“Pssh. No one deserves me,” she says with a wink.

“I wish I had a crystal ball. I feel like I have no idea what my life is going to look like next week.”

Her eyes go big. “Or one of those fortune-teller machines! Remember the ones they had at the fair when we were kids? Brittany was obsessed with those.”

A familiar tug of loneliness pulls at my heart at the mention of my sister, and I have to swallow hard before I can speak again. “When the fair comes this summer, let’s go find one. She’d like that.”

Stella gives a sharp nod. “It’s a plan. Now get dressed and come out there to have a beer with your friends. Everyone’s worried about you.”

“I don’t know.” I look at the ceiling, willing my eyes to dry. “I’m such a fucking mess right now, Stella.”

She slings an arm around my shoulder and squeezes me tight. “Come on. You need your girls, and we need to see that you’re okay—which you are, because you’re fucking fierce and can handle anything.”

I laugh at the modified mantra I share with Cami all the time and blink away my tears. I am fierce, dammit. “Thanks.”

“Absolutely. Trust me—of all people, I get how much guys suck.”

“Once again, I feel compelled to point out that in this situation, I’m the one who sucks, and you still haven’t told me what happened in Jamaica.”

“Hmm.” Another shrug then she points at my overnight bag next to the bed. “Get to primping, baby boo. Your friends are waiting.”

I wait for her to leave and shut the door before I pull off my towel and use it to dry my hair. On the nightstand, my phone flashes with a new message, and I pick it up.

Marston: I bought you something special.

“You can’t have everything handed to you your whole life and never expect to give something in return, Brin.” Julian’s words are a living thing eating away at my confidence and sense of self.

Me: You didn’t need to buy me anything. The only gift I want is another night with you.

I stare at my phone after I send the message, realizing how complicated nights together are going to be once Cami gets home.

Marston: I want that too. I’m doing everything I can to make sure it happens.

I frown as I reread his message half a dozen times. Everything he can? Does that mean he might not be coming back? Even the possibility of that makes me feel too heavy. Please come back. Please don’t make me say goodbye yet.

Julian’s words gnaw at me again. “I’ve given enough, and you’ve given me shit-all in return.”

I can’t ask Marston to stay forever. He has a life on the other side of the country, a house, friends, and a business to run. I type, I’m not asking you to stay forever, then delete it. Then I type, I don’t want you sacrificing anything for me, then delete that too. Finally, I manage a message I don’t have to overanalyze.

Me: Cami’s home Saturday, but Friday night is yours.

Marston: Just Friday? That’s a start, but you know me better than to think that’ll be enough.

I swallow hard. Because I do.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Brinley

Friday morning, after my staff meeting and just as I’ve sat down to fire up my computer, Marston stalks into my office in jeans and a fitted T-shirt, looking so good I want to eat him up.

“I didn’t think I’d see you until later,” I say, grinning.

He shuts the door behind him. Locks it. The heavy click echoes off my office walls, and I feel it between my legs—a clench, a vibration, a promise. “This morning’s meeting got canceled last minute, so I canceled my lunch meeting because I was sick of waiting to see you.” He stalks around to my side of the desk, eyes dark, intense. “How are you this morning?”

“I’m okay.” I stand and smooth down my black-and-white wrap dress. I put it on this morning thinking of him, imagining what it would be like when I finally got him alone tonight and he untied the bow and . . . I’m too full of nerves to sit, but now that I’m out of my chair, I don’t know what to do with my hands. “I’ve missed you,” I whisper.

He trails his gaze over me and leaves shivers in his wake. My nipples tighten against the lace of my bra as I anticipate the feel of his mouth on mine. “You sleep okay?”

No. Kace’s house creaks in ways I’m not used to and I just feel . . . weird staying there. “Not bad.” I was up half the night thinking about him. Wanting him. The other half, I was worrying—about Cami and how our sudden move is going to affect her, and about what I’m doing with Marston. Can we make this work? Am I asking for heartache if I even try?

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