Finally, he turns to me. “Are you okay?”
I stare up at him as a blur of images from the past hour flips through my head. Why would he think I wasn’t okay? “Yeah. Why?”
“You just left really abruptly. Like something was wrong.”
I groan inwardly, turning to look out the window. “I just felt like kind of an asshole for saying that thing to Not-Joe about you in college, and—”
“Fuck, Lola, I don’t give a shit if Joe knows about that.”
Shrugging, I tell him, “You seemed annoyed.”
Clasping his hand around the back of his neck, he says, “I don’t want you to think of me as this guy that would hook up with his roommate just to learn how to be with girls.” His big bespectacled eyes look at me softly. “It sounds sketchy.”
I smile. “I didn’t really think of it like that. It’s college. People do things in college.”
“That whole thing happened over a single, very drunken weekend over a decade ago. It wasn’t like”—he winces as he looks for the right words—“like, a nightly thing.”
“It’s okay,” I say quietly, wanting him to know he doesn’t need to explain this to make me feel better. “I don’t need you to—”
“And knowing you’re hearing those things about me from someone else . . .” he cuts in, scratching his neck, “that doesn’t sit right with me.”
“Well, to be fair, it’s not like you and I really talk about those kinds of things.”
He doesn’t reply to this, and I quickly add, “I mean, it’s fine. We don’t need to. I just—that’s why I left. Because it felt like I was being sort of intrusive. I don’t want to get into your personal business, Oliver. I totally respect that space.”
When he looks down at me, he seems confused. “I feel . . .” he says, and then shakes his head. “Fuck. I feel like maybe we need to talk.”
Something sharp wiggles in my stomach. That is never the way a good conversation starts. “Aren’t we talking right now?”
“I mean,” he says, pacing, “last night was sort of . . . different for us. Was it just me?”
I look down at my shoe and poke at the carpet with my toe, awkwardness pushing its way into my posture. “No, I think I know what you mean. I’m sorry about that.”
Stepping closer, he says, “No.” And then more quietly, “Don’t be. That isn’t what I mean.”
His hand comes up, slowly cupping the side of my jaw. I feel the sweep of his middle finger against my pulse point and he stares at his own hand, lips parted as if he can’t quite believe what he’s just done.
Like trying to see through thick fog, I’m trying to remember why I thought kissing Oliver might not be a good idea. Because right now I know without a doubt he’s thinking about it, too.
My phone blares in my back pocket, so loud it startles us both. I step back and reach for it. “Sorry, I forgot I’ve been turning the ringer on lately. . . .” When I pull it out, we look down in unison and see the name Austin Adams on the screen.
“Jesus, how often does he call?” Oliver asks in a thick whisper.
“Sorry, just . . . one sec.” I hold up a finger as I answer. “Hi, Austin.”
“Loles!” he yells. Oliver turns to face the window, but I’m sure he can hear everything Austin says because I have to hold it away from my ear it’s so loud. I can hear wind in the background and imagine him zipping through the Hollywood Hills in a convertible. “Wanted to see if you were going to be up in L.A. this week? Langdon is chomping at the bit to start. I’d love for you two to meet ASAP.”
“I can come up anytime,” I say. Oliver turns back to me, and I smile up at him, but he seems too distracted to return it.
“Great,” Austin says. “There’s a small studio party tomorrow night at the Soho House in West Hollywood. He’ll be there, and I’d love if you could come. We could do the introductions, maybe start to hash out some of the bigger questions: What is Razor’s origin story? How old is Quinn? If she’s eighteen in the opening—”
“Wait. Quinn is fifteen,” I cut in. “What do you mean?”
I can practically imagine him waving a hand. “Don’t worry about it now. There are just a lot of angles to consider in the film adaptation. Questions of strength, sexuality, balancing normal life and the desire to continue her work as a vigilante.”
I look up at Oliver, whose brows are now drawn.
“So,” Austin continues and the background noise decreases, as if he’s just pulled into a garage. “I’ll make sure you’re on the list. Eight. Tomorrow. You can make it?”
“Great,” he says. A door slams and a car alarm chirps in the background. “I’ll try not to hog you all to myself.”
I slide my phone onto the coffee table and look up at Oliver, giving him a wide-eyed what the fuck just happened face. A tiny smile flicks up the corners of his mouth, but it quickly melts away, and then he just studies me in the ringing silence.
I feel the cold prick of panic spread across my neck, nausea bubbles in my belly. The two conversations—with Oliver, with Austin—are oil and vinegar, splashing around in my thoughts.