Home > One Small Thing(3)

One Small Thing(3)
Author: Erin Watt

A flash of movement catches my attention, and I turn to find a very good-looking guy stopping and leaning in the kitchen doorway. He has the darkest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re incredible. Over the left one, his eyebrow has a gap. It looks like a scar from this distance. Or a bad plucking accident, but he doesn’t look like the type to manscape.

His jaw is covered with dark blond stubble, making him look older than all the other guys here. The boys in the kitchen, Harley included, don’t have any facial hair. And they aren’t nearly as tall as Blue Eyes or as built or as attractive.

Him. That’s what I need. A very bad boy to take me down a very bad path.

A sense of power sweeps through me. This would make my parents angrier than anything. All kids drink, but hooking up with some random stranger? It would drive my proper mother nuts.

Internally, I rub my hands together with glee and start plotting. He’s not making eye contact with me, but he’s not staring at someone else, either—guy or girl. He’s not exactly aloof, but there’s space between him and the others. As if they’re afraid to approach him. He’s got an aura of someone cool and together.

The very things that I’m not.

I glance down at my ripped skinny jeans and skimpy yellow halter top and confirm that my zipper’s zipped and my boobs are sufficiently covered. I’m not the hottest girl here, but he’s alone and so am I.

Besides, if he says no, who cares? I won’t see him again. And the whole point of coming out tonight was to do things that I wouldn’t ever do. To get a taste of real life.

“Who’s your friend?”

I jolt at the sound of Harley’s voice. He’s finally noticed me. “Hey,” I say, tearing my gaze off Blue Eyes to smile at Harley. “I’m Beth.”

“Harley.” He releases Ashleigh and wanders over to hug me. Harley’s a hugger, it seems. “Nice to meet you. Wanna get high?”

“Um, maybe later?” I say coolly, hoping he doesn’t notice the flush on my cheeks and realize I’ve never smoked weed before.

“Yeah, let’s save that for later,” Ash agrees, much to my relief. “Let’s dance.” She moves to my other side and links her arm through mine.

Dance? I sneak a peek at the doorway, only to find that Blue Eyes is gone. Disappointment washes over me. I wonder where he went. Maybe he’s also heading to the dance floor—um, no. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who would “shake his ass” to a techno beat. Way too intense for that. Most guys won’t dance anyway. They think they’re too cool for it.

“Come on,” Ash says, tugging on my arm.

I place Blue Eyes on the shelf. I’ll dance with Ashleigh and then pursue him. I let my new friend drag me into the living room, where the music is louder and the air is hotter. I start sweating, but it’s okay because everyone else is, too. Ash bops her butt against my hip and the two of us laugh and whip our hair around and dance until we’re breathless.

This is what I wanted tonight. To have fun and feel young and not think about the fact that my life is a joke. I don’t have a life. I’m not allowed to go to parties, only to my friends’ houses, and only if their parents are home. Driving around with Scarlett tonight was a huge no-no. Scar’s folks knew it, too—my parents have been embarrassingly vocal to all my friends’ families about the rules. I think Scar’s mom feels sorry for me. When Scar and I were leaving, Mrs. Holmes pretended not to notice and I love her for it.

And I love this. The music and the noise and this room full of strangers who don’t know who I am. Nobody knows about Rachel. Nobody feels sorry for me. Nobody cares.

I toss my hair back and bump hips with Ash again. Then I stumble midstep when I catch another glimpse of Blue Eyes.

It’s fate. We’re supposed to meet tonight.

He walks over to the L-shaped couch and leans down to say something to a stocky boy in a red T-shirt. His hair is longer than I realized, curling under his ears and falling onto his forehead. The dirty-blond color is almost the same shade as my own.

I grab Ash’s arm. “Who is that?”

“What?” she shouts over the beat.

I bring my lips close to her ear. “Who is that?” I repeat, louder. “The guy by the couch.”

She frowns. “Which one?”

I look back and tamp down a groan. He’s gone again! What the hell. This guy appears and disappears like a ninja. This time, I’m not letting him get away.

“I have to pee,” I tell Ashleigh.

She nods and turns to dance with someone else. I make my way out of the crowd. Blue Eyes is back, leaning against the kitchen doorway.

I take a deep breath and force myself forward. I’ve never, ever hit on a guy before. This is going to be disastrous.

I spy a row of shot glasses on a table. I grab one and throw it back. The foul liquid burns on the way down. I slap a hand up to my mouth to cover a cough. Over my fingers, I meet Blue Eyes’s gaze.

With courage I didn’t know I had, I pick up two more shot glasses and carry them over.

“You look like you need a drink,” I say, offering him one.

He takes it. “You look like that was the first shot you ever drank.”

I’m so glad it’s dark in here so no one can see me blushing. “Nah, I’ve drunk a few in my time,” I lie.

“Mmm-hmm,” he says before lifting the shot glass to his lips. He downs it cleanly and then tucks the empty in his front jeans pocket. My eyes wander downward and then flip back up to see him staring at me in bemusement.

“Do you know who I am?” he asks.

I run my tongue across my lower lip, wondering what I should say. Is he famous? I don’t want to seem uncool. “Of course.” I shrug as carelessly as possible. “Doesn’t everyone here?”

Something dark passes over his face. “Yeah, probably. But you’re still here talking to me. Bringing me drinks.” He taps my shot glass.

“Like I said, you looked like you needed one.”

He scrubs a hand down his face. The dark shadow is gone, only to be replaced by a weary expression. “I guess that’s true. So why are you here? Want to take a walk on the wild side?”

His last sentence is said with great scorn. Intuitively, I know that the truth is not my friend, because if I admit I came here to piss off my parents, Blue Eyes is going to disappear, and I desperately do not want that to happen.

Not because I think this is the perfect way to get back at my parents, but because there’s something interesting about him. Because I want to get to know him. Because I want him to want to get to know me.

I can’t tell him the real reason, but I can be honest, as embarrassing as it is. “Can’t a girl bring a hot guy a drink? I tried to get your attention before, but you disappeared. You were standing here by yourself and I took a chance. If that’s wild behavior in your book, then you must not get out much.”

He cocks his head. “Is that a joke?”

“Yes. But not a good one because you’re not laughing.” I stare at the shot in my hand. This has gone more terribly than I imagined.

He exhales heavily. “Because my people skills suck. Joke or not, we both know I haven’t gotten out much in the past three years.”

I have no idea what that means, but since I already pretended to know all about him, I can’t ask for an explanation. “Does that mean I should go?”

“No. You should stay.” The corner of his mouth curves up. “Not gonna lie. This is all very good for my ego.”

“It hasn’t been good for mine,” I admit, a bit testy.

The half smile turns into a full one and my breath catches at how gorgeous he is.

“I’ve never had a girl as pretty as you say so much as hello to me.”

My heart flips over and I’m so dumbstruck I can’t summon a witty reply.

He ducks his head in embarrassment. “Too corny?”

I find my voice. “Too amazing. My head is so big right now I don’t think this house can contain me.”

“Then let’s get out of here.”

“Really?” My eyes grow wide. “Where?”

“Just outside. I like it outside.”

“Me, too.”

He holds out his hand. Mine slips easily into his. His long fingers curl around the back of my hand. Against my palm, there are hard calluses. We leave the shot glasses on the kitchen counter we pass. I don’t need the alcohol now. I’m holding hands with the hottest guy on the planet, and I feel like I’m floating on air.

We maneuver through the crowd. Some people stare. I lift my head. Yeah, I’m with this hottie.

Outside, the noise thins out and so do the people. He leads me down the deck and toward a small shed.

“Do you keep the bodies in there?” I joke.

He halts suddenly. “You have a dark humor, don’t you?”

The remark makes me think of the hysterical laughter that burbled in my throat during Rachel’s funeral. How I covered my face to keep it from spilling out and everyone thought I was sobbing. It wasn’t so much dark humor as a defense mechanism.

“I’d rather laugh than cry,” I admit. “I cry too easily. It’s one thing I hate about myself.”

He lowers himself onto the grass. “That’s not a bad philosophy—the laughing over crying thing.”

“I wish I had more control over my tears. It’s frustrating when I’m mad but everyone thinks I’m sad.” I drop to the ground beside him, wondering why I’m spilling these things to him. I shut up then, and listen to the crickets sing as the faint music in the house plays in the background.

“You have a name?” he teases.

“I’m Beth.”

He rakes a hand through his messy hair. My gaze doesn’t miss the way his biceps flex from that action. He’s got incredible arms. Sculpted.

“I’m Chase.” He tilts his head toward me. “And I still feel like you’re too good to be sitting out here with me.”

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