I didn’t know what he would be like after he finished a kill. Honestly, I had been through so much of my own shit that I hadn’t spent any time thinking about it, either. Now, I realized that he’d been through something incredibly dark while he was gone. Maybe, he just needed to ease back into the reality of his other life.

I touched his chin with my fingers and raised his face. His beautiful blue eyes met mine, but they were cold and distant. I softly ran my lips over his, giving him time to react to my nearness. But when he stayed stiff and still even after all that, I knew there was something more happening.


He took a step back and my feet met the ground.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. Now, I was confused. What could have happened to make him this cold to me when he’d been so hot and affectionate before he left?

He shuffled his feet and pinched the bridge of his nose before he spoke. His words were horrifying. “I’m just going to ask you this once, Abby.” His voice sounded shaky and gravely, and his nickname for me went noticeably unused.

I nodded. I would answer whatever he needed. Of course, I would. “Okay.”

“Did you, or did you not, fuck Owen Fletcher while I was gone?”

My stomach turned sick, my arms so heavy I wasn’t sure my frame would support them. They hung limply by side as I tried to form a coherent thought.

“What?” It was all I could manage.

“I asked you if you fucked Owen Fletcher.” He said it through gritted teeth, with his fists clenched at his side, his steel face blushing slightly. I could see his jaw clench and his pulse beating quickly within his temple.

“I know what you asked me.” I tried to sound angry, but it didn’t work. My own voice sounded foreign to me. I heard a higher-pitched, more terrified version of myself. “I want to know why you would even think to ask me that.”

“Because a reliable source said that he saw you go under the fucking bridge with Owen right after I left, and when he went to find Owen, that prick had your fucking underwear in his pocket and was bragging about how you finally gave it up to him.”

As soon as he said it, I lost all hope for what could have been. The accusing look in his eye. The cold, hard stare burning a hole right through me. The way I felt like a slut under his gaze, even though I hadn’t done a single thing to deserve such a look. What I believed Jake and I had didn’t really exist after all. His look told me that. He’d heard a fucking rumor from some ignorant asshole friend of Owen’s—like the rumors I hear every day—and he assumed it was true. He believed I was capable of betraying him so easily. I felt my walls going up. I was building it, brick by fucking brick. The old Abby was being put back into place. Part of me was heartbroken about it, but part of me couldn’t help but feel relieved. Deep inside, no matter how much faith I let myself have in Jake, somehow I’d known this moment would come eventually.

I just didn’t think it would’ve come so soon.

“So that’s what you really think of me?” I said in almost a whisper, sinking down to the curb of the sidewalk.

Pelicans dove behind us for live bait in the fisherman's buckets. Children laughed hysterically when they pulled up pin fish on their lines. People buzzed by on scooters, the inexperienced drivers spinning past us without so much as a glance in our direction. It was like we weren’t even there, like none of it was really happening. All around us, life was still going on. But inside, it felt as though my heart had just stopped. It stood as still as Jake did.

“Just answer the fucking question.” His voice was angry, but there was something pleading about it, too. He wanted the truth but only on his terms. He wanted me to tell him that I hadn’t done anything and that he had nothing to worry about. He wanted me to tell him it would all be okay.

But, beneath that, he doubted me. He doubted us. He questioned it even though I had freely given him all of me.

Every broken part of me was his.

Somehow he thought that after what we’d had together the night he left, I could run to the nearest bed —Owen Fletcher’s bed — and dive right in.

It dawned on me then why this was so significant. Why I couldn’t just tell him it hadn’t happened and move on.

I had been questioned by people my entire life.

Nobody had ever believed my word as the truth. No matter what happened to me—even the most unthinkable things. When I’d told anyone about them, nobody had ever trusted that what I was saying wasn’t a lie.

I’d thought Jake was different than everyone else. I thought what we had was actual trust.