of her best friend leaving with her boyfriend.
Meeting her eyes, I reach out my hand for hers. Her brows furrow adorably. Don’t think of her that way. She’s still Millen’s baby sister.
I push those thoughts aside and wiggle my fingers. “Stand up, Ash. Every girl needs a good memory to erase the bad, and I know just how to do it.”
BJ Harvey is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Bliss Series. She regards herself as a smut peddler, suspense conjurer, and a funny romance thinker upper. An avid music fan, you will always find her singing some hit song badly and loving every minute of it. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful girls, and hails from what she considers as the best country in the world—New Zealand—although she currently lives in Perth, Australia.