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Page 6


It's only a few minutes later that it occurs to me. Oh, shit. Does this mean Caulter will be coming to New Hampshire with us?

I take a drag on the end of the cigarette, the nicotine hitting my bloodstream but doing nothing to take the edge off my attitude toward all of this bullshit. I'm standing outside, leaning against the railing that lines the front steps, reeling from what just happened with Katherine, not with her fucking father and my mother. I couldn't give a tiny shit about what those two have going on. My mother has been engaged at least five times, and married three. It's not like this is the first time some prick in a suit and loafers has walked into the room and introduced himself as my new father.

At least this one is age-appropriate. Before she graduated to dating CEO's and, apparently, politicians, she went through a rocker phase. That was real fun. My favorite was the twenty-three-year-old she was going to marry, some guy who looked like he wasn't a day over eighteen, the lead singer in a boy band. That kid had the balls to tell me he hoped he could be a "role model, you know, a real father figure" to me.

I punched him in the face, and Ella sent me to a psych facility for ninety days, where I got to talk to all the shrinks about how I was acting out because I wasn't shown enough love as a baby, how I wasn't breastfed enough and shit. What can I say? I'm just a little boy who wants a hug. What a bunch of assholes. Ella married the douchebag boy band guy, but it only lasted a week.

My mother's drama is old news. I don't give a shit about whatever the hell the Senator and Ella are doing.

I'm on edge because I haven't been able to get Katherine out of my fucking head since that night. I thought I was done with her, until my mother practically kidnaps me today and forces me on a flight to DC, announcing that she's getting engaged and that I have to meet her new beau. Like she couldn't have announced this three days ago when we were all at the graduation ceremony? Or told me over the weekend, back at the apartment in New York? Leave it to Ella to keep everything a secret. The only reason I agreed to get on the flight at all was because she had first class tickets and there would be good booze on the plane.

I drink and ignore her during the flight. Like I said, Ella getting married is old news. So imagine my surprise when she finally springs the name of the lucky guy on me as we're driving away from the airport. I'm slouched in the front seat texting on my phone when she says it, so I almost miss the last name. Harrison. Katherine's fucking father. I can't believe my ears.

"Senator Harrison?" I ask.

"He has a daughter in your class, I know," she says, looking at me nervously. She chews on her fingernails; I want to tell her it makes her look like a damn twelve-year-old girl but I never do. "Is that, like, completely weird? It's not weird, is it?"

"Sure, Ella," I say, my tone condescending. I'm trying to be nonchalant despite the way my heart is pounding. "It's no big fucking deal, you getting engaged to the father of someone I go to school with. Why not just date one of the teachers? Better yet, I could just find you one of my friends. That's more your style, isn't it? I thought you liked them young, but we're going for Senators now, are we?"

She glares at me, her eyes flashing. "You're not going to ruin this for me, Caulter."

I don't look up from my phone, going through the motions of texting even though I'm not actually talking to anyone. All I can think about is that it's Katherine's father. Which means she's bringing me to meet Katherine's father.

Which means we're headed to see Katherine.

Little Miss Perfect, too-good-for-her-own-good, going-to-Harvard Katherine. Giant-stick-up-her-ass Katherine. Barely-cracks-a-smile Katherine. All business, all the time.

Except that night.

The night.

I had hit on that girl more times than I could count at Brighton. I mean, hell, why not? It's not like Miss Priss should be wearing a paper bag over her head or something. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. She's smoking hot. And untouchable. The lacrosse team keeps scorecards with all the senior girls on them, each with their very own "bangable" rating. "Brighton Bingo," they call it. I don't play, because I'm not a stupid jock. I might fuck around, but keeping track on a scorecard is just tacky. For the lacrosse players, though, Katherine is the money spot on the card. The thing is, it's widely accepted she's out of everyone's league. There was talk she might not be into guys at all, but she dated some dickhead jock from the lacrosse team for a few months, probably the only guy in that school who wasn't trying to get in her pants. That guy just wanted to suck up to her father.

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