Definitely, Maybe in Love(6)

By: Ophelia London



“Oh,” Mel interjected in a cautionary tone. “He’s Lilah’s brother.”

Julia whipped around, mouth gaping open, frozen in silent horror.

“Lilah?” I said the word like it was the name of a poison I’d just swallowed, and then half expected to hear the “dun-dun-dun” music that accompanies a tragic twist in a movie plot. I gazed through the glass at our neighbors, a sickly familiar feeling sweeping over me. “Fantastic.” I moaned. “The alpha she-snob of this university has a brother. If this Dart dude is anything like Lilah, we’ll be lucky if he ignores us completely.”

Mel offered me one somber nod in agreement.

Dart knelt in the driveway, digging through an open box. I’ll give Julia credit, he was pretty cute, but not my type.

Our dark-haired neighbor faced us, sunglasses hanging from the collar of his shirt. He made a deliberate one-eighty turn, stared toward his front door and planted his hands on his hips. His butt—I mean his back—was to us.

Oh, my.

Directly on the heels of fascination, my pride flicked at the back of my neck, reminding me that I was not someone who reduced herself to slobbering over a man, at least not publicly. Therefore, I let exactly five seconds lapse before my questions began.

“So, um, the other one?” I rubbed my nose, forcing my voice to sound blasé. “What’s his story?”

When Mel turned to me, she displayed a toothy grin, like she’d been waiting for me to ask. “Yeah, Springer. I thought you might like him. Yummy, no?”

I rolled my eyes, not willing to join in on the drool fest just yet. “I take it the poor guy is your target of prey for the upcoming year?”

“Oh, no. I’ve decided to save that little morsel”—she tilted her head toward the window—“for you, babe. And you’ll never believe it when I tell you about him. Go ahead, guess who he is. Ask me his name.”

Mel was not about to make this easy for me. She knew how I was about guys. If I showed the slightest interest, she wanted it to be written on the side of the Goodyear Blimp.

I turned my attention to my nails, picking at a spot of polish on a cuticle. If she wanted to share her gossip about the secret identity of our dark-haired neighbor, I wasn’t about to beg for it. Nice butt or no nice butt, the thrill was gone.

“He’s Henry Knightly!” she exclaimed, perching herself on the windowsill.

I turned to Julia for a clue, but she was staring down at their garage where Dart had disappeared a minute earlier.

“You know.” Mel twisted an earring. “Knightly?”

Still no clue.

“Knightly Hall? The new building behind Stone Plaza?” Her mouth twitched, giving me a smirky grin. “That building you and your little environmentalist group protested against being built last year. I helped you paint all those stupid picket signs. Totally wrecked my French manicure.”

Hmm. That did ring a bell, but the demonstrations I’d attended were starting to blend together.

“Did he build Knightly Hall?” I asked.

Mel laughed. “No, Einstein. His father donated three million to the university, and they named a building after him.”

My stomach tanked. Oh. That Knightly.

I’d researched the family last year. They owned a bunch of land all over the western United States. If they weren’t chopping down forests, they were damming up rivers, leasing their land to strip miners who bulldozed everything, or selling out to drillers for the latest earth-killing craze: fracking.

“Oh, frack,” I muttered.

My gaze left Mel and moved out the window again. Henry Knightly was buffing the side of that shiny black car with an elbow.

It’s worth more than your life… His words echoed in my ears, causing earlier thoughts of his hotness to melt like the polar ice caps.

“Precisely what this university does not need,” I said. “Another rich kid zooming around in his gas-guzzling sports car, and probably going to school tuition free because his father was a legacy.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s just…Stanford isn’t cheap, Mel. My three jobs are barely keeping me afloat, and my parents have never paid a dime of my school costs. My mom can’t afford it, and I haven’t spoken to my father in years.” I pointed toward the window. “Here comes this guy, probably studying to be a high-flying business mogul while riding Daddy’s coattails. Kind of unfair, don’t you think?”

“He’s in law school, Springer. And no financial aid.”

“Oh,” I said, frowning.

“What’s that look for?” Mel took my chin in her hand. “Are you disappointed that you don’t already have a justifiable reason to hate Henry Knightly?”

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