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“TESS!”TESSJax is forcing me to come to his birthday party. I’m not hiding, but I’m not sure I want to see Reed yet. Brance and I have been in New York for almost a month. Even though I still love to hate New York, I’m happy to be here. The city I used to dread welcomed me back like an old friend. The yellow cabs and rude people only make me smile. I almost hugged a girl in Starbucks when she cursed me out for taking the last croissant. The weather is hot and sticky. The smell of garbage is worse than I remember, and I saw a rat in a bar that Jax and I were watching football in. Yet I’m happy.

Brance and I do yoga in the morning at a little studio down the street. We’re a family—that includes Jax.

I called him as soon as we landed. He has been practically living with us. I even convinced him to take a beginner’s yoga class.

I love that I walk down the crowded sidewalks and women do double takes. With Brance’s model face, and Jax being a full-on hottie, I’m like a celebrity.

I’m not joking. Jax looks like a tall dark god with turquoise eyes.

Sighing, I’m forced to come back to reality, which sucks because Brance has conveniently gotten the flu. He doesn’t feel good enough for the drive to the Hamptons and Jax and Reed’s party.

Traitor!

He truly is sick though. I feel a little guilty about leaving him, but he assures me he’s fine and that I must seek and conquer my revenge, whatever that means. I guess he wants Reed to combust when he sees me.

We decide on a red bikini with cute bows on each side and one in between my breasts. Plus a black cotton tube dress and black high-heeled Prada sandals.

I’m wearing my blond hair down and blown out straight. Although with the humidity, it will curl. And, of course, some light makeup. All right, full makeup—after all, I need to look amazing. I twirl in front of Brance and Jax, and they both simply stare. Brance smirks in his silk robe and slippers. Jax looks like he might have forgotten that he calls me sis.

I laugh. “That good?”

“Oh, Pretty Girl… that good and then some!”

Winking at him, I throw Brance a kiss, which he dramatically grabs and brings to his heart.

“Now, please don’t forget the Advil and vitamin C packs. And if the fever comes back, call me,” I say, picking up my black Audrey Hepburn Chanel sunglasses and bag.

“Shall we go, birthday boy?”

“Um… yeah if my feet can move. Please tell me you are wearing a one piece under that dress?” he hisses, guiding me through the concrete parking garage.

I wave at Carlos, who whistles after me and giggle as Jax shoots him a warning glare. Even though Jax is probably a good five inches taller, Brance’s bodyguard’s nickname is Asesino. Translation: killer.

“Don’t be absurd.” I smirk, waiting as he opens the door to his new black Ferrari. Apparently, Reed got a matching blue one.

“You’re spoiled!” I shake my head.

“What? Don’t all boys get Ferraris for their birthdays?” He grins, and his dimples appear. For a moment, I can’t move. My hand clutches the black leather steering wheel. It’s like he gut punched me.

Tess? You okay?” He eyes me.

Taking a breath, I let go of the steering wheel. “God, sorry, I just… sometimes you look so much like Reed.” He gives me a sympathetic smile and winks.

I roll my eyes. “Never mind.”

He laughs. “Come on, Tess, it’s my birthday! I’m finally eighteen. We are definitely going to have fun.”

“About that… are you sure I should come today? I want you to have a great birthday. And something tells me Reed is not going to be as happy to see me as you were.”

He raises an eyebrow as he starts the car, then smirks, his eyes alive with mischief. The Ferrari purrs.

“You hear that?” He presses on the gas. The car sounds as if it’s alive. As it roars with each acceleration, I shiver with anticipation.

“You cold?” He taps the air conditioner button.

“No, I’m fine, just nervous.”

“Look, Tess, Reed is going to freak! He made his bed and he’ll have to lie in it. Besides, you’ve been hiding long enough. My mom and dad are going to be there, and they are dying to see you.”

Needing to change the subject, I say, “So… Harvard? Premed—impressive. I mean, technically you don’t have to work.”

“Yeah, I do. Since Reed lost his mind, thanks to you. My dad and Grandfather Ian are giving him the business.”

“You’re not serious.”

“Very.”

“Wow.” I’m stunned. Reed is going to take over the Saddington empire?

“And stop saying I made him go crazy. He broke up with me. I can’t even begin to explain the pain I have been through.” Snapping at him, I try to watch the road. But Jax is gunning it, and the scenery is all a blur.

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