I’d been scared this would happen.
I wasted every birthday wish, every penny dropped into an amusement park fountain, and all rainbow sightings with the hope of preventing this moment.
For this moment when I see the ex who vowed to love me forever yet turned out to be a liar.
Carson Asshole Hale.
I’d pinched myself, certain I was seeing things when he walked into my bed and breakfast. Stopping at the front desk, he stood across from me on the other side and leaned back on his heels, sliding his hands into his pockets. No doubt knowing this encounter would be awkward city.
That’s how many years have passed since I last saw the jackass.
He’s grown into more of a man in those years. No longer does he have that boyish face with that college boy smirk. His hair—the same color as the cream-filled coffee I drink in the mornings—that’d once been in a disarrayed mess on the regular is now cut short on the sides, longer on top, and styled. Every young man feature has morphed into grown, hot as hell masculinity.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I hiss.
He raises a brow. “I need a room.”
“There are no rooms available.”
He tips his head toward the door. “Your empty parking lot states otherwise.”
I wince at his remark before quickly regaining my composure, adamant on hiding that embarrassment. “All my guests are out for the day.”
“Nora.” He blows out a stressed breath. “I need a room. Help me out here.”
“Stay somewhere else.”
“There’s nowhere else.”
Drawing back, I hold up my hand to name off options, lifting a finger for each one. “Your dad’s. Your brother’s. Or better yet, go back to where you came from.”
“Five hundred a night.”
I blink at him, my mouth and sarcasm closing. That’s three hundred dollars higher than my normal nightly rate even during busy season. All right, Mr. Moneybags. If he wants to throw out big numbers, I’ll one-up him.
“Eight hundred.” I cross my arms and smirk.
“Done.” He pulls out his leather wallet. “I’ll take the best room you got.”
I snort. “You’ll get the room that’s never been renovated.” Opening a drawer, I grab a key and smack it onto the counter in front of him. “Welcome to Sweetheart Bed and Breakfast, Mr. Hale. I wish you a miserable stay so that you’ll never return.”
He smirks, running his hand over the neatly trimmed stubble scattered along his jaw. “I can’t wait to boast about the amazing customer service on Yelp. How many stars should I give?”
I hold my middle fingers in the air. “Two is fine with me.”
He draws his phone from his pocket and dramatically types on his screen. “The woman at the front desk had the worst attitude.”
I point at his phone. “Be sure to put my name. Do you remember how to spell it, or would you rather refer to me as the girl you screwed over?” I jerk open the cabinet and grab a set of keys. “You’re in room three. Up the stairs and down the hall—"
“I know where room three is. I took your virginity in there.” He doesn’t bother lowering his voice with the last sentence, and I shiver at the rush of memories that crash through me.
“Yes, I refer to it as the room of regret.”
His face falls. “You still hate me, huh?”
“Always.” My answer is straight up, no bullshit.
“Oh, come on.” He throws his head back. “People break up and stay civil with each other all the time.”
“Had we just broken up, that’d be possible.” I shake my head. “What you did, what you said, doesn’t deserve courtesy from me.”
He grips the edge of the counter and leans forward so our faces are closer. “It was a mistake.”
I flick the key closer to him. “I will not be assisting you with your bags in the booking. Enjoy your stay.”
With that, I turn and leave the room.
They say only two percent of high school sweethearts stay together.
I remember the day Nora had rattled that statistic off to me. We were in our junior year of high school, and I’d said, “Fuck those stats.” Turns out, that statistic became our reality.
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