Chapter 12


Saturday morning I go to yoga. I really don’t want to drag my lazy ass out of bed, but I need it. More for my mental well-being than my physical. My brain feels jumbled the entire drive there, my usual morning clarity evading me. Being with Vinny yesterday confused me. I’d been hurt by him once, and it took a long time to get over it. Longer than I care to admit. It wouldn’t be wise to go for a second chance. Missy may have turned into Krissy, and fighting in the hall turned into fighting in a cage, but he’s still the same. The same boy that takes what he wants and doesn’t look back. Except now he’s a man. God, he’s all man.

But that kiss. It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. Filled with passion and desire, it made me forget where I was. Who I was. Being near him is dangerous. I could easily fall for him again, which is why I know I can’t see him anymore. I’d told him I’d think about it, but my decision wasn’t difficult to make. Once I put distance between us, I was able to think clearly.

I’m more relaxed and focused after yoga, but still not nearly my organized self. I stop downtown to grab some groceries, and I struggle to find my ringing phone in my bag while carrying my packages to the parking lot. I don’t immediately recognize the number.


“Liv?” A woman’s voice. It’s familiar, but I can’t match the face immediately.


“It’s Elle.”

“Oh, hi Elle. How are you feeling?”

“Like I swallowed a ten pound watermelon,” she sighs. “Listen, I’m dying for some coffee. Are you busy? I’ll have decaf, you can have the good stuff and describe it to me as you drink it.”


I smile thinking of our first and only meeting. We’d become fast friends and I liked her. I’d described the taste of my coffee that she was so desperate to consume. “Sure, I’d love to. I’m downtown, how about Barto’s?”

“Perfect, I’ll meet you in half an hour.”


Elle and I sit and chat for a while. She tells me how she met Nico while doing some contract work for him. I tell her about the job I’m desperately trying to land and my backup position with the Post in New York. An hour into our chat, she quiets for a minute before looking up at me sheepishly, I can see she wants to say something.

“I have a confession to make.”

“Okaaay.” I drag the word out, unsure of what will come next.

“Vinny asked me to contact you. See if I could convince you to go out with him. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re awesome. I wanted to get together anyway. But I feel dishonest now, sitting here without full disclosure.”

My initial reaction is to feel betrayed, but I can see Elle feels badly, so I put her mind at ease. I really do like her, feel like we could be good friends. “Thank you for telling me. I appreciate you being honest.”

“Sorry. For some reason, I just can’t say no to that boy. I’ve always had a soft spot for him. I met him when he was only twelve or thirteen. We’ve been through a lot together over the years. Especially with his mom and all.”

I’d always suspected that Vinny’s mom had problems. Every time he got in trouble at school, he’d stood for his punishment alone, his mother nowhere to be found. I feel bad for goading Elle into telling me more. Clearly she isn’t aware that his home life is unknown to me, but I want to find out more for some reason. “How is his mother?”

Elle makes a growling sound in response. “Still high. Still dragging Vinny into her mess on a regular basis. Still a total loser.” She sips her decaf coffee and wrinkles up her nose. “Why can’t they make decaf that tastes more like the real thing? We send men to the moon, images through cell phones to the other side of the world, but decaf still tastes like sour water.”

When two o’clock rolls around, my cell phone alarm goes off reminding me I need to pick up Ally from school. She’d decided to go back to school and start her graduate work and I volunteered to play taxi for her weekend classes since she doesn’t have a car anymore. Elle and I have spent more than two hours at the coffee shop, yet it only seems like ten minutes. “I hate to run, but I have to give my roommate a ride.”

We both stand and hug, laughing at her belly getting in the way between us. “So what do I report back to Vinny?” Elle raises her eyebrows and bites her bottom lip. There’s hope in her eyes. Clearly, she adores him. I find comfort in knowing that Vinny has a woman like Elle looking after him. Especially after what I just learned about his mother.

“I don’t know, Elle. I know you care about him…and, oddly, I find that I still do too. But I just don’t think he’s right for me.”

Elle looks disappointed, but smiles anyway. “I hope we can still be friends?”

“I’d really like that.”

Chapter 13


I’ve been on a tear since Elle came back and gave me the news that Liv wasn’t planning on seeing me again. I put in nine hours at the gym today. It’s too much, I know I’ll pay for it tomorrow, but right now I don’t give a shit. Nico locked the place up an hour ago, but didn’t tell me to leave. He knows I need to work something through. Understands how my brain works, leaving me restless, unable to stay still until I work myself to the point of exhaustion. He gets me because he’s the same way. Plus, he knows how I would have handled feeling like this six months ago, so he’s happy to keep me busy in the gym, rather than out partying.

“You wanna talk about it?” Nico lives upstairs in the loft above the gym with Elle, but he comes down to check on me. He gets behind the bag that’s swinging from my kicks and steadies it, giving me a firmer target to attack.

“No.” I throw a few punches at the bag and Nico’s forced two steps back from the sheer force of my hits. Whatever I’m feeling now has me hitting harder than usual. Too bad you can’t bottle this shit and pull it out when you really need it.

“Elle says it’s the girl.” Nico pushes, he always does.

“I don’t wanna f**king talk about it.”

“Watch your mouth.”

I stop swinging and still myself. He can’t be serious. “Are you kidding me? I’m not god damn thirteen anymore.”

“Yeah, I realize that. But you’re down here acting like you are. And you’re also yelling and my very pregnant wife is worried about your sorry ass for some stupid reason and her hearing your foul mouth upstairs is showing her disrespect.”

Most Popular