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King had the audacity to actually smile. He leaned forward and whispered seductively against my cheek, “Can’t I want both, Pup?”

I pulled back and stood up.

“NO! You can’t! And stop calling me, Pup. It’s a stupid fucking name. I’m not your fucking pet!”

I paced the dock. My rage was at a boiling point I couldn’t turn off. This was his fault. He’d made me into this lunatic.

King stood and grabbed my face with both hands, forcing me to look at him. “Yes, you are,” he said, as he lowered his lips and brushed them softly against mine in a move so gentle, so unlike him, it took me a few seconds before I registered what was happening.

Then, my anger returned, in full force. Using both my hands, I pushed against his chest until he had no choice but to release me.

“Fuck you! You don’t want to keep me!” I shouted over my shoulder as I made my way to the front of the house and started down the gravel driveway. “Do you think I’m stupid? You wouldn’t be getting your jollies while I’m in the next room if it was me you wanted.”

A large hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.

“Let go of me!” I shouted.

“Listen, Pup. I’ve tried it your way. I tried gentle just now, but you didn’t listen. Now, we’re going to do it my way, and you’re going to fucking listen. Don’t make me have to cuff you again,” he warned.

King’s tone was all anger and confidence. I didn’t doubt for a moment that he would make good on his threat. He wrapped his arms around my waist and held my hands together behind my back, locking my struggling body against his.

“I did that to push you away,” he admitted. “I wanted you to see it.”

“Congratulations, it worked,” I spat. “You should be fucking happy.”

“You and that tongue of yours.” King shook his head. “No, I’m not happy. I’m far from fucking happy. I’ve been far from fucking happy since I got out of prison. If I think back, I wasn’t exactly happy before prison either, and it’s your fucking fault!”

“How the fuck is that my fault?” Now, he’d gone too far, blaming me for his life years before I was even in it.

“Because you are the one who made me realize I was fucking unhappy. Because with you, I think I can actually BE happy!” He shook me when he spoke, like he wanted to shake the words into my brain to make me understand what it was he was saying.

I needed it all to be over. It was too much. The mind fuck was more torture than I could take. I wanted him. I wanted to believe him. But words were just words, and coming from King, they were probably just another method to keep torturing me.

I just wanted to be left alone. It was time for me to go. “I’m leaving. Just let me go,” I begged, softly.

King shook his head. “No. You’re not going anywhere.”

“You can’t keep me here,” I stated.

“See, that’s where you’re wrong. I think I’ve proven that I can,” King argued. “Besides, where would you go? Back out on streets?”

“Maybe. What do you care, anyway?” I bit back.

“You seem to forget what it’s like out there on your own. Or maybe we can dig up Ed, and he can tell you how he planned to dispose of your body when he was done raping you,” King spat.

“I’d rather take chances with my life out there—” My chest constricted. “—than take chances with my heart here.”

“No,” King argued.

“What the hell do you want from me?” I asked. My anger battled against the heartbreaking thought of leaving and never seeing King again. “Why don’t you just gut me, and get it over with? Do whatever it is you want to do to me. Hit me. Fuck me. Fucking KILL me. Just. Stop. HURTING. Me.”

Sobs emerged from my throat, and I fell limp into his arms.

“Baby,” King said, holding me tighter so that I wouldn’t drop to the ground. It was the first time he’d ever called me that, and when I tried to register the endearment, it fell flat. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t fuck that girl. I couldn’t do it. She didn’t touch me. I stopped the second you shut the door. I swear. I’m so sorry. You’re the last person I want to hurt. I just don’t know how to fucking do this.”

“Do what?” I asked him. A tear fell from my cheek and onto his arm. As much as I didn’t want to, I buried my face into his shirt and clenched the fabric in my fists.

His voice cracked when he whispered, “I don’t know. Any of it. I don’t even fucking know what this is.”

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