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Trying to walk straight is a challenge. The apartment is packed with people, most of them drunk. I’m starting to feel mean and I need to piss. As I stumble into one of the numerous bathrooms, my hand goes up on the red-striped wall steadying me as I try to hit the toilet. Christ, I’m seeing double. Somehow my fingers work my zipper back up.

Opening the door, I fumble for my phone, not even looking up as I try to get the fuck out of here. I want my Kitten. Need to hear her voice. Tell her I’m coming home, that I love her.

There’s a hand on my shoulder and I spin around. Aaron’s stupid face swims in front of me.

“Damn, Reed, you and your brother are my heroes.” He does some lame bowing at me.

“Now that you’re banging college chicks, you don’t mind if I ask Tess to—” And just like that, he’s on the floor. I don’t even remember my fists coming up. I do hear him screaming like the bitch he is, hands covering his face as blood gushes out of his nose.

Jax is pulling me off him and pushing me out the door. Jay is at our side, with the car doors open. As soon as we’re in, he takes off, not questioning, only getting us away.

Panting, I look down at my fists. They’re swollen and covered in Aaron’s blood. Absently I open and close them. When I look over at Jax, he’s texting.

“What did he say to you?”

My heart is racing, the rage still pumping through me. “He informed me that since I was banging college girls, he wanted Tess.” My fist slams into the leather seat in front of me. Thankfully I’m on the passenger side.

“Cool down, Reed,” Jay warns. “I get that you’re amped up, but you need to breathe, man.”

“How dare he think he can even look at Tess,” I spit with rage.

Jax stops texting. “I’ll take care of it.” That’s all he says as he goes back to his phone. At some point, I hear him talking. He is cleaning up my mess and I let him.

Jay pulls up to our apartment, and I stumble out. He and Jax stay in the car and pull back into traffic. I can’t think straight. I’ll deal with everything in the morning if Jax hasn’t already fixed it. I’m on a mission—to Tess. Walking into our lavish lobby, I nod at the night doorman. I think his name is Tomas. He looks the other way as I enter my private elevator.

I’m still jacked up from Aaron. No doubt about it, I lost it tonight. No one will ever have Tess but me. If it were up to me, I would lock her up and only I would be able to see her, feed her, bathe her. Unfortunately, that can’t happen, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Snickering at my drunken thoughts, I try to be quiet as I navigate in between my mom’s elaborate furniture.

I head straight to Tess’s room and lock the door quietly behind me. It’s dark. The only light in the room is from the moon and the lights of Manhattan. Tess hates to be alone, so she always leaves the curtains open.

She’s asleep, her long brown hair curling all over her pillow. Her even breathing alerts me. When I turn on the light, she doesn’t even move. On the nightstand are her pills. Reaching for the bottle, I force my mind to focus on the arduous task of counting them. Twenty-seven. That means she only took one 5 mg of Valium. I hate that she needs it, but it seems to work the best for her. Doctors always want her to try other drugs that are less habit forming. Xanax did nothing for her and she is allergic to a lot of antianxiety and antidepressant meds. Seeing that she’s a teenager, they don’t want to mess with a bunch of stuff. So, they monitor her. It’s unnecessary since I watch her, and she rarely takes one.

Right now, I feel like shit for numerous reasons, mainly that my girlfriend must have had a panic attack. I sit down next to her, watching her sleep.

I love to watch her. When she walks, she has the sexiest walk. When she laughs, she makes everyone laugh. When she smiles, she takes your breath away. And when she sleeps, she’s like a beautiful angel. A sigh escapes her soft lips, and she turns toward me, her hand reaching for me in her sleep. Her black, sooty eyelashes move up and down. We stare at each other.

“You all right?” Her voice—God that voice—is raspy from sleep.

“Yeah, Kitten, I’m fine. Go back to sleep. I’ll be right back.” Caressing her hair, I turn off the light. After I use her bathroom to shower, I wrap a towel around my waist and walk down the dark hall to my room. As much as I would love to sleep with Tess naked, she’s not ready. Plus, she might scream and alert the house I’m in her room. Pulling on some sweats, I’m almost ready to head back to Tess when I hear my mom.

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