It’s not like we’ve got something going on, and I’m still . . . whatever this is with Dakota, so it’s not like she’s going to kiss me or anything. Without thinking, I raise my fingers to my lips and I shove my laptop away.

I’m a grown man, I can surely handle being friends with someone I’m attracted to. It happens all the time in movies.

Except they usually end up together in the end . . .

I really should stop comparing movies to reality and porn to actual real-life sex. Movies and porn are so far-fetched compared to life—especially to my life. This is the second time I’ve thought about porn today. I swear I’m not as obsessed with it as it seems. I’ve actually watched less of it than most guys my age, I’m sure.

I really need to stop rambling inside my head and go out there and socialize.

I should put a shirt on first, right?


I open my closet and grab the first sweatshirt I see. It’s blue and green and the logo for the Seahawks is in a big circle on the chest. The Seahawks remind me of when Hardin and I went to a game last year and he nearly got into a fight over some guy being a jerk to me. I don’t usually condone violence, but that guy was a douche.

Now that I’m dressed, I go into the kitchen, and Nora’s still singing when I enter. Her back is to me and she’s standing over the stove, turning one of the burner knobs. She’s taken off her long-sleeved work shirt and is now wearing a black tank top. The straps of her white bra are visible and I can see that she has a tattoo on the top of her back, just above her bra line. A dandelion, with half of the seeds detached and scattered across her back, as if someone had made a wish and blown on it. I guess I’m not surprised that she has a tattoo; her body seems to be made for it somehow.

I lean against the doorway and watch her, waiting for her to notice me. She grabs a bottle of olive oil and pours some into the sauté pan on the burner. Her hips move slowly and her voice is softer now, like both cooking and singing this song are second nature.

I watch as she takes the chopped broccoli and slides it into the sizzling pan. She turns the heat down when it sizzles a little too much and grabs a spatula from the utensil holder on the counter and stirs.

I feel creepy, like the guy in Tessa’s book, as I watch her. She hasn’t even caught on that I’m here watching her. Is she completely lost in her own thoughts? Or does she just zone out when she’s cooking? These are simple things I will never know about this mystery woman.

The song changes again and now it’s The Weeknd. I don’t know if I can stand here and watch her dance to him . . . his songs are already sexual enough . . . her hips are so curvy and her pants are so tight.

I should take my ass back to my room and go to bed.

Yet thirty seconds later, I’m still watching. Nora stirs the broccoli, pouring some sort of sauce on it, and then turns around, spotting me.

She doesn’t act surprised or embarrassed at all when she sees me lingering in the doorway. Her lips turn up into a smile and she waves the spatula for me to come closer. The oven beeps and she sings her way to it. I don’t say anything, I just walk over and sit down at the kitchen table. The kitchen is small; the table is in the corner, but still only a few feet away from the stove and fridge.

Nora grabs a sunflower-printed potholder from the counter and opens the oven. She pulls out a cake and sets it on the empty side of the stove top. She’s definitely good at multitasking. I can barely bake a store-bought cake mix and breathe at the same time, let alone make a cake from scratch and cook something on the stove simultaneously.

“Tessa just texted me. The twenty-top just got their food. She’s going to be a while,” Nora tells me.

I glance at her and nod, trying desperately to ignore the way her breasts threaten to spill out of her tank top.

Would it be rude to ask her to put her other shirt back on?

Yes, I’m positive that it would be. And it would reveal that I’ve been watching a little closer than