By: Sarah Mayberry

And why wouldn’t it be? She was a hot tamale. A pocket rocket. A bona fide hottie.

“When are you going to get here?” Reid asked, and she glanced at Eddie, who was still doing his thing with Maggie’s friend.

“Give me twenty,” she said.

She’d had enough to drink that she would have to get a cab, but Reid’s place wasn’t far, and there was no reason to stay here and perpetuate the torture. She wasn’t into self-flagellation. She turned to offer her apologies to Maggie for bailing while the party was still going strong, but she and Rafel had disappeared. Deciding she could make her excuses on Monday, Blue grabbed her denim jacket and headed for the door.

She smiled at familiar faces as she wove through the crowd, but she didn’t let anyone waylay her. She was mere feet from her goal when her path was blocked by a hard male body.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Eddie asked, one hand catching her shoulder.

His hand felt extraordinarily hot against her bare skin and she had to resist the urge to shake him off. He touched her all the time — casually, platonically — and usually she welcomed the easy affection behind his gestures. Tonight, though…

“I have an appointment,” she said, gazing at him. His shoulders looked impossibly wide in the snug black tank top he wore. His clear green eyes were steady on her face.

“I thought we’d kick on to Subterrain, or maybe Mojo,” he said.

“You mean you assumed we would.”

“Come on, Blue, don’t give me a hard time. I need to dance. And not to this shitty teen crap.”

“I’m busy.” She gestured for him to get out of the way.

“Cancel whatever it is and come dancing with me.” He gave her his best wicked-naughty smile, the one that had charmed so many women out of their underwear.

“Let me get this straight — you pretty much ignore me for the past two months, except when we’re at work, but now I’m supposed to drop everything because you suddenly want to party?”

Eddie had the grace to look a little shamefaced. “You’re seriously giving me a hard time over Denise?”

“Yeah, Eddie, I am.” She lifted her chin, daring him to try to sweep his shitty behavior under the rug.

“She was jealous. You know how it goes,” he said.

“Of course I know how it goes. Doesn’t make you being a douche bag okay.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry. I was trying to do the right thing.”

“The right thing by whom?” She could hear the bite beneath her words and hated herself for it. She wasn’t an abandoned puppy, whining for her master’s attention. Just because she loved Eddie didn’t mean she was his doormat. She had her own life, her own needs and wants and ambitions. The day she forgot that was the day she took a long walk off a short pier. “You know what? Forget about it. I’m sure the blonde will go to Subterrain with you.”

“Blue. Come on.”

His other hand landed on her opposite shoulder, preventing her from leaving. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him. She wasn’t giving in on this. She had her self-respect.

“I’m not some toy you can pick up and put down when it suits you. I’m a person. I’m supposed to be your friend,” she said.

“You really want to get into this?”

She didn’t move, and neither did he. She clenched her jaw, holding back the rush of words crowding her throat. No way was she telling him how much she’d missed him. How much he’d hurt her with his benign, casual neglect. No. Freaking. Way.

“I’m sorry,” he said after a long beat. “I should have told her to get over it.”

He was sincere, she could see it in his face. She felt herself waver, and when he slid his hand from her shoulder to the back of her neck, she softened even more.

“I’m a dumb asshole, and I really am sorry. You know I couldn’t live without you,” he said, his voice rough and low with emotion.

Every inch of her was aware of the place where his palm pressed against her nape. He stood so close she could smell his deodorant and the warm scent of his skin.

“Don’t do it again,” she said, her voice just as rough and low as his.

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