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They aren’t seriously leaving me alone in here with this chick . . .

“Looks like it’s just us two,” this Stacey Whomever chick says to me, confirming that yes, that’s exactly what they just did.

“Mm . . .” I spin the plastic cap of a water bottle across the stone table.

“So what do you think of the place? Max says it’s been packed every night since the opening.” She smiles at me. I pretend not to notice when she tugs at the bottom of her tiny dress to expose her cleavage . . . or lack thereof.

“It only opened a few days ago. Of course it’s been packed.”

“Even so, it’s a nice place.” She uncrosses her legs and crosses them again.

Could she be any more desperate? At this point I can’t even tell if she’s actually trying to come on to me or if she’s just so accustomed to being a whore that it’s all automatic.

She leans across the table between us. “Do you want to dance? There’s room in here.” Her long fingernails brush against my sleeve, and I jerk away.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I move to the other end of the couch. This time last year I would have taken her desperate ass into the bathroom and fucked her brains out. Now the thought makes me want to vomit on her white dress.

“What? I only asked to dance.”

“Maybe dance with your married boyfriend,” I snap and reach to push the curtain back, hoping to see Tessa.

“Don’t be so quick to judge me. You don’t even know me.”

“I know enough.”

“Yeah, well, I know some stuff about you, too, so if I were you, I’d watch it.”

“Do you, now?” I laugh.

She narrows her eyes at me, trying to intimidate me, I’m sure. “Yes, I do.”

“If you knew shit about me, you would know better than to be threatening me right now,” I warn her.

She lifts a champagne flute and gives me a little salute. “You’re exactly like they say . . .”

Which is my cue to leave. I push through the curtains to go find Tessa so we can get the hell out of here.

Exactly like who says? Who does she think she is? Christian is lucky that I promised Tessa a nice night. Otherwise, Max would have to answer for his whore’s mouth.

I circle the club in search of Tessa’s sparkling dress and Kimberly’s bright blond hair. I’m thankful that this is not the type of place where everyone is swaying around on a dance floor; most of the patrons are seated at tables, making my search that much easier. Finally, I find them standing at the main bar, talking to Christian, Max, and some other guy. Tessa’s back is toward me, but I can tell by her posture that she’s nervous. Seconds later, another guy joins them, and as I get closer, the first man starts to look more and more familiar to me.

“Hardin! There you are.” Kimberly reaches out her arm to touch my shoulder, but I dodge her and move to Tessa. When she turns to me, her blue-gray eyes are wary as they lead my gaze to the guest.

“Hardin, this is my teacher from World Religion, Professor Soto,” she says, smiling politely.

Are you fucking kidding me? Does everyone end up making their way to Seattle?

“Jonah,” he corrects her. He pushes his hand into the space between us for a handshake that I’m too thrown off to deny.

Chapter one hundred and sixteen


Tessa’s professor smiles, checking her out fairly subtly as he does so. But I see it clearly.

“Nice to see you again,” he says, but I can’t tell if he’s talking to me or Tessa, really, the way he moves about to the music.

“Professor Soto lives in Seattle now,” Tessa informs me.

“Convenient,” I say under my breath. Tessa hears me and gently nudges me with her elbow, and I wrap my arm around her waist.

Jonah’s eyes briefly note where I’ve placed my arm, then move back up to her face. She’s taken, dick.

“Yeah, I transferred to the Seattle campus a couple weeks ago. I applied for a job a few months back and finally got it. My band was ready for a move anyway,” he tells us with an attitude that indicates he thinks we should care about any of this.

“The Reckless Few will be playing here tonight, and every other night, if we can talk them into it,” Christian boasts. Jonah smiles and looks down at his boots.

“I think that might be possible,” he says, looking back up with a smile. Finishing his drink in one motion, he says, “Well, we better get ready to play.”

“Yeah. Don’t let us keep you.” Christian pats Soto on the back, and the professor turns to give Tessa one last smile before pushing through the small crowd toward the stage.

“The band is incredible; wait until you hear them!” Vance claps his hands together once before he wraps his arms around Kimberly and leads her to a table in front of the stage.

I’ve already heard them; they are not incredible.

Tessa turns to me with nervous eyes. “He’s nice. Remember, he gave you a character witness when you were about to be expelled?”

“No, I don’t recall anything about him, actually. Except for the fact that he seems to like you and is mysteriously living in Seattle now, teaching at your fucking campus.”

“You heard him say that he applied there months ago . . . and he does not like me.”

“He does.”

“You think everyone likes me,” she fires back. She can’t possibly be naive enough to assume that this guy has good intentions.

“Shall we make a list, then? There’s Zed, fucking Trevor, that dickhead of a waiter . . . who am I missing? Oh, and now we can add your creepy professor, who was just eyeing you like you were dessert.” I look to where that dick is on the little bandstand, walking about with an attitude that’s both self-important and fake-casual.

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