That’s great, man. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, actually, do everything I would do. I laugh as I hit send.

I can’t believe Viola hasn’t killed you yet.

I literally laugh. I’m sure she wants to. I linger on her name a little longer than I should and it makes me feel so damn guilty. We’re getting along great. Ha. Sense the sarcasm? And it’s only been a day.

It’s been the best and worst twenty-four hours of my life.

So you live to see another day. Congrats. I’m sure she’ll warm up to you where you can at least be cordial toward one another. Maybe she’ll let you borrow her invisibility cloak? But if you go missing, I’ll know who to ask first.

I shake my head and smile. Thanks bro. Now get back to your woman. Tell Mia I said hi. I’ll check in later.

Will do. Later.

Viola and I being cordial to one another? Impossible. We’re playing some fucked-up game of cat and mouse and in the end, we’ll realize it’s a trap for both of us. I’m not stupid and neither is she. We should call truce before it goes too far but we’re both too damn stubborn to admit defeat. It’s about who’s going to come out on top, which will always be me.

I grab my keys and text Jason, a friend from college, so we can start the night early. I have a lot of drinking to do and images of Viola to erase. The pre-party starts at his house and when I walk in he immediately senses something is off, as if he has the sixth sense or some shit. Four girls file out of the kitchen, giggling, and eyeing me like they want to eat me. If they’re lucky, maybe I’ll let them, all at the same time. I throw a smile to each of them, finding my mark for the night. The blonde one licks her ruby red lips, and I know that look from a mile away. She wants what I have to offer. Perfect.

“What’s up?” Jason asks as he takes a long pull of his beer and walks to the living room.

“What do you mean?” I ask, confused by the tone of his question.

“You’re wound up tighter than a stripper’s g-string on a Friday night. You’re all tense. Shit. Have a beer and chill out,” he says, handing me a Heineken.

“This is bitch beer,” I smile as I take a swig. Jason knows how I feel about the little green bottle. It tastes like piss with a pretty label. I have to admit, it’s good marketing, but damn, give me a real beer, something dark like a Guinness or Krombacher.

“Beggers can’t be choosers,” he says, plopping on his couch checking his phone. “We’ll leave soon. I have a few more friends meeting us at Good Times.”

He glances over his shoulder and looks at the girls then lowers his voice. “So you gonna tell me what has you so tense or pretend like nothing’s wrong?”

I finish the beer off in another big swig and answer. “Drew left to hang with Mia on her break and I’m stuck dealing with his little sister for two weeks. It’s fucking torture.” But not in the way he thinks.

He laughs and sits up. “Viola? She’s single again? How’s she been? Still hating your guts?”

He looks a little too happy to be asking about her. His question about a boyfriend catches me off guard, and I feel like such a dick for not knowing the answer. Is she dating someone? My jaw tightens and it’s not lost on him. He raises an eyebrow.

“Yes, she still hates me and I don’t know about the other stuff. We’re not friends. We don’t stay up every night talking about her fucking life,” I say truthfully between gritted teeth. Everyone knows she hates me, because she doesn’t keep quiet about it.

“She’s so fucking hot. If Drew wouldn’t go batshit crazy on me, I’d totally hit that,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows, as if he’s Viola’s type.

“She’s off-limits,” I growl, almost a little too protectively.

“Damn.” He laughs and finishes off his beer. “I know you’ve been best friends for decades but for a moment there I thought you actually channeled Drew. It was frightening. Don’t ever do that again.” He’s joking with me, but there was nothing funny about what I said. Viola is off-limits, the end.

I exhale through my nose as he walks off and try to calm myself. The girls come into the living room and sit on the couch around me. They chat about the night and the guys that will be there and I’m already bored. Blondie is a little too confident in her red miniskirt and low-cut shirt, but I play along. She seems like the perfect distraction for the night.

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic