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I bite the inside of my cheek at the nickname that my so-called friends branded Tessa with early on.

“Deep down, you know it won’t work. She’s too silver spoon for you. You’re covered in ink, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s sick of being embarrassed to be seen with you.”

“She’s not embarrassed to be seen with me.” I take a step toward the redheaded harpy.

“You know she is. She even told me she was when you two first started dating. I’m sure that hasn’t changed.” She smiles; her nose ring glistens under the lighting, and I cringe at the memory of her hands touching me, making me come.

I swallow back bile and speak. “You’re trying to manipulate me—because that’s all you have to work with—and I’m not buying it.” I push past her.

She croaks out a gross little laugh. “If you were enough for her, then why did she run to Zed so many times? You know what people were saying.”

I stop dead in my tracks. I remember Tessa coming back from that lunch with Steph. She was so upset after she left Applebee’s the day that Steph brought Molly along, and the two of them hinted to Tessa that there were rumors going around that she fucked Zed. I was enraged enough to call Molly and warn her not to fucking try to come between Tessa and me. Steph obviously didn’t get the message, even though it was her I needed to worry about the entire time.

“You made up those rumors,” I accuse.

“No . . . Zed’s roommate did. He’s the one who heard her moaning his name and heard Zed’s bed smacking against the wall while he was trying to sleep. Annoying, right?” Steph’s malevolent grin snaps every bit of self-control I’ve managed to hang on to since Tessa left for Seattle.

I need to walk away now. I need to walk away now.

“Zed said she was nice and tight, though, and apparently she does this . . . like, thing with her hips or something. Oh, and that freckle . . . you know the one.” Her black nails tap against her chin.

I can’t handle it.

“Shut up!” I cover my ears with my hands. “Shut the fuck up!” I scream through the aisle, and Steph backs away, still grinning.

“Believe me or not.” She shrugs. “I don’t care, but you know it’s a waste of time. She’s a waste of time.”

She sneers, disappearing just as my fist connects with metal shelving.

Chapter one hundred and seven


Boxes fall from the shelves and tumble onto the floor in a blur. I connect with the metal again, leaving a thick red stain behind. The familiar sting of splitting flesh across my knuckles only heightens the rush of my adrenaline, pushing me further into my rage. It’s almost soothing, the relief of allowing myself to express my anger in the way I’ve always been used to. I don’t have to stop myself. I don’t have to overthink my actions. I can surrender to the anger, let it spill out, allow it to pull me under.

“What are you doing! Someone come help!” a woman yells.

When I snap my head her way, she takes a step backward into the wide opening at the aisle’s end, and I notice a little blond-haired girl clinging to her skirt. The woman’s eyes are wide with fear and caution.

When the little girl’s bright blue eyes meet mine, I can’t look away. The innocence in their depths is being stolen with every angry breath that leaves my body. I break the hold of the girl’s gaze and look toward the mess I’ve made in the aisle. Disappointment replaces rage in an instant, and the realization that I’m destroying shit in the middle of a Target hits me hard. If the cops arrive before I can get out of here, I’m fucked.

With one last look toward the little girl in her floor-length dress and sparkling shoes, I rush down the aisle and toward the front of the store. Avoiding the chaos that is brewing around me, I cross from aisle to aisle, staying as much out of sight as possible.

I can’t think clearly. Not a single thought makes sense to me.

Tessa didn’t fuck Zed.

She didn’t.

She couldn’t have.

I would know if she did. Someone would have told me.

She would have told me. She’s the only person I know who doesn’t lie to me.

I burst outside, and the winter air is unforgiving as it bites at my skin. I keep my eyes focused on my car, which is parked toward the back of the lot, thankful to be shielded by the darkness of the night.

“Fuck!” I scream once I reach my car. My boot collides with my bumper and the grinding noise of metal bending out of place ratchets up my feeling of frustration.

“She’s only been with me!” I say out loud, then hop inside the car.

I’m pushing the key into the ignition just as two police cars pull into the parking lot with lights blazing and sirens howling. I pull out of the space slowly to avoid any unwanted attention and watch as they park on the curb and rush inside like a murder has been committed.

The moment I make it out of the parking lot, relief floods through me. If I’d been arrested at Target, Tessa would have flipped shit on me.

Tessa . . . and Zed.

I know better than to believe Steph’s bullshit lies about Tessa fucking him. I know she didn’t. I know that I’m the only man who has ever been inside of her, the only one who has ever made her come. Not him.

Not fucking anyone. Only me.

I shake my head to rid myself of the vision of the two of them, her fingers wrapped around his arms as he pushes into her. Fuck, not this again.

I literally can’t think straight. I can’t see straight. I should have wrapped my hands around Steph’s neck and . . .