He shook his head and cursed under his breath. His hands turned to lock with mine. “When she came to Nate’s cabin, it’s why I wanted him with her at all times. Plus, you were there, and I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
“Has she emailed you since then?”
“A few times. I haven’t responded. That wasn’t intentional, I’ve just been wrapped up with you and everything going on with your mom.”
I saw the struggle in him. He was the unbeatable one, the ruthless one, and that broke me. I would protect him how he protected me. Lifting a hand to his face, I cupped his cheek and leaned forward to press my lips to his. It was a soft graze, but my heart fluttered. The ache started between my legs, and I moved closer, grinding on him. Then I moved back, just enough to whisper, “We’ll make it different this time.” My lips brushed against his. “We’ll change things this time. We’ll make it count.”
His reaction was instant. His hands caught my face and his lips opened over mine. His hunger had been unleashed, and it was demanding more. He stood with my legs wrapped around his waist and took us to bed. A primal need started in me as I met his ghosts that night, and as he thrust into me, that need took over. The need to protect him was more than before. I had worried before, knowing I could lose him, but now it went beyond that. He hadn’t stopped Kate from hurting his friend and it still hurt him, but now I was angry that they had even put him in that spot. It should’ve never happened in the first place, but that was on Kate. She was going to pay for what she had done.
Everyone knew what happened the next day at school. I had no idea how, but the news was out: Mason and Logan torched the mannequins. The truth got stretched to the whole clothing store, and by the end of the day everyone was whispering that they were going to get arrested. Apparently, Natalie’s aunt died in the blaze. Poor Natalie. Or that was what I heard a freshman telling her friend as they passed us, heading towards the bus lot.
Heather heard them too and laughed, shaking her head. “They’re idiots.”
Putting my last book into my locker, I took a few others out and stuffed them inside my bag. “I was an idiot, too. By the time I was a freshman, my boyfriend had already been cheating on me for a year.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Were they already sleeping together? Or were they just making out?”
I shrugged. “Who knows? I don’t even want to think about it. They were hooking up somehow.”
“Speaking of your ex. He came into the diner last night. He was with that other guy. Adam?”
I was surprised. “He’s moving up in the Academy social scene if he’s buds with Adam now.”
“Adam’s the top dog at your old school?”
“He’s the guy you avoided the other night?”
We began walking to the senior hallway. Mason wanted me to stop by his locker before he went to practice. As we turned the corner, I grimaced. “Yeah. He said he was okay with friendship, but I can’t handle that drama right now.” Natalie brushed past me at that moment, glaring the entire time. She took a step into me at the last second to hit her shoulder against mine. I kept going, jerking my thumb in her direction. “I got enough drama like that going on. I can’t deal with much more.”
Heather watched the Tommy Princess disappear in the direction we had just left. She murmured, “They’ve been quiet today.”
“Last one was yesterday afternoon. Your clothes were still there after gym?”
“Didn’t shower. We only walked during class.”
By unspoken agreement, we stopped and watched Kate at her locker. She was alone. For once. Then Heather remarked, “I don’t like it.”
“Ladies,” Logan boomed in our ears before he wedged himself between us, throwing his arms around our shoulders. He squeezed us into his side and made a tsking sound. “Have I not made my wishes clear enough? When you come to greet me, I prefer cupcakes and those skirts that show off half your ass. It’s pleasing to the eye and pleasing to my mouth, if you know what I mean.”
Heather retorted, “Don’t you get tired of hitting on your stepsister?”
“Future stepsister to you.” He flashed a dimple at her, his mouth curving up. “Are you jealous, Jax? Do you only want me to hit on you? That could be arranged, you know. Cupcakes and ass-skirts. All I’m asking here.”
She elbowed him in the gut, stepping out from his arm. “Whatever, Logan. From what I hear, you’ve got all your free time spoken for.”
All traces of humor left. His arm dropped from my shoulder, but he didn’t move away. He only tensed. “What are you talking about?”
“You and my ex-bestie. I’ve heard that you two get it on almost every night now.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Who told you that?”
“Was that supposed to be a secret?”
His jaw tightened as he ground out, “It wasn’t supposed to be public knowledge.” He cast an accusing look to me.
Heather spoke up, “Nope. No way. She didn’t say one word so don’t blame her for that gossip. It came straight from Tate’s mouth. She was bragging about it in class to Morgan.”
“Drill team,” she informed me.