I push the worry out of my head that Tristan’s words bring. He has a point. But I don’t care what my parents think and it’s not like I’m bringing her to meet them. I’m not that serious about Jade, not yet. It’s only been about a month. Granted, the best month of my life but still.

“Screw all this Shep’s got a girlfriend talk,” Gabe says irritably. “We have more pressing matters to discuss.”

“Like what?” I ask.

“Like when are we going to close down the house? Business is slow. Attendance is down. The semester’s almost finished and there’s no point in stringing this out.” Gabe nods once. “I vote we shut her down right now.”

“Without one last weekend blowout event? Hell no.” Tristan shakes his head. “We’ll shut it down after Saturday. Let’s organize something, put together an end of the season event or whatever.”

“End of the season?” I send him a look. “I didn’t realize gambling had a season.”

Tristan shrugs. “It does when your clientele are college students. “

“Do we have enough time to organize an event?” Gabe asks.

“Absolutely. I’ll get started on the deets today. Trust me. It’ll be awesome. But we’ll all have to work Saturday night. Even you, Mister I’m in a Real Relationship,” Gabe says, pointing at me.

Great. I was hoping to spend Saturday night with Jade. Maybe I could convince her to come. She hates that place—and I guess I can’t blame her—but I’d like her with me that night.

“I’ll be there,” I reassure the both of them. I’m not about to shirk my responsibilities, though I know they both believe I’ll blow them off first chance I get. Not with this though. The house is business. I don’t do it for the money but we’re so caught up in it now, no way can I abandon it. It’s a project that took on a life of its own and I’m one-third responsible for it.

My phone buzzes and I pull it out of my pocket, eager to see if it’s Jade.

Imagine my disappointment when I realize it’s Mom.

What are your plans this weekend?

My heart starts to thump erratically and not in a good way. Why the hell is she asking me that?

Don’t tell me you’re coming to see me.

Gabe and Tristan are talking big plans for Saturday night. Free beer (need to put a limit on that). Special two-for-one deals (that needs a limit too). All sorts of special crap to draw people in before we shut down.

My phone buzzes again.

That’s exactly what I was going to tell you. Only for one night though. Your father has business in Los Angeles this weekend. Thought we’d drop by and see you for dinner Saturday.

Fucking great.

“My parents are coming this weekend,” I mutter to no one in particular, still staring at the screen of my phone.

“Get out,” Tristan says. “Why?”

I lift my head and glare at him. “Not joking. Mom just texted me. They’ll be here Saturday night. They want to have dinner.”

“But you have plans,” Gabe points out.

Plans for the illegal gambling house I run with them that my parents know nothing about. If they found out, they’d fucking flip.

“I can work the later shift. No way will she let me skip out on dinner,” I say grimly.

“That fucking sucks,” Gabe says. “Maybe you should take your girl. Get that whole scenario out of the way.”

Say the fuck what? Why does Gabe keep talking about my parents and Jade? Like I’d want to subject Jade to them anyway.

“Tell me about it.” I shake my head and glance down at my phone, deciding I need to answer her.

Sounds good. Call me when you get in.

Will do, darling. Maybe you should bring a friend. Bonus points if she’s a girl.

Is my mother a mind reader or what? I break out into a cold sweat just reading that latest text.

There’s no one special in my life.

I throw out a bogus answer in the hopes it distracts her.

That’s not what I heard.

Glancing up, I send a hard glare in Tristan’s direction until he can feel my eyes on him. He turns his head, his eyes going wide. “What’s up with you gossiping with your mama? And mine?” I ask.

Tristan at least has the decency to look embarrassed. “What are you talking about?”

“Somehow my mom knows there’s a girl in my life?” Hell, did Tristan set me up or what? The asshole.

Now he’s blushing. And I’ve never seen him blush. “I was bored. Mom called. I kept talking. One thing led to another and…”

“You told her about Jade,” I finish for him.

“Yeah. Sort of.” He nods. “Sorry. She worked it out of me.”

Great. It’s not that I don’t want to bring Jade to dinner with my parents. It’s more that I don’t want her to meet them. Yet. Shit, I don’t know what I want. It feels too soon. We don’t know each other that well. I mean yeah, I’m feeling pretty head over heels for her, which is fucking crazy but to bring my family into it makes everything seem so damn serious.

And I’m not sure if I’m ready for that.

“So I have some news!”

I wince at Mom’s too loud, too excited voice in my ear. I haven’t really talked to her in weeks, not since I started hanging out with Shep and I’d been feeling guilty. Mom and I are close. It’s been the two of us against the world for a long time and when I went away to college, she was a little sad. I knew she’d miss me but I didn’t want her miserable while I’m off becoming an actual adult.

But then she met Dex and they started going out pretty steadily. We haven’t met yet but she’s told me enough about him and I can sense he’s a pretty cool guy. He treats Mom well and that’s all I can ask for.

He also occupies all of her time. Not that I have any room to talk. The minute Shep walks into my life, he’s all I can think about. Forget anyone else. Forget my freaking mother, which is awful. So yeah, I haven’t called her lately, but she hasn’t really called me either so I guess we’re both totally preoccupied with the men in our lives?

The fact that I even have a man in my life—a man like stupid sexy Shep—is a thrill that I still can’t get over. I’m freaking pathetic, I swear.

“What’s your news?” I ask cheerily as I walk across campus. I just left class and I’m feeling good. School’s almost over. I’m confident about my finals. Oh, and it’s a perfect spring day. The sky is so blue it looks fake, and the cool breeze brings with it the salty tang of the ocean. I sort of hate that I have class until late tonight. It’s my last one of the semester and we turn in the final next week.

Hmm, I bet I could ditch if I wanted. I might. I might text Shep and see if he’ll pick me up early so we could go back to his place and get naked and…

“…so it sold! In less than forty-eight hours! Can you believe it? Let me tell you, it was about the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a long time, I swear!” Mom yells.

Wait a minute. What did she just say?

“Back it up, Mom. I think I missed the first part,” I mumble, dread creeping over me, settling like a cold lump in the pit of my stomach. I don’t know if I’m going to like what she’s about to repeat. To say I’m quietly freaking out would be apt.

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