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“Hardin,” she presses.

“Tessa, let it go. It’s nothing.” Oh, you know, just that I dreamed of Zed fucking you practically through to the other side of our mattress, and now I can’t stop picturing it.

“Okay.” She lifts herself from the bed and wipes her hands against the soft material of her pajamas.

I close my eyes for a moment, trying to rid my mind of the disgusting images. If that poser asshole interrupts another second of my time with Tessa, I’ll break every bone in his goddamned body.

Chapter ninety


After too many kisses for Smith’s liking, Kimberly and Vance finally leave. Each of the three times they reminded us they were only a phone call away in case there’s trouble, Hardin and Smith rolled their eyes dramatically. When she pointed to the list of emergency numbers on the kitchen counter, they shared a little, cute look of disbelief.

“What do you want to watch?” I ask Smith once their car is out of sight.

He shrugs from where he’s sitting on the couch and looks up at Hardin, who looks down at the kid like he’s an amusing little ferret or something.

“Okay . . . What about a game—do you want to play a game or something?” I suggest when neither of them speaks.

“No,” Smith replies.

“I think he just wants to go back to his room and do whatever the hell he was doing before Kim dragged him out here,” Hardin says, and Smith nods curtly in agreement.

“Well . . . okay, then. You can go back to your room, Smith. Hardin and I will be out here if you need anything. I’ll be ordering dinner soon,” I tell him.

“Can you come with me, Hardin?” Smith asks in the softest tone possible.

“To your room? No, I’m good.”

Without a word, Smith climbs down from the couch and walks over to the stairs. I shoot a glare at Hardin, and he shrugs his shoulders. “What?”

“Go to his room with him,” I whisper.

“I don’t want to go to his room. I want to be out here with you,” he says matter-of-factly. As much as I want Hardin to stay with me, I feel bad for Smith.

“Come on.” I nod to the blond boy as he slowly ascends the steps. “He’s lonely.”

“Dammit, fine.” Hardin groans and sulks across the living room to follow Smith up the stairs. I’m still a little bothered by his odd reaction to our kiss in the bedroom. I thought it was going great—better than great—but he climbed off me so abruptly that I thought he’d been injured. Maybe after being away from me for so long he doesn’t feel the same? Maybe he’s not as attracted to me . . . sexually, as he once was. I know that I’m dressed in baggy pajamas, but he never had a problem with them before.

Unable to come up with any reasonable explanation for his behavior, instead of letting my imagination run wild, I grab the small stack of takeout pamphlets that Kimberly left for us so we could figure out what to order for dinner. I decide on pizza, and grab my phone before going into the laundry room. I place Hardin’s clothes in the dryer and sit on the bench in the center of the room. I call for the pizza and wait while watching the machine turn around and around.

Chapter ninety-one


As Smith walks around his bedroom, I stand in the doorway and take a mental inventory of all the shit this kid has. Man, he’s spoiled as hell.

“What do you want to do?” I ask the kid as I step into the room.

“I don’t know.” He stares at the wall. His blond hair is combed to one side so perfectly it’s almost creepy.

“Then why did you want me to come up here?”

“I don’t know,” the little shit repeats. Stubborn little fucker.

“Okay . . . well, this isn’t going anywhere . . .” I trail off.

“Are you living here now, too, with your girl?” Smith suddenly blurts.

“No, only visiting for tonight,” I say and look away from the kid.

“Why?” His eyes home in on me. I can feel them without even glancing his way.

“Because I don’t want to live here.” I do, though. Sort of.

“Why? You don’t like her?” he questions.

“Yes. I like her.” I laugh. “I just . . . I don’t know. Why do you always ask me so many questions?”

“I don’t know,” he responds simply and pulls some sort of train set from under his bed.

“Don’t you have any friends you can play with?” I ask the boy.


That doesn’t seem right. He’s an all-right kid. “Why not?”

He shrugs and disconnects a piece of the train track. His small hands disconnect another piece, and he switches the metal out with two new tracks from a box at the end of his bed.

“I’m sure you can make friends at school.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Are the kids assholes to you or something?” I ask him. I don’t bother to correct my language. Vance has the mouth of a fucking sailor, and I’m sure his son has heard worse.

“Sometimes.” He twists the edges of some type of wire and connects a small train car to it. The wire sparks in his hands, but he doesn’t flinch. Within seconds, the train begins to move around the track, starting slowly and then gradually picking up speed.

“What was that, that you just did?” I ask him.

“Made it go faster; it was really slow.”

“No wonder you don’t have any friends.” I laugh, but then I catch myself. Shit. He’s just sitting there, staring at his train. “I just meant because you’re so smart; sometimes smart people are terrible at being social, and no one likes them. Like Tessa, for example—she’s too smart sometimes, and it makes people feel uncomfortable.”

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