“It’s about time you joined us,” an unfamiliar male voice says, and I peer around Karen to look for the source.
A man, who I assume is Ken’s friend, stands to shake his hand. My eyes move to his right, where his wife is smiling, greeting Karen. Next to her is a young girl—the girl, I sense on instinct—and my stomach drops. She’s beautiful, extremely beautiful.
And she’s wearing the exact same dress as I am.
I can see the bright blue of her eyes from here, and when she smiles at me, she’s even more beautiful. I’m so distracted by my growing jealousy that I almost fail to notice that Hardin is sitting right next to her, dressed in a white button-down shirt.
Oh my God . . .” Lillian whispers loudly. I’m broken from my thoughts of my earlier fight with Tessa and look up to see what she’s gaping at.
In a dress . . . that fucking dress that I was imagining her in. And it makes her already big chest look . . . fuck. I blink rapidly, trying to collect myself before she reaches the table. For a moment I’m convinced that I’m hallucinating; it looks even sexier than I imagined. Every guy she passes turns to look at her; one even knocks over his drink. I grip the edge of the table waiting for the asshole to speak to her. If he does, I swear to fuck—
“That’s Tessa? Oh my God.” Lillian is practically panting.
“Stop staring at her,” I warn, and she laughs.
The man who knocked over his drink leans away from his wife as his eyes follow my girl.
“Chill,” Lillian says, gently touching my hands. My scarred knuckles are now white from my tight grip on the table.
Landon pulls Tessa close to him and away from the married asshole; she smiles up at him, and he pulls her even closer as they walk. What the fuck was that?
Tessa stands behind Landon as Lillian’s parents and Karen and Ken go through the normal I’m-so-fucking-classy-because-I-shake-your-hand-even-though-I-saw-you-last-night shit. Before I know it, Tessa’s eyes find Lillian, and they widen and lower. She’s jealous.
Good. I was hoping she’d be.
Panic courses through me at the sight of Hardin sitting next to this girl—he doesn’t even acknowledge my presence as I take the seat next to Landon, on the other side of the table from him.
“Hello, and who might you be?” Ken’s friend asks with a smile. I can tell by his tone that he’s one of those men that think they are better than everyone else in the room.
“Hi, I’m Tessa,” I say, then smile curtly and nod. “Landon’s friend.”
My eyes dart to Hardin, whose lips press into a thin line. Well, he’s clearly entertaining the man’s daughter, so why ruin their fun?
“It’s great to meet you, Tessa. I’m Max, and this is Denise.” He gestures to the woman beside him.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Denise says. “The two of you are an adorable couple.”
Hardin starts coughing. Or choking. I don’t want to look at him and see which . . . but I can’t help it. When I do, his eyes are narrow, glaring at me.
Landon laughs. “Oh, we aren’t together.” He looks at Hardin, like he expects him to say something.
Of course he doesn’t. The girl looks slightly lost and a little uncomfortable. Good. Hardin leans into her and says something into her ear, and she smiles at him before shaking her head. What the hell is happening?
“I’m Lillian; it’s nice to meet you,” she introduces herself with a friendly smile.
“You, too,” I manage to say in return. My heart is hammering in my chest, and I can barely see straight. If we weren’t at the table with Hardin’s family and Ken’s friends, I would throw a drink in Hardin’s face, and with his eyes stinging, he wouldn’t have a chance to stop me from slapping him this time. A menu is placed in front of each of us, and I wait as one of the empty glasses in front of me is filled with water. Ken and Max begin to talk about the oddness of having to choose between tap and bottled water.
“Do you know what you want?” Landon asks quietly a few moments later. I know he’s trying to distract me from Hardin and his new friend.
“I . . . I don’t know,” I whisper and look over the fancy handwritten menu. I can’t imagine eating right now; my stomach won’t stop turning, and I can’t seem to control my breathing.
“Do you want to go?” he says into my ear. I glance across the table at Hardin, whose eyes meet mine before he turns back to Lillian.
Yes. I want to get the hell out of here and tell Hardin to never speak to me again.
“No. I’m not going anywhere,” I say and sit up higher, straightening my back against the chair.
“Good.” Landon praises me as a handsome server arrives at our table.
“We’ll have a bottle of your best white wine,” Ken’s friend tells him, and he nods. Just as he begins to walk away, Max calls after him.
“We weren’t finished yet,” he says. Max orders a list of appetizers. I’ve never heard of any of the dishes he’s chosen, but I don’t suspect I’ll be eating much of them anyway.
I try desperately not to look across the table at Hardin, but it’s hard, so damn hard. Why would he come here with her? He’s dressed up, too; if he doesn’t have jeans on under the table, I think what’s left of my heart will shatter. It takes me an hour of begging to get Hardin dressed in anything other than black jeans and a T-shirt, yet here he is next to this girl in a white button-down.