Asher Anderson is a dick.We aren't friends, so when he seeks me out in the cafeteria on the worst day of my life, I'm suspicious. When he tells Liam Heiter that we're dating, which couldn't be further from the truth, I want to kill him.Until I see Liam's reaction.Liam—my best friend, the guy who crushed every hope of us officially being together—is jealous. He has never looked at me this way and I love it.So, I play along.Maybe watching me with someone else will make Liam suffer like I have the past four years. And maybe, just maybe, he'll come to his senses and realize we belong together.It's not like I have any kind of feelings for Asher. At best, I tolerate him.What's the worst that can happen?
“Lainey, what the hell is wrong with you? You hate Asher.”
I don’t hate Asher, but that doesn’t mean there is anything going on between the two of us either. I know I should say something to let Liam know that Asher and I are just friends, and that is a stretch, but I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Like my every breath hangs on Liam’s approval or that my heart beats for his sideways glances. Maggie was right all along, I deserve to be more than someone’s dirty little secret.
“Why does it matter? You and I are only friends. Remember?”
“I know that.” Liam huffs. “I don’t think Asher is good enough for you.”
“Lee Lee,” Corah coos. She steps in front of him, silently demanding his attention, but Liam looks past her. To us. “Don’t be silly. You should be thrilled your two best friends are together. We can double date now!”
“Yeah.”Asher wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me out of Liam’s reach. “That sounds like fun. What are you two doing next Friday night?”
Liam’s eyes widen and then narrow on me. His reaction to double dating makes me feel like I’ve been gutted under the weight of his gaze. I hate it. I want the strength I had moments ago, when I shoved it in his face that he lost all say in what I do when he made us friends. I want to be the girl who lives freely without worrying about what a guy who never gave two shits about her, until now, thinks. Most importantly, I want Liam to realize that he’s an idiot for giving up on us and I think the way to do that is to make him jealous. That’s the only logical explanation for why he’s acting this way. He’s jealous.
Maybe that’s why I reach my hand up and cup the back of Asher’s neck.
Maybe I’m intrigued by the tiny flutter in my stomach from when Asher’s head dips.
And maybe, just maybe, I like the rush of adrenaline that shoots through me when Asher’s mouth presses against mine.
The kiss lasts a fraction of a second, but it’s long enough to set me on fire. Even without tongue, Asher’s lips make me weak at the knees. I don’t understand why he has this effect on me. I gave up on my pathetic excuse of a crush when he called me shark bait, but something inside me stirs to life. Something I’m not ready to acknowledge.
Asher pulls back and rests his chin on my shoulder. His heart beats wildly in his chest, and mine mimics the rhythm. Hard thumps. Fast thrums.“Liam,” he smirks, “it’s been fun, but there are only five minutes left of lunch and I plan to use every minute of it. If you know what I mean.”