Into the Deep Page 22

I nodded my throat clogged with emotion and the sharp realization that it took very little for Jake to turn me on. When I’d been dating Alex, I’d barely felt a thing. It was like Jake had flipped the switch on my hormones.

Dancing with my cheek on Jake’s shoulder, my body enfolded against his, I saw Alex across the room. He had his jock friends around him and they all seemed to be having a good time, but Alex was staring a little forlornly at me and Jake, hitting my guilt button big time. He’d gotten more and more distant these last two months and Brett had become an even bigger douchebag, making snide remarks to me and Jake in class and out. We were doing a good job of ignoring it, knowing Brett was deliberately trying to provoke Jake into a fight. Jake wasn’t easily provoked, especially since it was him I was making out with on a daily basis. The only time he’d gotten close to losing it was when Brett had made some sexual remarks about me. I’d had to pull Jake away and take him into the library to cool off.

Jake’s family still hadn’t been having the easiest time of it in Lanton. Whether it was Trenton or Brett or a loyal sheep from either posse, someone had been making prank calls to the Caplin house, Logan’s car tires had been slashed at Hub’s, and worse, Jake’s mom’s cat had gone missing five days ago. We didn’t know if it was foul play but my mom said she wouldn’t put anything past Trenton Thomas.

It wasn’t a surprise to me that an hour later when Jake wandered off to the punch table to get us a couple of drinks, I saw Brett corner Lukas and his friend in the back of the gymnasium. I narrowed my eyes, not liking the sight of Brett and Damien Nixon towering over the freshmen. Where the hell was Alex? He was usually the one that reined in their behavior.

When Brett shoved Lukas and Lukas got in his face, my stomach churned.

Brett was really a big enough ass**le to target Jake’s little brother?

I jerked my head around to make sure Jake hadn’t seen it yet and was relieved to find Amanda Reyes talking to him, keeping him distracted. Anger fueling me, I strode toward Brett ready to kick his ass, only to be abruptly stopped by Alex.

He did not look amused.

“Don’t, Charley. I’ll handle Brett.” He turned on his heel, followed by two more of his buddies, both of them seniors and on the football team. Lukas saw them coming and I saw a flicker of fear in his eyes that I hated. He clearly thought Alex was there to create more hassle. I was so relieved when Alex grabbed Brett by the neck, dominating him. Whatever he said made Brett blanch and nod. Alex let him go and Brett’s face darkened with humiliation. He nodded at Damien and they backed away from Lukas.

While Brett and Damien followed the seniors to the other side of the room, Alex made his way back to me.

“Thank you,” I said as soon as he reached me.

Alex nodded. “I told Brett to back off. I’m not happy with him lately. I’ll try to keep him off your back.” His eyes softened. “You know I don’t want to cause you trouble, Charley.”

“I know that. And I really appreciate you helping out Lukas.”

“No problem. Maybe save me a dance later?”

I felt heat at my back and then Jake asked, “What’s going on?”

I looked up at him over my shoulder and smiled a little weakly. “Nothing.”

When Jake’s eyes hardened, the atmosphere between us thickened. Sensing it, Alex gave him a tough guy chin nod and shot me an appreciative look before heading across the gym to his friends.

“I know when you’re lying, Charley.”

“It was nothing. Brett was giving Lukas a hard time. I was going over there to sort it out but Alex saw it happening and dealt with it.”

Watching the muscle tick in Jake’s jaw, I realized maybe honesty in this instance might not have been the best policy.

“That’s it. I’m done with this shit. He and I are having it out.”

Definitely not the best policy.

“No.” I grabbed his arms, pulling him closer to me. “Alex warned him off and he’s his teammate, so he has sway over him. He’s also friends with the seniors and if Alex asks them to, the seniors on the team won’t have Brett’s back. And if they don’t have his back, Brett is effed.”

Jake ducked his head to meet my gaze as he cupped the back of my neck. “It shouldn’t be up to Alex to deal with someone who is hassling my girl and bullying my brother.”

“Jake, you know Brett is looking for an excuse to fight you. Don’t give it to him. That’s drama we don’t need.”

His grip on me tightened. “You suggesting I’d get hurt in a fight with Brett?”

Giving him my “what the f**k?” face, I answered, “Did I say that? Were those the words that came out of my mouth?”

He stared at me a moment before shaking his head. “Whatever, smart-ass.” Jake sighed but my body relaxed as I realized he was giving in. He released his hold on my nape only to place his hands on my hips. .

“Where are our drinks?”

He shrugged. “I kind of left them when I saw you talking to Alex.”

Of course he did.

Sensing my annoyance at his obvious jealousy, he pulled me closer. “I like your costume.”

“You already said that.”

“I meant it.”

He kissed me.

My irritation melted and I sank against him, opening my mouth and kissing him back, deepening it. I loved the way his fingers tightened on my hips, almost bruising as they flexed with need.


A loud clearing of the throat once again drew us apart and I pulled back to stare at a smirking Lacey. “We’re bored and Alex is having a party at the gazebo again. You coming?”

That sounded just wonderful. Not. “We’ll catch up with you.”

Satisfied, Lacey and Rose took off.

Looking back at Jake, I found him scowling at me. “We’ll catch up with you?”

I shrugged. “If I said we weren’t going, she would’ve argued with me until I’d have no choice but to slay her.” I wrapped my fist around my invisible stake and demonstrated by hitting it softly against his heart. “My little white lie got rid of Vampyra peacefully instead.”

Jake’s expression cleared and he smiled as he wrapped both hands around my fist and drew my body against his. “What are we doing, then?”

I answered immediately, “Brenton Fields.”

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