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He collapses onto me, shaking and out of breath. We lie in silence, neither of us needing to speak to know what the other is thinking.

“WHERE DO YOU want to go?” I ask him. I don’t even want to leave the bed, but Hardin offering to take me out in Seattle, during the day, is something that hasn’t happened in the past, and I’m not sure if or when it will happen again.

“I don’t give a shit, really. Maybe, like, shopping?” His eyes roam my face. “Do you need to go shopping? Or want to?”

“I don’t really need anything . . .” I answer. When I look up and see how nervous he looks lying there next to me, I backtrack. “Yeah, sure. Shopping is fine.”

He’s making such an effort. Simple things that couples usually do are completely out of Hardin’s comfort zone. I smile at him, remembering the night he took me ice skating to prove that he could, in fact, be a regular boyfriend.

It was so much fun, and he was so charming and playful, much like he’s been the past week and a half. I don’t want a “regular” boyfriend—I want Hardin, with his crude humor and sour attitude, to take me on simple dates every once in a while and make me feel secure enough in our relationship that the downs will be washed away by the ups.

“Cool.” He shifts uncomfortably.

“I just need to brush my teeth and tie my hair back.”

“And maybe get dressed.” He cups the overly sensitive area between my thighs. Hardin has already used one of his shirts to wipe me clean, something he used to do all the time.

“Right. Maybe I should rinse off in the shower.” I gulp, wondering if Hardin and I will go another round before we leave. Frankly, I don’t know if either of us could handle it.

I stand up from the bed and wince. I knew I was going to be starting my period any day now; why did it have to come right now, of all days? I suppose it works in my favor, though, since it’ll be gone by the time we leave for England.

Leave for England . . . it doesn’t seem real.

“What?” Hardin says with a questioning look.

“I’m . . . it’s that time . . .” I look away from him, knowing that he’s had an entire month to store up his jokes.

“Hmm . . . and what time is that?” He smirks, looking at his bare wrist as if there’s a watch there.

“Don’t . . .” I whine, pressing my thighs together so I can hurry and put on enough clothes to make it to the bathroom.

“Would you look at that? A hangover and a bloody attitude!” he taunts.

“Your jokes are terrible.” I pull his T-shirt over my head and catch the languid smile he shoots at me as he takes in the sight of me wearing his shirt again.

“Terrible, huh?” His green eyes dance with amusement. “Maybe so terrible that you want to pull the plug on them?”

I hurry and exit the room while he’s still laughing to himself.

Chapter one hundred and nineteen


I didn’t even know you two were here. I thought Tessa had classes today,” Kimberly says to me when I enter the kitchen. Why is she even here?

“She wasn’t feeling well,” I reply. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work . . . or is staying home another perk of fucking your boss?”

“Actually, I don’t feel well either, you ass.” She tosses a wadded-up piece of paper at me but misses.

“You and Tessa should really learn how to hold your champagne,” I tell her.

She flips me off.

The microwave sounds, and she pulls out a plastic bowl filled with something that looks and smells like cat food, then sits down at the countertop. She inhales forkful after forkful. I lift my fingers to safeguard my nose.

“That smells like pure shit,” I remark.

“Where’s Tessa? She’ll shut you up.”

“Wouldn’t count on it.” I grin. I have sort of come to like taunting Vance’s fiancée. She has a thick skin, and she’s obnoxious enough that I’m provided with plenty of ammunition.

“Wouldn’t count on what?” Tessa joins us in the kitchen dressed in a sweatshirt, tight jeans, and those slipper things she swears are shoes. Really, they’re nothing but overpriced cloth wrapped around a piece of cardboard, using the pretense of charity to rip off stupid consumers. She disagrees, of course, so I’ve learned to keep this opinion to myself.

“Nothing.” I dig my hands into my pockets to fight the urge to nudge Kimberly’s smug ass off the stool.

“He’s mouthing off, nothing new.” Kim takes another bite of her cat food.

“Let’s go, she’s annoying,” I say just loud enough for Kim to hear.

“Be nice,” Tessa scolds me. I take her hand in mine and lead her out of the house.

When we get into the car, Tessa shoves a handful of plugs into my glove compartment. An idea strikes me. “You need to get on birth control,” I tell her. I’ve been so careless lately, and now that I’ve felt her without a condom, there’s no going back.

“I know. I keep meaning to make a doctor’s appointment, but it’s hard to get an appointment with student insurance.”

“Sure, sure.”

“Maybe later this week I can get in. I need to do it soon; you’re careless lately,” she says.

“Careless? Me?” I scoff, trying not to panic. “You’re the one that keeps catching me off guard, and I can’t think straight.”

“Oh please!” She giggles and leans her head back against the headrest.

“Hey, if you want to ruin your life by having a child, go for it, but you sure as hell aren’t taking me down with you.” I squeeze her thigh, and she frowns. “What?”