We walked in silence out to my truck, and no, it didn’t escape my notice that she stayed an awkward distance from me. As soon as she was in the passenger seat, I ran to the driver’s side and hopped in. Just as I turned the ignition she cleared her throat and looked down at her hands, which she was twisting together. “Can we just get it out there right now that I don’t want anything with you or from you?”

I’m not going to lie; it felt like she’d punched me. But I still nodded.

“I’m not looking for, or interested in, a relationship. It’s nothing against you. I just—I can’t—I don’t. Um, I—”

“Rachel.” I waited until she looked up at me and again found myself wishing I could figure out what she was hiding from me. Did she have a boyfriend? Just get out of a bad relationship? “It’s fine. Nothing between us, I got it.”

With a quick breath in, she nodded her head and forced a smile. “We kind of got off on the wrong foot, but since we’re going to be neighbors I’d like it if we were friends. I’m sorry for how I was toward you when I met you, and I’m sorry for the confusion this morning—can we just start over?”

Only being friends with her sounded about as fun as kicking puppies right now. But this was good; I didn’t have time for a distraction and Rachel would definitely be a distraction . . . I don’t know why I even try lying to myself. The real problem was I couldn’t put Rachel in my world. I couldn’t put her in this danger, and being with her would put her right in the middle of it. So friends it was, then. “Sure,” I said softly, and watched a genuine smile cross her face.

She stuck out her hand. “I’m Rachel Masters, from far West Texas.”

God, she was cute. I grabbed her hand and tried to ignore the warmth coming from her body and how I wanted to lean into her, press my mouth to her neck, and breathe in the sweet scent coming from her. “Logan . . . Hendricks, from far East Texas. But you can call me Kash. It’s good to meet you, Rachel.”

“You too, Kash with a K.”

“You know, my apartment is pretty bare.”

“That’s an understatement,” she whispered on a laugh as she sat back and put her seat belt on. “I happen to be locked out of my apartment and have nothing to do today . . .”


“You want to help me pick out new furniture?”

“Took you long enough to ask me!”

I smiled and threw my truck in reverse. “Smart-ass.”

“SO TELL ME honestly.”

I glanced over at Rachel, who was lying down beside me, and raised an eyebrow.

“Can you feel it, Kash?” Her eyes widened and she slapped down on the mattress. “Can you feel the difference this mattress makes?”

The saleswoman kept rambling on about the statistics of this bed and I tried not to laugh as Rachel acted as if what she was saying was from the Bible.

“Isn’t this one just great?” The woman leaned over the bed to look at us. Her drawl was so thick that her great sounded more like gright.

“Feels just like a cloud, you were so right!” Rachel smiled sweetly at her.

“Oh, I knew y’all would just love this one! But c’mon over to the other side of the store, I have a few more to show you. And they just blow this one right out of the water,” she said, and walked away to the next set of mattresses.

Rachel swung her legs over to the side and looked back at me, that same sweet smile plastered on her face. “It feels exactly like the last six except it’s an extra two thousand dollars. So that just makes it so much better!” She scrunched up her nose on the last few words and smacked her hand down on the mattress again.

I rolled off the mattress and pulled her with me as I followed the saleswoman. “You look like a Miss America contestant on shrooms,” I whispered to Rachel, and she snorted.

She began waving at no one in particular like she was in a pageant, and her smile widened. “In case you’re wondering, the snozberries do taste like snozberries.”

“Oh, I thought y’all were right behind me!” The saleswoman had stopped and turned to face us a good twenty feet ahead. “Well c’mon, you two, you’re gonna love this next one!”

I groaned and Rachel’s fake smile faltered. “Since when does me sound like maaayyy?” I asked quietly when she began walking again.

“She reminds me of Dolly Parton. She has got to go.”

I barked out a laugh and tried not to picture the saleswoman as a Dolly clone.

Three beds and four couches later and I thought I was going to strangle the Dolly impersonator. And we still weren’t done with this store. How had I gone day in and day out with drugged-out scum and hookers and not clawed my eyes out, but an hour with this woman had me wanting nothing more than to take off running out of the store while screaming at Rachel that it was every man for himself?

I swear, if it weren’t for Rachel and her smart-ass comments, I would have been hiding underneath one of the beds. But even Rachel was starting to look worn out. Her fake smiles were a little less Barbie and a little more ermahgerd, and she looked ready to pass out on the couch I’d just gotten up from.

“Hmm.” Dolly 2.0 tapped her chin and turned to look around her. “Ah! I got the perfect set over here!”

“That’s it,” Rachel whispered, a horrified look on her beautiful face. “This is where I die. In a furniture store the size of freakin’ Costco!” She shuffled off after the saleswoman and I quickly caught up to her side. When I got there, her psychotic-Barbie look was back. “Did you know the leather couches we’re about to look at have a warranty for ten years? No cracks!”

“Oh, well in that case, I have to buy these. Right?”

“Of course.” She got oddly silent as we followed along and out of nowhere started dancing all crazy and lip-syncing to the song playing throughout the store.

I stopped, my eyes going wide as I watched her. As soon as the chorus ended she stopped, and just in time, since our saleswoman had turned to see why we weren’t with her.

“Y’all coming?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Rachel answered since I was still looking at her with my jaw dropped. Her serene expression began cracking and she bit down on her bottom lip to keep from laughing. Glancing over at me, she gave me a soft nudge and winked before walking over to the next living room set, leaving me staring after her before I burst out laughing.

Damn, I’m pretty sure I just fell in love with Rachel Masters.

RACHEL FLOPPED DOWN onto the love seat and I stretched out on the couch with a groan. How do women like full days of shopping? This shit was exhausting. After we had finished at the furniture store, we’d gone to pick out lamps and other things Rachel deemed necessary before heading to the grocery store; I was ready to crash and not wake up until I needed to be at the department on Monday. But then all the furniture had arrived and we’d started “decorating.”

“You’re insane, woman.”

She grunted some form of agreement. “But you’re finished. You’re fully moved in.”

“I’m gonna kill Mason for not helping.”

“Yeah, well . . . I’m used to this by now.”

I rolled over so I could look at her. God, this girl was all long, tan legs. Thank God she’d still been in her pajamas when they locked her out. I’d had the best view all day. “Used to helping random guys pick out everything for their apartment?”

She laughed softly and rolled her head like she was trying to relieve the tension in her neck. I wanted to help with that, but I was pretty sure friends didn’t do that. Or if they did they didn’t think about following it by tracing the curve of her neck with their mouth. “No, I mean I’m used to being kicked out. I thought it would be different once we got our apartment, since I could just go into my room. But she still fully kicks me out whenever she’s hooking up with someone.”

My brow wrinkled. “You’re serious?”


“Do you get kicked out a lot?” She didn’t answer; she just turned to look at me with raised eyebrows. I’ll take that as a yes. “Where do you go?”

“I’ve become really close with the baristas at one of the twenty-four-hour Starbucks.”

What in the actual fuck? And Candice was supposed to be her best friend? She and Mason had been locked in the apartment for almost twelve hours. “And do you do the same?”

Judging by her wide blue eyes, my gruff tone surprised both of us. I hadn’t meant to ask. I didn’t really want to know if Rachel was like Candice, but something in me needed to know. From Candice’s drunk rambling the night before, I knew Rachel was single, but that didn’t mean a whole hell of a lot.

“I’m sorry . . . what?”

I tried to smirk at her, but I’m positive it came off as more of a scowl. “Do you kick Candice out too?”

She fidgeted and broke eye contact with me. “There’s never a need to.”

Never as in she’s never? Or never as in—not in a while? Before I could say anything else, she sat up and cleared her throat.

“Tell me, Kash. What is it you and Mason do?”

And so it begins. I got comfortable and flashed her a lazy smile. “We just got here yesterday. You gonna give us some time to try and find something?”

“How old are you?”

“Are we playing twenty questions now, sweetheart?”

Her eyes narrowed and she continued to stare at me.

“I’m twenty-five. You?”

“Twenty-one.” She shook her head dismissively. “But that’s beside the point. You’re twenty-five, and I’m guessing Mason is around the same age?” When I nodded she continued. “And sorry for being nosy, but since I happened to be with you all day, I also saw how much you spent on setting up your new apartment. I know you didn’t move here for a job, but I figured if you have that much just to blow on furniture and such, you must’ve had a pretty cushy job in Bullshit, Texas.”

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