“This is where I walk away,” I said, pushing myself up from the stool.

“Hell, you probably should stay away from all people actually. Didn’t you have a wife and a child? What happened to them?”

“Don’t, Tanner,” I warned, my hands forming fist.

“What happened? Did you hurt them? Are you the reason they’re dead? Shit. I bet you are.” He laughed. “Are they buried in a ditch somewhere? Did you fucking murder your family? You’re a psychopath and I don’t see why no one else can see it. Especially Liz. She’s normally smart.”

I huffed and turned to face him. “It must kill you that she’s with me.”

He was taken aback by my words. “What?”

“You stare at her as if she’s your world and she looks past you every time. I mean, it’s actually funny.” I laughed. “Because here you are pretty much throwing yourself at her, fixing her cars, showing up to have dinner with her, pretty much begging her to look your way, and she just doesn’t see you, dude. And not only does she not see you, she chooses me, the town recluse, the one person you can’t stand. It must be eating at you inside,” I mocked. I was being mean, and cold, but he’d brought my family into it. He’d made it personal. “It must be killing you to know it’s my bed she’s crawling into, and it’s my name she’s moaning.”

“Fuck you,” he said with narrow eyes.

“Trust me,” I replied with a wolfish grin. “She is.”

“Do you not know who I am?” he said, pounding his finger against my chest. “Dude. I get what I want. I always get what I want. So enjoy the time you have with Liz, because I’m getting her. And enjoy your time with Mr. Henson’s shop, because I’m taking that, too.” He patted me on the back. “Nice talking to you, psycho. Make sure to tell your wife and son I said hi.” He paused and laughed. “Oh wait, never mind.”

Everything in my head started to spin. Without hesitation I swung around and slammed my fist into Tanner’s jaw. He stumbled backward. I shook my head a few times. No. I felt Tanner’s fist meet my eye before he sent me to the ground and started slamming his fists into me over and over again. I could hear everyone around us screaming, and I thought I saw Faye trying to pull Tanner off me, but I flipped him over and slammed him against the ground.

He wanted this. He wanted the beast to be unleashed, and he said all the right things to bring the beast to life. He had brought Jamie and Charlie into it. He’d gone too far, and had taken me to the darkness. I slammed my fist into his face. I slammed my fist into his stomach. Over and over again. I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop. Everyone was screaming around me, but I couldn’t hear them anymore.

I fucking snapped.

Chapter Twenty-Nine


“Oh my God!” I screamed. My eyes fell to Tristan as he stood over Tanner, slamming his fists into his face over and over again. His eyes were hard, his stare as cold as Tanner’s, and he kept swinging. “Tristan,” I said, walking over to him. Tanner was almost passed out, but Tristan wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop. “Tristan,” I said louder, reaching for his arm as it flew up in the air. The speed his arm was swinging at made me stumble backward and when he saw me, he stopped. His chest was rising and falling, and I could see the anger in his eyes. I slowly approached him and placed my hands around his face. “It’s over,” I said. “It’s over.” Come back to me.

I watched his breathing slow as he climbed off Tanner, and he stared at his bloody hands. “Shit,” he exhaled, crawling away from Tanner.

Tristan stood up, and as I reached for his hold, he yanked his body away from mine. His eyes were wild, untamed, and I could see how far away from me he was.

What did Tanner do to you?

When I turned to Tanner, I felt awful for even thinking that it was somehow his fault. Tristan had almost knocked him out, and my gut was tangled up with guilt and confusion. Tristan stormed off, not turning around once to look back at me.

“Jesus,” Tanner muttered. Faye rushed over to him to help him up. “I’m fine,” he said, standing.

“What did you…” My voice shook. “What did you say to him?”

Faye’s brow furrowed. “Liz. Seriously?”

“I just…he wouldn’t just snap like that. He wouldn’t just attack you. Tanner, what did you say to him?”

He huffed sarcastically and spit out blood. “Un-fucking-believable. I can hardly open my right eye and you are asking me what I said to him?”

My throat was tight, tears burning at the back of my throat. “Sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just, he’s not one to just snap like that.”

“Didn’t he push you down a hill, Liz?” Faye frowned.

“It was an accident. I tripped. He would never hurt me.” How could she even think something like that? Tristan had been there for her when she needed him! How could she turn on him so fast? Everyone stood around us, fear in their eyes. All of the ladies from the book club were whispering about Tristan, calling him a monster. Everyone was judging me for loving such a beast.

“Yeah. I’m sure this was an accident too,” Tanner said, gesturing toward his bruised face. “He’s a monster and he’s dangerous, Liz. It’s only a matter of time before he snaps on you too—or worse, on Emma. I’m going to show you, Liz. I’m going to find out the truth about that guy and show you his secrets. Then maybe you’ll trust me.”