“Why are you smiling like that?” he asked with a chin lift. I stopped smiling and touched my lips with my fingertips. Was something wrong with my smile?
“Why are you smiling like that?” I shot back.
An eyebrow went up, and the lone eyebrow lift combined with that damn smile…it was enough to make my heart skip a beat.
“This is how I smile,” Dylan answered.
Zoe. Oh, Zoe. You poor poor child.
His dark blue eyes were sparkling with laughter and those lips tipped even higher. One second stretched into two, and then two seconds turned into a staring contest. What the hell was he thinking? I didn’t know him well enough to make a good guess, and it got harder to keep my eyes locked on his with each passing second. I was such a sore loser, so there was no way I’d be the first one to look away.
After what felt like an hour of the weirdest staring contest—which I won, thank you very much—he shook his head and rubbed his hand over his short hair.
“What?” I asked quietly, genuinely curious to hear what he was thinking.
He sighed and got up. “Nothing.”
“No, tell me. What?”
“You remember those people we talked about?” I prompted. “The ones we don’t like?” A quick nod. “I don’t like people who don’t finish their sentences either.”
“I didn’t start a sentence.”
I tapped a finger to my temple. “You started it in here.”
That earned me a warm chuckle. “You keep doing things I’m not expecting you to do. It throws me off, that’s all.”
“Is that a bad thing or a good thing?”
“Haven’t decided yet.”
“Let’s not waste your time—let’s agree that it’s a good thing.”
I caught the twitch of his lips as he leaned down to hook his bag over his shoulder. “You think so?”
“Oh yeah. I’ll keep you on your toes.” I pushed myself up from the couch to stand next to him. “So we’re good? Buddies? You don’t mind that I told her you’re gay?”
If he wanted to focus on that… “Sure, buddies—best friends, pals, mates…I’ll let you choose.” I lightly punched his arm, and then immediately hated myself for it.
I, Zoe Clarke, was officially the weirdest girl alive.
The first time you meet someone, you make eye contact. You smile, say hello. Should be simple, if you’re anyone but me. The first time I met Dylan Reed, I found myself making eye contact with a different part of his body. You see, I’m very good at being shy, not to mention extremely well-versed in rambling nonsense and, unfortunately, rather highly skilled at making a fool of myself in front of a guy I’m attracted to.
At the time, I knew nothing about him and thought none of what I said would matter since I’d never speak to him again. Turns out, I was very wrong. He was the star wide receiver of the football team, one of the few players expected to make it into the NFL, and I ended up seeing him all over campus.
I might have also propositioned him, run away from him, attacked him with a cooking utensil…and…uh, maybe I shouldn’t tell you all of it. It’s pretty normal stuff, things you’d expect…from me. Eventually, the time came when I couldn’t hide anymore—not that he’d have let me even if I tried.
Before now, he never knew I was secretly watching him. Now that we see each other every day, he knows when I have a hard time looking away. It doesn’t help that I’m not the most subtle person in the world either.
He smiles at me and tells me he finds me fascinating because of my quirks. I can’t even tell him that I think my heart beats differently whenever he’s around.
He thinks we’re going to be best friends. I think I have a big thing for him, and the more I get to know him, the more I don’t care that I’m not allowed to be his friend, let alone fall for him.
The thing is, that’s exactly what I’m doing—what we’re doing, I think.
Writing became my world and I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than creating new characters and telling their stories. You know how some things simply makes your heart burst with happiness? A really good book, a puppy, hugging someone you’ve been missing like crazy? That’s what writing does to me. And all the hard work, all the sleepless nights, all the anxiety that comes with publishing…everything is worth it at the end.