Her laughter dies and she stares at me as if I’ve sprouted three heads. “You had servants? As in plural?”

“My family still does.” Hell, we have the housekeeper here, not that I want to admit it to her. Nadia comes in twice a week and cleans this place up. Once a week, she shops for us, keeping the fridge and pantry full. I don’t know what we’d do without her.

“Wow.” She edges away from the oven, away from me, her hand sliding across the smooth granite countertop. Her nails are short and painted a deep red and her fingers are slender. I imagine them on me. Touching me. “I can’t even wrap my head around what that’s like.”

No one can. Tristan gets it since he comes from the same world. Gabe’s family is wealthy too. It’s why we’re such close friends. We understand each other, what it’s like to be us. Not many people can wrap their heads around it.

The doorbell rings, startling us both, and I turn toward the living room, listening as I hear Tristan answer the door, Gabe’s voice ringing through the house.

“I’ve brought the party, motherfucker! So gimme a beer!”

Jesus, he’s obnoxious when he wants to be.

Jade sends me a look. “Your friends?”

“Yeah,” I admit. “Look, I didn’t invite them. This is all Tristan’s thing. I had nothing to do with his plans.”

“What did you plan for tonight?” She raises a delicate brow.

“We were just going to hang out,” I say innocently. The way she’s looking at me…she makes me sweat. And not necessarily in a good way. “Maybe have some ice cream.”

“Ice cream?” she asks incredulously.

I sound like the biggest idiot ever. This girl makes me say stupid things. “Well, yeah. Or whatever you want. We have a pretty full pantry.” I wave a hand toward the living room, where I hear more people entering the house through the front door. How many people did Tristan invite anyway? “Or we could go hang out with everyone and watch the baseball game. You a Giants fan?”

“I’ve always been more of a Dodger fan,” she admits with a wince.

I clutch my chest. “That’s it. Sorry. This won’t work. Giants and Dodger fans don’t mix.”

Laughing, Jade shakes her head. “Fine then. I’m out.” She makes like she’s going to leave but I grab her right at her elbow, curling my fingers around her arm, smoothing my thumb over her skin.

“Kidding,” I say, my voice soft, my gaze locked with hers. “Let’s go see what everyone’s up to.”

She nods. “Okay.”

Pleasure ripples through me. She didn’t try to pull out of my touch once, and she’s sober.

We’re making progress.

There are six girls in this living room, including me, and only five guys. Meaning the odds are off and they’re all glaring at me because I’m the one sitting next to Shep Prescott. He doesn’t pay attention to any of them, despite them constantly trying to get his attention. They call his name, they ask him questions, they offer to grab him another beer, did he want anything from the pantry? Or they keep trying to pass him a joint.

He took a couple of puffs when Gabe offered him a hit but other than that, there’s been no smoking on his part. Not that I care. I’m not a big smoker of weed. I’ve tried it a few times but it’s harsh on my throat and always makes me cough no matter what I do. So I tend to avoid it.

I do sip from my second beer as I sit next to Shep on the couch, hyper aware of his close proximity. Our thighs touch. His arm is slung around the back of the couch, his hand dangling precariously close to my shoulder and I swear I feel the occasional brush of his fingers in my hair. He’s extremely focused on the game. Yelling when there’s a bad play, a good play, it doesn’t matter. He’s really into it.

Me, on the other hand? I’m really into watching him. He’s very…relaxed, and I figure it’s from the weed. He keeps asking if I’m okay, if I need anything, if I want another beer.

He’s treating me like the girls are treating him. And it’s kind of awesome.

Fine, it’s really awesome. I swore to myself I wouldn’t fall for his act. I thought he was a world class player. In fact, I know he’s a world class player. But for some reason, he’s into me and I’m going to enjoy this for as long as I can.

I think this might be the beer talking.

Gabe sits next to me on the couch, making his moves on some innocent girl who has no idea this is most likely her one and only chance with him. On occasion, he says something to me. Something silly and funny that makes me laugh. I like Gabe better than I do Tristan, but I think it’s because Gabe is so easygoing, even more so than Shep, and that’s saying a lot.

There are other friends there. Two guys who are doing tequila shots and brought a bong with them that they keep passing back and forth. They’re friends of Tristan’s and they sort of keep to themselves.

Weird. This entire night is weird. And confusing. I don’t know what Shep wants from me anymore. I know what I want. I sneak a glance at what I want, staring at his face, his perfect, full, sexy lips. I want those lips on me. Yes, that’s what I want. I want my hands all over him and his mouth on mine and his hands on my butt, pulling me in closer and…yeah. I want all of that. Every last drop of it.

Clearly, the beer is talking.

I drink the last of it and lean forward, setting the bottle on the coffee table. One of the girls—I can’t keep track of their names and I swear to God, they all look the same, blonde, fake and blonde—glares at me from where she’s sitting, her eyes narrowed, her lips pursed.

If I could flip her the bird, I so would but instead I lean back against the couch, yelping in surprise when I feel Shep’s arm come gently down upon my shoulders. I stiffen up, my breath lodges in my throat as I wait for him to say something. To do something.

But he doesn’t. He keeps his arm firmly in place as he and Gabe discuss the last inning, his long fingers curling around my shoulder and gripping it lightly. His touch is possessive without being obvious and I want to lean into him. Rest my head on his chest and go to sleep. I’ve been going all day and I had a late class. I’m suddenly tired.

Yep, beer is the culprit again.

I wish everyone would leave. Just magically disappear so Shep and I could be alone on this couch. I wonder what he would do then. I would love whatever he wanted to do to me because oh my God, the only thing I could possibly want at this very moment is to feel his hands on me. Possessing me. His mouth on mine. Soft and sweet at first. Then firmer, more insistent. I bet he’s an excellent kisser. I bet he knows just how to use his tongue too. I’ve fantasized about his tongue and his lips for days. Since the moment I first saw him, truthfully.

“What are you thinking?” he asks, his voice low so only I can hear, his mouth right at my temple. “I can just see the cogs turning in your brain.”

My cheeks are hot. My entire body is hot. Should I tell him the truth? Probably not. That’s too risky. Being honest is not always the best policy, or something like that. “Nothing,” I tell him.

“Liar.”

I look up at him, ignoring whatever’s happening on TV, ignoring what Gabe’s yelling about. Forgetting about the girls’ glaring at me, not paying attention to Tristan as he yells he’ll be right back before he dashes into the kitchen.

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