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Read The Hating Game(74) Online by Sally Thorne – ePub Online free

When I’m jogging up the sidewalk to the entrance to his building, I’ve basically exhausted all of my weak excuses, caveats, reasoning, and we’re down to this. I run into the lobby.

I haven’t seen Josh all day, and I miss him.

The elevator has an up arrow above it. I hold my breath. It bings.

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He couldn’t imagine you with anyone but himself.

The doors snap open and there he is.

Chapter 16

He’s ruffled and sweaty, weighed down by gym gear. His brow creases when he spots me, his eyes unsure. He puts a hand out to hold the elevator door.

My. Heart. Bursts.

“I won!” I scream as I run at him. He has enough time to put out his arms as I jump. He hits the back wall with a grunt as I manage to get my arms and legs around him. The doors slide closed and he manages to hit the button for his floor.

“I think technically I won. I was in the building first.” I hear him say over my head.

“I won, I won,” I repeat until he laughs and concedes.

“Okay. You won.”

His sweat smells like rainwater and cedar, leaving a faint rosemary-pine tingle in my nostrils. I press my face against his neck and breathe in, again and again until the elevator bings, and we’re on the fourth floor. I try to muster up the strength to let him go, but the addictive press of our bodies together is stronger than my willpower.

“Okay then.” He begins to walk down the hallway. I’m clinging like a koala to his front, coat flapping, my bag bumping against his gym bag. I hope he doesn’t bump into any neighbors. I lean back enough to see his face and see amusement shining in his eyes as he puts down his bag beside his door and begins sorting through his keys.

“Every man should get a welcome home like that.”

“Don’t mind me. Go about your business.”

I hug harder. His collarbone fits nicely under my cheekbone. He’s wearing a hoodie and his body feels humid and damp.

I hear him drop his gym gear into the basket. He toes off his sneakers, which seems a little bit more difficult, and he takes my bag. He presses a button on the heating control.

“Seriously, just pretend I’m not here.”

He walks us into the kitchen and bends to look in the refrigerator, making me grip tighter. He fills a glass and I press my ear to his neck to listen to him swallow.

I tighten my legs around him, and he slides a hand to my butt and squeezes it once in a friendly way.

Then he gives it a slap. “Ow, what’s in your pocket?”

“Oh.” I remember now and feel like a nerd. I slither down to my feet. “It’s nothing.”

“It hurt my hand.” He pulls the lumpy shape out of my pocket and cranes to see what he’s found “It’s a Smurf. Of course. What else would you fill your pockets with? Why does it have a bow on it?”

“I have, like, ten of him. It’s Grouchy Smurf.”

“If I didn’t know how much you adore Smurfs, I’d be insulted.” His mouth quirks and I know I’ve pleased him. “So what’s with the Smurfs, anyway?”

“My dad had a regular delivery over the state line. He’d leave before dawn and be back after I went to bed. He always bought me a Smurf at the gas station on the way home.”

“So they remind you of your dad. That’s nice.”

“It meant that he was thinking of me.” I shuffle on the spot.

“Well, thank you for thinking of me.”

“Well, you gave me something of yours, so. We’re even.”

“Is that so important? Being even?”

“Of course.” I notice he has a little whiteboard with a weekly meal plan. He’s such a freak.

“Okay, well you’re clean, and I’m not. I need a shower.”

“How do you smell so good after the gym?” I go into the living room and throw myself down onto the couch with a groan. I sink into it like it’s made of memory foam. Hello, Lucy, the couch tells me. I knew you’d be back.

“I didn’t think I did,” he replies from the kitchen. I’m hearing water boiling and the fridge opening and teaspoon clinking.

“You do.” I pat around for the ribbon cushion. “Like a muscly pinecone.”

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