Page 37 of Exposed to Him

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Closing my book I walk over to the bookshelf, where I could have sworn I saw someone.

“Hello?” My voice sounds timid. I take my phone out and text Jared where I am, because now I’m scared.

Disappointment fills my chest when I think about last night. I could tell he wanted me to stay with him, but I just needed some time to think.

My thumb hovers over the message, but I can’t bring myself to hit send. Ugh, this is so frustrating. I’m freaking out over nothing. What if he comes all the way over here for no reason?

When I walk back to grab my things there is a piece of paper on the table where I was sitting.

It reads: ‘I’m watching you…’

My blood runs cold and my ears start to ring as I feel the panic start to creep up on me. My father left my mother and me to clean up his monumental mess. He had no problem marrying me off to that sleaze ball, and now I have to watch my back constantly. How much more power do they need? The Castello name ends with me. I am not moving forward with anyone in the Vasquez family. Matt, aka Beefcake, is with me today. He’s outside the library.

I grab my shit and run outside quickly to alert him.

“Matt, I found this in the library.” He takes one look at the note and opens his phone, most likely calling Jared. As long as Antonio is alive my life is at risk.

I start to walk now, feeling frustrated with everything. Matt follows me closely behind.

“Hey, Erica; wait up.” He jogs up towards me.

“Jared said to stick close by you until he can get here.”

“When is this going to end?” I say, not looking directly at him. We still are walking side by side when he answers.

“I don’t know, but Antonio is out for revenge because now it’s personal,” he states, and I stay silent.

“You were supposed to be the future mafia queen, Erica. You know how it works. You either do what they tell you or you die.”

I take a shuddering breath at his admission, because he’s right. I do need to kill or be killed at this point. If I get the chance to end Antonio, I will, but I have a feeling that with these men by my side I can conquer anything. I don’t want to be a mafia queen. I don’t want the money, and fuck them all for wanting to use me for power.

“Thank you for everything, Matt. You all have been so unbelievably helpful. I will never be able to repay you.” A few tears cascade down my face.

“Hey, don’t sweat it. You’re family, and we protect our family.” His words make my chest squeeze.

“Just let Jared know I have to meet up with a friend for a project. I have to do well in school. I’m here on a scholarship.”

“I’ll let him know, but I can’t guarantee he’s going to like it if your partner is a male.” He laughs and I roll my eyes.

“I think we are going to be great friends, Matt,” I murmur.

“I think so, too, darlin’,” he tells me, throwing his arm around my shoulder.

When I pull up to the restaurant where Jayden asked me to meet him, I see it is packed with people. Making my way in, I realizethis must be where a lot of the kids from my school come to hang.

I spot Jayden right away. He really is handsome, but something about him seems off.

He gives me a big smile which is infectious on its own, and I smile back. He stands to give me a quick hug.

“So glad you made it. How was the library?”

“It was okay; I found some things we can use for our project.” My mind goes back to the note I found and my stomach feels sick. We go into work mode on our project as we sit and talk for an hour. We accomplished a lot today, and I love the fact my life can hold some normalcy still.

“Hey, do you want to come to a party with me tonight?” Jayden looks at me with hopeful eyes. I hate to turn him down. Even though we’re just friends, I kind of feel like I’m betraying Jared in a way.

He grabs one of my hands and I pull back.

“We can go as friends,” I suggest, and he gives me a small smile.

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