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“I’m sure it is.”

I look up at the stars for a moment. “I want to do something about it, but I just don’t know what that is.”

“Maybe Seattle will help you.”

“Maybe . . . I want to do something now, though, like run away or cuss someone out.”

“Cuss someone out?” He laughs and halts to bend down to lace his shoe. I stop walking a few feet ahead of him and look around at my surroundings. Now that my mind is racing with all the possibilities of potential reckless behaviors, I can’t stop it.

“Yeah, cuss out someone in particular.”

“You probably should take it slow. I know cussing someone out is pretty wild and all, but maybe start with something a little lighter,” he says. It takes me a moment to comprehend that he’s teasing me, but once I do, I see the humor in it.

“I mean it, though. Right now I just feel like doing something . . . crazy?” I pull my top lip between my teeth, pondering the idea.

“It’s the wine—it’s pretty strong, and you drank a load in a short amount of time.”

We both laugh again and I can’t seem to stop. The only things that bring me back to normalcy are the canteen-style lanterns hanging from a small building nearby.

“That’s our bar,” Robert informs me with a nod toward it.

“It’s so small!” I exclaim.

“Well, it doesn’t have to be huge when it’s the only one in the town. It’s a load of fun. The bartenders dance on the bar and every­thing.”

“Like Coyote Ugly?”

His smile brightens. “Yes, only these women are all over forty and have a bit more clothing on.”

His smile is infectious, and I know what we’re doing next.

Chapter forty-six


No, I told you one drink. I meant one drink.” I roll my eyes and push the ice around the empty glass with my finger.

“Whatever.” She waves down the bartender and orders two more drinks.

“I said I didn’t—”

“No one said it’s for you,” she says with a condescending look. “Sometimes a girl needs a backup.”

“Well, you have fun. I’m going to get Tessa now.” I get up from the bar stool, but she grabs hold of my shirt. Again. “Stop touching me.”

“Dude, stop being a dick. I said I would come; just let me finish these drinks. Do you even know what you’re going to say to her, or are you planning to go all caveman style?”

“No.” I sit back down. I really haven’t thought about what it is I’m going to say. I don’t need to say anything except Let’s fucking go. “What would you say?” I dare to ask.

“Well, first of all”—she pauses to give the bartender two fives and pulls the glasses near her—“Lillian wouldn’t be down at some restaurant with another girl . . . or guy, without me.” She takes a big drink out of one glass and looks at me. “I would have burned that shit to the ground already.”

I really don’t like her tone much. “Yet you tell me to come and have a drink before I go?”

She shrugs. “I didn’t say my way was right. I’m just saying.”

“This is bullshit. You are bullshit. I’m going.”

As I take a couple steps toward the door, the headache-inducing country music playing in the small bar gradually gets louder and louder, and I know what’s coming. I shouldn’t have even come to this shitty bar in the first place. I should’ve gone straight to find Tessa instead. The patrons inside all start cheering, and I turn to see two of the middle-aged bartenders climb onto the bar top.

This is so damn awkward. Entertaining, but still fucking weird.

“You’re going to miss the show!” Riley cackles.

I’m about to say something, but I hear a sound behind me, and once again, I sense what’s coming. As I turn, my mouth dries and my blood begins to boil instantly. Because as I do, Tessa stumbles in through the door of the little roadhouse. With him.

Rather than rushing him like I’d like to do, I step back to the bar and say to the back of Riley’s head, “She’s here, with him. That’s her.”

Riley takes her eyes off the old women on the bar and turns. Her jaw drops. “Holy shit, she’s hot.”

I glare at her. “Stop. Don’t look at her like that.”

“Lillian said she was pretty, but, fuck, look at her big ti—”

“Don’t finish that sentence.” I stare at Tessa. She is fucking hot, I know this, but more importantly she’s drunk and she’s laughing as she navigates through the high-topped tables. She chooses an empty one close to the bathroom and takes a seat.

“I’m going over there,” I tell Riley. I don’t have a fucking clue why I’m telling her anything, but part of me sort of wants to know what she’d do if she were in my shoes. I know Tessa is upset with me for a whole list of shit, and I don’t exactly want to add anything else to it. She doesn’t have any right to be mad at me, anyway—she’s the one hanging out with a random-ass guy from dinner, and now she comes stumbling in here drunk and laughing. With him.

“Why don’t you just wait . . . you know, watch her for a little bit,” Riley suggests.

“What a fucking stupid idea—why would I watch her hang all over that douche bag? She’s mine, and . . .”

Riley looks up at me with curious eyes. “Does she throw a fit when you call her yours?”

“No. She likes it, I think.” At least she once told me she did: “Yours, Hardin, yours,” she moaned into my neck as I shifted my hips, burying myself deeper inside of her.

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