I winced. Great. Oren working meant Zwinn had the apartment they shared with him all to themselves for the evening.
Well, they’d just have to get their snuggle time on some other night. They already had their happily ever after; they had the rest of forever to be together.
“I need you,” I said.
“Oh, no. What’s wrong?” Worry instantly lit her voice.
Damn, I loved her.
“I’ve done the craziest thing in my entire life, and right now, I really need your support and acceptance, and...and help. I need your help.”
“Okay,” she said slowly. “Do I need to grab my hiking boots, shovel and some lime, or...bail money?”
I laughed and relaxed. “Neither. I didn’t kill anyone...and I’m not in jail. I didn’t even break the law.”
“Well, that’s a start. What’d you do, then?”
“Um...I think I have to tell you this one in person. Can we go to Forbidden in, say...half an hour?”
I bit my lip and took a deep breath before adding the hardest part of my request. “And...can you not bring Quinn?”
A pause followed. Then she finally asked, “Why can’t I bring Quinn?”
“Because...this is a girl thing, and I...I just can’t talk about it with you when there’s this hulking, hot pile of walking testosterone sitting between us.”
“But, he’s not—”
She sighed. “Okay...fine. Quinn can stay home.”
I fisted my hand and pumped the air. Yes! I so rule. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Pick me up at my place, bye.”
After rushing the last few words, I hung up before she could come up with a way to back out. Zoey hated doing anything without Quinn. But I wasn’t about to let that stop her.
Half an hour later, the headlights of her car blared through the front window and swung across the walls of the living room when she pulled into the drive. I popped up from the couch where Colton had been cuddling with me, watching Goonies.
“There’s Zoey. I gotta go. See you guys tomorrow.”
Aspen lifted her face from her laptop, where she was probably still nitpicking and perfecting her already flawless resume to death. Sitting cross-legged in a side chair, she wore one of Noel’s old T-shirts and a frayed pair of shorts.
“Oh!” Surprise lit her voice as she took in my outfit. “You’re going out?” After sending Colton a reassuring smile, as if to let him know she was still here for him, she returned her attention to me. “Have fun.”
Thank God she was so much less inquisitive than Noel. She didn’t ask where I was going, who would be there, what I’d be doing, or when I’d be home. It was nice to know someone in this household could treat me like a quasi-adult and gave me a little trust.
I hopped over Brandt who was sprawled in a beanbag on the floor, where he was watching the movie. I even managed to evade his foot when he purposely kicked out his leg to trip me.
Once outside, I paused to draw in a deep breath. Was I really going to do this? Just...hang out and stalk some guy I liked? That sounded really lame and desperate. But honestly, I didn’t think much else could top my rating on the crazy scale after what I’d done last night. And the more I kept thinking about all the skanky, half-dressed sluts who’d be crawling all over the bar, trying to flirt with him, the more I just couldn’t stay at home, watching eighties movies with my sister-in-law and younger brothers.
Nodding my head with reaffirmed purpose, I strode to the car waiting on me. I really loved Zoey’s car. It was one of those nice, clean, pristine new luxury sedans. She came from money, but you couldn’t tell unless you caught sight of what she drove. I wished I had a car. I actually had some money to get one, but Noel had convinced me to only buy meaningful things with that money...like college tuition. And since he’d finally been able to get himself a rattletrap truck, meaning we had two vehicles in the household—his and Aspen’s—I usually didn’t need my own automobile.
Zoey was clicking through channels on the radio when I opened the passenger side door. She looked up as I slid in and pulled on my seat belt.
“Hi.” Her voice was too cheerful, her smile too bright. It all felt like one big, guilt-ridden inquisition. I just couldn’t take the pressure.
So I blurted, “I had sex with Oren last night,” in one, long, massive, run-on breath, only to moan in misery and slink lower in my seat as I clapped my hands to my head in defeat.
Forget Chinese water torture and thumbscrews; just have one innocent best friend smile at me, and I was spilling everything.