CHAPTER 5

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"It's nice hanging with you minus the battle fatigues," Briana said. "You're looking all hot in your jeans, flip-flops, and tank top."

I smacked her shoulder. "As do you, roomie."

A group of tweeners hurried by, brushing against my arm. Briana and I moved with the herd, toward the food court.

"So, you've been quiet the past few days." Briana flipped her chestnut hair.

Guess I hadn't been hiding my emotional baggage as well as I thought. "Yeah?"

She nodded, and her blond-tinted bangs fell onto her forehead. The smells of fried food overwhelmed my senses, and I realized how hungry I was. I grabbed her hand and swung it.

"What's going on with you, lately?" she asked.

"Just thinking."

"Sean?" Briana led us toward Mrs. Fields cookies.

"How'd you guess?"

"Well, Sunday night, you came back to the room a little winded."

"Oh, God. You were still up?" Heat crept up my neck.

Pink fused itself over her fair-skinned cheeks. "Hey, none of my business, right? I mean, what you do with Sean-sweet, beautiful, Sean-is your business, right?"

I chuckled. "Beautiful Sean." I tugged her into line. Seemed everyone in the entire mall wanted a wonderfully, warm chocolate chip cookie for lunch.

"So, you decided to try it with him?" she asked.

"Not sure. Leaning toward it, maybe. Or not." I couldn't help smiling. Briana talked about Sean constantly. I knew she wanted me with him, but she didn't understand the complications that could bring, considering my past experiences.

Which was one of the reasons I needed to have this little chat with her.

"He's been hovering a lot more." She sucked in a deep breath. "God, he's hot, though, right?"

"Gee, didn't notice."

"He's obviously into you, why don't you like him?"

"Liking him has never been the problem. I've been drooling over those dreamy eyes for three years. I have to guard my mind twenty-four-seven around him so he doesn't find out."

"D! I can't believe you." She glanced around, and her gaze settled on something to her right.

I followed her line of sight. Three guys sat around the massive fireplace that split the center of the food court. Despite the weather warming up, a flame still flickered in the stone centerpiece.

"See something you like over there?" I whispered into her ear.

"Yeah." She looked at me with her rust-colored eyes, glanced around, then leaned close to my ear. "But I don't date humans."

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