PART TWO - Chapter 36

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ZACH

I watched Emma dart around the apartment, getting ready for this big double date night out she'd cooked up, and I wished I could relax. It was sweet of her to want to do this for Brett, and it felt like all she'd talked about for the past week. But all I could think about was the study time I was losing—and I didn't have any of that to spare.

Thank god Kennedy had managed to get her hands on another set of the books we needed to do our assignment for the clinic. I didn't know how she'd managed it, but I'd learned not to ask when it came to her. Instead, I'd just buried my head in those texts night and day, determined to get every single letter of this assignment perfect. We needed to change Dr. Buchanan's impression of us, to prove we deserved the chance we'd been given. And it sure wouldn't hurt to show the asshole who'd tried to sabotage us that we weren't going down that easily.

"I'm still not sure how I feel about this," Brett said. He took another swig of his pre-game beer and leaned back in the love seat.

"It's one night, man. You'll survive," I told him.

"Yeah, I finally get one night to go out with you guys, and we have to make it some awkward double date thing."

I scowled at him. "Keep your voice down, will you? Emma did this because she cares about you and wants you to be happy. You can at least be nice."

He took another drink. "Emma knows I'm skeptical. And don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled as hell that we're going out. I just like doing my own thing when it comes to the ladies, you know?"

I had to roll my eyes. He was too much. "Maybe that's the problem."

Brett sat up straight and glared at me. "No, man. The problem is that I came here to visit because you said you needed a friend, but you've been too busy studying to even hang out." He chugged the rest of his beer and set the bottle down on the coffee table. "You're lucky I love you like a brother, Zach Walker, because you've had a gigantic stick up your ass for the past week, and you've been absolutely no fun to be around. I'm starting to wonder if the guy I knew is even still in there."

I stared at him, not sure whether to be shocked or amused. "Holy shit, Brett. That was like an actual speech. Look at you, stringing all those thoughts together and making a point."

A huge grin took over his face. "Fuck you, man."

"No, fuck you, man. Not all of us are coasting our way through life, living off a trust fund."

"Well, as someone who enjoys his lifestyle very much, I think that's a damn shame for the rest of you."

I burst out laughing. Brett was one of a kind.

"If you two are finished with your fake fight, I'm ready to go." Emma said, sweeping into the room. She smelled like lilacs, and I was pretty sure her sparkly red top was new. She snapped her fingers at us. "Come on, let's get going. I can't wait to introduce you to my friend, Brett. I just know you're going to hit it off."

***

EMMA

The club was hopping when Zach, Brett, and I walked in, and Lalo's band was just taking the stage, so we were right on time. I'd forgotten it was a decent cab ride from our place to Williamsburg, so I'd been worried about missing the show.

"Wow, this is awesome," Zach said. "How do you even know about this place?"

"My friends brought me here," I told him. "It's super fun, and you're going to love the band." I scanned the room for Kalisha, then spotted her in the crowd, heading toward us.

"Hey, girl," she called and gave me a big hug. "So glad you made it. Who are these handsome dudes?"

"This is Zach, my fiancé, and this is our friend from Minnesota, Brett."

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