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Horny.

I’m so horny I could hump an inanimate object like Swarley does.

Light flickers and Jake unzips the flap and picks up the flashlight that I accidentally dropped while hurrying to get inside here.

“How old are you?” He pins me to the ground with a stern glare.

I don’t blink, but what he can’t see is my grin, and it’s every bit as big as his stupid, ridiculous, making-fun-of-Avery grins.

“Five? Are you five, Avery?” He shrugs off his tee.

I allow one blink to prevent my eyes from drying out. De-panting someone is not really a five-year-old prank. It’s probably more of a thirteen-year-old prank, but I don’t actually correct him because I’ve never pulled someone’s pants down out of revenge. Had I done it before, then I surely would have known to keep my face at a safe distance from the springy appendage.

After I refuse to give him more than a blink, he eases onto his sleeping bag and shuts off the flashlight.

“Avery?”

I contemplate giving him any sort of response, but after a few seconds, I hum a questioning response. “Ahhh!” I gasp then yelp as he grips my sleeping bag and pulls the whole thing, with me trapped in it, onto his body so we’re nose to nose, and the head of his still-erect cock nudges the apex of my legs. I swear cocks are natural pussy homing devices. “I’m claustrophobic,” I say on a panicked whisper. My arms are trapped. I can’t move.

Still, I’m desperate to widen my legs an inch for very shameful, once-a-hussy-always-a-hussy reasons.

Jake’s nose brushes mine as his minty breath invades my personal space, or maybe it’s his personal space. Things are a bit weird at the moment. I’m not sure whose space we’re occupying. “When you least expect it, I’m going to pull down your pants and sniff your panties … probably in public. You’ve been warned. Understood?”

Oh my god …

With as much ease and at the same lightning speed that he snatched me from my spot, he returns me to the ground next to Swarley.

CHAPTER TEN

Day Four

Ozark National Forest

Jake buys a new T-shirt.

I used to be a people person, but you ruined that for me.

Day Five

Ozark National Forest with hard water, deteriorating hair, and seven out of ten fingernails chipped, ripped, and cringe-worthy.

Jake buys a new T-shirt.

Scratch N Sniff

Dumbass.

Day Six

Ozark National Park. Shitty cell phone signal. We don’t leave the campsite. I contemplate slitting his throat or my wrists.

Day Seven

STILL in the freaking Ozarks! I have never been so disheveled from my witchy head to my calloused toes. We make a food run—thank god. I had to swing another fasting session because I ran out of Addy’s snacks. In all fairness, Jake offered me some of his food, but with the looming threat of losing my pants in public, I couldn’t risk getting anywhere near him or his food.

Jake winds us through the mountains to a small grocery store.

“Get your shit and I’ll meet you at the checkout. I’ll roll down the windows, but I have a feeling Swarley could go into a barking frenzy no matter what.”

“Maybe.” I shrug, patting a gentle hand over my hair.

“Fucking lice.” Jake rolls his eyes.

“It’s not lice, asshat. I told you that.” I chase him into the store. He grabs a basket and sets off toward the produce. I grab a basket and make my way to end caps with sale items.

With fifteen dollars’ worth of snacks in my basket, I make my way to the checkout.

“Well damn,” I whisper when I come across a stand of T-shirts with funny sayings. But not just funny sayings—THE perfect shirt to wear for my travel companion.

Life is short and so is your penis.

But … it’s ten dollars. Food? Or revenge?

It’s a no-brainer. I exchange my first choice of food items for five ninety-nine cent pouches of Pasta O’s with tomato sauce. The tax on the shirt leaves me with less than five dollars left to my name. I might have to pawn off something to make it back to L.A. without starving.

Maybe Swarley?

I inwardly giggle.

Jake frowns at my small bag when he loads his expensive produce onto the conveyor belt. I smile. Yeah, it’s pretty shitty food, but so worth it.

“Did you get some tea tree oil for your lice?” He stares at my hair after paying for his groceries.

“Nope.” I fish out my new shirt and hold out my bag for him to hold.

Of course he can’t just take it. He has to scowl at me like holding it is the most inconvenient thing he has ever had to do. After he takes it, I head out the door and slip on my new shirt, whipping around to face him while walking backward as he walks forward, inspecting my shirt.

After he reads it, his gaze flits to meet mine. I try to keep my smugness to a minimum like, Yeah, it’s an awesome shirt because I’m awesome like that, no big deal. Unfortunately, I suck at subtle.

Jake? He’s a master at masking his emotions—the opposite of an open book. A closed book, with no cover and no blurb.

“I noticed those shorts of yours are a bit loose around the waist.”

Taking quicker steps backward to keep him from trampling me, I glance down at my shorts. They’re a bit loose, but that’s not a surprise given my recent fasting.

“Yeah, so?” I glance up.

He pins me with a hard, expectant stare.

Shit.

“When’s the last time you mooned someone, Avery?”

“Jake.” I shake my head.

One side of his mouth curls a fraction as his pace picks up.

“No.” I hold out my finger.

“Yes.” He reaches for me.

“Jake, no!” I turn and run.

Where? Well, that’s just it. I have nowhere to go but in circles around the parking lot. But he is not pulling down my shorts in the parking lot of a grocery store.

His steps gain on me.

“Help!”

“Shh …” He laughs just behind me.

“Stop. Don’t! I’m going to fall in these heels!”

“Shh …” Jake’s hand snags the back of my shorts.

My fingers clench the waist of them as he pulls me to a stop and drags me back to the truck, wedging them up my ass in the process.

“Jake—”

“Shh … stop squealing like a damn pig. I’m not going to pull your pants down … yet.”

I wrap both of my hands around his wrist, tugging at his firm grip on the back of my shorts. He opens my door to the truck and tosses the bags in next to Swarley. After he shuts the door, he releases me. I jump into my seat and fasten the seat belt, hoping it aids in keeping my pants on me.

Resting his hand on the top of my door, he inspects me with that indiscernible look for a few moments as I start to mess with my hair then decide to just keep my hands idle on my lap to prevent him from making some stupid comment about lice.

“Can’t say I’ve ever chased anyone around a parking lot before.” He bites his lips together.

Screw him. I am not going to mirror that stupid grin he has on his mild-to-moderately handsome face. We are grownups. Playing chase is something ten-year-olds do. He’s reduced me to an adolescent again.

“Shut the door, short dick.” I grab for the handle, but he keeps a firm hold on the door. It’s not going to shut until he’s ready.

I huff a long breath, crossing my arms over my chest. Looking forward, I ignore the hole he’s boring into the side of my head. He knows I saw his big dick. I’m not going to acknowledge it.

Nope. Never.

The door shuts. He gets in, rolls down the windows, and guns it out of the parking lot, tossing a disapproving frown in the direction of my high heels.

“They were for the grocery store.”

“I’m sure the eighty-year-old woman at the checkout was very impressed with you.”

“Shut up. I dress for myself sometimes, you know? Is there something wrong with wanting to feel good about myself? Lord knows the rest of me is in dire need of some maintenance.”

He cocks an eyebrow at me.

I ignore his condescending look and try to put my window up as we pick up speed, but he’s locked it from his side.

“Put my window up.” I gather my hair and hold it back, but the wind keeps pulling at it. “Jake, put my window up. I can’t have my hair blowing everywhere!”

“What?” He holds his hand up to his ear.

“My hair!”

“Still can’t hear you.” He shrugs. “Tell me when we get back to the campsite.”

I scowl at him while Swarley pokes his nose up between the seat and the door to enjoy the wind as well. Traitor.

“My dad used to bring Sydney and me here for long weekends after our mom died. We rented a cabin that came with a fishing boat.”

Jake shoots me a glance, which means he can hear me. After a few seconds, he rolls up the windows. I inwardly grin.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

“There are at least four species of venomous snakes in the Ozarks. They’re most active midmorning and late afternoon. Maybe that’s when you should take your hikes while Swarley and I stay in the truck. Please leave the keys, in case you don’t make it back. Do you have family I can contact when you die?”

Jake responds with a twisted face. I return a toothy smile.

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