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A fluffy black-and-white cat came out from behind the couch, took one look at them, and arched its back, hissing and growling with a high-pitched whine. Beast wiggled his body in response, and Oliver heard a crash in the other room. “Everything okay?”

“Shit,” Eve said. A few seconds later, she peeked her head out of what must have been her bedroom. “What the heck are you doing in here?”

“You were taking so long I wanted to tell you to shake a leg, but now that I’ve seen your apartment, I gotta say—”

“Nothing! You will say nothing.” She ducked her head back into her bedroom and reappeared a moment later with a large suitcase, a tote, and some kind of little black bag.

“You know we’re coming back Sunday, right?”

“Yes, I know that, but I couldn’t make up my mind.” Oliver bit back a grin noticing that she seemed a little frazzled at him being there.

“You weren’t kidding about the bras and dishes,” Oliver said, only teasing.

“I know, I am the worst housekeeper in the world, which is why I pay someone to stop by once a week and clean for me.”

Oliver laughed. “Hey, no judgment here. Being a good housekeeper is not one of my ‘like-like’ requirements.”

Oliver could tell his reassurances weren’t making her feel any better, and he walked over to her. Snaking his free arm out and around her waist, he ducked his head to catch her eye. “Hey.” When she finally looked up at him with those mossy green eyes, he smiled. “Honestly, I don’t care.”

“Come on, you care,” she said. “Everyone else does.”

Vulnerability. It was in the way she avoided his gaze. Seeing it on his usually self-assured Eve was unsettling.

“You hate to clean, and I like to start fights. We both got crap that would send other people screaming, but we’re both still here.” Kissing her hard and fast, he dropped his forehead to hers and stared through her glasses into her eyes. “So let’s grab your shit and get this show on the road.”

He released her to grab her suitcase and wheeled it behind him as Beast led the way out of the apartment. “Who’s going to watch your cat?”

“I texted Megan to stop in and check on her, but she has an automatic waterer and feeder that usually last her a week,” Eve said.

“Aren’t you worried about the fund-raiser falling apart without you?” he asked when they reached the car.

“Actually, no. I planned everything down to the wire, and Megan is competent. Granted, she’s probably furious with me, but I’ll make it up to her,” Eve said.

Oliver opened the trunk, and once everything was loaded inside, he slammed it shut with a grin. “You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

Chapter Twelve

“SO, ARE YOU going to tell me why you got into a fight?” Eve asked.

They had been on the road for several hours, and although they had talked about Beast, their childhoods, and their first kisses, Oliver didn’t want to answer this particular question. Not just because he didn’t want to hurt Eve’s feelings, but also because he didn’t want to give her any more reasons why they shouldn’t be together. He was still shocked that she’d agreed to come with him in the first place and, more to the point, that he had asked. His mom was going to go nuts; he’d never brought a girl home, at least, not since high school, and his mom had hated Rochelle.

Somehow, he got the feeling his mom was going to love Eve, though.

“I bumped into Tate and that guy Andy outside your dad’s office. You met Tate, he’s a dick. He just started mouthing off, so I popped him. Andy got a hold of me long enough for Tate to knock me out and dump me at my car.”

“Why were you at my dad’s office?” she asked.

He almost told her about wanting to stay at Alpha Dog, but what good would it have done? Her dad had made up his mind, and the last thing he wanted to do was create a rift between them.

“It was how I found out I was going back into rotation on Monday,” he said.

“Oh.” She didn’t say anything else, and he figured she probably didn’t want to talk about his job.

After a moment of silence, she changed the subject. “Tell me about your parents. Are your sisters going to be there?”

“No, they’re both married now. Margie lives in Texas with her husband and twin sons, and Luz is in San Diego. Her husband is a jarhead, but I don’t hold that against him.”