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Universe & U

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Casey was only half-listening to Kit – never mind the actual lecture going on, it was a wonder that her grades hadn’t started to suffer yet. Her eyes were trained on the big clock on the left wall, moving achingly slowly but terrifyingly fast at the same time, and that was just how she felt all the time lately – dreading the passage of time while excitedly waiting for what was coming next.

Anyway, she was only half-listening to Kit, which is horrible and rude, because he was her friend and she was pretty sure any other person would have already given up on the conversation, but not Kit. Sometimes he vaguely reminded Casey of Noel, her high school friend-zoned friend who was just so nice and put up with all of her bullshit, and those kinds of guys were rare, but never really seemed to completely fall into Casey´s radar. She always wanted something else, something more challenging, something less easy.

Not that she couldn´t see herself liking Kit. She could see herself liking him just fine. He was good-looking, and gentlemanly, and well read, and seemed to actually care about her interests. In fact, just last semester she was well on her way to falling for him, if it hadn´t been for the curveball the universe had rudely thrown her way. An awakening – a realization so big, so terrifying, so real that had thrown Casey completely out of orbit, and now here she was, staring at a stupid clock instead of listening to her professor or the very cute boy seating beside her that still gave her the time of day for some reason.

She could listen to the lecture or Kit if it wasn´t for the fact that her class was ending in two minutes, and Derek´s was starting in two minutes, on the lecture hall right beside hers. Which meant that there was a great possibility that if he was early – which he never was – she would bump into him, and she would act annoyed, and he would tease her, and she would get this stupid thrill, and her day would be instantly better, and she’d walk away to get lunch with her heart beating loudly in her ears and a happy pep on her step.

And this all was just – pathetic, if she was being honest with herself. It wasn’t like she never saw Derek. In fact, she saw him entirely too often, every freaking day, but the thought of seeing him outside of schedule never failed to give her this sense of terrified excitement.

And since when was she excited to see Derek?

Well, tricky question. There had always, always been a thrill in seeing Derek, ever since she had first met him. Whether this thrill was particularly good, bad, or just plain inexplicable was just part of what she had always been used to.

She wasn’t used to knowing exactly what it meant now.

“Earth to Casey.” A hand being waved in front of her eyes broke her out of her reverie. She turned to see Kit’s green eyes glinting amusedly. “Were you listening?”

Again, no, she wasn’t, but that didn’t make it okay for the other person to realize.

“Oh, sorry Kit,” she said, breathing out an awkward laugh. “I was just…” Casey trailed off with a vague hand gesture.

Kit laughed good naturedly. “You are so spaced out today.”

“Yeah, I’m kind of… Spacey.” She cringed inwardly.

“I can see that,” he said, giving her an appreciative glance. “So, I was thinking that we actually haven’t gotten lunch together since that Friday a million years ago.”

“I remember,” Casey said, an uneasy feeling creeping into her. There was no way she could forget about that day, because it had been quite traumatic, but getting lunch with Kit had actually been pretty nice. Like she had aforementioned, she used to really like Kit, but she had been so busy with her own self after that Friday that she hadn’t really given him much thought outside of being strictly friends.

“So, I was thinking we could get lunch now if you want.”

“Oh,” Casey hesitated. It’s not that it was a bad idea, but she had been so distracted with her only plan being getting out of class and maybe casually hanging back a little in case she run into a certain someone, that the thought of doing something else wasn’t really… exciting.

“Unless you have other plans?” Kit trailed off, examining the look on her face.

“No, no.” Casey tucked some hair behind her ear. “Um, what did you have in mind?”

“Well, there’s a pretty cool place just outside campus where they sell all that veggie stuff you told me you liked, so I thought we could go there.”

“That seems nice,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound too disappointed. She did like that place after all. “I just, well, I had some things to do…” She was pathetic. She was awful and just sad.

Kit’s eyes softened. “You can also say no because you simply don’t want to, you know? That’s also a valid answer,” he said, with a dimpled smile.

What the hell was wrong with her? Was she seriously about to turn down a lunch non-date with a friend because of the scarce possibility of exchanging three sentences with Derek? What had the world come to?

Plus, she was seeing Derek tomorrow night, so there would be no harm done.

Casey shook herself and planted a smile on her face. “You know what? My plans can wait. I’d love to grab lunch.”

Kit’s smile was dazzling. “Awesome then, shall we go?”

“Huh?” She frowned, confused. “What the –“ she said, looking around the lecture hall, surprised to find it empty.

Kit laughed. “Yeah, class ended like, 5 minutes ago.”

Casey turned to look back at the clock, horrified. Sure enough, it was five past one.

“Oh my god,” she mumbled.

“You really are Spacey,” he said. “Maybe that’s going to be your new nickname.”

Oh boy, he had no idea. That nickname had been following her around for years now. And it didn’t even mean what he thought it did. Casey laughed nervously.

They grabbed their stuff and walked out of the classroom, chatting amicably. They were a few steps into the hallway when a voice called from behind them.

“Well, if it isn’t the Keener Supreme in her natural habitat?”

Heart leaping out of her chest, she turned around, his name already in the tip of her tongue.

“De-rek!”

He was coming out of the lecture hall his next class was supposed to be held in. His hair looked a carefully arranged mess of reddish-brown curls. He was wearing a dark green sweater with the sleeves rolled up and ripped skinny jeans, the whole look making him look like he just came out of a rom-com where he played the heartthrob bad boy, and Casey felt her stomach tie up in knots, the famous thrill taking over her. She had already given up hope of running into him, so the sensation was ten times more powerful than she had anticipated.

Derek gave her an annoyed look. “Keep it down, Case. It’s way to early to be screaming in the hallways.”

“It’s 1 pm!” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Aren’t you supposed to be in class?” She pointed to the door he was crossing in the wrong direction.

“Professor didn’t show up, so I took my rightful leave.” Derek shrugged, coming closer to her.

She crossed her arms over her chest. “The policy is that you can leave if the professor doesn’t show up for 15 minutes, not five.”

Derek widened his eyes at her, fake surprised. “Is it?”

“De-rek! That is so irresponsible –”

Casey was interrupted by someone clearing his throat. She suddenly took a step away from Derek, embarrassed. She had totally forgotten Kit was standing there with them. She had to stop doing that.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, taking her eyes away from Derek and gesturing towards Kit. “This is Christopher – Kit. Kit Murphy,” she introduced. “Kit, this is Derek Venturi, my…” she trailed off, sending a panicked look towards Derek, who raised his eyebrows at her. “Friend,” she said, cringing inwardly at the look on Derek’s face. She wanted to hit him.

“Hey, man,” Kit said, smiling politely.

Derek snapped his eyes away from Casey’s face and turned to Kit. A look of recognition passed through his features before his face slipped back into his casual mask. “Sup,” he said.

An awkward silence fell between the three of them, before Kit turned to her with a questioning look.

Casey shook her head. “Oh, yeah. We were going to grab lunch.”

Derek looked between Kit and Casey for a beat and then grinned. “Great! I’m starving.”

As she saw the smile drop from Kit's face, Casey grabbed Derek's arm, pushing him to the side. “Excuse us for a moment, Kit.”

She dragged Derek a few paces out of earshot and turned to him menacingly. “What are you doing?”

Derek looked at her with mock confusion. “I’m just trying to have lunch with my friend. And her friend.”

Casey scrunched up her nose. “I am not your friend.”

His eyes widened amusedly. “Then why on earth would you introduce me as such?”

She didn’t know. It wasn’t that they weren’t friends – they had gotten so much closer in the past few months, closer than they had ever been, but the word ‘friend’ seemed so… inaccurate to describe their relationship. How do you introduce your step-brother who you are totally head-over-heels in love with? Just calling him her step-brother feels sacrilegious enough.

She watched as Derek examined her face with absolute delight, and her stomach flipped with the feel of his eyes skimming all over her features. “Shut up,” she settled for saying, and took a deliberate step away from him before she could do or say something stupider.

Derek smirked down at her and she turned around before her knees could buckle.

“Kit, Derek will be joining us for lunch if you don’t mind,” she said with what she hoped was an apologetic smile. Was she blushing?

Kit blinked for a second, before his naturally kind smile came through. “Not at all.”

And so, they went to lunch.

Trying to juggle her attention between Derek and someone else had always been a challenge for Casey. But he was making it extra difficult today.

While she tried listening to Kit’s stories about classes, Derek jumped in with stories of his own, often overlapping over the other boy’s sentences. It was exhausting. Casey wondered what had come over Derek. Maybe he was just messing with her. That was totally plausible, he loved doing that.

But, another big part of her couldn’t help but think it was something else.

Casey knew there was something between them, she wasn’t stupid. She remembered that night at the club so vividly, how she was ready to risk it all if he just asked. But it was him and her, so of course it was going to be more complicated than that. Because after that, Derek had gone right back to his normal self, leaving the particular brand of sweet he had been that night as a dream-like memory, and building his defenses back up.

It wasn’t like he had regressed completely, though. It was the complete opposite, in fact. He still antagonized her, and pranked her and teased her, but it was warmer now, with an extra layer of affection she could feel in his little actions. He hadn’t treated her like crap once since that day, and the change in their dynamic was so refreshing, so welcome, that Casey just couldn’t help falling deeper and deeper in pathetic love with him as time passed. It had started that night at the club and it had snow-balled into something bigger and bigger until she no longer remembered what if felt like hating him for so long.

“So,” Derek said, cutting Kit off for the hundred time. “Are Cathy and Jen coming with you to the after party tomorrow?”

Casey couldn’t help but smile. She knew that that was just Derek’s way of making sure she was going to the party, and the thought of him inviting her to the hockey after party just made her feel something warm and fuzzy inside.

“Yeah, we are all coming.”

“After party?” Kit asked.

“Derek plays in the hockey team,” Casey explained. “They are having a party after the game tomorrow.”

“Oh,” Kit said, shooting a quick look towards Derek. “That’s pretty cool.”

“I’ll text you the directions later,” Derek told her, slurping loudly from his smoothie. “It’s in Ryan’s apartment.”

“Okay,” Casey said, the excitement making the fresh food in her belly want to come out. And then she remembered what Cathy and Jen wanted her to do at that party, and she felt like she was truly going to vomit.

So, the thing about Casey and Derek’s new dynamic was, that he got to hang out with her roommates a lot when he came over to study, or to watch a movie or eat pizza. And all of those interactions the girls had witnessed had led them both to be absolutely convinced that Derek was just as in love with Casey as she was with him. That, in turn, led them to pester Casey almost every day for her to make a move.

And after months and months of trying to tell them they were crazy, an idea started forming in Casey’s brain that maybe they weren’t so crazy after all. She could see the way Derek looked at her sometimes, with enough intensity to power an entire block with electricity, and that had to mean something.

And so, Casey had somehow ended up agreeing with them to actually act on her feelings.

Tomorrow.

At the after party.

And yeah, the closer it got and the more she stared at Derek sitting across from her, happily munching on his veggie burger that she had somehow managed to incorporate on his diet, the more she was convinced that she absolutely could not tell him how she felt.

“Case!” Kit’s voice broke her out of her trance, and she startled.

“Uh, sorry what?”

“Can you pass the napkins?” he asked, pointing to the napkin holder by her left elbow.

“Yeah, yeah, sorry,” she said, passing it to him.

“That’s fine, Spacey,” Kit winked.

And oh, boy.

Derek choked on his drink. “What did you just call her?” he sputtered.

“Spacey?” Kit asked, confusedly. “Oh, it’s just a silly nickname.”

Derek turned to look at Casey with raised eyebrows. She felt herself blush like mad, and averted her eyes to the side, fighting the urge to bury her face in her hands. This was enough embarrassment for one day.

“That’s a great nickname,” Derek said, recovering quickly and turning to Kit again. “Can I borrow it?”

“Uh, sure?”

“It even rhymes with your name, Case,” he said, poking her in the arm as she glared at him. “Spacey Casey.”

“Yeah, I get it,” she muttered through gritted teeth.

“So original.”

“Would you shut up, now?” she snapped at him, while Kit looked between them with a weird expression on his face.

Derek just smiled and stabbed at his fries.

.

.

.

Cathy and Jen both mercilessly laughed at her when she told them about Derek meeting Kit.

“Of course it was going to be awkward!” Cathy exclaimed. “You willingly put two guys who want to get into your pants together and expected not to witness a pissing match?”

Casey rolled her eyes at her friends, snatching the potato chip bag out of Jen’s hand. “You’re going to get crumbs on my comforter and I don’t want it to get ruined because –“

“Marti picked it,” Jen said, rolling her eyes. “I know.”

“And it wasn’t a pissing match,” she told Cathy. “It was just, weird.”

“You wanna know why it was weird?” Jen asked.

“No,” Casey deadpanned.

“Because you still haven’t made a move on Derek, and Kit is going to make a move on you if you don’t shut that shit down immediately.”

“I said I didn’t want to hear it!” Casey said, plopping down on her bed next to Jen.

“She’s still right, you know?” Cathy said from her spot on Casey’s desk chair. “You know how awkward it would be if I was still trying to hit on Derek? Luckily, I have eyes and realized he was too into you to reciprocate before you ripped my head off.” She laughed as she dodged the stuffed purple giraffe Casey threw at her.

I had to tell you what was going on,” Jen said, rolling her eyes at Cathy. “Otherwise, you’d still be embarrassing yourself.”

“Hey! I would have noticed eventually, the sexual tension is through the roof.”

“I am right here, you know?” Casey snapped at them, annoyed.

“Anyway, it’s all ending tomorrow, right?” Jen asked, turning towards Casey with serious eyes. “You’re totally telling him and jumping him at the party.”

“And then you’re going to go back to his dorm and get it over with, right?” Cathy asked, a hopeful look in her eyes.

Casey avoided their eyes, looking down at her duvet. “Yeah… I don’t know, you guys.”

Cathy and Jen both groaned.

“Seriously, Case? How long are you going to dance around this?” Jen asked.

“We like dancing!” Casey exclaimed, defensive. “We are great dancers! I have a trophy with both our names engraved on it back at home to prove it.”

Cathy threw her giraffe back at her. “Why are you so scared of this? You’ve made the first move before, right?”

“Yeah, of course I have!” Casey said. She had kissed Truman and Sam first, and she had even pursued Max. She was confident in her advances, but this was different. “It’s not that I’m scared to do it.” Okey, she totally was, this was Derek they were talking about. Derek Venturi. Her step-brother and former vain of her existence. It wasn’t something someone just did. Plus, every time she thought about how her mother would react, she felt like jumping off a window with anxiety.

“You are not?” Jen asked. “Is this about the whole step-siblings thing?”

“No.” Yes. “Well, a little, but also, we’ve been dancing around this awkwardness for months and I feel that if I come onto him he’ll just –“

“He’ll just what?” Cathy said, leaning toward her.

“…Win?”

Jen frowned. “Win what?”

Casey put up both her hands. “Okay. I know I admitted to myself that I… love…. Derek but the thought of him knowing that? And having the upper hand for like, the thirty seconds it will take him to internally gloat and decide if he wants to immediately reciprocate or let me suffer for a few minutes as a joke? Uh, no. The thought of that makes my skin crawl.”

“Why would he do that?” Cathy asked, confused.

“To mess with me!” she said, as if it was obvious.

“Why, though?”

Casey stood from her bed, pacing around her tiny room. “Look, I have PTSD from so many years of pranks, I don’t expect you to understand it.”

Jen was looking at her skeptically. “I don’t buy this bullshit for a second.”

Casey’s shoulders slumped and she stared at her ceiling. A whine came from the back of her throat. “What if I am making all of this up?” she asked in a small voice.

Both Cathy and Jen groaned in exasperation.

“Not this again,” Cathy sighed. “Remember how he looks at you? Like you are a fucking treasure?”

“And remember that night at the club when you both ditched us? Remember the so-called magic?” Jen added.

Casey closed her eyes, evoking the memory of that night. Derek’s hands on her hips, the way he looked at her as if she was the only thing in the entire room, the way he would breathe in deep as if he couldn’t get enough air. The way it felt like they were on the cusp of Something.

His breath tickling her ear. ‘Can I k –‘

She opened her eyes to find Cathy and Jen looking at her expectantly.

She exhaled. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

.

.

.

The Gaels win the game, with two goals from Derek and some incredible assists. The party is buzzing with giddy energy, the exhilaration of the victory hanging in the air as people laughed, cheered and danced.

Casey was standing next to the kitchen with her friends, wringing her hands together nervously. She could see Derek from afar chatting and laughing with some teammates, and god, he looked good. Like a model who had just come out of a magazine, wet hair from the showers plastered against his forehead. Casey took the shot glass Jen was offering her and pounded it back hastily, grimacing instantly.

“Atta girl,” Jen laughed.

As soon as she could stop grimacing, she looked back up to the group of boys, only to find Derek´s scorching brown eyes on her. They made eye contact and he immediately raised his hand, mimicking a shot glass, sending her a questioning look.

Casey gulped, then shrugged innocently before turning back to the girls with wide eyes.

“I can’t do this, oh my god, this is so stupid –“

“Case! Relax!” Jen said, placing her hands on both of Casey’s upper arms. “Yes, you can.”

“No, I cannot!” she shrieked. “That’s Derek! I can’t tell him I like him –“

“Love him,” Cathy corrected.

“I can’t,” Casey repeated, feeling her breathing grow faster and shallower.

“Come on, Case,” Jen said, taking her hand and pulling her towards the bathroom, as Cathy disappeared in the direction of the kitchen. Casey assumed to get another shot. She was going to need it.

Jen closed the bathroom door behind them, and Casey went to the sink, opening the faucet and hastily spraying water onto her neck, shivering as a few droplets dripped down the cleavage of her sparkly silver top. Why the hell had she worn this top? This was so obvious and stupid, down from her top, up to the sparkly blue eye shadow, oh my god

“Casey,” Jen called, handing her a few paper towels to dry off her skin. “You are crazy about him. You two have been circling this thing for months. It’s become painful to watch. Don’t you just want to get it over with?”

Casey sighed, closing her eyes and leaning against the cold sink. “I do.”

“And Derek’s crazy about you too. Probably even more than you are. Probably for longer than you imagine! There’s no way this doesn’t go well.”

Casey nodded, summoning that night at the club in her mind, picturing Derek’s eyes looking at her. That had to mean something, it just did.

“I can do this,” she whispered.

Jen grinned. “Hell yeah, you can!”

Casey smiled back at her. “I can do this!”

Jen turned around and opened the bathroom door back up. Cathy was standing just outside waiting for them, a worried expression on her face and a shot glass on her hand. Casey wordlessly reached for it, and Cathy handed it over, winking.

She downed the fiery liquid immediately, feeling the warmth spreading through her veins. “I can do this!”

“You can do what?” A voice said from behind her.

She turned around to see Derek leaning against the wall behind her, hands in his pockets and a winning smile on his face.

“Catch you later, Case!” Cathy said, snatching the glass from her hands, and then both her roommates scurried away from them.

“Traitors,” Casey muttered under her breath, before turning back to Derek.

“So, how did you enjoy the game, Spacey?” he asked, putting extra emphasis on the nickname.

“Ugh, would you stop?” she groaned, “It’s embarrassing enough that another, actually respectable human being is calling me that now, too.”

“Excuse me?” Derek asked, putting an outraged hand to his chest. “I should be the one offended, that nickname is of my own creation! It should be copyrighted! What’s next? Is he gonna start calling you Princess, too?”

Casey felt a rush of warmth go through her at his words, and she leaned against the wall for support, mirroring him. “Why, D? Are you jealous?” She asked, thanking the shots for helping her bolder side come out.

Derek looked at her for a second before a lazy smirk appeared on his face. “Of course I am,” he said, his voice dropping an octave as he leaned in closer to her, making her breath catch in her throat. “My things are mine, Princess.”

“I am not a thing, you know?” she breathed, willing her eyes to stay on his and not drop lower.

He looked between her eyes intensely, and her stomach dropped at the same time his eyes did, falling to her mouth. “I wasn’t calling you a thing, are you saying you’re mine?” he asked, his eyes going back up to hers.

“Um,” Casey said, her throat drying up. This is it, she thought. This is it, Casey, be brave, go for it. “Derek,” she whispered.

“Casey!” a voice, definitely not Derek’s, shouted, making the two of them jump apart.

Casey’s eyes widened as she looked over Derek’s shoulder. “Kit?”

She didn’t know if she imagined it or not, but she could have sworn that Derek’s eye twitched before he turned towards Kit, too.

“Hey,” the other boy said, lifting a hand to squeeze Casey’s shoulder in greeting. “I was looking for you.”

She laughed nervously, her eyes drifting towards Derek, who was looking at Kit with narrowed eyes.

“By the way, great game, man,” Kit said, shooting a grin towards Derek.

“Uh, thanks,” Derek said, tone clipped. “No offense, but what are you doing here?”

“Derek,” Casey hissed.

“I’m friends with Cameron,” Kit said, referring to one of the team’s defense men. “He invited me.”

“Ain’t that great?” Derek muttered, rolling his eyes. Casey’s mouth dropped at his rudeness.

“D!” Ryan called, appearing beside them. Casey felt a twinge of annoyance in her gut. Couldn’t people just read rooms anymore?

“What?” Derek asked, snapping his eyes away from Kit and looking towards his teammate with the same amount of annoyance Casey was feeling.

“We are setting up everything outside, you coming?” said Ryan, pointing with his thumb toward the patio.

“Sure,” Derek said, then turned to Casey. “Are you coming?”

And that’s how she ended up outside, the chiller side of the party sitting in a circle with beers, passing a joint back and forth.

Cathy and Jen came outside eventually too, and both raised their eyebrows at the sight of Casey sitting in between Kit and Derek. Casey sent them a look. ‘I’ll explain it later.’

“No, no, but did you see that buzzer beater? D literally saved our asses,” Ryan was saying, praising his junior teammate. The rest of the team nodded appreciatively, and Derek ducked his head bashfully, a smirk coloring his features. Casey bumped her shoulder against his, and he bumped back, smiling.

“And how he came to that extra practice yesterday? When he was supposed to be doing that project? You are one of the good ones, kid,” said Dan, the team captain.

“De-rek!” Casey chastised. Derek threw a wicked grin her way, one that twisted her insides. Maybe if she could go inside, he’d follow her, and they could resume whatever the hell was going on before they were interrupted. Just the thought was enough for a blush to graze her cheeks.

“Cut your dear step-bro some slack, Casey!” said Duncan, the team’s goalie. “He just won us the whole game!”

“Thanks, dude,” Derek said, raising his beer towards his friend.

“Wait, step-brother?” Kit said aloud, frowning at Casey. “You guys are step-siblings?”

Casey shifted in her seat, uneasily. She had introduced him as just her friend yesterday. She knew that one would come back to bite her ass eventually. “Uh, yeah,” she said, searching Kit’s eyes for his reaction.

Derek leaned over her to stare at Kit, pressing against Casey’s side. “You got a problem with that?” he asked, an eyebrow raised in challenge. Casey elbowed him in the ribs.

Kit ignored him, looking at Casey with a weird expression she couldn’t quite place.

“As in, the same step-brother who slammed a door on your hand last semester?”

Casey took in a sharp breath and the group fell silent at once. She could feel Derek’s arm tensing against her own for a second before he retracted it, and Casey felt cold dread in the pit of her stomach.

“He –“Casey started, unsure of what to say. She had completely forgotten she had told Kit about that. She hadn’t meant to tell a soul except for her therapist, but she had told Kit because she was mad, and he didn’t know Derek. She had totally forgotten about it until now, because it hadn’t been a big deal when she told him, something along the lines of ‘my stupid step-brother accidentally closed a door on my fingers’ or something like that, and Kit had only asked about her injury, not Derek. She turned around to look at Derek, who was watching her with an unreadable expression on his face. He didn’t seem mad, but his face was so closed off she couldn’t tell. The rest of the group were all looking at them with awkward concern, and Casey turned the rest of her speech to all of them. “He didn’t just – slam a door on my hand! It was a complete freak accident. It could have happened to anyone.”

“How did it happen?” Kit asked, his eyes trained on Derek.

Hesitating, Casey’s eyes found Derek’s just as Jen cut the tension with a light tone. “Oh, no, I totally get it. Those kinds of accidents happen all the time.”

A few people around the circle nodded in agreement and the tension dropped significantly. Casey sighed in relief and sent Jen a thankful look, which the other girl responded to with raised eyebrows. ‘We are talking about this later’.

“Yeah,” Cathy added, with an awkward laugh. “My brother slammed a door on my hand once, too.” And as soon as the words left her mouth, she cringed. Casey felt like slapping her forehead with her hand.

The conversation resumed, and after a few seconds Derek excused himself from the group and went back inside the apartment. Casey wanted to scream in frustration. Was he mad? Was he embarrassed? What was he feeling? This was so not how she had pictured this night going.

Casey felt Kit’s hand on her arm.

“Casey,” he said quietly, “Are you okay?”

She tried hard to suppress the rage she was feeling towards him. He didn’t say it with ill intentions, she was almost sure of it, but he had completely blown her chances with Derek tonight, from the moment he had appeared, and she was very annoyed with him at this point.

“I’m fine,” she said, a little sharply. Kit’s eyebrows pinched and she sighed, willing her tone to soften. “I’m just gonna go check on Derek.”

Kit’s lips pressed into a line, but he nodded. She avoided his gaze as she stood up, and headed inside the apartment.

It didn’t take her long to realize that Derek was gone.