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“Fine, but only because I need a drink.” I look up as Casey turns to Connor. “Do you want another beer?” she asks.

“That’d be great.” Connor holds up his beer bottle to show her what he’s drinking. “Just put it all on my tab.”

“Connor, the tattoo artist, you are too kind.” She flashes him a flirty smile and struts—yes, struts—toward the bar.

Connor nods toward Casey. “I like your sister.”

“You can have her.”

“I heard that,” Casey yells. “And you would miss the hell out of me,” she tosses over her shoulder before reaching the bar.

I shake my head and mouth ‘no.’ Connor’s answering smile is enough to make my insides go all soft and gooey, something I haven’t experienced in a long time. What I wouldn’t give to feel that every single day. What I wouldn’t give to know I was the one who put that smile on Connor’s face—the kind of smile that, if allowed, could mend broken hearts. The kind of smile that could make a girl hope for things she shouldn’t be hoping for, like white picket fences, blond-haired babies, and the promise of forever. Except…

Forever doesn’t exist.

Forever can be taken away.

Minds can change, and in the blink of an eye, everything you thought you had simply disappears.

Shit.

Why the hell am I thinking about forever? Surely his smile isn’t that potent.

“You can’t smile at me like that,” I whisper. Then I squeeze my eyes shut when I realize I actually said those words out loud. I’ve been so good about closing myself off, putting on my armor and shielding myself from feeling…well, anything.

But Connor is different. He’s a game changer. When I’m around him, I want to rip down all of my walls and try.

Try what? I’m not sure. Anything, maybe. Anything other than what I’ve been doing. And it’s not that I want to try with just anyone, I want to try with him.

“You don’t like it when I smile?” he asks, his husky voice invading my thoughts.

Opening my eyes, I glance up. His eyes are smoldering, begging me to give him what he wants. Who am I to disappoint? My head is screaming…

Mayday!

Abort!

Look away!

But my heart isn’t listening. “I love it when you smile.”

Connor’s eyes widen and he goes completely still.

Oh, God. Why in the hell did I just say that?

He’s probably confused with all of these mixed signals I keep throwing out. Hell, so am I.

Connor hasn’t said a word and he’s still watching me. I’ve seen that look before. I saw it on Tyson—several times, in fact—years before he ripped my heart out.

Fix this, Brit.

My eyes drift to the dance floor. I can’t help but feel like I’d be much safer out there in the midst of all those gyrating bodies than I am here sitting in this booth, looking into the eyes of this man who sees way too much. This man who makes me say stupid, stupid things.

Looking at him isn’t an option, because if I look at him, I’ll cave. So I do the only thing I can do—the only thing that will preserve what willpower I have left.

I ease out of the booth. “I’m going to go dance.”

What just happened?

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