God, my thoughts are so bitter, it’s pitiful.

“Jade, stop.”

I continue to ignore him, coming to a stop when I see a giant group of guys standing in front of the door leading out to the massive wrap around porch. A few of them pick up a smaller guy who’s wearing the fraternity T-shirt, holding him upside down as he struggles and begs them to put him down.

Yeah, I’m not getting past that crowd anytime soon. Deciding to deviate from my plan, I turn a sharp right and head up the stairs, hoping like crazy I can hide out for a bit until Shep disappears. He won’t be persistent. I don’t think he has a persistent bone in his body and how am I going to make him change?

I’m not. I need to face that.

The stairs seem incredibly steep and I’m practically out of breath when I reach the top, glancing around before I start down the hall. I throw open the first door on the left to find a guy and a girl writhing on the bed half naked. They’re so into each other, they don’t even notice me.

I don’t bother saying sorry as I quickly close the door.

It’s like this in practically every room I peer into. If they’re not having sex, they’re passing a joint and in one room, I found one of the Ems—I’m not sure which one—and I wave at her as she smiles and taps the side of her nose, the guy with her holding a mirror in front of her covered with tiny white lines.

Looks like someone is about to get a bump.

I still can’t believe I’d almost done one myself. I’m not one to cave in to peer pressure but I’d been so drunk, feeling so unsure…I can’t explain it. Since the moment I met Shep, I can’t explain my behavior.

The man makes me crazy. Makes me do crazy things. Makes me want even crazier things.

Giving up, I find an empty bathroom and shut the door, turning the lock and going to the sink, where I wash my hands, then splash cool water on my cheeks. It doesn’t help. I’m still flushed, most likely from anger, but also from…arousal. I’d actually enjoyed that little encounter with Shep. Everything between us is always heightened. The colors brighter, the sounds louder, our words intense, the way I want him…overwhelming. Whenever we snip at each other, it usually turns me on.

What this says about me I’m not sure but I’m not going to question it at the moment.

The door handle turns this way and that, the actual door starting to move and I call out, “Occupied, give me a minute,” as I grab a towel and start drying my hands.

But the jerk on the other side of the door is persistent. The handle rattles again, harder this time and then the door swings open, leaving me standing there with my mouth hanging open, so thankful I wasn’t sitting on the toilet when this particular moment happened.

Especially when I see who’s standing in the doorway.

Shep.

I gape at him, pissed that he’d invade my privacy so easily, secretly thrilled that he was so dogged in his pursuit of…me.

“What are you doing?” I ask, my voice shrill, my emotions going haywire. On one side I’m pissed that he had the nerve to just bust in on me like this. On the other side, I’m thrilled he’s proven persistent after all.

Typically confused. That’s normal when it comes to my feelings for Shep.

“Looking for you,” he says simply as he strides into the bathroom and turns to lock the door, and then the deadbolt above it. “The lock in the handle doesn’t really work,” he explains as he turns to face me.

“Yeah, just realized that.” He would know this, considering it’s his frat house and all. How could I be so stupid, thinking I could escape him? He’s everywhere. “I don’t want to talk to you. And I definitely don’t want you locking us in here together.”

“We have to talk.” He leans against the door, looking freaking amazing. God, I hate him. It’s like he didn’t even try and he looks like pure sex. Wearing a charcoal colored T-shirt that stretches across his broad shoulders and chest, accompanied by dark rinse jeans that mold to his thighs, reminding me exactly how strong and thick they are.

Not that I need to remember. The sensation of his hairy thigh is forever imprinted on my palm, thank you very much.

“There’s nothing to talk about. Trust me, it’s over.” I back up a step, my knee nudging against the toilet seat and I step away, grossed out by the thought of all the male butts that have sat on that thing. “Go away.”

“I’m not some trained pet you can send away at your every command, Jade.” He takes a step closer, like he knows he has me cornered and knowing his asshole tendencies of late, I bet he does know this. Has he kept tabs on me? God, I hope not. I’m infinitely boring, especially by Shep standards.

I take another step back, glancing over my shoulder to see the hideous floral printed shower curtain directly behind me. If I don’t watch it I’m falling ass backward into the tub and wouldn’t that be a sight?

Not that I care any longer what this man thinks of me.

“I wish you were so I could get rid of you once and for all,” I retort. “Stop chasing after me, Shep. There’s no use.”

His eyes light up and I wonder if it was my use of the word Shep. I rarely say his name and I know he realizes it. “I’m sorry.” He’s approaching, slowly but surely and I have nowhere else to go. Nowhere to escape. He’s got me well and truly cornered. “For what I did to you. I was a total dick.”

An apology. Again, not what I was expecting. “Do you even realize what you did?”

He nods solemnly, looking downright contrite. “I shouldn’t have run.”

Ah, so he considers it running. I figured he’d found another girl and that was the end of Shep and Jade. “So you ran away from me?” After I gave you a blowjob? I want to say exactly that but I’m too embarrassed. I’ll be humiliated if he hated it.

And he must’ve hated it if it made him run.

“Yeah.” He nods, lifts up his hand to run it across his cheek. I don’t think he’s shaved and it’s like I can feel the rasp of his whiskers. As if I’m the one who’s touching him. “It’s what I do. Run. I’m real good at it. Should’ve been on the cross country team when I was in high school. Or track. Yeah, definitely track. I would’ve kicked ass at both of them but I was too busy lighting up bombs and trying to burn down the chem lab.”

I frown. He’s not making any sense. And he has that ever-present red cup in his hand. “Hand it over,” I tell him, wagging my fingers at him, indicating I want to see it. He offers it to me and I lift the glass to my nose, sniffing at the contents.

Nothing.

Though aren’t some liquors hard to smell? As in they’re odorless. I’ve heard that about vodka…is that what’s in Shep’s cup? I wouldn’t put it past him.

“Are you drunk?” I hand him back his cup, thankful that he moves away from me. Even though it’s only by a few inches, it’s still enough to make me feel like I can breathe again.

He smiles and the sight is fucking dazzling. He has the best smile ever. I’m breathless all over again just looking at him. “That’s my goal.”

Ugh. Men are pathetic. “I think you’re close.” I sigh. “Just tell me what you’re drinking.” Why I care I don’t know. He should be drinking cheap beer like everyone else but nooo. He’s Shepard Prescott, special snowflake.

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