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Lillian watches them go, then looks up at me. “Sorry, they are . . .”

“Fake?” I answer for her. I can sense the bullshit behind the man’s bleached white smile.

“Yes, very.” She laughs and goes over and sits on the couch.

I stand awkwardly by the door.

“Will your girlfriend mind if you’re here?” she asks me.

“I don’t know, probably.” I groan, running exasperated fingers through my hair.

“Would you want her to do the same thing? How would you feel if she was hanging out with a guy, one she just met?” As soon as the words leave her lips, anger swells in my chest.

“I’d be seeing red,” I growl.

“Thought so.” She smirks and pats the couch next to her.

I take a deep breath and stride over to sit on the opposite side of the couch from her. I’m not sure how to read her; she’s rude as hell and a little annoying.

“You’re the jealous type, then?” she asks, eyes wide.

“I guess so.” I shrug.

“I bet your girlfriend wouldn’t like it much if you kissed me.” She moves closer, and I jump up from the couch. I’m halfway to the door before she begins to laugh.

“What the hell?” I try to keep my voice down.

“I was just messing with you. I’m not interested, trust me.” She smiles. “And it’s a relief to know that you aren’t either. Now sit.”

She may have a lot of the same traits as Tessa but she isn’t as sweet . . . nor as innocent. I sit down on the chair across from the couch. I don’t know this chick enough to trust her. I’m only here because I don’t want to face what’s back at my dad’s cabin. And Lillian, despite being a stranger, is a neutral third party, unlike Landon, who happens to be Tessa’s best friend. It’s sort of nice to have someone to talk to who doesn’t have a reason to judge me. And hell, she’s a little nutty, so she’s more likely to get where I’m coming from.

“Now tell me what is in Seattle that you aren’t willing to face for her?”

“It’s not anything specific. I do have some bad history there, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that she’ll be thriving,” I respond, knowing how fucking insane I sound. But I don’t give a fuck; this girl stalked me for an hour, so if anyone is insane, it’s her.

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“No. I want her to thrive, of course. I just want to be a part of it.” I sigh, missing Tessa desperately even though it’s only been a few hours. The fact that she’s so angry with me makes me miss her even more.

“So you refuse to go to Seattle with her because you want to be involved in her life? It doesn’t make sense,” she says, stating the obvious.

“I know you don’t get it, she doesn’t either, but she’s the only thing I have. Literally, she’s the only thing in my life that I give a shit about, and I can’t lose her. I’d have nothing without her.”

Why am I telling her this shit?

“I know I sound fucking pathetic.”

“No, you don’t.” She gives me a sympathetic smile, and I look away. The last thing I want is sympathy.

The light on the staircase shuts off, and I look back at Lillian. “Should I go?” I ask.

“No, I’m sure my father is ecstatic that I brought you home,” she says, no sarcasm in her voice.

“Why is that?”

“Well, ever since I introduced them to Riley, he’s been hoping we would break up.”

“He doesn’t like him or some shit?”



“He doesn’t like her,” she says, and I almost smile at her.

I feel bad for her father not accepting her relationship, but I have to admit I’m extremely relieved.

Chapter thirty-two


Landon’s been explaining that since their apartment is so close to campus, they can walk there easily every day. No need to drive, and he won’t even have to take the subway on a daily basis.

“Well, I’m just glad you won’t be driving in that massive city. Thank goodness,” Karen says, putting her hand on her son’s shoulder.

He shakes his head. “I’m a fine driver, better than Tessa,” he teases.

“I’m not that bad, better than Hardin,” I remark.

“There’s something to brag about,” Landon says playfully.

“And it’s not your driving I’m worried about. It’s those insane taxis!” Karen says, like a mother hen.

I grab a cookie off the plate on the counter and look at the front door again. I’ve been watching it, waiting for Hardin to return. My anger has been slowly shifting to concern as the minutes tick by.

“Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Ken says into his phone as he joins us in the kitchen.

“Who was that?”

“Max. Hardin’s at their cabin with Lillian,” he says, and my stomach drops.

“Lillian?” I can’t stop myself from asking.

“Max’s daughter; she’s about your age.”

Why would Hardin be at the neighbors’ cabin with their daughter? Does he know her? Has he dated her?

“He’ll be back soon, I’m sure.” Ken frowns, and when he looks at me, I get the feeling he hadn’t considered my reaction to this information before he said it. That he seems uncomfortable makes me even more uncomfortable.

“Yeah,” I choke, standing from the stool at the counter. “I’m just . . . I’m going to go to bed,” I tell them, trying to hold myself together. I can feel my anger resurfacing, and I need to get away from them before it boils over.

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