I raise a brow. No girl has uttered those words to me before. Ever. I sound like an asshole even in my own head but it’s the truth. I never give them time to want to be finished with me. “You don’t mean it,” I drawl, my stomach growling. The shrimp and fries smell fucking delicious and I’m starved.

“I definitely mean it. This has been a joke to you from the start. Winning me in a hand of poker. Give me a break,” she mumbles just as she plucks a giant shrimp from her basket and sinks her teeth into it. The sound of pleasure she gives at first taste has my cock twitching.

Damn it.

“This is good,” she says once she swallows. Her eyes are wide, her expression a little dazed, like she’s shocked I’d take her to a place that serves, you know, delicious food.

Her expectations of me seem incredibly low. But I’m thankful for the distraction. At least she’s not griping at me about what a shit I am anymore.

“You sound surprised.” I give in and start eating, thankful for that first awesome bite. I haven’t been here in a while and I always wonder why I don’t come more often.

“Well, look at this place. It’s kind of run down.” She glances around and so do I. She’s right. The interior isn’t the most impressive but the restaurant has been around for ages and we’re right by the ocean. The food and the view are what make this place.

That and the fact it’s far away from campus so I’m ensured we won’t run into anyone we know. Or I might know, like some girl from my past.

Talk about a mood killer.

“Usually the worst looking places serve the best food,” I tell her because it’s true. I learned that a long time ago, traveling as much as I did growing up. The hole in the wall is where all the locals eat. It’s practically law.

“You’re right,” she says as she grabs another shrimp and holds it aloft. “Looks can be deceiving.”

“Definitely,” I agree, never letting my gaze stray from her face. I wonder if she’s referring to me. I can only hope she’s referring to me. She thinks I’m one thing but fuck.

I’m tempted to prove to her that I’m another.

The second we leave the restaurant my phone dings, indicating I have a text from Gabe.

It’s out of control here dude.

I type out a quick reply.

I could give two shits. Handle it yourself. I’m on a date.

My phone immediately rings, earning me a dirty look from Jade.

“Please don’t tell me it’s one of your skanks,” she says.

“It’s Gabe,” I tell her before I answer the phone. “What the hell do you want?”

“A date?” Gabe asks incredulously. “Give me a break, fucker. Who you banging now?”

“Get a life, asshole.” I’m about to hang up but I hear Gabe yelling at me not to. “What?”

“I was serious when I said it was out of control here. Some dude is losing his ass at the blackjack table and he’s about to come unhinged.”

“Kick him out then,” I suggest, already bored. We’ve had guys lose their shit before when playing our tables. Some don’t know when to stop. Some are up so high with a fat stack of chips in front of them and then they lose everything, which in turn, enrages them. We’ve had to deal with drunken assholes, fights, accusations of theft, and we’ve always been able to bring everything under control.

More like I’ve always been able to bring everything under control. Gabe is useless. He’d rather charm everyone rather than deal with angry people. Tristan isn’t much better.

“He won’t go. He’s drunk as hell and literally gripping the edge of the table like his life is depending on it. Making all the other players nervous, including our dealer.” Gabe pauses and I hear a guttural roar in the background, like something you’d hear in the jungle. “Did I mention he’s about six-foot-five and easily three hundred pounds?”

Exhaling loudly, I let a string of curse words fly, earning a weird glance from Jade. We’re standing beside the front of my car and she’s watching me with curiosity in her eyes. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” I say before I end the call. Freaking Gabe can’t handle the tough shit on his own. He always leaves it up to me.

“You need to be somewhere?” Jade asks hopefully.

I head over to the passenger side and open the door for her. She gives me an odd look, pausing before she slides inside the car. “Yeah. And you’re coming with me.”

“Oh, no I’m not.” She starts to protest, her mouth opening to spew out something else negative but I shake my head, cutting her off. Then I gently shove her shoulder, pushing her into the car so she has no choice but to land in the passenger seat with a plop. She glares up at me, her green eyes shooting daggers, her pale legs at an awkward angle that draw my attention because she has a great pair of legs, damn it. But I don’t say a word. Just slam the door shut and round the back of the car, opening my door and getting in so I can get the hell out of there.

“You’re taking me back to my dorm,” she says as I start the car. “Right?”

“No.” I press my foot against the gas, making the engine rev. It sounds good. Fucking great. I love this car. It’s fast as fuck and I need that right now because my plan is to go to the house, help drag that gorilla drunk away from the blackjack table and then return my attention to Jade. Fuck this fucking problem and Gabe taking me away from her. Jesus. So much hate for my life right now.

“What do you mean, no?” She sounds furious, which somehow turns me on. I’m fucked. Hearing the anger in her voice actually arouses me and I have no idea why. Angry chicks usually piss me off. Or I walk away from them, not wanting to deal with the drama.

With Jade, every time she gets angry at me—pretty much every time we’re together she’s angry, I can’t lie—all I can imagine is if she’s that passionate when she’s mad? Imagine what she’d be like in bed.

Or on a couch.

Against a wall.

In the shower.

On the floor.

In the backseat of my car.

Clearly, she distracts the shit out of me.

“I mean, this date isn’t over,” I tell her as I throw the car into reverse and wrap my arm around the back of her seat, glancing over my shoulder so I can back out. My fingers dangle treacherously close to her shoulder and I’m tempted to touch her. Just a casual brush of fingers, nothing major.

But I’m nervous that once I touch her, I won’t be able to stop. More like I won’t want to stop.

“You took me to dinner. Isn’t that enough?” She crosses her arms in front of her chest, plumping up her breasts and I sneak a glance at them, only to immediately regret it because damn, her cleavage. The girl’s body is bangin’.

“No, it’s not enough.” I keep my gaze focused on the road in front of me, speeding but not too much over the limit. “I just need to make a quick stop. It won’t take long.” Better not take long. I have way more important things to do.

Like Jade.

“Where?”

“There’s trouble at one of the tables,” I mutter, just under my breath, hoping she won’t hear me.

But she must have sonar hearing because she swivels in her seat, her arms dropping to her sides as she stares at me so hard, I bet she’s burning holes in my face. “You’re taking me back to that—gambling house? Oh God, no. I do not want to return to the scene of the crime.”

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