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“But why do you give a shit if he hurt me or not?”

“Because you’re mine.”

“Why do you keep saying that?”

“Because it’s true.”

“I never agreed to be yours, whatever that means.”

“It’s not something you need to agree to. This isn’t a negotiation. Would you rather I’d let Ed do whatever it is he planned to do to you?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.” Even in the warm water, my skin turned to gooseflesh when I thought of what would have happened if King hadn’t saved me.

I would be dead.

Was I upset that Ed was dead? No. It was a him or me situation, and I was glad I’d come out on the other side with my life.

“This is why I needed a biker,” I mumbled.

“What was that?” King asked.

“Nothing,” I said. Not realizing I’d said that last part out loud.

“No, you said that’s why you needed a biker. What the fuck exactly does that mean?”

“For protection!” I snapped. “You don’t know what it’s like out there on the streets. There is an Ed on every fucking corner just waiting for you to fall asleep or not pay attention or wander into the wrong alleyway. It’s not like it was my first choice, but I didn’t know what else to do. Nikki said there would be bikers at your party. That if one liked me that he could protect me.”

“You came to the party to whore yourself out to a biker?” He sounded angry and disappointed and for some stupid reason, I really hated the idea that I’d somehow disappointed him. Almost as much as I hated the fact that I’d disappointed myself.

Or her.

“Yes,” I answered honestly. “At least for a little while. But I realize now how stupid that idea was. That’s not what I want anymore.” I didn’t realize how embarrassed I was until I spoke the words out loud.

“At least, it all makes a lot more sense now. Here lean back,” King ordered.

I tilted my chin back and he supported my neck with one hand. He grabbed a cup off the floor and scooped up water, slowly pouring it over my hair.

“You killed your mom,” I whispered. As nice as the bath was, I was still completely unable to get a hold of my mouth and stop the words before they poured out like water from King’s cup.

“Fucking Preppy.” King shook his head. “He shouldn’t have said anything. It’s none of your fucking business,” he spat. I’d hit a nerve. “It’s none of anyone’s fucking business.” After a moment or two of silence, his breathing again evened out and the vein in his neck stopped pulsing. He finished rinsing my hair. “You know I was in prison then, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you know how long I was locked up for?”

“Three years,” I said, recalling what Preppy had told me.

“Yeah, three years. You know anyone that gets three years for murder?”

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. It didn’t make any sense. I shook my head.

“There’s a lot more to that story. But, I’m not in a story-telling mood tonight.”

“But you killed Nikki,” I cursed myself for not being able to keep my trap shut. Much to my surprise, King laughed. An actual laugh as if I told a joke. I didn’t think the man was capable.

“No,” he countered. “I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did,” I argued. “I heard you tell Preppy you killed her. Why would you deny it?”

“Think about it. Did you actually hear me say that I killed her?”

He was right. I didn’t hear him say the actual words.

“I only said she was dead. I’m sorry, pup, but she is. I found her with a needle in her arm in a shitty motel a town over.”

King wiped a wayward tear from under my eye with the pad of his thumb.

“She shot you. Does she really deserve that tear?” He surprised me by sucking it off his thumb.

“She didn’t shoot me,” I defended. “She was trying to escape. She shot me by accident. She was aiming at you. She was desperate. We both were. Desperate people do desperate things.”

It was then I realized that I missed her. As fucked up as our relationship was, she was all I had.

And now she was gone.

“Pup, on purpose or not, the bitch shot you. To be honest, if I’d found her alive and she drew that gun again, she’d be dead now anyway.”

“My life seems to be a bunch of questions piled on top of a bunch of questions, and frankly, I’m ready to add some fucking answers into the mix before my brain explodes and leaks out of my ears.”

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