Chapter One – Kennedy

“Maybe I should change into something different?”

Honestly, I look more like I’m ready to crawl into bed than to go pick up Remy from the airport. The black leggings and oversized shirt can almost pass for regular attire, but with the way my curls just stand out in any direction definitely gives me crazy cat lady vibes.

“You’re gorgeous,” Cassie says from her spot on my bed where she is comfortably curled up with my cat. “You’ve always been gorgeous and no one is going to notice that you look like shit, especially on Valentine’s Day.” She is too busy scrolling on her phone to see the death glare I shoot at her.

I sigh and then do the only thing I can think of to help my hair catastrophe. I put my mess of curls into a bun on top of my head using three hair ties. Yeah, my hair is that thick.

“Why aren’t you going again?” I glare at my sister in the mirror. “Got a hot date or something?”

“Actually, yes.” Casper, our other sister and Cassie’s twin, walks in with a flourish. “We’re going on a double date for the holiday. At this rate we’re going to be late.” She swats Cassie on the leg and snaps, “Hurry up. Let’s go.”

“It’s noon.” I look at my phone just to make sure time hasn’t passed so quickly that I’m not aware of it. “Why are you going on a date at noon?”

Cassie smiles broadly, looking for all the world like the evil twin she is. “Because,” she says serenely. “How else are we going to make them work for it if it’s not the middle of the day?”

“So gross.” I shoo them away. The very last thing I want to hear in the entire world is my seventeen-year-old little sisters talking about their sex lives. Let alone how they plan on making guys work for it.

“Seriously, though.” Casper interrupts my thoughts. “If you don’t want to go alone, we can reschedule. Picking up Remy is way more important than guys we can just see tomorrow.”

Touched by her willingness to reschedule her life just for Remy, I wave her away. “Go. You guys deserve to have a night out…” I roll my eyes. “Or day.”

“You do too, Kennedy.” Coming from Cassie, the compliment means so much, but we are definitely in it together. “The world isn’t going to end if you take a break. You’ve been working so hard.”

She is right. I am working full-time, going to school, and managing to get ahead—finally. Though I can’t stop, not now. Not when I’m so close to getting away, escaping. Putting everything that happened behind me, once and for all. Only a few more weeks left.


I nearly jump out of my skin. Casper is standing right in front of me, and she just scared the hell out of me. I take several deep breaths while I wait for my heart rate to return to normal.

“We know you don’t want to talk about it. Not yet, at least. But we’re here and nobody deserves to walk around with that much on their shoulders at eighteen. Especially you.”

Good thing I haven’t put any makeup on yet. Suddenly I’m a hot mess. Tears stream down my face and hiccups rack my body, on top of everything else.

“Oh my gods,” I gasp. “Why can’t you guys just go already?” Laughing through the tears, I try to shoo them away again. Though they don’t leave.

Cassie pulls me into a tight hug, and I can feel the rage rolling off her in waves. “If I could kill him and get away with it, I would. Besides, there are plenty of lobstermen who would put a dismembered body in their traps for any of us. No questions asked.”

Sniffling, I shake my head. “Trust me. It’s not worth you going to jail. He’s not worth it.”

Casper snorts derisively, joining our hug. “Just wait. He’ll get what’s coming to him.”

Cocooned in their embrace, I feel like I’m a little kid again and nothing can hurt me. Which, after the year I’ve had, is more than deserved. They don’t seem ready to let go of the hug anytime soon, either. It only makes it even more annoying.

When I’ve had enough, I try to break away from their embrace, but they just squeeze tighter.

I croak, barely able to catch my breath. “Don’t you have a date?” I pull Casper’s curls and laugh when she gasps, swatting me away.

Cassie sighs and pulls her twin toward the door. She turns around and shoots me an evil glare. “Don’t you have a bunch of Marines to pick up at the airport?”

I know she is right even before I check the decorative clock on my wall. The giant Star Wars droid replica stares back down at me, a glaringly obvious reminder that I only have about an hour and a half to get there. Just barely enough time to get to Bangor and the airport in time. Normally, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m surprising Remy with his truck. His massive, ridiculously testosterone-filled truck that I can’t even get into unless I’m wearing leggings.

I actually tore a pair of skinny jeans once when I tried to heave myself into the truck. The problem with driving the monstrosity is that people have no consideration for the fact that I usually drive a Prius. My baby is about a fifth the size of the beast I currently find myself steering on the trip.

At least the drive gives me some time to think about what I’ll do with my favorite person in the whole world home for the next month. Although, admittedly, the last thing I want is to share my personal space, but I know it will be worth it. Having my big brother home is going to be amazing, especially after missing him when he was home the last time.

Absently, I rub at the scars on my wrist, trying not to think about that night and everything I’ve lost. Then, like the big girl I am, I pick up my feelings and shove them down deep. I plaster a smile on my face before I screech into the parking lot of the airport and scare the shit out of a few grandmas as I do so.

Everything is going just as planned, too. I’m ready to finally see my big brother. Until I see his best friend by his side and my entire world begins to tilt on its side.

* * *


“You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding me, man. Couldn’t it be anyone else?” Of course it has to be Remy’s sister who is picking us up from the airport on fucking Valentine’s Day. The same sister I was obsessed with and have been for years. The sister my best friend would murder me for even thinking of touching. And to top it off, Remy has to open his mouth about it right before my least favorite part of the flight.

I shut my eyes as the wheels of the plane hit the tarmac and shake all of us around like rag dolls.

“Hey,” my best friend and current enemy says with a smile. “It’s not my fault you and Kennedy got into it.”

My brother, the asshole on the other side of me, snorts. “They’re constantly fighting about something.”

“Shut up, Danny.” I open one eye and shoot him a glare. He doesn’t know shit about me and Kennedy. Nobody does, not really.

The way Remy stares at me with wide and knowing eyes says more than he does. Yeah, Kennedy and I got into it when she started dating one of the guys on my former football team. A guy I knew for a fact was a prick only out to get his dick wet. He was two years behind us, the same as Kennedy. I knew him and exactly how his brain worked. Hell, I had been him at one time. Absolutely no one treated Kennedy the way I knew he wanted to. At least, they didn’t act that way and walk away unscathed.

The plane finally comes to a stop and I unclench my fists. When the light above our heads turns off, I push Remy out of the way and grab my bag from the overhead bin. Yeah, I may have shoved him harder than I should have, but he deserves it. He has a complex and honestly thinks no one would use his sisters because of who he is. He doesn’t have a clue.

“Hey.” Danny slaps me on the shoulder. “I gotta use the facilities. Wait for me?” He doesn’t wait for a response, though. He just pushes his way through the crowd, practically sprinting to the bathroom.

Remy snorts as he drops his shit next to the nearest wall and takes a seat to wait.

“She was so pissed that last time we were home she didn’t even come to see us once.”

I almost miss the look on his face and I would have if I’d been staring at my phone’s screen like I had been a moment before. Instead, I was trying not to trip up the walkway with my heavy-ass bag on my shoulder.

He is obviously pissed, but there is more there. I’ve known the man since I was five years old and know all his expressions, every single one. I knew the expression he had when he was beating the snot out of some kid in third grade for putting Casper’s hair in paint. I knew the way he smiled when we graduated from boot camp. He is my best friend.. Yet his current expression almost stops me in my tracks. This is the closest I’ve ever seen him get to being afraid.

“Kennedy has a lot of shit going on.”

That’s all I get out of him for the next fifteen minutes while we wait for Danny, watching as everyone else clears out. Once we are alone, I give in. I’m hungry, and I really want to get something to eat. Maybe I can find a cheeseburger with extra fries.

“Are we gonna go?” I glance over to the bathroom. “Danny can just meet us out there… Or better yet, he can call a cab.”

“Hey.” Remy laughs. “It’s not my fault your brother is an idiot and had to shit his brains out. What do you want him to do? Take a cab the entire forty miles back to town?”

“Yeah.” I grab my bag. “That’s exactly what I want.”

Remy doesn’t even move as he calls out after me. “If you go now, you’re gonna end up alone with Kennedy. Anyway, I’m pretty sure she threatened to gut you the next time she sees you.”

His words have the intended effect. Immediately, I turn my ass around and sit down until Danny comes out of the bathroom a few minutes later.

“Let’s go already.” Danny lifts his bag onto his shoulder and has the audacity to pretend like we haven’t just waited for the past twenty minutes in the almost deserted lobby for him to finish blowing out the toilet.

He almost gets away with it, too. When we are walking past the bathroom on our way out, another guy practically runs us over in his rush to get away.

“You don’t wanna go in there,” he gasps. If it had been anyone but Danny in the bathroom, I’d have thought he was exaggerating. My brother has something seriously wrong with his gut. We used to leave the house when he had to use the bathroom. “Seriously. It smells like something died in there.”

Danny rushes away, and I can see the back of his neck turning red in embarrassment. We don’t let him go very far before starting in on him.

“Hey,” he defends himself. “At least I didn’t do it on the airplane.”

“Oh gods.” Remy laughs. “He’s got a point there.”

By the time we make it through the airport and down to baggage claim, I’ve almost forgotten who is picking us up. I managed to forget all about Kennedy Townsend and the way she made my heart race while we were gone. Still she never really strays far from my mind, and as soon as we step into the open area, I know exactly where she is.

Where Kennedy is concerned, I don’t have eyes or ears for anyone else. It’d been one of the reasons I joined the Marine Corps with my twin and her big brother. She had asked me to protect him, and of course I said yes. Always had and probably always would, even without her asking. I swear, I can practically smell her fruity perfume from across the room too.

“Kennedy’s here.” Remy nods toward the doors that lead to the parking lot. “Try not to piss her off anymore? I only get two weeks with her, and I don’t want her to shut me out.” That haunted expression is back, and every fiber of my being burns to know what it is that he is hiding.

My bag comes around the carousel, so I grab it along with Remy’s next to it. Danny, I leave to fend for himself while he is trying to chat up one of the women from the flight. Only to watch him curse and rush to get it before it vanishes behind the wall.

Belatedly, I answer Remy and hope he doesn’t notice the little white lie. “I’ll do my best.” I don’t have a choice though; I have to piss her off. If I don’t, I’ll end up doing something stupid, like kiss her, and then I’ll have to make her mine.

As it is, I know it is only a matter of time before I act on my feelings for her. I just need to figure out a way to keep my best friend in the process.

Then I see her, watching her brother from across the room, and I wish she was staring at me that way. Remy shoots me one sidelong glance, easily reading every single emotion I’m trying to keep hidden. His expression is very clear and I know our friendship, even my life, is on the line.

Shit is about to get messy.

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