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“Zed is the only person on that list that counts. Trevor is very sweet, and he never meant any harm. I’ll probably never see Robert again, and Soto is not a stalker.”

One word in that spiel doesn’t sit well with me. “?‘Probably’?”

“I obviously won’t see him again. You’re the one I’m with, okay?” She pushes one of her hands into mine, and I relax. I need to make sure I burned or flushed that damned waiter’s phone number, just in case.

“I still think this asshole is a stalker.” I nod toward the stage at the douche bag in his leather jacket. I may need to talk to my father just to make sure he isn’t as shady as I think he is. Tessa would approach a lion with fucking kid gloves—she’s no good at judging character.

She proves my point when she beams up at me, smiling like an idiot because of the champagne running through her veins. She’s actually here with me after all the shit I’ve put her through . . .

“I thought this was a jazz club, but his band is more—” Tessa begins to try and take my mind off the seemingly endless list of men who want her affection.

“Shitty?” I interrupt her.

She swats my arm. “No, just not jazz music. They are more . . . like the Fray, sort of.”

“The Fray? Don’t go insulting your favorite band, now.” The only thing I remember about the professor’s band is that they fucking suck.

She bumps her shoulder against my arm. “And yours.”

“Not quite.”

“Don’t act like you don’t like them; I know you do.” She squeezes my hand, and I shake my head, not denying it, really, but I’m not going to admit it either.

I stare back and forth between the wall and Tessa’s tits while waiting for the godforsaken band to set up.

“Can we just go now?” I ask.

“One song.” Tessa’s cheeks are flushed, and her eyes are wide and glossy. She takes another drink. Her hands run over her dress, tugging it down and up at once.

“Can I at least sit down?” I nod toward line of empty stools at the bar.

I take Tessa’s hand in my own and pull her to the bar. I sit on the last stool, closest to the wall and farthest from the crowd.

“What are you having?” a young man with a goatee and a fake-ass Italian accent asks us.

“A glass of champagne and a water,” I say as Tessa moves to stand between my legs. I rest one hand on the small of her back, the beads of her dress rough against my palm.

“We only sell champagne by the bottle, sir.” The bartender gives me an apologetic smile as if he’s sure I couldn’t afford a bottle of his fucking champagne.

“A bottle will be fine.” Vance’s voice sounds next to me, and the bartender nods, looking back and forth between the two of us.

“She’ll have it chilled,” I cockily remark.

The kid nods again and scurries away to fetch the bottle. Dick.

“Stop babysitting us,” I tell Vance. Tessa scowls at me, but I ignore her.

He rolls his eyes like the sarcastic twit he is. “I’m clearly not babysitting you. She’s underage.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say. Someone calls his name, and he pats my shoulder before walking off.

A few moments later, the bartender pops a bottle of champagne open and pours the bubbling liquid into a glass for Tessa. She politely thanks him, and he responds with a smile even more artificial than his accent. His little pantomime of cool is killing me.

She brings the glass to her lips and rests her back against my chest. “It’s so good.”

Just then, two men walk by and give her a quick glance. She notices; I know she does, because she leans further into me and lays her head against my shoulder.

“There’s Sasha,” she says over the sound of Professor Stalker’s guitar being tested on the sound equipment. The tall blonde is searching the room, either for her boyfriend or a random dude to nail.

“Who cares?” I gently grip her elbow and turn her to face me.

“I don’t like her,” she quietly states.

“No one does.”

“You don’t?” she asks.

Is she insane? “Why would I?”

“I don’t know.” Her eyes move to my mouth. “Because she’s pretty.”


“I don’t know . . . I’m just being weird.” She shakes her head in an attempt to get rid of the resentment that is clear on her face.

“Are you jealous, ‘Theresa’?”

“No.” She pouts.

“You shouldn’t be.” I open my legs further and pull her against me again. “That’s not what I want.” I move my eyes to her nearly exposed chest. “You are.” I trace the line of her cleavage with my index finger as if we aren’t in a crowded club.

“Only for my boobs.” She whispers the last word.

“Obviously.” I chuckle, teasing her.

“I knew it.” Tessa pretends to be offended but smiles over the rim of her glass.

“Yeah, well, now that the truth is out, you can let me fuck them,” I say, much too loud.

Champagne spurts out of her mouth and onto my shirt and lap.

“Sorry!” she squeals, reaching for the napkin bin on the bar. She dabs the napkin across this fucking horrendous monstrosity of a shirt and then moves to wipe at my crotch.

I grab her wrist and take the napkin from her. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Oh.” Her flush spreads down her neckline.

One of the band members makes their introduction into the microphone, and I try my best not to heave when the eardrum assault begins. Tessa watches intently as they roll from one song to another, and I continue to keep her glass full.

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