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"I don't want you to be alarmed, but your face is starting to resemble an overripe tomato," Zach stated.

Keeley's hair dragged across the carpet as she hung off her bed and shrugged.

"Is this some sort of new yoga practice?" he questioned. "You know, where you try to find your lost Zen or something?"

More like trying to piece together her broken heart. She contracted her abdominal muscles and raised her head. Zach stood in her bedroom doorway. His arms and feet were crossed as he leaned against the doorframe. "Now's not a great time, Zach," she told him. "I'm busy."

He eyed her upside down position. "Yes, you look positively bogged down with heavy thoughts."

She couldn't even muster a sarcastic remark. "I'm not in the mood to talk. Leave me alone."

Ignoring her wishes, he stayed where he was. "And yet you called Nicky to come over. Sounds like you want to talk to someone."

"Don't be difficult," she pleaded. "Not today. Not right now."

He thrust his lower lip out in an attempt to gain sympathy. "You can't make time for your favorite sibling?"

"You're my only sibling."

"Why must you always focus on the details?" he sighed.

"And why must you always overlook them?" she shot back.

"Because I don't want an ulcer by the time I'm twenty."

Since he obviously wouldn't let the issue go, she planted her hands next to her ears and braced herself. With one giant push, she flipped herself off the bed, over her body, and landed on her knees. After straightening her clothes, she propped her elbows on the edge of the bed and gave him a bland look. "Is there something particular you wanted to discuss or are you just bored and wanted someone to talk to?"

"I wanted to check up on you. You looked upset when he dropped you off. Did something happen?"

"Yes. Something happened," she answered flatly. She didn't want to talk about what happened with Talon, especially not to her brother. Which is the reason why she called Nicky.

"And that would be...?"

Keeley felt herself bristling at his question. "What exactly do you want to know?" she asked. The look she sent him was downright glacial. "Do you want to know that we had an argument? Or are you more interested in the fact that I found out about the photos he sent? Or maybe what you really want to know is if we're still together? Well, you can rest easy tonight, Zach. We broke up. No more evil Talon running amuck with your sister. That should make you ecstatic."

He drew in a deep breath through his nose and let a noisy exhale through his mouth. "I won't lie. It does. But I hate that it's at the expense of your happiness. I never wanted you to get hurt, Keels."

"But you wanted him out of my life," she stated rather than asked.

"Absolutely," he said with vigor. Zach unfolded his body and strode across the room. He plopped down on the opposite side of the bed. "He was never good enough for you. You deserve a guy who's going to cherish and respect you. Someone who understands what a treasure you are."

The harsh look in her eyes softened as she breached the space between them and squeezed his hand. "Thank you, but I'm not completely helpless. I can take care of myself."

"I'm not denying that. You're one of the most capable people I know. But JT has an uncanny ability to fool people. He presented himself to you as a different person than who he really is. I didn't want you caught up in that."

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