Authors: Penelope Douglas
“Go sleep over at K.C.’s on the weekends,” I suggested, circling the pool table in the family room.
“It’s after midnight!” she blurted out. “I’m
bothering her this late!”
“You’re bothering me this late.”
The control was back, and my jaw twitched with a smile.
I felt calm.
And very sure about who I was. It was strength, confidence, and trust rushing over me again.
“You are such a dick,” she whispered.
I stopped and glared, pretending to be angry. “Careful, Tatum. You’ve been gone for a while, so I’ll cut you a break and remind you that my goodwill doesn’t go far with you.”
“Oh, please,” she sneered. “Don’t act like it’s such a burden to tolerate my presence. I’ve put up with more than a little from you over the years. What could you possibly do to me that you haven’t done already?”
And I was so elated with the challenge that I almost laughed.
“I like my parties, Tatum. I like to be entertained. If you take my party, then you’ll have to entertain me.” I surprised myself by how low and unmistakably wanting my voice got. The images of how she could entertain me rushed through my head.
But Tate would never. She was a good girl. Brushed and flossed. Ironed her clothes.
And she didn’t do bad things in beds with bad boys.
She tucked her long, wavy hair behind her ear and pinned me with disdain. “And what disgusting task, pray tell, would you like me to do?” She waved her hand in the air, dramatically, and my blood rushed with how different she seemed.
She’d gotten smart with me before. And before France, she’d taken some risks.
But every time, she’d seemed nervous and on the verge of tears. Now, she looked perfectly comfortable, almost as if this was all a waste of her time.
Stepping up my game should be fun. And a welcome distraction.
Coming to stand in front of her, I felt heat and a familiar sweet ache in my pants.
Shit. A fucking hard-on right now?
My dick throbbed in my pants, but I tried to ignore it.
Yeah, my body was attracted to hers. So what? I was attracted to most things that wore skirts. Or pajama shorts with black hoodies and Chucks.
My emotions ran wild with Tate, but I knew I couldn’t fuck her. It’d be a cold day in hell before I gave her that kind of power over me.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the view, either.
“Take this off,” I grabbed the hem of her little black sweatshirt, “and give me a lap dance.”
Her eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
And I noticed the more nervous, and not so confident, break to her voice, and it was like music to my ears.
My gazed firmed up as I challenged her. “I’ll put on Remedy—still your favorite song?—you give me a quick lap dance, and the party’s over.”
Would I really stop the party? No.
There would be no situation where I would actually give her what she wanted.
And I would enjoy teaching her that fact. I really hoped, though, that she wouldn’t take me up on the offer. Don’t get me wrong. Having her body rubbing against mine wouldn’t suck, but I wouldn’t be able to just fuck her and leave. I walked a thin line with Tate, and I knew I’d want seconds.
She looked at me for a minute, several emotions crossing her sweetly cruel face. Consideration as she actually looked like she was thinking about it. Then anger when she realized she’d only end up being humiliated. Defeat when she accepted that there really was no win here for her. And loss when sadness crossed her glassy eyes. Not sure what that was about. And then something different.
Her brow relaxed, and she tipped her chin down, looking up at me.
I knew that look. I wear it all the time.
She twisted around, her hair flying over her shoulder, and my heart skipped a beat as she began shouting throughout my house at the top of her lungs.
“Cops!” she screamed into the living room. “Cops! Everyone get out of here! Cops coming in the backdoor! Run!”
I watched, helplessly, as all of the drunk and high idiots hanging out at my house dashed to make their escape.
What the hell? They actually believed her!
Heat flared up my neck, and I folded my arms over my chest to keep my heart from jumping out of my body.
People scattered out of the house, fleeing out of the kitchen and living room and through the front door like there was a fucking fire. Most of them were underage, so they had reason to be on alert, but still? You’d think the stupid shits would at least look around first.
But no, they just fled.
And in no time at all, my house was almost empty. Except for the ones already passed out and whoever was hidden upstairs in the bedrooms.
Blood pumped through my veins like hot sugar, the pain almost unbearable but so mouth-watering that I craved more. Something had changed in her, and now she was challenging me.
Approaching my target, I smiled and let out a condescending sigh. “I’ll have you in tears in no time,” I promised.
She stared at me, almost amused. “You’ve already made me cry countless times.” And she raised her middle finger to me. “Do you know what this is?” she asked as she took it and patted the corner of her eye with it. “It’s me, wiping away the last tear you’ll ever get.”
And she turned around and walked out.
My mouth wouldn’t close, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the empty doorway.
Tingling started in my throat, and I lost my breath as I started laughing.
Son of a bitch, I was smiling, too.
I couldn’t believe she’d just said that to me. That was definitely a challenge.
Oh, baby. It’s on.
“Well, she’s different.” Madoc was behind me, and I blinked away my smile.
I turned around to face him. “You touched her?” My tone threatened.
“Sorry, man.” He looked at me like he hadn’t been told ten times already to keep his hands off of her. “I forgot. Won’t happen again.” He shrugged his shoulders and walked back to the kitchen.
Yeah, it better not.
I didn’t know if he was really coming onto Tate. Sam said he was touching her, but Madoc was a good friend who knew the boundaries.
I wasn’t sure what he was up to.
I glanced once more to the front door, remembering how Tate just walked out with her head high, her voice steady, and more confidence than I’d ever seen in her.
My shoulders relaxed, and I climbed the stairs and went to bed. This time without a sleeping pill and without any thoughts of my father.
“Ugh, I think my dick is broken,” Madoc groaned as he adjusted himself right in the middle of the hallway at school.
I shook my head at him before nodding to a couple of friends passing by.
“Then stick to girls, asshole,” I joked. “They’re probably softer than the guys you like.”
Strolling down the hallway on the first day of Senior year, I felt a breeze washing over me that no one else felt. Madoc was bragging about his conquests, I got the classes I wanted, and I was almost done with the visitations to the prison.
In the time that Tate had been back, and a week since her escapade at my party, I’d slept peacefully, too. I almost felt happy.
“So,” Madoc spoke up. “Tate’s got a little fan club already. I’m assuming you’ve heard the talk.”
I had. As much as I hated the few things I’d heard other guys saying about her, they weren’t necessarily bad things. No one had mentioned her tits or ass, so I wouldn’t have to pound them into the pavement.
No, they just talked about how beautiful she looked. About how she carried herself now. Confidence she’d gained abroad, I was sure.
And I loved the attention she was getting. After all, the higher she rose, the harder she’d fall.
“Tatum isn’t even in her own fan club,” I mumbled.
We grabbed some food and sat down at our usual table in the cafeteria. Madoc ate like the athlete in
The Breakfast Club
. He almost needed two trays for the sandwiches, pizza, chips, Gatorades, and brownies he bought, whereas I hated eating big meals during the day. A sandwich or burrito and a couple of drinks were my usual.
The result: Madoc fell asleep during his afternoon classes, and I could make it through work with energy to spare.
“So how are we doing this?” He addressed his question to me as Sam and his friend, Gunnar, parked it at the table and began digging into their food.
Placing the cap back on my bottle of water and wiping the back of my hand across my lips, I peered up at him, not sure what conversation he’d started that I’d missed. “How are
“Tate,” he said as if I should’ve known. “Are we or are we not leaving her alone this year?”
I leaned back in my chair. “I do what I want. I’ll let you know if I need your help.”
“Shhh,” Madoc hissed. “There she is.” He jerked his chin towards the doors ahead, my gaze following.
She walked up to the line and got her tray, and I took inventory of everything. For my battle plan, of course.
Her body moved slowly, almost methodically. There was something about how rigid her back looked.
She wasn’t relaxed.
I hoped it was me. I hoped she felt me in here, watching her.
I liked watching her move, but I tensed up when I realized that every other guy in here was probably appreciating the same view.
It was a good view, and I couldn’t not look.
Her hair used to hang straight, but from the few times I’d seen her in the past week, she seemed to favor a wavier style now. The lights above made the strands sparkle down to their tips. Her long, thin shirt covered her ass on one side but had caught on the waist of her jeans on the other, leaving her behind visible in her tight jeans.
“Well,” Madoc piped up, “come up with better stuff this time. The date sabotaging is childish.”
And then I realized he was continuing a discussion I didn’t remember starting.
“Get yourself paired up on a project with her or something,” he continued. “So much you could do with that kind of time together.”
We were talking about the “Tate plan of attack.”
“This isn’t foreplay, Madoc.” I was setting Madoc straight just like Tate set K.C. straight. “I’m not looking to hook up with her.”
I watched her walk to a far table and sit down… with her back to me.
My lips turned up.
She didn’t want to risk making eye contact with me, and it was a victory.
Madoc started laughing, almost choking as he tried to swallow his food. “You’re right,” he coughed out, his eyes watering. “Anyone who sees the way you look at her knows you don’t want to hook up with her.” He shook his head. “No, right now you’re looking at her like you want to tie her up and give her a big, fat spanking.”
I wasn’t into shit like that, or…I didn’t think I was. Never tried it. Might try it, I guess. You should try everything at least once.
Except crystal meth.
“No?” he challenged, peering over at me when I didn’t answer. “Well, I guess this won’t make you jealous then.”
And he pushed his chair back, scraping the legs on the floor as he rounded the table and walked towards the other side of the lunchroom. Towards Tate.
Son of a bitch.
I was going to cut off his broken dick and feed it to Madman.
My short black sleeves stretched across my biceps, and I realized I’d tensed damn-near every muscle in my body.
I watched, fuming, as Madoc approached Tate and leaned into her ear, speaking. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, of course, but I saw Tate’s back straighten and knew she was uncomfortable.
But I didn’t feel good. I seemed to get high from pressing her buttons, but I never liked it when others took it upon themselves to follow my example. When Madoc had commented on her chest last year at the party—right before she broke his nose—I’d almost cut his balls off.
Helping me taunt her at times was one thing, but talking shit about her body—and in public—got my fucking temper up. Even I didn’t do that. If she hadn’t punched him, then I would’ve.
His hand glided down her back, and I balled my hand into a fist.
Didn’t we just have this talk?
Air poured in and out of my nose as I watched, unblinking, his hand fall intimately over her body and descend to her ass.
I shot out of my chair but immediately halted when Tate jerked out of her seat and grabbed Madoc by the shoulders, slamming him in the balls with her knee.
I sucked in quick, short breaths, trying not to laugh at seeing my best friend fall to his knees, groaning like a wounded animal.
Tate circled him, and I sat down to watch her.
“Don’t touch me, and don’t talk to me,” she sneered. “Did you really think I would go out with you?”
He asked her out?
“I hear the girls talk,” she continued, “and contrary to popular belief, good things do
come in small packages.” Her voice was strong, like she was completely comfortable in her skin. Everyone caught the joke as she crooked her pinky finger to the amused crowd, insinuating that Madoc had a small dick.