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First (Page 6)

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I tried to pay attention to everything else going on, but then, of course, Owen had to go talk to her again. Pushing my annoyance aside, I listened in. They were talking about a crow on the fence. She seemed to find the bird creepy, and I wondered what she’d think if she knew what I was. When I heard them talking about going home, I had to intervene. She was thanking Owen for giving her a heads up.

“The heads up on what?”

“I was simply suggesting she pry Jess away from Jared if she wants to get her home tonight.”

“What’s the hurry? The night is young.” I smiled at her, resisting the urge to punch Owen. If I wasn’t good at controlling myself, my eyes would have changed.

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“We have our first day of work tomorrow.”

“Your first day of work at your father’s hotel. Can’t you skip out?” I was definitely not ready to say goodnight, and it was looking unlikely she was coming home with me.

“No! I am not missing my first day of work. I’m not like that.”

If I couldn’t have her that night, I’d just have to try again. “Really? Maybe I can learn more about you tomorrow night? Maybe over dinner?”

“Not a chance.”

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“Oh, that’s right; you think you’ve sworn off men.”

She pretended to ignore me, but I saw the tiny curl of her lips. “Jess, let’s go!”

“Now? Seriously?” Jess whined.

“I’m sure you can meet up with your friend another time.”

Her friend? Allie had a bit of edge, didn’t she?

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“What’s the rush all of a sudden?” Jared asked, glaring at Allie.

“Owen decided to point out the late hour to her.” I knew Jared would appreciate it as much as I did.

“What the hell, man?” Jared lunged at Owen, his eyes turning black. I hoped the girls didn’t notice, and I put myself between my friends. We’d have to settle this later.

“Let it go, Jared. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunities to see them again. We’ll walk you girls home.” I wasn’t happy to see Allie leave, but I also wanted another chance. It was time to cut our losses and regroup.

When we reached the hotel, Allie waved. “Goodnight.”

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“I’ll be seeing you,” I said before walking away. I’m sure she had no clue how true my words were—there wasn’t a chance in the world I was letting this girl go.

Chapter Four

Miraculously, Jared didn’t kill Owen. Jared was usually reasonable, but if you c**k blocked him, you needed to be ready for his wrath. They’d stopped fighting long enough to go to sleep, but that didn’t mean Jared wasn’t still angry the next day. I poured myself a cup of coffee and watched as they stared each other down in the kitchen.

“Are you guys going to survive if I leave for a few hours?” I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere, but I didn’t have a choice.

“If you’re going to stalk that girl from last night, I’m going to have to intervene.” Jared laughed.

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“I’m not stalking anyone.” Even if I did want to see her again. “My grandparents are in town. I’ve been ordered to attend a family lunch at my parents’ house.”

“Oh. Lucky you.” Jared popped open the top on a can of Coke. “I’d offer to join you, but I’d rather go to the dentist.”

“Your family isn’t that bad.” Owen seemed relieved Jared had moved on from threatening his life. “If you need company, I’ll suffer along with you.”

“I appreciate the sacrifice, but that’s not going to fly with Georgina.” My grandmother was pretty intense, and a family lunch was limited to family. No exceptions.

“Call us when you get out.”

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“If I get out,” I mumbled as I walked to the door. “Try not to kill each other while I’m gone.”

Jared laughed. “I’m over it. We’ll go out later and find someone else.”

“Yeah, maybe.” I left before he could question me. I was already late to see my family. I didn’t feel like explaining to my friends that I didn’t want to find another girl. Until I got Allie into bed, no one else was going to cut it.

I parked my black BMW along the curb in front of my parents’ large white house. With a wraparound porch and tall columns, it fit the southern style you would expect to see in the Garden District. After sitting in the car longer than necessary, I got out and headed to the front door. There was no reason to further delay the inevitable, and hopefully the afternoon would go by quickly.

My mom opened the door before I could ring the bell. I still had a key, but I never used it anymore. “Hey, honey.” The stress on her face could only mean one thing. Georgina had already arrived.

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“Hi, Mom. Sorry I’m late.”

“It’s fine.”

“It’s fine?” My grandmother strode into the entryway. Tall and always impeccably dressed, my grandmother was nothing like most women her age. She was so full of energy and ready to jump on any mistake, she could intimidate any woman or man. My grandfather was included in that. I guess some might find it comical that the former King of the Society was terrified of his very human wife.

“Hi, Grandma. Sorry about that.”

“It’s all right, Leviathan. You learned your manners from your mother. I can’t blame you.” She gave me a light hug while glaring at my mom.

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“It’s not Mom’s fault.”

“Sure. Maybe not this time.”

Mom gave me a “don’t make it worse” look. I nodded. She was right. Nothing I could say was going to make it better. Besides, she’d start in on me soon enough.

“Where’s Dad?” I assumed he was in his study, but I figured it was worth asking. Escaping from Georgina’s eye for a few minutes was usually worth facing my father alone.

“He’s working. Let’s talk.” Georgina took my arm and led me toward the living room. My mother didn’t follow. I didn’t blame her.

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I took a seat in a beige arm chair. Georgina sat down caddy corner on a matching couch.

“How was your trip?” I decided to start with the niceties. That would give her less time to grill me about my life.

“Don’t bother, Leviathan. We both know why I’m here.”

I grinned. “To spend time with your adoring family?”

“I take it you haven’t made any more progress with finding a mate?” She leaned forward slightly.

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