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Reed has been surprisingly good about sharing me. I think it’s because Brance is gay. He is happy to let Brance take care of all the things he hates.

The doorbell rings. I glance over at my mom who has passed out on my bed. Obviously, she was up all night, hysterical about her face. Now that Brance is on his way, she seems at peace.

Grabbing one of Reed’s sweatshirts, I pull it on over my black sleeping slip. When I call down to the front desk, I’m informed that there is a delivery guy with flowers.

Fighting my way past shiny balloons and decorations, I can’t help but smile as I open the door. The delivery guy stands there with a flower arrangement that is almost as big as me. Well maybe not that big, but it’s impressive. There are numerous long-stemmed red roses in the middle with white and pink hydrangeas surrounding the bottom. The vase alone probably cost as much as a cheap car. I hold out my hands for it and thank the delivery guy.

“Holy shit, heavy!” I say, barely making it past an onslaught of silver and gold streamers to place the vase on the table. My stomach has butterflies as I search for the card. Hmmm, no card? A knock at the door makes me jump. Skipping over to the door isn’t easy when I’m swarmed by a jungle of ribbons hanging from balloons, but when I answer at last, I discover the frazzled-looking delivery guy, who stands holding a red card.

“Sorry. I have never had to deliver anything this expensive. My boss made me a nervous wreck. Here’s your card.” He shoves it at me.

“Oh, perfect I was looking for that.” I laugh.

“Hold on.” Grabbing my mom’s purse, I pull out a hundred and hand it to him. “You deserve it.”

He grins, handing it back. “I got a huge tip already.”

He turns, then stops. “Wait, you’re right. I do deserve this.” He takes the hundred. “You have a great birthday. Someone really loves you,” he says over his shoulder.

Shutting the door, I excitedly open the card.

Kitten, Happy Birthday!

You are my everything!

I love you, Reed.

I sigh and clutch the card to my chest. Best birthday ever! Well, aside from my mom’s face. Twirling, I know two things: Reed has money and I love him. But at this moment, the emotion almost takes me to my knees. He is my everything. It’s almost impossible to breathe as I run to my room for my phone. Glancing at my mom, who is still in the same position as earlier, I roll my eyes, and my hands slightly tremble as I push on Reed’s name.

“Kitten.” My stomach flip-flops at the sound of his rough morning voice.

“I love you,” I blurt. “I love our tattoos. I love my flowers.” I’m breathing rapidly, my eyes stinging with tears as I walk into the living room.

He chuckles. “That’s a lot of love, birthday girl”

“It is.” I smile. “When are you coming over?” I look around the room Brance and my mom have been redecorating. My mom’s taste is far from elegant.

“Soon,” I hear him groan as he stretches. I picture him all warm and hard, his dark curls a mess.

Which makes me remember my mom. “Oh my God, Reed!” I can’t hide my excitement. “Mom got Botox yesterday. Her face looks like she had a stroke! You have to be nice though.” A twinge of guilt swims over me. I shouldn’t be happy at my mom’s expense.

“Wait a minute… What?” He sounds distracted.

“Are you listening?” I demand. “She looks crazy! Just act like you don’t notice it.”

“You’re kidding, right? What the hell is wrong with her? I thought you said she was looking better now that she has this sick codependence thing going on with Brance.”

“Well he’s not with her twenty-four hours a day. Although she is begging for him to move in.” I twirl my hair around my finger.

“Well, he can’t,” he kind of grunts. “You don’t have enough room for all his security.” He’s joking, I think. Ignoring his comment, I zero in on his breathing.

“Reed? What are you doing?” My core clenches and cheeks get hot.

“What do you think I’m doing?” I hear another harsh breath.

“Reed Saddington! Are you… you know.” I check to make sure my mom hasn’t materialized. I’m shy whenever I have to verbalize anything sexual.

He laughs. “Well, I was trying to rub one out listening to your sexy voice, but you ruined it with the visual of Olive Oyl and her stroke eye.”

“I knew it.” My voice sounds shaky. I should be chastising him. Instead I’m all tingly, thinking about him touching himself.

“Reed…?”

“Are you alone?” His voice is harsh.

Suddenly, I wish Brance wasn’t on his way over. “Yes.” It comes out like a whisper. Clearing my voice, I add, “But Brance will be here any minute.”

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