Day after day Trenton ignored me, but I didn’t dare confront him after that. It was particularly hurtful because his rapport with Hazel hadn’t changed, and he was more than chatty with Raegan when he came to the Red. He was deliberately giving me the cold shoulder, and I hated it.

The second Saturday in November, Trenton strolled into the Red alone and sat at his new favorite stool in front of Raegan. She was busy with her regular, Marty, but Trenton sat there patiently, not once looking over to me for service. My heart sank. The past weeks of being around Trenton had taught me an appreciation for the misery Kody went through every Wednesday through Sunday night since he and Raegan had broken up. I looked over to Kody, seeing him glance in Raegan’s direction with sad eyes. He did that dozens of times every night.

My regular, Baker, had a full, frosted mug, so I walked over to Raegan’s side of the bar, popped the top off Trenton’s favorite beer, and handed it to him.

He nodded once and then reached for it, but something came over me, and I yanked it away.

Trenton’s eyes popped up to meet mine for less than a second, a combination of shock and confusion on his face.

“Miller Lite!” a guy called from behind Trenton. I acknowledged him with a nod, and then lowered my chin at Trenton, crossing my arms and letting his beer bottle sit snugly in the crook of my arm.

Trenton looked behind him on each side, and everywhere but at me. He shook his head a couple of times. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Okay. So you hate me.” The words felt like poison coming out of my mouth. “Want me to quit Skin Deep?”

“What?” he said, finally looking at me for the first time in weeks.

“I can do it if that’s what you need.”

“Why would you quit?” he asked.

“Cami, I could never hate you. Even if I wanted to. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

“Then why won’t you talk to me?”

His face screwed into disgust. He started to speak, and then changed his mind. He lit a cigarette and took a drag.

I pulled it from between his fingers and broke it in half.

“I’m sorry, okay? Can we at least talk about this?”

“No!” he said, getting more agitated by the second. “What’s the f**king point?”

“You walked away from me, Cami.”

“I don’t deserve for you to talk to me, I get it. I’ll give Cal my notice tomorrow.”

“We’re both miserable. I don’t like it any more than you do, but what’s stupid is being around each other when we don’t have to be.”

“Fine?” I wasn’t sure what I expected him to say, but it wasn’t that. I tried to choke back the lump that formed in my throat, but instead it just got bigger and tears began to form in my eyes.

He reached out for me. “Can I have my beer now?”

I laughed once, in disbelief. “You wanted a reaction when you kissed me and you got one.”

“If I’d known you were going to get on a flight to California and f**k someone else a few hours later, I might have reconsidered.”

“Do you really want to keep track of who’s f**ked who lately?” I sat his beer down and began to walk back to my station.

Raegan was staring at us, along with everyone else within shouting distance.

“You saw Travis on Halloween! He’s out of control over this girl! She left the morning after he bagged her the first time without telling him good-bye, and he trashed his f**king apartment! Trust me, I would love to bash something or someone, but I don’t have that luxury, Cami. I have to keep it together! I don’t need you judging me about what I do to keep my mind off of you!”

“Don’t make excuses. Especially not stupid ones, it’s just insulting.”

“Why would I want that? You’re my best friend!” I felt a tear fall down my cheek, and I quickly wiped it away.

“Back with him? If you would just talk to me, we could clear this up. We could—”

“Not that you’ve ever been with him,” he grumbled, swiping the bottle off the bar. He took a swig, muttering something under his breath.

“I said if you like being a backup plan, that’s fine with me!”

“Miller Lite, Cami!” the guy yelled again, this time less patient.

I glared at Trenton. “Backup plan? Are you f**king kidding me right now? All you deal in is backup plans! How many of those have you walked out of here with in the last month?”

Trenton’s cheeks flushed. He stood up, kicking the stool backward, sending it flying almost all the way to the dance floor. “You’re not a f**king backup plan, Cami! Why are you letting someone treat you like one?”

“He’s not treating me like anything! I haven’t spoken to him in weeks!”

“Oh, so now that he’s ignoring you, I’m good enough to be your friend?”

“I’m sorry, I thought we were already friends!”

“Miller Lite! Will one of you do your damn job?” the guy yelled again.

Trenton turned around, and pointed in the guy’s face. “You talk to her like that again, and I’m going to knock you the f**k out.”

Beginning with a wry smile, the guy began to say something more, but Trenton didn’t give him the chance. He lunged, grabbing the guy by the collar. They fell to the floor, and I lost sight of them. A crowd quickly formed a tight circle around the spot where they went down, and after a few seconds, Trenton’s audience flinched, covered their mouths, and shouted “Oh!” in unison.

Within seconds, Kody and Gruber descended upon them. Suddenly Trenton was standing and looking as if he’d never been in a fight. He wasn’t even breathing hard. He walked back to his beer and took a drink. His T-shirt was ripped a few inches at the collar, and his neck and cheek were spattered with blood.

Gruber wrestled Trenton’s victim out the side entrance, and Kody stood next to Trenton, out of breath.

“Sorry, Trent. You know the rules. I gotta ask you to leave.”

Trenton nodded once, took one last swig, and then walked away. Kody followed him out. I opened my mouth to call to him but wasn’t sure what else to say.

MY HANDS WERE SHAKING, AND WITHOUT ANY GOOD reason or excuse, I steered the Smurf into Jim Maddox’s driveway. The roads were thick with sleet and ice, and I had no business driving, but every turn I took brought me closer to Trenton. I switched off the lights before they hit the front windows of the house, and then killed the engine, letting the Jeep cruise to a stop.

My phone chimed. It was Trenton, wondering if it was my Jeep in the drive . . . as if it could be anyone else’s. When I confirmed his suspicion, the screen door opened, and Trenton walked down the steps. He was wearing fuzzy slippers and royal-blue basketball shorts, his arms crossed over his bare torso. Inch-thick, black tribal tattoos crawled over his shoulders and across his chest, and colorful, various tattoos overlapped one another as they traveled down both of his arms, cutting off abruptly at his wrists.