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“You should have answered. I’ve been worried.”

“Worried?” She’s clearly surprised by my choice of words.

“Yes, worried. Why the hell were you with Molly?”

She puts her purse on the back of the chair. “Beats me. Steph invited me to lunch and brought her along,”

Fucking Steph. “Why the fuck would she do that? Was she mean?”

“No meaner than usual.” She raises her brow, watching me.

“Steph’s a bitch for bringing her. What were they saying?”

“I don’t know, but I think people are spreading rumors about me.” She frowns and sits on the chair to remove her shoes.

“What? What sort of rumors?”

What I really mean to ask is: Who do I have to kill?

Fuck, I’m still drunk. How is this possible? It’s been at least three hours. I vaguely remember being told some time ago that each drink takes an hour to sober up from; I’m fucked for at least the next ten or so hours, then. That is, if I’m remembering correctly.

“Did you hear me?” Tessa’s voice is calm, worried even.

“No, sorry,” I mumble.

Her cheeks flush. “I think people are saying that Zed and I . . . you know.”

“You what?”

“That we . . . slept together.” Her eyes are weary and her voice is soft.

“Who’s saying that?” I try to keep my voice at the same level as Tessa’s despite the slow burn of anger building inside me.

“Supposedly there’s a rumor about it; Steph and Molly were talking about it.”

I don’t know whether to try to comfort her or let my anger take over. I’m too drunk for this shit.

She holds her hands in her lap and looks down. “I don’t want people to think of me in that way.”

“Don’t listen to them, they’re fucking idiots. If there is a rumor, I’ll be sure it’s cleared up.” I drag her over to sit with me on the bed. “Don’t you worry.”

“You’re not mad at me?” she asks, blue-gray eyes meeting mine.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m upset because you weren’t answering, and then Steph didn’t fucking answer. But I’m not mad about this rumor shit—not at you, at least; they probably just made it up because they wanted to be assholes.” The thought of Steph and Molly saying shit to Tessa to purposely hurt her feelings really fucking irks me.

“I don’t understand why she brought Molly, who then, of course, had to remind me that she slept with you.” She cringes. So do I.

“She’s a fucking whore who doesn’t have shit else to do but reminisce over the days I used to fuck her brains out.”

“Hardin,” Tess whines at the too-descriptive reminder.

“Sorry; you know what I mean.”

She unhooks the clasp on her bracelet and gets up to place it on the desk. “Are you still drunk?”

“A little.”

“A little?”

I smile. “A little more than a little.”

“You’re being so weird.” She rolls her eyes and pulls that damn planner out of the desk drawer.

“How so?” I walk over to stand behind her.

“You’re drunk and being all nice about everything. Like you were mad that I wasn’t answering you, but now you’re being . . .” She looks up at my face. “?‘Understanding,’ I guess is the word, over this Molly thing.”

“What did you expect me to do?”

“I don’t know . . . yell at me? You don’t have the best temper when you’re drunk,” she says softly.

I can tell she’s trying not to upset me, but wants to let me know she’s not going to dance around the issue. “I’m not going to yell at you; I just didn’t want you around them. You know how they are, especially Molly, and I don’t want anyone hurting you.” Then I add, emphasizing each word, “In any way.”

“Well, they didn’t, but . . . I know it’s stupid, but for once I just wanted a normal lunch with a friend.”

I want to tell her Steph isn’t an ideal choice for a friend, but I know she doesn’t have any, aside from Landon and me . . . and Noah.

And Zed.

Well, not Zed anymore. That shit is over, and I’m fairly certain that kid won’t be showing his face around here for a while.

Chapter fifteen


The fact that Hardin is being reasonable surprises me, and I’m able to relax a little bit. He crosses his legs and leans back on his palms. I’m not sure if I should bring up Seattle now, since he seems to be in an easy mood, or if I should wait.

But if I wait, who knows when he’ll be ready to talk about it.

I glance at him, notice his green eyes watching me, and decide to ease into it. “Steph wants to have a going-away party,” I tell him and wait for his reaction.

“Where’s she going? LSU?”

“No. It’s for me,” I explain, leaving out the small detail of telling them he’s coming along to Seattle.

He gives me a look. “You told them you’re moving?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you haven’t decided yet, right?”

“Hardin, I’m going to Seattle.”

He shrugs nonchalantly. “You still have some time to think about it.”

“Anyway . . . what do you think about this party? She said it could be a dinner-party-type get-together at Nate and Tristan’s place instead of the frat house,” I explain, but Hardin’s still intoxicated and he doesn’t seem to be listening to me. I look over my moving schedule for next week. I really hope Sandra calls me back soon about that apartment; otherwise I won’t have a place to live when I get there, and I’ll be stuck living out of a suitcase in some motel room. Ugh, motel rooms.