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Not being able to sit still, I pace, adrenaline pumping through me. I fucking hate fighting with Tess!

“Call Zack. Tell him we’re coming over. I need to get away from here,” I say, running my hands through my hair.

“Interesting. I take it Tess will not be joining us?”

Snorting, I look up at the white ceiling. “No, Tess will be crying herself to sleep, I’m sure.”

Jax raises an eyebrow and closes his laptop.

“Fuck!” I glance around the room for something to punch.

“Don’t even think of trashing my room. Go to your own.” His tone is serious.

Looking at him, I need to get it together. He’s right. Taking my anger out on him is wrong.

Slumping into a chair, I grab a basketball off the floor and throw it against the wall a few times. The loud thumps bring me some calm. I toss the ball to him. “Sorry about today. I did throw you under the bus. That was wrong.”

He throws the ball up and catches it. “Are you sure you want to go out tonight? If you’re fighting with Tess, it’s only going to be ugly.” He says it casually as if he’s bored.

Leaning my elbows on my knees, I crack my knuckles. “Did you know that Mom knows we watch porn?”

Jax stops throwing the ball. “What?” He shakes his head. “There’s no way. I cover our tracks.”

“Well, obviously not well enough because she told Tess, and I had to lie.” I lean back in the chair.

“You lied to Tess?”

Shame floods me. Tess’s tears are already killing me. I don’t need Jax judging me. “I didn’t want to. She was looking at me with those fucking eyes of hers. You try telling your girlfriend that you watch naked women, and see how happy she is.”

He shakes his head. “So, if you lied, why are you fighting?”

“Because… it’s Tess. She knew I was lying as soon as I said the words.”

Jax snorts. “See, this shit?” He motions with his hands. “This is why I don’t want a girlfriend and why I’m going to get laid way before you.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Jax smiles at me like I’m an idiot. “Getting laid! It’s quite simple. You love Tess. You’re not going to pressure her.”

“Yeah… So?”

“So, while you wait for Tess, I will be getting all kinds of pussy.”

I can’t help but laugh. “I love how everybody thinks you’re the good one.”

He’s right though; he is going to be having sex before me. Tess is not ready, and all our firsts will be together.

“Whatever, man, just figure out how Mom knows.”

Not being able to sit still, I pace again, his blue walls closing in on me.

Jax is silent, and I can see the wheels turning. “Fuck!” he says. “You think they have cameras?”

I shake my head slowly as I think about it. “Mom wouldn’t allow it.” I can’t accept that because I love my mom, and that would suck.

“I’ll figure it out. I’ll call Zack and let him know we are rolling over now.” Reaching for his cell, he hesitates. “You sure you want to leave Tess tonight?”

“She’s freaking out about porn, Jax. I can’t deal with it. And don’t look at me like that—it pisses me off.”

“I want to have a good time. And when you and Tess are fighting, something always goes wrong.”

He looks down at his phone as he starts texting. “Feel free to stay home and deal with your girlfriend.”

“I’m telling Mom we’re going,” I say over my shoulder.

“Okay, but I don’t want to hear you whine like a bitch as soon as you start drinking.”

Not listening anymore, I slam his door. Gritting my teeth, I force myself to pass Tess’s room. It’s like she has some kind of voodoo spell on me. Always has. All I want to do is hold her and kiss away her tears.

Screw that. She needs to learn that she was completely crazy today.

I knock on my mom’s door. My nerves are shot, and I want to erase this whole day from my memory. When Mom casually mentioned this morning that she was going to have some rules, I knew it would probably come up about Tess sleeping in my bed. Frankly, I was surprised it took them this long. I also thought I would be able to guilt my mom into relenting. I mean, she knows firsthand how bad Tess’s anxiety can get. Now we’re going to have to sneak, and if Jax is right and they have cameras…

“Come in.”

A burst of citrus overpowers me. It’s so strong my eyes water. “God, Mom! What’s that smell?”

“My new detoxifying mask.” The whole room is slightly foggy.

“Jesus.” I grimace, resentful that she’s the reason Tess and I are fighting. “It’s burning my eyes! How can that be good for your face?” She’s starting to do all sorts of pathetic things to keep herself looking like she’s in her early thirties, rather than pushing forty, and it pisses me off.