Flat-Out Love, стр. 55

“Celeste is cooking breakfast.” He cleared his throat. “You went for a run, and you just got back. That’s why you weren’t in your room when she went to wake you up.”

“When exactly did I take up running? I never knew this about myself.”

“Next time you can come up with something better.” He paused. “Not that there’s going to be a next time. I just meant… Maybe you should… you know…”

“Got it. Getting up now. I was never here.” Julie rubbed her hands over her face. “Tell Celeste that I’m in the shower, and I’ll be right down.”

“OK.”

“Wait a minute.” She sat up. “Celeste is making breakfast? She’s feeling all right?”

“Apparently.”

Matt disappeared, and she scrambled to her room. Julie made a face at her unruly reflection in the mirror, grabbed some clothes, and hit the shower. Hopefully Celeste had made a giant pot of coffee, too, because four hours of sleep were not going to cut it.

By the time she took a seat next to Flat Finn and Matt at the kitchen table, the smell of a full breakfast had filled the house. She eyed the bowl of cut-up strawberries, the tray of scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, and the butter, syrup, and carafe of coffee suspiciously. The table had been set with the good dishes and cloth napkins. Why was Celeste in such a good mood?

“Good morning,” Celeste chirped as she ladled pancake batter onto a skillet.

“Good morning,” Julie answered hesitantly. “This is very nice of you to cook all this.”

“I wanted to. Let me finish with the pancakes, and then we can discuss things.”

“Looking forward to it,” she lied.

Julie kept her head down and pretended to be captivated by garage sales listings in the newspaper.

“Go ahead and start eating. The pancakes will be ready in a second.”

Julie and Matt both reached for the eggs at the same time, causing a flurry of apologies and “go aheads.”

Ta da! This is why you don’t kiss platonic friends that you live with. Or sleep in their beds. Or let them run their hands all over your arms and shoulders and make you tingle inappropriately…

Julie stuffed her mouth with food so that she wouldn’t have to talk and continued not reading the paper. There was a way to make sense of what had happened last night: After months of being all fired up about Finn, she had transferred her pent-up physical frustrations to Matt. And Matt had probably been in the mood because of his date with Dana the night before. Of course it was sort of disgusting and tacky that she’d kissed the same guy her friend had been making out with the night before. What was wrong with her? And what the hell had Matt been thinking? Perhaps Matt was just a big old slut who ran around Boston kissing every girl he met, and he’d been waiting for the right time to add Julie to his list. At least that way the kiss would be as meaningless to him as it was to her.

She glanced up for a second and caught him looking at her.

This was all understandable, she reasoned. They did have a certain comfort level with each other, so it was not completely freakish that they had blurred the lines for a moment after an emotionally trying evening.

 And Julie had probably done the typical girl thing, which is to try and make things better by giving a guy what he wants: physical contact. That’s what guys understand, right? It wasn’t like they’d gotten naked or anything, but she was probably responsible for the kiss.  She’d been desperate for him to forgive her and in her weak, drained state, she’d tried to patch things up with something sexual. Well, not sexual, meaning that they had almost had sex. Not even close.  And not that either of them had been thinking about it. Ridiculous. She was certainly not attracted to him that way, and Matt was probably more turned on by megabytes and firewalls and bit torrents than he was by her.

Of course, he had been the one trailing his fingers across…

Whatever.

Matt had to be just as regretful as she was.

Besides, he’d said that everything he had yelled at her wasn’t true, therefore that meant she was, in fact, like family. Making him a brother figure, the way she’d always thought. Except that you don’t kiss you brother on the mouth. Especially with tongue. And you don’t press your body into his and get all momentarily hot and dreamy. At least you’re not supposed to.

Again, shit.

But it’s not like he’d tried to do anything else. His hands hadn’t moved anywhere good. Well, not good. She didn’t mean that. Improper.Indecent. Lewd. Vulgar.Naughty. Christ, now was not the time to turn into a thesaurus.The point was that it wasn’t as though he’d been grinding against her and whispering dirty things into her ear. Although now that she thought about it, maybe she should be offended that he hadn’t. Not that she would have let him.

Wait a minute. She had moved her leg over his, and he had stopped kissing her first.

Oh. Matt thought she was a terrible kisser. Bastard. She was so not going to look over at him now.

Julie slugged down half a cup of coffee. Finn. That’s really what this had been about, she was sure. Finn and his steamy messages had her in a perpetually needy state. Plus, it had been a while since she and Seth had broken up, and she was just some horny college student using whatever guy she’d crawled into bed with.

No, that wasn’t right either. Julie wasn’t like that. She was just talking in circles.

Celeste set a plate piled with pancakes on the table and sat down. “Wow. You are both quite hungry today, I see. You didn’t leave me any eggs, and there is only one piece of sausage left.”

Apparently the mutual method of stuffing face to avoid talking that she and Matt had been employing had gone too far.

“Sorry,” Matt said with a full mouth.

“It’s okay. I can make more. I wanted to talk to you both.”

“Sure. That’s a good idea,” Julie said.

“We need to discuss what happened between you two last night.”

Matt started to choke on his food, and Julie knew her face blanched. It seemed that Celeste hadn’t bought Matt’s dumb story about Julie going running.

Ugh. Julie didn’t want anybody to know about this, least of all Celeste. And Finn, of course. Matt wouldn’t tell Finn would he? Was she supposed to tell Finn? Dear Finn, I accidentally sucked face with your brother. Apologies! How are the Venezuelan orphans? She touched her hand to the stone that rested on her chest. The necklace was usually a near-constant reminder of him. Apparently she hadn’t paid any attention to that last night.

Flat Finn seemed to chastise her from his position at the table. Julie stabbed her eggs and glared at the arrogant cutout. Shut up.

Celeste casually drizzled syrup over her plate. “I’m extremely upset with you two.”

“It’s really not a big deal,” Matt mumbled.

“Totally not,” Julie agreed and busied herself selecting strawberries from the bowl.

“It is indeed a big deal. Everything has changed between you two, and I don’t like it one bit. I heard everything, and I’m extremely displeased.”

Julie and Matt both stayed silent. What exactly did Celeste hear? Had there been slurpy kissing sounds? Inadvertent moans of ecstasy? Oh my God, Julie had not been that out of it, had she? It was one silly, insignificant kiss. There had been no lusty heaving. Definitely not.

Matt rubbed his eyes. “Celeste, what are you talking about?”

“What are you talking about?” She looked at them curiously. Annoyingly hopeful, even. “Did something else happen?”

“Nothing. Um… nothing,” Julie muttered. “Go ahead.”

“I heard that entire terrible argument you two had.”

“The argument. Yes, that,” Matt said.

In the wake of the sleep-in-Matt’s-bed incident, she had almost forgotten.

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