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I rest my forehead against the steering wheel of my car and close my eyes. My first instinct is to call him and ask him why he’s hiding the trip from me. I stop myself from doing that because this is the perfect opportunity for me to try not to jump to conclusions without asking him first. There is a chance, a small one, that Kimberly is mistaken and Hardin isn’t going to England next weekend.

My chest tightens at the thought of him still wanting to move back there. I’m still trying to convince myself that I’ll be enough to keep him here.

Chapter one hundred and ten


It feels like ages since I’ve been at this place. I’d been driving around for the last hour, going over the possible outcomes of my coming here. After formulating a mental list of pros and cons—something I never, ever do—I shut my car off and step into the cold afternoon air.

I’m assuming he’s home; if not, I just wasted my entire afternoon, and I’ll be even more irritated than I already am. I glance around the parking lot and find his truck near the front. The brown apartment building is set just off of the street, and a rusty staircase leads up to the second floor, where his place is. With each stomp of my boot against the metal staircase, I run through the reasons why I’m here in the first place.

Just as I reach apartment C, my phone vibrates in my back pocket. It’s either Tessa or my mum, neither of whom I want to speak with right now. If I talk to Tessa, I’ll be thrown off my plan. And my mum will just annoy me with her wedding talk.

I knock on the door. Within seconds Zed answers, wearing only drawstring pants. His feet are bare, and I notice the intricate clockwork-and-gear tattoo that he showed me before has spread further across his stomach. He must have gotten more of it done after he tried to get with my fucking girl.

Zed doesn’t greet me. Instead, he just stares at me from the doorway, a look of obvious shock and suspicion on his face.

“We need to talk,” I finally say and push past him to enter his apartment.

“Should I call the cops?” he asks in that dry tone he gets.

I take a seat on his worn leather couch and stare up at him. “That depends on whether you cooperate or not.”

Dark hair covers his jawline and frames his mouth. It feels like months have passed since I saw him outside Tessa’s mum’s house instead of only ten or so days.

He sighs and leans his back against the wall on the opposite side of his small living room. “Well, get to it, then.”

“You know this is about Tessa.”

“I figured as much.” He frowns and crosses his tattooed arms.

“You aren’t going to Seattle.”

He raises a thick brow before he smiles. “I am, though. I’ve already made the plans.”

What the fuck? Why would he be going to Seattle? He’s making this much harder than it needs to be, and I’m beginning to kick myself in the ass for thinking this conversation would end in any way except him leaving on a stretcher.

“The thing is . . .” I breathe in a deep breath to keep myself calm and stick to the plan. “You aren’t going to Seattle.”

“I’m visiting my friends there,” he answers, challenging me.

“Bullshit. I know exactly what you’re doing,” I bite back.

“I’m staying with some friends in Seattle, but in case you were wondering, she did invite me to visit her.”

The moment the words leave his mouth, I’m on my feet. “Don’t push me—I’m trying to do this the right way. You have no reason to visit her. She’s mine.”

He raises one brow. “Do you realize how that sounds? Saying she’s yours like she’s your property?”

“I don’t give a fuck how it sounds; it’s true.” I take another step toward him. The air between us has shifted from tense to downright primal. Both of us are trying to stake a claim here, and I’m not backing down.

“If she’s yours, then why aren’t you in Seattle with her?” he presses.

“I’m graduating after this semester, that’s why.” Why am I even answering his questions? I came here to talk, not to listen and “engage in dialogue,” as a professor of mine used to say. I’ll be damned if he tries to turn this shit on me. “Me not being there is irrelevant. You won’t be seeing her while you’re there.”

“That’s for her to decide, don’t you think?”

“If I thought that, I wouldn’t be here, would I?” My fists tighten at my sides, and I look away from him to stare at the stack of science textbooks on his coffee table. “Why won’t you just leave her alone? Is this because of what I did to—”

“No,” he interrupts smoothly. “It has nothing to do with that. I care about Tessa, just like you. But unlike you, I treat her the way she deserves to be treated.”

“You know nothing about how I treat her,” I growl.

“Yeah, man, I actually do. How many times has she run to me crying because of something you did or said? Too many.” He points a finger at me. “All you do is hurt her, and you know it.”

“You don’t even know her, first of all, and secondly, don’t you think it’s a little pathetic of you to keep pining after someone you’ll never have? How many times have we had this conversation, about how many girls?”

He eyes me carefully, taking in my anger, but not really biting on my pointing out his history with girls. “No”—his tongue darts out to wet his lips—“it’s not pathetic. It’s genius, actually. With Tessa, I’ll be waiting in the background for the day when you fuck up again—which is inevitable—and when you do, I’ll be there for her.”

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