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But she didn’t want to think about it clinically. She didn’t want to use her training to examine her reactions. That road led to a deep well of buried feelings of betrayal, anger, and loss. At some point, she’d have to confront those emotions to move past them and live a happy, fulfilled life, but the thought paralyzed her with fear. Who wanted to reopen their wounds and bleed all over the floor voluntarily?

Not me.

Some counselor she’d be.

Do as I say, not as I do.

“This needs to stop,” she announced as she shoved the mop into the sudsy bucket. Pity parties weren’t her thing. She was a master who compartmentalized and hid her feelings.

A knock at her door had her freezing in place.

Could it be Jinx?

She wasn’t ready to see him yet. As highly as she liked to think of her stoicism, she hadn’t had enough time to get her shields in place again. He’d see straight to the needy, vulnerable core he’d unearthed.

She reached for the door handle before remembering the asshole who’d accosted her in the parking lot. “Uh… who is it?”

“It’s your besties,” came a sing-song voice through the door.

She blew out a breath while chuckling and pulled open the door.

There stood Liv, Brooke, Jo, and Rachel, dressed to the nines.

“We’re here to kidnap you,” Liv proclaimed as she ran into the apartment, arms in the air as though she’d scored a touchdown. “And we brought presents.” She thrust an overflowing shopping bag into Harper’s arms.


The ladies spilled into her small space, making it feel even tinier.

Jo glanced around. “Hmm, Tracker has an apartment above the tattoo shop, and this is the exact mirror image.”

“Makes sense.” Brooke walked over and hugged Harper. Then she tapped the shopping bag. “That is a dress, shoes, and some accessories. We’re hitting up happy hour at a bar on the beach about a half-hour ride from here. You’ll love it.”

They all looked stunning in their dresses and heels. “Your men are cool with this? Considering what happened the other night? I thought they were worried about you guys going out alone.”

Looks were exchanged back and forth until Brooke finally rolled her eyes. “As the oldest of the group, I take no responsibility for this. I was coerced.”

Liv giggled. “Oh yeah, you fought really hard.”

“Okay, I’m lost.” Had they managed to sneak away from the watchful eyes of their ol’ men? And was that smart?

“Shut up.” Brooke swatted at a laughing Liv, who dodged the swipe with ease. “They know we’re out. We’re not alone. We have a prospect following us around.”

“Yep,” Jo added. “They just think we’re off to a nice dinner, not happy hour at a popular spring break bar.”

“Spring break?” Harper laughed. “Aren’t we all a little old for that crowd?”

“Maybe, but the vibe will be fun, and that’s all we need. I could use some dancing and girl time. Couldn’t you?” Rachel, the youngest and most likely to fit in with a college crowd, arched an eyebrow.

Harper considered their offer. Stay home and clean more of the already clean things or go out and grab another experience she’d missed out on.

Easy choice.

“Okay, give me ten minutes to get dressed and slap on some makeup.” All her makeup was brand new. Some of it she’d yet to open, but she sucked at applying all of it.

“Ooh, I’ll help.” Liv followed her into the bathroom without waiting for an agreement. Harper had no qualms about changing in front of anyone. She’d spent years without so much as a private shower, but she didn’t want to make her new friends uncomfortable.

Not that Liv seemed to mind one single bit.

“Okay,” Liv said as she shut the door behind them. “I hope this fits you. You’re fitter than I am, but we’re similarly sized otherwise, so I based the sizes on myself. There should be a sticky bra that’ll work with the dress in there as well.”

“A sticky bra?” Harper questioned with a frown. What she knew about fashion as well as women’s lingerie only included sports bras, granny panties, and jumpsuits.

“Yep. You just sorta stick them on your girls,” she said, slapping a hand against her chest. “This way, you don’t have to worry about your headlights showing.” Liv made herself at home in Harper’s bathroom as she spoke, digging through her recently purchased makeup.

Harper blinked. “What the hell are headlights?”

Liv glanced her way. “THO?”

“You’re making it worse. I’m lost.”

Laughing, Liv straightened from her drawer, rummaging. “Girl, stick with me. I’ll catch you up on all that you miss—” She slapped a hand over her mouth, cutting off the words. “Oh, shit! Harper, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have brought that up. I know about your history because of your background check, but it’s entirely inappropriate for me to bring it up before you do. Please forgive me, and I promise it won’t happen again.”