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Sighing, I brought a hand to my forehead. ’’Okay. Well, where are you then?’’

’’Not far away. Where are you?’’

’’I\m... at a good friend\s house.’’ I risked a glance at Jaxon whose jaw was strongly clenched. Mr Glare was coming back, fast.

’’Text me the address and I\ll be there soon.’’

’’Yeah, yeah, okay.’’

’’See you, babe.’’

’’See you.’’ I hung up and stared at the phone in horror. He was going to come here, and he was going to see Jaxon and... My breathing quickened.

’’He\s coming here, isn\ he?’’ Jaxon asked flatly.

’’Yeah,’’ I simply answered.

’’To the house?’’

’’He wants me to send the address. I don\ have to if you don\ want me to-’’

’’Go ahead and send it. I\d like to meet your guy.’’ He didn\ try to hide the bitterness behind his words.

I let out an unsteady sigh as I sent the address to Daniel. I couldn\ lie about where I was. I couldn\ ask to meet him elsewhere either. It would be too suspicious, and he\d wonder why I would want to keep my ’’good friend’’ to myself. The good friend was meant to mean Lucinda, but he might not think so when he showed up.

’’Are you gonna tell him?’’ Jaxon\s eyes were dead set on me, taking in my panicked reaction without a care in the world.

’’Tell him what?’’

’’That you f*ked me.’’

Grimacing, I jumped out of bed and hurried to my suitcase beside the door.

’’Are you going to tell him?’’ he repeated when I didn\ answer.

’’Of all the things to ask me, this is what comes out of your mouth first?’’ I retorted, scowling at him.

He sat up and rested his back against the headboard. The covers barely covered him below the hips, and I could make out his V line. I turned my eyes away just after he crossed his arms.

He replied, ’’Yeah, this is what I\m asking.’’

’’Well don\ .’’

’’Why not?’’

’’Because it\s none of your business.’’

’’It became my business when you all too willingly f*ked me last night, Sara.’’

I shuddered at his words, so blatantly said in such a blaséway. ’’Are you gonna tell your girlfriend?’’ I fired back, feeling smug now.

’’Already told her,’’ he casually replied with a crooked smile.

Shocked, I met his gaze. ’’What?’’

’’Told her last night. She wasn\ my girlfriend, by the way.’’

’’You called her your girlfriend.’’

’’I may have misled you.’’

’’You were screwing her, though.’’

’’Yeah, we f*ked, but we weren\ an item.’’

I stopped looking for something to wear and turned completely to him. ’’The other night you were all over each other. You held her hand and-’’

’’I did that to piss you off.’’ He studied my stunned reaction and shrugged. ’’No sense in lying, right?’’

’’You led her on. Do you know how hurt she must feel?’’

’’She knew what she was getting herself into when she started lingering around me, practically begging for a root. She knew it was coming. They all know it.’’

I was shocked. Outraged. Seething. ’’How could you be so cold?’’

’’Coming from the girl who cheated on her boyfriend.’’

He\s not my boyfriend, I wanted to say. But that didn\ feel right, because technically he kind of was in a really messed up way. Daniel had stressed monogamy, and I had been on the same page. I wouldn\ have agreed to our arrangement if I knew he was out screwing other women. God, if he knew about Jaxon... He\s going to know about Jaxon, my mind piped in. There was no way around it. It would be wrong to withhold that information.

’’Well?’’ Jaxon was still waiting for his answer. The bastard.

’’Of course I\m going to tell him,’’ I muttered. I returned to my suitcase and pulled out a pair of jeans and a grey thin sweater.

’’Do you think he\ll still want you?’’ When I didn\ reply, he snickered. ’’He couldn\ possibly want you, right? Unless he\s really that pussy whipped-’’

’’Would you stop talking about him?’’ I interrupted irritably.

I ignored his grin and hurried into the bathroom to change. I went to throw my hair up, and then angrily growled at seeing the damn hickey again. It was so damn obvious. F*k, f*k, f*k. I mean, I was going to tell him I technically cheated, but I didn\ want to strut around with the proof right there on my neck. I also wanted to tell him in a quiet place and not break it to him the second we saw each other.

I splashed water in my face while my heart hammered away having to come clean for something I\d never done before. Cheating? Me? Oh, God. How could short encounters with Jaxon turn me into this kind of person? My stomach dropped and I might have heaved on the spot, only there was nothing to throw up;I\d eaten nothing yesterday.

I applied some make-up, and then attempted to cover up the hickey with said make-up. It was even more painfully obvious. Sighing, I shoved all my hair to that part of my neck and left the bathroom.

Jaxon wasn\ in bed or even in the room. I hadn\ even heard him leave. Prolonging my time in the room, I made the bed and smoothed out the sheet wrinkles that Jaxon had indented into his side of the mattress. I leaned in and smelled his scent, closing my eyes briefly at the surreal feeling it gave me. God, I was getting in too deep.

I left the room and descended the stairs. The smell of bacon hit my nose, and I followed it into the kitchen where Lucinda was standing in front of the stove top, frying up a shocking amount of bacon strips.

’’Good morning,’’ I said half-heartedly.

She turned around and cheerfully gave me a hug. ’’Good morning, darling. How was your sleep?’’

’’It-it was... Um... It was good.’’ I turned away from her curious eyes. ’’Daniel, the guy I\m seeing, is on his way over. I didn\ know whether it was okay to give him the address...’’

She smiled. ’’Of course it\s okay. I\d love to meet him.’’

I nodded. ’’Okay, well, he\s coming so... Not like there\s, you know, a way out of this inevitable meet and greet. So, yeah, he\s... on his way.’’ My nerves were through the roof and I was rambling like a mad man. ’’I\m sure you\ll love him because he\s a really great guy.’’ A guy I just cheated on. ’’He treats me really well.’’ And I just threw that away by cheating on him. ’’So...F*k!’’ I plopped down on a stool around the kitchen island, digging my hands into my hair.

A hand patted my back. ’’Are you alright, darling?’’


’’What\s happened?’’

’’You don\ want to know, Lucinda.’’

’’Tell me.’’

’’How much of a screw up I am? What mistake do I even begin with? There\s just so many.’’

Before she could respond, the doorbell rang. My breath caught in my throat, and I looked up at Lucinda with horrified eyes. ’’Can you come with me?’’

I knew I was freaking her out, but I needed her help. I couldn\ face him right away on my own. I might have died on the spot with guilt.

She nodded. ’’Of course.’’

I let her lead the way to the front door, and I half hid behind her as my stomach continued to sink.

She opened the door and I peered up at the dazzling black haired, brown eyed man dressed in a comfortable pair of trousers and flattering button up shirt with a dark green jacket over. When he saw me, he broke into a huge smile. There was always something so calming about his face, and my nerves died down enough for me to smile back.

’’Hey beautiful,’’ he said.

’’Hey, come in!’’ When he did, I motioned to Lucinda. ’’This is Lucinda Barlow. I\ve known her all my life. She\s... the best woman I\ve ever known. My second mom.’’ I didn\ understand why I was explaining that part to him immediately. Maybe because I omitted telling him all about her existence all the years we\d known each other?

Lucinda smiled at my introduction, genuinely touched by my words and gave him a friendly hug.

’’This is Daniel,’’ I told her.

’’Yes, you\ve told me all about your lawyer boyfriend,’’ she exclaimed. His eyebrows rose surprisingly at the word \oyfriend\ and I cringed inwardly. ’’Nice to meet you, Daniel.’’

’’Nice to meet you too, Lucinda.’’

’’I\m making us all bacon and eggs, so go on and have a seat while I continue cooking it up.’’ She hurried back to the kitchen, leaving us by the door.

His smile broadened as he wrapped his arms around me and lifted me up off the ground. ’’I missed you so damn much,’’ he said, hugging me tightly against him. He set me down and immediately kissed me. There was a hasty eagerness behind it that took me off guard. I can\ say I was just as eager.

’’I missed you too,’’ I smiled against his mouth. This guy gave me so much warmth, and he was so... pleasant. No glaring or snapping. ’’But I\m really unimpressed you didn\ tell me you were coming.’’

He laughed softly. ’’I didn\ want to wake you at four in the morning to tell you I was on the way. Besides, I\ve been worried about you. You\ve got too much on your plate to handle alone.’’

’’Well, I appreciate you making the drive.’’

He began tucking my hair behind my ear, and I recoiled, fear stricken that he might see the mark on my neck. I played it off by giving him a quick kiss, ignoring his scrunched eyebrows and confused eyes as I led him down the hallway and into the kitchen.

’’So are you out of that motel?’’ he asked me as we entered.

’’Yeah, I spent the night here in the guest bedroom upstairs.’’

’’Good, I\m glad you actually listened for once.’’

’’Yeah, I should do that more often.’’ I gulped, and I figured he couldn\ make out the seriousness in that statement. No way did I want to mention last night\s attack. ’’Have a seat, and I\ll help Lucinda out.’’

He sat on a stool around the massive island, and watched me carefully as I pulled out the plates. Even pulling out the f*king plates was a nightmare because I didn\ know whether to grab three or four. Jaxon hadn\ showed up. Maybe he didn\ intend on joining. God, I hoped so. I kept it at three and set them on the island. Then I helped set the paper towels down as Lucinda moved every bacon strip over top of them. I was hungry, but the thought of putting anything in my belly when I had such a huge confession to make to Daniel in a matter of hours made me feel more sick than hungry.

’’You have a lovely house,’’ remarked Daniel.

’’Thank you!’’ replied Lucinda, setting the tongs down as she started on cracking the eggs. ’’I think it\s too big. If it had been up to me, I would have gotten a little cosy house somewhere quiet.’’

’’Who was it up to?’’ My heart tightened at his question.

’’My son, Jaxon. It was his surprise two years ago and, well, since he enjoys swinging by his mom\s place regularly, I\d like to think the space was a good thing after all.’’ It was a joke that had Daniel chuckling and me quivering.

’’Talking about me, are we?’’ said Jaxon as he entered the kitchen.

For me, the whole atmosphere was disturbed by his presence. It had been soft and carefree, now it was tense and joyless and filled with Daniel\s sudden curiosity.

Jaxon had showered. That was why he\d been missing in action. Where Daniel was all dressy with his tailored outfits, Jaxon was all over the show in comfortable wear, donning a worn out black hoodie over ruffled blue denims. His dirty blonde short do was dripping in water, like he hadn\ even bothered to dry off. I don\ think he\s ever dried off after a shower.

’’I was,’’ Lucinda said, wiping her hands with the tea towel nearby. ’’Daniel, this is my son, Jaxon.’’

Daniel got up from his stool and extended his hand out. With a surprisingly pleasant demeanour, Jaxon shook it, returning the soft smile Daniel was giving him.

’’Nice to meet you,’’ said Daniel.

’’Nice to meet you too. Come all the way from Winthrop, right?’’ Jaxon casually asked, making his way to the stool across from Daniel.

’’Yeah, I did.’’

’’Long drive, huh? Gotta have good company or else it\s boring as hell.’’

’’Do you travel up there often?’’

’’Not anymore. I used to.’’ Jaxon flashed me a deliberate look as I hesitantly placed an extra plate down in front of him.

Daniel was a smart guy, and the look alone from Jaxon to me had impelled even more curiosity. He studied me nonstop. I tried hard to appear as neutral as possible, knowing full well that Jaxon was going to intentionally keep dropping hints. I just hoped he wasn\ cruel enough to hint about last night. At this rate, Jaxon was capable of doing anything.

They made small chat about... the weather. Seriously? I set a large plate of bacon down in the centre of the island, and Lucinda walked around, setting eggs onto each of our plates. After pouring everyone a cup of orange juice, I sat down beside Daniel, and Lucinda beside Jaxon, and we all began eating. By all, I mean them and not me. I was too busy worrying over how the hell I was going to tell Daniel what happened.

’’So what are the plans for today, Sara?’’ Lucinda asked, no doubt trying to break the awkward silence in the air.

’’The skip will be at the house, so it\ll be a day of tossing stuff away,’’ I answered.

’’I\ll help you out with that,’’ Daniel told me, setting a soothing hand on my thigh as he watched me kick around a bacon strip with my fork. ’’I\ll make sure you get it done. No more distractions.’’

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