I don’t feel lost in him at all, because it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like someone truly found me.
“I’ll park in the parking garage,” he says. “Take my key and go through the back door.”
He brings the car to a stop, and I open the door to get out. Before I do, he grabs my arm and pulls me toward him. His lips meet mine and his kiss feels like a promise.
“I’ll be up in a second,” he says.
I rush to the back door of his studio. I insert the key into the lock and shut it just as fast, then hurry up the stairs. Once I’m in his apartment, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t know why I would think Trey would be waiting out there. It’s just disconcerting because he hasn’t texted me since last night, when I told him I’d talk to him today. He’s either giving me the space I need, or he knows I’m up to something.
Owen-Cat appears at my feet, and I pick her up and carry her into the kitchen with me. I set her on the bar as I reach for a bottle of wine. After the couple of days I’ve had, I definitely need a drink. I’m sure Owen, does too, so I pour him one, just as I hear him walk up behind me.
He wraps his arms around me from behind and pulls me against him. I lean my head back against his shoulder and rest my hands on his arms.
As soon as I touch him, my eyes flick open and my mouth attempts to form a scream, but I’m cut off by the words whispered into my ear.
“Can’t even tell which man has his arms around you?”
Trey’s voice stiffens my entire body. His grip around my waist tightens and that’s when I feel the difference. The difference in their height. The difference in their hands. The difference in the way they hold me.
“Trey,” I whisper, my voice shaky.
“Save it, Auburn,” he hisses into my ear. He spins me around and shoves me against the refrigerator, pushing my arms against it. “Where is he?”
I swallow, relieved that he doesn’t know where Owen is. Maybe Owen will hear him and be able to do something to protect himself.
I shake my head. “I don’t know.”
His eyes seethe with rage and he tightens his grip on my arms. “I’m not sure I can handle another lie from you. Where the fuck is he?”
I squeeze my eyes shut and refuse to answer. His mouth meets mine in an abrupt crash, and I attempt to push him off me. He breaks away and backhands me.
My legs instantly buckle, but he holds me up when I try to fall. His mouth returns to my ear.
“Call out his name.”
He wraps his hand around the back of my neck and squeezes. “Call out his name,” he says again. I open my mouth to tell him to fuck off when I hear Owen’s voice.
“Let go of her.”
I open my eyes cautiously. The smile on Trey’s face when he hears Owen’s voice scares me more than what just happened between us. He pulls me to him, spinning me around, and presses his chest against my back. We’re both facing Owen now.
Owen is standing just a few feet away, holding nothing but his cell phone and his car keys. His eyes are frantic as they fall from my head to my toes, assessing me for injuries. “Are you hurt?”
I shake my head, but Trey still has a tight grip around me. Owen is solid and still, watching Trey closely. “What do you want, Trey?”
A deep chuckle rises from Trey’s throat and he turns his head to mine. He slowly runs his knuckles up my jaw. “You already tainted what I want, Owen.”
I can see the rage wash over Owen and my eyes immediately grow wide with fear. I shake my head, trying to get him to calm down. The last thing he needs is something else to be arrested for. He’s on probation, and attacking a cop is probably the one thing Trey is hoping he’ll do. “Owen, don’t. He wants you to hit him. Don’t do it.”
Trey presses his cheek to mine, and I watch as Owen’s eyes follow the path of Trey’s hand. He trails it down my throat, between my breasts, and over my stomach. By the time his hand settles between my legs, I can taste the bile in my throat. I squeeze my eyes shut, because the look in Owen’s eyes proves there’s no way he’s going to stand here and allow Trey to do this.
I hear him lunge forward right before I’m tossed aside. I fall to the floor and by the time I turn around, Owen has already punched Trey. Trey is grabbing the counter for support with one hand and reaching for his gun with the other.
Owen is standing in front of me now, facing me, making sure I’m okay. My words don’t come out, but I want to tell him to turn around, to run, to duck, but nothing will come out. Owen takes my face between his hands and says, “Auburn. Go downstairs and call the police.”
Trey laughs, and Owen can see the onset of a new kind of fear in my eyes. He turns around and blocks me with his body, pushing me further away from Trey.
“Call the police?” Trey says, continuing with the laughter. “And who will they believe? The addict and the whore who got pregnant at fifteen? Or the cop?”
Neither Owen nor I speak as we both allow the words that just fell from Trey’s mouth to sink in.
“Oh, and let’s not forget the contraband you have hidden all over your studio. There’s also that.”
I can feel every muscle in Owen’s body tense.
Trey set him up.
He broke into his studio not to steal stuff, but to leave stuff.
I fist my hands in the back of Owen’s shirt, fearing the worst. “What do you want, Trey?” Owen asks. His voice sounds defeated. He’s reached his breaking point with Trey, and that’s not a good thing.
“I just want you out of the fucking picture,” Trey says. “You’ve been a pain in my ass since the day we met, and you just continue to resurface.” He takes several steps closer, and Owen pushes me further back, still shielding me with his body. “Auburn needs to be a mother to that boy, and he needs me to be his father. As long as you’re brainwashing her, that’ll never happen.” Trey looks over Owen’s shoulder, directly at me. “You’ll thank me for this one day, Auburn.”
Trey lifts the radio to his mouth. “En route to precinct six,” Trey says. “Subject in custody for assault on an officer.”
“What?” I yell. “Trey, you can’t do this! He’s on probation!”
Trey ignores me and begins spouting off an address into the radio. Owen turns to face me. “Auburn.” His eyes are serious. Focused. “Tell them whatever he wants you to say. If he’s telling the truth and he really did plant stuff in my studio, I’ll go to jail for a long time. Let them arrest me for assault; it’ll be a much lesser charge. I’ll talk to my father in the morning, and we’ll figure out where to go from there.”
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