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.I’m surprised by how much I enjoy that feeling.Chapter 4LolaIT’S EARLY MORNING, and my mom just left for work.I’m in the kitchen making myself a cup of coffee in hopes of getting some study time before my test this afternoon.One reason to love finals: you only have to show up for the test, so you get lots of free time.As I’m pouring the water in the coffeemaker, the doorbell rings and I already have a pretty good inkling of who it is.“Well, hey there, sexy lady,” James says in a wildly exaggerated flirty voice.I laugh and shake my head.“Yeah, so sexy.” I roll my eyes.I’m certainly not a vision first thing in the morning.My hair is messed up, I have no makeup on and probably bags under my eyes, I’m in an old tank top that’s frayed on the bottom from how many times I’ve washed it, and my pajama shorts have paint on the right butt cheek from the time I wore them when I helped my mom paint the hallway bathroom.“You wanna get breakfast?” James asks in a tone I recognize too well—the casual, nothing’s-wrong tone he uses when his family’s stressing him out.“Right now?”“Yeah.” He nods.“Mom’s taking me and Jonathan out to breakfast, and I can’t deal with Golden Boy on my own, so I thought maybe you could come too.”“Is that cool with your mom? She doesn’t want to have quality time by herself with her Little Prince Charming?” I tease.He gives me a pretend scowl.“Just come with me, please.I can’t sit there and listen to the many accomplishments of The Great Jonathan Laird without puking.”“Yeah, okay,” I reply.“Let me get clothes on and brush my teeth.”“Okay,” he says, following me into the house.I ditch the coffee idea and head straight to the bathroom to clean up a bit.James sits on the edge of the bathtub and smiles at me through the mirror.“This is gonna be a fuckin’ scene, man,” he says.“He’s getting his real estate license, which my dad’s thrilled about because it gives him an in to do landscaping for the houses Jonathan sells.I’m sure we’ll have to hear all about that brilliant idea.”“I’ll counter it,” I say, looking at him through the mirror.“Let’s get a cover story going and I can brag about you.”“Okay.” He smiles broadly like he’s touched by that plan.“I can’t exactly tell them you’re an up-and-comer in the porn business,” I say, putting extra emphasis on the last word in the term.He gives me that sweet, modest smile and chuckles as he bashfully looks down at the ground.I can so rarely get him to be shy like this that I relish every moment of it.“So what should we go for? How about a pilot for a TV show? Or maybe a workout commercial? You’re totally jacked now, so it’s believable that you’d be selling Ab Doers and Tae Bo DVDs.”Again, the modest, cute look.“Oh! Or maybe modeling,” I volunteer.“What if you were the face of some new clothing line? We can make up a designer from, like, Germany or something, and we can say that you’re going to be in print ads for their fall campaign.”“You think they’d buy that?” he asks.“Dude, look at you,” I say, stopping in the middle of brushing my hair to turn and smirk at him.“You’re totally male model material—and more than romance novel covers and shit.You’re shirtless-dirty-oiled-up-Calvin-Klein-Jeans-ad with that body and that face.Besides, those ads are basically like couture porn anyway.Everybody’s half naked and lying on top of each other, kind of like what you really do.”“Kind of.” He chuckles.“Except I highly doubt that there’s any double penetration going on at high fashion shoots.”I laugh and shrug my shoulders.“You never know,” I reply with a playful grin.He follows me into my room and sits on my bed while I go into my closet to find something that doesn’t scream “I just woke up and I don’t give a shit how I look.” This is breakfast with James’s mom and his arrogant brother, so I don’t want to look like a total mess.I opt for a casual, white sundress and some espadrilles with a heel, since I’m going to be in the land of the giants with James’s tall family.“Bringing out the big guns, eh?” James smiles when I emerge.“Huh?”“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to look hot for Jonathan,” he teases.“Yuck! Your brother’s a douche! He would never influence my fashion choices,” I say, crinkling my nose at the thought of Jonathan being attracted to me.James laughs loudly and stands up from the bed.“Well, no matter who it’s for, you look gorgeous, kid.”“Aw, you’re too kind.” I smile up at him as he comes to put his arm around me.He kisses the side of my head, and then we walk to the door and across the yard.James opens the door to his house and ushers me inside, where his mom and Jonathan are waiting in the front room.“Oh, Lola, sweetheart, it’s so good to see you!” James’s mom says as she comes over to hug me.“We don’t get to see you enough these days.You know you’re always welcome to come over for dinner.”“Thanks, Brenda.It’s really nice to see you too.”Jonathan walks over and gives me the kind of obligatory hug normally reserved for an annoying little sister.“How you doing, Lola?”“Great.How about you?” I ask him as I part from the hug.“Great, really great.Getting my real estate license, and I’ve already got an in with Everleigh Real Estate,” he says with a cocky smile.“Oh, that’s cool,” I politely reply.It’s starting already.I can see why James didn’t want to deal with this by himself.“How does Sunnyside Café sound?” James’s mom asks, breaking my mild annoyance with The Great Jonathan Laird.“Sounds great,” James and I reply in unison, which draws a subtle eye roll from Jonathan.When we were kids, Jonathan was a real asshole.He acted like I was delicate and weak, like my smarts and tenacity were adorable instead of admirable—like I was a newborn kitten instead of Rosie the Riveter.He’s always been cocky, popular, and a little chauvinistic despite his phony politeness to girls [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]