Just a Little Crush (Crush #1)(5)

By: Renita Pizzitola


Noah stood, his arm brushing against mine. “She’ll go in when she’s ready.”

The corner of Ryder’s mouth quirked up. “She looks ready to me.”

“Hey.” A girl’s voice came from behind him. The blonde from earlier wrapped her arm around his waist and slipped under his arm. “There you are.”

Noah glared and tucked the flask into his pocket as he grumbled, “And now we see why.”

Ryder whispered something to the girl. She smiled, nodded and disappeared back the way she came.

So was this where guys brought girls to hook up? Had that been Noah’s intention? And why Ryder had been eager to help find me? Just clearing this area out for himself? I tried convincing myself that the feeling of annoyance settling over me was directed at Noah for bringing me here, but really it was Ryder who had me all frustrated. I had no reason to be, considering I had absolutely zero claim on the guy, but maybe that’s exactly what made me jealous. I’d never be the kind of girl he’d be interested in, and I was envious of the girl who was.

I hugged my arms to my sides. “Um. I’m going in.” I glanced at Noah. “Mason’s looking for me.”

Ryder leaned against the doorjamb, leaving me very little room to squeeze through. I waited for him to move. He smirked and it caused my heart to flip and flutter.

I was so not this girl. He was about to hook up with someone else. What was wrong with me?

Ryder.

Of course he was what was wrong with me. He always had been. I hated him. From his dark hair brushing over those green eyes to his kissable mouth stretching into that taunting smile.

Our bodies rubbed against each other as I slipped by and I swear he tensed. Or maybe it was me. Damn, he unnerved me. I moved quickly down the hall but a loud bang halted me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Ryder’s hand pressed against the door, blocking Noah.

Ryder said something I couldn’t quite make out.

Noah laughed humorlessly. “Prop the door. I need a smoke.”

“Hey, there you are.” Mason appeared in front of me. “I was looking for you.”

“Yeah. Ryder told me,” I answered.

Mason scrunched his face, his dark eyes clouded with confusion. “He did?”

“Yeah. I did.” Ryder was so close I jumped. He stomped past, apparently not planning on staying outside after all. “You should keep a better eye on your girl.”

“I’m not his girl,” I blurted. My face warmed.

Ryder looked amused. “Noted.” He opened the door to head back into the party, but paused and stared at Mason. “Regardless, bro, you don’t bring a girl like her to a party like this and leave her alone.” Ryder shifted his gaze, eyed me up and down, a slight look of disgust on his face, then shook his head and walked into Noah’s suite.

Embarrassment seared my cheeks. A girl like me? I spun on my heels and darted toward the building entrance. No matter how many years passed, to people like him I’d always just be the girl who didn’t belong.

“Brinley,” Mason yelled behind me. “Wait up.”

I rubbed my eyes, ensuring no tears had escaped, then turned.

He looked angry, probably mad Ryder had humiliated me…again. After all, it wouldn’t be a party if Ryder didn’t send me running for the nearest exit, swallowing back tears and clinging to my dignity.

“What were you doing outside with Noah?”

“He wanted to take a walk.”

“You shouldn’t have left the party.”

“Okay. I get it. Everyone made that clear. Stupid little me can’t take care of myself. Geez. Get over it.” I pushed through the exit.

“Shit,” Mason muttered. “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. You aren’t stupid. I am. Ryder was right. I shouldn’t have left you.”

“I don’t want to talk about Ryder.” Eager to change the subject, I asked, “Did you at least hook up with that girl?”

“I made a mistake, okay?” He stomped farther ahead.

“I wasn’t saying that to be a bitch. I was really asking,” I murmured.

He spun, stopping me in my tracks. “Did Noah try anything?”

“No. Of course not. We weren’t even there long. Ryder came out right away.”

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