Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Page 37

I’m also surprised to find Josh and Sasha standing at the door. She’s got all her hair in a bun that looks like it could house a family of eagles, and is holding another bottle of wine. In Josh’s fist there’s a small bouquet of sunflowers.

“Hey!” Sasha smooches my cheek before pushing past me into the apartment. She sees Tyler there. “What a coincidence! Double date, take two!”

I look up at Josh, who is busy studying Tyler’s long frame sprawled familiarly on one end of my couch. Although we text almost constantly, I haven’t seen him all week, not since he left my apartment after we …

My chest seems to fill with helium.

“Hey,” I say. Josh blinks, refocusing his attention on me. “What’s going on, date crasher?”

He gives a little shrug. “Guess I forgot he was coming over tonight.”

Winnie barrels down the hall at the sound of his voice, running to the door.

“And you thought I’d make a swell third wheel to your hot date?”

“I thought you might want company?” he offers instead, reaching down to scratch behind Winnie’s ears.

Even though the idea of this makes me feel all glowy, I wonder if I reject this explanation whether he’ll keep cycling through them until he lands on something that lets him past the doorway.

I give it a whirl. “Try again.”

“We had extra wine and wanted to share.”


“I haven’t had dinner, and smelled the delicious lasagna.”

I am a terrible cook and Josh knows it. “That’s the worst one yet, Jimin.”

He shoves the flowers at me. “You like sunflowers.”

My heart beams, and I step back, letting him in. He stops just inside to toe off his shoes, and says under his breath, “Unless you’d prefer to keep things … private tonight.”

Tires screech to a halt in my head when he says this—so tight, almost probing. Does Josh really think I would have sex with him a week ago and then bang Tyler tonight? I mean, I haven’t even changed my sheets yet.

Which I probably shouldn’t tell Josh. He would be horrified.

“We’re having a nice time,” I say, “but I’m happy to see you.” It seems like the best way to wipe the protective worry off his face, and also let him know that it’s pretty awesome that he’s come by because no way am I letting Tyler Jones inside inside tonight.

But a cloud passes over Josh’s face just before half of his mouth smiles. “Well … good.”

I hear a cork pop in the kitchen, and the glug-glug-glug of a hearty glass of wine being poured. “Haze,” Sasha calls, and Josh and I exchange a brief look at her unauthorized use of my nickname, “do you want some wine?”

“I’ve got some on the counter, I’m good.”

“She’s been nursing that same glass for three hours,” Tyler grouses. “You may as well pour her a new one.”

“On a Friday? That doesn’t sound like her.” Josh moves past me to take off his coat and hang it on the wall, with a lovesick labradoodle right on his heels. Even Vodka is sitting up straighter. “Usually by this point in the night, she’s two bottles in and designing a saddle for Winnie out of cereal boxes.”

From the couch, Tyler lets out a bro-y, “Right?”

I pinch Josh’s bicep in bratty retaliation, and then give it an appreciative stroke because he seems extra buff under my hand. To cover the shiver that runs through me, I let out a playful, “Ooh. You’re all flexed and beefy tonight.”

He slaps my hand away. “Pervert.”

“Did you do pre-date push-ups?”


“This muscle tone is all just from jerking off, then? Wow.”

He flicks my ear, hard, and our eyes snag for


I need to come.


I need to come.

three seconds

He gives a dark half smile. “I hit the gym a lot this week.”

Holy shit. The entire duration of our banging flashes through my eyes when he says this, his voice all low and growly.

We were sober last Friday.

We had intentional sex.

Oh my God, I know Josh Im’s sex sounds.

Josh’s eyes go to my neck, my cheeks, and his eyes widen a little so I know the heat I’m feeling beneath my skin is visible to him. “Haze …”

“What are you two talking about?” We startle into awareness as Sasha sashays into the living room with a veritable fishbowl of wine cupped in her hand and takes half of it down in a few long swallows. Both Josh and Tyler watch this with interest.

“Nothing,” Josh and I mumble in unison.

Sasha indelicately wipes the back of her hand across her mouth in a move that earns her about seventy Fun Points and then lets out a long Ahhhhhhhh afterward, earning her another twenty.

“Thirsty?” Tyler asks. His tone surprises me; for the first time tonight, it’s bordering on dickish. I wouldn’t blame him for being a little irked at the date crashers if he thought he stood a shot at getting laid.

But Sasha doesn’t even seem to realize he’s spoken. “Josh took me to the cutest little play earlier.”

Something inside pinches my left lung, and I rub my rib to ease it. “Yeah? Which one?”

“It was an all-female production of King Lear.”

Tyler feigns snoring, but I look over at Josh, trying madly to stifle my genuine hurt. “You saw it without me?”

A panicky shine comes into his eyes. “I wasn’t sure you—Zach had two extra—and Sasha was free—”

“It’s fine.” I quickly tuck my little pout away because I can tell from the look on his face that he feels sincerely guilty.

He settles in a chair across from Tyler, mouths Sorry to me again, and gives a covert, wide-eyed glance at Sasha as she rounds the couch, as if to say to me, I didn’t know what else to possibly do with her!

At least, that’s how I’m choosing to interpret it.

“What about you guys?” Sasha plops down next to the mostly prone Tyler, jostling the glass of wine balanced on his chest. He lifts it to avert a spill, and uses the opportunity to pull a few long swigs into his mouth. I take a seat on the arm of the couch.

“Craze made dinner,” he says, and then burps into his fist. Josh and I exchange a brief confused-by-this-nickname glance, and his eyes narrow a fraction of a second before Tyler reaches up and slides his burp hand into the hair at the back of my head, massaging. “Lasagna. We’re just chilling at home, catching up.”

At this, Josh’s left eyebrow arches significantly and I cut in quickly, rolling over Tyler’s awkward use of home with a bursting “I also made garlic bread and a bag of salad!”

Knowing exactly what I’m trying to distract him from, Josh turns his full attention to me. I see it in his face: So this is a thing then, huh? You and Tyler? Hangin’ at ‘home’? Ripping bags of salad open for your man?

I return the glare, trying to convey my thoughts right back to him. Did I misunderstand you the other day? Didn’t you want me to explore this with Tyler? Or was that a way to get me to stop inviting you into my vagina? It’s just dinner, anyway!

Will you be driving him to his AA meeting later, as well?


He’s still staring at me, but his expression has morphed from that perplexing possessiveness into amusement, as if he is enjoying my obvious mental bender. I scowl at him, and he laughs.

“So, hey,” Sasha says, draining her glass and standing, presumably to get another. “I have these tickets to Harvest Fest. Four, actually.”

Tyler bolts up, eyes wide. They are very bloodshot. “Seriously? We should totally all go.”

Josh stills with his bottle of water against his lips. “What’s Harvest Fest?”

“An all-day concert at Tom McCall Park,” Sasha says and adds more slowly, as if this hasn’t yet been enough to clear it up for Josh, “A music festival.”

Tyler looks at each of us, surprised that he doesn’t have immediate consensus. “Dude. Metallica will be there.”

Sasha gives a smug nod. “Yup. We could totally all go together.”

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