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All I can manage is a pathetic “I don’t believe you” before I hang up.

I throw my cell phone away from me like it’s been dipped in poison. Reed sits up, wariness in his turquoise eyes.

“Tess?” His voice is gentle like he’s scared I’m going to bolt.

I don’t. I let him pull me to him.

“Nothing happened,” he says, stroking my hair like he would a skittish kitten.

“So, you didn’t break Aaron’s nose?” Wow, I sound calm.

“Who called you, Tess?”

“Tiffany.” I’m numb, or maybe I’m having an out-of-body experience.

“If what she says is true, I might start screaming and never stop.” My mind fills with visions of Reed with some blonde touching him… putting her hands on what is mine!

“Oh my God.” My breath starts coming in small wheezing gasps. Yep, here comes the panic attack.

“Tess, look at me.” Are my teeth chattering?

“Come on, baby.” He shakes me slightly.

“Did you fuck the blonde who had her hand down your pants? Did you?” Staring at him, I give him a look that begs for him to tell me it’s not true.

And he does. He shakes his head no.

“Thank God.” My body melts into his.

“Kitten.” His thumb strokes my lips. “You never have to worry about me cheating on you! It would never happen. You’re all I want. You have to know that.”

Reed hugs me so tightly it’s hard to catch my breath. I was struggling with that anyway before he crushed me to his chest.

After what seems like an hour, he lifts my face to his, his warm mouth coming down on my cold lips.

He tastes like bourbon and Reed. He kisses me so hard, my mouth has to be swollen and bruised. With a groan, he sounds almost as if he is in pain. Opening my eyes, I find he’s staring at me. I put my hands on his chest, right over that strong heart.

“What did you do?”

“I got fucked up and let a girl probably get the wrong idea. But I never touched her, kissed her, or thought about fucking her.” His voice is sad.

“Everyone saw you?” Choking on the words, I lean my head against my hands where they’re still pressed against his chest.

He shrugs and pulls me in tighter. His arms are like chains and yet I let him. See… I’m that pathetic. I need Reed to live. I need him to breathe! But he doesn’t have to know that. I take an unsteady breath. “I need to take a shower, and I want to talk to Jax.” Hurt is all over his pretty face.

Ignoring him, I lock myself in my bathroom. My hands are shaking as I turn on the water. “God…” When I gaze at my reflection on the glass shower door, the hot sting of tears burns my cheeks. This is the first time I have ever locked Reed out.

Overwrought, I push on all the buttons and water shoots from the top and sides. Undressing, I suck in a breath as the scalding water pounds my body almost relentlessly, reddening my skin. And then I let it go. I stay in the scorching shower crying, my imagination my worst enemy. Jealousy has taken hold of my mind, controlling me like the green-eyed monster she is. Finally, I turn the hot water to warm and force myself to get out. Breathing in the steam, I reach for a snow-white fluffy towel that is deliciously heated. I crack open the bathroom door and flip on the fan. I need to defog the mirror so I can see myself. I reach for my toothbrush, and like a robot, I clean my teeth. Watching the steam twist and swirl away, I pat on my moisturizer and take a long look at myself. As I lean forward against the sink, I watch the droplets of water slide down between my breasts. My hair is too long. I need to see my stylist soon. Sadness. Grief. Betrayal. That’s what screams at me. My eyes are red and my lips are swollen.

“Great, Tess, you look like someone punched you.” I’m tired and I just woke up. Squaring my shoulders back and peeking my head out, I search for Reed. He’s gone. I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed.

This is stupid! I throw open the bathroom door and march into my closet. I did nothing wrong. Reed’s the bad guy—not me. Grabbing a pair of True Religion jeans, I jerk them on.

Mindlessly, I take stock of my numerous shoes and reach for my Tory Burch Reva flats. They’re my favorites and I need comfort. Pulling open my lingerie drawer, I decide on a shimmery Calvin Klein black bra and a tight, sheer T-shirt. It’s also black because I live in New York and I hate my life.

Screw makeup today. My cheeks are already flushed. I do add some MAC Ruby Woo red lipstick to my lips. Reed will hate it. He always complains that it reminds him of my mom’s fake lips, but mine are real, so he can fuck off. What is happening? I never want Reed to fuck off!