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“Me? He’s the one who was banging a UNC student ten years younger than him, and thought he would get away with it. Everyone thinks he’s so innocent.”

“What?” Savannah breathed.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, Clay.”

“Play innocent. Prodigal son and all that. You f**ked up. Now own it!”

“Brady, what is he talking about? All of that stuff about the UNC student was made up. You’d never . . . You’re not that kind of guy.” She tried to laugh but cut it off. “Wrong brother. Right?”

“Oh Jesus Christ, you too?” Clay cried, throwing his hands up.

Brady sighed and faced Savannah. “It’s true. I was with a UNC student two summers ago before you were even there. She’s not ten years younger. She’s seven. It wasn’t an affair. We weren’t with other people. It’s not all the media is making it out to be.”

“Wow.” Savannah’s mouth hung open. “Is she still at UNC?”

“I was going to wait to talk about it with everyone,” Brady said simply.

Clay started laughing. “You believe he’s actually going to tell everyone everything, Savi?”

“Leave him alone. He’s had a rough week!” Savannah said.

“Defend him like normal. She’s a reporter,” Clay announced. “Got your attention now?”

“What?” Savannah reached out and smacked Brady’s arm. “Are you stupid? Don’t you know that’s rule one in bad politics? It’s like . . . fraternizing with the enemy!”

“Savi, you’re going to be a reporter,” Brady reminded her.

“I’m different. Who is it? What reporter could possibly interest you?” Savannah demanded.

God, this was not how he had wanted this conversation to go. He knew Liz and Savannah were friends. Good enough friends that she brought her along to dinner with their parents. He could only imagine how this was going to go down. He kind of felt obligated to be the one to tell Savannah, since she was his little sister, but Liz was her friend. He wished Liz were with him.

“Before you punch me, please remember this was before you knew her,” Brady warned.

Savannah planted her hands on her sides. “Brady Jefferson,” she said, narrowing her eyes. “Do I even want to know?”

“It’s Liz,” he blurted out.

Savannah’s mouth dropped open and her hands dropped to her sides. “Liz? Like Liz Dougherty, the editor-in-chief at the UNC newspaper? Like the Liz I brought to dinner that one time? My Liz?”


“Oh, what, you’re not going to beat her up because she claims your girlfriend?” Clay grumbled across the room.

“She didn’t try to sleep with her!” Brady shot back.

“Girlfriend? Liz is your girlfriend?” Savannah’s eyes were wide as if she couldn’t seem to process what he was saying.

“Well, yeah.” Brady shrugged. What else was he going to say? He was going to have to have this conversation one way or another. He just hoped Savannah would understand. No way around it. He wasn’t giving Liz up just because Savi was uncomfortable.

Savannah wrinkled her nose. “Gross. One of my best friends slept with my brother. I am so going to have words with her! She was the first person I talked to when I found out, and she didn’t even tell me that you were sleeping together. And,” Savannah gasped, “Hayden . . . were you together when . . . ?”

Brady’s eyes turned molten at that name. He couldn’t even think about Hayden without wanting to put his fist through Hayden’s face and tear him apart limb from limb.

“No. He is so far out of the picture. He didn’t find out any of it happened—no one did, until the week before the article released.”

“So . . . how is she your girlfriend? And wait . . . did you just say Clay tried to sleep with her too?” Savannah asked. “Can either of you keep it in your pants?”

Brady shifted his eyes from Savannah. This was not the conversation he wanted to be having. Getting reprimanded for falling for Liz was out of the question. He had heard it enough from Heather. He had beaten himself up about it. He wasn’t going to listen to it anymore.

“She’s my girlfriend since yesterday. Everyone is just going to have to get used to the idea. I have to deal with the rest of the world having an opinion, so I just can’t take any more shit right now,” Brady said sternly. He hadn’t meant to snap, but he was so over it already.

“I wasn’t trying to give you shit,” Savannah said softly. “I like Liz. I’m just shocked. Everyone is going to be shocked.”

“I know.” He tried to clear his head. “I know. I’m just about to break it to Heather.”

Savannah cringed. “Do you want me to come with you?”

Brady chuckled at Savannah. He loved his little sister. He hoped no one ever tried to ruin her goodness. “No. I think I’m old enough to tackle my own problems. But thank you.”

He walked back over to Clay, who stood taller as he approached. He probably thought Brady was going to hit him after all. It would be what the ass**le deserved, but he wasn’t going to actually start a fight when he had won in the end anyway.

“What do you want?” Clay asked.

“Don’t leave your phone where reporters can take it next time,” Brady said, pulling Clay’s phone out of his pocket and tossing it into his brother’s hands.

“She took my phone? What a . . .”

“I wouldn’t finish that sentence,” Brady said. He glared at Clay before turning, nodding at Savannah, and walking out of the room. He did have to deal with his own problems. Clay and Savannah now knew. Two down, the rest of the world to go.

As he walked to the staircase, he wondered about what he should expect from Heather. She had been there since day one, and her opinion had always been important to him . . . until Liz. Heather just couldn’t see clearly about his relationship with her. He knew that it was because she saw Liz as a liability. It didn’t matter now, though, because there was nothing she could do but accept it for what it was.

As Brady descended the staircase, he saw Elliott standing at the base of the stairs typing away on his iPad. If Brady knew him at all, he was probably trying to get away from Heather.