“Let me help you,” I say automatically because I can’t not make the offer.

“No,” she says softly. “You’ve helped me enough already. The money I’m making at The District is outrageous. The tips have been amazing. That’s what I’m going to use for the deposit to secure the apartment. I have some tip money stashed at your place but not enough.”

“You don’t deposit your tips in the bank?”

“No. It’s mostly all ones and fives. I like to keep my cash in the pocket of an old sweater. Did you know I had almost five hundred dollars stashed in that sweater in my closet when my mom went through the house? Thank God they didn’t find it.”

She’s happy she found a place and I should be too but I’m not. I don’t want her to leave. How can I tell her that without sound cloying or overbearing? “Are you going to my place now?”

“In a little bit. I have to go by and pick up my check. Then Jen will drop me off. Where are you?”

“Headed home,” I say as I walk toward where I parked my truck.

“Oh, good. Owen should be there. He just called me and said he was being dropped off.”

“Is moving going to change where he goes to school?”

She sighs. “Yeah. He doesn’t mind, though. Says he wants a change, though he’ll miss his best friend. I promised him they could get together whenever he wants.”

“It’ll work out,” I reassure her.

“I hope so. I’ll see you soon, okay?” She hangs up before I can tell her I love her and I stare at my phone’s screen, wishing I had said the words.

Being with Fable has turned me into a complete sap.

My phone immediately starts ringing again. This time it’s my dad. I answer it, steeling myself for the inevitable spew of words over his hatred for his wife. “Hey, Dad.”

“Where’s Adele? Have you seen her?”

I stop in the middle of the sidewalk, causing someone passing by to bump into me. “Why would I see her? Where is she?”

“I don’t know. We…talked this morning. Then we started to argue and she brought you up. Said she needed to see you and took off in my f**king Jag. Have you seen her? Did she come there?”

“Of course I haven’t seen her.” Dread creeps over me. Making my head spin. “Why would she want to come see me?”

“I haven’t a clue. She said she had something to tell you.” He pauses. “Don’t turn her away, okay? Please? Hear her out, whatever she has to say. I’m sure she’s going to you to ask if you would help convince me that the two of us belong together.” He sounds smug, funny considering only last night he’d been a ragged mess, practically crying over her cheating ways.

He’s way off base with her wanting to talk to me. Adele knows the last thing I would do is hear her out over how much she and my dad are meant to be together. She wouldn’t have the balls to do something like that.

There’s something else to this story. Something I don’t want to know.

“If you see her, call me. Promise?”

“I promise,” I say before I end the call.

The entire drive back to my place, I keep a lookout for my dad’s sleek black Jaguar but I don’t spot it anywhere. That type of car is a dime a dozen back home. Here, in this small college town that’s filled mostly with Hondas or Toyotas, the car stands out like a glaring beacon.

Thank God I don’t spot the Jag in my complex’s parking lot either. Relieved I dodged that bullet, I head toward my apartment, surprised to find the door unlocked when I enter.

Surprised even more to find Adele sitting on my f**king couch, Owen sitting next to her and looking incredibly uneasy.

“Andrew!” She stands, pushing her long dark hair over her shoulder. “You’re home!”

I shut the door, my gaze going to Owen, who sprang up so fast from that couch he reminded me of a jack in the box. He looks uncomfortable, he’ll hardly meet my eyes, and I’m instantly taken back.

How she used to spend all of her time with me. Flattering me. At first, she made me nervous. I wasn’t used to that sort of constant, almost overbearing attention. But after a while, I started to crave it. She knew exactly what she was doing, how she was manipulating me to fall under her spell.

“Get away from him,” I say a little too forcefully, shocking the both of them. “Keep your f**king hands off him, Adele, I mean it.”

She smirks, shooting Owen a long, sultry look. “He’s a sweet, sweet boy, Andrew, reminds me so much of you that age. Tall and handsome and so strong, he’s going to be quite the looker someday.”

I’ve never been tempted to do harm to a woman in my life. At this very moment, if I could wrap my hands around her neck and squeeze the ever-loving life out of her, I’d have no regrets. “Go to your room, Owen,” I demand.

He scurries off without a protest, slamming the door so hard, Adele jumps, then titters nervously.

“You don’t need to scare the poor boy. I didn’t do a thing to him. You know I only have eyes for you.” She comes close to me. I can smell the scent of alcohol emanating from her body. She has to be drunk.

Sidestepping her, I ignore what she said. She’s just trying to get a rise out of me, as usual. “Where’s Dad’s Jag?”

She laughs. “I parked it on the street, behind this building. Pretty devious, right? I knew you would flip if you saw the car. Knew that your dad would contact you and ask you to look for me. Heaven forbid he actually do it himself.” She plops down on the couch, her body draped across it. “You have a nice place here. Why does your little slut’s brother live with you?”

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