A Perfect Ten

Author: P Hana

Page 59

   


I blinked, confused. “One week what?”

“This. You, me, us. We give it one week to explore…whatever we want, and then—out of respect for…your brother—that’s it. The end. We never speak of it again. Okay?”

He didn’t even want to give me a week. I could see it in the swirling torment in his gaze, the tautness of his jaw, could hear it in his harsh, whispered words. Betraying Noel honestly killed him. But he was as tempted as I was.

I nodded immediately, realizing I was getting more from him than I should be. “I’ll take it,” I said. I was as elated as I was sad to know I had seven more days with him.

I totally didn’t mean to let the temptation win. I was supposed to be stronger than a silly little craving. But then I underestimated the power of Caroline Gamble.

She’d wanted me, so she’d gotten me.

I knew I should be pissed. Because of her underhanded sneakery, I’d betrayed my best friend and done the one thing he absolutely did not want me to do to him. But knowing she’d wanted me that much, that she’d gone to such extremes, became my own personal stalker, it really turned me on. And so the anger just kind of disappeared somewhere in between all the awe and flattery and desire.

That didn’t mean I was ready to play full-out liar and deceiver the very day after stabbing Gamble in the back, though. Except, yeah, that’s how it went down, anyway.

“I call bartender tonight,” he said as we strolled across campus together.

He’d texted me after my last class of the day, demanding we meet at the student union for a drink. Hamilton had met up with us too, and after we’d had a coffee break, we decided to head our separate ways before we met again later that night for our shift.

Since it was Thursday—ladies’ night—that meant all of us guys had to work. Two manned the bar while the other three waited tables out on the floor. And like every other week before, it turned out that Gamble and Lowe worked the bar every Thursday.

I usually had no problem waiting tables, since it brought me more tips and I met more chicks that way, but today, I kind of wanted to stick behind the safety of a counter. I was no longer a free agent; I couldn’t just let random women slip me their phone numbers or—

“Holy shit.” I slowed to a stop and blinked dazedly at the world around me. But had I really just thought of myself as taken? No longer available to the ladies? Committed?

Whoa. Where had that shit come from?

Since I’d stopped dead in my tracks to absorb the shock, both Gamble and Ham stopped walking too, and glanced back.

“Ten?” Gam asked, his brow wrinkled with concern. “What’s up?”

I shook my head. I was about to tell him it was nothing, but there was no way he’d buy that. So I settled for scowling at him. “You hog the fucking bar every week. Why don’t you give it up once in a while so the rest of us can get a break from all the handsy chicks grabbing at our junk?”

Gamble stared at me as if I was insane. Then he shook his head and snorted. “As if you mind that part? Besides, I’m married, you’re single. I have no business being on the floor, working my way around a bunch of single, drunk women.”

I made a face. The urge to tell him I was no longer all that single myself itched at my throat until I had to say something or I was afraid I’d blurt out everything. So I pointed toward Hamilton. “Well, Ham’s no longer single, and you have no problem making him wait tables every fucking week.”

“You’re right.” Gam glanced at Ham. “Sorry about that, Quinn. You can take the bar tonight if you want it.”

Hamilton perked up and immediate pleasure clouded his face. But then he frowned slightly as he glanced toward me and then back at Gam. “Are you sure? I don’t want to cause any strife.”

“Oh, go ahead and fucking take it,” I groused, waving my hand and storming away from both of them.

It’d felt weird being around Gam all day. But strangely, guilt wasn’t the only thing afflicting me. I was suddenly so very irritated with him. Everything he said seemed to get under my skin. I needed to escape.

But instead of letting me go off on my own, he called after me. “Hey.” A second later, he jogged up and appeared at my side, keeping pace with me. “What’s up with you today? You okay?”

I sniffed but didn’t answer.

“How are your classes?”

“Fine.”

“So, you still get to graduate?”

Sending him an odd look, I nodded. “Yeah. Why?”

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