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“I need you to not touch my girl,” he countered, annoying me more and more. Nothing about Grace belonged to that guy. He had walked away from her, and it was clear he was only coming back around because he felt threatened.

“Fine, go ahead. She’s all yours.” I turned and headed for the front door because I didn’t want to make a scene. I wasn’t going to feed into the conversation because that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to act out. He wanted me to unleash the monster he was sure lurked inside me. He wanted to prove that I was no good for Grace.

Especially in front of the whole town.

So, I walked.

I released a weighted sigh as I listened to drunk Finn follow me.

“I just want to make it clear to you that if you go anywhere near her, I’ll kick your ass!” he barked.

That actually made me laugh. Finn wasn’t a built guy, and I was certain I could take him out with one hit. “Okay, buddy, that’s fine. Now, just leave me alone.”

“Come on,” he said, racing over and shoving me from behind. “If you’re such a badass, fight me.”

I stopped my steps.

He’s not worth it.

He shoved me again.

I took a deep breath and snapped my band against my arm.

He’s not worth it.

The sooner he left me alone, the sooner Grace and I would be together, yet it was becoming more and more clear that he was really itching for a fight. He wanted to release the beast, and I didn’t want it to come out.

“You aren’t going to fight me back?” he asked, annoyance filling him up inside.

“No. I’m not.”

“Why, because you think Grace will be disappointed? You think she’d be disgusted by the monster you really are? I mean, hell, what do you think would happen? You think she’d choose you or something?” I looked at him, and for a split second, I felt my heart skip a beat. He must’ve seen the look in my eyes because he laughed out loud. “Holy shit, you actually thought she’d pick you.”

I kept quiet.

I snapped my band.

“You have nothing to offer her,” he bellowed, his words filled with hatred. “You’re the bottom of the barrel, and she’s never going to pick you, you know. You might be a summer fling for her, but you’ll never have her. She’s broken, not stupid. You’re nothing. You have nothing, you’ll never be anything. After some time passes, she’ll find her footing again without you, and you’ll still be nothing.”

“Okay. You’re right, Finn. Congratulations.”

He walked over to me and shoved me hard. “You’re nothing but scum, and we’d be better off if you were dead like your bitch of a mother.”

He spoke against my mother, and then I blacked out.

Next thing I knew, the two of us were rolling on the ballroom floor, fists flying. I slammed him into the floor, and he slugged me hard in the eye. As I rushed to get my bearings, Finn dived at me, sending me flying backward, straight into the table where the five-layer cake was sitting. It crashed to the ground, shooting frosting in all directions.

We kept hitting one another as a crowd formed and people tried to pull us apart.

He kept swinging, so I did the same, over and over again.

We were finally separated when Sheriff Camps arrived and yanked us off of each other.

Before I could even explain, he slammed us both behind bars.


That was exactly how the evening was not supposed to go.



Ten Years Old

“Get out of here, freak!” Tim barked at me the first day I was back at school after Ma’s funeral. He and his friends shoved me back and forth. “Nobody wants you here!”

He kept mocking me and making fun of me, but I didn’t care.

I didn’t care about anything.

Ma was gone, and life didn’t matter anymore.

I let them push me.

I allowed them to shove.

I couldn’t feel anything anymore, anyway.

“You’re such a loser! You’re never going to have friends, you freak,” one of the guys said, tripping me as I tried to walk away.

My body slammed hard against the floor, and I groaned. As I tried to stand up, one of them kicked me down again.

I didn’t say a word.

We went to class, and Tim kept kicking the back of my chair.

“Freak, freak, freak,” he’d whispered.

I kept ignoring.

I tried to repeat what Ma would’ve told me.

I’m extraordinary. I’m extraordinary…

I didn’t want to feed into Tim because I didn’t care if he liked me anymore.

I didn’t care if anyone liked me.

I just wanted my mom back…

“I’d wished you’d disappear and never come back,” Tim hissed. “Like your stupid dead mom.”

And then, without thought, I snapped.



“Sheriff Camps, he doesn’t deserve to be behind bars,” I bellowed, blasting into the police station. The moment I heard about the fight breaking out and Jackson’s arrest, I headed straight to the station.