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The man continues to stare like he's trying to place Peter's face. "And you didn't know what type of animal this was, a man with your level of education?"

"I can't really dissuade this woman from doing something once her mind is set on it."

The officer glances at me and then back at Peter. "Well, I know what you mean." He's quiet again and then he flinches like someone splashed water on his face. Recognition grows with his smile. "You highly resemble someone—you're Pete Ferro, aren't you?" Peter smiles and nods. "Well, why didn't you tell me that?" The state trooper continues to talk, and I sit there and listen. Peter is clearly uncomfortable with the attention, but he smiles all the same. He talks with the man, the same way he would with anyone else. It's clear that the cop is a little starstruck.

When the cop finally is ready to leave us, I'm handed a warning and told to slow down. "Make sure she does it, Mr. Ferro."

Peter smiles and waves. "I will."

I put the car in gear and pull out, accelerating slowly. Peter slouches back down into the seat and presses his thumbs to his temples. I look at him out of the corner of my eye and say, "So I totally forgot about the turkey."

Peter glances up at me. There are dark circles under his eyes. His expression is worn, beaten, and totally stressed out—but when he looks up at me he smirks, then the smirk turns to a smile, and he laughs. "You rescued a vulture."

Peter starts laughing and I can't stay silent. Giggles erupt inside of me. I'm too tired and too stressed and this seems so funny.

"And you put him in a pink bra." I can barely get the words out. Tears blur my vision and my stomach hurts by the time I stop laughing. "God, he had to think we were nuts."

"He thought you were nuts, Colleli, not me."

"Do people always act like that around you?"

"What? Fake?" I nod. It was like the officer morphed into a shiny version of himself. His words were excited and filled with flattery. It was like an instant wall and there was no way it could come down once it shot up. "Yeah, most of the time. I did the scruffy look when I was younger. That's how most people remember me. If I stay cleaned up, I might look like a Ferro, but they don't usually ask me outright like that."

I nod, thinking. Glancing over at him, I say, "You don't trust anyone either, do you?" Peter is back in his defensive I-don't-care pose with his arms across his chest. It's a shut down, fuck-off stance.

"Not so much, no."

The laughter is gone. It's been sucked from the car and in its place is this empty, hopeless feeling. Keeping my eyes on the road, I start to ponder out loud. "We're so messed up, Peter, and it's not fair. But life's not fair, is it? There are no do-overs no matter how much you wish for them."

Peter watches me in the darkness. I can feel his eyes on the side of my face even though I don't turn to look at him. "Keep going forward, Sidney. Looking at the past only drags you back into it."

"Yeah, but you can't learn from it if you don't look back."

"You've learned everything you need to know."

I smirk at him. "No, I haven't. How could you think that? I made a mistake with Dean and I did the same damn thing with you. I can't judge character, like at all. I was totally wrong about both of you."

My words hit Peter hard. I might as well have swung a crowbar into his stomach. He doesn't look at me. "That's what you think, that we're the same?"

"It's the same deception at the heart of it, isn't it?" I'm seriously asking, because the hard part of my mind says yes, but there's a spot with a softer voice that says Peter is not the same at all.

"Maybe. A lie is a lie." Peter stiffens and shuts down.

I wish I hadn't said it. "Maybe. Maybe not. Why'd you do it?"

Peter's gaze cuts to me. It's so sharp, so bitter, that I want to look away. "I didn't want you to know. You're right, okay? We both lied to you, we both took things we shouldn't have, and neither of us is sorry for it."

I blink slowly like he didn't just say that. I can't breathe. It's like his words were a fist that shot straight into my stomach. There's an exit right in front of me. I nearly pass it, and decide to get off at the last second. Peter doesn't say anything when I change lanes abruptly.

We stop in front of a motel and I pull up under the overhang. Fuck this. I wish I left Peter in Texas. I kick open my door and go inside and get us a room. Peter doesn't follow.

When I come back out with the room key, I see him shake his head and end a phone call. He runs his fingers through his dark hair and looks back at Mr. Turkey. I slip into the car and look back at the bird. "You untied him, sort of." The bird is still wearing the bra, but his beak is free.

"Yeah, he wanted to talk."

I stare at Peter for a moment, wondering what could possibly be going through his head, why he's here, and what he wants from me. "Why did you insist on coming with me?"

Peter looks at me like he's tired of the question. "I already told you."

"Saying you already know isn't a reason. Tell me. Just say it."

Peter shakes his head and smiles. "Fine. You want to do everything on your own, but you can't. When you're around that guy, Dean, it's like your brain shuts down. You get sucked into your past before you can blink. I read your poem, I see it on your face, and I know what'll happen if he gets you alone. He's not getting you alone." Peter's gaze locks onto mine as his words burn with intensity. I need to swallow, but I can't.

"You're all about the chivalry." I used to tease him about that, but now I'm not.

"Something like that."

My heart is in my throat. We stare at each other for too long and our gazes melt together. Neither of us can look away. It's like we're both lost, drifting aimlessly, getting torched by life and everything that's happened to us. When my pulse is slamming in my ears like twin drums, I look away. It feels like there's a rubber band on my head and it pulls me back, but I refuse to turn.

I park the car. When Peter turns and gets out, I follow him into the motel room. There's a small double bed, no shag rug, no kinky sexy tub. It's just a plain old motel room.


Peter's phone rings and he disappears outside while I take a shower. When I come out, I clutch the towel around my shoulders to hide my sheer pajama top. My hair is still dripping with that just-crawled-out-of-the-gutter, tangled look. I need to wait for Peter to jump in the shower so I can brush the tangles out.

Peter's gaze flicks up when he walks inside. He sees me standing there looking like a drowned rat. "I untied the vulture and put him down in the grass by the car. Since he's crippled, I don't think he'll go anywhere."

"But what if a cat gets him?"

Peter lifts a brow at me. "I think the cat needs to be the worried one in that scenario. He'll be okay. He survived up until now on his own." Peter clears his throat as he walks over to the bed and digs through his bag. He pulls out a pair of sweatpants and looks over his shoulder at me. "My brother called back. Would you mind if we took a detour through New York? I need to get something from him."

"What part of New York? What do you need to get?" I sit down on a wicker chair by the door.

"The city, so it's not too far out of the way, but it'll probably add a day to our trip." Peter shucks his shirt as he's speaking and tosses it in his bag. When I don't say anything he looks over at me. My eyes are locked on his abs. Each one is clearly defined like Peter does a thousand sit-ups every day. "My eyes are up here, Sidney."

I startle and blink as my face burns from the rapidly spreading blush. The corners of Peter's mouth tug up. I hate that smile. It makes me want to do stupid things. Peter walks over to me with that confident swagger and stops. His boots are nearly touching my toes. He bends at the waist and lowers his face to mine. The movement makes me nervous. I try to sit still in my chair like I don't care what he does, but I can't even lie to myself—I'm attracted to Peter on a carnal level. It never shuts off, and it's annoying as hell. I swallow hard, wondering if he's going to kiss me. His lips are a breath from mine, and he's still wearing that sexy smirk.

"Yes?" I manage to say. Thank God my voice came out. I feel like I'm made of raspy panting sounds and that's it.

Peter's gaze dips to my lips, where it lingers way too long. The tension between us makes me want to giggle or punch something. Energy is building throughout my body as my stomach twists into curls. I want to lean in and kiss him. I want his arms around me. I want to run my fingers over the dips and curves of his chest, but I don't. I just sit there and raise a brow at him, waiting for him to do or say something.

"Hmm? Oh, nothing. I just thought it'd be easier for you to not treat me like man candy if my eyes were closer." Peter flashes a wicked grin at me.

My lips contort into an O and then a playful smile. "Jackass."

Peter doesn't move. He stays right there, and when he speaks his lips nearly brush mine. "Ogler."






He grins. "Nice comeback, and you already used that one."

"Shut up."

"Make me." Peter looks so perfect, so utterly kissable. "Make me, Sidney." His voice drops to a whisper that's barely a breath when he says it. His sapphire eyes drift to my lips before returning to my face. He stays there, watching me from under those dark lashes.

My lips tingle, wanting his touch as my heart races faster and faster. Suddenly, I have no words and can't remember how to talk. Heat creeps across my body like someone pulled a blanket over me after taking it out of the oven. My fingers twitch as I think about slipping them through his hair. Oh God, why is he doing this to me? It's torture to have him so close and not touch him.