“What’s going on?” I asked him. “Something’s wrong. Tell me.” He buried his face in his hands.
“Everything, baby. Everything is wrong,” King said, looking up over the porch railing.
I walked over to him and he ran his hands up and down my arms. I sat on his lap and draped my arms around his neck. He burrowed his nose into my chest.
“Tell me. Please,” I begged. “I can help.”
“You can’t. Nobody can.”
“You’re scaring me. You need to tell me what’s wrong.”
“My fucking heart is broken,” he said, raising his raspy voice.
“Why? Who broke it?” I asked.
“You did,” he said, looking up at me with tears in his eyes.
I was taken aback. What did I do to break it? Did I even have that kind of power over him?
The sound of an approaching car turned both of our heads to the driveway. A black town car with dark tinted windows pulled up in front of the house.
“Will you remember something for me?” King asked, snapping my head back around from the car to him.
“Anything,” I answered. And it was true. I would do anything for him.
“Remember that I love you,” he whispered.
He had said it. I didn’t just imagine it.
“Why are you telling me this now?” I asked, finding it odd that King wasn’t even acknowledging the approaching vehicle.
I wanted him to love me, especially because I’d known I’d been in love with him for so long, but the way he said it, and what had transpired that morning told me there was a lot more to what was going on.
“Tell me what the fuck is going on!” I leapt from his lap.
“Baby,” he said, reaching for me.
“No! Don’t baby me! Tell me what the fuck is going on!”
King finally looked toward the town car. The driver got out and walked around, opening the door of the back seat.
A boy a little older than me, with dark blonde curls stepped out of the back seat. He wore black Chucks, grey shorts, and a red batman t-shirt. It wasn’t until he looked up at me when I recognized him. Or at least, his eyes.
The eyes from my dream.
I was stunned into silence, frozen on the porch as the boy approached.
“Ray? Ray is that really you?” he asked, looking right at me.
I looked up at King whose expression had completely changed from troubled and weary to angry and vengeful. He was staring daggers at the boy. His jaw tensed so hard I swear I could hear his teeth grinding.
“Who is Ray?” I asked King.
“Don’t fucking do this,” Bear snapped from the doorway.
“Go the fuck back inside,” King barked.
“Fine. It’s your fucking life. Fuck it up more than it already is. Preppy would’ve kicked your fucking ass for this. I’m going to visit my sister. I can’t stick around and witness this shit.” Bear stepped out onto the porch and pecked me on the cheek. “Love you, pretty girl,” he said before disappearing around the side of the house. A moment later, his bike whizzed by, kicking up dust in its wake.
“You,” King finally answered. “You are Ramie Price.”
“Ray, don’t you remember me?” the boy asked. “I’m Tanner. Don’t you know who I am?”
I turned to King. “What is this? Who is he? Why is he here?”
“He’s your…boyfriend.” He forced the words off his tongue like they were stabbing him in his mouth.
“My what?” I didn’t wait for him to answer. “You knew he was coming?” Then, it hit me, and I sucked in a strangled breath. “You knew who I was?”
King didn’t say anything, but most importantly, he didn’t deny it.
“How long have you known?” I whispered.
King looked down at his shoes.
“How long have you fucking known?” I shouted.
“Since the very beginning,” he admitted. “Since before I came for you again after you escaped.”
“Escaped?” Tanner asked, reminding me of his presence.
“The entire time?” I asked, feeling as if he just stabbed me in my chest. “You knew who I was this entire fucking time?”
“What the fuck do you want me to say? I’m a shit person, and I do shitty things. You knew that. I fucking told you that, but you went and fell for me anyway.” He ran his hand over his head in frustration. “Well, it’s over now. Welcome to your new life. Or I should say your old life,” King spat.