“Cody, Dee?” she says, her nose scrunched like his name leaves a bad taste in her mouth. She’s wearing one of my dresses—a slinky dark blue number that flatters her every curve—but she insisted on wearing flats with it and all my energy had already been expended persuading her not to wear leggings.
I shrug. “He wasn’t a half-bad dancer.”
“I think you mean ‘molester.’ ” Her brows are pinched tight over blue eyes flooded with judgment. “That was just disturbing.”
“Joel was jealous,” I explain, smiling as I take a sip of my drink.
My reasoning does nothing to wash the disapproval from her face. “Was it worth it?”
I nod emphatically. “So worth it.”
After three more drinks, I’m sitting at the bar swooning over Mark, the volunteer firefighter Leti is flirting with. “You two are perfect for each other,” I insist, feeling the alcohol pumping through my veins like caffeinated cocoa. “You should make gorgeous babies together.”
Leti and Mark laugh, and Leti takes a sip of Mark’s drink. They’re both shamefully gorgeous. Leti, with his golden ombre hair and his stunning golden eyes. Mark, with his dimpled cheeks and thick lashes.
“You’re pretty fantastic, you know that?” Mark says, and I fall for him a little more.
“I do know!” I insist, motioning with my hand and nearly spilling my drink. “Thank you!”
Rowan takes my cup so I don’t splash everyone. “Let’s head backstage.”
“Do you see that guy up there?” I ask Mark, ignoring Rowan and pointing to the stage with my entire arm.
“You mean the one you were dancing with?”
“No. The douchiest one up there. The one with the douchey hair and the douchey smile. The one that thinks he’s sooo hot.”
Leti laughs, and Mark scans the stage.
“She means the guy with the mohawk,” Leti clarifies, but I fail to see why any clarification was needed.
“Yeah. What about him?” Mark asks.
“He doesn’t realize how fantastic I am.”
“Well then he doesn’t deserve you,” Mark says, pulling a long curl over my shoulder.
“You really think so?”
“That’s what we’ve been saying this whole freaking time!” Rowan objects.
I glare up at the stage, my hazy vision locking on Joel. He’s smiling down at the front row, his blond spikes and white teeth shining under the bright spotlight showering golden rays all over his golden body. “He needs to realize that,” I explain.
If Joel knew he didn’t deserve me, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that he thinks I don’t deserve him. He thinks I’m just another girl.
I tear my gaze away and give my attention back to Leti and his firefighter. “Do you guys want to come backstage?”
Mark smiles at Leti. “I think I’d rather get another drink. What about you?”
“See you tomorrow,” Leti tells me, and I giggle when I receive his message loud and clear—I was going to be his ride home, but it looks like he no longer plans to go home tonight. I wink at him before hooking my arm in Rowan’s and using her for support as we make our way away from the bar.
Backstage, I watch the band while dutifully keeping my eyes off of Joel. I can feel him watching me, and Rowan tells me he keeps looking my way, but I won’t give him the satisfaction of even glancing in his direction. Instead, I watch Mike beat life into his drums, I watch Shawn shred his guitar, I watch Cody compete for attention, and I watch Adam play up the crowd. He has an amazing voice, but he’s an even better performer than he is a singer. He knows exactly what to do to get the crowd riled up, building the energy in the room until it’s buzzing like a shaken-up Coke bottle. With his shaggy brown hair, his braceleted wrists, and his black fingernails, he looks every bit the bad boy—and every bit the type of guy I never would have imagined my best friend playing house with.
The way he looks at her every time their eyes meet . . . I’ve never been looked at by a guy like that. It’s like he’s showing her his heart, like he’s telling her it belongs to her and no one else.
The way Cody looks at me only tells me that his dick belongs to me, and even then, only for the next few hours.
But he’s not the one I wish would look at me like that anyway.
When the guys exit the stage, I let Cody approach me, knowing he will.
“Did you like the show?” he asks in that smug way of his. His eyes are such a muted blue, it’s hard to tell if they’re even blue at all. His nose is too wide and his lips are too thin.
“Always,” I tell him with a come-hither smirk. “Do you have to do one more song?”
“Yeah, but then I’m all yours.”
When the guys go back onstage, Rowan turns to me. “You’re not seriously planning to hook up with him tonight, are you?”
“With Cody?” I scoff. “Never in a million years.”
“Thank God.” She sighs. “You had me worried.” She studies me for a moment, and then her eyes narrow. “So what are you planning to do?”
“Besides get Joel to confess his undying love?” I laugh, but she doesn’t, so I roll my eyes and say, “Actually, that’s the plan. Get Joel to confess his undying love.”
“Why can’t you just go for a normal guy?” Rowan asks, and I bristle.