“Mr. Oleo, please have Tierney Anderson report to the nurses’ office immediately.”


The intercom crackled and died. That little bitch, Dare thought incredulously, seeing relief -- but no surprise -- flood her features. She had this planned. Did she think that avoiding him would cause him to leave her alone?


He glanced surreptitiously around the classroom, staring at Tierney out of the corner of his eye, but trying not to be obvious about it. Gathering her books carefully, she smiled weakly at Mr. O, then flipped her now silky hair over her shoulder and glided out of the classroom.


She was gone for exactly a second and a half before Dare’s hand shot into the air.


Raising an eyebrow, Mr. O demanded, “Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Drache?”


Evil bastard, Dare thought, but he was careful not to let those thoughts translate onto his face. “Can I take the hall pass?”


Again Dare saw that menacing flash of dislike flicker through the man’s eyes. If Mr. O didn’t let him go, Dare was going to stand up and walk out, simple as that. No human -- and especially not this unhappy old man -- would stop him. He was sick of showing these damned humans deference and was nearly to his breaking point.


A smile cracked along the man’s face, breaking everywhere but his eyes. “What’s the square root of 3,247?”




The way the words slipped from his mouth made Mr. O’s gleeful delight morph into a disapproving frown, the condescending and disgusted tones wavering in the air. The corners of his eyes crinkled. “If you can tell me the square root of 3,247, then you can take the hall pass. Otherwise, you can sit there until the bell rings.”


The disgust on Dare’s face deepened to a withering glare. His jaw clenched, insolence slipping over the misshapen angles of his cheeks, then he glanced at Byron and silently drilled him on what to do now. Tierney would be long gone before he ever left the classroom.


Byron looked merely baffled, much to Dare’s complete lack of surprise. He shrugged. “Don’t know. Use your calculator.”


His gaze flying to meet Mr. O’s, Dare stared at him a moment before reaching for his calculator. He punched the numbers viciously into the keypad. Really, he didn’t have time for this. “Fifty-six,” he offered finally, clearing the numbers from his calculator and poising to stand.


Mr. O watched all this with a vicious sort of amusement. Some of the glassy detachment left his eyes, leaving only two burning pools of vindictiveness. Under the guise of joviality, he cheerfully demanded, “To the fourth decimal place.”


Dare gritted his teeth, but punched the numbers back into the calculator. “56.9825.”


“You can take the hall pass now,” Mr. O conceded, the dislike simmering in the cloudy blue depths of his eyes.


Not bothering to thank him, Dare stood, his movements both slinking and unsettling, and walked to the chalkboard, where the hall pass sat propped. He snatched it up and moved quickly out of the classroom, ignoring the collective sigh of relief as he exited.


Once outside, he listened intently, peering down the corridor. Someone moved to his right. Swiveling in that direction, he caught a brief glimpse of shimmering silky hair and a lithe figure floating through the double doors leading to the staircase. Smiling coldly, he started after her.


So the little witch thought she was going to get away, did she? She was in for the shock of her life if she thought she was going to leave him in this -- this -- parody of what he was. He strode down the hallway quickly, thinking evil thoughts all the while, then he burst through the double doors.


Light footsteps pounded against the tiled staircase, echoing in the drafty stairwell and singing her location directly to his ears. This was almost too easy.


“Tierney,” he called softly, when the footsteps paused. He could hear her heartbeat thudding against her chest, pulsing rapidly with that steady stream of adrenaline flowing through her veins. Her breathing beat softly in the stillness, but could not mask its ragged edge. Unease as striking as a flash of lightning searing his senses.


Or maybe he heard his own anticipation singing over the other sensations. He could almost taste the pleasure of her acquiescence, of admitting that she was wrong. It should be almost too easy to convince her of her mistake. A little coercion, a little threatening, and everything should be back to normal. And if not, he had other ways of getting her to do what he wanted.


She hadn’t answered when he called her. His sculpted mouth twisting under its guise of deformity, he bounded up the stairs, careful to listen for her footsteps. She stopped at the very top.


He heard her push through the double doors leading to the hallway of the third floor and took a brief moment to wonder why she was headed in that direction, when her locker was on the first floor. Then, quickening his pace, he hurried up the remaining steps.


Maybe he shouldn’t imagine the possible outcomes of this talk they were going to have, instead letting nature take its course. Thinking only built up his anger, the emotion flashing in the wicked gold of his eyes.


With that wicked emotion came wicked thoughts.


Pausing a moment in front of those doors, which were scuffed and beaten by the heavy stream of traffic that flowed through them, he chewed his lower lip thoughtfully.


Oh, yes, there were a number of things he could do to her if she didn’t cooperate. Torture and murder being the obvious ones, of course, but who liked to be obvious? Psychological warfare was so much more fun.


As far as he was concerned, rules bound the weak. And the simple way to rectify that was to pretend they didn’t exist, because they didn’t. Rules were made for those who needed to be lead. Those who needed a star to cling to in the emptiness of their bleak, cavernous existence. Rules bound those who let themselves be enslaved by others’ ideals and they carved into their souls a scar they did not know was there.


Some rules were important. He wouldn’t deny that. They kept him alive and healthily breathing, though Tierney would probably prefer otherwise. The majority were unimportant and irrelevant, and in this case, they were totally superfluous...


And they were completely unnecessary.


So the little witch wanted to play games. Fine. Since she was so damned insistent about it, he’d do the only polite thing... He’d oblige her. And, of course, he’d win, because he had one distinct advantage over her: he didn’t want her.


Disdain swept like a drought over his face, draining all other emotions into a whirling cesspool of feelings, carefully hidden from anyone who looked too close. But Tierney would know. Tierney would see the rage etched deeply in the sweeping planes of his cheekbones and in the tightening of his mobile mouth. She would see the horror buried deep beneath his singing gold eyes and bruising the skin beneath them. She would see the shattering vulnerability he thought he’d destroyed so long ago.


She would see all this and more, because for some inexplicable reason, she could touch the plummeting recesses of his soul, the ones he thought didn’t exist. And he didn’t like it.


He didn’t like *her*, either.  The disdain deepened. Maybe she was beautiful now, but he knew what she really was: a blight on his vision. The fact that she could see inside him was only an added annoyance.  They’d made an agreement to leave each other alone and she obviously hadn’t felt obligated to keep it. This time he’d make certain she didn’t have a choice.


Resolve rushing through him, he slammed through the doors into the hallway, the hall pass clacking sharply on the metal. He saw that flash of hair whip around the corner. Quickening his pace, he hurried after her.  By avoiding him, she’d only made it worse on herself.


Because now not only was he angry, he was furious. Furious with her, with himself... And that only made the emotion trip through his body like a crackling flame. What better to do with that emotion than channel it into her?


He reached the corner swiftly. The shadows hid the soft glow of her hair where she’d stopped, digging in a locker that wasn’t hers. Something about her seemed... wrong. He couldn’t see the highlights shining in her hair and the shimmering length was almost too short. He couldn’t *smell* anything in this damned school. The reeking stench of humans melded together and masked any individual scents.


The sweeping drape of her hair hid her now beautiful features from his eyes. Those eyes flared briefly and his full lower lip pursed into a white line of hatred. He strode purposefully toward her. She didn’t glance up and she didn’t acknowledge the soft pad of his footsteps against the linoleum floor.


Hesitating a moment -- not out of indecision or uncertainty, but to wrench in his anger -- he studied the casual and unconcerned way she shifted as she stood. Certainly not the way she had moved before. Something about her was not quite as graceful; something about her now defied the stunning elegance she used like a weapon against his cruelty.


He shoved that thought from his mind. She *deserved* cruelty and it was only apt that her one defense was now gone. He could see through her beauty, dipping beneath the layers to find the horror lying like a beacon, and recognize her for what she really was.


Oh, this was going to be fun. He resumed his purposeful stride, so focused on her that the rest of the world seemed to fade around him. Nothing else mattered, except Tierney and what she’d done. Right now he just wanted her to fix it. After that, then he’d think up a suitable punishment, if he could find something worse than making her turn herself back into the ugly mess she’d been.


A hallway in a public high school wasn’t the place to deal with that, nor had he had time to think up something just enough to retaliate for her actions. Reaching her, he yanked her around to face him. And only after he registered the features before him did he realize that her hair didn’t have the same bewitching highlights or that her bone structure wasn’t nearly as fine.


“You’re not Tierney,” he accused.


The girl swept a disgusted look over his features. “Lucky for her.” She shrugged out of his grip, nearly throwing his fingers off her arm. Then she turned away.

Cursing himself for not being more careful or for paying more attention -- how had he mistaken this girl for his soulmate? -- he barely refrained from slamming his fist through the nearest locker.


Where had the little bitch gone?






“I am *not* going home tonight,” Raquel announced, pushing her way past Tierney into the spacious foyer and tramping toward the living room. Then, remembering house rules, she bounded back over and kicked off her shoes. “Jordana brought along that girl Brittany and I can’t *stand* listening to her talk about herself. Even Jordy looked ready to choke her before I left, and you know how tolerant she is.”


Tierney eyed the duffel bag slung over her shoulder in trepidation, then she checked her watch. Seven o’clock exactly. Great. “I take it you’re spending the night?”


Raquel swung suddenly suspicious eyes in her direction, one eyebrow arching in question. “Why? Did you have other plans for the night?”


Debating how to answer that question, she finally settled on the truth. “Julien’s coming over,” she shrugged, like it was no big deal.


What she didn’t mention was how *nervous* she was about his impending visit, or how she’d managed to worry about it and what he wanted through all of the other problems she’d been dealing with since she came home. Even at the end of Calculus, when she’d worried that Dare would try to follow her -- which she’d taken care of by disappearing into the nearest open classroom instead of continuing down the hallway -- she’d been thinking about what Julien could possibly want.


Even when she’d held her breath as Dare stalked past, she’d been thinking about what to say to him. Even as she’d spent three hours figuring out what could have gone wrong with the spell, he’d pervaded her thoughts more thoroughly than an infectious disease. He’d somehow managed to get under her skin...


And she wasn’t completely sure what to do about it.


“I can make myself scarce,” Raquel offered innocently, her wide violet eyes sparkling with mischief, “if you two want some privacy.”


Tierney felt like kicking her, making that abundantly clear by the disgusted look she bestowed on her friend. “I don’t know why you think we need privacy. As far as I know, he needs a favor, not laid.”


“At least you’re not denying that he likes you anymore,” her friend pointed out, that angelic smile widening as the doorbell rang. “I’d hate to have to ask him to get my point across.”


“Go into the living room,” Tierney answered, ignoring Raquel’s threat pointedly, because she knew that’s exactly what it was and nothing more. She’d cheerfully strangle Raquel if she actually did it and they both knew it. Expecting her to do as she’d asked, she slid open the door, plastering a smile on her face and hoping it hid her unease.


She lost whatever thoughts were flying through her head as soon as she saw him standing there.


“You changed clothes.”


Embarrassment flushed his features, then he shrugged. “Mom was babysitting when I got home. One of the kids spilled orange juice all over my jeans.”


“Oh,” she said, not able to think of anything else to say. He’d hesitated before he said that, which made her wonder whether he was lying. But... why would he lie about that? She blinked, realizing that she hadn’t invited him in yet. “I’m sorry,” she said, blinking a second time, “come in.” She backed away from the doorway so he had room to step by her, then she shut the door softly behind him.


Julien in jeans was bad enough. Julien in khakis and a button down shirt was nearly mind-boggling. Before Raquel had said anything, she probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but now... She drew in a deep breath, studying him circumspectly. The khakis slung low on his hips, emphasizing the flat, narrow waist, and his shirt stretched across his wide shoulders. Goddess help her if he really did want her, because she wasn’t sure she would have the willpower to refuse, even if she should be thinking about Dare.


“Are you okay, Tier?”


She shook those thoughts away, smiling brightly. “Great.”


He smiled at her, his dimples flashing. Then he pulled his hand from behind his back and handed her a perfectly pale orchid. “I ordered your flowers after school. This is proof that I didn’t order you something completely off the wall. And I did remember to order ghost orchids, not these.”


“Thank you,” she said, smiling warmly once his explanation slowed her heart rate to a more sedate pace. “And here I thought you’d forget like Adrien did.”


Solemnly, he replied, “That’s exactly why I brought proof.”


She laughed and pushed him playfully toward the living room. “Go and wait in the living room while I put this in water. I’ll be there in a second.”


“Your wish is my command,” he joked irreverently.


Rolling her eyes, she waited until he’d disappeared through the doorway before she headed in the opposite direction to the kitchen. Suddenly realizing she hadn’t warned him that Raquel was here, she hurriedly found a vase, filling it with water and placing the flower inside.  She set it away from the counter’s edge so it didn’t have a chance of getting knocked off, then she headed for the living room.


Julien’s face was somewhat disappointed when she entered, even though he and Raquel were engaged in a heated but joking debate over the lifespan of tropical fish. The television was on, a diver avidly discussing the merits of said fish.


“What do you think, Tier?” Raquel demanded as soon as she entered the room. She sat on one of the couches; Julien sat on the other. Tierney suddenly faced the dilemma of where to sit. If she dropped down next to Julien, he might take that as encouragement. If she sat next to Raquel, he might think she was intentionally avoiding him.


Groaning, she realized it was a lose-lose situation. Inwardly sighing, she glided to where Julien sat, careful not to sit too close or too far away. Raquel grinned knowingly.


“What do I think about what?” Tierney asked, distracted.


Raquel’s smile was guileless. “Lovebirds.”


“Excuse me?”


Julien cleared his throat uncomfortably. “She’s thinking about getting a pair.”


As Tierney’s face smoothed, the shock fading swiftly away, she briefly considered believing Raquel instead of assuming the worst. But upon closer inspection of her friend’s seemingly innocent face, she knew she’d been giving her too much credit. At this point, Raquel was going to be lucky if she didn’t sleep outside tonight.


“I think you’d kill them in less than a week,” she replied calmly, keeping her plans for retribution from surfacing on her face. “Remember the turtle?”


“That was Adrien’s turtle,” Raquel countered. She offered Tierney a brilliant smile before turning her attention back to the tropical fish.


With Raquel “distracted” by the television --although Tierney knew she was paying more attention to her and Julien than she was to the program -- she couldn’t exactly avoiding talking to Julien. She shifted in her seat so that one leg propped on the dark leather and she faced him. “What favor did you need?” she asked expectantly, skipping over the pleasantries and idle conversation.


He looked distinctly uncomfortable at her question, shooting Raquel a look from beneath thick lashes. “It’s not important.”


“But isn’t that why you came over?”


As Julien groped for an answer to that question, Raquel stood abruptly. Tierney wasn’t sure if she was interrupting or attempting to make herself scarce. “I’m going to get a drink. Does anyone want anything?” She raised an eyebrow, waiting for their responses.


Tierney shook her head negatively, but Julien nodded. “Could you get me some water?” he requested.


“Of course,” Raquel said. “Are you sure you don’t want something, Tier?”


Mentally, she thanked her friend for having the foresight to disappear so Julien could share whatever his “favor” was, especially since he didn’t seem to want Raquel to hear. “I guess you can grab me a Coke,” she answered.


Raquel nodded and wandered off.  Julien waited until he was sure she was gone before he said anything.


“I didn’t know Raquel was going to be here,” he mentioned, his voice guarded. He now sat so he was facing her, too, his arm stretching along the back of the couch and brushing lightly against her hair.


“Neither did I,” Tierney admitted, while shivering at his proximity. “She showed up right before you did.”


He seemed to relax. “There’s no chance that she’s leaving soon, is there?”


Something about that question struck Tierney as odd. She glanced at him from beneath her lashes, realizing suddenly just how close he really was.  His mouth was only inches away from hers, his spicy scent subtly invading her senses. “Why?” she asked, her attention only half focused on the question.


It was so hard not to notice the thick fringe lashing his clear gray eyes or the cleanly chiseled cheekbones that begged to be touched. His short blond hair glinted soft and sleek in the television’s flickering glow. She was tempted to run her fingers through it, to see if it was as silky as it looked.


“I just wanted to talk.”


His mouth wrapped around the words as if he caressed them, gentle and unintentionally seductive. She shivered again, knowing there was something she should be remembering, but unable to drag her mind away from the boy sitting so close to her. “About what?”


She needed to remember...


*Dare*. The name popped into her head so suddenly she blinked. Jerking back, she tried to remind herself that this was Julien, and that she was probably reading too much into it. Ever since Raquel had brought it up, she’d been looking for the signs. She had to be wrong. Raquel had to be wrong. They *both* had to be wrong.


But the atmosphere was no less charged for the distance she’d put between them. And he looked all the more determined to share whatever it was. He opened that sculpted mouth to speak, his dove gray eyes flashing with determination, and it was all Tierney could do to remember her soulmate.


The tension shattered as Raquel clattered back into the room before Julien could get the words out, banging her hip against the couch. Some of the intensity faded from his face and he sat back, looking almost defeated. “Later,” he muttered.


She slanted him a curious glance, but accepted the drink from Raquel, murmuring, “Thank you.”


Remember your soulmate, she told herself, repeating that thought in her mind over and over, while trying not to look at Julien again. Just because she was attracted to him didn’t mean anything. She had to keep thinking about Dare and what she was going to do about him. Otherwise...


She snuck a look at Julien. Otherwise, she’d forget him altogether, and she certainly didn’t want that, did she? He was the one Fate had decided was right for her, not Julien. And once she got this whole mess with the spell straightened out, maybe the two of them would have a chance.


She could only hope.


Her friend dragged her from her thoughts rather unceremoniously. “Anyone want to watch a movie?” she demanded cheerfully.


Julien sighed. Now, instead of simply disappointed, he looked mildly annoyed. “It depends on what you want to watch. I am *not* sitting through three hours of ‘Titanic’ again.”


“’Titanic’ it is,” Raquel chirped.


Before Julien had the opportunity to strangle his best friend’s little sister, Tierney agreed with him. “If you put in ‘Titanic,’ Raquel, I’m kicking you out of the house.”


Raquel sighed, mock regret tilting at the corners of her mouth. “Then what are you in the mood for?  Because I’m not watching ‘Fight Club’ again. I’m not in the mood for martial arts or whatever you want to call that.”


“Fighting, Raquel. It’s called fighting.”


“Whatever,” Raquel snapped, brushing that off without a second thought. “Let’s watch a comedy.”


Julien flopped back against the pillows of the couch, his arm coming dangerously close to Tierney’s thigh. He didn’t seem to notice, but Tierney’s breath caught in her throat just the same. She shut her eyes and told herself not to think about it. Remember your soulmate! her mind screamed.


If only it were that easy.


He hadn’t moved his hand, and even though it was inches away from her, Tierney could feel it as clearly as if he really were touching her. She wondered if he realized what he was doing to her pulse. Don’t think about it, she ordered her body, but that didn’t help, either.


“Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?”


The annoyance in Julien’s voice couldn’t be missed. Raquel grinned, carefully hiding the expression from him. Then she craftily answered, “Do you want me to leave, Jules?”


He glared at her, but answered calmly, his voice indifferent. “I just thought Adrien said you were going to a party tonight. Shouldn’t you be there by now?”


“Actually,” she said, still hiding that gleeful smile, “I already went. It was lame, so I came here.”


Apparently unsure of what to say to that, he turned toward Tierney.  “A comedy would be great. So would a gag and a long length of rope.”


Laughing, Tierney finally broke up their verbal sparring. “Enough, you two. I’m not supposed to be babysitting here.” She shook her head, standing up and grinning down at Julien. “You can fight over the movie. I’m going to go make some popcorn.”


His face lit up. Opening his mouth to suggest that he come with her while Raquel picked out the movie -- even if that meant they were stuck watching ‘Titanic’ -- he didn’t offer fast enough. Raquel beat him to it.


“I’ll help you,” she said cheerfully, jumping out of her seat. She pointedly ignored his silent efforts to get her to rescind the offer. “You can pick out the movie, Jules. I bow to your superior judgment where entertainment is concerned.”


“With good reason,” Tierney added, smiling warmly at him. “We’ll be back in a few minutes.”


He nodded unhappily, uncoiling his lanky body to stand and walk over to the entertainment center. They left him sorting through the shelves of DVDs.


Once they’d traveled a suitable distance down the hall, Tierney took one look at Raquel and said, “I don’t want to hear it.”


“Hear what?”




“Like that Julien likes you?”


Tierney abruptly decided that sleeping outside wasn’t good enough for her friend. At that moment, she would have happily sent her to Antarctica without a snowsuit. “Shut up, Raquel.”






They ended up watching ‘What Women Want.’ Julien muttered something about needing instruction while he glared at Raquel. Despite her friend’s apparent engrossment in the movie, she somehow made Tierney feel like she was being watched. When Julien’s arm had crept around the back of the couch -- innocently, of course -- Raquel choked. She blamed it on the movie, but from the way her eyes continued to stray in their direction, Tierney knew she was lying.


Julien finally left a little after one. Tierney assumed he figured out Raquel wasn’t going anywhere and decided to cut his losses. He hesitated at the doorway before he left, but shaking his head, he went with only a casual goodbye.


Yawning, Raquel suggested they go to sleep, immediately after she convinced Tierney to take her shopping for prom dresses the next day. She still wouldn’t divulge the name of her date. Even threatening to leave her at the Collective’s mercy couldn’t pry that information out.


And that was why Tierney now lay in bed, trying vainly to still her racing thoughts. She rolled onto her back and kicked the covers from around her legs to free them from the tangled mess. Tonight had been... a figment of her imagination?




This was all Raquel’s fault. If she hadn’t said anything, Tierney never would have thought for a second that Julien might like her. And now she was *looking* for it. Hell, before Raquel said something, Tierney hadn’t even noticed Julien was a guy. But now... Now she was very much aware and reading into every little thing he did.


He didn’t even act differently than he had before! Heaving a sigh, she threw herself onto her stomach. Julien could have any girl in the school. He had absolutely, positively *no* reason to want her. It was just that stupid idea of Raquel’s...


And besides, she had Dare. Well, she didn’t exactly have him yet, but she was getting there.  It didn’t help that Jihn had gotten her the wrong spell, though she supposed it wasn’t entirely Jihn’s fault. Jihn *did* say they’d had trouble reading her handwriting. The irony lay in the fact that they’d only missed the correct spell by a single letter.


The two spells were only slightly different. The Council had forbidden both because they altered people’s thinking; they somehow made the general populous -- those not directly affected by the spell -- oblivious to the altered appearances, as though they’d always been that way. Both obviously changed outward facades. Both were reflection spells. But instead of doing what Tierney wanted -- to reflect back the beauty of her soulmate -- the one she got reflected back each half’s inner beauty. Or so the spell said.


Tierney was firmly convinced that it was wrong.


Dare’s soul couldn’t possibly be as twisted as his newly distorted looks boasted. He couldn’t be that devoid of inner beauty. How could Fate match her with someone so empty inside?


She believed that life was cruel, but not that cruel. And so she simply ignored the effects of the spell she’d done, because it *couldn’t* be right. Deep in her heart, she clung to the hope that he might possess some redeeming qualities she hadn’t found during their brief encounters.


Tossing onto her back, she realized she was too worked up to sleep. Maybe she should get out of bed and run. Drowning in the steady beat of concrete beneath her feet as she pushed herself into a blissful state of forgetfulness. That plan quickly died when she remembered she hated to run.




Raquel’s soft voice whispered through the silence. Not in the mood to talk -- and especially not about Julien -- Tierney thought about pretending to be asleep. Then again, Raquel would probably wake her up anyway, if she even believed Tierney was sleeping after all that tossing and turning.


“Yeah?” she responded. She let her hand flop down on the comforter. No point in trying to be quiet if they were both awake.


“I was just wondering if you were still awake.”


She was also lying. Tierney knew something was bothering her friend, because she’d been at the point of passing out forty-five minutes ago. She should be on the verge of comatose by now. But something was obviously tripping through Raquel’s mind, or she wouldn’t be lying there awake.


Sighing, she shifted back onto her stomach, propping herself up on her elbows. In the moonlight, she could just make out the edge of Raquel’s pretty features. “What’s bothering you?” she asked.


“Nothing,” her friend answered, only a moment’s hesitation edging her denial.


“You’re lying,” Tierney stated.


“I know.”


She sat up in the darkness, her blond hair swinging softly around her, and wrapped her arms around her legs. She rested her chin against her knees. “I just don’t understand why you won’t give Julien a chance.”


Tierney rolled her eyes, even though she knew Raquel couldn’t see her. “Give it up, Raquel.” That said, she lay down once again -- hopefully for the last time -- and worried the comforter with her slim fingers. Why did Raquel insist on making an issue out of this?


Her friend didn’t move from her huddled position on the floor, and when she spoke her voice was thoughtful. “I mean, you guys get along really well, don’t you?”




“It’s true!” Raquel exclaimed. “You get along great, you look adorable together, and you’re a perfect--“


“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”




Tierney sighed. “Goodnight, Raquel.”


She turned on her side, presenting her friend with her back and effectively cutting off any further conversation. She heard Raquel sigh, then huddle underneath the blankets. Even through the inky night, she could feel her friend’s glare aimed directly at the center of her back.


Ignoring it, ignoring the worries Raquel had raked over blistering new coals, she squeezed her eyes shut. Maybe if she went to sleep, all her problems would disappear overnight. But even then, she couldn’t help but wonder what dating Julien would be like. What it would happen if Dare didn’t exist. Raquel thought she and Julien belonged together.


It was a shame she wasn’t right.







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