“See? All the more reason for you not to go. You’d never be able to pass that class.” She reaches over and cups my face with her hand. “Face it. You’re too sweet, Beckett.”
It takes every ounce of my willpower not to lean into her touch and shut my eyes.
“Beckett? Since when did you start calling me Beckett?”
“I was just trying it out.” An evil glint twinkles in her eyes. “I figure, if you end up becoming a lawyer, Beck isn’t going to work for you anymore. I don’t even know if Beckett will work. You might have to change your name to Greg or Chad or something equally douchey.”
“Greg and Chad are douchey names?” I arch a brow. “Since when?”
She removes her hand from my face, leaving my skin—my entire body—cold. “I have a Greg and a Chad in my Women’s Literature class, and every single time they come to class, they make a point to walk by my desk and”—she makes air quotes—“ ‘accidentally’ knock my books onto the floor. I don’t even know why they take the class to begin with. I don’t think they ever do any of the assignments.”
I thrum my fingers on top of the steering wheel, a little annoyed with Greg and Chad, though I’ve never met them. “Yeah, I might know why they’re doing that.”
“Really …? Wait … Do you mean taking the class or knocking my books off my desk?”
“Okay …” She looks at me expectantly. “Are you going to tell me?”
Honestly, I’m not sure I want to. As wrong as it is, I like that Willow is clueless about how attractive she is and that she doesn’t notice when guys check her out. I worry, though, that she’ll one day become aware, and then she’ll meet a guy she decides is worth giving up her no dating rule for.
When she stares at me with her lip jutting out in a pout, I cave.
“They’re doing it so they can check out your ass when you pick up your books,” I explain. “And they probably took the class because they thought there’d be a ton of girls in it.”
Her nose crinkles. “Really? That doesn’t seem like it could be true.”
“Trust me; I’m right.”
“But it doesn’t make any sense. I mean, they knock my books off every single class. And for what? Just to look at my ass? It’s not that great.” She faces forward in her seat, shaking her head. “No, I’m pretty sure they’re being assholes. They always laugh when they do it, too.”
“Trust me on this one. I’m a guy. I know how guys think, and I promise you that guys check out your ass all the time … It’s a really great ass.” My gaze wanders to her legs as she crosses them. “And if you were wearing those shorts, Chad and Greg would probably knock your books off before and after class, maybe even take a few bathroom breaks …” I force my eyes off her legs to find her gaping at me. “What?” I ask innocently. “You tell Wynter when guys are checking her out. Why can’t I do the same thing for you?”
She self-consciously tugs on the hem of her shorts. “Because I don’t tell Wynter she has a great ass.”
“Well, maybe you’re not as good of a friend as I am,” I say, slowing down to turn into the parking lot of the apartment complex. “And FYI, you never tell me my ass is nice, either.”
She looks completely unimpressed. “I don’t tell Wynter her ass is nice because that’s not what friends do.”
“Well, I think everyone is wrong and I’m right. Telling your friend that they have a nice ass should be done daily to boost their self-confidence. That’s what life’s about, right? Making other people feel better?” I flash her my best charming smile. “And when people feel better, the world is a better place.”
She gives a dramatic eye roll. “Okay, maybe you should become a lawyer, Mr. Overdramatic.”
“Hey.” I playfully poke her side, and she squeals through a laugh. “No going over to the dark side.” I’m about to laugh with her when her smile suddenly vanishes. “What’s wrong?”
She rubs her lips together. “It’s nothing. I was just thinking about some stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?” I ask as I park in front of her apartment. The sound of thudding music and the sight of empty liquor bottles on the steps cause me to immediately frown. “You want me to come inside for a while?” So I can find out what’s bothering you and so you don’t have to be alone at one of your mom’s parties.
She scrutinizes the smoke snaking out the open window of her apartment. “No … I’m fine. I just didn’t know she was having a party.” She fiddles with the hem of her shorts again. “I was trying to get a hold of her all day … I thought she was passed out drunk, but I guess we made it to the rebound stage already.” Heaving a sigh, she unfastens her seatbelt. “Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She reaches for the door handle then pauses. “Unless you have other stuff to do. I can always just have Ari come over here and pick me up and we can tow my car. It should only take two people.”
“No way. Ari doesn’t get to take away doing my favorite thing.” I catch her wrist. “What’s with the mood dive?”
She tips her head downward, her long, brown hair veiling her face. “It’s nothing. I’m just really tired. With work and school and stuff, I haven’t been sleeping very well.”
“Willow,” I summon my best warning tone, “fess up the truth or pay the consequences.”
She peers over at me, restraining a smile. “You know, that used to work on me until I found out what your”—she makes an air quote with her free hand—“ ‘consequences’ were.”
“Hey, tickling can be a good form of punishment, especially when someone almost pees their pants.”
“I did that one time,” she argues, holding up a finger. “And that was after you tickled me for five minutes. Anyone would’ve lost bladder control in that situation.”
A cocky grin spreads across my lips. “Not me. And you want to know why?”
“No,” she answers, having heard it all before.
I brag, anyway, trying to get her to smile. “Because I’m not ticklish.”