An Illicit Pursuit
his
feet, and I follow him to help out.
    “Do you hang out often with Nikki and
Brendie?” I ask as I seek trays large enough for pizzas.
    Adam transfers the steaming pizzas onto the
trays I’ve found and grabs soda and beer from the fridge. “No, we
don’t do anything together, except for grocery shopping. Why?”
    “But, you did seem to have spent a lot of
time with them when they were younger.”
    He nods, cringing as if he’s tasted something
bitter.
    “When did you stop spending time with them
and become an ‘asshole?’ ” I use air quotas for the last
word, adding a sweet smile to soften my critique.
    “I don’t remember exactly,” he says,
shrugging. “I guess since my mother’s surgery. It’s not just me,
though. They’ve changed a lot since they hit puberty.”
    I raise an eyebrow, working to interpret the
difference in his expression. “I don’t want to sound judgmental or
nosy, but I think they need you. They had an obvious trauma with
the possibility of losing their mother. And losing you as a
frequent buddy added more to their problems. That might be the
underlying reason for their eating disorders.”
    “So, what do you suggest Miss
not-just-a-talented-singer-but-also-a-psychologist-too?”
    I snort. “Simple. Just spend some quality
time with them. Go out and have fun together.”
    “Why don’t you just shoot me directly in the
head?” He places napkins and paper plates under his arms and
carries the trays to the living room. I serve beer and soda and
settle at my place between Nikki and Adam. Although my body
gradually relaxes with the food and the movie, the buzz from Adam’s
body continues its undeniable presence throughout the evening.
    Adam walks me out when the movie is over and
opens the door of my car for me. “I thought about what you said,
and I think you’re right. I should spend more time with my sisters.
I have a basketball game tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll try to
convince the girls to come watch me, then take them out to wherever
they want.”
    “Sounds like an awesome idea. I’m sure
they’ll love it. Try to cut down the caveman-older-brother attitude
a little bit, and it’ll be a definite success.”
    “Caveman older brother? Me?” He smirks,
holding the door, and places his other hand on the top of the car,
cornering me into the small space between his torso and the
door.
    I duck my head to enter my car but stop as
Adam’s hand finds its way to my arm. I inhale a sharp breath to
stifle the shiver his touch is giving me, trying to decide what to
do next. He promised he wouldn’t kiss me as long as I was with
Zach. Yet, he now may be thinking Zach isn’t around to erase the
bruising kiss he promised to give me. No, I shouldn’t think about
the kiss, or I won’t be capable of suppressing any kind of reaction
his presence is causing in my body.
    “Pat,” he whispers, almost inaudibly, though
my heart shoots up as if he’d screamed into my ear. “Come with us.”
There’s begging in his voice. Is it because he won’t see me until
next Friday and he’s trying to take the advantage of my advice?
Does he care so much about me that the prospect of not seeing me
for six days bothers him to the degree of using his sisters as an
excuse to meet with me again? That can’t be it, can it?
    “To the game? I don’t think it’ll qualify as
quality time for you and your sisters if I tag along.”
    “It doesn’t matter. It’s just the beginning.
They won’t want to come to the game with me alone, anyway.”
    “That’s why you should promise to take them
to a place of their choice after the game.”
    “I know where they’ll want to go. They’ve
been insisting on getting their arms waxed for longer than a month
now.”
    “They want their arms waxed?” I force myself
not to look down to check how hairy my arms must be. Is it the
latest trend now? I’m too behind as far as fashion is concerned.
Perhaps that’s why I never get a real chance at proving my

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