Today's Reading

Liam studied her intently as if he hadn't heard the burn. "How long has it been?"

"Ten years, eleven months, thirteen days, thirteen hours, forty-seven minutes, and sixteen seconds." The clock behind him had a bright red second hand for precise calculation.

She realized her mistake when his lips tugged into an infuriating smirk.

"You haven't changed."

Hadn't changed? Was he serious? She'd grown up the night she had to go to the prom with Layla instead of with the most infamous bad boy in their high school. It was supposed to be the defining night of her high school life—the moment when she showed everyone she wasn't the geek they thought she was. Someone wanted her—someone handsome and charming who had insisted on being her escort when he found out she didn't have a date.

A senior when she was a freshman, Liam was the boy every girl wanted and every guy wanted to befriend. He had spent more time in the principal's office than he did in class. With a new girlfriend every week, a permanent gang of hangers-on who followed him around the school, and the legendary pranks he'd played etched on the restroom walls, he was still remembered years after graduation. It would have been perfect. But now, as she took in those sparkling blue eyes and thick dark hair, the chiseled planes and angles of a face that had morphed from good-looking into devastatingly handsome, she couldn't believe she had fallen so hard for someone who had always been completely out of her league.

"I have changed. No glasses. No frizzy hair. Better clothes. Bigger boobs . . . Not that any of that matters. You made it clear what you thought about me."

"That was a long time ago." His voice was rough, strained. "I don't feel good about what happened."

"What a coincidence. Neither do I."

He let out a ragged breath. "Don't tell me you're still upset."

"'Upset'?" She wanted to scream. Angry. Hurt. Humiliated. Disappointed. Crushed. Bitter. Wrecked. Destroyed. There were so many better words to describe her devastation when the man of her dreams stood her up for her senior prom and then disappeared from her life.

But what had she expected? Her own mother had abandoned her, too.

"No," she lied, letting the pain and hurt she'd been harboring for the past decade wash away any thoughts of forgiveness. If she clung to it, embraced it, maybe she wouldn't think about her pathetic teenage fantasies, the embarrassing ways she'd tried to catch his attention, the dreams of kissing him and living happily ever after with the only boy she'd ever loved.

"I'm totally over it," she continued. "High school prom? What's that? I never think about it. Or you. I never think about you. When I bumped into you right now, I couldn't even remember your last name."

He raised an incredulous eyebrow. "That's hard to believe since you probably know the details of every meeting that's going on in every room, the location of every exit, the number of attendees, and how long it takes to walk from one end of the conference center to the other."

She did know all those things. Her brain had an irritating habit of working even when she wasn't conscious it was processing information. Over the years she'd found a way to shut it down.

Unfortunately, her mental tricks only worked when her life was under control, and right now she was caught in a maelstrom of contradictory emotions that threatened to tear her apart. Why did he have to look so breathtakingly gorgeous? Why couldn't he have worn a boring suit and tie instead of a badass leather jacket that made him look like a young James Dean?

"I only remember important things." She bent down to pick up the pads, tearing her gaze away as she tried to control her instinctive reaction to him. Although she desperately wanted to escape, she couldn't return to Tyler empty-handed.

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