An eerie calm washes over me.

The hurt is gone, and I feel… good.

Too good.


I didn’t wake up right away. I let the unfamiliar good feeling take over for a minute or two. But as the pulling sensation intensified in my lower stomach, a familiar burning started to replace it. As the heat grew, I was coaxed further and further out of my dream…and smack dab into a cluster-fuck of a situation.

I was surprised to see Owen—or feel him, rather. He was on top of me, supporting most of his weight on his elbows, which were caging me in, resting on the mattress on either side of my head. My knees were spread apart. Owen’s hips were grinding against mine. White-hot anger flashed behind my eyes. A quick mental inventory told me that I was still fully clothed, my shirt still firmly in place, and thankfully Owen still had his boxers on. He ran his mouth up and down my neck from my ear to my collarbone, nipping and sucking at my skin.

The true cause of the new sensations pooling deep in my belly had been the result of Owen rubbing the hardness between his legs against the most sensitive part of my body, just under the thin fabric of my shorts.

Owen whispered in my ear, “You have no idea how much I want you Abby. I’m going to make you feel real good baby. Gonna make you scream my name real loud when you come.” The friction between my legs caused the tension in my stomach to grow.

In the battle between pain and unwelcome pleasure, pain would always win.

Even in sleep, my body had been responding to his touch, while my mind…well, my mind was pissed. And my skin was on fire.

I used both of my hands to push hard on Owen’s chest. He fell sideways onto the bed. “What the fuck, Owen?” I screamed. I jumped from the bed and found my boots. I smashed my feet into them, then found my backpack and threw it over my shoulders. I raced for the door. Owen was behind me in an instant. He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me against him. I could feel his hardness against my back. My skin felt like it was going to blister off. I struggled to get free from his grip, but he held me tighter, digging his fingers into my shoulders. When he leaned down to press his lips to my neck, I took the opportunity to elbow him in the ribs.

“Fuck!” he yelped, releasing me and gripping his side. “You wanted it, you bitch. You were moaning like a goddamned whore!” Owen stood up straight and looked me in the eye. I carefully backed away, toward the door. The look from earlier was back now. His pupils were small and the whites of his eyes were tinted red, like he was straining for some sort of control. This was the Owen from the truck, the angry, jealous one. All traces of the helpful friend I was stupid enough to think I had were gone. This person was some sort of monster. There was no apology in his tone, no remorse for what he’d almost done.

“I was sleeping! You thought it was a good idea to try to fuck a drunk, high, sleeping girl!”

“No! I thought it was a good idea to fuck YOU and give you what I know you want—what we both want.” He spat between his teeth and lunged for me as I opened the door, he caught me by the legs, and I fell forward, smashing my jaw on the threshold. I kicked my foot out of his grip and managed to right myself as I ran out the door. Owen reached out to me from behind, but I turned and slammed the door as hard as I could, smashing his hand in the process.

The motion lights turned on, illuminating the house and the grounds around it. I ran as fast as my legs would take me into the safety of the darkness.

“Abby, you bitch!” Owen wailed in the distance.

I reached down into my boot and grabbed my knife, then kept running down the road. If he decided to chase me, I was going to be ready for him.

I should never have agreed to stay with him. I tried to tell myself that he’d offered it because he wanted to genuinely help me out and be my friend. I should have listened to my instincts to stay away earlier when he was breathing fire because some other raging sociopath knew my name. It was odd that my thoughts even went to Jake, because something occurred to me in the moment after I fled Owen’s house. I felt safer staring down the barrel of Jake’s gun than I did looking into Owen’s eyes.

It’s amazing what poor judgment you can have when your options are limited to practically nothing.


I SLOWED TO A WALK somewhere between the two-and-a-half mile span between the Fletcher family compound and the rest of the town. Clouds shut out the natural light from the moon and stars. Crickets chirped, and the occasional coyote howled. The shell road crunched beneath my boots.

My grand plan was to head back to Nan’s, slit the screen on the back porch, and sleep there for the rest of the night. Morning wasn’t too far away. I would have to come up with another plan by then. Going back into foster care wasn’t an option. I would do something that would send me to prison, before I would allow them to put me back in the system.