By: Tijan

…Or that’s what I told myself.

I snuck back in the way Caden had told me to sneak out and darted for the basement when the coast was clear. I didn’t expect Kevin to be there. I planned to get into his bedroom, then text him that that’s where I was. He’d have to come down to talk to me. He wouldn’t want me around in case the Asshole found me and took another shot at interrogating me.

I was wrong.

Kevin’s door was open just a crack, and I could see him sitting on his bed, his phone pressed to his ear. I paused just outside.

“You got home okay?” he asked. A pause. “Good…yeah, he was pissed. No. No, he didn’t hurt me. I know.” Another pause, longer this time. “Yeah. I know. We’ll figure it out. I promise. What?” He groaned. “Uh, that girl was my stepsister, actually.” I could hear a feminine laugh from the phone, and he chuckled with her. “I know. I know. No, she won’t narc. She covered. Yeah. She’s good like that.”

I reached for the doorframe. My fingers curled tight around it.

“Don’t worry. I mean it, Maggie. She won’t say anything. She loves me. We’re family. She’s not like that.” His voice dropped, growing husky. “I love you, too, and I mean it. Everything will be fine. I got your back. I promise.”

My nails dug into the wood.

“Okay. Okay. Yeah. I should get back up. I’ll check on Summer—that’s her name. I’ll text her right now. Love you. Bye.”

I heard the beep when he ended that call and had just a moment before I felt my phone buzzing. It was in my pocket on silent, as was my habit, and before I pulled it out, I took a moment to collect myself.

He was an asshole, and this time I didn’t mean Caden. Kevin slept with me a little over three months ago, and he’d led me to believe he’d been involved with no one else seriously since then. I thought this would be our time, now that we’d be in school at the same place, but he was in love with another girl—one who had another guy fighting for her.

My throat burned, and I blinked back the tears.

I wouldn’t cry, not for Kevin.

I had the answer I came for.

I pulled away from the door, leaving my phone in my pocket. I wouldn’t even look at it. I made my way back up the stairs. I was turning down the hallway for that side door when I heard a familiar voice behind me.

“Your stepbrother is a dick.”

I turned around, my throat still burning. Caden stood there, not looking surprised. His hard eyes were locked on me, despite the girl plastered against his side. She had her arm around his waist.

He was waiting for a response, and maybe he expected a denial. I didn’t know, but all I said was, “I couldn’t agree with you more.”

His eyes widened, and surprise flashed in them, but I was done.

I slipped out the door and left.

I’d been so stupid.

I’d driven up to North River University ahead of Sheila and my dad last night.

Today was move-in day for me since I was coming up earlier than others, so I’d told them I had a friend to stay with. They never questioned me. That “friend” was supposed to be Kevin, and because that didn’t work out, I’d checked into a hotel room.

Now here I was, bright and cheery—not so much—waiting in my dorm’s lounge for their SUV to arrive. Sheila and my dad were planning on seeing Kevin too, but I was hoping they’d go find him after my stuff was moved in.


No such luck.

I looked up from the couch, and my heart sank at the same time the old butterflies lurched up into my throat. Kevin looked so damn good. Freshly showered—his hair was still wet—and wearing a snug shirt over jeans, he kept his shades covering his eyes. My heart did a little flip-flop.

I hated him.

No. I only wished I did.

He flashed me a grin, showing his perfect, white teeth, and he came forward, holding two coffees. He offered one to me. “Got you your favorite. Sugar free, right?”

I took it, my hands closing around the warm cup, and I let out a silent sigh. I could already feel a traitorous grin tugging at the corner of my mouth. It was like I lost control over myself when he was around. I hoped it wasn’t always going to be like this.