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“Not likely to happen if you continue to let them act like bitches and hang out with fucking Trevor all day.” He licks his lips and takes a deep breath.

I take an equally deep breath and look at him, debating whether or not to defend Trevor.

Fuck it.

“Trevor is the only person there that makes any type of effort to be kind to me, and I already know him. That’s why I spend my lunch hour with him.” I stare out the window and watch my favorite city in the world pass by as I wait for the bomb to explode.

When Hardin doesn’t respond, I look over at him and his laser stare at the road ahead, then add, “I really miss Landon.”

“He misses you, too. So does your dad.”

I sigh. “I want to know how he is, but if I ask one question, it’ll lead to thirty. You know how I am.” Worry blooms inside my chest, and I do my best to push it back down and lock it away.

“I do know, that’s why I won’t answer them.”

“How’s Karen? And your father? Is it sad that I miss those two more than I miss my own parents?” I ask.

“No, considering who your parents are.” He scrunches his nose. “To answer your question, they’re good, I guess. I don’t really pay attention.”

“I hope this place starts to feel like home soon,” I say without thinking and sink back into the leather seat.

“You don’t seem to like Seattle so far, so what the hell are you doing here?” Hardin pulls my car into the lot of a small building. Plastered on the front is a massive yellow sign promising fifteen-minute oil changes and friendly service.

I don’t know how to answer him. I’m afraid to share my fears and doubts about my recent move with Hardin. Not because I don’t trust him, but because I don’t want him to use them as an opening to push me to leave Seattle. I could really use a big pep talk right now, but, frankly, would settle for silence over the “I told you so” I’m most likely to hear from Hardin.

“It’s not that I don’t like it here, I’m just not used to it yet. It’s only been one week, and I’m used to my routine and Landon, and you,” I explain.

“I’ll pull into the line and meet you inside,” Hardin tells me without a word regarding my response.

With a nod, I climb out of the car and hurry out of the cold and into the small mechanic shop. The scent of burned rubber and stale coffee fills the waiting room. I’m staring at a framed photograph of an old-fashioned car when I feel Hardin’s hand come to rest on the small of my back.

“It shouldn’t be too long.” He takes my hand in his and leads me to the dusty leather couch in the center of the room.

Twenty minutes later, he’s on his feet, pacing back and forth across the black-and-white-tiled flooring. A bell chimes through the room, signaling that someone has joined us.

“The sign outside says fifteen-minute oil change,” Hardin snaps at the young man wearing oil-stained coveralls.

“Yeah, it does.” The man shrugs. The cigarette tucked behind his ear falls down onto the counter, and he quickly retrieves it with a gloved hand.

“Are you shitting me?” Hardin growls, his patience clearly grown thin.

“It’s almost done,” the mechanic assures him before exiting the waiting room just as abruptly as he entered. I don’t blame him.

I turn to Hardin and rise to my feet. “It’s fine; we aren’t in a hurry.”

“He’s wasting my time with you. I have less than twenty-four hours with you, and he’s fucking wasting it.”

“It’s fine.” I walk across the tile floor to stand in front of him. “We’re here together.” I push my hands into the pockets of Christian’s coat, and he presses his lips into a tight line to keep his frown from turning into a smile.

“If they aren’t done within ten minutes, I’m not paying for this shit,” he threatens, and I shake my head at him and bury my head in his chest.

“Don’t apologize to that guy for me either.” He reaches under my chin with his thumb and lifts my head to look into my eyes. “I know you’re planning to.” He places a soft kiss against my lips, and I find myself hungry and anxious for more.

The topics of discussion in the car have proven to be sore spots for us in the past, yet we made the entire drive here without a major blowup. I’m surprisingly giddy over that, or maybe it’s Hardin’s warm arms wrapping around my waist, or his usual minty scent laced with Christian’s cologne that he borrowed.

Whatever it is, I’m aware of the fact that we’re the only people waiting in the small shop, and I’m surprised by Hardin’s affectionateness as he kisses me again; this time his lips press much harder and his tongue swipes out to meet mine. My hands find their way into his hair, and I tug gently at the ends, making him groan and tighten his grip on my waist. He brings my body flush to his, his mouth still claiming mine, until the shrill sound of a bell goes off, making me jump away from him and smooth my hand over my beanie out of nervousness alone.

“Aaaaaall done,” the cigarette-toting man from minutes ago announces.

“About time,” Hardin rudely remarks and pulls his wallet from his back pocket, shooting me a warning glare when I do the same.

Chapter one hundred and three


He wasn’t staring at me,” she says, trying to convince me as we finally reach her car, which I was forced to park in the farthest possible spot away from the restaurant.

“He was panting over his lasagna. There was a line of drool hanging from his chin to prove it.” The man’s eyes were glued to Tessa the entire time that I tried to enjoy our overpriced, oversauced pasta plate.