Today's Reading

He's still scrutinizing me, this man I've decided most definitely doesn't get to ruin hist-rom West's and is instead getting called Jamie. Judgy Jamie suits him much better.

His eyes are back at it, traveling the tattoos along my neck, over my collarbone. His critical gaze is an X-ray. Heat flares in my cheeks. See something you like?" I ask.

Jules groans as she steals Jean-Claude's drink and throws back half of it.

Jamie's gaze snaps up to mine as he clears his throat. "Apologies. You looked... familiar." 

"Oh? How so?"

He clears his throat again and slides his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "All those tattoos. They reminded me of... I thought you were someone else for a moment."

"Just what someone who busts their ass on designing highly personal tattoos wants to hear," I tell him. "They're so unremarkable, they're easily mistaken for someone else's."

"I'd think you're accustomed to being mistaken for someone else," Jamie says, glancing toward my twin.

"Thus the highly individual tattoos," I say between clenched teeth. "To look like myself and no one else."

He frowns, assessing me. "Well, no one can say you lack commitment."

Christopher snorts into his drink. I rub my middle finger along the side of my nose.

"Maybe West recognizes those tattoos because you two have bumped into each other in the city... somewhere... at some point?" Jules says hopefully.

"Doubtful," I tell her. "You know I don't go out much, and definitely not to places that someone as stuffy—I mean, serious—as him would like."

Jamie narrows his eyes. "Considering that club Jean-Claude dragged me to last year was a den of chaos, complete with an inappropriately handsy woman who projectile vomited on my shoes, I'm reassessing. Perhaps it was you."

Jean-Claude rubs the bridge of his nose and mutters something in French.

I smile at Jamie, but it's more like baring my teeth. "Chaos dens aren't my speed, but whoever the poor soul was that bumped into you, then upchucked, I imagine puking was an involuntary response to the misfortune of making your acquaintance."

Jules elbows me. "What's gotten into you?" she hisses.

"I remember that night and it definitely wasn't her," Jean-Claude tells Jamie, before he directs himself to me. "West is determined to die a miserable old bachelor and has grown crotchety in his solitude. You'll forgive his rusty manners."

Jamie's cheeks darken to a splotchy raspberry red as he stares into his half-empty lowball glass.

A determined bachelor? That means I'm not the only one who's been avoiding romance. Dammit. I don't want camaraderie with Mr. Bespectacled Stick Up His Ass.

"Bea, too," Jules adds, like the nosy mind-reading twin she is. "She hissed at me when I found her hiding tonight. The determined spinster's turned feral." Smiling up at Jean-Claude, she tells us, "But I'm just as determined to see her put away those claws and be as happy as I am."

The two of them share a lovey-dovey look, then a long, slow kiss that makes the cheese and crackers I ate crawl up my throat. As their kiss becomes kisses, Christopher adjusts his watch. Jamie studies his lowball glass. I pick Puck fur off my dress.

Glancing up from his watch, Christopher gives me a meaningful lift of his eyebrows. I shrug my shoulders. What?

He sighs before turning toward Jamie. "So, West, you and Jean-Claude go way back, right?" 

"Our mothers are friends," Jamie tells him. "I've known him my whole life."

"That's right," Christopher says. "You went to the same boarding school?"

"Our mothers did, in Paris, which is where they're from. Jean-Claude's family didn't move stateside until we were teens, and then we didn't cross paths academically until we went to the same university."

I roll my eyes. Of course Jamie's one of those people whose French mother went to boarding school. I bet Jamie did, too. He's got prep school written all over him.

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