U wish. You’ve enticed more than your share of women in this town. I won’t be added to that list.

I smiled, shaking my head at his flirty banter.

There was no instant response after that. I meant it playfully and began to worry I’d insulted him. That wasn’t my intent. Rereading my own text over and over, I realized how it could have been received. The longer I waited for my phone to light up with his reply the worse I felt. It took over five minutes and I preferred to think he was merely busy and not offended.

Of course not.

Shit, he was hurt. Great start to a friendship.

Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that. You’re charming and hot, of course women would want to sleep with u.

I hit send, and then reread my message. Ok, that sounded better in my head. I was now only feeding his ego. My phone dinged immediately.

So u think I’m hot. ;)

Yeah, completely added to that damn ego of his.

I’ve seen hotter.

I sincerely doubt that and for the record u haven’t seen all of me.

And I never will. Although I saw enough when we were jogging. If u cared about women at all you’d wear a shirt.

Did u find it distracting, sweetheart?

Again, I’ve seen better.

Well, I haven’t seen anything sexier than watching you jog ahead of me. Highly impressed.

I froze, staring down at the tiny screen. We were treading on dangerous ground. It was so easy with Logan, too easy to go down that path, but I wanted to see more of the man that looked out for me the previous night.

Well, FRIEND, I need to start my day. And that will not include jogging this morning. Still a little sore.

Have a wonderful day, sweetheart. If u need anything at all please let me know.

Thnx. Tell Oliver I said hi.

I placed the phone back on my nightstand to finish charging, and walked over to the dresser in search of my favorite pink cotton shorts and a tank top. Today was all about relaxing around the house.

I walked out to the kitchen and placed a bowl on the table to prepare breakfast when I quickly realized the box of condoms was gone. It didn’t take long to look in the trash can and find them sitting on top of Friday’s newspaper. I cringed, flushed at the idea of Logan seeing them. The idea of him throwing them in the trash was slightly bewildering, however. Why did he care? I dropped the lid and decided to forget it ever happened. So what, Logan knew I had sex. Or that I was considering to anyway. Not now though. I was officially off the market until I met a guy that could prove he was worth my time.

The moment I curled my feet up under the blanket on my petite couch, a bowl of Fruit Loops in my lap, a loud knock vibrated at my front door.

“Seriously.” I sighed, rolled me eyes, and headed for the foyer.

It could only be one of two people, Hilary or my mother. At the moment, I would rather deal with the latter. I was still too pissed at my friend.

One glance through the small peephole left me debating my options when I saw Hilary standing with Caleb at her side. Worry and nervousness radiated off Hilary, while Caleb looked simply distraught. His hair was disheveled and dark bags highlighted his usually sparkling, mischievous eyes.

With a small, calming breath, I slowly opened the door.

“Oh my God!” Hilary shrieked, her hand flying to cover her mouth. “Are you all right? God, I…I am so sorry. Please, can I just come in? I haven’t been able to sleep at all since Caleb told me what happened to you last night.”

I held the door open, moving aside for Hilary to enter before stepping back in the way to block Caleb from following.

“I’ll talk to you later,” I told him calmly, unable to deal with both of them so early in the morning.

“Cassandra, I truly am sorry,” Caleb whispered, unable to hold my gaze. “I should have looked into his background, I had no clue the guy was dangerous, I swear.”

“I know. We’ll talk later. I promise.” I slowly shut the door, feeling worse.

I stood behind the closed door for a few silent moments before turning on my heel and finding Hilary staring back at me, her eyes hooded and face pale. She wasn’t lying about not sleeping. I’d never seen her look that bad before.

“I can’t freaking believe this. I had no idea,” she said, her hands worked animatedly as she spoke. “If Caleb had told me the guy had been to prison I never would have tried setting you up with him. You know I want to see you start dating, but God, not with a guy like that.”

I walked past her, plopping back down on the couch and pulling the blanket over my lap. I curled up comfortably and grabbed my bowl of cereal.

“Come on, say something,” she pleaded, walking toward me.

I took a large bite of cereal, chewing slowly and watched Hilary tensely take a seat across from me in the armchair.

“Your lip looks…bad. Do you want me to get you something for it? I can run to the pharmacy?”

I took another large bite of cereal. Hilary sat there, squirming in front of me waiting for me to speak.

She sat up on the edge of the chair, her shoulders slumped forward, hands fidgeting together. “Listen, you know I love you. You’re my best friend!” Her voice raised an octave higher. “I would never set you up on a date if I thought the guy would hurt you. You have to believe me!” Her eyes glistened with unshed tears.

I swallowed my last bite of Fruit Loops, and leaned forward to set the empty bowl on the table in front of us. As I leaned back up I gave her a small smile.

“I know,” I said sincerely, tilting my head slightly to one side. “I just wanted to see how much groveling I could get out of you.”

“You’re horrible! You know that right!” Hilary scolded, throwing one of the small pillows at me.

Catching it, I laughed, wincing at the pain shooting from my lips and placed the pillow behind my back as I settled farther in the sofa.

“I deserved it.” Hilary sighed falling back into the chair, looking relieved I was finally talking. “I was so worried. Caleb came over at midnight banging on my door to tell me what happened. He feels horrible. He thinks it’s all his fault and I—”

“It is his fault!” I interrupted loudly, furrowing my brows.

“He never meant for—”

“Stop defending him, Hilary!” I yelled standing up unable to sit still reliving it. “Caleb screwed up, and Logan was attacked because of it!”

“Caleb thought the guy just had a run of bad luck in his past. He was trying to help him out by giving him a job.”

“I get that, I do, but that doesn’t mean he should keep the guy’s past hidden from potential dates. What if I would have brought Kurt back here like I was planning?” I asked, raising my brows.

“I know. I feel terrible.” Her hand slid listlessly across her forehead and down her long hair. “How did Logan get involved last night by the way?”

“He showed up at the bar. He wanted to protect me unlike everyone else.”

“That’s not true, Caleb just didn’t know everything. He wanted to see the good in Kurt. Is Logan all right?” Hilary asked, genuinely concerned. “Caleb said it was a pretty nasty fight. Rumor has it Kurt is still in the hospital.”

“Yeah, Logan sent me a text earlier. And as far as Kurt is concerned, I hope he rots in prison!” I frowned, walking back over to Hilary. “I know this was not your fault. And I also know that Caleb would never put anyone in harm’s way. I’ll talk to him, all right, but not today.”

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