With Every Heartbeat
Page 29

 Linda Kage

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His eyes narrowed. I cowered a step back and clutched my purse close. “Uh...” I tried to explain my eavesdropping presence, but yeah, nothing came out.
He sauntered toward me, giving off a lethal kind of vibe. “Well, look who’s nothing but eyes and ears tonight. You learn a lot in the past hour, Blondie?”
I took a step back and shook my head intently as I gulped. “I didn’t—”
“See anything?” he asked with an arched eyebrow. “Hear anything?”
“No, I...I didn’t see or hear anything,” I agreed.
“No,” he murmured softly as he studied me a moment longer. “You didn’t, did you? Because you’re not a loud-mouthed cow like your bitch of a roommate, are you?”
My mouth fell open. I couldn’t believe he’d just said that about Cora. Cora was everything bright and bubbly. Why would anyone call her a—
He hitched his chin to the right. “Why don’t you go find Caroline and make sure she gets home safe and sound?”
He sounded so concerned about her; it gave me the courage to ask, “Are you going to apologize to her?”
Ten snorted. “Fuck no.” Gritting his teeth, he scowled at me. “In fact, I’m going to have to change up my game around her so she never forgives me.”
Spinning away, he stalked off without explaining himself.
I stood there a moment longer. This was definitely turning out to be one of the strangest days of my life. But for some reason, I felt exhilarated. It was so far and beyond anything my father would approve of. I secretly relished having been a minor part in it.
I turned in the direction Caroline had run, but no sooner did I get a few steps than Cora, hand-in-hand with Quinn, veered around the corner.
“Zoey?” Cora asked in surprise. “What’re you doing out here?”
Concern knit Quinn’s brow. “Everything okay?”
I nodded, though I had no idea if anything was okay at all. I motioned vaguely toward the entrance of the pizzeria. “Everyone left. Except Caroline. She ran that way, upset, and Noel asked if we could make sure she got home.”
While Cora scowled at the idea, Quinn immediately nodded. “Sure. No problem.”
“What?” Cora glowered at him. “I don’t want to babysit Noel Gamble’s little sister.” As she sniffed in disgust, both Quinn and I gaped at her.
“Cora!” he scolded, as I gasped out, “We can’t just leave her here by herself.”
She scowled between the two of us. When she must’ve realized she was outnumbered, she sniffed. “Whatever.” Folding her arms over her chest, Cora spun away and started off. “I’m going to wait in the car.”
I stared after her, wondering where all the attitude had come from and why she’d been so snotty. The Cora I knew never acted that way.
“She’s mad at me because I didn’t tell her about Noel and Aspen before,” Quinn said, answering my silent question.
I looked up at him and instantly felt awful. He looked guilty and crushed. So I shook my head. “It wasn’t your secret to tell.”
Just as it wasn’t my secret to tell him what was happening to his girlfriend...even if I thought he should know.
He shook his head as if brushing aside his issues with his girlfriend and lifted his gaze, his blue eyes full of pain. “Do we know where Caroline is?”
I made a face. “Kind of. She ran that way after she tried to kiss Ten.”
When Quinn’s eyes widened, I slapped my hand over my mouth. “Oh, no! I can’t believe I told you that. I promised Ten I wouldn’t tell anyone what I saw.”
I blinked, but he waved his hand. “It’s okay. I won’t let him know you told me.” Then he winced “Did he kiss her back?”
“No. He stepped back, warding her off, and said, ‘don’t,’ so she ran away, crying.”
He blew out a breath and ran his fingers through his hair. “Wow. I can’t believe he restrained himself. That’s so…not like him. But it’s good that he had some self-control. Noel’s warned him away from Caroline more times than I can count.” He released his hair and glanced around. “What a mess.”
When I nodded in agreement, he sent me a small smile. “How about I go this way, looking for her, and you go that way?”
I agreed and we set off in our different directions. I found Caroline a few minutes later, sitting on a bench across the street from the pizza parlor under a streetlight. She didn’t say anything or acknowledge me as I approached, but I knew she knew I was there. Silently, I sat beside her and waited.