Motion (Page 25)

The slope wasn’t nearly as steep or as slippery as I’d assumed.

But then randomly, an image of Lisa stripping off her clothes and climbing into bed with a clueless and sleeping Abram flashed in my mind’s eye. I frowned, shifted in my seat, and glared at the unpleasant image.

Or . . .

Or is the gradual steepness of the slope exactly the problem? Was this how Lisa’s lies had started? By her own admission, she was now a serial liar. One trivial omission had become a white lie, which had become a gray lie, which had become a Tyler-trash-island whopper?

“What’s going on over there?”

Abram’s question didn’t quite pull me from my musings and I said distractedly, “Incremental temperature increases.”


“If you boil a frog slowly, it doesn’t notice.”

I felt his eyes move over my profile, which finally stirred me from the morbid reflections. “Sorry. Just thinking.”

“About boiling frogs?” His voice did a cute little catch thing at the end of his sentence, like he was worried that boiling frogs might lead to boiling bunnies.

I slid my eyes to the side, clandestinely peering at him and wondering what he thought—what he really thought—of Lisa’s behavior last year. He’d been pissed at me (her) a few days ago, but when we’d discussed it last night, he’d forgiven me (her) easily.

“Do you mind telling me about the night I, uh, the night we met?”

Abram’s eyebrows climbed a half inch on his forehead. “You really don’t remember anything?”

“Humor me.”

He glanced at me once, twice, three times before saying, “I guess- I mean, you were pretty drunk. Do you remember the party?”

“The party,” I said vaguely, using a tone I typically employed when my professors or classmates would suggest something foolish and I didn’t want to sound judgmental, but rather wanted to give them the time and space to correct or withdraw their faulty suggestion.

“Yes. You and Gabby showed up at Leo’s party?”

“Ah. Okay. Yes. Then what happened? I mean, from your perspective. What happened from your perspective?”

He shifted in his seat, placing his elbow on the window sill, his index and middle finger lightly brushing against his lips as he stared out the windshield. “Let’s see . . . You came in and your brother pointed you and Gabby out. It was dark, there were a lot of people, so I didn’t get a chance to officially meet you. Plus, I was preoccupied with the upcoming set.”

“Ah, yes. The set.” I assumed he meant a music set, i.e. he must’ve played a set of music for the party.

Abram cleared his throat. “I thought it went well, given I’d never played for that many people before.” A hint of uncertainty edged into his voice, which had me smiling at him automatically.

“The set was great,” I said unthinkingly, the falsehood slipping out of my mouth and sounding sincere. I didn’t know whether to be disgusted or impressed with myself, nor did I know why I’d said it.

But then he looked at me again and smiled, another hitting-me-right-in-the-center-of-my-stomach grin, melting my brain with fuzzy feels. And I understood at once why my subconscious had decided to lie so convincingly.

Conclusion: My subconscious wants to see him smile.

Abram’s gaze flickered over my face, his eyes warm and appraising as he said quietly, “You have a really nice smile.”

I blinked at him, and then turned my attention back to the road, surprised to discover that I’d been smiling as well. Surprise was accompanied by a rush of flustered heat to my cheeks at his unexpected compliment. It’s one thing to admire a person in the comfortable privacy of one’s own thoughts, but for those thoughts to be reciprocated out loud was highly disorienting.

Struggling in the ensuing silence for a response, I finally settled on, “Thank you. Also, your smile is also nice. Also.” Instead of wincing at the stilted quality of my response, I cleared my throat and expression. “So, after your excellent set. What happened next?”

I anticipated the next words out of his mouth with both dread and anticipation, but he didn’t leave me in suspense for long. “Leo introduced me to this guy named Broderick—a producer out of New York—and the three of us talked ‘til late, calling it a night around four. I went to bed, fell asleep, and then . . .”

“And then?”

He sighed. “And then I woke up and you were there.”




We were both quiet for a short moment, and again the image of Lisa crawling into bed—okay, maybe she didn’t crawl, but crawling is skeevy and therefore in my imagination, she crawled—flashed within my brain. I was so irritated with her. Irritated and disappointed and . . . wait? Is that jealousy? WHAT?

“You were pretty drunk.”

“Don’t make excuses for- for me.” I swallowed around a lump of unpleasant feelings constricting my throat. We’d just exited the highway and Abram had to stop at a red light.

He opened his mouth, as though to argue, but I cut him off, “How did you even recognize me? It was crowded at the party, we weren’t even properly introduced.”

Abram’s eyelids lowered and he gave me a cut the crap look that reminded me of Leo.

I shook my head. “What?”

“Come on, Lisa.”

“What?” I glanced left, I glanced right. What was I missing?

“You know you’re crazy beautiful,” he said, not sounding happy about having to say it.

Startled by this explanation, and confused about how irritated it made me feel, I straightened my spine and glared at him. He thinks Lisa is beautiful. Which, I reminded myself calmly, meant he thought I was beautiful. Because we were identical.

. . . I hate that he thinks she’s beautiful.

Shaking my head again, I mentally swatted away the irrational thought just as the light changed and he turned his attention back to the road. “Right, well—”

“It’s impossible not to notice you,” he interrupted gently. “Even in a crowded room.”

Suspended on those words, I felt my glare dissolve, again not knowing what to feel. Or, perhaps more importantly, why I was feeling anything at all. Settling back in my seat, I refocused on the questions I wanted to ask and the information I was lacking.

“Right, so,” I started again, concentrating on balling my hands into fists. “You knew it was me. What did you do next?”

“I tried to wake you up. When you didn’t wake up right away, I checked your pulse and breathing. You seemed fine.” His tone was flat as he told the story, giving me the impression this memory was not one that he enjoyed. “So I got dressed, put a T-shirt on you—I didn’t look!” He added this last bit sharply, sending me a hard glance. “And then I called your brother.”

“You called Leo? Did you wake him up?”

“No. He was with Gabby. They were both frantic, looking for you.”

“Gabby was looking for . . . me.” I thought about that. I turned it over in my head. I examined it from many different angles.

“I guess you disappeared on her and she freaked out, because she knew you were drunk. Haven’t you talked to her about this?”

“Of course.” Crap. I was going to need to be more careful with my questions. “From your perspective, though, what happened next?”

He sent me a questioning glare as he readjusted his hands on the wheel. “Gabby and Leo showed up, you were mostly awake by then, climbing all over me. I was trying to keep you from hurting yourself, but also . . . ” He paused and shook his head, making a face of intense irritation.

“Oh no.” I covered my face and peeked at him from between my fingers, frustration and anger nearly choking me. “I groped you, didn’t I?”

He shrugged, not looking at me, but there was a palpable mood shift. He suddenly felt very distant, faraway. “Anyway, I wasn’t too happy. Gabby and I got into it. Leo carried you to your room. Gabby left. The end.”

With more force than necessary, Abram flipped the turn blinker and made a right onto our street while I sat perfectly still. I felt so . . . so . . .


How could he forgive her? What was wrong with him? He should have- should have- I don’t know. But he should have done something.

Wordlessly, he parked in front of the house, turned off the headlights, and cut the engine, all the while staring forward. I let my hands drop from my face to my lap and also stared forward, now nauseous.

But then, just as the stillness and silence settled around us, he faced me, drawing my eyes to his, Abram’s features now mostly in shadow. “Can we just forget about that? Can we just pretend it didn’t happen? I mean, what did happen? Nothing happened.”

Nothing happened.

A bubble of laughter erupted from between my lips and I shook my head, closing my eyes. I sighed.

“Lisa.” He placed his hand over mine.

I didn’t yank it, but I did slide it away and turned to open the door. “Come on. Let’s go inside.”

Exiting the car, I took a moment to fix my skirt before walking to the keypad and punching in the code. I heard Abram’s door close behind me and he opened the gate just as it unlocked and buzzed. I walked through it and we climbed the stairs side by side, his hands in his pockets, my arms crossed over my chest.