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“Listen, Lexi…” As I rub my forehead, it’s now full-on pounding, like someone is hitting me with a bat on each temple.

“Reed?” she interrupts. “I… thought you would like this. I was hoping to please you. That we would actually… you know, have sex finally.”

Christ, I’m an asshole. I don’t want to hurt her, and she looks hurt. Lexi’s been a constant presence since she left.

“It’s the sun, Lexi.” I make the same stupid excuse.

“Should I get you some Advil? What can I do to make you happy, Reed?”

Be Tess! It almost slips out. Fear worms its way into my brain. What if I’m like this forever?

“Advil would be nice.” I don’t trust myself to say more.

“Be right back.” She gently shuts the door behind her.

I can’t lock the door fast enough. Looking at my reflection, I hate the guy staring back at me. Not because I look like shit. Just the opposite—my looks have always caused people to comment about how handsome I am. But all I cared about was whether Tess liked the way I looked. I have a trust fund that’s in the millions. But the person I thought I was going to be and the person I have become are two very different men. And this shit with Lexi is not helping me. Closing my eyes, I wonder, When was the last time I was happy? Visions of puffy lips and sapphire eyes swirl in my mind. My eyes snap open. I’m pissed at myself. Pissed at her. She is the cause of all my anger. Staring at my tattoo, I snort in disgust. I should get it removed. Even so, my hand reaches to rub it, needing it.

Finally, I grow some balls and leave the bathroom. Someone has changed the music from Jamaican to techno. Taking a breath, I wander through the large house, trying to find Jax.

Spying Andrew in the living room, he’s in the corner with two girls I recognize from the pool. All three are snorting coke.

“Andrew, you see Jax?” The air conditioner hums on. Cool air blows down on me, making me grateful for modern technology.

Andrew finishes snorting, then gives me a peculiar look.

“What?” I can’t say my tone is pleasant, and the girls look at me nervously. He snorts and wipes his nose.

“Um… Yeah, I think I saw him over by the tiki bar talking to a blonde.”

“Cool…” He’s giving me a weird vibe and I frown. “What man? Is something wrong?”

“Um… I’m not sure.” Andrew looks uncomfortable, like he wants to say something, but he can’t.”

“What the fuck, Drew? Spit it out.”

He shrugs and rolls his neck. “I’ll go with you.”

Holding up my hand, I stop him, my sarcasm thick. “I think I can make it alone. I’m a grown-up now.”

“Still, you might need me.”

“Drew, my head is killing me.”

“Yeah, it might really start hurting… once you see Jax.”

My eyes narrow on him, then roll. He’s on coke, I remind myself.

It’s been over a month since I have done anything besides drink. But with my head throbbing, coke sounds like the perfect thing to help.

“Fuck it, give me some of your blow.” I motion with my hand for his vial.

He cocks his head. “You told me to say no if you ask, remember?” We stare at each other. Andrew sighs, unbuttoning his obnoxious Hawaiian shirt pocket. “Fine, I’m only giving you this because you might truly need it.”

He tosses the brown vial at me.

I catch it. “Maybe I should hold on to the this. You’re acting paranoid.”

“Fuck off, Saddington.”

I don’t even bother to hide and turn around and snort some into each nostril. With the rush, my head is instantly better. In fact, I haven’t felt this good in months.

“Jesus… that helps. Thanks, brother”

Suddenly, I’m okay. Better than okay, I’m fucking great. I find myself laughing with Andrew as I see Jax’s dark head. We’ve been distant lately. I know he doesn’t understand the whole Lexi thing. Also, he’s been gone a lot. I’ve been meaning to ask if he’s seeing someone. I guess my question is answered. He’s standing with his arm around a blonde with long killer legs. I have to hold myself back from throwing my brother’s arm off her shoulder. Taking a steadying breath, I’m surprised at my aggression.

Jax doesn’t notice me. He seems to be enthralled by the blonde. His smile is filled with genuine affection. Which stops me like a knife has pierced me. Shaking my head, I give myself a mental lecture about wanting my brother to be happy even if I’m miserable.

The blonde moves but not much. Just a slender arm, a toss of her long blond hair, and I freeze. I wonder for a moment if I snorted bad coke. Because that girl moves like the one person I can’t escape. The one person who has haunted me for twenty-four hours a day for three years.

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