That’s kind of fun, but I don’t torture her. I offer a friendly smile and tell her, “It’s fine. Enjoy the snuggle.”

Still a little wary, she asks, “Really?”

I nod. “Not a test, I promise.”

She watches me instead of him. It’s me she doesn’t trust here. Which I get. Prior to the conversation Mateo and I just had, I did want to stab her. But as she watches, she tentatively turns into his side and brings her arm up to rest on his bare chest. Poor thing. She’s so overwhelmed. I guess it has been a while since she’s touched him like this.

I wonder if she’s always like that with him. Is that why he likes her? Does he like the contrast? Does he like overwhelming her? I’m rarely overwhelmed by him. Maybe I should’ve been a little more fucking delicate.

I remind myself it’s okay. He doesn’t want to replace me. He only wants a little extra. He’s greedy, but he’s Mateo. Of course he’s greedy. Look at all he has.

And now he has Mia. I can see that he’s right—he doesn’t even have to ask her to get on board, he can just tell her to, just wrap his arm around her and pull her close, and there she is, no boarding pass required. He completely owns this bitch. I bet he loves that.

I should’ve seen this coming.

He says he’ll wear on me, but I wonder if I’m the one who’s worn on him. I thought he liked that I could hold my own with him. I thought he got enough power and control with everyone else in his life, and he enjoyed my change of pace.

Maybe he doesn’t like it as much as I thought he did. Maybe he likes this better. Maybe he likes being able to completely override Mia’s mind by simply looking at her. Maybe he doesn’t want a woman to stand up to him and lovingly call him on his shit, but a girl who will drop to her knees and worship him no matter what he does.

I guess he wants both.

This is probably the best case scenario. Right now, I can control it. I can keep Mia in line. If I say no to Mia now and he gets bored a couple years down the road, some other chick may not be so workable. Maybe he’d be attracted to some ambitious girl who’d want my place in his bed. In his life. A usurper. He might Anne Boleyn my ass.

Yeah, it’s a good idea to get on board with Mia. Mia’s harmless. I’m not overly psyched he wants to fuck anyone else, but if he has to want someone, I’m glad it’s her. Mia’s gentle. Mia’s malleable. We can both manage Mia.

I remind myself that as she snuggles up, getting a little less uncomfortable. As he caresses her arm with his thumb, offering her silent reassurances. As she closes her eyes and rests her face against his pec like it belongs there.

I have to be okay with all this.

It’ll just take a little getting used to. It can work. It’s gonna be fine.

Chapter Seven

Mia

Last night was pure torture.

I mean, it was incredible in one sense. It was unbelievably kind and incomprehensibly cruel to give me that little peek of what it would be like to love Mateo—to be free to love Mateo. To sleep in his arms, my face on his chest, moving with the rise and fall of his breathing.

Unfortunately, it just made me heartsick.

I didn’t have my textbooks or notes for class. I took a notebook with me when I left the bakery to jot stuff down and transfer over into my notebook when I returned home, but I’ve been dreading that all day, too.

Vince hasn’t spoken to me since Adrian made him leave after dinner. I was half-afraid Adrian was only saying he was going to take him out to the car and he’d actually kill him, realizing he’d fucked up by sparing him the first time. Right the wrong. Mateo wouldn’t need much of an explanation at this point. I think he’d care less if Adrian killed Vince than he cared about Joey, and he didn’t seem to care at all when Joey died.

Poor Joey.

But also stupid fucking Joey. He should’ve never gone along with such a ridiculous plan. If Vince would’ve succeeded, I would’ve wanted to kill him myself.

Last night scared me. Seeing Vince at Mateo’s seat at the table. I’m getting really worried about Vince.

So, after a long day, I decide I need to take my mind off things. Vince is working and I’m home alone, dreading him getting here. I get out a bottle of wine and decide to indulge my sadness tonight.

Meg is working at the bakery in the morning, I have no classes, and I have this beautiful, tempting bottle of wine. What have I got to lose?


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