see anyone.”

I kept quiet.

“Sam!” Her panic picked up a notch.

I still said nothing.

“Oh my god!” Her feet sounded like a stampede, and she was sprinting for me now.

Her phone grew in size, and then she was right next to me. She grabbed my arm, and like before, she dragged me after her. We were both running through the hallways.

She kept chanting, “Oh my god, oh my god,” under her breath as she was trying to read Dex’s directions. “Go left here. Now, right.” She yanked me with her. “Oh my god, oh my god.”

No one was there, but her fear was intoxicating. It started to creep into me, too, and I pressed her to go faster. We were at the door, and we burst through it. I stopped to make sure the door would shut. Summer didn’t. She hightailed it to her car.

Getting there, she saw I was still by the gymnasium, and she pounded on her car’s roof. “What are you doing? Get in the car.”

I couldn’t hold it in anymore. My blood was buzzing from the adrenaline, my run, and Summer’s terror. I folded over, and the laughter poured out of me.

“Wha—” She stopped.

Crap. I needed a ride. I tried to muffle the laughs as I went to the car.

Summer was glaring at me. Her hand crumbled over her keys and she choked out, “Do not tell me that you were fucking with me.”

I got inside and secured my seat belt. She couldn’t kick me out. I looped the strap around me a second time to make sure. I’d hold on to it like it was the only thing anchoring me in a tornado.

I waited until she got in and did her own seat belt. I said, “I might’ve been lying…”

She sucked in her breath.

I finished, “About the second light.”

She was silent.

Then the screams came. “I actually pissed my pants! How could you? Oh my god!”

I waited it out. She kept screaming, but the hysteria slipped a notch, and she started her car before turning out of the parking lot.

Two blocks. I kept telling myself that. We can make it two blocks.

Summer kept ranting, “I’m going to make your life hell. Buckets of water when you’re not expecting it. Your coffee’s always going to be cold. And your shampoo. You’d better hide your shampoo somewhere else because, every chance I get, I’m pouring hair dye in there.” She belted out a harsh laugh, turning into our parking lot. “So bad, Samantha. You’re going to pay so bad.”

She quieted as we got out.

I snuck a look. “I don’t know what came over me. I think I channeled Logan. I’m sorry. I didn’t know how scared you would get.”

Her shoulders loosened, and a short laugh slipped out. She shook her head, her mouth curved up into a rueful grin, and another burst of laughter jerked from her. She shot me a dark look as we entered our dorm. “Oh, man. I’m calmer now. I abhor being scared. Hate it. Hate it with a passion. My boyfriends used to do that shit to me all the time.”

My lips twitched. I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t dare.

She cursed under her breath. We started up the stairs to our floor, and she motioned for me. “Go ahead. Let it out. I might’ve overreacted.”

“You think?”

She laughed again, the tension easing a little bit from her. “I knew there wasn’t a second light. I was looking, but it didn’t matter. It was already in my head. What if someone was actually there? They were following me. They could’ve killed me. No one would’ve known, and they would’ve gotten you, too. Okay. My imagination was running wild.”

Right as we topped the stairs for our floor, I murmured, “I will never prank you again.”

She shrugged, letting out a breath of air. “It’s my bad. I know it was a joke—at least, I think I knew it. I totally overreacted, but,” she shot me cautious look, “this just means that I get to plan my payback.”

A retort was on the tip of my tongue, but when our dorm room came into view, it died.

Mason was sitting on the floor outside our room.

He’d been waiting, and judging from the mask on his face, he wasn’t happy about it.

MASON

She was laughing. I heard it as she and her roommate were coming up the stairs.

She had every right to be angry with me. I ditched her. She didn’t know about Nate or that we’d been at the hospital with him for the last six hours, waiting for all the tests to get done before they’d let us take him home. They would’ve kept him for observation, but the last bed went to a heart attack patient. That was what the nurse said when she cleared Nate to go with us. We were given instructions on what to check for, including his breathing, his skin color, his pulse every hour, and a few other things that Logan wrote down. As soon as I could, I went to Sam’s dorm. She hadn’t answered my calls, and as she came down the hallway, I saw the reason.

I stood, but they both quieted as they got to me. “You were running.”

Sam didn’t reply. Her eyes narrowed, and a shadow appeared underneath them. It was me. She knew something was wrong, and bags formed under her eyes. My mouth pressed flat. I hated being the cause of it. I couldn’t lie, but I knew that I couldn’t tell Sam about Nate. Those bags would become permanent, and she’d only worry.

She started to say something but waited, glancing at her roommate.

The girl continued to stare at me. Her eyes widened a fraction.

Sam cleared her throat.

“Oh!” Her roommate blinked rapidly, jerking forward. “Sorry. Um…” She pulled out her keys for the door but dropped them. “Shit.” Grabbing them, she tried to insert the right key, but it wouldn’t go. It took three more tries before she slid it inside and grimaced to us over her shoulder. “Sorry about that. I’ll be, uh…I’ll be in here.” She paused in the doorway, still looking between me and Sam. “Oh, yeah. Okay. Bye.” She went inside, and the door slammed shut.

Sam was frowning at it.

It opened again. Her roommate poked her head around it, biting down on one side of her lip. “Sorry. It slipped from my hand. Okay…again. Bye.” She waved at us, her hand right next to her ear. “Take as long as you want. I’m going to bed.”

Sam moved into me. I leaned against the wall, holding her to my chest, when their door opened again.

The roommate slipped out, holding a shower caddy. “Sorry.” She kept her head bent, and her eyes forward. “I have to go to the restroom first, and then I’m off to bed. For real. Take your time.”

I could feel Sam’s silent laughter, but she didn’t respond. We waited until her roommate made the trek to the restroom and went inside.

Sam whispered, looking up to me, “Maybe we should go somewhere private?”

I nodded, letting her take the lead, but when she started to head toward the parking lot, I caught her hand and motioned for the basement. “You have some rooms down there, right?”

Her eyebrows lifted high as she nodded. “A computer room. The movie room, and the kitchen are down there. There’s another smaller lounge, too.”

“Let’s go down there.”

“But…” She cast a confused look outside.

I entwined our fingers and started for the basement. “If we go to my place, you won’t be leaving until morning.”

I was already hard, imagining how it would feel to slide inside Sam. It would be heaven to me. I could forget about Sebastian and how he’d gotten to Nate. All of that shit could be forgotten, but that wouldn’t be fair to Sam. She deserved normalcy. Spending time with her at her dorm was normal. Hearing her laugh with her roommate was normal. She’d get pulled into our war. I knew it was inevitable, but I wanted a little bit more time. That was all I was trying for. I was just holding that off.

She was happy.

I couldn’t be the reason that went away.

No one was in the small waiting lounge. I headed inside, but Sam checked the movie room.

“Mason,” she held the door open, going inside, “this is more private.”

/>   A large screen was on the far end of the room. Plush, large seats were placed in rows in front of the screen. The back of the room was made up with couches, and a side door opened to a back kitchen.

We picked a couch in the farthest corner, but Sam went to turn the kitchen light off. A small amount of light filtered in underneath the door from the rest of the basement. I watched as she made her way to me.

She was confident. She moved with purpose.

It hit me how much she changed from when she’d moved in with Analise. She’d lost everything. She hadn’t cared about anything, and she had been a badass because of it—striking out, not giving a shit. Logan and I took her in, and then she had something to lose—me. She got scared. She was pushed around by the girls and bullied by her own mother, and through all that crap, she’d still fought. She’d clawed her way back up, protecting and loving Logan and me at the same time.

Good god. I wanted to pull her on top of me. I wanted to lose myself in her.

When I sat on the couch, Sam had a knowing grin, and she sat right where I wanted her, right where maybe she shouldn’t have. My hands held her hips as she straddled me. She looped her arms around my neck and rested her forehead to mine.

Her grin never dimmed, not even as she teased, “Why do I feel like we’re in high school, and I don’t want my mom to catch us making out in the basement?”

Shit, I love this woman.

A smooth and lazy low laugh flitted from her lips. I waited for her to find my mouth with hers, but she didn’t.

She held back and her eyes traced over my face. “What happened today?”

I wasn’t going to tell her. More time. I needed more time. “Logan took us out of town. He heard about some park or something, but we got lost, and we didn’t have cell phone reception. I’m sorry.” I cupped the side of her face. My thumb rubbed down over her cheek, falling to linger at the corner of her mouth. The ache to kiss her was building—along with another ache. Well, that ache was just permanent. I had an eternal hard-on for the woman I loved.

“Logan took you out to some park?”

“That’s what he was trying to do.” The lies came so easy, and I smiled, knowing I was a dick. “We never found it. Said some swimming hole with a waterfall was there.”

“Oh.” Her hands fell down to the bottom of my shirt. She was toying with it. Her knuckles brushed against my stomach every now and then.

The small touch was driving me crazy. I should still her hands. I didn’t. I was going to hell, and we were going to be indecent in two minutes if she kept that up.

“You went on a run with your roommate?”

She shook her head, her eyes darkening in lust. “I ran. She read.”

“Wait. What?”

A husky laugh slid out from her. “I ran around this track, and she read her book in a chair.”

“The track? The running track in the gym?”

“Yeah. A guy let us in, but don’t tell. I want to use it again. I need to find a place to run.” She amended, “Somewhere that’s safe anyway.”

She’d been inside some building for at least the last two hours, and my security guy never said a word. That was one phone call I’d be making as soon as I left—or, hell, I’d just find him. He or his replacement weren’t off duty until Sam was tucked into her own bed and sleeping.

“Sam,” I lifted her chin so that she was looking right into my eyes, “don’t go running at night by yourself.”

“I didn’t. That’s why Summer went with me.”

“But if she can’t go with you, don’t go. I mean it. Or call me. I’ll let you into the gym, too. I have keys. All the football guys do. We have twenty-four-seven access in there for training.”

“You do?”

I nodded, but she was right. She needed a place to run. I should’ve scoped that out for her already.

“Mason?”

“Hmm?”

She snaked a hand to the back of my hair and tugged me to her. “Will you please fucking kiss me?”

That was all I needed. Taking hold of the back of her neck, I leaned forward, taking her lips in mine. Fuck the dorm. I started to turn to roll her underneath me when she hit my shoulder and leaned back.

Her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes were dilated in shock. “Here?”

She was mine.

“What?” A low growl was fighting to be released. I wanted her. I wanted to take what was mine—

Damn it. Basement, basement.

We were in the motherfucking dorm basement. She had classmates, and a resident advisor.

That growl erupted, and I realized there could even be cameras. Checking the room, I didn’t see any lights blinking, but I couldn’t assume there weren’t any.

Still…

My hand loosened on her neck and rubbed over her skin, caressing. I teased, “I could push a couch up against the door. No one would be able to come in.”

“If you want to do that, let’s go home.”

She sank back on top of me. Her hands ran underneath my shirt and slipped up, and I closed my eyes, enjoying the feel of her. They were on me, no one else. I had no reason to be jealous or insecure, but damn, I loved knowing she loved me. I loved that I could run my hand down her arm, and she’d gasp from the sensation, like she did just now. I loved that I could linger right above her shorts with my fingers rubbing the skin underneath her shirt, like she was touching me, and her body would begin to tremble, like she was doing now. I loved that, as I laid her down on the cushions and rose above her, blocking her from any views there could be, my fingers could dip inside her shorts and hover over her opening, and she would arch her back up. She would come alive.

She closed her eyes, but she was watching me now. Her eyelids were heavy with desire. I grinned. My body was wound tighter than a nun at a Magic Mike show. It wanted release, and it wanted that in her. I fought against it. I pressed a kiss under her jaw, and feeling her silent intake of breath, I nipped at her collarbone. Feeling another shiver go through her, I exposed her stomach before dropping one last kiss under her belly button. I could live off making her shudder in my arms. That was my job—to make her happy, to make her climax, and to make her experience what so many could never imagine.

I closed my eyes and forced myself to stop. I wanted to keep going again but rested my forehead against her stomach, instead.

She could feel the fight in me and relaxed in my hands. Her hand swept through my hair, running down my neck. Her nails scraped the back of my head, and I grinned. It was my soft spot. That little touch could hold me in place for hours. She had that power, that knowledge over me.

I lifted my head, and the exhaustion from the entire day finally seeped into my bones. I could lay there, on top of her, and sleep until morning. I frowned, trying to remember why that was a bad idea, as her nails kept running up and down my neck.

I sank down on her. She welcomed me, adjusting her body so that she could comfortably hold me. I slipped to the side, my leg and arm over her. My head moved to the crook of her neck and shoulder. She kept scraping over my neck…until I fell asleep.

“Psst. Psst.”

Some chick was bent over me, her finger to her mouth, with her knees together. Her hand dropped to twist with her other one, and she gritted her teeth. “Uh…”

I jumped up, landing on my feet right in front of her. It was Sam’s roommate. I was not prepared to deal with this chick, especially after she woke us up.

“Holy shit,” she squealed, startled by my sudden movement. She

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