Main More Than a Bully
More Than a BullyJ.L. Beck
Three best selling bully romance books. Three heroes hell bent on revenge. Three stories about love, revenge, and being more than a bully. BOOK ONE- THE BET My former best friend. My first kiss. My first love. She shattered my heart into a million pieces three years ago. She left me right when I needed her most. And as fate will have it, she had entered my life once again, at almost the perfect time. She was a transfer, fresh meat, and she had just put a target on her back. It was my turn to make her pay. It was my turn to break her heart. BOOK TWO-THE DARE He used to be my best friend, my protector, but all of that changed one fateful night. I made a choice, and I thought I did the right thing, but I was wrong, so wrong. And as of yesterday that same boy, who is now very much a man became my new stepbrother, but that's the least of my worries. BOOK THREE-THE SECRET While I'm the girl no one notices. Bullied. Antisocial. I have no friends and I like it that way. Until he walks into my life. We shouldn't be friends. We definitely shouldn't be roommates. That doesn't stop him though.
CONTENTS Warning 1. Remington 2. Jules 3. Remington 4. Jules 5. Remington 6. Jules 7. Remington 8. Jules 9. Remington 10. Jules 11. Remington 12. Jules 13. Remington 14. Jules 15. Remington 16. Jules 17. Remington 18. Jules 19. Remington 20. Jules 21. Remington 22. Jules 23. Remington 24. Jules 25. Remington Epilogue Prologue 26. Ava 27. Vance 28. Ava 29. Vance 30. Ava 31. Vance 32. Ava 33. Vance 34. Ava 35. Vance 36. Ava 37. Vance 38. Ava 39. Vance 40. Ava 41. Vance 42. Ava 43. Vance 44. Ava 45. Vance 46. Ava 47. Vance 48. Ava Epilogue Prologue 49. Clark 50. Emerson 51. Clark 52. Emerson 53. Clark 54. Emerson 55. Clark 56. Emerson 57. Clark 58. Emerson 59. Clark 60. Emerson 61. Clark 62. Emerson 63. Clark 64. Emerson 65. Clark 66. Emerson Epilogue Whats Next Also by the Authors About the Authors Preview of Hating You Ⓒ COPYRIGHT 2019 J.L. BECK & CASSANDRA HALLMAN COVER ART BY: BLACK WIDOW DESIGNS EDITING: ELLIE MCLOVE AT MY BROTHERS EDITOR ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS BOOK OR PARTS THEREOF MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM, STORED IN ANY RETRIEVAL SYSTEM, OR TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM BY ANY MEANS—ELECTRONIC, MECHANICAL, PHOTOCOPY, RECORDING, OR OTHERWISE—WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER, EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY UNITED STATES OF AMERICA COPYRIGHT LAW. WARNING Dear Reader, We’re so happy that you picked up our newest book The Bet. We hope you enjoy it to your fullest and we cannot wait to read your reviews on it. However, we wanted to leave a little note at the start of the book to warn readers with sensitivity to dubious content, sexual themes, and verbal abuse that this book may not be a good read for them. We also would like to say that while the book is entirely fiction we know that abuse, sexual, physical, and verbal is a very real thing in our world and that we do NOT condone any behavior of that nature, nor do we think that it’s okay to treat someone that way. Again, this is fiction and while we don’t always agree with the things our characters do sometimes it makes sense for a story. With love, J.L. Beck & C. Hallman 1 REMINGTON I lick my lips, the busty blonde sitting beside me has my cock rock hard. I know I should be focusing on the shit that the professor is droning on about, but I don’t care. All I can think about is the things she’s going to do with her lips and tongue in about an hour. A loud creaking noise fills the room interrupting Mr. Johnson, and momentarily pulling me from Layla, or maybe it’s Lacy, I can’t really remember. I look from the girl beside me and to the door. Whoever it is, is going to get an ass-chewing. In college, the professors don’t really care if you’re late or don’t show up, so I’m not really sure why Mr. Johnson makes a show out of those that are tardy, still, I don’t hold my breath that he isn’t going to start bitching in a second. My entire world flips on its axis when I see the person entering the room. Big blue eyes, soft pink lips, and long blonde curls, just the way I remember them. Jules. My heart starts beating out of my chest with just one look. No fucking way. I must be dreaming, or high, or drunk, or all three combined, because there is no fucking way that she’s really here, much less in this class. I haven’t seen her in three years. Three. Fucking. Years. The memory of her is like a hot branding iron on my skin. The day she left was the day I lost a piece of who I was...a piece I tossed over my shoulder and never cared to find again. I grit my teeth, my jaw flexing with the pressure. Mr. Johnson spins around, finger already raised as if he is about to snarl at her, but when he sees the sweet angel standing in the middle of the room, his face changes, morphing into something else. Even he can’t bring himself to yell at this sweet creature. Sweet creature. I almost snort. This girl, well, clearly a woman now, given the curves she’s hiding and the tight jeans showing off her full ass broke me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just had a hard time finding the room,” she whispers, her singsong voice filling the room. She bats her long eyelashes at him innocently and all he does is clear his throat and motion for her to sit down. Most of the assholes in this room are probably thinking she is acting, playing the innocent act, the woman who can do no wrong, but I know better. Everything about her is sweet and gentle. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She never saw anything as a nuisance, not even me. Jules has always been the sweetest person I know…until the day she ripped my heart out of my chest and left, taking the shredded pieces with her. Her sweetness turned sour the day she moved away, and all because she wanted to please her father. She didn't even fight. Didn't fight for us, for our friendship, for the chance of love. She just left...left when I needed her more than anything, more than air, more than life. Losing her was like losing a piece of my soul, it killed me, but I survived. I built myself back up and became the man I am today. “Excuse me,” she whispers, walking down the middle aisle getting closer and closer to me. Every step she takes angers me. I don’t want her near me, let alone to be in the same room as me. She spots an open seat in the row in front of me, and slides into it, but not before lifting her eyes to survey the room. The professor has already started talking again, and most of the room is focused on the board, scribbling down every little word that’s written, so no one notices her stares. She tucks a curled lock of blonde hair behind her ear and then as if the entire fucking universe wanted to damn us, her eyes lock on mine. Those big blue eyes, once so full of life, of wonder, of love for me, for us. In that instant, the entire fucking world could blow up around us and we wouldn’t notice. She seems shocked to see me, about as shocked as I am to see her, and then a tiny smile pulls at her plump lips. “Remington…” the girl beside me whines, rubbing her manicured hand against my thigh, and suddenly my cock has deflated. I feel sick to my stomach, my insides twisting, all because of Jules. She gives me a tiny little wave and then settles into her seat. What the fuck? What the hell just happened? Did she seriously just wave at me? Red hot anger zings through me. Who the fuck does she think she is? Waving at me, acting like she doesn’t know what the hell she did. The hour seems to drone on, and with every ticking minute, my anger seems to grow. I feel like a boiling pot of water. One single second away from boiling over. “Do you still want to hang out after class?” “No,” I grit out. “Why? Don’t tell me it’s because of that girl that just waved at you. Who is she anyway?” Using my hand, I brush hers off my thigh and grip my pen with enough strength to snap the damn thing. Maybe I should tell her, yes, but the blonde with a sweet smile and soft heart just ruined my fucking day, year, hell my life. “She’s no one. I don’t even fucking know her, so stop acting jealous,” I whisper when all I want to do is yell. I wonder if Jules can hear me, I sure fucking hope so. I don’t want her to try and reach out to me, try and talk to me. I don’t want her to have a damn thing to do with me. “Okay, so why then?” She pouts, and I twist away from her. This classroom is too small, filled with too many people, and I feel like I’m suffocating. Her mere presence makes it feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest all over again. “I have to go, Remington.” I shake my head, not comprehending what she’s saying. “What the fuck, Jules? Why?” I know I shouldn’t swear at her, but I don’t understand. I already lost my mom. If I lose Jules too, I’ll risk falling off the deep end. She worries her bottom lip between her teeth looking at me as if she doesn’t want to say what she’s going to next. “You knew my parents were getting a divorce, and my mom, she’s too busy with work for me to live with her. You know she travels all the time and really, I want to move with my dad.” I blink. “Move? Like, leave?” My lungs deflate, my heart cracks down the middle. “Yes.” She frowns. “I just rather go with my dad, Remington. You know I don’t get along with my mom all that well and my brother is going to live with my dad too.” I understand what she is saying, but all I can feel is pain, anger, heartache. “You’re my best friend, Jules. I need you.” My voice cracks, my insides twisting painfully. “I know.” Tears glisten in her big blue eyes. “We have the phone. I can call you, check up on you. I can come and visit.” I tighten my hand into a fist. I’m angry, at Jules, at her parents, at my own mother for choosing fucking liquor over her children. “You know what, don’t worry about me. Go and live with your daddy.” My words slice through her, and I can tell they hurt. She reaches for me, her hand landing on my bicep, but I shrugged it off. If she cared about me as much as she said she did, she would find a way to make this work. “Don’t act like that. It’s not like I want to hurt you.” I can hear her talking, but all I can feel is the betrayal. If she’s leaving, if she’s not even going to be here anymore, then I should just end this, rip out my own damn heart instead of letting her do it. “Go away, Jules. Go pack your shit and get out of my face. I don’t ever want to see you again.” I barely get the words out. God, does it hurt to say them, it hurts so damn bad. “What? You don’t mean that.” She makes another grab for me, but I take a step backward, putting space between us. This is it. The end. “I do. I never cared about you, about our friendship. You mean nothing. Just like my mother. Nothing.” I punctuate the words, staring down at her. Her pink lips tremble, lips I’ve thought of kissing my entire life, her hands shaking, and when the tears start to fall, I turn away. “You…you can’t…” she starts, but I whirl back around, stepping into her space. I’ve never hurt her, never wanted her to be scared of me, damn if that is the last thing I ever wanted but seeing her right now with tears swimming in her eyes, looking like she’s the one that has a right to be heartbroken angers me. There are only two women I’ve ever loved in my life, and I’ve already lost one, now I’m losing her too. Leaving me with no one… “I do not care about you. Leave. Now. You’ve ruined us. Our friendship.” “I’m sorry, but can’t change this, Remmy.” “Neither can I. Now get out of my face. I never want to see you again.” Her mouth opens as if she’s going to say something, but I shake my head, giving her a warning look. I don’t want to hear another word come out of her mouth. I don’t want to see her pink lips, big blue eyes, or soft blonde curls ever again. “Remington,” someone calls my name, pulling me from the memory, and I blink letting the image of Jules’ tear-stained face disappear from my mind. I realize then that people are starting to shuffle out of the classroom. Fuck. My eyes move to the seat in front of me, the one that Jules was in before I spaced out. It’s empty now, thank fuck. Now all I have to do is get rid of this chick and I can get out of here. “Look, Lacey…” I start, pushing from the table. “It’s Layla, actually,” she sneers, displeasure appearing in her eyes. “Uhh, yeah sorry, anyway…I’ve got shit to do. I’ll text you later?” I shove all my shit into my backpack and start down the stairs, refusing to let her even talk. As soon as I step outside the classroom, I see her. Jules. My heart. My fucking best friend. Her eyes connect with mine, a smile pulls at her pink lips, and she takes a step forward. I tighten my hold on my backpack, every muscle inside my body tightening. What the fuck? What the actual fuck does she think she’s doing? 2 JULES M y heart beats so furiously inside my chest I think it’s going to break free from my body and run down the hallway. It’s been three years…three long years since the day he took my heart and ran it through the proverbial blender. I take a step forward, my feet moving all on their own. He’s so different now, bigger, taller, so much taller that I have to look up at him. My eyes roam over his body, it’s toned and muscled, just like an athlete’s. My mouth waters at the sight. The ripped blue jeans and a white t-shirt he’s wearing do nothing to hide his chiseled body. His dark russet brown hair is still as unruly as ever, going in every which way. The only thing that seems to not have changed is his dark green eyes that are currently piercing mine, a furious fire flickering in their depths. He holds his head high, an arrogance oozing from within. There’s a scowl on his face, and instead of looking happy to see me, he looks angry, impossibly angry. He still can’t be angry over me moving away, can he be? No, there is no way. The Remington I knew never held a grudge. Still, I remember the things he said that night the last time I had seen him. Even then, I never believed that he meant the words he said. How could he? We had been friends since grade school, you couldn’t just forget about someone...you couldn’t just start hating them for something that wasn’t really their fault. My body reacts to his presence just as it always did when we were kids and I find myself taking a step forward, and then another until I’m in front of him wrapping my slim arms around his middle. “Remmy,” I sigh, feeling a little too happy to see him. For a split second, everything is right in the world again. My father isn’t dead. My mother is happy. Remington and I are friends again. I lean against him, closing my eyes, and letting his warmth seep into my bones, into every pore on my body. He still smells the same, like soap and mint. His body, though harder, still feels the same too, and I smile against his chest. I can’t believe he is really here. I didn’t expect to see him, not today, and maybe not ever again. Then the moment passes, and I’m dragged back to reality when someone pulls me off of him. My eyes fly open and I realize that no one has pulled me off of him, but instead that he is pushing me away. My mouth opens and I’m about to ask him what’s wrong when I see the anger reflecting in his eyes. His fingers wrap around my upper arm, his grip hard as steel as he starts down the hall while dragging me behind him. I can barely keep up with his fast pace, his height making his steps bigger than mine. Apparently, I’m not the only one confused because everyone we pass looks just as shocked and flabbergasted about what’s happening as I am. We round the corner and he opens the first door we pass, pushing me inside of the room. I stumble over my feet and grip onto a table to balance myself when he releases me with a shove. My heart is in my throat, and my lungs burn, refusing to fill with air. I look around the empty classroom, wondering what the hell is going on when he opens his mouth and starts yelling at me. “What the hell do you think you are doing? You can’t just waltz in here pretending you know me,” he seethes, his words feel like a dull knife slicing through my chest. Pretending to know him? I don’t understand what he means, nor do I understand why he is so angry, so hateful. We used to be best friends, certainly, he remembers that, right? Was there some accident while I was gone? Did he get hurt and hit his head? Does he not remember who I am? “Don’t fucking talk to me, don’t wave at me, don’t even breathe in my direction and definitely don’t call me Remmy! My name’s Remington. No one calls me Remmy anymore, especially not you,” he barks, exhaling a ragged breath, his gaze darkening. “Just stay the fuck out of my way, and away from me. I want nothing to do with you.” His dig about me not being his friend snaps me back to reality, and suddenly I’m angry too, more than angry. “You can’t possibly still be mad about something that happened three years ago,” I huff, bitter laughter on the tip of my tongue. He takes a step forward, his body looming over me, his eyes are dark, so dark they almost appear black. I’ve never been afraid of him, never in my entire life, but right now, there is something so unnerving, so intimidating about him that I almost want to make a run for the door. “Oh, believe me…I’m not angry. I never even cared about you. I was glad you moved away, that I was finally rid of your whiny ass. I only ever hung out with you because of Jackson,” he sneers, grinning down at me and I don’t think he even knows how badly his words hurt me, he couldn’t, he doesn’t know what happened to my brother. The reminder of my brother is more than I can handle at this moment, the wounds of his loss still fresh, still raw. I can’t do this with him, not without having a mental break down. I shove past him and pull the door open, thanking God he doesn’t try and grab me. I can barely see where I’m going as I speed walk down the hall, running into several people on my way out. I have to get outside…I need some fresh air. I feel like I’m suffocating, my lungs deprived of air, no matter how many times I inhale and exhale. Once outside, I force air into my lungs, breathing in and out a couple of times to stop the panic attack that was on the fringe of coming. Hugging him was a bad idea, talking to him probably even worse of an idea. I was wrong to think that he wouldn’t hold a grudge from that day. I was hurt, torn up over losing him, over the things he said, but I never would’ve treated him the way he just treated me. Pressing a hand to my chest, I push away the thoughts of my brother and father. Losing them was hard, and the only reason I’m here now. Never in my wildest dreams would I have suspected Remington would be here too. I thought he’d get as far away from his family as he could, and yet he stayed right under their noses. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I check the time. Shit! My little conversation with Remington put me behind and now I’m going to be late for yet another class. I shove my phone back into my skinny jeans and start running across campus. My next class isn’t nearly as far away and by the grace of God, I somehow make it to the classroom only a smidge late. The teacher is already talking when I walk in and of course, just like in the last class, all the other students are quietly sitting in their chairs. All eyes are on me as I try to sneak into the room and find a seat. My cheeks heat at all the eyes scanning over my body…It’s the middle of the semester, so anyone who is new is going to draw attention, at least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t spend the entire day feeling self-conscious. I sit down in the first free seat I find, trying to gather my thoughts enough to at least listen to what the professor is saying. I pull out a pen, and notebook, and ready myself to learn. “Tough day, huh?” someone whispers beside me. Turning my head, I lock eyes with the guy next to me. Do I really look that exhausted? I eye him curiously. He’s attractive in that all-American boy way, definitely nothing like Remington, that’s for sure. I push that thought away. I shouldn’t be comparing anyone to that asshole. “Yeah, you could say that,” I answer, giving him a small smile before turning my gaze back to the front of the room where the professor starts to draw a diagram on the board. “I’m assuming you’re new here since I’m sure I would remember seeing such a pretty face in this class.” “Thank you, and yes, I am new. Is it that obvious?” I wipe a strand of hair from my forehead and watch as the guy scans my face. “Not really, but like I said, I’m sure I would have noticed someone as attractive as you walking into class.” I give him another little smile, not wanting to be rude, even though I don’t care for his compliments an awful lot, especially not after the day I’ve had so far. I open my book and try to concentrate on the material in front of me, but I just keep replaying all the horrible things Remington said to me. It’s like my mind wants to torture me, making me relive that moment over and over again. I thought maybe, just maybe he would be happy to see me, whenever we saw each other again but I thought wrong. Still, even if he didn’t want to see me, I didn’t expect him to treat me so shitty. I’m so engrossed in thinking about Remmy that I almost don't notice the guy beside me staring. Why is he staring at me? Is there something on my face? Tapping my pen on my notepad impatiently, I wait for the class to be let out. I try to ignore the feeling of his eyes on me and focus on the board for a few more minutes. The professor says something about an assignment he’ll be sending to our emails, and then everyone starts moving, shuffling out of the classroom. I blink, slowly realizing I just daydreamed through an entire class. “It’s Cole, by the way,” the guy who has been staring at me for at least the last ten minutes finally says. He holds out his hand right as I stand and like the people pleaser I am, I take it, shaking it. I know it’s a strange thing to do, but I’m old-school like that. He oozes confidence that’s almost contagious. “Jules,” I tell him as he holds on to my hand a moment longer than necessary, bringing it to his lips as if he’s some Romeo. He plants a soft kiss to the very top of it, and I shiver a moment before he releases me. “Jules. Mmmm, that's a beautiful name.” He smiles, showing me his perfectly straight, white teeth. “Would you like to come to a party tonight, Jules?” I clutch my notebook to my chest and consider his question. Would I like to go to a party? It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to go, to get out and socialize but after the day I’ve had, I think I’ll pass. “Oh, no, thank you. I just moved here. I haven't even unpacked yet and I need to catch up on the classes I’ve missed. Homework doesn’t do itself.” A bubble of laughter slips past my lips and I realize just how dumb I sound. This day has gone to shit, and truthfully, I just need to go back to my room, lay down and read a book. There’s nothing that a good book can’t cure. “Sounds like coming to a party is exactly what you need if you ask me. You look stressed and like you might need to relax for a few hours. Find something to distract you from all the craziness.” He pauses briefly, his green eyes moving to my lips. “You know, forget about your problems?” Relax? Find a distraction? Maybe he is right, maybe I need to do something to distract me. “I’ll think about it.” “Cool. Let me give you my number. You can text me if you decide to come. I’ll send you the address.” I chew on my bottom lip for a moment, a nervous habit of mine. Do I really want to give this guy my number? In the back of my mind I know I should do it…I’m young, and new here, how the hell am I going to make friends or enjoy college if all I do is stay in my room? If I don’t give my number out, or hang out with anyone? What do I have to worry about? Deciding against the paranoia, I decide to give him my number. “Sure.” I smile, and pull my phone out, watching as his eyes light up. A warm feeling tingles through me as he rattles off the number and I type it into my phone. Then I send him a quick text with a smiling emoji so he knows it’s me. “Thanks, Jules, and seriously, consider coming out tonight. I’ll introduce you to everyone, show you the ropes.” He winks, and I find myself grinning. It’s so strange to smile and laugh when I feel like I shouldn’t be. “Alright, Cole.” I bat my eyelashes at him, and we walk out of class together. It almost feels normal to be talking to a guy. Up until today, I never really took notice of men. Not that I didn’t notice them, but more like I kept them at arm’s length. Losing Remington killed me and pushed me to focus on nothing more than my grades. Love, boys, relationships, totally out of the question. At least until now. “Where are you headed?” Cole questions as we walk down the sidewalk. “I’m just going back to my room for a couple of hours. My next class is at two,” I divulge. The sound of laughter ahead catches my attention and I lift my gaze, my eyes landing on a group of guys, four of them to be exact, one of them being Remington. My feet feel like cinder blocks and I stop dead in my tracks, while Cole continues walking forward until he realizes that I’m no longer beside him. “Jules?” He says my name like he’s been saying it his whole life. His eyes move between me, and where I’m looking. Remington’s gaze is fire and fury, and I can feel it penetrating my skin, looking right through me even from this distance. “Uhh yeah, what’s up?” I force my gaze back to him, avoiding Remington’s stare at all costs. Cole continues looking at the group of guys, and it feels like he’s piecing something together in his mind, then he blinks, and looks back down at me, a smile on his lips. “Text me, okay?” he asks and I nod, watching him walk over to the group of guys. For a moment I just stand there staring, my eyes bleeding into Remington’s. Eyes that I remember being filled with so much happiness and excitement…eyes that belong to someone that I thought would be my best friend forever, and maybe lover? Shaking my head, I tell myself to let it go, before releasing a sigh. Then I turn around, deciding to take the long way around campus, and back to the house I share with the two other girls that go to school here, two girls that would probably die if someone like Cole looked at them. Two girls that aren’t me. I thought going to a new college would be rough. I never expected Remington to be here though. 3 REMINGTON Seeing her with Cole Robson shouldn’t have bothered me, not really. So why the fuck did it feel like someone was stabbing me in the heart over and over again with a fucking fork? I tried to ignore the pain, but it was far too noticeable, and that only annoyed me more. Knowing she’s here, at North Woods, at my fucking school, irritates me beyond belief. I want to tell her to leave, to turn the fuck around and go back to wherever she came from, but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to do the next best thing and make her life a living hell. The odds of me getting her to leave town on her own is slim to none, but if I push her, force her out of this town with tear-stained cheeks I doubt she’ll return ever again. The music from the party downstairs vibrates through the walls and the floor. Fuck, the frat house is packed tonight. Alan sure spread the word about tonight. The first huge party of the semester and we were going to do our legendary bet tonight. “Heard you fucked Layla again?” Thomas nudges my arm. Fucking the same woman twice wasn’t really my thing. I rarely ever had sex with the same woman, however, there weren’t a lot of women as good at blow jobs as she was. Still, I hadn’t had sex with her more than once. If she referred to blow jobs as sex, then that was all her doing. “I didn’t fuck her. She sucked my dick, there’s a difference,” I chide, taking a long pull from the bottle of beer in my hands. After finding out Jules was here...I’m going to need a lot more beer and a lot more pussy. “Alright boys, you got your picks ready?” Cole questions with excitement handing out a stack of square pieces of paper and pens after setting the NWU hat in the center of the table. “You know the rules. The girls must be present at the party,” I announce, giving Thomas a knowing look. He’s notorious for dropping names of girls into the hat that don’t even show up at parties, making it ten times harder to win. Not that winning gets you much of anything other than bragging rights, it sucks when you don’t get any pussy for six weeks though. I take another pull from my beer bottle, letting the cold liquid cool my heated insides. “Shut up, Rem!” He rolls his eyes, taking a chug from his glass. I chuckle and write the first three girls’ names down that came up and talked to me, then I toss them into the hat. Kia, Thomas, Cole, and Alan do the same, and soon the hat is full of unsuspecting partygoers names. Names of women that won’t even realize how much their lives are going to be changing in the next six weeks. “So remember, if she’s a virgin, you get more points. Anything other than sex isn’t fulfilling the bet. Winner takes bragging rights and doesn’t have to do any house party cleaning for the next six months. At the six week point, you have to break it off with her and let her know it was nothing more than a bet. If you can’t do it, or you fail to do it, then you forfeit your bet and lose.” “Thank you for explaining the rules, Captain Obvious.” Though a refresher on said rules never hurt anyone. Alan gives the hat a good shake, almost losing some pieces of paper in the process. A nervous kind of energy runs through me. Why the fuck do I feel so nervous? I have no reason to be...I’ve done this many times. Plus, it’s just fucking. Completely harmless, all fun. One by one we each pluck a single piece of paper from the hat. I unfold mine in my hands, not caring for any dramatic splendors and stare at the name. Fuck no! Not even fuck no. No way in hell. That can’t be right. She’s not even here, is she? I look up and around the group, thinking this must be a joke, but no one in this room knows about my connection to her so there is no way one of these assholes did this to be a dick. No, this is fate, karma kicking me in the balls. I look back down at the paper, my hand shaking, hoping that maybe the name has magically changed in the last few seconds, but even after I blink, I see it hasn’t. Jules Peterson is still the name scribbled in blue ink. I feel sick to my stomach. Not only did she ruin me once before, but now she’s reappeared back in my life to do it again. The muscles in my jaw jump as I try to figure out what the fuck I’m going to do. “Who did you get, Rem?” Cole asks, frowning at me. Apparently, he didn't get the girl he wanted either. I turn the paper around and hold it up so he can read it. “Shit! That’s who I wanted,” he whines. Who he wanted? For a moment, I think about what I saw this afternoon. Them walking together, her smiling up at him, seemingly happy. I should’ve realized what was happening then. It was obvious Cole was chasing tail, claiming her as his next conquest. “Here, you can have her.” I flick the piece of paper at him and snatch the piece he’s holding in his hand. “Fuck yeah!” He almost jumps from excitement. “This is going to be so fucking great. She won’t even know what hit her,” he snickers. “She’s already given me her number, getting inside those virgin panties shouldn’t be too hard now.” A lump forms in my throat at his words. Virgin. No fucking way is Jules still a virgin. She might act innocent and even come off as pure, but there’s no way her cherry is still dangling between her legs. No. I can’t think about Jules and sex in the same sentence. Let him break her heart. She deserves it. Frustrated, I stomp out of the room without even hearing what names the other guys drew. I’m fed up already, and she’s only been here one fucking day. Thrusting my fingers through my hair in frustration, I clomp down the steps, stopping when I reach the bottom of the staircase. I tip my beer back, emptying its contents into my throat before scanning the crowd. Weak. She makes me weak. My eyes immediately seek her out, like she’s a magnet that I’m drawn to or something. It doesn’t take me long. Three seconds tops to find her golden blonde curls calling out to me like a beacon in the room. She’s wearing makeup, not much, but enough to make her eyes pop, and the same pair of skinny jeans from earlier, the ones that show off her perfect ass. An ass I’d love to sink my teeth into… Fuck, why does she have to be beautiful, and perfect, and… No! She’s nothing to me. Trash, garbage, scum beneath my feet, that’s what she is. I take a couple calming breaths reminding myself that she’s the reason we’re here. She’s the fucking reason I’m the way I am. Shaking my head, I read the new name in my hand. Cally Brice. I try to rack my brain, connecting the name to a face. Redhead, I think. I look around the room once more until I spot the girl I think is Cally. She’s standing in the opposite corner of the room, away from Jules. Thank God, I need to be as far away from her as I can get. Cally spots me as I start to walk over to her, her eyes light up. She’s pretty enough, big green eyes, looking at me all googly eyed. This is going to be a cakewalk...I’ll have the bet won by tonight. “Hey, Cally, right?” She blinks at me like she can’t believe I just said her name. “Umm, yes,” she stutters, and I grin. “You look beautiful tonight.” I lay it on thick, knowing just what to say to charm her panties off. I’m so good at it, the boys once told me I could charm the panties off a nun if I tried. I didn’t, in case you were wondering. She tucks a strand of red hair behind her ear. “Thank you...it’s nothing really, just a little makeup, and…” Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Cole walking up to Jules. She’s smiling, and laughing, still having not seen me yet. I warned her, told her I’d ruin her if she didn’t leave me alone, stay out of my way, and still, she found her way to my house, to my party, into the lion’s den. She’s got a brain inside that head of hers and if she was smart, she would’ve tucked tail and ran the other way by now. Cole stands close, too close, leaning in to whisper something into her ear. Her eyes widen and she nibbles on her plump bottom lip that is painted red this evening. Those lips, her hair, that fucking body. In my mind, I can see her writhing beneath me, her tight little cunt swallowing my cock. I’ve always wondered what she would look like as she falls apart, as she squeezes my cock with her tightness. Jesus. There’s a pounding forming behind my eyes, warranting the onset of a fucking headache. Fuck Cole. Fuck her. He can rip her heart out...rip it out and break it into a million pieces. Inhaling through my nose, I reason with myself. She doesn’t matter, she’s no one, nothing. She broke your heart. I remind myself. Yeah, she broke your heart, but you can’t stop thinking about her. Being with her, inside of her. My hands curl into fists, forgetting about the girl in front of me, the party, the fucking people around me. But for some reason, I can’t erase her. When he leans in a little closer, and his lips almost touch hers, I lose it. I fundamentally lose it and find my body reacting to what’s happening without even thinking of the consequences. “Hey…” Cally calls out after me, but I brush her off like a gnat. Inside my head, I tell myself that I don’t care about anything, nothing at all. Only making the girl in front of me feel the same kind of loss I’ve felt for the last three fucking years. She doesn’t get to come here and have the time of her life. “I’ve changed my mind,” I growl at Cole and grab Jules by her slim arm. Her skin is warm, soft, and she smells like vanilla and sugar. The scent slams into me, hitting me like a ton of bricks right in the gut. Pulling her toward me, I watch as her face morphs from laughter and happiness, to anger and confusion in an instant. “Cole?” She looks between us with a puzzled expression. “Rem,” Cole warns, his eyes almost pleading as if he knows what I’m going to do. I shake my head, stopping him from saying anything. I don’t give a fuck what he says. She was mine first, and always will be, and we have a history. She’s mine to ruin, mine to break. When I don’t say anything, she starts to struggle in my grasp. “Let go of me,” she growls through her teeth, trying to sink her feet into the floor. Does she think she’s strong enough to fight me? I’m nearly a foot taller than her, much stronger and if she wants to get technical about it, I have no problem proving it to her. Grinning, I hone in on that simmering pain that eats, breathes, and lives inside of me. “Nope. I warned you, Jules, told you that if you didn’t stay out of my way, there would be consequences. It’s not my fault you’re a shit listener.” “You don’t own the school, Remmy! Plus, I was invited to this party. Why can’t you just leave me alone? You can’t control me, or tell me where I can and can’t go, you aren’t a damn god!” she yells over the music blaring through the house. Her feistiness turns me on as much as it angers me. I tug her through the crowd, and she loses her footing a time or two, but with my hand on her arm, she manages to stay upright. Once I reach the edge of the room, I open the back door and pull her out into the dimly lit backyard. The cold air bites into my skin, but it’s a welcoming feeling with the rage boiling inside of me. Once outside, I release her like her skin is on fire and shove her against the side of the house. Touching her reminds me of the times when we were kids… when I held her hand and walked with her. It reminds me of the person I was before she broke me. “Invited or not, I told you not to show your fucking face around me.” She looks back toward the door as if she thinks Cole or someone else will come rescue her. Stupid. So stupid. I bear my teeth, feeling the need to shake some common sense into her. She doesn’t know me anymore, the man I am, the person I became because of her. I don’t hurt women, not unless you count breaking their hearts as hurting them, but I want to hurt Jules. I want her to feel my pain…I want to own her body, her heart. I want her tears, her misery. I want to feel all of it. Leaning into her face, I say, “If you’re waiting for a knight to come and rescue you, you’ll be waiting a long time. Cole won’t save you from me. He’s not dumb enough to stick his nose where it doesn’t fucking belong, and nor would he try. I’m the king of this campus. It’s my playground and I fuck and take from those that I want to.” “What happened to you, Remmy?” Her voice cracks, her eyes soft, pleading even. Like she doesn’t know what she fucking did to me, how she destroyed me, broke my heart. She wants to play stupid, the victim. I’ll show her what it’s like to be the victim. “It’s Remington,” I yell, watching as she shudders. “And you can drop the innocent little act, like you don’t know what the fuck you did.” She shakes her head, sending blonde curls flying, and I can’t stop myself from doing what I do next. I’m an asshole, a bastard, a fucking douchebag, but I am who I am, and Jules had her chance to save me, to be mine, now she’s nothing, nothing but a fucking bet. “I don’t understand, I never…” she starts, but I don’t want to hear her excuses. I don’t care about anything she has to say. Her words are nothing but lies. She gasps at my sudden movement as I advance toward her, trying to press herself against the house to put more space between us. “Get on your knees,” I order. Her expression turns from puzzled to fearful and though my stomach twists and knots and it feels like I might throw up, I’m enjoying this, my blood singing, the monster inside me gobbling up the exchange, fueling the beast inside of me. “What? No way, this is not happening Rem…” Too many words are being said, her excuses only angering me further. With both my hands, I push down on her shoulders, forcing her to the ground and on her knees. She cries out as if I’ve hurt her, but I know I didn’t. I’ve barely touched her, yet. “Consequences. For everything you do, there is a consequence. Now yours is to suck my dick like the good little whore you are, or I’m going to ruin your entire existence here. I warned you, Jules. I fucking warned you, but you didn’t listen to me. You didn’t take me seriously, but maybe next time you will.” I snarl, reaching for the button on my jeans. How fucked up is it that I’m hard? That my cock is screaming to take her? “Don’t do this, Remington. Please don’t…” she begs, tears glistening in her eyes. And I think back to that day, the day that I fucking needed her. I would’ve done anything and said anything to keep her with me then. My begs, my pleas went unnoticed, uncared for. Shoving my pants down, I take sick satisfaction when her lips start to tremble. I’m so caught up looking at her face and her big blue eyes that I don’t notice her pulling her fist back until it’s too late. Her tiny hands land against my ball sack, and all the air in my lungs dissipates. My stomach churns and I fall to my knees as she moves away from me and onto her unsteady legs. A lightning bolt of pain passes through my balls. “Don’t touch me, and don’t fucking threaten me again. You’ve changed, Remington, and the person you are and the person I am, are no longer people that run in the same circles. I don’t know you anymore. The Remington I knew never would’ve done what you just did. Touch me again and I’ll find a way to make you pay.” And that’s the truth, the fucking truth. Never in a million years would I have put my hands on her like that. I never would’ve been excited to see fear flicker in her eyes, but I wasn’t that person anymore. This was the new me, and the only version she was going to fucking get. “I’ll break you, Jules. I’ll make you pay for this,” I bite out each word, holding onto my balls, my entire world spinning out of control. One fucking day, one day is all it took for her to come back into my life sending all the perfectly constructed walls surrounding my heart into a crumbling mess. One day is all it took for her to make my stupid black hole of a heart beat again. “I look forward to it,” she sneers, walking back into the house, leaving me alone outside with nothing more than the sick feeling of what I almost did to her, and the reality of the man I’ve become. 4 JULES T wo days. That’s how long it’s been since Remington showed me a side of him I never plan to see again. Every time I close my eyes, there he is, an image of his angry eyes. All I can see is him forcing me to my knees, ordering me to suck his dick. I can’t help but cringe. Who the hell does he think he is? He never put his hands on me before, and though he didn’t hurt me, not physically, he definitely wounded me emotionally. “Which movie do you want to watch?” Cally, my roommate, calls from the living room. “I can’t watch a movie right now. I’ve got like three assignments due tomorrow,” I huff, trying to forget about Remington, about the party, and the entire events from that night. I’d have saved myself a lot of time had I not tried to make friends and just stayed home and did my homework. “I thought you had someone coming over?” Bridget, my other roommate, appears in the kitchen. She’s got her long blonde hair in a messy bun, and a pair of glasses sit on the tip of her nose. Like me, Bridget is all about her grades, and less about the drinking and boys. College is nothing more than another step in her life. “Well, I did…I don’t know if he’s coming now.” She pouts, plopping down onto the sectional before pulling out her phone. That explains why she’s dressed like she’s going to a party down the block. Bridget grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and smiles at me. “How are classes going?” “Good, just trying to figure out where everything is located.” “Yeah, the campus is huge, but you’ll get used to it. Just like anything new. It takes time.” I smile, feeling thankful to have met Bridget. She’s kind and soft-hearted and offered to let me stay here rent-free, at least until I can get everything switched around with the colleges. My mom’s trying to help me, but with her working non-stop, it’s hard enough just to get her on the phone, let alone to help with anything. “For sure, but I’m enjoying it.” “Yeah, she went to a party with me the other night,” Cally pipes up from the couch, and Bridget smirks. “She’s already corrupting you, isn’t she?” I shake my head. “No. I actually invited her to come with me. I was asked by someone I had just met and didn’t want to go alone. But I won’t be going again. I realized that parties aren’t really my scene.” Bridget nods as if she agrees with me. “Mine either. I’m a homebody. All I need is a glass of wine and a good book and I’m good for the night.” “Boring,” Cally snickers from the couch. Just then, the doorbell rings. Cally scurries from the couch like there’s a fire and I start to pick up my books deciding that studying in my bedroom is a much smarter idea right now. I don’t care to watch Cally have sex with someone on our couch, not that I think she would, but I don’t plan to stick around and find out. Bridget must feel the same way because she turns with her water bottle in hand and starts back down the hallway toward her bedroom. I load up all my stuff in my arms and turn to walk toward my bedroom, but my body freezes up when I see who it is that’s at the door. Remington. The blood in my veins turns to ice and I can’t get my stupid feet to move, it’s like they’re cemented into the floor or something. As soon as he spots me, his eyes turn from playful, a look I know all too well, to downright disgust and hate. Why does he hate me so much? I don’t understand, and still a part of me wants to. I want to go to him, wrap my arms around him and will him to tell me what happened. But I’m afraid, afraid of what he might do, and even worse how I might react. We’re no longer best friends, were no longer anything, and that means there isn’t anything stopping him from hurting me. There are no lines, nothing to be crossed because in Remington's mind everything is fair game. He doesn’t care for a damn thing, which is so unlike him. It’s dangerous, and a game that I don’t want to play. Cally closes the door, and the tension in the room grows thick. I can taste it on my tongue. I don’t think she knows what’s going on, and even though I should probably tell her, being she’s my roommate and all I know, it wouldn’t change anything. Remington Miller is a North Woods god, and I’m just some transfer without a name. She would probably kick me out of the house if he asked her to. “I’m so happy you showed up. I was just going to start a movie, want anything to drink?” Cally asks, oblivious to the daggers he’s throwing at me. Somehow, I know this is bad, him knowing where I live, who my roommates are. You’ll pay for this. His words ring in my ears. I can still feel the venom in his voice, clinging to my skin. I’m a nobody in his world, a nobody at this college, and he’s a god with women throwing themselves at him and men wishing they could be him. Making me disappear wouldn’t be too hard. Destroying me even easier. “Cally, babe, mind if I have a short little chat with your friend.” His deep seductive voice gets the blood pumping in my veins. I find myself shaking my head without thought. Scurrying from the living room, I all but run down the hallway and to my bedroom. His heavy footfalls fill the space behind me, and I know there is no way I can outrun him. I should’ve listened. I shouldn’t have pushed him. Reaching my door, I open it, throwing my books to the floor. Just as I turn to slam it closed and lock it, his booted foot wedges into the door jamb. My gaze falls to the spot. He still wears combat boots which is a strange thing for me to be thinking about at this moment when he’s so close and clearly wanting to snap me in two. “Didn’t I tell you… warn you?” His voice is deadly, and I shiver, wondering if it’s out of fear or something else. Since that night when he pushed me to my knees and ordered me to suck his cock, I’ve been feeling things, things I shouldn’t be for a man as mean and scary as Remington. I shove against the door, trying to shut it, but it only takes one tiny push for him to overpower me. He opens the door and saunters into the bedroom, my bedroom, his eyes never wavering from mine, fire and rage simmering in his green depths. Why does he have to look so gorgeous, and angry, and mean, and no, I cannot be thinking about him like that right now. He isn’t the same person I once knew. His huge hand grips onto the edge of the door and then he’s shutting it. Trapping us both inside I take a step back, the room feels smaller than usual now that he’s in it. The sound of the lock clicking into place sends my heart into overdrive. It beats so loudly all I can hear for a moment is the swooshing of blood in my ears. Can he hear it too? How hard my heart is beating? What happened to the boy I loved? “Get out,” I whisper, my voice weak, my body weak. I should’ve listened to him, listened to his stupid warning. Never before was I a rule breaker, but Remington’s rules are dumb, more than dumb, they’re asinine. “Nope. I’m here to show you a lesson,” he smirks, but it’s not his usual smile, no this smile promises heartache. His eyes move up and down my body, and I feel like I’m under a microscope. “I didn’t do anything…” My lips tremble giving away my emotions, and I hate that he gets me to react this way. He takes a step forward, his body looming, rippling with anger, with a vengeance, and I know the boy I loved once, the boy who was my best friend, my everything, is no longer inside him. “You fucking exist, and that’s enough of a reason for me.” I don’t even get a chance to respond, before he’s on me, his fingers digging into my skin roughly. This time I know I won’t get to punch him in the nuts, but that doesn’t mean I’ll just let him hurt me. I kick and claw at him, but he overpowers me as if I’m nothing but an annoying fly. He pushes me down onto the bed face first, his knee pressing into my lower back to keep me in place. My face is in the bed sheets, and I struggle against his hold. Fear claws at my insides when I hear the flick of the button on his jeans. He isn’t...he wouldn’t? Would he? “Remington, stop it,” I order him, tossing my head to the side to get a much-needed breath and to make certain he can hear me. I feel his hands slip into the waistband of my yoga pants. “You have no idea who the fuck you’re messing with. Who I am now. I own this school...girls want me to fuck them, guys want to be me, and I run the place like a king. I could kill someone, and no one would care, no one would even bat an eye.” Panic grabs onto me, refusing to let go. He owns this school, and all the people in it, everyone except me. He doesn’t own me. I let that sink in giving me the courage I need to fight him off. I squirm, bucking my hips and rolling them, doing whatever I can to throw him off. “Fight me, Jules, fucking fight me. It makes all of this that much more exhilarating.” “You don’t own me…” I choke on the rest of my sentence when I feel the cool air against my panty-covered ass. He shoves my yoga pants down my thighs and sinks more of his body weight into mine. Even though I’m scared, terrified of what he’s going to do, a part of me is tempted to give into the darkness inside of him, to let him unleash it on me. I wonder if I gave myself to him, if I let him have me, if it would change anything. If it would bring him back to me. “We’ll see about that.” I can feel his hot breath against my ear. Before I can gather my wits, he’s ripping my panties down my legs, the effort it takes for him to do so is pitiful. My chest heaves as I try and catch my breath. He’s not really going to do this, is he? He wouldn’t rape me. That’s not him, even as angry as he is, he wouldn’t cross that line. Then I feel him...and not just him, but his cock, it’s huge, and it slides up and down my ass crack, making me shiver with fear, but there is more than fear simmering in my belly. There is something else entirely. Warmth fills my being, sending rivulets of pleasure straight to my core. I’m confused, completely fucking confused. I shouldn’t want this, and strangely, I do. I’ve imagined sex with him ever since I figured out what it was in seventh-grade health ed class. But never, ever did I imagine it being like this. I had always assumed he would be my first, but I thought it would be sweet and gentle, not this raw, dirty, roughness. Remington’s hand palms my heated flesh, his touch surprisingly gentle as he slides his cock between my ass cheeks, up and down, up and down. I can hear him inhale and exhale as if he’s trying to calm himself. My own breathing is out of control and I wonder if this is it. If this is where he claims me. “Should I fuck your pussy or your ass?” I start to squirm again, wishing I could at least see his face, try to find the boy inside of him I once knew. “Let me go…you’ve proven your point,” I croak, pleasure swirling between my legs. “No, I don’t think I have yet.” His hand travels from my ass cheeks around my body and snakes between my legs. His fingers are thick and my body is having a hard time separating the things he’s doing to it from the person he is now. These are all things I wanted once upon a time, his hands on me, his lips on mine, and maybe part of me still wants them, but not with the man he is right now. I want the old him, the boy who held my hand, who smiled at me and wiped my tears away. I want my best friend back. Without warning, he starts to rub gentle circles against my clit. “Maybe I’ll fuck both. Tell everyone you were a whore that begged me to take both of your holes.” My body reacts to his touch, even though his words are cruel, and his voice angry. I want to speak, to say something but I’m afraid I’ll moan instead, so to save face I press my lips together. He keeps rubbing me, teasing my clit and it’s driving me insane. “Remington,” his name falls off my lips dripping with need and I could kick myself for not being able to keep my mouth shut. “Mmm, your pussy is already wet. You like this, don’t you? I bet you aren’t even a virgin. I bet you’ve slept with tons of fuckers just like me. Slept your way through life.” “No,” I cry out, just as he plunges two fingers inside my channel. I wince, my entire body locking up as pain and pleasure mix together. “Fuck…you’re so tight,” he hisses, his fingers stilling inside of me. I whimper into the sheets, and he eases a little of his weight off my body before he starts moving again, thrusting his fingers deep inside me. He’s knuckles deep, rubbing at a magical spot. A spot I didn’t even know existed until now. The pleasure builds, bringing me closer to the edge. This is insane, wrong, so wrong but it feels right. I can’t hold my moan in any longer. “Perfect, absolute perfection,” he whispers, most likely not wanting me to hear him. He presses a kiss to the back of my head as he fucks me with his fingers, spearing me, breaking my heart and body all over again. It doesn’t take long for me to grow wetter and wetter with need, my entire body shaking, my legs trembling as an impending orgasm sneaks up on me. I’ve only ever made myself come, and it’s never felt the way it does now, earth-shattering, consuming every single cell in my body. All I can feel is his fingers sinking deeper and deeper into my flesh until I feel nothing but blissful pleasure rippling through my body. My pussy quivers around his fingers, my muscles tightening, trying to push him out as my release gushes out of me and onto his hand. “Such a pretty little pussy. I never would’ve expected you to be so responsive to my hate, I guess we’re both full of surprises.” I bite my bottom lip hard enough to make it bleed, and cringe at the copper tang of blood against my tongue. When Remmy withdraws his fingers, I’m left reeling, my body missing his touch, the fire he sparks inside me. He remains on top of me, just lying on my body, breathing heavy, as if he is the one needing a minute of rest after what just happened. Once his breathing is under control, he finally lifts his body off mine, the absence of his touch leaves me feeling cold. I crave his touch, his words even though cruel. All over again, I’m that little girl falling for her brother’s best friend. Before I can say or do anything, he pulls my pants all the way off, throwing them on the floor beside the bed. He flips me over onto my back and then he’s back on me, his whole body pushing me into the mattress. In this position, I can see him, see what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling. Peering up into his hardened face, I wonder what he’s going to do next, and even worse, if I’m going to let him do it. My heart is racing, and my breathing is shallow now that we're face to face. He’s still angry, nothing but hate and sadness reflecting in his eyes. It's then looking at him, seeing those emotions swirl that I realize I’m not mad at him. I don't hate him for doing this. I couldn't, not even if I wanted to. Instead, I feel something entirely different…I feel remorse. I feel sorry that this is what he has turned into, sorry that there is no love in his life, that he's lost the light, the kindness he once had. Feeling a need to bring back that man, I grasp onto his shirt, grabbing a handful of the fabric, pulling him even closer while lifting up my head from the mattress. I don’t think. I simply press my lips to his and kiss him. His lips are warm, and I inhale his scent, diving headfirst into the emotions he's pulling deep from inside me. My mouth fuses to his, a hunger clawing at my belly. The sweet innocent kisses we shared before when we were kids is nothing compared to this kiss. This kiss holds a need, a possessiveness I want to grab onto. Remington deepens the kiss and for a moment, I forget about how hurt we are, how angry we’ve been over losing each other. For a moment, we’re the same people we used to be using the strength of our kiss to say things neither of us ever could. But the moment passes just as quickly as it started and within seconds, he's pulling away, his lips swollen, his chest heaving. I catch a flicker of confusion that mirrors my own in his eyes before he jumps off the bed, immediately turning his back to me. I can hear him fastening his pants back up. I’m shocked, my thoughts disheveled, but one thing sticks out in my mind. I don't want what we just shared to end already. “What are you doing?” I ask, my voice weak. I don't want him to go, I don't want him to run away from me, not after I've caught a glimpse of the boy I once knew. I stare at his broad shoulders, his muscles rippling beneath his shirt, his body full of tension. He wasn't expecting the kiss, or my reaction to him and maybe that's what he needs, to be shocked. I don't really know, but I can't let go of what happened. I'm waiting for an answer, but it never comes, and though I'm not surprised, I am hurt. “Don’t go!” I order, but he’s already out the door, slamming it closed shut behind him, leaving me sitting on the bed naked from the waist down with nothing but the memory of his lips on mine. What did we just do? When I feel like my legs are steady enough to hold my weight, I slide off the bed and pick up my discarded clothes. Just as I’m pulling my panties up, the door flies open again. Cally stands in the doorway her mouth gaping open, betrayal and hurt in her now cold gaze. “You knew I liked him! How could you do this to me? I thought you were my friend.” “It's not like that, Cally.” And it’s not. She wouldn’t understand that though. No one would. No one knows of the past we share. She crosses her arms over her chest, and I can tell she doesn't believe me. I reach for my yoga pants, feeling slightly exposed and a bit humiliated. I start to pull them on when she starts to talk again. “Yeah, right,” she scoffs. “Because he was in here a really long time, and you're missing a lot of clothes for someone who didn’t just get laid. I really thought better of you, I guess I was wrong.” She turns around and leaves and for a second time tonight, my door is slammed shut. I sag back down onto my mattress, feeling as if I'll never do anything right again. Remington is out to break my heart all over again and Cally thinks I betrayed her. I shake my head, thinking of my brother and father at that moment. I wish Jackson was still alive. He would give me the advice I need, he would kick Remington's ass for acting the way he is. But he's gone and so is my father, and with nowhere else to turn, I do the only thing I can do…I cry. 5 REMINGTON I speed-walk across campus, even though my heart is racing as if I’m running at full speed. My mind reeling, my thoughts in complete disarray. What the fuck just happened? I don’t understand. I was there to teach her a lesson, to hurt her, to rip her heart out like she ripped out mine. Everything I did, everything I said to her, was supposed to lead to her hating me as much as I hate her. I wanted to see the same pain in her eyes that I’m feeling…that I feel every single time, I look at her. Instead she looked at me with pity and regret. Then she kissed me, fucking kissed me. And the worst part of all...I kissed her back. I fucking kissed her. I haven't kissed anyone in three years. I can’t count how many girls I’ve fucked in that time, but I have never kissed a single one of them. Kissing is too personal, it’s what people do when they want to get close, remember the person and if there is one thing I don’t want to do with anyone, it is to get close…and especially not with her, not again. Why the fuck did I kiss her back? I hate her, don’t I? My brain tells me I do, but my heart tells me different. My heart tells me I’m angry, confused… but not that I hate her. I lick my lips, her taste still lingering there. My mind wants to scrub that taste from my mouth, while my body wants to revel in it. My thoughts are cluttered with images of her and I need to clear my fucking head and get her out of my mind once and for all. I try and think about anything but her lips, her eyes piercing mine, the way her pussy clenched around my fingers so tight I thought I was going to die. I crossed a line, one I never crossed with any woman before tonight. I never forced myself on someone, not that I really had to force myself on Jules, it was clear she was more than interested in me, it just was the way I went about it, taking from her, using her body without permission. It was wrong. It was right. It was fucked up. As much as I wanted to hurt her, there was no way I could’ve fucked her without her permission. I wanted to hurt her, rip her heart out, but I didn’t want to commit a crime to do it. I liked my women willing, but she didn’t have to know that, she could’ve been thinking I was going to do it the whole time, and she probably was, up until she flipped over and looked into my eyes. She always had the power to see right through me. Fuck. I fist my hair in my hands in frustration, pulling tightly at the locks wishing they could give me the answers I need. Why can’t she just go away? Her memory haunts me and now she’s more than a memory, she’s here, right under my nose ruining me all over again. I pull out my cell, the group chat with all the guys pops up telling me I have over twenty missed notifications, but I don’t care. The bet is the last thing going through my mind right now. I want to win, but I’m concerned about the effect that Jules has on me, and I need to get that shit in order before I even try and fuck her. The thought of fucking her turns my cock to steel. I’ve wanted her since we were teenagers, and I could’ve had her so many times over. I wanted her to be my first, my last, my always. I grit my teeth. I need to find a way to forget her, to forget her memory. I’ve tried everything over the years - pussy, beer, weed. Nothing has ever dislodged her from my mind. Focusing my attention on my phone, I find Cally’s name and shoot her a text. I know she’s not my bet, but finding out she was Jules’ roommate only added to the fun. Now I have an in, into Jules’ life, into making her as miserable as possible. I ask Cally to meet me at the diner for breakfast tomorrow and to no surprise she replies right away, telling me she would love to. When I get to the house, all the guys are in the living room drinking beer. I grab two from the fridge, chugging one right away to settle my nerves, while sitting down with the second one. I’m consumed with a need to find a cure for her memory. I have to let go of the past we shared, and I can’t think of a quicker way than getting hammered drunk with the guys. It’s not a cure, but it will do for now. I down the second beer, and then another, and another until I’m five beers in a buzz finally starting to kick in. “You okay, Rem?” Thomas asks, concern etched into his features as he eyes the beer cans sitting on the table in front of me. Typically, I don’t drink that much, and especially not on school nights, but tonight I need all the beer I can get. I nod my head, hating that for once I’m forced to lie to my friends. “Never been better, Tom. Never been better.” THERE’S a throbbing behind my eyes that refuses to go away. It feels like I got ran over by a truck last night, and then it backed up and drove over me again. My muscles are stiff, and my stomach is churning. Drinking half a fridge full of beer probably wasn’t the best idea but it sure as shit got the job done. By the end of the night I wasn’t thinking about Jules, matter of fact, I didn't think about anything because it wasn’t long until I was blacked out on the living room floor. Not one of my most flattering moments, I suppose. After a quick shower, teeth brushing and change of clothes I’m feeling better. I walk into the diner and cringe, the bell above the door seems ten times louder today than it ever has before. Surveying the booths, I spot Cally sitting at a table by the window, she lifts her gaze to me, a bright smile on her lips. I walk over to where she is sitting and slide into the seat across from her. “Hi.” Her high pitch voice pierces my ears and I bite my tongue withholding the need to tell her to shut up. That, of course, wouldn’t help my cause so instead I fight through the throbbing in my head and pretend to be interested in whatever she has to say. “Hey, sorry I stormed out last night.” I give her a soft smile. I need her to believe that I’m sorry that I intended to come over to see her and not Jules. “Oh, it’s okay,” she says, but the frown on her face tells me she is anything but okay. “Did Jules say something? About what happened last night?” Cally’s frown deepens further and it’s painfully obvious she doesn’t want to talk about her roommate with me. But being the asshole I am, I couldn’t care less what she wants. “She didn’t say anything last night, not really. We kind of had a falling out. I guess she wasn’t as good of a friend as I thought she was.” She sighs, shrugging her shoulders as if she’s disappointed. Don’t I know how that feels. I don’t say shit though. My beef with Jules is mine alone, and if anyone gets to hate her, it’s me. “It’s just shitty since we even let her stay for free with us. I should kick her out, but I would feel horrible doing so since her brother and father just died…” Wait, what? That catches my attention and I slowly blink, trying to comprehend what I just heard. Cally continues talking, but I can’t understand the words that are coming out of her mouth, not after what she just said. For a moment I’m frozen in my seat, and everything around me blurs. Jackson. Her father. Dead. “Are you okay?” Cally drags me back to reality after a moment. “You look a little pale.” “Did she say that?” I almost yell at Cally, but somehow keep the tremor out of my voice. She doesn’t need to know the effect Jules has on me. “Say what?” She wrinkles her nose. “Did Jules tell you that her brother died?” I clarify, speaking slowly so she can understand me better. “Ah, yes, that’s why she moved here after the semester started, at least that’s what she told me. Wouldn’t be surprised if she’s lying though, since talking to her yesterday...” “Do you know where Jules is right now?” “Bio lab, I think, why?” I slide out of the seat and start walking away. “What…what are you doing? What’s wrong? Did I say something? Don’t tell me you called me here to get closer to her,” Cally calls after me, frustration coating her words, but I don’t bother turning around. I’ve got all the information I need from her. She’s Cole’s problem now. As I walk out of the diner, all I can think is that she is lying. Jules is lying, she has to be. Jackson isn’t dead…he can’t be. I hated them both equally when they left but finding out your ex-best friend might be dead. Yeah, that’s a kick to the fucking balls, and because of this little stunt, Jules has earned herself another session with me. I jog across campus to get to the biology building. I need to confront her right fucking now I don’t care if she’s in class, fuck I don't care if she’s in the middle of her fucking final. No one will pay me any attention. I do what I want when I want. The professors turn a blind eye to all the bad shit I do, and believe me, I do a lot of bad shit. But what teacher in this school wants to lose out on all that extra cash my dad is pouring into this place. By the time I get to the lab, the anger inside of me has built up and I’m damn near ready to explode. I rip the door open and stomp into the lab. I scan the classroom. I can feel eyes on me, but I only care about the big blue ones, connected to a heart-shaped face, framed with blonde curls in the last row. “Why would you fucking lie about something like this?” I curl my lip and stomp through the classroom heading straight for her. Her eyes go impossibly wide and her expression holds nothing but confusion. Always lying...always playing innocent. One day it’s going to get her hurt… one fucking day. “Telling people your brother is dead? What kind of sick fucking joke is that? Why the fuck would you lie about something like that?” Steam is billowing from my ears, and I want to smash my fist through something, destroy the room, break a desk or three. This woman brings out the worst in me, the absolute worst. She gets up, gathering her things, ignoring me as if I didn’t just yell at her in front of an entire classroom full of people. Hushed whispers fill the room as silence blankets us. “Answer me,” I shout, slamming my fist down on the first desk it connects with. Gasps fill the room and I see the professor out of the corner of my eye watching me. If she’s smart, she will keep her fucking mouth shut. Jules starts walking toward me, and I have to remind myself to calm down. Breathe. Don’t react. Just breathe. She pushes past me and walks out of the building and I let her, afraid that if I grab her now, things might end badly. Following behind her, my feet slap against the pavement. Who the fuck does she think she is? She makes me insane, with need, with anger...I’m losing my damn mind because of her. It doesn’t take long for me to catch up to her and when I do, I can’t stop myself. I grab her by the shoulders, my fingers wrapped so tight around her slender arms I’m sure I’ll leave bruises. I don’t want to hurt her, not physically at least, but she’s driving me mad. She closes her eyes as if she can’t fathom looking at me, but I need her to fucking look at me. I need to see the look in her eyes when she tells me the truth. “Open your fucking eyes and tell me why you would lie? Why would you make up something like that? It’s fucking pathetic, even for someone like you.” I shake her small body, her silky blonde curls escape from behind her ears and her big eyes blink open. Her gaze locks with mine and that’s when I see it. The pain, the anger, and loss all staring back at me. It’s heartbreaking the way she’s looking at me and I want to pull her into my arms, kiss her and tell her everything is going to be okay. “I didn’t lie, Jackson is dead,” she says quietly, her voice breaking at the end. I can feel a wave of grief and sadness building up, ready to crash over me, but I push it away. Not ready to face all of that yet, I let anger overcome me instead and I release her with a shove. She stumbles backward and I almost reach out for her again to steady her, but instead, I shove my hands into my pockets to stop myself. “And you didn't think that I deserved to know? Why wouldn't you tell me that my best friend is dead?” She laughs, but it’s not laughter she’s emitting, it’s pain, thick and heavy. “Oh, when would you have liked me to do that, Remington? When you ordered me to stay out of your way and you acted like we didn’t know each other or maybe when you told me not to call you by the name I’ve called you since I was five? Oooo, maybe when you had your fingers deep inside me or when you all but told me to leave you the fuck alone or face the consequences? Please, tell me, which time should I have dropped that fucking bomb on you?” My teeth grind together, and for once in my fucking life, I don’t know what to fucking say. I’ve been beating her down with my words, trying my best to make her feel as weak as she makes me feel, and this whole time she’s been suffering the loss of her brother, my best fucking friend. Losing Jackson was almost as tough as losing Jules, she had my heart, had me wrapped around her tiny little finger. “He was my best friend…” I say more to myself than her. “Yeah, so was I but you seem to have forgotten that part of your life.” She shoves at my chest to get me out of the way, her touch zings through me, restarting my heart and I listen to her feet, every step, as she walks farther and farther away from me. Her footsteps sound just like they did all those years ago when she walked away, hollow, leaving a gaping hole inside my chest. It takes me a long moment to regain my composure. Tears sting my eyes. I look around wiping at my eyes. I don’t fucking cry, and I haven’t since the day they both left me. I think about Jules, about the pain I’m causing her, about my revenge, about my own selfish needs. I’ve only ever loved her…her and my mother, and my mother never came back for my brothers and me, she’s never even fucking called. Jules, she’s here now…but how can I forgive her for leaving me in the first place? I’ve never been so conflicted in my life…so out of control. I can’t let go of the pain. I can’t be weak by giving into her touch, her tears, her angelic face. But the thought of hurting her more than she’s already been hurt sickens me. I hate myself for doing this to her...for doing this to me but had she not left me, had she not shattered my heart, we wouldn’t be here right now. 6 JULES I ’m so freaking tired I can barely put one foot in front of the other. I’ve never been so exhausted, mentally and physically. I didn’t sleep a wink last night and I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything this morning either. I spent most of the last twelve hours crying and I’m sure it still shows in my face now. At least that’s why I hope everybody is looking at me with a disgusted expression on their face. I try to ignore all the stares and whispers everywhere I go, but it gets exponentially harder to do so when I get to calculus and the whispers start to sound more like screams. “She lied about her brother being dead…who does that?” I don’t even turn my head to see who is talking. “I heard she did it for sympathy, so she could stay somewhere for free.” I should have known that what happened yesterday in bio would spread through the gossip web like wildfire. And it should come as even less of a surprise that everybody thinks I’m the bad guy. Of course, Remington can do no wrong, god forbid the asshole take responsibility for his actions. I mean who calls someone out like that in front of a whole classroom full of people? A bully that’s who. Tears prick at my eyes thinking about him. No, I’m not going to cry again. “I bet she didn't even have a brother…” someone whispers behind me and somehow hearing those words hurt more than any other comment I’ve heard today. Call me a liar and a cheater. Call me a bitch or a whore, but somebody telling me that my brother never existed at all is too much. All I have left of him are memories and for someone to say that those are not real, causes the hole in my chest to ache so badly I can barely breathe. I get up from my seat and walk out of the classroom before the professor even opens his book. I can feel eyes on me, and it literally has my stomach churning, acid rising in my throat with every step I take. I don't care if I fail every single class right now. All I want to do is curl up in my bed and cry my eyes out. I don’t want to be around these people or listen to their pitiful rumors. It doesn’t take long for me to make my way back to the house, and the second I walk in the door, things get even worse. “Jules, we need to talk,” Cally says while glaring at me. “Cally, please, I can’t do this with you right now,” I choke out, pushing past her. I walk into my room hoping she doesn’t follow, but of course, I wouldn’t get that lucky. “Listen, I think you should find a new place to stay, this isn’t working out.” I fight back the tears, trying to hold them in. This entire day has been shit, and now I come home to this. “Okay, I’ll pack up my stuff,” I tell her just so she will stop talking to me. I close my bedroom door in her face, and sag down onto the bed, placing a pillow over my face. The tears fall, and they just keep coming with no end in sight. How can one person have so many tears? “Jules!” Remington called my name. I could hear the laughter in his voice. “Come out.” My heart was racing out of my chest. I had never remained hidden this long. “Did you find her yet?” I heard my brother ask. “Nope...she’s switched up her hiding spots.” His words made me smile. At the end of each day, I went home with my cheeks hurting from smiling so much. The sound of branches breaking off in the distance told me my brother was walking away to look elsewhere. I nibbled on my bottom lip and waited with bated breath for Remington’s footsteps to follow. My brow furrowed after a few minutes, and I popped my head out from behind the tree I had been hiding behind for the last ten minutes. As soon as I did, I spotted Remington, his big green eyes dazzling in the summer sun. “Found you!” he yelled, and a pout formed against my lips. “I would’ve won if you just walked away.” I knew I shouldn’t be mad, it wasn’t like they never let me win, but I was so close to doing it on my own this time. If only I had more patience. Remington crossed the ten feet that separated us, his hands reaching for me out of instinct. He always protected me, cherished me, and I would consider him to be like another brother if I didn’t always picture myself kissing him. “If it helps any, I had no idea where you were hiding, Jules. I just knew I couldn’t leave you out here alone.” And just like that, I wasn’t upset over losing anymore. I licked my lips and peered up in Remington’s eyes. “Looks like you lost again.” Jackson’s teasing voice filled my ears, and Remington pulled away as if he knew that my brother would kick his butt for touching me. It had happened before, they fought a couple of times over boy stuff, stuff they always told me was none of my business. “Shut up, J,” Remington growled, and I merely snickered. I was pretty sure I loved Remington Miller more than ever that day. The memory from that day and all the other happy memories seem as if they’re from a distant world, a different life, one that is fading away with each passing day. I lean over the edge of the bed and grab the box from underneath it. Setting it on the bed in front of me, I take a minute to ready myself to open the lid. I already feel broken, Remington, taking the last of my whole pieces and shattering them with his assault on me yesterday. I open the box and stare at the picture laying on top. I take a moment to stare at it, to feel the memory from that day. It’s Jackson on his most recent birthday, he is smiling at the camera, not a worry in the world. His smile is infectious, bright, and he looks happy, beyond happy. His blue eyes gleam, and I’ll never forget what he said to me that night. He hugged me, kissed me on top of the head like he always did. Had I known it would be my last hug, my last conversation with him, I would’ve hung on a little longer. I tell myself over and over again that there was no way we could have possibly known that this was the last picture we would ever take of him? Or the last time we would ever see him alive. With shaking hands, I grab the stack of pictures and spread them out on the bed. Most of them are of Jackson and me, but there are a few of all three of us and some of just Remmy and I. One picture is of us laying in the grass, we are both looking at each other with nothing but love. I remember the way I felt that day, the emotions coursing through my veins. I thought I would be with him forever. I thought he would be my first, my last, my everything. We look like different people in those pictures and not just because we have grown up since they were taken. It’s more like the things that have happened to us changed us. Changed the way we feel and think…changed how we look at the world. I don’t know how long I stare at those pictures, wishing with everything inside of me that I could go back to those days, and that they weren’t just a memory. I wish I could see my brother again, see Remmy again…the Remmy I know…the one that loved me and cared for me. God, do I wish he was the same person. I don’t want to admit it, but I need him. I need him so badly right now. A knock on the door pulls me from my fantasy world. This isn’t going to be good. I look up, just as the door comes swinging open and Cally walks in. I wipe the tears staining my cheeks with the back of my hands as if that would make them disappear. Anybody with eyes can see I’ve been crying from a mile away and that I’m on the verge of a mental break down. “I thought you were packing not looking at pic…” Her words catch in her throat when she looks down at the pictures spread out across my bed. Her green eyes go wide with shock and maybe even a little confusion and for a moment she just stares with her mouth gaping open. “Is that…?” She closes her mouth and blinks as if she can’t really believe what she was just about to ask, or what she’s seeing. “Cally…I never meant to hurt you. I know you like him…it’s hard not to, believe me, I know, but I’ve loved Remmy since we were kids… since before I knew what love even was.” “You’ve known him since you were kids? And you really do have a brother?” I nod my head in response. “These pictures are from when we were growing up. We used to be neighbors. He was best friends with my brother and me. There was a time when I couldn't even imagine not having them in my life and now, I have neither of them.” “What happened?” Her question is like a knife to the gut, and I find myself gulping, for air, for words to answer her question, for a damn reason as to why it all fell apart. Is there really an answer to what happened? I’ve always looked at it as a learning curve to life. I couldn’t stop my parents from getting a divorce, from my mother working, or my father moving away. I couldn’t stop our friendship, or mine and Remington’s love from crumbling to pieces. There was literally nothing I could do to save us, and I think he knew it too. I think he knew it and so he hurt me before I could hurt him. “We moved, is the short answer. My brother is a story for another day.” I give her a sad smile. I don’t dare mention the fact that Remington’s mother leaving only made matters worse. She chose liquor over her children, and the person it hurt most was Remington because when no one else in their family believed she would get better, he did. He believed so much he thought he could make her better, he thought he could fix her...but, in the end, he couldn’t. “Well, that explains a lot, I guess.” Her tone tells me there is more to what she is saying, and I can’t help but wonder what I am missing. “What do you mean?” She looks at me sheepishly. “Well, Remington texted me to meet up with him yesterday. I thought he wanted to hang out, but he wouldn’t shut up about you. I figured it was because of what happened earlier that day… I mean, I like him, Jules, but having a crush on someone and loving them are two completely different worlds.” And boy did I know that. When I don’t say anything she says, “I’m really sorry, I didn’t see this before.” “I don’t blame you, you didn’t know, and I don’t expect you to understand. I just don’t want you thinking I was trying to steal him out from underneath you. I’m not like that. The only reason I didn't say anything is because chances are Remington and I will never be anything more than enemies now. He hates me, and he’s pretty close to achieving his goal of making me hate him back.” Cally frowns. “Since he started school here, he’s been lost, angry at the world. He’s a really sweet guy sometimes, but only when he wants something. But if he’s not fucking you, then he generally doesn’t want anything to do with you.” “I know. I discovered that really quickly. I made the mistake of hugging him on my first day. He doesn’t like to be touched…” “Looking at these pictures, it seems he didn’t always used to be that way. I mean he’s hugging you and holding your hand in quite a few of those images.” She pauses, smiling at me, and I know we’re back to being on the same page again. “I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard a rumor that he never kisses the girls he screws. Maybe that has something to do with you?” She lifts her eyebrows in question, like I could provide her with an answer. A nervous knot forms in my belly. I doubt what she is saying is true, how could you have sex with someone and not kiss them, ever? Remington doesn’t take me as the type of guy to not kiss a woman. Then I think back to his reaction from when I kissed him... how cold he was at first...how unresponsive. I thought maybe it was because he didn’t want to kiss me, but now maybe it was because of something else entirely. “How do you not kiss someone the entire time you’re having sex with them?” Cally grins and I feel like I’m giving myself away and the fact that I’m still a virgin. “It’s easy. Just do them from behind and you don’t have to worry about it. If they can’t see you, and their lips are nowhere near yours, then you don’t risk them touching. And like I said, the rumor is strong around here, since that’s something he does often.” I don’t say it out loud, but that seems so cruel, so unkind, not that doggy style is bad, I’m sure it’s great. I mean, I don't have any experience myself, but it seems to be popular enough. I still can’t imagine the intentions behind the position, why he would choose it...that’s cruel. “That seems like an asshole thing to do,” I mutter, picking up the pictures and placing them back inside the box. Cally watches me for a long moment, and I’m thankful to have her as a friend today, as someone I can confide in. “Well, Remington is kind of an asshole, and obviously nothing like the person you used to know... and I know you know that Jules, but something tells me he won’t change simply because you showed up.” She doesn’t have to tell me that. “I know, believe me, I know. I’m confident the boy I fell in love with in those pictures is nothing but a fading memory, one that will eventually be washed away and replaced with the cruel man he blames me for becoming.” “Don’t let him blame you. In the end, we all have our own choices to make. He chose to become the person he is today, and no matter what, he can’t put that hate on you. Life goes on, and it’s obvious he’s still living in the past.” “I won’t. I haven’t let him blame me thus far.” I give her a smile. “You don’t have to move out. I mean unless you want to. I was just being a bitch, but I don’t want you to move out. Bridget and I love having you here.” “Thank you,” I whisper. Moving back in with my mother would suck, but I would do it if I had nowhere else to go. My father left everything to my brother and me, but since my brother is gone now, it all fell into my lap, the house, the life insurance. “Take all the time you need, and if you ever want to talk, you know where my room is. I’m sorry for being an asshole. I liked Remington, I really did, but after seeing all of this, I know I don’t stand a chance.” She gives me a reassuring smile before slipping out of the bedroom, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I should tell her I don’t have a chance in hell either. Remington isn’t my savior, my white knight anymore. He’s a man now, cloaked in darkness, drowning in the waters of his past, and if I’m not careful, he’ll drag me down with him. 7 REMINGTON Sleep doesn’t come easy, and I find myself tossing and turning in bed all night, making classes almost unbearable the next day. I watch for Jules at every corner, even as I meet up with the guys for breakfast. Ever since she kissed me, I can’t get her taste off my lips. Every time I close my eyes, I feel her soft body against mine, my fingers deep inside her. When I walk into English the next day, the first thing I do is look for Jules. It’s stupid I know, since I hate her and all, but I can’t stop my body’s reaction to her. I need to see her, make sure she’s still mine to torment. When I find her, I almost grin, the energy inside me sizzles and expands outward. My heart starts to beat out of my chest, and the heavy air surrounding me that sticks to my lungs, making it hard to breathe lifts. I take my seat in the row behind her and tap my pen against my notebook. I have no intention of paying an ounce of attention to the teacher today. I’m simply here for Jules. My leg starts to bounce up and down as more students filter into the room, and Layla shoves down into the seat beside me. Jules got me right in the fucking emotions when she told me her brother died. Jackson was one of my closest friends, the only one that seemed to matter beside Jules. Since her confession, I haven’t been able to sleep, or even eat. I feel out of sorts which isn’t normal since I don’t generally give a fuck about anyone or anything. “Rem,” Layla greets me, resting her hand against my thigh. I give her a chin nod, but keep my eyes on Jules’ blonde curls. I wish I could’ve seen her face when she fell apart on my hand the other day. No. No, I don't. I don’t want to see her happy. But I do… My heart and my brain are waging war on my body, and I don’t fucking know who is going to win. “I missed you. You never texted me,” Layla whines in my ear. “Sorry, I forgot.” I grin, even though I feel annoyed. I’m good at hiding my emotions, at getting what I want. “It’s okay...I forgive you.” She nibbles on her bottom lip and leans into my face. Before Jules showed her face here, all that would’ve mattered was finding my next lay, or getting my dick sucked, but now I’m more annoyed with Layla’s presence than I am turned on by it. Layla’s fingers move over my jeans until she reaches my cock. I don’t stop her, what’s the point. If she wants to touch me then great, so long as she keeps her fucking mouth shut. “I want to suck your cock, Rem,” Layla purrs in my ear. But all I can hear is Jules tapping her pen against her notebook angrily. She can hear Layla, and I’d bet anything that’s annoying the fuck out of her. Hurt her. Break her. The words bounce off my skull inside my mind. “Jules,” I whisper her name, watching as her back straightens at the sound of my voice. She can hear me, I know she can, and I wonder what she’s thinking. I wonder what my voice does to her. Do I make her as insane as she makes me? Does she want to throttle me and kiss me all at the same time? Kiss me? I sneer at myself. No. No kissing. Not even Jules. “Jules,” I taunt once more. “I know you can hear me…” I watch her tiny hand clench into a fist. Good…so fucking good. Her reaction to me makes my dick hard. I continue taunting her, all while ignoring Layla’s incessant whines in my ear. “Jules…are you thinking about my fingers…?” I lean forward, and whisper, my breath fanning against her ear. She smells like vanilla and sugar, so fucking warm and inviting, so fucking much like the Jules from my past. “Do you think about my fingers deep inside you…?” “Stop.” She breaks, swiveling around, her voice snapping through the air, and much louder than a whisper. Mr. Johnson turns from the board, his eyes on Jules. “Jules, is there something that you would like to share with the class?” At her name being called, and all eyes turning to her she shifts in her seat, turning back around, but I can’t miss the soft blush that starts to rise in her cheeks at being called out. “N-No…I’m sorry…” she says, trying to make her voice strong. “Good. If you didn’t come here to learn then you can leave,” he announces, his tone pissing me off instantly. It’s bad enough he called her out in class, but now he’s fucking being a dick by insinuating that she doesn’t want to fucking learn. “Lay off,” I growl at him, slapping my palm on the table. “She was just answering one of my questions.” “Mr. Miller, it’s so nice of you to join in on the conversation. Maybe you would like to take you and your attitude out of my classroom.” Now I’m more than pissed...I’m fucking angry. “Excuse me?” I growl. “You heard me. Out. And when you come back into my classroom, you better have a better attitude.” I blink, my jaw flexing. Did this bastard just fucking talk to me like I was dirt beneath his feet? What the fuck! “Whatever.” I roll my eyes and grab my shit, walking out of the classroom, while feeling every pair of eyes on me. He's not worth the fucking paperwork or ticket. I rip the door open, and then I slam it closed as I walk out, making certain I’ve made a fucking scene. Once in the hall I try and take a couple calming breaths. What the hell is wrong with me? I stuck up for Jules without even thinking about it. I shake my head and thread my fingers through my hair. She’s nothing. She’s everything. My heartbeat thunders loudly in my ears. She’s lost everything… Every-single-fucking-thing. I try and reason with myself. Maybe I can’t forgive her completely, but I could stop being a fucking asshole. I could try and make her life easier. I can’t deny that I want her body. I want every fucking chick’s body, but… friendship, anything close to it, is a no. It has to be. When the doors open and students start to filter out, I realize I’ve just stood here for the last five fucking minutes internally battling with myself. Talk to her. Fuck, okay. I’ll talk to her, I tell myself. I shove my hands into the pockets of my jeans and wait. This is a bad idea. But all I’m doing is talking. Layla appears, a sneer in her eyes. She’s pissed, I could tell without even looking at her. A second later, Jules walks out, and for a moment I do nothing but stare at her. Her blonde locks are curled at the ends like always, she’s wearing a pair of killer skinny jeans and thigh-high brown boots, with a cream-colored blouse that makes her eyes pop. Her face falls the moment she spots me looking at her, but I don’t care. Running from me isn’t an option and I hope she fucking gets that now. “Jules,” I say her name, and it almost comes out like it used to, need and care woven through each letter of her name. “What do you want, Remington?” She whirls around on me, fire in her blue orbs. “Did you stay back to taunt me some more? What could you possibly have to say that you didn’t already?” I’m taken aback by her anger, by the sadness she emits. Give me her fire, her fear, any day, but sadness, no, I don’t want her fucking sadness. “No. I just wanted to talk. I’m sorry about that back there.” Her eyebrows lift in surprise. “Sorry...wow…” She seems as taken aback by my apology as I am. “I just wanted to talk...wanted to…” The words hang between us. I don’t actually know what I wanted to do. I hadn’t thought this far ahead. “What do you want to talk about? How to torment me the best? Get me in trouble? Yell at me? Blame me for your own fucking problems?” Her response pisses me off. If she’s looking for a verbal fight, she’s seconds from getting one. “Watch it, Jules. I can and will still crush you. Don’t take my kindness for weakness.” I say the words even though I know I’ll never be able to follow through with them. Finding out about her brother changed something inside me. It lessened the fucking hate I have for her somehow. She shakes her head, and I want to grab onto her and pull her into my chest, whether to hug her or crush her to death, I haven’t decided yet. “You know what, Remington? I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re beyond saving. The person I used to know, the man that never would’ve taken from me, or hurt me, no longer lives inside of you, and that’s sad, so fucking sad.” My nostrils flare and I feel the fury brewing inside me like a storm whipping across the plains. She knows just what to say to set me off. “I should’ve fucking known talking to you was a mistake. You’re nothing but a fucking ice queen.” I shake my head, but I can’t seem to dislodge her stupid fucking words. “Yup, cold as fuck…” She walks up to me and I have half a mind to grab her, to force her to listen to me. “And all because of one fucking boy who ruined me.” “Ruined you?” I laugh, and this time, I do grab her. She gasps as my hand circles around her arm and I push her forcefully against the brick exterior wall. Then I cage her with my body, making certain she can’t escape me. She looks like a damn doe caught in the headlights of a car that’s seconds away from taking her life. I lean into her face, hating how intoxicating she is, the way that my body reacts to hers. I hate that even after all this time she still has power over me. “All I was doing was being nice, and you had to go and be a bitch…” My eyes move to her throat. I can see her quickening pulse. Is she scared? “No, you weren’t trying to be nice. You were trying to get me in trouble. You were being a heartless prick.” I pull back, one of my already clenched fists tightening as anger pumps through my veins. “Don’t turn this around on me,” I croak. “Why not?” She tilts her head, somehow gaining the strength to smile, and I want to hurt her. I want to hurt her as she hurt me. “All the choices you made in your life led to this very moment, Remmy. They all lead to this. You’re trying to blame me because you can't handle that you are the one responsible for your own life. You chose this.” And just like, that she’s provoking me, pushing me over the edge, mixing the already out of control fire with gasoline, making the flames bigger, the fire roar. I raise my fist and slam it into the wall right beside her head. The pain of the hit vibrates up my arm, making my teeth rattle inside my head. I’m seething now, my nostrils flare, and I sneer, staring down at the once strong woman who now looks like she might piss her pants. “Do you want to see me lose control? Do you want me to hurt you?” I barely get the words out. Why does she have this much control over me? I slam my fist against the brick wall again, and she flinches like I might hit her. Would I? The thought terrifies me and for a moment all I see is me losing my cool with her, me putting my fucking hands on her. I want to hurt her...but not like that… Seeing the fear in her eyes makes me pull away. I want her fear but not this way and within seconds, she’s scurrying away, leaving me in the same spot she left me the other night. “Weak,” I grit out. “She makes you fucking weak.” And then I let the rage consume me. I pummel the wall letting my fists scrape against the unforgiving brick. My knuckles bleed, my bones ache, but the fire inside me is still burning hot, it roars, and the flames flicker up toward the sky. All I wanted to do was talk. I squee