“I need to get them adjusted,” I would say, and he’d always respond with, “Nah. I like being your official keeper of your glasses.” Goodness, remembering that made my heart ache.
“Did I . . . did I do wrong by you, Roxy?”
I stiffened as if steel had been dropped down my spine. “What?”
Everything about Reece’s posture had changed. He was still close, his hands still on the shelves on either side of me, but the lazy arrogance that seemed to bleed from his every pore was gone. Every part of him was alert and tense. “Did I hurt you somehow?”
My mouth dropped open. Had he hurt me? Yes. He’d bruised my heart, smashed it into pieces, but I didn’t think that’s what he meant. “No. God, no. How could you even think that?”
His eyes closed briefly as he exhaled harshly. “I don’t know what to think.”
Oh God, my entire chest clenched. I needed to tell him the truth, because it didn’t matter how badly my feelings and pride were bruised, I couldn’t let him think something like that about himself. The words formed on the tip of my tongue.
“It should’ve never happened,” he continued. “You and I . . . not in that way.”
The words fizzled up on my tongue, going out like a spark in a downpour. I knew how crazy it was to be upset, because he said it shouldn’t have happened when it had in fact never happened, but it was the point behind it all. A different set of words flooded out of my mouth. “You really do regret it, don’t you?” My voice sounded too hoarse. “I know I can’t be the first chick you got so drunk—”
“That I don’t remember being with?” he cut in. “Yeah, you’re the only girl I’ve done that with.”
I didn’t know if I should be relieved to know that or be really insulted. Shaking my head, I grappled with the mixed bag of emotions. “You . . . you wish that night never happened, right?”
“Yeah, I do.” The blunt honesty was like taking a bullet straight to the chest. “Because I wa—”
The stockroom door suddenly opened. “Man, I have really bad timing when it comes to this shit,” announced Nick. “Sorry to . . . yeah, intrude. I just need to grab some . . . stuff.”
My escape was in the form of dark and broody, and I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I used the distraction to my benefit. Reece had dropped his arms as he faced Nick, who was grabbing the new napkins with Mona’s logo splashed across them. I darted away from Reece and hauled butt through the open door. I didn’t look at Nick and the blood roaring in my ears drowned out anything either of them could’ve said.
The odd burn in the back of my throat had to do with allergies. Probably mold somewhere in the building, I told myself as I headed behind the bar and forced a wide smile when I saw the girls sitting there.
“You guys need drinks?” I asked cheerily, reaching almost blindly for a bottle.
“We’re good.” Calla’s gaze drifted over my shoulder, and I didn’t need to look to know that Reece had exited the stockroom. I saw him within seconds, crossing the barroom floor. He dropped into the empty seat next to Cam, his profile stoic.
“You okay?” she asked, voice low and sincere.
My smile was going to split my cheeks. “Of course.”
Doubt crossed her face, and as I turned around and pushed my glasses up to my forehead, I told myself to pull it together. This was her night—her and Jax’s. I didn’t need her worrying about me. Scrubbing my hands over my face, I probably wiped off what was left of my makeup. Oh well, didn’t matter at this point. I fixed my glasses and whirled around.
Calla, Tess and Avery stared at me.
I drew in a shallow breath that scratched at my throat and then grabbed the hem of my shirt, pulling it straight. “So, do you guys want to know why Hufflepuffs do it better?”
Avery grinned as she leaned forward. “Do we want to know?”
I nodded eagerly. “Oh, yes—yes you do.”
Tess bounced once, way enthusiastic to hear my reasons for why being sorted into Hufflepuff was a good thing, and I think I fell in love with her in that moment, but Calla wasn’t fooled. She nibbled on her lower lip as she watched me refill Avery’s glass with soda. And I couldn’t stop myself from glancing over to where all the guys sat. Cam and Jax, who appeared to be on the verge of an epic bromance were deep in conversation with Jase, but the moment my gaze drifted across the table, I forgot what I was doing with the ice scoop. Holy hell, I didn’t even remember picking it up. Why was I holding it?
Reece’s eyes met mine, and the air slowly leaked out of my lungs. The intensity in his stare traveled across the distance between us. It struck me then—why had he picked tonight to finally breach the standoff between us. Not that it really mattered, but I was curious.
I didn’t need to have any of Katie’s ability—she was convinced that when she fell off the pole while, um, dancing and hit her head, she developed psychic power—to know what he was thinking and what the concentrated power in his stare meant. I might have dodged him in the stockroom, but he was far from done with me.
Vibrant blue eyes, the shade of the sky seconds before dusk washed away the startling color, peered out from a thick fringe of dark brown lashes surrounded by golden hued skin. Those eyes were set in a face that still held a hint of boyish charm, but the hard line of the jaw, stubborn and dominant, and those expressive, well-shaped lips spoke of masculinity. A beauty that could be as harsh as it was majestic.