The look on Courtney’s face has me panicking, wondering what she must be thinking right now. I pull her close to me, but she barely moves, and by the stiffness in her body, I can tell she’s in shock. I hadn’t told her all the details when I woke up to Mia next to me because I didn’t want her to feel the way she does right now—hurt, broken, confused, upset. I knew telling her when she was already in a fragile state would’ve only upset her more and it was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Sweetheart, look at me,” I plead. “Please,” I beg once she makes no movement. She blinks and then looks up at me with empty eyes. “Let me explain.”

Her throat moves as she swallows, and I can tell she’s digesting my words. “I need a minute.” She pulls out of my grip and walks out of the living room and down the hallway to her bedroom, closing the door behind her. Fuck.

I brush my hands over my face and realize that everyone is looking up at me. I’m sure they hadn’t expected that either and now I’m left trying to pick up the pieces of what was turning out to be an amazing day.

“I’ll go check on her,” Viola tells me, moving around me. I want to stop her and say that I’ll go talk to her myself, but I’m sure I’m the last person she wants to see right now. Viola’s good at talking Courtney down, so I nod and step out of her way.

“You hadn’t told her?” Logan asks, in a tone that tells me he already knows the answer. I shake my head, confirming what he already suspected.

“I knew it wouldn’t change anything, and I didn’t want her to be even more upset than she already had been,” I try explaining, but even as I say it, I know it’s not an excuse.

“You know how it looks though, right? You keeping something that big from her? She’s going to assume you were into it,” Logan tells me, as if he’s suddenly a fucking therapist.

“That’s insane. She knows I hate Mia and would never want her lips near me again.” I cringe even as I speak the words.

“No, but you didn’t tell her. You kept it a secret, and trust me, that’s almost worse than what actually happened. I have a psycho ex that taught me that,” he says with an annoyed shrug. “Girls don’t like secrets, bro.”

“I hadn’t meant for it to be a secret, I just didn’t want to upset her more than she already was. I was practically holding her up from falling to the ground,” I repeat, trying to convince myself more at this point than him. I should’ve found a way to tell her.

“Yeah, but she won’t see it that way. You’ve had weeks since then to say something.”

I should’ve known Mia was up to something else. She wasn’t going to take the restraining order laying down. She’s out for blood now.

“Go talk to her,” Kayla interrupts, obviously eavesdropping on our entire conversation. “Buddy doesn’t deserve to be from a broken home.”

“Kayla,” Logan hisses, nudging her arm. “A little inappropriate.”

She shrugs him off. “No, I’m serious. You getting a dog together was a sign of you two moving toward the next step. Now she’s going to second-guess everything about your relationship,” she tells me matter-of-factly, scaring the shit out of me that I could potentially lose Courtney over this. Dealing with Mia is more baggage than she ever signed on for, and this could be the one thing that tears us apart.

“Excuse me,” I say, walking away. Before I get to Courtney’s door, Viola opens it and pushes me back against the hallway wall. “What the hell?”

“Don’t what the hell me! How could you keep something like that from her, Drew?”

“Look, I don’t need another person scolding me, okay? I fucked up, I know. That’s why I need to talk to her.”

“Well, you better hurry and say something that’s going to fix this.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s in there packing a bag.”

My heart falls into my stomach, and I’m almost positive I didn’t hear her right.

“What? No.” I refuse to believe that. Courtney wouldn’t just leave without talking to me first.

“Courtney is one of the strongest people I know, but I think she’s finally had enough.” I hear the sadness in her voice, but it’s nothing compared to how my heart is feeling right at this moment. “Mia has been playing games with your relationship and that bitch just pulled the last straw.”

I step around Viola and barge into Courtney’s room, slamming the door behind me. Her back is to me as she shoves clothes into her bag that’s sitting on her bed.

“So, just like that, you’re leaving? You won’t even talk to me first?” The pain in my voice is evident, but if she notices, she doesn’t acknowledge it. She doesn’t say anything as she continues packing. “Courtney,” I plead. “I know I should’ve told you, trust me, I know that now. But you have to believe me that I didn’t want to hurt you. I didn’t want you to be any more upset than you already have been.”

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic