I followed, seeing Pasha coming toward us, having just come back in.

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me that she was pregnant?” I prodded Jax.

I knew why my mom had kept it from me, but Jax could’ve warned me.

He shook his head, smirking at me. “Dude, it’s not my business to tell you your mom is pregnant. Sorry.” By his amused tone, I could tell he wasn’t sorry. “Besides, she really didn’t want you to find out over the phone. That’s why she’s been trying to get you home.”

A pang of guilt started jabbing at me from several directions when I thought of all the shit I was going to have to smooth over. Answering my mother’s questions, Madoc’s silent treatment, and getting reacquainted with my brother . . .

“Um . . . hi.” Juliet turned around as we kept walking, looking at Pasha. “Are you with Jared?”

I swung my bag over my shoulder, looking to Juliet.

“Sorry,” I shot out. “You guys, this is Pasha.” I jerked my chin at the girl next to me. “Pasha, this is my brother, Jax, and his girlfriend, Juliet.”

“Hey,” Pasha said casually.

Juliet shook Pasha’s hand quickly and then turned around, looking confused. I caught her sideways glance at Jax.

“Hi, Pasha.” Jax gave her a quick shake and then glanced to me quickly before crossing the walkway to the parking garage. “Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing someone, man?”

I let out a bitter laugh but was cut off.

“Aw,” Pasha cooed as we headed into the parking garage. “You didn’t tell him about us, honey?” And she kneaded my biceps with her hot pink fingernails.

I rolled my eyes. “My assistant, guys.” I tossed my bag in the trunk of my old Mustang, now Jax’s car. “She’s just my assistant. That’s all.”

Jax swung his pointer finger between us as he walked to the driver’s side. “So you two aren’t . . . ?”

“Ewwww,” Pasha grumbled, disgust written all over her face.

“So you’re gay, then?” he shot back.

I snorted, shaking with laughter as I opened the passenger side door for the girls.

Pasha planted her hands on her hips. “How did . . . what . . . ?” she stammered, looking to me accusingly.

I held up my hands, feigning innocence.

Jax narrowed his eyes on her over the hood. “When you think about the women who aren’t interested in my brother, it pretty much just leaves the lesbians.”

Pasha grumbled and climbed into the backseat behind Juliet. I slammed the door and headed to the driver’s side.

Jax straightened, seeing me coming. “This is my car now.” He knew what I was doing.

I pinned him with a pointed look. “And I don’t ride. I’ll wait for you to come to terms with that.”

After about three seconds, he realized he wasn’t going to win. He finally let out a hard sigh and walked his ass around to the passenger side.

Climbing in, I started the engine and stilled, slowly easing back into the seat. The old, familiar rumble of the engine reminded me of a time so long ago. Back when I was the king of a small pond. When I thought I knew everything.

The long, late-night drives, my music filling the small space, as I planned my life around Tate and how I was going to torment her in the only universe that mattered.

An image of her flashed in my mind, walking to school. Her back would straighten when she’d hear my engine coming, and I’d blow past her, seeing her hair whip in the wind in my rearview mirror. I almost wished she was in town this summer.

I’d give almost anything to make her feel me again.

Not to mention, she’d turned my best friend against me. He wasn’t talking to me, and I knew it was because of her.

I buckled up. “So let’s have it,” I told Jax. “Where’s Madoc?”

He hesitated, speaking softly. “Around,” he caged. “He commutes to his summer internship here in the city, but he’s still staying at his house in Shelburne Falls.”

“Good.” I nodded, remembering that it was early Friday afternoon. “I’m going to hit his house before we go home.”

“Dude,” Jax urged as I drove out of the garage. “I don’t think Madoc’s going to be up for—”

“Screw it,” I gritted out. “It’s been two years. I’m sick of his bullshit.”

Chapter 3

Tate

Summer breaks no longer exist once you reach college. Maybe you start taking a summer class, or you pick up a summer job, or you have a reading list or an extra credit to pick up, but free time slowly starts to ebb away, and before you know it, you’re doing one thing a day that you like and fifteen that you hate.

Welcome to adulthood, my father would say.

I should be grateful. All in all it wasn’t so bad. Opportunity abounded in my life, and anyone else would be gracious and appreciative. My education would secure my future.

I had it made. I’d be a doctor someday. Maybe close to home. Maybe far away. I’d undoubtedly marry and have children. The house and car payments would come. The stock portfolios to ensure a comfortable retirement. Maybe I’d have a time-share in the Bahamas. I’d laugh at my children’s school plays and hug them when they were scared.

My patients would hopefully bring a feeling of worth into my life. I would help some and lose others. I was prepared for that. I would comfort many and cry with a few. I would take everything in stride and with the knowledge that I did my very best.

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