“What’s going on?” Travis asks as he hears my whoop of joy.

“Class is canceled. Saved by the rain! I love rain!”

He leans against the doorframe and gives me a look. “Thirty minutes ago, you said you hated it.”

“Well, apparently, I love things that I sometimes hate,” I say, not even realizing what I’d just said.

“I love you, too, princess.” Travis smiles and takes a sip of his milk. My mouth falls open then I close it and open and close it again, but all he does is laugh.

“You’re an asshole,” I repeat the same words that he’s heard me say a million times over the years. My eyes widen. “No more gymnastics for you!”

“But it’s my favorite sport,” he jokes, but his delivery is a little off, and I can tell he’s not feeling well. It makes me feel guilty.

“Go rest. If you need something, just text me.”

He nods and walks down the hallway. I sit at the table and have to force myself to stop thinking about him and us. Hours pass, and I get through my reading list. The rain is actually relaxing when I’m not fighting it. Once I’m finished, I feel great about what I accomplished. Just as I tell myself ‘one more chapter,’ the doorknob turns, and Drew walks in, smiling like he won the freaking lottery.

“Are you okay?” I stop reading and focus on him.

He’s soaked from head to toe, but the goofy smile on his face isn’t fading. He doesn’t even notice that I’m here early. I guess it all just looks normal to him, but it’s totally not.

“What’s the matter, I can’t be happy?”

I narrow my eyes. “Oh, you can, but you’re usually not. You’re scaring me.”

He takes his boots off at the door then goes straight to his bedroom whistling—yes, whistling—and changes. When he comes back, he’s wearing a zombie t-shirt and some basketball shorts. Cop by day, gamer by night, the dude is a chameleon.

“I’m ordering pizza. Cheat day to celebrate.” Drew flicks open an app on his phone and seconds later the pizza is ordered.

I raise my eyebrows and shove my books into my bag. “What are we celebrating, exactly?”

“Mia called today. She wants to talk about us getting back together. I think this time it might really work out. Vi, she misses me.”

I can’t hold back the disappointed look that crosses my face. Drew deserves more than this. And she’s played this game with him so many times over the past few years that it’s almost sickening. Hearing her name makes my jaw clench because I know my brother is nothing more than her backup plan when she’s bored. I just wish he could see it.

He stands and walks to the kitchen, coming back with a beer in hand. Yep, he’s way too happy, and I want to be happy for him, but I can’t find it within myself to do so.

Am I being hypocritical?

I force out a smile, not wanting to upset him. If this is what he truly wants, I’ll find it within my heart to accept his decision, and I hope he would do the same thing for me. Accepting is not the same as liking, I remind myself.

He looks at me like I’m crazy. “You’ve got that strange look on your face again.”

Drew isn’t an idiot. He’s a cop and has a sixth sense for this stuff. But every time someone mentions Mia, I just think, ‘yeah, she’s a Slytherin.’ Hell, she might even be Voldemort, but that’s yet to be determined. I close my eyes tight and open them, trying to get a grip.

“You’re still here?” Travis says, plopping down in the chair beside me. “You were in such a hurry to leave after you fed me that shitty toast that I didn’t think you’d stick around.”

I turn and look at him, grateful for his saving grace. He looks more rested and not as exhausted as he did earlier, which makes me want to smile. The plate with the barely eaten toast is still on the table. Drew glances over at it and laughs before he sits on the couch next to me. I have to play this game, whether I want to or not. Just for now, I tell myself.

“Shut up, Travis. You should be glad I scraped the mold off for you.”

“At least you’re not eating kitty litter sandwiches,” Drew says with a big smile. “I swear Vi fed me one when we were kids.”

Now I genuinely am laughing. It was Pop Rocks and peanut butter—a secret recipe.

Travis notices how annoyingly happy Drew is, and questions it, just as I had. “What’s up with you?”

Drew looks at me, and I know I’m interrupting their dude talk, so I take the cue and walk back to the table. I’m half-tempted to pull my books back out of my bag, but I don’t. Instead, I get on my phone and pretend to be searching for something. I’m far enough to be away but close enough to still listen.


Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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