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The girl who I’d given up on might be back after all.

The back door of the car opened again, and out stepped a tall man in a sharp black suit and a solid red tie.

“Who is that?” I asked Tanner.

“Your dad,” he told me. “The senator.”

“Ramie,” the man said. “Your mother is worried sick. Let’s go. Get in the car,” he said sternly, buttoning the bottom button of his suit jacket.

It was ninety degrees outside, and there wasn’t one drop of sweat on his forehead. No redness on his cheeks. It’s like he was too important to be affected by the heat.

From above me, King leaned forward over the railing. With the light of the sun directly overhead, his massive frame cast a shadow onto the ground.

He really did look like a King. A force to be reckoned with. Zeus, on his perch above the world.

The senator stepped out of King’s shadow as if he were too good to be standing in it. This irked me.

He wasn’t better than King.

No one was.

King was a bad guy, but he was my bad guy. He was more than that. He was my world. My heart. These people may have known who I was before, but I knew who I was now, and the two versions of me were going to have to figure out how to merge before I uprooted what I had with King in search of something unknown.

“Senator,” King acknowledged the man.

“Mr. King,” the senator greeted, shielding his eyes from the sun with his hand.

“Where’s Max?” King asked, bitterly.

“Soon, she’ll be here soon. There is another car on its way here with her in it.”

“Trade means trade.” King said. “She isn’t going anywhere until Max gets here.”

Then, it hit me. King had said I didn’t have a choice, and now, I knew why.

If I stayed, King wouldn’t get his daughter back. The trade he mentioned was me for Max.

“There she is now,” the senator said as another town car pulled up into the driveway. King bounded down the steps jumping over me as he made his way over to the car. The second it stopped, King opened the back door.

“Max?” he shouted into the car.

The driver rounded the vehicle and produced something from his jacket pocket. He slapped a metal cuff around King’s wrist.

“She’s not in there,” King shouted, pulling at the cuff. “What the fuck is this? Where is she?”

The man I thought was the driver twisted King’s other arm forward and secured the cuffs in front of him.

“What are you doing?” I shouted, running up to King. “Let him go!” A pair of strong arms grabbed me from behind and stopped me from getting any closer. “What the fuck is going on? I need to go to him!”

I kicked my feet in the air as the man I was told was my father lifted me up off the ground. King’s nostrils flared as the man who’d just put King in cuffs, wrestled him into the back seat of the car.

“Mr. King, this is Detective Lyons. You’re being arrested for the abduction of my daughter,” the senator said, all the while maintaining his hold on me.

“But he didn’t kidnap me! He didn’t do anything. He saved me. He SAVED me!” I shouted, biting at his arm as I tried to break free of his grip.

And I meant it. King had saved me. In every way. He’d saved me from myself, from a life of standing still. Because of him, I was moving forward.

I wanted to move forward with him.

“You motherfucker!” King shouted. Detective Lyons closed the car door, and I lost sight of King behind the heavy tint of the windows.

“No!” I called out. The car took off and disappeared under the trees. “Let me fucking go!”

The senator turned me around to face him and grabbed me roughly by the shoulders. “Calm down, Ramie, or you’re going to scare him,” he warned.

“Who? What the fuck are you talking about?”

Tanner walked over to the car and opened the door. A little boy with curls like Tanner’s and hair as white as mine tumbled out of the back seat.

The little boy saw me and opened his arms. He came bounding up to me and crashed into my thigh.

The senator released his hold on me. The little boy nuzzled his face into my leg.

I looked down at him, puzzled.

Because it wasn’t the way his eyes were as icy-blue as mine, or how the dimple on his chin matched mine that alarmed me the most.

It was what he shouted that made my heart stop.

“Mommy!”

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