Just then, Travis pulled Megan by the hand out to the dance floor, and they proceeded to dry f**k each other in front of God and everyone else.

“Oh, Travis,” I said, disappointed. “What the hell are you doing?”

Travis wasn’t gone five minutes before Ethan Coats swooped in and appropriated Travis’s stool. He leaned in, immediately turning on the charm. The Freshman appreciated the attention. I wouldn’t have blamed her, if the attention weren’t coming from Ethan.

“Oh, that’s not good. Get that slime away from her!” Raegan hissed.

We all knew what Ethan had done, and what he was capable of. We tried to police him while he was at the bar, but not all girls would heed our warnings.

I saw Travis walking back to the east bar, his eyes targeting Ethan.

“I don’t think I’ll have to,” I said.

Travis nearly stood in between them, and after a short exchange, Ethan was walking away with his tail tucked between his legs and Travis and the Freshman were on their way out, both seemingly on the verge of war.

Raegan smirked. “I think Travis Maddox has met his match.”

A full hour from last call, and I was already ahead in tips for the night. Raegan was in a good mood, despite Kody walking by every so often and stopping just long enough for her to tell him she couldn’t talk.

I looked over to see Trenton take his cover charge change from Tuffy, and I gave him a nod and a smile. With the Maddox swagger no one could miss, he strolled over to the east bar and sat directly in front of me.

“I told you. I’m trying to save money.”

Trenton took a sip, and then sat the glass down, looking around. “I saw Travis yelling at some chick in the parking lot.”

“Oh? How did that turn out?”

“She yelled back. I don’t know who she is, but I kind of like her.”

Trenton stared at the ice floating in his glass. “It’s kind of weird. Watching him try to settle down.”

“He’s talked to you about her, hasn’t he?”

I watched him for a while. Something was off with him, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. “Anything you want to talk about?”

He pondered that for a moment. “Nah. There’s no point.” He took another sip of water. He glanced behind him and noticed someone standing at the pool tables. “I’m going to head over.”

“Okay,” I said. I shouldn’t have been disappointed that he didn’t seem all that interested in talking to me. Just a few weeks before, he’d come to the Red for drinks, to hang out with his brothers, or to find a piece of ass. But as he crossed the dance floor and picked up a pool stick, his arms flexing as he polished the tip with the cue, a weird feeling came over me.

“I don’t know. Glad it’s not just me that noticed.”

“What’s up with you? You had a look on your face when he walked away. Did he say something?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“I’m your best friend. I probably already know.”

“It’s hard to explain . . . I . . . just got this bizarre, sad feeling. Like Trent and I aren’t friends anymore.”

“Maybe it’s because you know that he finally believes you’re just friends.”

“I knew it, bitch. I don’t even know why you try.” She stood behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist, resting her chin on my shoulder.

We both watched as a couple of girls who had just arrived walked over to the west wall and hovered around Trenton’s pool table. The pair were obviously familiar with bleach in a box, but as much as I hated to admit it, they were both stunningly beautiful. Within twenty minutes, a third girl joined them. It wasn’t long before she had Trenton’s full attention, and he had her backed against the pool table. She was twirling one strand of her long, brown hair around her finger, laughing as if Trenton were the funniest person she’d ever met. Her cackling could be heard over the music.

“Christ on a cracker, I’m ready to go home,” Raegan said, turning to touch her temple to my shoulder.

“Me, too,” I said, watching Trenton lean closer to the girl’s face.

Even across the room, I could see she had supermodel lips and bedroom eyes. He was looking down at her, smiling. It was kind of revolting how close they were. I’d never seen her before, so she had probably come over from Southwestern State. It was likely that Trenton had never met her either, and less than half an hour later, they were inches apart.

Trenton put his hands on the pool table, and her ass was nestled tightly in between them. She leaned up to his ear and whispered.

Five minutes before last call, a rowdy crowd walked in and came to the east bar calling drinks, even though most of them had already had more than a few. As I began to get back into busy mode, I caught a glimpse of Trenton leading the girl outside by the hand. I instantly felt sick to my stomach.

“You okay?” Raegan called to me, popping the top off several beers at the same time.

“Fine,” I said. I wasn’t sure if she could hear me, but it didn’t matter. She knew the truth.

A KNOCK AT THE DOOR STARTLED ME AWAKE. ANOTHER SET of knocks made me fully awake. Then the pounding began. I crawled out of bed, cringing when the bright, early morning sun struck my face the second I walked into the hall.

I stumbled across the living room and opened the door.

“What in the hell are you doing here?” I asked.

“She slept in hew clowes,” Olive said in her sweet, tiny voice.

I looked down, shielding the sun from my eyes with my hands. “Oh, hi, Olive. Sorry, I didn’t see you down there,” I said, unable to stop frowning, even for her.

“It’s okay,” she said. “Twent says I’m showt.”

“We brought you breakfast,” Trenton said, holding up a white sack.

“Yes, you do. Raisin cinnamon bagels with butter. Kody told me.”

The two lines that were already formed between my eyebrows grew deeper. I glared at Trenton, and then looked down to Olive. My expression softened, and I sighed. “I love her,” I said to no one in particular. “Olive, you know I love you, but I’m going back to bed.” I looked at Trenton, and narrowed my eyes. “It’s not going to work this time. Take her home.”

“I can’t. Her parents are out all day.”

“Then take her to your home.”

“My dad’s got a cold. You don’t want her to get a cold, do you?”

Trenton had desperation in his eyes. “Me. I know. I just . . . I’m a selfish, insecure idiot.”

“But I’m a sorry selfish, insecure idiot with a little girl outside in the cold.”