Seeing my breathless reaction causes him to break out with a smug grin. “That was our first official kiss as a couple.”

I wait for the panic to set in, but it doesn’t. “A couple,” I repeat, quietly.

“Damn straight.” He still has his hand on my lower back and I’m pressed against him, looking up at his eyes as they focus down on me. “And don’t worry,” he adds. “I’ll be informing Grayson myself. I ever see him trying to touch you like he does and he’ll be reintroduced to my fist.”

His hand moves from my lower back and up to my cheek. “I’m really leaving now. I’ll see you in an hour. I live you.” He gives me a quick peck on the lips and backs away, then turns toward the door.

“Holder?” I say as soon as I suck enough breath back into my lungs to speak. “What do you mean by reintroduced? Have you and Grayson been in a fight before?”

Holder’s expression turns into a tight-lipped blank one and he nods, but barely. “I told you before, babe. He’s not a good person.” The door closes behind him and he leaves me with even more questions. But what’s new?

I decide to forego my own shower and call Six, instead. I’ve got a lot to catch her up on. I run to my room and crawl out the window, then slide hers up and pull myself inside. I pick up the phone by her bed and take out my cell phone to find the text that she sent with her international number. When I start dialing, my cell phone receives an incoming message from Holder.

I’m really dreading spending all day with you. This doesn’t sound like fun at all. Also, your sundress is really unflattering and way too summery, but you should definitely keep it on.

I grin. Dammit, I really do live this hopeless boy.

I dial the number to reach Six and lay back on her bed. She answers groggily on the third ring.

“Hey,” I say. “You sleeping?”

I can hear her yawn. “Obviously not. But you really need to start taking time differences into consideration.”

I laugh. “Six? It’s afternoon there. Even if I did take time differences into consideration, it wouldn’t matter with you.”

“I had a rough morning,” she says, defensively. “I miss your face. What’s up?”

“Not much.”

“You lie. You sound annoyingly happy. I’m guessing you and Holder finally worked out whatever the hell happened at school that day?”

“Yep. And you are the first to know that I, Linden Sky Davis, am now a taken woman.”

She groans. “Why anyone would subject themselves to that sort of misery is beyond me. But I’m happy for you.”

“Tha…” I was about to say thanks, but my words are cut off by a very loud “Oh my, God!” from Six’s end.

“What?”

“I forgot. It’s your freaking birthday and I forgot! Happy birthday Sky and holy crap I’m the worst best friend ever.”

“It’s okay,” I laugh. “I’m sort of glad you forgot. You know how I hate presents and surprises and everything else that comes with birthdays.”

“Oh, wait. I just remembered how incredibly awesome I am. Check behind your dresser today.”

I roll my eyes. “Figures.”

“And tell your new boyfriend to get him some damn minutes.”

“Will do. I gotta go, your mom’s gonna shit when she sees this phone bill.”

“Yeah, well…she should be more in tune with the earth like your mom.”

I laugh. “Love you, Six. Be safe, okay?”

“Love you, too. And Sky?”

“Yeah?”

“You sound happy. I’m happy you’re happy.”

I smile and the line disconnects. I head back to my room and, as much as I hate presents, I’m still human and naturally curious. I immediately walk to my dresser and look behind it. On the floor is a wrapped box, so I bend down and pick it up. I walk to my bed and sit, then slide the lid off of it. It’s a box full of Snickers.

Dammit, I love her.

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 10:25 a.m.

I’m standing at my window impatiently waiting when Holder finally pulls up into the driveway. I walk out my front door and lock it behind me, then turn toward the car and freeze. He’s not alone. The passenger door opens and a guy steps out. When he turns around, I’m positive my facial expression is stuck between an OMG and a WTF. I’m learning.

Breckin is holding the passenger door open with a huge grin on his face. “Hope you don’t mind a third wheel today. My second best friend in the whole wide world invited me to come.”

I reach the passenger door, confused as hell. Breckin waits until I climb inside, then he opens the back door and climbs into the back seat. I lean forward and tilt my head toward Holder who’s laughing like he just revealed the punch line to a really funny joke. A joke I’m not a part of.

“Would one of you like to explain what the hell is going on?” I say.

Holder grabs my hand and pulls it to his mouth, giving my knuckles a kiss. “I’ll let Breckin explain. He talks faster, anyway.”

I spin around in my seat as Holder begins backing out of the driveway. I arch an eyebrow at Breckin.

He shoots me a clear look of guilt. “I’ve sort of had a double alliance going on for about two weeks now,” he says sheepishly.

I shake my head, attempting to wrap this confession around my mind. I glance back and forth between them. “Two weeks? You guys have been talking for two weeks? Without me? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I was sworn to secrecy,” Breckin says.

“But…”

“Turn around and put your seatbelt on,” Holder says to me.

I glare at him. “In a minute. I’m trying to figure out why you made up with Breckin two weeks ago, but it took you until today to make up with me.”

He glances at me, then looks back at the road in front of him. “Breckin deserved an apology. I acted like an asshole that day.”

“And I didn’t deserve one?”

He looks at me dead on this time. “No,” he says firmly, turning his gaze back to the road. “You don’t deserve words, Sky. You deserve actions.”

I stare at him, wondering how long he stayed up at night forming that perfect sentence. He glances back at me and lets go of my hand, then tickles the top of my thigh. “Quit being so serious. Your boyfriend and your very best friend in the whole wide world are taking you to a flea market.”

I laugh and slap his hand away. “How can I feel happy when my alliance has been infiltrated? You two have a hell of a lot of kissing up to do today.”

Breckin rests his chin on the top of my headrest and looks down at me. “I think I’ve been the one that suffered the most out of this ordeal. Your boyfriend has ruined my last two Friday nights in a row, moping and whining about how much he wants you but how he doesn’t want to let you down and blah, blah, blah. It’s been rough not complaining to you about him at lunch every day.”

Holder darts his head back toward Breckin. “Well, now you two can complain about me all you want. Life is back to how it should be.” He slides his fingers through mine and squeezes my hand. My skin tingles and I’m not sure if it’s from his touch or his words.

“I still think I deserve an ass kissing today,” I say to both of them. “I want you to buy me whatever I want at the flea market. I don’t care how much it costs or how big and heavy it is.”

“Damn straight,” Breckin says.

I groan. “Oh, God, Holder’s already rubbing off on you.”

Breckin laughs and reaches over the seat to grab my hands, then pulls me toward him. “He must be, because I really want to cuddle you in the backseat right now,” Breckin says.

“I’m not rubbing off on you that much if you think I’d only be cuddling her in a backseat,” Holder says. He slaps me on the ass right before I fall into the back with Breckin.

“You can’t be serious,” Holder says, holding the saltshaker I just placed in his hands. We’ve been walking around the flea market for over an hour now and I’m sticking to my plan. They’re buying me whatever the hell I want. I have a betrayal to overcome and it’s going to take a lot of random purchases before I feel better.

I look at the figurine in his hands and nod. “You’re right. I should get the matching set.” I pick up the peppershaker and hand it to him. They aren’t anything I would ever want. I’m not sure how they could be anything anyone would ever want. Who makes ceramic salt and peppershakers fashioned out of small and large intestines?

“I bet they belonged to a doctor,” Breckin says, admiring them with me. I reach into Holder’s pocket and pull out his wallet, then turn to the man behind the table. “How much?”

He shrugs. “I don’t know,” he says, unenthusiastically. “A dollar each?”

“How about a dollar for both?” I ask. He takes the dollar out of my hands and nods us away.

“Way to bargain,” Holder says, shaking his head. “These better be on your kitchen table next time I come over.”

“Gross, no,” I say. “Who’d want to stare at guts while they eat?”

We browse a few more pavilions until we reach the pavilion Karen and Jack are set up in. When we reach their booth, Karen does a double take, eyeing Breckin and Holder.

“Hey,” I say, holding out my hands. “Surprise!”

Jack jumps up and walks around the booth, giving me a quick hug. Karen follows him and is eyeing me guardedly the entire time.

“Relax,” I say, after seeing her eye both Holder and Breckin with concern. “Neither one of them are getting me pregnant this weekend.”

She laughs and finally wraps her arms around me. “Happy Birthday.” She pulls back and her motherly instincts kick in about fifteen seconds too late. “Wait. Why are you here? Is everything okay? Are you okay? Is the house okay?”

“It’s fine. I’m fine. I was just bored so I asked Holder to come shopping with me.”

Holder is behind me introducing himself to Jack. Breckin slips past me and gives Karen a hug. “I’m Breckin,” he says. “I’m in an alliance to overtake the public school system and all its minions with your daughter.”

“Was,” I clarify, glaring at Breckin. “He was in an alliance with me.”

“I like you already,” Karen says, smiling at Breckin. She looks past me at Holder and shakes his hand. “Holder,” she says politely. “How are you?”

“Good,” he says, his response guarded. I look at him and he appears extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s the salt and peppershakers he’s holding, or the fact that seeing Karen this time has a different effect, now that he’s dating her daughter. I try to deflect the mood by turning around and asking Karen if she has a sack we can use for our things. She reaches under the table and holds it out to Holder. He places the shakers inside and she looks down into the sack and back up at me questionably.


Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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