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"So…this is staking out." Logan squirms for the hundredth time, denim rustling as he crosses one leg over the other. "Seems sexier in the movies."

"I'd challenge you to a game of Strip 'I-Spy', but we're a little strapped for space and privacy in this car." I offer him a what-can-you-do? shrug.

He lifts an imaginary phone to his mouth. "Hello, Hertz? Talk to me about vans. Do tinted windows cost extra?"

I wish. Between Logan's oversized frame, and the spicy citrus scent of his freshly-showered skin, my LeBaron is feeling a teensy bit claustrophobic.

It's a little past dusk, and we're parked outside the San Diego Seafood Company. One loading bay door is open and six hardworking employees bustle-about under industrial florescent lighting, stacking white boxes onto dollies. Conversation drifts out, a hum of indistinguishable words.

We've been here well over an hour and, big surprise, Logan's getting antsy. Historically, an antsy Logan tends to be a handsy Logan.


Past tense.

I know this, intellectually. But my imagination can't – or refuses to – distinguish past from present. No sooner does the thought appear, then my skin prickles from the ghosts of touches past. The remembered weight of Logan's hands on my skin, soft caresses, seductive squeezes. The whisper of his fingertips tracing the back of my neck, leaving goosebumps in their wake.

What are you doing, Veronica? This is not a productive way to get over your ex.

Small talk. There must be plenty of harmless, unsexy, topics to keep us occupied.

We've already touched upon Trina and her newfound birth mother.

Mary Mooney definitely caught me by surprise when she – and not Celeste Kane – came forward this morning to donate her bone marrow. I'd braced myself for tasteless displays of classism, ableism, or some combination thereof, but both Echolls siblings ended up surprising me.

While Trina had been rendered speechless by the revelation, for Logan, it was the answer to a longtime mystery.

On the drive here, he filled me in on his history with Mary Mooney. Apparently, she'd recognized the signs of his abuse all the way back in ninth grade, and without making a production out of it, had started slipping him healing ointment on the D.L. whenever he showed signs of discomfort.

I guess being adopted brother of her biological daughter made Logan extended family.

My cell rings, and I check the display before accepting the call. "Dad?"

"Veronica, glad you picked up. Where are you?"

"In San Diego. With Logan." In the pregnant pause that follows, I can hear background conversations and what sounds like a police radio. "We're staking-out the Seafood Company."

"Oh. Are you doing that for a porpoise, or just for the halibut?"

Ugh. Dad jokes.

"Dr. Griffith recanted his false statement against Logan yesterday, and now we're waiting for the real bridge witness to show up for his shift at work."

Dad lets out a pained sigh. "What is this, Veronica? Boredom? Do I need to increase your entertainment allowance?"

I settle back against my headrest. "Ponies are entertaining."

Next to me, Logan simulates aggressive horseback riding with a pair of invisible reins. I bite my bottom lip, suppressing a laugh.

Dad isn't swayed by my diversion. "We only just cleared up one murder case, and you're already jumping into another one?"

I lower my voice. "I'm not 'jumping into a murder case'. I just want to talk to the guy. Convince him to come forward with what he knows. Then I'm out."

"And what makes you think you can change his mind?"

"Guilt? Duty? Civic Responsibility?"

"Good luck with that."

A rusty pickup truck pulls into the lot and parks in the second row. A tall man in a forest green polo shirt gets out, pausing to brush crumbs off the front of his khakis. Logan leans forward, squinting, then relaxes again. Not our witness.

"A PCHer killed another PCHer and framed Logan for it. If this guy had just come forward months ago, he could have prevented a class war. It's his duty to stop it now. And if that doesn't work, I have Weevil's vow that there will be no retaliation from the PCHers."

"Promise me you'll be careful, Veronica. No more taking chances."

Overprotective, much? Imagine if I'd told him about my parking lot confrontation with Beaver last night. He'd be fitting me for that giant hamster ball he's always threatening me with.

"It's a public conversation with a good Samaritan. What could go wrong?" Before Dad can answer, I continue, "Anyway, Logan's here, and there's nothing he loves more than punching faces."

"Hey!" Logan's brow furrows.

Poking out my lip in faux-sympathy, I give him an indulgent 'poor-misunderstood-baby' pat on his jeans-clad thigh.

Logan glances down, pointedly, mumbles under his breath, "Punching faces isn't even in my top three."

I snatch my hand away, cheeks warming, and cover by taking a sip of coffee from my travel mug.

Who does he think he's fooling? It wasn't for lack of trying that I never got my hands down his pants last summer.

"I actually called for a reason," Dad's voice interrupts that train of thought. "I'm in Reno right now."

Ugh! Never, EVER, think about the-hand-jobs-that-could've-been while your father is on the phone!

"Reno, huh? Remember to always split your Aces and Eights."

The breeze shifts, flowing through my open window and overpowering us with a strong fishy odor.

Logan pretends to dry heave, and I turn the key in the ignition, rolling up the windows.

"I've captured Woody Goodman."

I sit up straight in my seat, alert. "You caught him? Already?" And only twelve hours after the arrest warrant was issued.

"I sure did. His attorney left a message for a Mr. Underhill at the Quail Creek Lodge."

"And you just happened to intercept it." I grin. "Jackpot!"

"The Mars Family is going to have a memorable Christmas this year," Dad says.

Stuart Manning's twenty-thousand-dollar bounty should help nicely with that.

"Sounds wonderful, but please, no more waterbeds. That last one was no match for Backup's toenails."

Logan meets my eyes, then makes a show of looking dreamily off into the distance. You wish. Napping and cuddling was as far as we ever got in my waterbed last summer. But oh, what cuddling.

"That's a grooming issue, honey," Dad says, "Since neither of us have the emotional fortitude to clip his nails, we should be paying somebody to do it."

"I'm too afraid I'm going to make him bleed again."

Logan gives me a confused look and I cover the phone, whisper, "Clipping Backup's toenails."

"Ahh." Slow nod.

I lift my cup to sip from my coffee. Empty. Catching Logan's eye, I point to the tall thermos by his feet and he hands it to me.

"So? Did you learn anything from Woody?"

I brace the travel mug between my legs, twisting off the lid and setting it on my thigh. Steam rises as I pour fresh coffee, reflecting on the mug's shiny stainless interior. I replace the plastic lid, then rub at a coffee ring left behind on my jeans.

"Nothing new. He isn't talking and the Reno PD has taken him into custody. Guess Lamb didn't want me on the plane when they fly him back."

"And let you share in the glory?" I roll my eyes and hand the thermos back to Logan to stash. "So, do you want me to book you a return flight?"

"No, I need to drive the rental car back." Dad pauses for a lengthy yawn. "Actually, I'm pretty exhausted. It might be better if I rented a room for the night."

"That sounds like a good idea."

Logan's phone buzzes with an incoming text. He checks the screen and his eyes grow huge.

Twenty bucks says he just found out what Beaver was arrested for.

"Are you sure?" Dad continues, "I'd understand if you didn't want to be alone tonight. I can load up on coffee and hit the road."

"Don't be ridiculous. You've been awake going on forty-eight hours. Get a good night's sleep and drive home in the morning. I'll be fine."

"If you're sure. They're arraigning the Casablancas boy Monday morning, so you should be safe at home. But if you change your mind, I'm sure Cliff could be persuaded to swing by. Or maybe – just this once – you could crash on Logan's couch at The Grand."

"Yeah, that's not gonna happen."

"Things still awkward with Duncan?" Dad asks.

"That's putting it mildly."

Duncan's ranting outburst in Health class this morning may have been instigated by Ms. Hauser's refusal to take back his baby bot wrapped in a Neptune Grand sheet - do I look like a laundry service, Mr. Kane? - but it was aimed at me. Fitting, I suppose, since I'm the one who convinced Logan to dress it up in one of Jessica Jane's costumes.

Note to self: make an effort to be nicer to poor Gia.

"I'll be fine tonight. Just get some sleep, and I'll see you tomorrow afternoon," I say. "Oh, and Dad? Great job, catching the mayor."

I disconnect the call to find Logan staring off into space. His left knee is bent, foot lifted onto his seat, and he's rubbing absently at his ankle where the black monitor used to rest.

"What's up?" I ask.

"Dick just texted me. Seems when the police picked up Beaver last night, it was in connection with the bus crash. They're charging him with murder." He turns his head, wiggles his phone. "But…I guess you already knew that, huh?"

I lower my gaze. "I only found out last night."

"When your dad called? Right before you asked me to walk you to your car?"

I nod. "I'm sorry I couldn't tell you. It wasn't that I didn't trust you. It's just…"

He holds up a hand, cutting me off. "No explanation necessary. I am a little shocked that the fearless Veronica Mars asked me for help, but I'm glad you didn't have to face him alone."

"I wish I was fearless. He scared the shit out of me last night."

"Can't say he didn't make my skin crawl. So, the mayor was his accomplice, huh? Makes sense." At my confusion, he says, "I couldn't help but overhear your side of that phone call."

"I know that, but why would it make sense?"

"Oh. Well, he arranged the field trip, AND he hand-picked which students would attend." His hands make a 'and-there-you-go' gesture. "He must've been trying to get rid of somebody on that bus."

That's right, Logan wasn't there when Woody Goodman made his little speech about Gia's favorite class.

I shake my head. "My dad was at the Sheriff's Department last night when they brought in Beaver, looking all confused and pathetic. Fifteen minutes later, the mayor showed up in great spirits. Handshakes all-around for cracking the case."

"Something about that guy and his 'great spirits' gives me the willies."

"No kidding." The car is getting stuffy, and I roll the windows back down to let in some fresh air. "The way Dad describes it, when Beaver caught sight of the mayor, it was like a mask fell away, revealing something purely evil. And at the same time, all the color drained from Woody's face and he suddenly remembered some urgent errand that couldn't wait."

"That's not suspicious or anything," Logan says. "So, either they were both great actors, or Woody wasn't expecting Beaver to be the culprit."

"Seems that way. Dad's impression was that they were more enemies than accomplices. Anyway, surprising nobody, Lamb refused to let Dad participate in the questioning. Even though we solved the case. So Dad camped out in the lobby to wait-it-out. A couple hours later, Lamb came out of the interrogation room, waved over Sacks and Carson, and sent them to go arrest the mayor."

"And they came back empty-handed?"

I point a finger at him, confirming. "Mayor McCreepy only went home to pack a bag and kiss his kids goodbye. He was long gone by the time the deputies rang the doorbell, along with his private plane."

"So, he just left Gia behind?"

"Gia, his son Rodney, and his equally creepy wife." I shudder, remembering poor Rodney's fear of his mother. "Lamb's keeping Woody's exact crime under-wraps, but whatever he did, it was severe enough to get Judge Briggs out of bed at 4:00 AM to issue an arrest warrant. And now, the Manning family are offering a twenty-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to his capture."

"And your dad has him?" Logan asks.

"The cops do, but Dad captured him."

"Hmm…you should ask Santa for that surveillance van we talked about earlier." He bobs his eyebrows.

A rustling sound comes from the hedges outside my window, and a teenage girl giggles. "Oscar, wait. We can't do this."

The dense shrubbery conceals all but small flickers of color. A magenta shirt, a brown jacket. Is that somebody's back yard on the other side? I seem to recall passing a residential area on the drive in.

Oscar responds, voice low and whispery. "Why not?"

"You know why! Leah's my best friend."

Next to me, Logan's amused eyes ask, 'what have you gotten us into now?'

I shrug. This isn't on me.

"What does Leah have to do with anything? She broke up with me. Over a year ago. And I don't even want to be with her, anymore." Oscar says. "I'm in love with you, Amelia."

"I feel the same way." Amelia begins.

I mouth the word 'Awww' and Logan dramatically covers his heart with both hands, holding back his overflowing joy.

"…but I can't date you unless she says she's okay with it."

"So you want to tell her about us?" Oscar asks.

"I guess? But I'm kinda scared. What if she feels betrayed?"

"Maybe if we told her together…? We could ask her to get coffee."

My phone buzzes with an incoming text.

Logan Echolls 6:20 PM
As the older and wiser ones here, should we tell them to just rip off the band-aid?

Veronica Mars 6:21 PM
I don't know. I'm partial to the oh-so-romantic, 'getting caught making-out at a surprise party in front of 50 or so of your closest friends and enemies' approach.

I lean back on my headrest, closing my eyes and smiling to myself.

I can admit it to myself, now. My annoyance toward Logan for texting me while Duncan sat between us, oblivious? All lies. I'd loved every second of it. I got off on the whole 'illicitness' of it, even when we were bickering. Maybe it was the thrill of taking risks, or maybe it was my subconscious telling me I was with the wrong guy. Whatever the reason, I've actually missed doing this.

Amelia answers, "I think I should have this conversation with her alone."

"Sure. Whatever works for you, babe."

Bzzzz. I open my eyes.

Logan Echolls 6:22 PM
Really? Wouldn't have guessed that from your sudden disappearance twenty minutes later.

Right. Knowing now that the cameras were Aaron's, I can look back on that night as a beautiful memory. My boyfriend publicly choosing me over everyone. Laying down the law like Neptune High's own Wyatt Earp.

But to him, it can only be a terrible memory of rejection. First by Duncan, and then I rewarded his bravery by running off and not speaking to him for days.

Veronica Mars 6:23 PM
As far as romantic gestures go, I'd grade it an A+. I'd give you a solid A for your supportive response to what happened to me, and for your honesty - as self-incriminating as it was.

Veronica Mars 6:24 PM
And I'd grade myself a D for my reaction to finding the hidden cameras. I should have handled that better.

Logan Echolls 6:25 PM
D? That seems generous, but 's looking out the window now, but his lips are quirked with humor.

I take his hand and run my thumb over the knuckles. Whisper, "I'm sorry, Logan."

He turns back, surprised. "Don't be. Really. I was only kidding. It was my dad's fault."

The cameras? Sure. But Logan had asked me to trust him not five minutes earlier, and I told him I did, because I was horny and wanted to make out. Then I lied to him days later, told him I'd run because things were moving too fast.

No wonder he never let our makeouts progress past second base last summer.

I open my mouth to tell him all of this, but a moan on the other side of the hedge stops me.

Our eyes meet, and if Logan's are wide as saucers, I can't even imagine what mine look like.

I quickly pull my hand back and turn away.

Sloppy wet mouth sounds, not three feet away from my open window. Heavy breathing, fast and ragged. A feminine whimper from the back of the throat that repeats over and over, picking up speed.

This cannot be happening.

Not here, and definitely not with Logan in the car.

I lock my eyes straight ahead, while my cheeks seem to burn from within.

Oscar's voice is a loud whisper, encouraging his girl to 'Let go, baby.'

A zipper lowers.

Oh my God!


"Oh!" Amelia sounds surprised. "We can't…Not…"

"It's okay, Baby. We don't have to do anything you're not ready for," Oscar says. "Just… touch it."

I clench my jaw so hard it hurts, fixating on a seafood company employee taking his break, and the glowing orange tip of his cigarette as he brings it to his lips.

"Hold it just like this. No turn your wrist around," Oscar says. "Now put your thumb here."

Amelia stalls. "I don't know, Oscar. I've never…"

"It's okay, baby. Just lick the center of your palm and—"

That's it. I've had enough.

"Put the damn thing away, Oscar," I speak through my teeth. "She clearly doesn't want to jerk you off in public."

Screams and curses erupt from the other side of the hedge, while Logan explodes into laughter.

"Who's there?" Oscar demands.

"Perverts!" Amelia screams. "You're disgusting! We should call the cops."

"Hey! We were here, first, minding our own business," I call back. "Now scram. You're ruining our stakeout."

"Forget about them, Oscar. Let's just get out of here."

"You're right. Fuck 'em. They sound like real assholes, anyway."

"Assholes?" Logan leans over me to yell out the window, so close, I have to fight the urge to lick his neck. "Dude. You whipped it out before finishing-off your girl, and you're calling us assholes?"

Shit, if that's your criteria, Logan, you should have a talk with your BFF.

As he settles back into his seat, a hand pops up over the hedge, middle finger extended, then the footsteps trail away.

"Give our regards to Leah!" I call after them, then turn back to Logan. "Technically, we are assholes."

"Yup." He nods. "I'm surprised anybody likes us at all."

"Speak for yourself. Nobody actually likes me."

"You're not so bad." He gives a one-shouldered shrug. "Guess it takes an asshole to appreciate an asshole."

I hold up my right hand, and he gives me a high five.

Logan taps long fingers on his knee. "I still don't understand why we're here. What does it matter who killed the guy who kicked-in my ribs? I'm a free man."

"Free, but still morally-challenged, I see." I shake my head. "We're here because I made a deal with Weevil to help clear your name."

"Sounds like you did all the work."

"Not so much. Weevil could've been arrested for his part of the scheme."

"Arrested for what?"

"Let's see…breaking and entering, possession of a controlled substance, vandalism. While Dr. Griffith was picking up his dry-cleaning Tuesday, Weevil picked the lock on his glove compartment and stole his blow. All without setting off the car alarm. Then he went back yesterday to disable the tail light."

"I'd admire his altruism, if I didn't know he was going to turn around and sell the coke to some idiot 09er for double the street value."

"Except…he doesn't have it. I do." At Logan's double-take, I explain, "Not at my apartment. It's well hidden. But I made it clear to Griffith. If he tries double-crossing you, I have narcotics, I have his fingerprints, and I have friends in the Sheriff's Department."

Logan shakes his head, impressed. "Maybe Weevil did the dirty work, but that plan has your specific brand of evil stamped all over it."

"Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment. You must like me for more than my pretty face."

He lifts one shoulder in a lazy shrug. "Eh…I have no complaints about your face, either." He's flirting, but I'm not sure if it's the usual 'he's breathing, so he must be flirting', or if it's flirting-flirting.

"Logan?" I begin, tentatively, "That night, in the pool house…"

"It's okay, Veronica. That was a long time ago. I'm over it."

"I know. But what I wanted to tell you before…before Oscar and Amelia started gasping and moaning…" I scrunch my nose exaggeratedly in distaste. "You asked me to trust you that night, and I didn't—"

"Just because I wanted your trust, that doesn't mean I deserved it. I had a lot of shit to make up for."

"I thought you should know…you have it now. There's very short list of people I can say that about, but you're on it. You always come through for me." I give him a rueful smile, "Even if I don't always appreciate it at the time."

Logan's mouth drops partially open, genuine surprise, rather than exaggerated. He swallows heavily, and looks away, gathering his breath to speak.

Then his eyes narrow, alert, and he grabs my arm, nodding toward the loading dock. "Hey, that's our guy."



Red motorcycle, black spider. Unless the PCHers have adopted uniform bike decor, Thumper Orozco has been one very naughty bunny. It's almost anticlimactic.

The radio's off and – other than the whistle-drag of the wind – the car is silent. Logan naps in the passenger seat, one foot planted on the dashboard.

On any other day, my jealous mind would be looping through images of Kendall keeping him up all night, but not even Logan has the audacity to arrange his booty calls around two temperamental baby bots.

Sporadic streetlights illuminate his thick lashes and smooth skin and I ache to run my fingertips over what remains of his soft cheeks.

I'd wake him up, if I had a plausible excuse.

With Dad gone for the night, my evening is free and, hoping to prolong my alone-time with Logan, I chose the scenic route back to Neptune.

He chose to nap.

I'm a bit miffed, to be honest.

For all I know, this could be our last hurrah. He no longer needs me to clear his name, and after tonight, I no longer have the leverage to coerce him into spending time with me.

He's officially free to walk off into the sunset. With Kendall or Hannah or any of a dozen other girls.

I won't kid myself into thinking he'll put any effort into maintaining our fledgling friendship. We won't be encountering each other at the penthouse, and we certainly don't hang out in the same circles. This is it for us, and I don't know how to make it not so.

Frustrated, I knuckle the power button on the radio, connect my iPod and press shuffle. The first song is way too perky for my current mood, and I press the skip button. Ditto the second and the third.

The fourth song makes me pause.

Back in Middle School, Lianne liked to crank up the Sade and look wistful when Dad was working nights. Of course, I couldn't have guessed at the time she was pining over my best friend's dad.

My own thoughts on the album ranged from shrugging ambivalence to genuine enjoyment, depending on the song. I'd heard them all enough to know the lyrics by heart and would hum along as I did homework on my bed.

"By Your Side" was one track that I could take or leave. It was too mellow for my twelve-year-old tastes, its backing track too twangy.

Right before Homecoming, at Jackie Cook's house, (when I'd thought we were bonding over our plan to take down Madame Sophie, stupid me), the music playing on her bedroom stereo caught my attention. 'I'm pretty sure I've never heard this song in my life, and yet, somehow, I know all the words.'

'You've never heard this version? It's the Neptunes' Remix. It's probably sacrilege or something, but I like it better than the original,' she'd answered. Friendly-like, even though she was already honing her knife to plunge into my back.

'Why does everything always lead back to Neptune?' I'd laughed, never guessing my secret shame and body image woes would soon be broadcast over television.

Our fledgling friendship died as quickly as it started, but the song found its way into my rotation. I've been obsessively listening to it ever since. Piningly, just like my mother. Thinking of my own 'one that got away'.

Except he's not completely gone. Yet. He's napping in my passenger seat.

Dropping my hand, allowing the song to play-through feels just a little bit dangerous.

Then again, what has 'playing it safe' ever gotten me? Duncan?

The open road stretches out before me. Miles of empty asphalt and dotted lines.

I sip my coffee, relax back into my seat.

The music flows through me, settling into that hollow behind my ribs like it belongs there.

When you're on the outside, baby, and you can't get in
I will show you
you're so much better than you know

when you're lost
you're alone
and you can't get back again

I will find you, darling
and I will bring you home

Right on cue, my thoughts turn to the night the PCHers took him. My fear for his safety, and the aftermath.

I hate depending on anyone or being depended upon, and I'm definitely not the nurturing type. But taking care of Logan that night, physically and emotionally, had somehow felt right. No urges to flee, no itch to create emotional distance. That has to be love, right?

My gaze wanders over to his side of the vehicle and my heart jolts. He's staring at me, his eyes nearly amber in the glow of the dashboard stereo.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear he's reading my mind.

And if you want to cry
I am here to dry your eyes
And in no time, you'll be fine

I laugh shakily and turn down the stereo. "I thought you were asleep."

"Resting my eyes," His voice is sleepy. "You might remember, I was up half the night caring for two angry robot babies."

"Oops." My lips pull down at the corners in a not-even-slightly-sorry expression. "On the bright side, you got in some valuable practice for when you take Health class next semester."

"Clear your schedule," he mutters, "Because you're going to be babysitting when I take the class next semester."

Okay, I know I've ridiculed my classmates for dressing their animatronic monsters in outlandish costumes and designer duds - I can acknowledge my hypocrisy here - but I can't stop my ovaries from doing a little tap dance at the sudden image of Logan and his baby-bot wearing matching leather motocross jackets. I'm hopeless.

He changes the subject. "So, you're really not going to tell Weevil what we found out? Isn't that kind of reneging on your deal?"

I check the rearview and cross the center line, passing a tiny granny in a giant Cadi driving twenty under the speed limit. "I agreed to identify Felix's killer, not to help murder him. You and I will just have to lay low until after Thumper's been arrested. No point in tipping Weevil off."

"I don't know about that. Personally, I'm on Team 'Let Them Kill Each Other'."

I choose not to dignify the statement with a response, and the conversation lags again.

Tonight's field trip was nearly a bust. Fear of gang retaliation against his family had kept Luis Garcia from reporting what he'd witnessed on the bridge. Only after repeated promises that he'd be doing Weevil and the PCHers a favor, did he agree to come forward.

I reduce my speed behind a blue SUV with a massive head hanging out the back window. Some kind of mastiff, I think, based on the large jowls flapping in the wind.

"You wanna know the worst part?" Logan glances a question at me, asking permission to leave the shallow end of the conversational pool.

"Hmm?" I nod for him to continue.

"Thumper was the one who pointed a gun at me and pulled the trigger. The dude tried putting a bullet in my body three times, because he wanted me to confess to his own crime." He exhales, and I catch his bewildered head shake in my peripheral vision.

"Doesn't make a lot of sense," I agree. "Unless you were screwing his girlfriend or something."

"Come on." He snorts, dismissive and scornful.

"What? I'm just saying, historically, you've shared the same dating pool with the PCHers."

"If by dating pool, you mean MY faithless girlfriends, then sure, but I highly doubt..." he pauses, glances over at me. " you have something you want to confess about last summer?"

"Please." I roll my eyes, giving his arm a light slap.

He lets out a 'gotcha' snicker, but the grin doesn't quite meet his eyes.

Someone who doesn't know Logan the way I do, might miss the subtle changes in him since the night the PCHers took him. Sarcasm still drips from his lips and his hands still fling out in time with his words, so it's easy to miss the wariness, the darting gaze, searching out imminent danger.

He's not okay.

I speak softly. "Would you consider talking to someone about it?"

"My cheating girlfriends?"

"Well, I meant the torture, but yeah, that too, I suppose."

"You mean like a psychiatrist?"

I stare straight ahead, keeping my tone casual. "Look, I get that it's not your thing, and you have valid reasons not to trust anyone. I'm just worried, after what happened that night - or even this past year - that you might be at risk for PTSD."

"Weird…" He rubs his chin like a smartass. "I seem to remember your dad saying the same thing after you were nearly burned alive in a freezer. You're about as anti-therapy as I am."

Point - Logan.

I shrug. "You're not wrong."

He stares at me for a long moment. Waiting for the 'but'. When I remain silent, he gives me a pained smile. "I survived a lifetime of Aaron Echolls. If I haven't cracked already..."

"That's not funny."

"And yet, laughing keeps me sane."

Blurry motion catches my eye in the SUV in front of us, and it takes me a moment to realize there's a second, smaller, dog in the cargo area, staring through the back window and wagging at us like a tiny maniac.

I swallow, and start again. "You could talk to me about it."

"You?" He glances up, and the surprise in his eyes stings a little. "You're communication-phobic. And I'm not sure I'm up to the job of translating my experience into breezy, non-threatening quips."

"I just think you shouldn't keep it bottled up. You've already told me the gory details, but I'm here if you just wanted to vent about your feelings, or get it off your chest. Anything you want."

"I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm good."

"Great." I glance at him. "I mean, I'm sure you'd much rather bare your soul to Kendall. What, with her being so nurturing."

He snorts. "Right. She's knitting me an afghan as we speak."

"Hopefully it isn't orange."

A fat raindrop splats against my windshield. Several more follow in quick succession. The driver ahead of me raises his power windows, while the mastiff resists to the very end. Until only the tip of his snout remains visible.

"But seriously." Logan shifts from humor to sincerity. "Kendall and I aren't...anymore."

It's like puppet strings tugging at my spirit - I perk up all over. I scratch at an imaginary itch on my cheek, concealing my satisfied grin.

"Aww. Did she trade you in for a sophomore? You're nearly legal now."

"Funny." His eyes crinkle, and he shakes his head. "Let's just say when the person who's reminded you from day one to, 'not get attached, because it's just sex' - as if that was ever a possibility - suddenly starts calling you 'Baby' and talking about your 'deep connection', it's time to motor."

I flick the windshield wipers on low. "You broke things off with her because she developed feelings for you?"

"Fembots aren't programmed to have feelings. Big Dick left her penniless, and she's looking for a new sugar daddy."

"Sugar daddy? You're seventeen. You'd be more like a sugar baby. Sugar…step-son."

He shudders. "How about neither? When I didn't fall for the cooing and cuddling, she tried issuing an ultimatum."

"And you told her not to let the door hit her on her exquisitely sculpted ass?"

"In as many words, yeah. She took off in search of some other rich sucker."

Like Duncan, you mean?

"I don't know," he continues, "she'd probably come if I called, but to be honest, I'm not mourning her loss."

"When did this happen?" I ask. Dollars to Donuts, this was when she draped herself naked on Duncan's bed.

"Few weeks ago. I think it was the same day you followed Dr. Griffith to the cigar store, and—" He cuts himself off, clears his throat, and fidgets with the lid on his bottle of soda. Avoids my eyes.

Well, that answers that question.

I could let Logan off the hook, tell him I already know, and that Kendall wasn't the cause of my breakup with Duncan.

I could.

"I'd say I'm sorry things didn't work out, but I'd be lying. She's a cheater and a predator, and you can do so much better."

"Wow." His lips twitch. "Considering your distaste for me, you must really hate Kendall."

Distaste? Has 'distaste' suddenly become a synonym for 'hunger'? Because as far as I'm concerned, I'm ravenous, and he's the only dish on the menu.

Which is probably why I keep prodding for answers. "But you're seeing somebody else now, right?"

The SUV turns right at a fork in the road, and the LeBaron's motor whines, as I press my foot down on the accelerator.

"What gives you that idea?"

"Well, there was a box of condoms in the paper bag you dropped when the PCHers kidnapped you, and if you'd already ended things with Kendall...?"

"Since when do you need a reason to buy condoms?" He laughs at my expression. "I wanted to get laid, okay? Nobody in particular. Just anyone who could take my mind off...the mess I've made of my life."

"So the condoms weren't for Hannah?"

"How in the hell did you find out about Hannah?" He sputters, eyes wide, then answers his own question. "Never mind. Forget I asked. Veronica Mars knows everything."

"I wasn't spying on you, Logan. I needed to discuss your case with you one day. But when I caught up to you at school, I overheard you asking some cheerleader about the dating status of her friend, Hannah. I think you described her as having 'legs up to the sky'."

His mouth twists, considering. "That's all you know?"

"I hung back after that, to respect your privacy."

"Right. Because my privacy is suddenly important to you."

"It's not, really," I admit. Why deny something so obvious? "I wish I could say otherwise, but I hate being in the dark. So, what's the story? Are you dating this Hannah-person, or not?"

He lowers his eyelids, in exaggerated wariness. "I don't know if I should answer that question. She's very skinny, and likely to break if you manhandle her the way you did Jackie."

"So that's a 'yes'." Jealousy burns like acid in my belly. "Congratulations on your new girlfriend."

A slow grin spreads across Logan's face. "I've had one five-minute conversation with the girl, and I didn't ask her out."


I switch the wipers to high. The rain is coming down harder now, a fast-pitched rat-a-tat-tat on the windshield, and I…can't leave things alone. "But she's your next conquest, right? You're just waiting for the right moment to make your move?"

"I'll need to double-check my Conquest-A-Day-Calendar, but I don't believe she's scheduled for this quarter. Ask me again in January."

Relief floods through me, and I try to tamp it down. No point in false hope. His disinterest in Hannah does not correlate to feelings (or lack of) for me. Nothing's changed. To him, I'm probably still a nosy pest – albeit a useful one.

"I must've misinterpreted what I overheard. Guess that's what I get for eavesdropping - even accidentally." I lift one hand in a 'what-can-you-do?' gesture.

"No, I considered...she was merely an option. One that - thanks to you - turned out to be unnecessary." He gazes at me with something like gratitude.

"That doesn't even make sense."

"Her name is Hannah Griffith." Emphasis on the surname.

"So?" I begin, and then the pieces fall into place. "Ohh"

He confirms with a slight dip of his head.

"You wouldn't!"

"I didn't." He holds up both hands, innocently.

"But you intended to?"

To what? Seduce the poor girl? Enlist her to his cause? Use her as leverage?

"As a last resort. I was desperate."

"Real nice, Logan."

"Don't you know me by now? Nice isn't really my brand."

"Normal people don't do shit like that."

He sighs and a chill fills the vehicle. "Well, I'm not normal either. Isn't that why you dumped me last summer? Because I wasn't interested in playing along with your charade?"

"I wouldn't say-"

He cuts me off. "But here's the thing, Veronica. Normal people don't taser gang leaders or steal illicit drugs or blackmail plastic surgeons, either. So why don't you give up this damn respectability fantasy, already? It's never going to happen, and you'd be bored it if it did."

Asshole. I gave up that fantasy weeks ago, when I dumped your roommate, and if you had eyes in your head, you would realize that.

Logan stares out the window as the landmarks whiz past. Sand and cacti. Canyons and foothills.

Of course, he'd been desperate to clear his name. I'd been distracted by other cases, detention, my fiendish mother and my animatronic baby. After the River Stix disaster, he had no reason to believe I was still committed to his cause - or even capable of saving him.

Honestly, he's had weeks to make his move on Hannah Griffith. That he hasn't, proves there's hope for him yet.

Chills ghost over my spine as we approach the scene of the bus crash. I decelerate and hold my breath.

Mayor Goodman's monument to the tragedy is still in the planning stages, and - despite repeated requests not to from City Hall - citizens are still leaving their tributes at the site.

Waterlogged stuffed animals dot the landscape in indistinguishable lumps of faux fur. Rivulets of red and green ink stream down the white poster boards of hand-lettered signs.

Logan straightens. "So how did you nail Beaver on the bus crash, anyway? "

Good. Change of subject.

"Remember how many times you texted me that day?"

He drops his eyes, dips his chin. "I panicked. You weren't answering your phone and our breakup was still fresh."

I touch his arm. "This isn't me judging. What I'm saying, is that I didn't receive any of your texts until I was on my way home. I didn't have cell reception at the crash site. Duncan didn't either."

"Neither did Dick."

"Right. We all tried to make calls from the crash site, and nobody could get a signal. Except for Deputy Sacks, who has Nextel for his carrier."

"Okay? It's pretty isolated out here. Probably not a high priority for cellular towers."

"Exactly. So how did somebody detonate an explosion out there?"

His mouth opens slightly, and I watch him make the connection. "Unless they had a Nextel phone."

Smart boy.

I give him a slow nod. "Once I mentioned my theory, Dad ran with the idea. Turns out - other than Rhonda Lambert, who died on the bus – only two phones were capable of detonating the bomb. My dad tracked both of them to the same retailer, and the security footage showed Beaver as the purchaser."

"So, he screwed up," Logan says. "Dick's a wreck over the whole thing. Thinks he should've known."

"Nobody could've guessed. Cassidy always seemed like the kinder and gentler Casablancas."

"I don't know." He pauses for a moment, lips parted as if trying to articulate something elusive. "Beaver was my friend, but I always had this strange sense that he hated me for some reason. Weird, huh?"

Is it?

Formerly 'isolated' instances rearrange themselves into a pattern. "Actually, you may not be too far off. Did you know he came to me last Spring to break your alibi for the day of Lilly's murder?"

"He must have forgotten to mention that detail." Logan's tone is dry, but I recognize the angry clenching of his jaw.

"And when he hired me to prove Kendall's infidelity—"

He cuts me off. "HE hired you?"

"Yeah. I put two and two together last night that he wanted to get his father out of the way, but now, I'm wondering if you might've been the secondary target."

"Wait. What about his dad? And how could he have known it was me? We weren't exactly flaunting it back then."

I shrug. "Couldn't tell you. It seemed like a straight-forward case. Follow the trophy wife and get proof of her adultery. I provided that proof. Photos of her entering low-rent motel rooms with men on multiple occasions. Perfect smoking gun. But it wasn't enough for Beaver. He said it only proved that she was swapping gym bags with strange men. Which was, incidentally, the breadcrumb trail that led me all the way back to Dick Senior's Ponzi scheme."

"So he was after his father."

I shake my head. "Not so simple. Once I was already on that trail, why did he keep demanding I catch her in the act of adultery?"

Logan slides both hands over his face, exhaling into his palms.

The rain has stopped and the wipers are squeaking across the glass. I turn them off, and crack the window a few inches.

My mind casts back to that day at The Hut; to the details I'd been too out-of-my-mind-jealous to evaluate at the time.

Cassidy Casablancas is meticulous and unemotional, perpendicular lines and precision. His decision to take the flash drive, but leave the folder open, speaks of purpose. As does the deliberateness in which the laptop had been angled, not towards the wall where he'd been sitting, but outward, inviting the world to pause and watch Logan undress.

Why even bring me the iPod at all? He was clearly capable of extracting the flash drive by himself? For all I know he had.

"Logan, I'd bet my life he wanted me to find those photos of you and Kendall. Me. Specifically."

His face slackens, becomes reflective. "It makes sense, I think - him hating me." He laughs, bitter and hollow. "I was his Connor Larkin."

"Hardly!" I'm offended on his behalf. "I can testify that your abs are very much the real deal."

He almost smiles - almost - but pulls it back. "I despised my father, obviously. But I still hated Connor for being the son he always wanted. You know, the gold standard I could never live up to? So when Mr. C started paying attention to me at the expense of Beaver, I should've known. You know, like inviting me to the firing range, but excluding his own son. I could see how much it bothered—"

I pinch the underside of his arm. Hard.

"Owww! What the hell was that for?"

"He murdered a bus-full of people. He doesn't deserve your empathy. And besides, I didn't do anything to him. I didn't steal daddy's love, so why did he keep coming at you through me?"

"What could hurt me more than looking bad in your eyes?" He shrugs, fixing his gaze on the horizon. "I've long stopped giving a fuck about what anyone else thinks."

He shifts his body away, turns to the window. A nonverbal 'subject dropped' signal, if I've ever seen one.

Oh, Logan.

The anvil-sized ball of regret in my chest morphs into something hot. Blazing.

That smug, little prick.

He outsmarted me, and I played into his hand every time. How many more times did he punish Logan through me?

What about his over-the-top uneasiness last summer, when Logan lied about their plans to burn the Pan High football field? He'd wanted me to be suspicious. And how deliberate was the timing? Everyone knew I met Logan at school for lunch every day. They couldn't have packed the gasoline in the Xterra an hour earlier? An hour later? Who even masterminded burning down the pool?

And what about the night of my birthday? Did he report-in about my date with Duncan? Subtly engineer Kendall into Logan's bed? A comment within earshot about Logan's notorious bedroom skills? Arranging to leave them alone in a room?

"You okay?" Logan interrupts my thoughts. "You're literally white-knuckling that steering wheel."

"Yeah. I'm fine." I shake out my left hand and then my right. "Feel like getting arrested?"

"Um…sure. Or we could just grab some burgers or something."

"I was thinking you could play jail cell lookout while I strangle your little friend."

"I'm in. But only if I get a turn when you're through."

Ahead, traffic cones cordon off a small section of road. A pothole, still not fixed months all these months later.

I slow, preparing to bypass the obstruction once an approaching vehicle passes.

I glance at Logan. "I saw you that day. After the accident."

He lifts a brow.

"Sacks gave me a ride back to town, and you were right about..." I point to the opposite lane. "...there. Stopped in traffic."

"Well you know what they say, it's not a true meltdown, unless somebody witnesses you humiliating yourself." Logan sighs, slouches in his seat, embarrassed eyes lifted to the sky.

"It meant a lot to me. Knowing you cared."

He snorts. "I was out of my fucking mind with fear."

"I can relate. I felt the exact same way that night the PCHers took you."

Logan rolls his head on the headrest, meets my eyes, and what passes between us is deep and meaningful. Understanding. Forgiveness. More.

Maybe we'll never kiss again. Maybe we'll go our separate ways after graduation and won't see each other for decades. But this bond between us is bigger than time or distance. This bond is for life.

You lose, Beaver. You tried your best, but it wasn't good enough. This connection is bigger than all your machinations.

Logan could call me twenty years from now, thirty, and I'd come running. And I know now, he'd do the same for me.

"I didn't want to die."

Die? It takes me a moment to realize he's taking me up on my offer to listen.

"I know you think I have some kind of death wish, and I honestly thought I didn't care. But when I came-to in that warehouse? They were talking about getting rid of me. And I did not want to die. So many things I never…"

I place my right hand on his shoulder, giving it a supportive squeeze.

"I knew I was going to die, and it would take days for anyone to even notice I was gone. It never crossed my mind that you would look for me."

"Why wouldn't I?" Did he honestly think I wouldn't note his absence?

Logan rubs the back of his neck. "I don't know, because I'm a jackass? Because of last summer? The way this year started out?"

"So you made some mistakes, Logan. Who hasn't? You haven't done any irreparable damage."

"Haven't I?"

There's something cryptic about his tone, and I take my eyes off the road long enough to look at him.

His mouth is downturned, his eyes, vulnerable. "If I had a brain in my head, I would have earned your forgiveness. I would have worked to prove to you that I could be trusted, instead of relying on…" An expression crosses his face - as if he's said way more than intended - and he cuts himself off with a dismissive head shake.

"I need to hear the rest of that sentence."

"Forget it, Veronica. This isn't the kind of conversation I should be having with my best friend's—"

"Don't you dare. You brought it up, and you can't just drop it." My voice sounds desperate and shrill to my own ears. "Instead of relying on what, Logan?"

His eyes drop to his lap, and his response is a barely-audible mumble. "Epicness."


"Forget it. It's stupid."

"What does that mean?"

"You know, Epic Romance?" He peeks up at me shyly, and looks away again. "Like some larger-than-life force that would bring you and me back to each other. No matter how much time or distance passed. No matter who had to be hurt in the process"

My stomach flips-flops. Is he saying what I think he's saying?

He stares out his window, chin resting on his hand. Several seconds pass and I'm reaching for an appropriate response when he sighs. "I guess I thought what we had was more than some fleeting thing. To me, it was monumental."

It WAS monumental.

If I wasn't driving; I would close my eyes and inhale this feeling.

He turns back to me. "The problem was…I didn't think I had to actually do anything about it. I only needed to give you time and space and wait for you to realize it on your own."

"Realize what?" My voice comes out soft and breathy.

"That you didn't love Duncan. That he was all wrong for you." Apologetic grin. "And that this thing between us couldn't be denied or contained.

His instincts weren't wrong. That's exactly what happened. I just need to let him know.

What do I even say? By the way, I dumped Duncan weeks ago, and then purposely kept it from you so that you wouldn't correctly assume it had anything to do with my feelings for you.

Or how about, I thought my feelings were unrequited, and didn't want to look sad and pathetic, while you ran around playing house with Kendall or Hannah or any other girl, so I let you believe I still had a boyfriend?

Logan sighs. "I guess I was deluding myself. I wasted so much time and burned so many bridges, when I should have been trying to make things better."

"Logan, don't." I lay my hand on his forearm. "You can't change the past and there's no point in beating yourself up for something that's over and done with."

"Yeah." He drops his eyes to his lap. "Over and done."

No. I didn't mean it that way. It's not over. Not by a long shot.

Speak the words, Veronica. Tell him how you feel.

But intimate words don't come easily for me. They don't come at all.

Tell him. Tell him. Tell him.

I open my mouth, but only sarcasm spills out.

"Epic Romance? Sounds dramatic."

Logan glances at me consideringly for a moment, then flashes me an 'in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound' grin and inhales. "It's passion. Thunder. Coming together like a car crash." He punctuates his words with swift hand gestures. "Lives ruined. Bloodshed. Rick and Ilsa, Rhett and Scarlett, Wesley and Buttercup, Han and Leia."

"Not all of those couples ended up together."

He lets out a sad, bitter laugh. "Yeah? Well, neither did we."

But it's not too late.

I may be incapable of using my words like an adult. Tell him! But action I can handle.

The bridge we're on isn't particularly long, but it is narrow. I fix my gaze on point where it merges back onto solid ground. Once we're clear, I'm going to pull over to the side of the road, hop the center console, and graphically demonstrate how much I've missed him.

I'm not afraid. By the simple act of deciding, something tight and coiled inside me begins to relax. Relief.

Twenty feet. I glance in the rearview mirror to check the traffic behind me. "Shit!"

"What?" Logan asks.

"Patrol car behind us." I flick my eyes towards the rearview, and he glances over his shoulder.

No matter who's driving that cruiser, if I pull off the road now, they'll want an explanation.

"So? You think they're following us?"

"Probably not, but if it's Lamb, he'll recognize my car and find some reason to pull us over."

"And here, I thought I was paranoid," he says.

We're well within the Neptune City Limits by the time the cruiser makes a right-hand turn at a cross street.

I've lost my moment with Logan, though. Jumping him now would be both pointless and a little dangerous in this traffic.

The Neptune Grand dominates the skyline, a ticking clock, drawing nearer and nearer. Logan seems to be in his own world, now. Probably regretting his confession, or wondering how quickly I'll blab to Duncan.

"Logan…" I begin.

He snaps out of his daze and turns to me. "Hmmm?"

What to say? How do I ease into this conversation? "Do you want to-"

His phone rings.

"Dick." He holds up one finger, mouthing the word 'Sorry' as he answers.

I only hear Logan's side of the conversation. "Don't…Put down the bottle…Don't be stupid…Just sleep it off."

He hangs up the phone, gives me an apologetic look, and calls Madison Sinclair. By the time he's convinced her to be a decent girlfriend and go check up on Dick, we're pulling up to the front of The Grand.

"So…" he says, opening his door and putting one foot on the pavement.

"So…" I say.

"That was fun. Even if it was for Weevil's benefit." There's a 'but' on the tip of his tongue, but it's left unsaid. He climbs out of the car and looks back in.

"Hey, do you want to watch a movie or something?" I ask.

"Upstairs in the penthouse?" he asks.

"No, at my place."

"Alone?" He looks like he wants to accept the invitation, but then sighs. "That's probably not a great idea, after…"

"Oh. Okay." I give him a few quick nods.

"See ya later, Veronica."


He shuts the door and heads inside the Grand.

I drive away.



I'm back at the Neptune Grand.

I made it three-quarters of the way home before deciding I couldn't let another day pass without resolving this.

Now, in the dimly lit hallway outside the penthouse, I'm questioning my decision.

Three times I've lifted my hand, and three times I couldn't bring myself to knock on the door.

What if Duncan's inside? If I struggled to communicate with Logan when we were alone – especially after he'd given me the perfect opening – how am I supposed to come clean with my ex in the next room? Or God forbid, the other end of the couch?

And I can't stall or get the lay of the land before confessing. The moment that door opens, I'll have to explain my presence here, and 'I just felt like hanging out' is going to raise eyebrows.

So, I can't knock.

And I can't walk away.

That leaves me one option.

Veronica Mars 8:55 PM
True story - I actually broke up with Duncan a few weeks ago. Before our terrible visit to the River Stix.

I try to recall the words he used earlier.

Veronica Mars 8:55 PM
I don't love him, and I haven't for a long time. I assumed your attention was focused elsewhere, but even then, I knew I couldn't deny or contain my feelings for you.

Veronica Mars 8:56 PM
Just letting you know. In case you were wondering where I stood in our conversation.

I exhale. Well, there it is. Out in the open.

So what now? Just wait here and hope he catches my telepathy (or sonar, or radar) again?

Echolocation. He's half dolphin.

I move a few feet down the hall so as not to be seen through the frosted glass panels that surround the door. Leaning back against the wall, I stare at my phone, willing it to ring. To buzz with an incoming message.

Did I misinterpret something?

I replay our conversation in my head. As much of it as I can remember.

Logan had spoken of his feelings in the past tense. He'd expressed regret over allowing the distance to grow between us and our friendship. Over not trying harder to close that gap. But he never specifically said he still wants me. Us.

You might say that defining our relationship as Epic was a pretty strong indicator that he does. But you might also argue that he'd brought it up in a self-deprecating 'I can look back now and laugh', sort of way. Like maybe he wasn't declaring his current feelings, but recounting his state of mind in those crazy first days of senior year.

Did I just make a huge mistake?

Four more minutes elapse with no answer.

I count flower petals on an ugly orange wall mural and try to hold back the panic.

Something's wrong.

Or maybe he had meant it as a confession of love, but took my silence as rejection. Why wouldn't he? He thought I was still dating Duncan. And we all know how Logan deals with rejection.

I grit my teeth, breathing through the sudden bout of nausea that sweeps through me.

Kendall could already in his room, giving him comfort and validating his desirability. Hadn't he predicted she would still come if he called?

I need to get out of here. Now. Before things get hot and heavy and the sounds of thumping headboards and shrieking carries out into the hall.

I hurry to the elevator, pushing the 'down' button. It lights up, but I keep stabbing it, as if that might make it come faster.

What have I done? This has to the stupidest…

The elevator door opens.

I hurry inside and knuckle the Lobby button.

I'll stop off for a pint of Ben & Jerry's on the way home. And then, I'll hide my phone somewhere. Where I can't hear it not ring. Where I can't check for messages that aren't there.

If I obsess over this, I'll go crazy.


I glance up.

Logan's in the hallway, moving this way. His mouth hangs slack, as well as a green jacket he must've been pulling on when he noticed me.

Our eyes meet, and my pulse races. I'm trapped in his gaze, the doors are closing, and I have no idea what to do.

Wait for him in the lobby? Come back up to this floor?

Run away the moment the doors open? How far can I get?

I don't even know where he's going. He could be on his way to see—

"Ouch!" Logan says, as the doors close on his forearm.

Using both hands, he pries them open manually and then he's standing in the open doorway.

He's staring at me, and my heart's thumping, and some part of me thinks I should probably check him for bruising.

Before I can blink, I'm pressed against the wall with my face cradled between his two giant hands and his mouth descending on mine.

I only hesitate for a moment, and then I'm returning his kiss, hard, with the desperation of months of missing him and wanting him.

I'm clutching him, dragging him closer. His back, his shoulders, his hair.

He lifts me up onto the metal hand rail, moves in even tighter, his body hard everywhere it presses against mine.

My head is swimming and I finally remember why this scares me so much.

Kissing Duncan was like standing on the beach dipping my toes in the surf.

Kissing Logan is like drowning.

And it's glorious.

The elevator settles and the bell dings.

Logan pulls back as the doors slide open. He stares at me, and his mouth wobbles, as if it can't decide whether to smirk or treat this moment solemnly.

Could it really be this easy? Months of sniping and jealousy, moping and lusting, and all we had to do was kiss?

To answer that question, more experimentation is needed.

I slap randomly at buttons on the control panel, dragging Logan back to my mouth with my free hand. It's a messy kiss – snorts of laughter and drool on the chin – but it's US, and it's perfect.

Until the sound of a disapproving cough.

Accompanied by a short twenty-something blonde carrying a loaded laundry basket, the Ice Queen herself, Celeste Kane, enters the elevator. The right side of her mouth lifts in a sneer as she identifies me.

I slowly unhook my legs from the back of Logan's thighs with as much dignity as I can muster, given the situation.

Celeste inspects the elevator panel, scowling to find the twelfth-floor already lit up (as well as buttons for seven other floors).

The doors close, trapping me inside with the woman responsible for turning Duncan into an entitled shithead (not to mention driving my mom off with photos of me in gun sights).

Celeste waits for the elevator to move before speaking in that patrician drawl she certainly didn't pick up at Pan High School. "With Lilly's boyfriend? Why am I not surprised?"

"Lilly's not using him right now." I shrug lazily, knowing she despises the gesture. "And if you think she would begrudge us a little happiness, you never knew your daughter at all."

She inhales sharp and quick, eyes tightening, but as the elevators settle at the first floor, her expression drains of any animosity. She looks straight ahead, politely placid, as the doors open to an empty hallway. Seconds pass and they close again.

Celeste turns to me, eyes blazing with contempt, "I'm just happy Duncan came to his senses years ago. I told him you were nothing but trouble." She addresses Logan, all faux concern and solicitude. "Hopefully, you'll wise up soon and do the same."

"I wouldn't hold your breath." He shrugs. "Trouble is my siren's song."

I glance up at him. "Should I tell her?"

"Umm…?" I can tell from his expression he wishes he could be anywhere else.

The doors open to the third floor, where a single black dress sock lays abandoned on the gleaming hardwood floor.

I bite my lip, debating whether to escalate or just drop it, and the doors slide closed.

Celeste rolls her eyes. "Oh, just say want you want to say, Veronica. It's clearly killing you not to."

Well, you asked for it.

"Okay." I square my shoulders for battle and exhale. "If anyone came to their senses, it was me, when I broke up with your self-absorbed narcissist of a son. But that was three weeks ago, not years. Guess Duncan isn't keeping Mommy in the loop?"

Her laundry-toting companion bites her bottom lip and drops her gaze.

I pause as the doors open on fourth floor, and pick back up after they close again.

"You really didn't prepare him much for the real world, did you? He always seems so baffled when people have their own ideas and won't capitulate to him."

Celeste narrows her eyes, mean and spiteful, and her voice takes on a venomous tone. "You're a real piece of work, Veronica. Just like your mother."

My mother.

It's been a roller coaster of a week, and just five days ago, I would've let the comment slide. But now I know the truth. My mother may be an adulterous, sticky-fingered, lush, but once upon a time, she took on the powers-that-be in defense of a disabled and pregnant friend, and I'm in no mood to hear her disparaged by this woman, of all people.

We stop at the fifth floor, where a hotel maid with a room service cart takes one look at Cruella DeVille and chooses to wait for the next elevator.

"My mother?" I play dumb, touching my bottom lip and looking upwards. "You'll have to be more specific. Are we talking about that time in high school where she faked a pregnancy to steal Jake Kane away from you?"

Celeste's head jerks back, as if I'd physically slapped her.

"Oh wait. Reverse that." I rotate my index fingers around each-other, counter-clockwise. "Lianne tried passing another man's daughter off as Jake's. You're the one who faked the high school baby bump. Guess unprotected sex and teenaged pregnancy runs in the family, huh?"

Ashen faced, Celeste grabs my wrist tightly enough to bruise. The door opens at the sixth floor, but Celeste is beyond worrying about decorum. "What are you saying? Did Lilly hide a pregnancy from me?"

"Lilly? No, your daughter was surprisingly responsible." I pry her fingers from my arm. "What? Duncan didn't fill you in on his coma baby, either? I thought the two of you were close."

She goes perfectly still, and if not for the slight rise and fall of her chest, I might mistake her for figure in a wax museum.

Next to me, Logan stares at his shoes, uncomfortably.

Right. Duncan's still his best friend.

I exhale, and make an effort to soften my tone. "If you're going to tell your son about this…" I gestured between myself and Logan. "…you might want to break it to him gently. Last time we dated, Duncan 'punished us' by destroying his own Mercedes with a shovel."

"Nonsense, that was those motorcycle hoodlums."

"It was Duncan." Logan finally speaks up. "With a shovel, right in my driveway last spring. About three minutes after we were outed as a couple. My dad showed me the security footage."

Oh shit!

That means Aaron has video evidence of him raging-out. Probably locked up somewhere safe or backed-up to the internet. Ready to be produced at a moment's notice as evidence of Duncan's instability.

Logan must be thinking the same thing. He places a gentle hand on Celeste's arm. "While you're here, I should probably warn you to watch out for my dad. I have reason to believe he intends to frame Duncan for Lilly's murder."

"Excuse me?" Celeste says, although I'm not sure if it's in response to his news or the effrontery of him touching her.

"He's protesting his innocence to anyone who will listen. Last time I saw him, he tried to sell me some B.S. about Duncan catching him and Lilly together and flipping out."

"That's ridiculous. Nobody will believe him."

"Don't be so sure about that. He lies and manipulates emotions for a living, and now he's trying to plant evidence."

As the elevator stops at every other floor, Logan quickly explains the work he'd done with my father at the storage locker - hidden cameras, inventories, and GPS trackers. "Cliff called me around ten minutes ago. Seems one of the Oscar statues was stolen this morning and delivered to Aaron's lawyer. Wonder where it'll turn up next?"

The elevator dings and the doors open to the penthouse floor. The assistant gets out, but Celeste pauses in the doorway and turns back. "Thank you, Logan, for your efforts to protect Duncan. I'll let you be the one to tell him about this." She gestures distastefully to me and walks away. The doors close behind her.

Logan presses the lobby button, and turns back to me with a 'so-that-just-happened' expression.

"Going somewhere?" I ask.


I point to his jacket, still half-draped on the ground.

"Oh." He grins. "I was coming to find you."

"That's why you didn't text me back?" I cover my face with both hands. "I thought I'd made a huge mistake."

"Contrary to what you believe, Veronica, some things deserve to be discussed with actual words."

"I don't know about that." Pulling him closer by the front of his shirt, I run both hands up his arms, and link them around his neck. "I'm pretty sure I told you everything you needed to know before the wicked witch showed up."

Logan's eyes soften, and he tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear. "Duncan's upstairs. Can I take you out? Late dinner, maybe?"

I shake my head. "Can't. I still have to let Backup out. We'll have to continue…talking…at my house."



I return from taking Backup for a ten-minute walk to find Logan studying framed photos of me as a child. "You know, I used to think you were so innocent. Like Disney princess innocent." He holds up one of the pictures. "But I can see it now. The little spark of troublemaker, trying to get out."

"That's because you know what to look for. You know me."

"So…" He sets down the frame, and swallows, as if unsure where we stand. "You want to watch a movie or something?"

"No." I shrug out of my jacket, hanging it on a hook.

"Ohhhkay. Do you still want me to stick around? Or did you change your mind? Should I go home? I don't want to presume-"

"No." I cut him off with a finger to his lips. Peeling my tee shirt over my head, I toss it at him.

He catches it with a shy smile, admirably avoiding staring at my pink pushup bra. "Board game?"

I unbutton my jeans, unzip, push them over my hips and step out of them. Loop them around Logan's neck. "Not today."

I turn away, aiming a glance over my shoulder to make sure he's following.

"Late snack?" His voice nearly cracks.

"I'll pass." I turn the knob and step into my bedroom. My bag sits on the floor, where I dropped it when I got home, and I shove it out of the way with the side of my foot.

Logan makes one last ditch effort as I turn around to face him. "Study session?"

I roll my eyes, unhook my bra, and toss it at him. "What do you think?"

He bounces on his heels like a child waking up on Christmas to find that Santa thinks he's been a very very good boy. "Are you sure, Veronica? Don't you want it to be...I don't know...special?"

"I don't need special. I don't need a fancy yacht or candles or a bed of roses." His eyes widen, basically confirming my theory about his plans for my birthday last summer. "I just need you. Inside me, preferably."

"I'm not sure if I have any condoms in my wallet." He pats around at his back pockets.

"I'm on the pill."

"Oh. Okay. I know I'm clean. I've always used condoms."

He lets out a quiet moan, as I hook my fingers into the sides of my cotton underwear.

"Wait!" he says. "Let me."

"All yours," I clasp my hands behind my back.

Logan drops to his knees in front of me and kisses the spot below my belly button. His huge eyes stare up at me in question. I smile.

Yes, I'm sure.

He inches my underwear over my hips and I'm suddenly nervous. He's explored every millimeter of my breasts, but he's never seen me completely naked.

Nobody has, to be honest. Duncan may have occasionally groped around between my legs, but he'd never seemed interested in a visual examination. Especially at eye level.

The underwear drops to my ankles, and I shiver as Logan lifts first my right foot and then my left.

He doesn't stand back up, and if I was nervous before, I'm doubly so, when he uses his fingers to spread me open. I want to squirm, to conceal myself from judgement, but he stares at my sex and as if it's something truly wondrous.

He uses a finger to spread the wetness around, and then expels his breath over my flesh. It's no more than a soft gust, but my nerve endings contract into a tight mass of need.

Hands on my hips, he guides me to his mouth and everything goes white.



I think I get it now. This could sell sports cars. This could ruin careers and twenty-year marriages.

It might even be worth it.

Logan lived up to his promise of Endurance, danced me past the Showing-Off border, and finally settled into his rightful home in Sexual Savant territory.

I'm sweaty and sated, my body heavy and soft, like wax on a warming plate.

He's on his back, arms crossed under his head and joy radiating from him like waves. It's painful to admit, but I haven't seen him truly happy since last spring. I'd forgotten what a beautiful a sight it could be.

"So…" I say, "How soon will I be able to walk again?"

"Hours." He laughs and rolls onto his side, voice lowering to a whisper. "Guess you're stuck here with me."

I snap my fingers. "I knew I should've trained Backup to make pizza runs."

"You're hungry. What a surprise," he says, dryly, lips twisting into a smirk.

"Not hungry enough to get up. I think my bones have turned to jelly."

"Let me catch my breath for a bit, and then I'll go whip you up a snack," Logan says.

I smile and he smiles back. He stares into my eyes, and his intensity doesn't scare me anymore.

"So we're doing this again." He caresses my cheek.

"Kinda looks like we are. I mean, as long as you want—"

He cuts me off with a kiss to my temple. "I want."

I close my eyes and slow my breathing, concealing the raw emotion surging through me.

Despite our conversation in the car, despite the amazing sex, I'm still getting used to the idea that Logan wants me. Not Kendall. Not Hannah.

That maybe he even missed me as much as I missed him.

The bed shifts, and I open my eyes.

He's up on his knees, offering me a tantalizing view of his backside.

God, I love his body, nonexistent ass and all.

"What's this?" He lifts my glass orb from the shelf above my bed.

"Clarity," I say. "It turns perspective on its head."

"That not cryptic or anything." He lowers himself back down to the mattress next to me and peers into the ball. "Have you taken up fortune telling, or something?"

"I have." I tickle my fingers over his chest. "And I predict great sex in your future. Once my energy has been restored, that is."

"Fine." He sighs, heavily. "I can take a hint. Be right back."

He stands, places the orb on the mattress and – not bothering to cover his nakedness – leaves the room.

I fall back onto my pillow, unable to contain my smile.

He's mine.


Sounds travel from the kitchen - cabinet doors opening and closing, a clatter of pans being rearranged, something heavy clunking on the counter.

Across the room, my phone buzzes. I stand up and retrieve it from my bag.

Logan Echolls 1:04 AM
Where is your butter?

Veronica Mars 1:04 PM
Check the fridge. Top shelf. It's in a plastic butter keeper thing. It has a clear lid.

He returns five minutes later with a wooden tray. Hands it to me as he climbs into bed next to me.

It's nothing fancy - grilled cheese, tomato soup and bottled water for two - but when I bite into my sandwich, it may be the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.

Whether that's an objective opinion or merely the side-effects of true love and great sex, I can't say, but he's welcome to keep cooking for me.

While we eat, I show him my collection of glass ball photos.

He lingers on my favorite shot – one where the orb sits in the surf, a glowing golden sunrise bisecting ocean and sky. "This is amazing. Can you copy this for me? I'll enlarge it and get it framed."

"And hang it where? The wall space in the penthouse isn't exactly usable."

"You know I can't keep living there, now that we're…" He gestures between our naked bodies.

"You can't?"

He sighs, placing the photos on the small bedside table that holds my lamp. "We might as well talk about the Donut in the room."

"Or we could skip that conversation, and make out," I say, moving the tray with its empty plates and bowls onto the floor. I lay, stretching out and pointing my toes.

I recognize a hint of amusement in Logan's gaze as it sweeps over my body. He doesn't take the bait though, instead, rolling onto his back, and blowing out a breath.

He wants to talk.

"I just think maybe I should get my own suite. Or an apartment, maybe. I don't want things to be weird for you when you come over."

Because my opinion on his living situation actually matters. Because he takes my feelings into account when making decisions.

"What? Why are you smiling like that?"

I lean over, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. "I think you're going to be a very good boyfriend."

"If I ever stop, you have my permission to kick my ass. I don't want to lose you again."

"No, we can't have that."

"So...suite or apartment. Changing suites would be quicker, but there are advantages to apartments, too. I could get a real Christmas tree. Didn't think I'd have one this year."

"You couldn't cook me grilled cheese sandwiches in a suite."

He grins. "Right. One vote for apartment from the bottomless pit."

"Logan…" I speak tentatively. "I'm not sure your friendship with Duncan can survive this."

"Me and you?"

"Yeah. The night of your…ordeal," I begin, avoiding his eyes. "…when I came back from visiting Weevil-"

"Tasering Weevil."

"Fine, when I got back from tasering and threatening Weevil on your behalf, Duncan was awake. He thought there was something going on between us, and accused me of using you sexually to punish him or make him jealous. He also insinuated that if we did sleep together, I would be 'taking away' his only friend."

"Damn." He runs a hand over his face.

"He's been your best friend since you were five. I'd understand if you didn't want to risk your friendship."


I hurry to get it all out, before I forget how loving someone means being selfless. "We have tonight Logan. It's been amazing - better than I ever could have imagined - and I have no regrets. But if you wanted to pretend it never happened, for his sake—"

"Veronica!" He raises his voice to be heard over my rambling.


"Fuck Duncan." Logan rolls on top of me, stares into my eyes. "I'm not in love with Duncan."

A wind tunnel of emotion whooshes through me. My eyes water and my lips spread into a big dumb smile and – being the hopeless romantic I am – I say, "That's one more thing we have in common."

Logan's eyes crinkle and he kisses me.

The kiss is soft and tender, tastes of tomato soup, and ends way too soon.

Logan rolls onto his back, and picks up the glass ball, bouncing it from hand to hand. "I'm not sure my friendship with DK ever really recovered after last summer."

"Because of me."

He shakes his head. "Because of him. I was at rock-fucking-bottom. Dead mother, murdering father, and half the town wanted me dead or in prison, because they thought I was a killer, too."

"I remember. I was there."

"But he wasn't. I can name a dozen times over the years where I had his back, but the one time I needed him to be there for me, he was nowhere to be found."

"You must not have been looking too hard. He was at Java the Hut."

Logan winces.

"Too soon? My bad."

"On the other hand," he continues, "He didn't hesitate to give me a place to live when my house burned down."

"Yeah, I'm not sure that was entirely altruistic," I blurt out.

"Why not? What would he have to gain?"

I keep my tone level and non-accusatory. "I think - maybe subconsciously - he wanted me to know about your conquests. Like a constant reminder that you'd moved on and weren't pining for me."

"I was pining so damn hard."

"If you mean your pine headboard thumping the wall, I believe you."

"Veronica, I'm so—" He sighs. "I fucked up. I tried way too hard."

"To make me jealous?"

"Not really. That doesn't take any effort." Apologetic smirk. "I knew you were sleeping with Duncan, and I guess I wanted you to know you were settling for hamburger when you could have filet mignon."

Well, it must have worked. I don't think I had sex with Duncan even once after Logan moved in.

He looks as if he wants to say more. To apologize for sleeping around, or assure me that I was in his thoughts, but I'm not ready for that conversation.

I scoot closer and kiss his cheek. "We're good."

Logan exhales – understanding, relief, whatever. "Anyway, if he trashes our friendship over this, when he has a pregnant ex in a coma, then he's the one with the problem."

"I'm so happy you said that. I really wasn't looking forward to giving you up for the sake of being noble."

Logan turns onto his left side, so we're facing each other. He palms the glass ball in his right hand, twists his wrist, and rolls it along my side – hip, waist, ribs, waist, hip.

"So how do we keep from imploding this time?" he asks.

"Stay in bed?"

"I'm likely to hold you to that." He nudges me over onto my stomach, rolling the orb up my spine, over my shoulder blades, neck, and back down again. The glass is smooth and a little cold against my skin, but otherwise, it's a pleasant sensation. "But we might want to come up with a contingency plan. Your dad has to come home sometime."

I sigh. "You're a jackass. I can be a bitch on the rare occasion. Those facts aren't likely to change. We're going to have our problems."

"Not disagreeing." He circles my right butt cheek with the ball, the left, runs it up the middle. My hips lift from the mattress, and don't drop until it's moving back up my spine again.

"You're the only one I know who makes more enemies than I do." I say, voice shaky.

"Law of averages. I make more friends than you do, too."

I lift my head enough to give him the look.

Logan sighs. "Fine, I'm a dick."

"So we agree that we're going to backslide on occasion."


"So last summer…" I say.

"What happened to 'the past is the past' and 'no point in rehashing'?"

"For the purpose of self-flagellation? No. But if you can learn from the past to make better choices in the future…?"

"Okay, sensei. Educate me."

I roll over onto my back. "The pool burning was just the breaking point. A symptom of the problem."

"Go on." Logan is hard again, pressed to the outside of my right thigh, and he idly places the ball on my stomach, tiptoes two fingers over the sphere, rolling it up my chest.

"We were together, but we weren't partners. You ran around with your friends, getting revenge on the PCHers, but you never came to me."

I'm a bit breathless, as the ball rolls over first one breast and then the other. It's like the opposite of bowling. When he hits these pins, they pop back up.

"You wanted everything to go back to normal. I was trying to respect that."

"I know. And at the time, I appreciated it. After everything I went through last year, I needed that downtime."

He leans over me, and I close my eyes as he sucks my right nipple, then swirls his tongue around it.

"And now?" Logan's voice is husky. He rolls the ball down, down, down. Past my belly button, to the junction of my thighs. My knees fall wide open, as if they have a mind of their own.

"And now…" I gasp as cold glass presses against my clit.


I can feel Logan shifting position, sitting all the way up. He switches the ball to his left hand, then slides two fingers inside me.

Is this normal? What does it say about me that I don't want him to stop? That I can't see any damage that a little Windex couldn't fix?

"And now?" Logan repeats. The ball rolls up and down against my clit, and while I'd thought our three earlier sessions had finished me, the smooth texture feels almost soothing.

"Looking back, I wish you would have looped me in. And I also wish I would have volunteered – or demanded – to help. It could have been over with so many months ago." He swivels his wrist, rolling the ball in a circle pattern, and my hips lift off the bed. "When we're a team…ahhh…like we have been these past few weeks, we're so much more effective."

"We are pretty great together." Logan's fingers move inside me, pushing against my front walls.

"Aren't we?" I gasp.

"So let me get this straight." He bends his head to my breast, scatters kisses across the surface. "You're not asking me to turn the other cheek to my enemies?"

"Lord, no. That would be a bit hypocritical."

His fingers slide, and the ball swivels up and down, side to side, round and round, and he's sucking my nipple, and licking the tip and swirling his tongue, and the pressure gathers deep inside, contracting inwards to a single focal point of pleasure and, with the drag of his teeth across my nipple it explodes outward, and I'm gasping and panting and I think I'll die if I don't feel him inside me immediately.

I wrestle Logan down onto his back and swing a leg over him. His cock seems to move of its own volition, nudging at my entrance. I'm so wet, so ready. I sink down on him, stretching slightly to accommodate him. A delicious combination of friction and being completely filled.

He makes a whimpering sound and I remember.

I bite my lip. "Is this okay?"

"That's like asking a kid if he's okay with going to Disney Land." He chuckles, then gets serious. "Have you…ever?"

"Only for a few seconds." I swallow, remembering the humiliation. "He squeezed his eyes closed and refused to look at me, and…I stopped."

Logan's expression turns thunderous, brows low, mouth twisted, and Duncan's probably lucky he isn't within punching distance.

Just as quickly, his face clears. He lifts up high on his right elbow and caresses my face with his left hand. "I could look at you like this for hours. Years. You can mark this down in the history books as my all-time favorite sight. Does that answer your question."

"Sweet talker." I lean over, giving him a soft peck on the lip.

Sighing happily, Logan drops down flat, twisting one arm back behind his neck to cradle his head.

"So? What are you waiting for?" He smirks, gestures with his free hand down to where our bodies are joined. "Take it out for a ride."

I roll my eyes. "Jackass." But I comply, lifting with my thighs and lowering again.

I experiment, testing my limits. How far can I rise without it popping out? How low can I comfortably drop? How fast? How slow?

Logan seems in no hurry to get to the good stuff. He's watching my breasts with an expression of pure contentment. My sarcasm rears its ugly head and I find myself almost saying, 'Hey, eyes up here, buddy'. But that would be ludicrous under the circumstances. So I bounce a little harder, and they jiggle a little jigglier, and he breaks out in a huge, toothy grin, as if he knows exactly what I'm thinking.

This is…fun.

Logan pulls a pillow under his head, and moves his hands to my hips. As if we're on demo mode, he guides me into a swiveling motion, a rocking motion, holds me still and thrusts up from below. Only long enough to give me a feel for each. To show me what these amazing machines can do.

He caresses one breast. "Try leaning back and bracing your hands on my legs."

The new angle increases the friction in just the right spot, and when Logan presses the heel of his hand against my pubic mound the sensation is nearly overwhelming. I feel that gathering of nerves, and I'm so not ready. Not yet.

"Time out." I make a chopping gesture with my hand and shift my balance forward. "Too intense. Let's save that for later."

The sight of his shit-eating grin might have made me want to punch him a week ago. Now it only makes me more determined to fuck the smirk right off his face.

I find a rhythm, an up and down motion, and concentrating as hard as I can, I squeeze my inner muscles as I lower, relaxing as I lift.

Logan's eyes roll back in his head, his neck arches back, and he lets out a loud moan.

And now I'm the one smirking. How's that for intense?

Squeeze. Relax. Squeeze. Relax.

"What was I saying before?"

"What?" He cracks an eyelid. "Before you manhandled me into submission?"

"Yeah." Squeeze and drop. I add in a little grind at the bottom.

Logan gasps in pleasure. He moves his hands to my hips, and the next time I lower, he surges up, meeting me halfway and matching my grinding motion.

God, yes. Just like that.

"You were talking about…fuck, Veronica…about how we make a good team. Oh my god. Keep doing that. And you said…mmmm…you don't actually expect me to turn the other cheek."

I'm starting to tire now, and I try adjusting my hand positioning. Catching on to my dilemma, Logan entwines all ten of our fingers together, bracing his elbows on the bed and locking his forearms.

Much better.

Our bodies slap together with a wet, splatting sound that would mortify me if I wasn't with Logan. For some reason, I'm not self-conscious with him. He makes me feel earthy and natural and sexy. Sweat and bodily fluids and weird noises only seem to turn him on more.

"Right. It's coming back to me now. WHOO." I'm taking him deeper now. Almost too deep. "I'm not asking you…ahhh…to turn the other cheek. I'm asking you to work with me to destroy our enemies. Intelligently and with plausible deniability."

Logan stares up at me, his gaze a mixture of admiration and desire and pure love. "You are so fucking hot when you're evil."

I drop my head back and laugh.

This is why we belong together. No other man on earth could say that and mean it so sincerely. Plus, the earth-shattering sex is nothing to sneeze at.

I pause to lean over him, kissing him slow and deep.

Logan pulls me the rest of the way down, chest to chest. We kiss and his hips lift, and his hands squeeze my ass, demonstrating how to move.

Our bodies are slick and our pelvises rock together in the perfect rhythm. It's soft and it's slow and my clit rubs against his…something.

I bury my face in his neck, and I don't know if the tingling makes me tighten around him, or the tightening makes me tingle, but the pressure is escalating. My breathing quickens, changes to gasps.

Logan's hands pull harder on my ass, increasing the friction between our bodies. He rocks faster against me, deeper, nearly grunting with the effort, and I match his pace.

He's whispering nonsense. A string of 'oh fuck's, and 'oh god, Veronica, and possibly 'like thunder', (or maybe my mind is still replaying his epic speech).

I can't see his face, but with my eyes closed, I can envision him from earlier tonight. On his knees, mouth between my thighs.

Mark that down in the history books as my all-time favorite sight.

Logan, nudging me back against the door and lifting one of my legs over his shoulder to tongue at my entrance…oh my god…lips and tongue, pulling and sucking, sweeping and flicking, and all the while, staring up at me with the sexiest fucking brown eyes I've ever seen.

"Oh fuck." That was me. "Ohfuckohfuckohfuck."

If our bodies really are like thunder, then here comes the lighting.

I push myself upright, back arching deeply as we slap-slap-slap together. Electricity jolts through me, first the static charge, making me so sensitive that I swear I can feel every ridge and vein on his cock, and then the tingles, radiating from my center outward. His hands are everywhere, rolling my nipples and pinching my clit, circling things I never dreamed anyone would circle, and he's pounding up, and he's whispering, he's chanting, let go, let go, let go, and I scream.

It takes a moment for my head to clear. Logan's still surging into me, his moans frantic now. My inner walls are expanding and contracting, pulsating around him. I start to move again, but his hands clamp down hard on my hips, and when he thrusts upwards for the final time, his cock seems to swell inside me.

Unlike earlier, this time I can actually feel it happening - a sort of throbbing sensation moving from the base of his cock toward the tip. And I didn't even know this was possible, but our bodies work together like two parts of a whole. My aftershocks seem to tug and pull at his release, and without any warning, I'm bent backwards, gasping and laughing as more waves of pleasure roll through me.

The mythical multiple orgasm. I hope you're watching, Lilly.

It seems like an hour before I open my eyes. When I do, Logan's staring at me, eyes huge and jaw hanging slack. "Did you…?"

I bite my lip and nod, and then I'm laughing again.

I lean over him lacing our fingers together on either side of his head.

He's smiling and I smile back and words explode in in my mind, like balls of blinding light bouncing off invisible walls and illuminating all the dark places.

I love you. I love you. I love you. You jackass. You pain in the ass. You beautiful, brilliant, idiot. I love you, and I always will, you stubborn, snarky bastard, and I could BURST from all the emotion inside me.

I want to tell him, to speak the truth aloud, but I know damn well my mouth won't form the words.

A drop of sweat falls from my forehead to his chest. He snorts, scrunches his nose, and goes to wipe it away with his knuckles. At the last second, he swivels his wrist using my hand instead.

"Eww." I slide off him, curling up against his left side like a contented kitten. "You're just lucky that wasn't my right hand, or my ring would've scratched you."

"I can handle a little scratching. Sometimes, I like it." He bobs his eyebrows and kisses my cheek. "Like earlier, when you-"

"I can't possibly imagine what you're referring to."

Logan gives me a 'yeah right' smirk. His right hand rests on his chest. I pick it up with my left, lacing our fingers together.

"Wait a second. Where's your ring?"

"My ring?"

"Your decoder ring." What other ring could I be talking about? "You texted me from the kitchen, asking where the butter was. And considering you were buck naked, you didn't exactly have any pockets to stash it in."

Logan smirks.

"Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen you wearing it."

"That's because I don't have one."

"I don't understand. You don't seem to have any problem reading my texts. Or answering them."

He leans over, kisses the tip of my nose. "I memorized the code."

"You what?"

"Memorized the translation, while I was waiting for the jeweler to finish making your ring. Although in my mind, I was anticipating something much more romantic than months of bickering text messages."

"What's not romantic about that?" I ask.

He memorized the translation.

Why am I not surprised?

Logan shakes his head. "You're twisted."

"I'm serious, here. Without those texts, it could have taken me months to realize…"

"Realize what?"

"That bickering with you beats comfortable and stable any day of the week."

He mouths the word 'twisted', but his eyes are crinkled in the corners. "So… you're not going to change your mind and go back to wanting Normal again?"

"I did my time being Normal. It wasn't very satisfying. Anyway, there's this new thing all the cool kids are doing. Epic Love? I think I'd like to give it a try."

Logan's lips spread into that rare sweet smile. "I've heard of it. They say it can be painful and have long-term side-effects."

"All the best things in life do."

With our fingers still entwined, Logan's thumb gives my ring's spinner a flick. I halt its movement with my own finger, and then twist the dial more deliberately.


Logan watches as letters fill the window, one-by-one. I only manage to reveal four. He inhales sharply, pulls me underneath him, and kisses me until I can't remember what words are. Which is fine. I've always preferred expressing myself through action.