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Jerking back to the present, I make myself knock on Jax’s door, and the room falls silent. When I knock again, Reed opens it. His eyes drift from the top of my head to my breasts and all the way to my flats then back again. He looks angry.

My stomach does a flip. He stands aside letting me in. Leaning against the wall, he crosses his arms, frowning.

He studies me. “Why do you have your purse?”

Usually I know what he is thinking, but right now, I’m somewhat unsure.

“I don’t know. I guess I felt better having it with me.” My voice is hoarse from crying. I hate my voice, but Reed loves it, so there’s that I guess.

His eyes narrow like he’s dissecting me. “Ask Jax what you need to know. Then you and I are going out.” He pushes off the wall and leaves.

An awkward silence takes over Jax’s room, and I can’t look at anything but the shiny Tory Burch logo on my flats.

Jax sighs. “Come here.” Taking my hand, he sits me down on his black couch. All his gaming stuff is neatly organized on shelves. As miserable as I am, I still can’t help but smirk at how clean Jax’s room is compared to Reed’s. Jax pulls me onto his lap, allowing me to curl into him. “Just let it out, Tess.”

Grabbing ahold of his T-shirt, which smells like Downy and Jax, I bawl into his chest. As the tears flow unstoppable, my hiccups are loud. I have no pride left. He says nothing and holds me and pets my hair. I love Jax’s hugs. He is one of the most affectionate people. At least he is with me, and it drives Reed crazy, but Jax and I have a special bond. At last, I take a breath and wipe my nose on his shirt.

“Sorry about your shirt.” My red lipstick is smeared on it. “That won’t come out.” Hiccupping again, I try to wipe the bright red stain.

“Doesn’t matter. Feel better?”

“No. I’ve cried so much that everything on me hurts, especially here.” I indicate my heart.

“All right, Tess, I’m going to tell you what happened, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it.”

Shit, he is starting to scare me. Maybe I didn’t hear the whole story.

“Yes.” I clear my throat. God my voice is shot.

“We went to Zack’s house. His brother Jason was home, and he brought some college buddies, including girls. I hooked up with one of them.” He starts petting my hair again, and my anxiety returns with a jolt.

“Anyway, one of the girls decided to chase Reed. She is the one Tiffany was talking about.” I grab his hand to stop petting me. I need to see his eyes.

“Reed was already on edge without you, so he was drinking. She figured that meant he was interested. Now remember, we all were pretty drunk.”

“So, what? That makes it fine that my boyfriend allowed some college girl to give him a hand job? I’m supposed to look the other way because he was mad at me and drunk?” The wretched sting of tears hits me again.

“Stop it. That’s not what happened. They were playing pool. Yes, her hands were roaming, but Reed—”

Jumping up, I say, “I can’t hear this,” and clutch my ears.

“Sit down, Tess. He didn’t do anything with her! She was begging him to fuck her.” Jax rips my hands off my ears.

“He said no, Tess! Because of you. He loves you, and you know it.” I’m stunned at the fierce passion in Jax’s voice.

“I love him too,” I whisper.

“I know you do. What Tiffany told you this morning was because she’s a jealous bitch.”

“That’s beside the point. Reed beat up Aaron. Now everyone thinks he slept with that girl, right?”

Jax’s eyes sweep his room like he is looking for some way to escape.

“I’ll take your silence as a big fat yes!”

“You shouldn’t care what anyone thinks.” He leans his head back like he has a headache.

“Perfect. So, tomorrow at school, Reed is going to be even more of a god. And I’ll be pitied and humiliated.”

Pulling away, I need to see Jax’s face better. He rubs his hands over his face, and I want to kick him. When he does that, he looks so much like Reed.

“Probably, Tess. What do you want me to say? There are a lot of assholes at our school.”

“Perfect.” Standing up, I reach for my bag, but Jax grabs my wrist. “Tess, who cares? As long as you have us, believe me, no one is going to dare say anything to you.”

Jerking free, I look toward his door. “I just want to hide, Jax.”

He nods, turquoise eyes filled with compassion.

“You’re strong, Tess. You’ll get through this.”

Snorting, I say, “I guess. I have no choice.”

“Well, you could dump my brother and hook up with me.” He winks.