Into the Deep Page 62

“Are you shitting me?”

“Not really.”

“Charley … Jake put you through hell last semester, never mind that he broke up with you. I might have been the only one who noticed how hard it’s been for you watching him with Melissa, but it doesn’t mean you didn’t feel all that. Suddenly he breaks up with Melissa and what … you’re just supposed to run to him?”

Attempting to shake off my drunken fog, I frowned at Lowe. “You’re not stupid, Lowe. You’ve got to have seen how he looks at us when we’re hanging out.”

“Yeah, like a jealous boyfriend. But he’s not your boyfriend and he doesn’t get to have his cake and eat it too.”

“I’ve never understood that expression. A cake is for eating.”

Lowe groaned. “Stop being cute when I’m trying to be serious.” He grabbed my hand and because I knew his intent wasn’t to seduce, I followed him as he dragged me upstairs and into his room.

With a sigh, I sat down on Matt’s bed while Lowe lay down on his, kicking off his boots, his gaze questioning but patient. “I know you think I’m letting him dictate what I do but Lowe … he’s your friend. I’m his ex. If you go there, he won’t be happy. I wouldn’t be happy if he went there with Claudia. As I said, if this was serious, then maybe, but we both know it isn’t. You don’t do serious, Lowe.”

After a moment of contemplation, Lowe gave me a reluctant nod, his eyes darkening with sincerity. “If I were the kind of guy who did serious … you’d be it, Charley.”

I smiled at him. “While I appreciate that, I think if I was ‘it’, you’d suddenly be the kind of guy who did serious.”

“Like Jake did?”

The reminder of Jake’s pursuit of me when we were younger cast a pall of sadness over me, but I nodded.

“His head is all messed up, Charley. I’m not saying he doesn’t care about you. What I’m saying is that I care about you, and I don’t want you to be the one who gets hurt again.”

I took a deep, shaky breath. “That’s why I need space. But I’m over being a child about it. I thought I could just avoid him and bury my head in the sand and it would all be okay.”

“But it’s not. You have to talk to him.”

The thought sobered me. “Yeah.”

We were quiet a while, each lost in our own thoughts. Finally, Lowe smiled tiredly. “You want to stay here?”

In answer I slid under the covers, turning on my side to stare at Lowe who was already lying back under the duvet on his bed. “You’re a really good kisser.”

“I know.”

I snorted. “You definitely need to work on your confidence, though.”

“I’m on it.”

Smiling, I snuggled deeper against my cold pillow. “Lowe?”


“Thank you for being such a good friend.”

He was silent so long, I didn’t think he was going to answer, but then he replied quietly, “You make it easy.”

I was almost drifting off to sleep with a small smile on my lips when Lowe whispered, “Charley?”


“If I didn’t think it would get me hurt in the end … I’d be the guy who got serious for you.”

His confession hung in the air around us, making tears burn in my eyes. An overwhelming melancholy set over me.

Lowe was a great guy. The kind of guy I could really fall for. But he was right to guard himself against me, because no matter how many times I told myself otherwise, I still hadn’t let go of Jake. I was beginning to fear that I’d lose every good thing that came into my life because I just couldn’t set myself free of him.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Light streamed in from the thin curtains hanging at the small window in Lowe and Matt’s room. My eyes rested on Lowe sprawled on his stomach, his arm dangling over the side of the twin bed, his graceful fingers almost touching the floor.

His face seemed so much softer in sleep, but it could be that after last night, I was feeling especially tender toward him.

Curled up on my side on Matt’s bed, nerves bit into my empty stomach at the mere thought that my friends would assume Lowe and I had slept together if they discovered I wasn’t in my room with Claudia. If I’d been a little more sober last night, I would’ve realized slipping into Matt’s bed was a terrible idea.

At least Jake had gotten so drunk he’d passed out before realizing I’d disappeared into Lowe’s room. The clock on Matt’s bedside table told me it was just before seven in the morning. Nobody would be roaming around yet, so it seemed like a safe plan to get up now. Flipping back the covers, I quietly got out of bed, not bothering to fix my bed head or my wrinkled clothes as I tiptoed toward the door. Passing the mirror fixed to the wall, I saw I had sleep-smeared mascara around my eyes. I looked like I’d been up to no good.

Groaning under my breath, I pulled open the door as silently as I could, tiptoed out, and turned to click the door shut gently. Feeling a little hungover and a lot tired, I turned to head toward the kitchen for a glass of water and instead of meeting an empty hall, I met Jake.

Frozen, I stared at him numbly as his eyes glanced from Lowe’s door to me, back to the door, and then back to me. His already pale face turned white and the glass of water in his hand trembled. His assumption settled as an unpleasant ache in my chest and before I could explain, he jerked like I’d shot him and quickly disappeared into the room he was sharing with Beck.

Panic suffused me and I stood there, stuck in the awful moment. My breathing was harsh as I leaned against the wall, cursing fate that I’d have to have crossed paths with Jake of all people as I snuck out of Lowe’s room. Sliding down the wall, I buried my head in my hands, trying to talk myself off the ledge.

I hadn’t cheated on Jake, for Christ’s sake! I was barely even talking to him.

Why did it feel like a betrayal?

Why was I terrified Jake would hate me?

This was what I wanted. I wanted closure; I wanted Jake to let me go so I could move on. But I never wanted to move on like this, and I definitely didn’t want to put a strain between him and Lowe.

If the horrified look on his face was any indication, I’d say Jake was not going to speak to me ever again.

And why did that thought burn in my throat so badly, when that’s what I’d said I wanted all along?

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