"Was it hard to get off-campus permission?" I asked McKenna, as she joined me outside Jefferson Lake's front office.

"My parents understand that I have a need to go to the mall," she informed me, as we walked out towards Emily's car. "And I just happened to leave you out of it."

"Ouch."

"Well it would be hard to explain to them why I needed to go to the mall with a guy they haven't exactly met yet."

"They live in Michigan," I defended. "It's not like we can just go hang out at their place for dinner tomorrow."

"My parents are a bit overprotective."

"Then they clearly haven't heard of Parker Adams."

She rolled her eyes as we met Emily and Parker out by the car.

They were standing outside, Emily laughing at whatever Parker was saying, which was a nice improvement from the last time she was in town. They'd just fought the entire time.

"Okay, so what's the plan?" Emily asked me, leaning against the side of her car.

"Do we need a plan?" I asked, wrinkling my eyebrows.

"We need to strategize."

"We aren't carrying out a Secret Service project," I informed her. "We're buying jeans."

"And I'm buying winter clothes for North Carolina," she stated. "McKenna, what are your mall goals?"

I rolled my eyes.

"I don't really have any?" McKenna said, looking to me for a suggestion.

"Ignore Emily," I said, shaking my head.

"That's okay, we'll find you something," Emily promised.

McKenna just laughed.

That's when I noticed Parker wasn't wearing his sling. "Really Parker? Again with the sling?"

He was always taking it off.

"I'm going to put it back on," Parker defended. "My shoulder just gets so stiff in that thing. And it's uncomfortable."

"Complainer, that's all you are," Emily teased.

"Are we going?" Parker asked, raising his eyebrows at her. "I don't want to spend all day at the mall."

"Not with that attitude," Emily muttered.

He ignored her, opening the backseat door.

There was no way I was sitting in the front seat while the two of them created the awkward tension in the car again. Been there, done that.

"I'll sit in the back," I offered.

Parker just stared at me, as though I'd grown a second head.

"Really," I added. "I'm not sitting up front with your girlfriend while the two of you act like two year olds."

"I'm not acting like a two year old," Emily declined, before climbing into the driver's seat.

"You're not sitting in the backseat," Parker declined.

"I am."

He just shook his head, stepping back to let me take the backseat. "I don't want to hear it when you have a panic attack then."

"I think the whole car would hear it," I pointed out. "And I don't know what turned you into an asshole in the last five minutes, but lighten up."

And then I climbed into the backseat with McKenna.

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