The Impact of You (Page 6)

The Impact of You(6)
Author: Kendall Ryan

She swallows, the tension in her shoulders dissipating slightly as she draws a deep breath. “Thanks.”

“For what?” I pull the chair closer to where she’s seated on the bed.

“For being cool with my…crap.” She twists her hands in her lap. “I guess I expected you to be different. The Jase Owens I’ve heard about is a major player and always…” She pauses, biting her bottom lip.

“Always what?”

Her cheeks blush the prettiest shade of pink. And on her fair skin, there’s no denying her embarrassment. “Horny,” she finishes.

I crack a slight grin. “Well that part’s true, babe.”

Her eyes widen just slightly.

A sudden knock on my bedroom door interrupts our silence. “Hey man,” a muffled voice calls through the door. It’s Trey. I’m sure he’s been briefed that I’m up here with a girl, so there must be a significant reason for him to interrupt.

“Come in.”

His gaze registers Avery perched on the side of my bed like she’s ready to bolt, but his eyes slip past her to me. He doesn’t recognize her from Saturday night. Not surprising, given he was drunk off his ass.

“Stacia’s here,” he says.

Avery’s head turns to me, clearly wondering who Stacia is.

“I’m busy.”

Trey chuckles. “Come out and deal with her pretty ass.”

“Fuck man, tell her I’m with someone.”

“You know she’ll just wait. That girl’s got no shame.”

Damn. He’s right.

“Okay, tell her to come up.”

Chapter 4

Avery

Hiding behind that dumpster seemed important at the time – I couldn’t have someone from my past spotting me, so I’d dived for cover. But now, awaiting someone named Stacia, I question what in the hell I’m doing in Jase’s bedroom. This isn’t me. I don’t follow guys home. I certainly don’t make myself at home on their beds. This is just asking for trouble. And now clearly he has a girlfriend, which makes me look like an even bigger idiot.

Trey leaves and Jase makes no move to explain. Since it’s too late to escape, I wait. A few seconds later, we hear footsteps climbing the stairs to the attic.

A petite girl with long blond hair rounds the corner and her megawatt smile fades as soon as she sees Jase isn’t alone.

“Oh. Hey, Jase,” she recovers and leans down to plant a kiss against his cheek.

God, could this be more awkward? I want to die.

Jase, having perfected his bored-with-life look, nods once at her and then flicks his gaze to mine. “This is Avery. Avery, this is Stacia.”

Stacia turns, but her smile was only reserved for Jase because it fades as she takes me in. There’s something she hates about me being up here with Jase, and the inner bitch inside me enjoys that fact. This girl just reeks of fake, and I’m instantly not a fan.

“I didn’t know you had someone over.” Stacia’s voice goes soft as she turns to Jase.

“Well, I do. Did you need something?” His voice is cool, unemotional.

Damn. This can’t be his girlfriend. Otherwise, he’s a real ass**le. Of course I’m dying to know who she is, but I won’t ask. Not sure I could handle hearing that right now. Jase has treated me with nothing but kindness and respect, and I sort of want to continue thinking the best of him.

“No. Just wanted to say hi.” Stacia lifts one shoulder, then drops it and I can’t help but notice the way her chest sticks out when she does. The move is practiced, beyond obvious. God, this girl is annoying me in all of thirty seconds. Before the awkward silence has time to fully descend on us, Stacia bounds over toward me. “You look familiar.”

My heart stops.

Literally ceases to beat in my chest.

I hope to God she has no idea why I look familiar. I pull in a breath and shrug, working to convince myself it’s just a coincidence. She can’t know.

Desperately needing to change the subject, I ask, “How do you and Jase know each other?”

Jase answers for her. “Ex-girlfriend.”

Oh.

“Yeah, some days I’m his ex-girlfriend, some days I’m…what am I exactly, Jase, on those nights you call me and beg me to come over?”

“You wish, Stacia.”

She laughs, her mouth curving into a victorious smile. “Kay, Jase.”

My stomach cramps.

Jase rises from the chair, watching her with guarded eyes, like she’s a wild and unpredictable animal.

Stacia laughs again, nervously this time. “I can see you’re trying to impress your new friend, so I’ll go.”

His jaw tenses as he bites back whatever he wants to say. He steers Stacia by the elbow toward the door. “Avery and I need to study.”

Stacia pouts but lets him guide her out into the hall.

Once the door is firmly shut, I look at Jase. “Are you sure it’s okay I’m here?” I ask.

He laughs uneasily and crosses the room toward me. “You’re saving my ass right now. So thank you.”

“How?”

“By helping me get rid of Stacia. She’d hang out all afternoon if I let her.”

I rise from the bed, wondering if he doesn’t want company and if I should head out too. “Oh…did you want me to…”

His firm hands on my shoulders stop me from going any farther. “I want you to stay.”

The warm weight of his hands is a constant reminder that I’m not as immune to his charms as I’d like. I smile up at him like a lovesick fangirl. Idiot. I silently berate myself that I’ve joined the Jase fan club. “Okay.”

“Sit. Stay. Get comfortable.”

I sink down to his bed once again, chemistry crackling between us, no matter how much I might want to deny it. “Okay.”

“I’ve got psych homework I could do. And you can hide out here, so just relax, alright?”

I want to ask him more about Stacia, but that may lead him to ask why I was hiding, so I zip it and relax on his large queen-sized bed. It’s much more plush and comfy than my narrow rock-hard mattress back at the dorms. Mmm. His bed smells like him. It’s a scent I instantly decide could be bottled and sold.

Jase turns on soft music and grabs his textbook and a stack of papers from the desk, balancing everything on his lap so he can face me. I grab the book from my early childhood development class and bravely settle back against his mountain of pillows. My eyes dart up to Jase’s but he doesn’t seem to mind in the least that I’ve commandeered his bed. In fact, I swear there’s a hint of smile tugging his lips.