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And I laughed.

I laughed so hard my entire body shook and tears ran down my face. I laughed so hard that the sound of my laughter got caught in my throat. There I was. Half-naked. Handcuffed to a bed. Puke on my face. A tray of drugs scattered on the floor.

Manically laughing like a schizophrenic who’d skipped out on her meds.

The door opened again and in walked the same guy from earlier. I didn’t acknowledge him, just continued to stare out the window as the sun began to set.

“Do you know how much that shit is worth?” he asked with his eyes wide.

“Nope. And don’t know why you would bother bringing it to me since I already told your friend that I’m no fucking junkie.” I rolled onto my side, turning my back to him. “Why don’t you just kill me, and get it over with.”

“It was a test,” he said, rounding the bed. He propped himself up next to me, his back against the headboard, a steaming ceramic bowl in his hands. “You passed.”

“A what? What the hell does that mean?”

“King. He wanted to know if you were telling the truth, so he tested you. A junkie would’ve said ‘fuck the food’ and dove nose-first into the dope.” He extended the bowl out to me. “Here. I’m Preppy, by the way.”

Odd name for an odd guy. He looked like a cross between a thug, a teacher, and a surfer.

I’d seen him briefly the night before, but I didn’t take the time to really look at him. Preppy was close to six feet tall. He wore light jeans and a short sleeved yellow collared shirt with a white bow tie. His sandy blonde hair was tied back into a wild ponytail on the top of his head, but beneath it his head was shaved clean on both sides above his ears, revealing intricate vine tattoos that started at his temples and circled around his head. His arms, hands, and knuckles were also covered with ink. He had a dark beard that didn’t match his hair color. At first glance, you’d think he was much older than he was, but it was his eyes that gave away his youth.

“What is it?” I asked, staring into the steaming bowl.

“Chicken broth. Drink it slowly so you can keep it down. How long has it been since you ate?” He crossed his legs at the ankles and rested his hands behind his head.

“Not sure.” I don’t know why but saying the words out loud made me feel ashamed in a way I hadn’t thought about before. “Days, I think.”

Hesitantly, I took the bowl from his hands. It was warm on my palms and instantly made the ache in my weak hands subside. I lifted it to my mouth slowly, relishing the feeling of the steam against my cheeks and the warmth of the liquid as it spread down my throat.

“Why are you even bothering with feeding me?”

“You say you’re not a junkie, but your fucking ribs are practically poking through your skin, and I could sharpen my knife on that collar bone of yours. King’s not the kind of guy who starves someone to death.”

“So, he’s not going to kill me?” I asked, hopefully.

“Didn’t say that. Just said he wouldn’t starve you to death. Bears crew has a lead on the redhead. If we catch up to her and we find out you weren’t in on it, he might let you go.”

“Might?”

“He’s not the most predictable guy, and he’s been away for a few years. Hasn’t been acting like himself, so there’s no telling what’s running through his head right now.”

“Years?” That’s when I remembered that the party last night was supposed to be a coming home party. “Where was he?”

“State.”

“College?”

“Prison.”

Prison made much more sense than college.

“What did he do?” I was pushing my luck by even asking. But I thought that maybe, if I knew more about King—knew what made him tick—I would have more of a chance of convincing him to let me go.

“You sure ask a lot of questions, little girl. Why do you want to know?”

I shrugged and sipped more of my broth. “Just curious, I guess.”

“He killed someone, got caught,” he said casually. I swallowed a huge mouthful of broth in one tight gulp.

“Who?” My curiosity made my mouth run faster than the speed of my usual word vomit.

Preppy smiled. His dark brown eyes glistened with excitement. I knew then that there was a lot more to him than what I saw on the surface. Something sinister was lying just beneath the tattoos and bow tie.

Something that made the hair on my arms stand on end.

Preppy leaned forward, resting his chin on the back of his folded hands.

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