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.Men would die for you.” He chuckles.“I bet they already have.”Does he know? He couldn’t possibly.“You exaggerate,” I say, pressing my palms flat against his chest.On the outside, it looks like an act of affection, but the reality is I am bracing myself.He’s much larger than I am, and I need the space between us should anything arise.I can’t knee a man if I’m too close to his body, and the lack of space doesn’t allow for any leverage or momentum for a hit.He has me right where he wants me.“Do I?” He dips down, smelling my hair, and I try vehemently not to recoil.No sudden movements.Nothing to set him off.My brain’s working double time on an exit strategy, so I almost miss his next words.“Belle pétale,” he whispers in French, kissing the top of my head.No.It has to be a coincidence.I open my mouth to ask him.To do the one thing I said I wouldn’t do—provoke him—but my window of opportunity is slammed shut when I see Lennon’s SUV pull into the parking lot.As if on cue, he releases his hold on me and then steps into the alley.“Au revoir,” he laughs into the shadows.No.It can’t be.“Who was that?” Lennon asks when I slide into her passenger’s seat.Looking back towards the alley, I shake my head.“Some sick twist of fate.”“Uhm.”Morphing my features back into something she’d recognize, I smile.“Also known as creepy Axel from the salon.”“Oh.” She furrows her brow.“Are you okay?”Am I okay?“Yeah.I’m fine.”Did I lie? I’m not sure.While sitting in one of the empty salon chairs, I spin it around aimlessly, staring at the design on my cast.The one I was practically through the roof about when I described it to Danika.She did a flawless job.It was beautiful, and I’d done it just for him.What a joke.Now, I wished I could scrub it off instead of seeing my stupidity branded on my arm.This morning must have been a fluke, a slipup, something he regretted, and now, I have a bright-pink reminder of that fact that I want him and he doesn’t want me.“Are you all set to go?” Lennon asks, walking up from the back of the salon.“Almost.” I glance around the room.“I just have to text Jayden to come get me.” Staring at my iPhone, I will it to implode so I have an excuse not to use it.Me: I’m ready, but I can just get a ride with Lennon.Leaning her hip against the chair across from me, she smiles sympathetically.“Not going well?”I shake my head, looking down into my lap.Jayden: No.I’ll be there in ten minutes.“You guys seemed.”—she pauses to find the right word—“close yesterday.”I blow out a breath of air.“Yeah.I thought so too.Everything is so fleeting with him though.He’s hot then he’s cold.He’s yes then he’s no.”Lennon cuts me off, laughing.“All right, Katy Perry.I get the picture.”“Funny,” I sass.“Have you told him that you care about him?” she asks me seriously.My mind’s screaming that he’d have to blind not to notice, but I shake my head again.“No.”“He’s not a mind reader, Peyton,” she scolds.“Tell him how you feel.”Pursing my lips, I cock an eyebrow at her.“Yes, because you were so forthcoming with Jami about your feelings,” I tease her.“Smartass.”Twirling my phone around in my lap, I laugh softly.“I just want him to want me.”“Seriously? Cheap Trick now?” She rolls her eyes.“I should start describing my feelings withsong lyrics.”My phone vibrates and I look down.“He’s here,” I mumble.“Well, just don’t stop believing.” She grins.“Just hold on to that feeling.”After sliding off the chair, I start off towards the door.“Journey?” I scoff.“Yeah.I’m the lame one.”Her laugher floats through the air as I walk towards Jayden’s truck.He’s leaning against the passenger’s side door, his arms crossed over his chest and his ever-present Ray-Bans pushed up on his nose.“Hey,” I say lamely.He steps forward, opening the door.“Hey.Good afternoon?”I open my mouth to tell him about Axel but snap it shut just as quickly.I’m not his problem.“It was fine,” I answer, not protesting when he lifts me into the truck.“You?”While buckling me in, he lets his fingers linger over my side.“It was fine,” he repeats in an echo.“That’s good.”The drive home is equally as awkward.We don’t talk—at all.The only sound is the music rattling softly through his speakers.He seems less angry than he did before, but he still looks a far cry from happy.I couldn’t be happier that I have dinner in a few short hours.I’ll easily be able to disappear into my room to get ready and not have to withstand the torture of his silence for the rest of the evening.TODAY FUCKING SUCKS.“What crawled up your ass and died?” Jackson asks before sipping his beer on the opposite couch.Glancing over my shoulder towards her bedroom door, I want to kick my own stupid ass.I’ve been rude to her all day.I ignored her.I barely spoke to her.All because I’m a jealous prick who can’t keep his shit together.“I wasn’t supposed to care,” I mutter out loud, more to myself than to him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]