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Because of that, I’m trying to open myself up to the idea of him. Which is why I allowed him to kiss me last night, because sometimes intimacy can give people a certain connection they wouldn’t otherwise have.

I unlock my door and inhale a slow breath before turning around. I try to get in the mind-set that I want him to kiss me, that his kiss could feel good and exciting, but I know for a fact I won’t feel even a fraction of what I felt when Owen kissed me.

That was a kiss.

I close my eyes and try to wipe the thoughts of Owen out of my head, but it’s hard. When you connect with someone that fast and feel that much from their kiss, it’s not so easy to just forget them when they do something to hurt you. And even though Owen turned out to have issues far beyond what I want to get immersed in, I still can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s because the person I got to know and the person he turned out to be don’t seem like they could be the same people. And as much as I try to forget about him, I can’t help but worry. I worry about how he’s doing. I worry about how long he’ll be in jail. I worry about his studio. I worry about Owen-Cat, because I still have her and I know that as soon as Owen is released, I’ll have to see him again in order to give him his cat back.

I worry about how I’m going to be able to hide that from Trey, because right now Trey thinks Owen-Cat belongs to Emory.

He also thinks the cat’s name is Sparkles.

“Do you work tomorrow?” Trey asks.

I turn around and look up at him. He’s a lot taller than me, and it sometimes intimidates me. I nod. “Nine to four.”

He lifts his hand to my neck and leans in for a kiss. I close my eyes and do my best to enjoy his mouth when it comes to rest against mine. I imagine I’m kissing Owen for a second, and I hate that I do that.

This kiss is a short one. He’s already late for work, so I’m spared the awkwardness of not inviting him inside.

Trey smiles down at me. “That’s twice you’ve let me kiss you.”

I smile.

“Call me when you get off work tomorrow,” he says. “We’ll make it three.”

I nod again, and he turns to leave. I open my apartment door, but he calls my name before I close it behind me. He walks back to the door and looks at me with a serious expression. “Make sure your doors are locked tonight. I heard Gentry was released early, and I wouldn’t put it past him to try and get revenge on me by coming here.”

The air in my lungs depletes, and I have to hide my struggle for breath. I don’t want him to see how his words have affected me, so I nod quickly. “Why would he want revenge on you?”

“Because, Auburn. I have what he can’t have.”

That makes me uneasy, because I don’t like that Trey thinks he “has me.” And that’s another difference between Trey and Owen. I get the feeling Owen would never say he “has me.”

“I’ll keep it locked. Promise.”

Trey nods and heads down the hall. I close the door behind me and lock it.

I stare at the lock.

I unlock it.

I don’t know why.

Owen-Cat purrs at my feet, so I bend down and pick her up, then walk into my bedroom. The first thing I do, which is the first thing I did last night after kissing Trey, is brush my teeth. I know it’s an absurd thought, but kissing Trey makes me feel like I’m cheating on Owen.

When I finish brushing my teeth, I walk back into my bedroom and see Owen-Cat make her way inside the tent. I didn’t have the heart to take it down, mostly because I know as soon as AJ is allowed to stay the night here, he’ll love it. I crawl inside the tent and lie on my back. I pull Owen-Cat onto my stomach and begin petting her.

My emotions are all over the place right now. I feel a rush of adrenaline, knowing Owen is no longer in jail and may very well be coming for his cat sometime this week. But I’m also filled with a nervous energy, because I don’t know what will happen when I see him again. And I hate that the thought of possibly seeing him again fills me with more anticipation than Trey’s kiss does.

Owen-Cat jumps off my chest when my phone receives a text message. I pull it out of my pocket and unlock the screen.

My heart tries to escape from my chest when I read the text from Owen.

Meat Dress.

I’m immediately off my feet and into the living room and swinging the front door open. As soon as our eyes meet, my heart feels like a fist is squeezing the life right out of it.

God, I missed him.

He takes a very hesitant step forward. He doesn’t want to make me uncomfortable by being here, but I can see in his expression that he’s feeling that same tight grip around his heart that I’m feeling.

I take a step back into my apartment, and I open the door further, silently inviting him inside. A small twitch of a smile plays on the corner of his lips, and he walks slowly toward my apartment door. Once he makes his way over the threshold, I step aside until he’s all the way inside. He places his hand on the door and closes it, then turns around and locks it. When he faces me again, his expression is pained, like he doesn’t know whether to turn and leave or take me in his arms.

I kind of want him to do both.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Owen

I wish she knew how much I thought about her. How every night, I questioned whether the tightness in my chest could actually be the result of missing her, or if it was simply the fact that I wasn’t allowed to see her. Sometimes people want what they can’t have and confuse that with feelings for another person.

Either way, the feeling is there. The pressure, the ache, the slow build in my stomach that’s encouraging me to close the distance between us and take her mouth with mine. I would have done that by now if I hadn’t seen Trey leaving her apartment on my way over. Luckily, he’s an unobservant prick, so he didn’t even notice me.

I definitely saw him, though. And it makes me wonder what he was doing here so late at night. Not that I have a right to know, but I certainly can’t squash my curiosity.

He came to see me in jail last week. I was told I had a visitor, and I expected it to be my father. There was a very small part of me that was hoping it was Auburn. I never expected her to come see me while I was in jail, but I think the hope that it might happen kept me more positive than I would have been otherwise.

When I walked into the visitation room and saw Trey standing there, at first I didn’t think he was there to see me. But once his glare fell on me, it became clear. I walked to my chair and took a seat, and he did the same.

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