Chapter 36

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T H I R T Y—S I X

      AFTER A FEW rounds of spin the bottle and time enough for my need to go get some food to kick in, it didn't take long for me to notice Cyrus not-so-stealthily following me.

      So, of course, I needed to call him out on it.

      "I know you're following me, Cyrus."

      He shrugged and stepped up from behind me, matching my pace as we shimmied around the drunken bodies in the kitchen. "This is why I don't worry about you."

      I raised an eyebrow and sent him a sideways glance. As we neared the table riddled with small, sealed bags of chips, I grabbed one up and tore it open. "What does that mean?"

      He shrugged and leaned against the table. "You pay attention to your surroundings." He gestured at the people around us, several of them grinding on each other or standing in groups talking and drinking. "You're drunk and you still managed to see me. Even sober, I bet half of these people here wouldn't have had a clue that I was following them."

      I grinned. "At least somebody notices I can take care of myself."

      He chuckled quietly. "That a jab at Jay?"

      "It was." I popped a chip in my mouth and turned to lean on the table like Cyrus. As the heat burned my tongue, I was instantly reminded of the time Ryder refused to share his Hot Cheetos with anybody, and the nagging voice inside my head bet that if we were alone, he would have given me some. I shook the thought away. "I know he means well, but Jay drives me insane with how protective he gets over me."

      Cyrus nodded and stared distantly at the surrounding teenagers. "Sometimes I wonder if there's more there."

      My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "More there?"

      His intense eyes shifted over to mine, locking them in place with a knowing look. "I wonder if he feels something for you. More than the attraction he obviously already has."

      I tore my gaze from his and focused it on the almost empty bag in my hand. Damn food companies leaving me with more air than chips. "You knew."

      "About the two of you 'experimenting'?" He snorted. "Yeah, I knew."

      I wasn't surprised. It was obvious that there was at least something between Jay and I in the beginning, and even if Cyrus hadn't been as intuitive as he was, he knew Jay even better than Ryder and Tyler combined—they were like brothers. There's no way he wouldn't have picked up on his best friend's attraction towards me.

      "You're not surprised," he noted, chin tilting slightly upwards in consideration. "Of course you're not."

      "No." I shook my head, balling up the wrapper and tossing it in the trash. My inner child cheered at getting it in the trash can from what was more or less eight feet away, but I kept in my excitement. "But, I don't think he feels anything."

      "Maybe you're right," he agreed, "but I think there's a part of him that's always going to feel a little bit more affectionate than usual towards you."

      I turned to face him. "What makes you think that?"

      He shrugged, but I didn't miss the way his lips tilted up just slightly at the question - as if it had an obvious answer. "In all my life, I've never known somebody to completely lose affection for someone they've cared about without a strong reason to feel otherwise."

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