She nods, takes two steps away from me, and hesitates. Then she turns and says, “Thanks for the drink.”
As if watching her walk away weren’t frustrating enough, the bounce of that short skirt just below her delectable ass is enough to give a healthy man heart failure. If I don’t find a way to get my hands on her tonight, I’m likely to go insane before morning.
TIME DRAGS AFTER Nell leaves, and no matter how many conversations I get pulled into, nothing holds my interest. Partying is what I do. Interacting with people is my strong point. And that makes Halloween pretty much my favorite day of the year. And yet . . . all I want to do is kick everyone out, put some gory movie on Netflix, and be alone with my thoughts.
God, this girl is messing with my head.
Maybe it’s because for the first time since Lina and I broke up, I’m not looking at the world in terms of distractions. All the things that used to entertain me, the things that helped me get over her . . . now they’re just annoying the hell out of me, and I wish I could drown them all out.
I’m half tuned into a conversation with Brookes and Ryan and a few more people about next week’s game when I spy Silas across the room. He gives Dylan a peck on the cheek and then takes her cup and heads for the kitchen, presumably to get her a refill.
I walk away from our group without making an excuse. Zay calls after me, but I wave him off. I dodge around people as quick as I can, and snag Dylan’s wrist before anyone else can pull her into a conversation. She freezes up, whirling around to face me, and I immediately let go of her arm.
“Sorry. I . . . Sorry.”
She shakes her head. “It’s fine. You just caught me by surprise. What’s up?”
“I need you to tell me about Nell.”
Her brows furrow, and for a few silent seconds I think she might actually help me. Then she bursts into laughter.
“I’m sorry, Torres. But you’ve got to be out of your mind. There is absolutely zero chance that I’m going to help you hook up with my roommate.”
“Come on. I’m not that bad.”
“I didn’t say you were bad. You are charming and funny and incredibly loyal. But you’re also a flirt. And you’re easily distracted by new, shiny, scantily clad things. And Nell is . . . she’s different. She may not seem fragile, but she is. And I would like to continue hanging out with all of you and keep my roommate. I’m not sure that would be possible if I let you anywhere near her.”
My spine locks up, and the tension starts creeping up around my shoulders, down my arms, all the way to my clenched fists.
“I’m not going to hurt her.”
“Listen, I respect that you’re up front with girls about your nonrelationship style. But Nell hasn’t dated much. I don’t know how she’d handle being with someone like you, so I think it’s better if it just didn’t happen.”
“You can’t stop me from pursuing her.”
And that was the dumbest thing I could have said. Dylan straightens, squaring her shoulders and giving me an intimidating stare. I can see the protective fire in her eyes, and combined with her Statue of Liberty costume, she definitely doesn’t look like anyone you’d want to mess with unless you’d like to get clobbered with a fake torch.
“What I meant to say is . . . I like her. If this were just about getting into her pants, I’d turn around and leave with my tail tucked between my legs. Honest. But I think she’s . . . interesting. I don’t know how to talk to her, though. Every time I think I’m gaining ground, she locks up tight or runs away. I just need to know what I’m doing wrong.”
Dylan sighs and stares at me.
“You promise me that you’re serious about this?”
“I am. I just want to get to know her better. And I promise I won’t let things go too far until I’m certain I’m in it.”
Dylan rubs at her eyes and groans. “Tell me something. The only time I’ve ever seen you pursue a girl longer than one night is when she’s not interested. Is this some kind of subconscious thing you do because you don’t really want to be in a relationship?”
“Maybe I just don’t see the point in going after someone I’m not willing to fight for.”
She purses her lips and begrudgingly replies, “Good answer.” She examines me a moment longer and sighs. “I’m so going to regret this.”
“Ah. Captain Planet. You’re the best.”
“Just tell me what you want to know.”
“What kind of guys does she like?”
Dylan blinks at me. “You know . . . I don’t have the slightest clue. She’s never seemed all that interested in guys.”
“Are you saying she’s—”
“No. I don’t know. Nell’s life doesn’t revolve around social things like parties or dating. She’s all about school. She’s focused and driven, and she puts her everything into her classes. I think it’s because she was the first person in her family to go to college. She feels like she has to prove herself, so she’s never really made any time for anything else.”
Well, damn. I certainly know what that’s like . . . feeling like you have to prove that you’re worth people’s attention.
“Then why is she all of a sudden coming to parties?”
She bites her lip, worrying it before she answers. “That would be my doing. I told her that she wasn’t getting the full experience out of college by just focusing on classes. Now I think she’s trying to broaden her horizons a bit.”