Authors: Penelope Douglas
And my fists clenched.
K.C. didn’t need to know my shit. Tate had no right airing our business like that.
The familiar swirl of piss and vinegar churned in my gut, and I felt my body warm.
“We’re going to have an amazing year.” Tate’s voice was lower now and stronger than before. “I’m hoping Jared has forgotten all about me. If he has, then we can both peacefully ignore each other until graduation. If he hasn’t, then I’ll do what I think is best. I’ve got bigger things on my mind anyway. He and that asshat Madoc can poke and prod all they want. I’m done giving them my attention. They are not taking my senior year.”
I’m hoping Jared has forgotten all about me.
And I’d almost thrown my future away in my need for her?
I’m done giving them my attention.
She hated me. She’d hate me forever, and I was a stupid fucking prick for wanting her when we were fourteen.
No one wants us. I knew I didn’t want you.
My father’s voice crept into my head.
I climbed back over to my window and crawled through, not caring if they saw me. Tossing the ax onto the floor, I walked over and switched on my iPod dock to Five Finger Death Punch’s
and grabbed my phone to text Madoc.
Party tonight? Mom’s leaving around 4.
My mother escaped every Friday night to her boyfriend’s in Chicago. I still hadn’t met the guy, but she almost always stayed the entire weekend.
he texted not a minute later.
I asked. Madoc’s dad had a liquor store—or close to—in his basement along with a wine cellar. The guy was hardly ever home, so we took what we wanted, and I supplied the food.
Got it. See you at 7.
I threw my phone on the bed, but it buzzed again.
Grabbing it again, I opened up a text from Jax.
Dad called again.
Son of a bitch.
My father was finding ways to get Jax’s number, and he knew he wasn’t supposed to be calling him. Abusing him was one of the reasons my father was in jail, after all.
I’ll handle it
Looking at the clock, I saw it was only ten in the morning.
Just go today,
I told myself. Get it over with for the week, and you won’t have to go tomorrow.
These trips to my father’s ate at my insides, and I dreaded them. There was no telling what he’d say to me from one week to the next. Last time, he’d told me, in graphic detail, about how he’d dropped my mother off at the abortion clinic one day to get rid of me. And then, how he’d let loose on her when she hadn’t gone through with it. I didn’t know if the story was true, but I tried to just let the insults, stories, and taunts fly past me. Most of the time they did. Sometimes they didn’t.
Throwing off a sweaty, black T-shirt in exchange for a clean, black v-neck, I snatched my keys off the bedside table and bounded down the stairs.
“I’m heading out for a while,” I said as I passed my mother in the kitchen. “See you Monday.”
My hands shook, even though I’d been coming here nearly a year already. I hated looking the fucker in the face, especially when he made these visits as awful as possible. I knew he got special privileges for cooperating, but I had no doubt that he enjoyed every sick word that came out of his mouth, too.
“It’s Friday. I’m not supposed to have to see you until tomorrow,” he grumbled, sitting down at the table in the visiting room.
I forced myself to look him in the eye and even out my tone. “You’re calling Jax again. It stops now.”
He laughed me off. “That’s what you said last time, but you’re not in control, Jared.”
Yes. I. Am.
“You’re not even allowed to make calls.” After I reported it to the warden last time, he’d lost the privilege of making unsupervised trips to the phone.
Shrugging his shoulders with palms up, he answered, “And yet, I find a way.”
It was only a moment. But in the time it took for my chest to sink and for me to break eye contact, he knew. He knew he was right, and that I was powerless. Maybe it was the guards letting him make calls for favors, or maybe he had a fellow prisoner helping him out, but we both knew there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop him.
I could never stop him.
“Leave him alone.” My lips moved, but I barely heard my own voice.
“What bugs you more?” He leaned in and narrowed his blue eyes. “That I call him and not you, or that you can’t stop me? I keep telling you, Jared, you have no power. Not really. It may seem like you’re the one in control, because you’re out there and I’m in here, but I’m the one that haunts you. Not the other way around.”
I stood up and stuck my hand in my pocket, gripping the fossil necklace so hard that I thought it would break.
“Fuck you,” I growled and walked out.
“Oh, Jared,” Piper gasped my name as I devoured her neck. Gripping her hair and pulling her head back, I tried to get lost in her perfume and her body.
“I told you not to talk,” I whispered softly against her skin. “Do as you’re told.”
Hats off to the Bull
pounded downstairs, and I could hear voices coming from all sides, both inside and outside the house.
Piper had come over to my party, uninvited, and I took what was offered. Noise, activity, distraction.
Distraction from the pull next door.
Distraction from my father.
That son of a bitch was right after all. The nightmares that kept me awake? The ones I had to drown out with sleeping pills just so I could get through the night? All of it was me being weak.
“I’m sorry,” she giggled. “That just feels so good.”
I had one hand buried in her thick, dark hair, and my other hand inside of her panties, my fingers pushing inside of her as she squirmed against the wall of my bedroom.
I grappled at Piper, looking for the magical body part that would get me zoned in. I peeled down the top of her dress, cupping her breasts, kissing her lips, but none of it brought me the peace I wanted.
I’m hoping Jared has forgotten all about me.
I grabbed Piper and hauled her up into my arms, carrying her to the bed. The peace would come when I was inside of her. Then I would be happily lost.
“Jared!” I jerked my head towards the pounding on the door.
“Go away!” I shouted as Piper unfastened my belt.
“That girl? Tate?” my friend, Sam, asked. “She’s downstairs, man. You better get down there.”
And I halted what I was doing and sat up.
“What the hell?” I mumbled.
Why was she at my house? I looked at the alarm clock that read after midnight.
“Tate?” Piper said, still laying back on the pillows. “I thought you said she was still gone.”
I climbed off the bed. “Just get dressed, Piper,” I bit out.
“What?” she screamed, and I looked over at her. Her lips and nose were scrunched up, and her chest rose and fell with her hard breathing.
Piper was no attachment and no complications. I appreciated that about her.
But she was pissed, and I didn’t stop to explain. I never did. She knew better.
I never let on that I wanted more than a casual thing, and she’d either roll with it, or she could leave.
Yanking the door open, my friend Sam waited in the hallway, hands in pockets and looking uncertain.
“Sorry, man.” He held up his hands. “Madoc’s got his hands all over her. Thought I should get you.”
Fucking little shit.
I barreled past Sam and down the hallway, ready to stick my best friend’s head into the toilet to wake him the fuck up. I was pretty sure he had a thing for Tate, but he was told, years ago, that she was off limits.
And what the fuck was she doing here anyway?
Coming down the stairs, I rounded the corner and immediately stopped, my stomach caving in from the loss of breath.
She was so beautiful it hurt.
She was lost in thought, otherwise she would’ve seen me, too.
I pressed my hands above my head to both sides of the doorframe. It was my way of trying to look casual, like I didn’t care. But honestly, I just needed the support to keep my legs from caving beneath me.
My heart thundered through my chest, and I wished like hell that I could pause this moment, just look at her until the Earth fell apart.
Her hair was lighter, and her skin was darker, probably from being in the sun this summer, and her body had gotten more toned. More grown up. The shape to the back of her thighs had my mouth going dry. Her nose was still little, her skin still flawless, and her full lips all made her look like the perfect doll. And I never played with dolls, but I damn sure wanted to play with this one.
Right at that moment, I wanted everything from Tate. Everything. Her anger and passion, her hate and lust, her body and soul.
I wanted control of all of it.
I’m the one that haunts you. Not the other way around.
My father invaded my head again. He and Tate were always in there.
Neither of them wanted me, and both of them owned me.
But one of them I could control.
“What is she doing here?” I snapped, staring at Madoc but completely aware of Tate snapping her attention my way.
Madoc kept silent, but I could see the corners of his mouth trying to suppress a smile.
’ wanted a word with you.” Tate’s voice was calm but there was a hint of snippiness to it. I smiled to myself, feeling the long-lost adrenaline warming my dry veins.
“Make it quick. I have guests.” Dropping my hands, I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to appear bored.
Sam and Madoc veered off into the kitchen, and Tate stood tall with her chin up. Her lips were pursed, and her eyes could light a fire.
I wasn’t sure what had happened with Madoc to make her so angry, or maybe she was just mad at me, but I finally felt in my element after a year of walking around dead.
“I. Have. Guests,” I repeated, when she didn’t speak right away.
“Yes, I can tell.” She looked behind me, and I knew Piper was still here. “You can get back to servicing them in just a minute.”
I narrowed my gaze, locking her in.
Well, well, well…Tate had a low opinion of me. Go figure.
Piper walked over and kissed me on the cheek. Saying goodbye? Reminding me she was here? I have no clue, but she always did little things like that at unexpected times, and it made me uncomfortable. Like she wanted more, and I was obligated to give it to her.
I stood there, willing her to stop waiting for something and just go home. Tate’s presence was doing me more good than hers, anyway.
After Piper took the hint and left, Tate spoke up. “I have to be up in about five hours for an appointment in Weston. I’m asking politely that you please turn down the music.”
Was she serious?
“Jared, I came here being neighborly. It’s after midnight. I’m asking nicely.” The begging was cute.
“It’s after midnight on a
night,” I explained, trying to sound as condescending as possible.
“You’re being unreasonable. If I wanted the music off, I could file a noise complaint or call your mom. I’m coming to you out of respect.” She looked around the room. “Where is your mother, by the way? I haven’t seen her since I’ve been back.”
Oh, Tate. Don’t go there.
Don’t act like you know me or my family.
“She’s not around much anymore.” I kept my voice flat and unemotional. “And she won’t be dragging her ass down here in the middle of the night to break up my party.”
She sighed, looking annoyed. “I’m not saying to ‘break it up’. I’m asking that you turn the music down.”