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“To get Tessa; she’s hanging out with . . . never mind.” I’m sick of telling people my fucking business.

Now Riley does stop. “You’re an asshole for not telling her that Lil is gay.”

“Of course she told you,” I say.

“She tells me everything. That was a major dick move.”

“It’s a long story.”

“You won’t move to Seattle with Tessa, and now”—she flips her hair over her shoulder—“she’s probably giving that blond dude a blow job in the bathroom of—”

I step toward her, anger boiling in my veins. “Shut the fuck up. Now. Don’t you fucking dare say shit like that to me.” I have to remember that even though she has a mouth like mine, she is a female and I would never take it there.

Unfazed by my outburst, she replies calmly, “Don’t like that much, do you? Maybe you’d do best to remember that next time you make some snarky-ass comment about fucking my girlfriend.”

My breathing falters, deep and out of control. I can’t stop thinking about Tessa’s full lips touching him. I tug at my hair again and turn in a circle.

“It’s driving you crazy, isn’t it? Her being with him?”

“You really need to stop taunting me,” I warn her, and she shrugs.

“I know it is. Look, I probably shouldn’t have said that, but you were a dick first, remember?” When I don’t respond, she continues. “Let’s call a truce here. I’ll buy you a drink, and you can cry over Tessa while I brag about how good Lillian is with her tongue.” She walks over to me and tugs at my sleeve, trying to drag me across the street. I can see the cheesy multicolored lantern lights on top of the tin roof of the small bar from here.

I jerk my arm away from her. “I need to get Tessa.”

“One drink, and then I’ll come with you as backup.” Riley’s words mimic my thoughts from a few minutes ago.

“Why? Why do you want to hang out with me?” I make eye contact with her, and she shrugs again.

“I don’t, really. But I’m bored, and you’re out here. Besides, Lil seems to care about you for some reason that I don’t get.” She runs her eyes up and down my body. “I really don’t get it, but she likes you, as a friend,” Riley says, with as much emphasis on the word “friend” as possible. “So yeah, I would like to impress her by pretending that I give a shit about your doomed relationship.”

“Doomed?” I begin to follow her down the road.

“Out of all the a shit that I just said, you chose that to comment on?” She shakes her head. “You’re worse than me.”

She laughs and I stay quiet. The obnoxious girl grabs hold of my shirt again and leads me down the road. I’m too busy thinking to push her off.

How can she think we are doomed when she doesn’t even know me, know us?

We aren’t doomed.

I know we aren’t. I’m damned, but she’s not. She will save me. She always does.

Chapter forty-five


Yikes, it dropped at least ten degrees out here,” Robert says to me as we step out the door. The cold air smacks me, and I wrap my arms around myself trying to stay warm. He looks over at me with a little frown. “I wish I had a jacket to offer you . . . I also wish I could offer to drive you back, but I’ve been drinking.” With a playfully horrified look, he adds, “Guess I’m not very gentlemanly tonight.”

“It’s okay, really,” I say with a smile. “I’m pretty drunk, so I’m warm . . . That makes no sense.” I giggle and follow him down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. “Although, I should have worn different shoes.”

“We could trade?” he jokes.

I gently push against his shoulder, and he smiles for what has to be the hundredth time tonight. “Your shoes look more comfortable than Hardin’s; his boots are so heavy and he always leaves them by the door, so I . . . never mind.” Embarrassed by what I just started talking about, I shake my head to stop myself.

“I’m more of a sneaker guy,” Robert says, letting me know it’s okay.

“Me, too. Well, not a guy.” Again I laugh. My head is swimming from the wine, and my mouth seems to let out every single thought that crosses my mind, nonsensical and all. “Do you know which way the cabins are?”

He reaches over to steady me as I almost walk into a parking block. “Which cabins? This whole town is full of them.”

“Um, well, there’s a street with a small sign and then like three or four more cabins, then another street?” I try to remember the drive to the restaurant from Ken and Karen’s place, but none of it makes sense.

“That doesn’t give me much to go on”—he chuckles—“but we can walk until we find it?”

“Okay, but if we don’t find it within twenty minutes, I’m going to a hotel.” I groan, dreading the walk and the discussion Hardin and I are sure to have when I arrive. And by “discussion,” I mean full-on, knock-down, drag-out verbal brawl. Especially when he finds out that I’ve been drinking with Robert.

Suddenly I turn to look at him as we walk through the dark. “Do you ever get sick of people telling you what to do all the time?”

“No one really does, but if they did, I would.”

“You’re lucky. I feel like someone’s always telling me what to do, where to go, who to talk to, where to live.” I let out a breath and watch it turn to steam in the cold air. “It’s getting on my nerves.”