By: Alexa Riley

“It’s really pretty,” I reply, because it’s true. It is pretty, just a little showy for my taste. It would look better at a club than at work.

“You should really let me dress you tonight when we go out. Maybe you could finally snag a man.”

She opens the door and I follow her out, locking it behind us.

“Sure. Sounds like fun.” This is all a first for me. I was shocked she even invited me out to begin with, but now she wants to dress me up. Maybe there is something underneath her hard snotty exterior, and it’s starting to finally show. It may just be that she has walls around her that need help coming down.

I’ve never seen Harper with other girlfriends, and it’s been so long since I had any of my own. It’s worth another chance with her. What do I really have to lose? It couldn’t get any worse than what we have going right now. I’m living with her, and it might make things a whole lot easier if we could be friends. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t need a friend. I need someone. The loneliness seems to be growing each day. While a lot of the grief of losing my grandma has started to fade, the loneliness seems only to be strengthening.

When we reach the bottom of the stairs and exit the apartment complex, I see a man leaning up against a red, fancy-looking sports car. He looks a little rough around the edges, and I have the urge to step further to my left so we can avoid him. I go to take a step as Harper darts right towards him, practically jumping into his arms.

His dark eyes turn to me, and a chill runs down my spine. Harper attacks his mouth, but as he kisses her back, his eyes are trained on me. I pull my eyes from him, the creepy feeling settling deep inside me. I swear she picks the strangest guys. It’s clear to me from the snake tattoo running up the guy’s arm that he can’t be the kind of guy one would want to tangle with.

Don’t be so judgy, Tessa, I scold myself. Maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends. But in all fairness, he’s what I picture when I think of a gang member, and I hope Harper doesn’t try to bring this one back to our place. Hopefully, he’ll be gone as fast as the other guys who run in and out of her life.

When she finally pulls her mouth from his, she introduces us.

“Tessa, this is Nick, my boyfriend.” Her eyes beam at me like she’s won some grand prize. Nick doesn’t seem to like that Harper just used the word ‘boyfriend,’ because I catch the tic in his jaw when she says it. But he doesn’t correct her, so maybe he doesn’t mind too much.

He reaches out to shake my hand. The snake covering his arm creeps me out, but the politeness my grandma branded into me has me reaching out to reciprocate.

“It’s nice to finally meet you.” The way he says it makes me think Harper has been talking about me to him. Like he knows more about me than he should. That creepy feeling settles deeper inside me as his hand takes mine. When our hands meet, one of his fingers slides across my wrist, and I jerk out of his hold. He smirks at me, not the least bit fazed by my behavior.

It’s like he knows he’s making me uneasy, and he likes it.

“I’m gonna get going.” I point towards the train station, making my intention clear.

“I’ll take you. Dropping Harper off anyways,” Nick offers. It wasn’t moments ago that I was ticked Harper didn’t offer me a ride, but now the train sounds so much better than being trapped in a car with this creepy guy.

“But I wanted to be alone with you.” Harper pouts up at Nick, rubbing her hand across his chest. It seems to have no effect on him as he actually bats her hand away like she’s a fly getting on his nerves.

“The train is fine,” I insist, and start to make my way in the direction of the station, but Nick grabs me by the arm in a tight hold. He must have realized he grabbed me too hard, because he immediately loosens his grip. The whole thing has my heart beating out of my chest, and I can feel a tension rise within me like someone’s eyes are on me. Not just Nick’s and Harper’s, but like everyone is watching us. I glance around. No one else is on the street.

“I insist. I want to get to know my girl’s roommate. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.” I look over at Harper, whose face beams at his words. Lovely. So he plans on being around.

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