Irritated and made nervous by Alex's frank perusal, I crossed my arms and looked away. Trying to make myself as small as possible, I shrank back against Devyn's bed, hoping against all odds that I wouldn't have to ever see this cruel man again.
It was then that I looked up at Dakota, who was beet red. I could see that Alex's disgusting flirtation was irking him.
If Dakota was mad that Alex was "hitting on me," then didn't that mean Dakota still did care about me?
The thought was enough to send my into intense happiness for one brief moment. I could see that Devyn was made extremely anxious by Alex's appearance, so I took his hand and kissed it.
"Why didn't you tell me your girlfriend was cute?"
Completely appalled by Alex's question to Dakota, I whirled around and was tempted to shake my fist at the moron. "Shut up," I said through clenched teeth.
Dakota, however, reacted in more than just words. His head shot up, and he met Alex's eyes. I watched as the two had a rather intense stare-down. Alex was the first to look away, and I inwardly applauded my brother's gutsiness.
And, of course, I applauded the fact that my brother cared about me.
If Alex had been distracted by me, though, the distraction was soon erased as he walked over to where Devyn lay. I was shoved aside as Alex leaned down and whispered something into Devyn's ear. I couldn't tell what he'd said, but the words - whatever they were - had been uttered with such malice that it caused Devyn's heartrate to spike.
"Get away from my brother!" Cole shouted, and I jumped at the harshness in his voice. With a roar, Cole began to beat his stepdad's back with his fists, though he wasn't strong enough to inflict much pain.
"Cole!" I exclaimed, grabbing Cole's arm and trying to pull him away. Dakota grabbed Cole just before Alex turned to look Cole in the eyes.
"I swear, boy, you will pay for that," Alex said, and Cole didn't need to ask for confirmation.
Sweating profusely from the stress of it all, I keeled backwards and sat down heavily, watching as Alex rejoined Rachel at the other side of the room.
I wondered if anyone else could hear my frantic pulse.