“No.” I hadn’t thought of that. King had a point. “But living life thinking that was the truth was a gamble I’m not willing to take.” I looked down to the floor and wished it would open up and suck me down into it.
“So, let me get this straight. You were willing to fuck random bikers, but you can’t be with me?” There was a hint of cruelty in his voice. If his intentions were to sting, they worked.
“That’s a low blow.”
But King continued on as if I hadn’t just interrupted. “So I’m just like them to you? Just like a biker you don’t want to fuck and end up regretting?
King turned the key and started the truck, pulling back onto the highway.
“No, you’re not like them at all,” I whispered, unsure if he heard me.
“How is it that you can see me as worse than them when I know you want me? I can feel it. Don’t fucking deny it. Because it’s bullshit, and you know it.” King looked straight ahead at the road. He turned up the radio until Johnny Cash was singing so loud it rattled my eardrums. The tears in my eyes spilled over onto my cheeks.
I leaned against the window and hugged my arms to my chest. The lights from businesses and signs blurred together as we passed into streams of colored lights.
“You’re right. You’re much worse than them,” I whispered, knowing full well that King couldn’t hear me over the music. “Because with them, it wouldn’t hurt this much.”
King hadn’t come to bed in days. I still helped him at night in his studio but our conversation never escalated to anything more than him barking orders at me.
On Saturday morning I’d found a box on the kitchen counter with a note addressed to me. The card read:
FOR OUR DATE. BE ON THE PORCH AT EIGHT-PREPPY
Our date? Why would we go out on a date? Inside the box was a short black strapless dress and a pair of matching heels.
Preppy had made sure I had a bunch of jeans and tank tops to wear on a daily basis. He even stopped at a store and let me pick out some underwear and bath stuff one day, but I didn’t have anything like this.
The clock on the stove read only ten am. I was disappointed I’d have to wait so long to put it on.
At eight o’clock sharp, I stood by the steps and fidgeted with the hem of my new dress. I’d spent hours showering, shaving, and blow-drying my hair. I was beyond ready, thrilled to be doing something new and grateful for the distraction.
I had no clue what Preppy had up his tattooed sleeves.
“You ready, Doe?” he asked, bounding out from the door under the stairs.
He draped an arm over my shoulder and ushered me toward King’s truck, which was already parked in front. “I wish I could take you in my car. But you know, it fucking blew up and shit,” he said bitterly.
His usual short-sleeved dress shirt had been swapped out for a dark blue long-sleeved button down that he wore untucked over a pair of dark boot cut jeans. His usual bow tie carefully in place. He smelled like he’d just gotten out of the shower. Like soap and shaving cream.
“Did you shave?” I asked. His beard looked just as long as it had that morning.
“Huh?” he asked, looking down at me.
“You smell like shaving cream, but you still have your beard.”
“It’s a date, baby girl. I manscaped in case I get lucky.”
I laughed. “You’re not getting lucky.”
“I know. King would kill me, and I rather like my life. So, I think we’ll leave that off the table. For now.” He winked. “Besides, you may not let me get my cock wet, but maybe someone else will take pity on me when the night’s over and let me get it in.”
I laughed at Preppy, his smile taking the edge of his crude words.
“You look nice,” I said. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that Preppy actually blushed.
“Thanks. But tonight, I’m not Preppy.”
“You’re not?” I asked. “Then, who are you exactly?”
“Nope, this is a date. So tonight, you can call me Samuel. I would say that you look nice, too, but you look way more than nice. I would say…”
Preppy took a step back and slid his hand down my arm, to lock his fingers around my wrist. He, then, lifted my arm and twirled me around slowly to appraise me. My face flushed with embarrassment when I noticed he was staring at my ass.
“Hot. You look HOT, baby girl. Pancakes do a body good. Real fucking good.”
“Thanks.” I felt my cheeks redden. “I wish you could call me by my real name, too, but I don’t know—”