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“You are a fucking—” I step back across the room to put as much space between his body and mine before his head ends up going through his wall. “What will it take, then? Do you want her to tell you herself that she doesn’t want you around? I thought she already did that, yet here you are . . .”

“You’re the one in my apartment.”

“Goddammit, Zed!” I shout. “Why can’t you just fucking stop? You know what she means to me, and you’re always trying to get in the way. Find someone else to toy with. There are plenty of whores around campus.”

“?‘Whores’?” He repeats the word, mocking me.

“You know I didn’t mean Tessa,” I growl, struggling to keep my fists at my sides.

“If she meant so much to you, you wouldn’t have done half the shit you did. Does she know that you fucked Molly while you were chasing her around?”

“Yes, she knows that. I told her.”

“And she didn’t mind?” His voice is the complete opposite of mine. He’s so collected and calm, while I’m struggling mightily to keep the lid on my boiling anger.

“She knows that it meant nothing to me, and that it was before everything.” I glare at him, trying to focus again. “But I didn’t come here to discuss my relationship.”

“Okay, why, exactly, did you come, then?”

He’s such a smug bastard.

“To let you know that you aren’t going to see her in Seattle. I thought we could discuss it in a more . . .”—I search for the right words—“civilized manner.”

“Civilized? Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that you came here with ‘enlightened’ intentions,” he scoffs, pointing to the bump on the bridge of his nose.

I close my eyes momentarily and envision his nose busted and bleeding, snapping under the metal casing when I slammed his head against it. The memory of the sound heightens my already buzzing adrenaline. “This is civilized for me! I came here to talk, not to fight—however, if you won’t stay away from her, I don’t have any other options.” I widen my stance a little.

“Than what?” Zed asks.


“Than what? We’ve been down this road before. There are only so many times that you can assault me before you get yourself arrested. And this time I will follow through on pressing charges.”

He makes a valid point. Which only makes me madder. I hate the fact that I can’t do a fucking thing about it, except literally murder him, which isn’t an option . . . at this point at least.

I take a couple of breaths and try to relax my muscles. I have to offer my last option. One that I didn’t want to have to rely on, but he’s not giving me much room here. “I came here thinking we could come to some sort of agreement,” I say.

He tilts his head to the side in the cockiest way possible. “What type of agreement? Is it another bet?”

“You’re really pushing me . . .” I say through my teeth. “Tell me what it’ll take for you to leave her alone. What can I give you to make you go away? Name it, and it’s yours.”

Zed stares at me, blinking rapidly, as if I’ve grown another head.

“Well, come on, now. Every man has a price,” I murmur drily. It infuriates me that I have to negotiate with someone like him, but there’s nothing else I can do to make him go away.

“Let her see me again, one more time,” he suggests. “I’ll be in Seattle on Thursday.”

“No. Absolutely not.” Is he fucking stupid?

“I’m not asking your permission here. I’m trying to make you feel more comfortable with it.”

“It’s not happening. You two have no reason to spend time together; she isn’t available to you—or any other man—and she never will be.”

“There you go, getting all possessive.” He rolls his eyes, and I wonder what Tessa would say if she could see this side of him, the only side I’ve ever known. What would I be as her man if I weren’t possessive, if I was okay sharing her with someone?

I bite my tongue while Zed stares at the ceiling as if he’s deliberating his next words. This is such fucking bullshit, pure and utter fucking bullshit. My head is spinning, and I’m honestly beginning to wonder just how much longer I can keep my cool.

Finally, Zed looks at me, a smirk slowly overtaking his features. Then he says simply, “Your car.”

My mouth falls open at his audacity, and I can’t help but laugh. “No fucking way!” I take two steps toward him. “I’m not giving you my fucking car. Are you out of your fucking mind?” My hands fly into the air.

“Sorry, then; looks like we can’t come to an agreement after all.” His eyes glitter through their thick lashes, and he rubs his fingers over his beard.

Images from my nightmare float through my head, him thrusting into her, making her come . . .

I shake my head to get rid of them.

Then I dig my keys out of my pocket and toss them onto the coffee table between us.

He gapes, bending down to retrieve the key chain. “You’re serious?” He studies the keys, turning them over in his palm a few times before looking back up at me. “I was fucking with you!”

He tosses me the keys, but I don’t catch them in time; they land only inches from the toe of my boot.

“I’ll back off . . . fuck. I didn’t expect you to actually give me your keys.” He laughs, mocking me. “I’m not as big an asshole as you.”

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