She sits up on the bed. “This is because of that bitch, isn’t it?”

I shake my head. “Don’t call her that.”

Standing up, she storms to her dresser and puts a T-shirt over her body and slips on some pajama bottoms. “I know you’re lying, Hayden. I thought what we had was special, or that it was leading somewhere special. I thought you were being a gentleman and just taking it slow out of respect for me.”

“I’m sorry.”

Tears stream down her face. “Why don’t you give me a chance? We could have everything together. A family. A great life. The whole big house, white picket fence fairy tale.”

I shake my head. “That’s not what I want with you, Veronica.”

She comes over and grabs my hand. The feeling is foreign and odd. “Please don’t do this,” she begs, tears in her eyes. “Let me give you a family.”

The conversation is going nowhere fast, and she’s becoming more upset with each passing second. “I should go.”

Pulling away from her, I walk out of the bedroom and back down the hallway. She follows me.

“I can’t believe you,” she snaps. “After everything we’ve been through together.”

Turning, I narrow my eyes at her. “What are you talking about? We haven’t been through anything together, Veronica. We’ve been friends since day one. Nothing romantic has ever or will ever happen between us. Are you serious right now? I don’t know what you want from me, but I never crossed that line for a reason. I’m not interested. If you need a friend, I’ll be around, but anything more than that ends here. This can’t continue.” I open the front door and step outside, but I hear her on my tail before the door can shut.

“I could’ve given you things Savannah will never give you. Stability. A family. Unconditional love. You’re making the biggest mistake of your life, Hayden! She’ll only continue to break your heart!”

Shaking my head, I walk down the sidewalk as she continues to run her mouth.

“That’s for me to decide,” I shout over my shoulder before climbing into my truck. I can’t get out of here fast enough. I back out of the driveway and rush down the road. I’m in such a fucked-up head space I don’t even know what to do. My stomach growls, and I know I need to eat, but everything is such a shitshow right now I don’t know where to start. Before heading home, I call Hunter, hoping he can talk me off the ledge.

“Your intelligent brother who has all life’s answers speaking…” he greets, and I can hear the smugness in his tone. It’s one of our things to confide in each other when things aren’t so great. Though I’m his big brother, I know Hunter always has my back.

I let out a huff. “I need a beer and a burger. What are you doing right now?”

“I’m shaving my legs,” he says, then chuckles. “What the hell do you think I’m doing? I’m at the gym.”

I hear barbells hit the ground, and he lets out a breath. “I can meet you at the burger place by the gym in about fifteen minutes.”

“Perfect. I’ll see you there.” I enter the highway and head toward his location as I replay everything that’s happened in the past twenty-four hours. Shaking my head, I think how crazy Veronica really is and how I missed it from the beginning. I feel as if I’m living in the damn twilight zone.

Taking the exit, I get stuck at the light and check my phone to see if by some miracle Savannah actually texted me back. She hasn’t. Soon I’m pulling up the sports bar and park. After I get out of the truck, I see Hunter walking from around the corner in sweat-covered clothes.

“Before you say anything, I didn’t have a chance to shower,” he says, holding the door open for an older couple.

“Hmm. Not sure what gave it away.” I deadpan.

We walk inside, and I immediately order a beer when we get to the bar. Hunter shakes his head as he watches me down it in two gulps, then orders himself a glass of water.

“So you gonna tell me what’s up?” He glances at me, then back at the menu.

“I don’t know where to even start,” I say honestly, then decide to order another beer.

Hunter’s patient and sits quietly as I try to organize my thoughts. “I know you’re going to roll your eyes and tell me I’m fucking crazy.” I shrug. “But I could still feel the chemistry between Savannah and I this morning. There’s still something between us. I felt it, and I know for a fact she did too.”

“She lives in New York, Hayden,” he reminds me as if I forgot that little fact.

The bartender sets my second beer in front of me, and I immediately take it, ready to drink the pain away. “I know. I know she does. That’s the only thing that complicates this whole scenario. She’s heading back, but there are things we have to discuss, things I can’t put to rest even after all this time. Anyway, I asked her to lunch this morning and told her to think about it and text me when she made up her mind. Not long after, she said she would, and we agreed I’d come pick her up. Well, when I showed up at her hotel room, she wasn’t there. I called and texted, and she never responded. It’s like she’s ghosting me all over again, and I can’t get over why the hell she changed her mind. It’s really bothering the fuck out of me because when I left, everything seemed fine.”

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