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Ellie watched Nate Naverly with narrowed eyes. She hadn’t paid much attention until he had turned his megawatt smile on Rose.

He was sitting too close to Rose, whispering into her ear. As Ellie watched, Nate picked up Rose’s hand and began to trace a pattern across her palm. Ellie strained to hear what he was saying: something about predicting Rose’s future. He slowly rubbed his thumb across the wrist he was holding and Rose seemed to shiver.

Ellie frowned. That was not a good thing. Nate was a self-satisfied jerk, but dynamite with girls. Ellie had seen too many crying over him in the bathrooms to doubt it. There was no way on earth that Rose was a match for his charms if he had set his sights on her.

***

Gently steering Alex, Nate managed to get himself seated between him and Rose at dinner that evening. He directed most of his conversation to Alex, but under the table he concentrated on pressing his leg, very slightly, against Rose’s. She moved away a little. He shifted a tiny bit and again his knee was touching hers. She shot her hand out for her water glass and knocked it over.

“Alright there, Rose?” he asked innocently while refilling her glass. Again he placed his hand on her back, supposedly in a reassuring manner, but really just to test the effect his touch was having on her.

It was at that moment he really noticed Ellie Parkhurst for the first time. She was sitting across the table from Rose and giving him a very speculative look.


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