Into the Deep Page 39

Since I was choosing to believe we had more control over our relationship, I pushed that scary, ticking-bomb thought to the back of my head.

“What are you thinking?” He cocked his head to the side, his lids lowered in thought.

Before I had to scramble for a lie, a shadow fell over our desk. Melissa stood staring at us, books pressed tight to her chest. Everything about her was tense and I knew right away when her gaze fell on me that it was because of my presence. More to the point, it was because I was in Jake’s presence. Alone.

Huh. I thought she was over it.

“What are you doing here?” she asked Jake quietly. There was a definite note of accusation in her voice.

“Studying,” he answered calmly, but I could hear the edge in his answer.

Melissa pointedly looked at our unopened books. “I’m going back to my dorm to study. Come with?” It wasn’t really a question. Her cheeks were flushed and her mien was brittle. She was roaring for a fight.

Resolved to his impending doom, Jake gave her a tight nod and stood, collecting his books. For the millionth time I ignored the ache in my chest at the sight of them together, both dark and tall and beautiful. They were perfect for one another.

I felt the sting in my nose and quickly ducked my head, yanking a book toward me.

“See you, Charley,” Jake said softly.

I nodded, not looking at them. “See you tomorrow at the gym.”

“Gym?” The question was asked sharply and by Melissa.

I lifted my chin, surprised by her almost caustic response. She glowered at Jake and he blanched. Annoyance tore through me and I locked my jaw to stifle the curse words I wanted to throw at him. This whole time I thought Melissa knew we were spending time together, but of course, she didn’t. What girlfriend in her right mind would be okay with a guy spending that much quality time with an ex? I was such a willful idiot.

I slunk farther down in my chair, listening to them walk away and wishing like hell I’d kicked Jake’s shin hard enough to cause a dent. He had hurt Melissa by not being honest with her, and he’d pulled me into it, making me feel guilty when I hadn’t done anything wrong.


Claudia had been on three dates with the Scottish student she’d met at the library. He was cute and funny and she really seemed to like him. He wasn’t Beck, but she was in denial and frankly I was right there with her, so I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite and attempt to yank her out of it.

Claudia was out on a date with the Scottish guy, and The Stolen were busy with other plans. Since I hadn’t made much headway with my roommates, I found myself huddled in my room alone, my hands wrapped around a warm mug of cocoa as I stared at the photos pinned to my wall, pictures of our group here in Edinburgh—some great shots of Beck and Claudia who looked stunning together, of Rowena and Denver, of Matt, Lowe, and Beck, of Jake and Beck, of Lowe and me. Even one of just Jake and me. I wanted to say we didn’t look right together. But we did. Not perfect in the way that Jake and Melissa looked. No. But we looked right.

I clunked my mug down on my bedside table and reached up to pull the picture off the wall. Within seconds it was scattered across my bedspread in pieces.

“Sometimes I wished I hated you, Jake Caplin,” I whispered hoarsely.

And as if he’d heard me, my cell rang. It was him.

Cautiously, I answered it.

“Charley,” Jake breathed, as if relieved I’d picked up. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” I replied flatly. “Melissa didn’t seem so fine.”

“Yeah. She just … she feels a little threatened by our history.”

“Is that why you didn’t tell her we hang out all the time? Because I was under the impression she knew.”

“Mel’s an understanding girl, but I didn’t know if she’d understand this. You are my ex.”

I didn’t say anything.

Jake exhaled heavily. “Look, I called because Mel told me something tonight. Something you said and I want to know if it’s true.”

“What would that be?”

“Did you really tell Mel that I loved her because I let her help me and because I didn’t let you help me I obviously didn’t love you?”

My chest tightened at his question. As I switched the phone to my other ear, it shook in my trembling hand. “I said that you wouldn’t let me help you, but you let Melissa help you and to me, that speaks volumes.”

“Bullshit,” Jake responded, taking me aback with his vehemence. “You’ve got to know that’s bullshit, Charley. I pushed you away but it wasn’t because I didn’t love you. I was crazy about you. You know that. It had all just happened, though. I was a f**king mess. No one could get through to me. I met Melissa a long time after it. Enough time to not be in that dark place anymore.”

Feeling sick, I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see. “I don’t want to talk about this, Jake.”

“I know. It just … it would kill me if you thought I fell out of love with you. Or worse … that I was never in love with you.”

“Jake, what are you doing?” I asked, panicking now. “There’s no point to any of this. You’re with Melissa.”

“And I love her.” I closed my eyes at his declaration, fighting tears, desperate not to give into them. “But I didn’t even know her when I applied to study here for the year.”

Fighting the tears meant choking on them. I had to take a minute before I responded. “You knew I’d be here.”

“I hoped you’d be here, yes.”

I covered the phone while I tried to catch a painful breath. After I counted to ten, I exhaled and put the phone back to my ear. “And then you met her.”

His breath crackled on the line. “Yeah.”

I was going to break. “Jake, I have to go.”


“Claudia’s at my door.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow?” he sounded unsure.

“Yeah. Bye.” I hung up and threw my phone on my bed just in time to catch the sob in my throat. It choked me as I fought it, my hands clenched into fists as I pushed back the tears. He wasn’t getting any more from me. He’d had plenty in the past.

I wished I could hate him. It would make it all so much easier if he’d just dumped me, if all that shit hadn’t happened to him and his family. I needed him to be the bad guy, all black and white, no shades of gray. It was the only way I could move on.

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