Home > Kian(14)

Author: Tijan

She grinned, heading back for her table. “See you later.”

It was past closing time, and Henry called after me as I was about to walk out the door, “What are you going to be?”

Turning around, I pushed open the door with my back and thrust my fist in the air. “Not optimistic!”

“I’ll see you tomorrow or whenever you work next.” He gave me an approving grin and wave.

I was tempted to give him a double thumbs-up sign with a cheesy smile, but refrained. I wouldn’t have meant it, and God forbid, I would be fake. Though Henry would’ve lapped it up. He was all about fake and circumstance. It could’ve been his graduation song.


I had opened the second set of doors, and it was swinging shut behind me when I heard my name. I stopped mid-step. My foot was literally in the air, and it came down roughly as I twisted around. I thought I would be ready, but nothing could’ve prepared me. This was fitting in some way. He’d been out a week, and I had been waiting every day. I lifted my head, but the sight of him in front of me didn’t seem real.

But he was there.

He was staring at me, looking at me like he knew the only me that mattered, the real me.


He was wearing a black leather jacket.

That was the first thought that stuck out to me, but I couldn’t get past it. I didn’t know why, and I started laughing in my head. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I was a little scared, and yes, a part of me had been waiting for this meeting to happen for too long. Now, here he was. In a black leather jacket. Really?

I grinned. “Could you get more typical bad boy than that?”

He moved his head to the side, narrowing his eyes.

I didn’t want to drink in the rest of him—how his dark eyes seemed even more alluring in person than on the television, how there was an air to him that pulled at me, which was weird and wrong, especially in how it also pushed me away. I wanted to run, but at the same time, I couldn’t do a thing while he was looking at me like he had during the trial.

Kian hadn’t been allowed to speak to me, not after he’d killed Edmund. Before the trial, during the trial, and afterward, there’d been no exchange between us. In some ways, Kian was as much of a stranger to me as he was to everyone else. And in other ways, I felt like I couldn’t be more exposed to him if I turned my insides out. He knew me. That was how I’d felt all this time even if it wasn’t validated, and I was feeling that again.


Footsteps sounded from behind me, and I twisted around. Jake was across the street. He lifted an arm up and stepped out, turning to check the road. He was coming over to me.


He couldn’t.

I didn’t want him here.

What was he even doing here?

I looked back with an apology ready for Kian, but it died on my lips. He was gone.

Jake hurried past the cars beside me and stepped onto the sidewalk. “Hey. Glad I caught you.”




He couldn’t be gone, but he was.

“Jo,” Jake softly prompted. He moved close, so he was standing right behind my shoulder.

If I swung around to look at him, I would’ve touched his chest. I sucked in my breath. Kian had been here. He’d actually found me.

I had to call Snark. He’d tell me what to do now.

But Jake was still here. Jake was familiar. Jake didn’t have a team that wanted to blame me for my foster father’s death.

I let out some air, deflating my lungs, and hoped to calm my nerves before I moved back a step and turned around until I was facing him.

He was frowning at me, and he cocked his head to the side. A small strand of his hair fell over his forehead, and he raised a hand to push it back, his eyes warming as he did that absentminded gesture. The corners of his mouth lifted in another grin, transforming his face from concern to caring.

“Sorry. I’m just…I thought I saw someone I used to know.”

The truth felt lame as it stumbled from my lips, but I followed one of Snark’s guidelines. “Stick to the truth, but be vague. It’s the best form of lying there is.”

Jake nodded, his grin curving higher. He glanced up and down the street. “I hate when that happens. Used to happen to me all the time after our thing ended.”

I shoved Kian to the back of my mind and made myself shake all the lingering tension away. “Yeah?”

His eyes darkened. “All the time. It was…annoying.”

“I’m sure Tara loved that.”

He smirked, but a smidgen of pain appeared in his depths. “She wasn’t too happy about it. I think she knew. I kept thinking I saw you, and then sometimes, I actually would—you know, if you were walking to class or something. Messed with my head. I kept wanting to talk to you, but…”

His gaze fell to my lips, and he moved closer. I could feel the heat from his body, and he was looking down at me, looming over me.

This was how we’d been before. I would close my eyes and rest my forehead to his chest. I’d rest my hands there or tug on his shirt, pulling him the rest of the way to me, and then we would be touching. Jake would hold back, his hands in his pockets. He’d let me dictate if we would touch, and there was something heady about that feeling. He made me feel powerful.

But the old want to touch him…wasn’t there anymore.

I was cold, dejected somehow, but I moved away to hide it. “What are you doing here, Jake?”

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