7 | Old Habits Die Hard

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It had been five days since Sebastian Phillips' party and I still hadn't found the ring

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It had been five days since Sebastian Phillips' party and I still hadn't found the ring.

I had gone back to both the hotel and the club where the party had been held, hoping that someone from the management had found it and was keeping it safe, but no one had seen anything. By then I was beating myself up for having been so careless that night, wanting nothing more than to turn back time and fix it so that I had never gone to the party. The calls from my mother weren't helping much either, since all she had to say each time I picked up the phone was how upset and disappointed she was with me for losing such a priceless item. Luckily she hadn't disowned me yet, but if that thing didn't turn up in the next week or so, I was pretty sure that my name was going to be erased from the Colton family tree.

"I hate my life."

The boy stretched out on the chaise to my left turned his head to shoot me pitiless look. "Would you quit it with the dramatics?" Jude sighed, obviously tired of my bitching. "Really, Talia, it's not very becoming."

The only good thing that had come out of this entire situation was Jude, who was helping me out every step of the way. While the twins only leant a hand whenever it was convenient for them, Jude was like a loyal puppy who refused to leave my side. I had expected him to ditch me by now for someone more interesting, but he didn't leave even when Sebastian texted him with his own emergency. Jude even turned off his phone before his cousin could explain his dilemma. Out of everything he'd done for me in the past few days, the fact that he was choosing me over Sebastian was enough to cheer me up at least a little bit.

Currently, the two of us were outside tanning in my backyard, our chairs placed a couple feet away from the glittering pool. We were both in swimsuits -- me in my black one-piece and him in a yellow Speedo that left nothing to the imagination -- soaking up the last bit of the strong August rays. I was trying my hardest not to stare at his bare chest and glistening abs, but it was practically a lost cause. Jude was just too gorgeous for his own good, and I was sure anyone would have agreed with me there; he was practically perfection in human form. The boys he was interested in had no idea how lucky they really were.

Jude's deep voice drew me out of my admiration and I looked back up at him in surprise, not having heard a word he'd said.

"Huh?"

He rolled his eyes, looking playfully annoyed. "I asked if you had any more ideas of where your ring could possibly be."

"None at all," I grumbled, sliding lower in my seat. "I still think that guy I went back to the hotel with has it. I just wish I knew who he was."

"I could always ask Seb for the guest list," he offered, rolling over onto his side to face me. "Your boy would probably be on it."

I shook my head. "I don't want Sebastian getting involved with this. Besides, I doubt even having the list would help since I don't know the guy's name."

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