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“Um, no,” she admitted. “He had to stay the night. But I’m going to pick him up this morning and run him home.” Tatum conveniently left off the part about her going the extra mile and moving in with Ryder to help him out until he could get back on his feet. Honestly, she did feel awful about what had happened but she wasn’t upset about finding a place to crash for a while. They were helping each other out, although, she’d keep that to herself too.

“I can go by the hospital and pick him up for you,” Jackson said.

“I don’t mind. I was the one who ran him over,” she said. “I should be the one who picks him up and runs him home. It’s the least I can do.”

“Yeah, but it will cut into your time to job search. My day’s mostly free and I don’t mind,” Jackson pushed.

“I said I’ve got this, Jackson,” she growled into the phone. “As for my job search, I’m sure I’ll find something quickly, so you don’t have to worry about me.”

“It’s my job to worry about you, Sis,” Jackson said.

“Sure,” she grumbled, “you can worry but you just won’t help me out.”

“I’ve been your safety net for a while now, Tatum,” Jackson said. “You’re an adult and you need to figure your shit out for yourself. You’re a smart woman—I know you’ll be able to do it.” His praise felt like an underhanded compliment and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to thank him or tell him to fuck off.

“Whatever,” she breathed. Tatum knew Jackson hated it when she said that to him. “You’re right—I can handle my own shit. So, I will go pick up Ryder and run him back to his place and then, I’ll find a new job.”

Jackson sighed into the phone, “What about your apartment?” he asked. This was where things could get tricky. She didn’t want to outright lie to him but she wasn’t about to come right out and tell him that she was moving in with his friend.

“It went down pretty much like I thought it would,” she admitted. She had told Jackson exactly what Hugh was going to ask for her to stay at her place rent-free and giving that asshole sexual favors wasn’t an option for her.

“Shit,” Jackson growled. “Did he ask you for sex to stay?”

“Pretty much,” she admitted. “But I turned him down and will be staying with a friend,” she lied. Ryder wasn’t her friend, but that didn’t matter. He was an acquaintance and her brother’s friend and that was close enough. “Listen, I’ve got to get dressed. I have a lot to do today. Thanks for the wake-up call, Jackson,” she said. Tatum ended the call and tossed her cell onto her nightstand. She was going to get dressed and finish packing her shit. Then, she’d go to the hospital and pick up her new “friend” Ryder.

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