Page 15

I stepped up onto the dock and it protested my intrusion, creaking and hissing as I made my way down the pier. As I got closer, I realized the boat was a good five feet away from the pier. I spotted a long piece of plywood and picked it up off of the dock, sending ants scurrying all around it. I quickly set it down across the gap, creating a makeshift bridge.

I carefully crossed over it, hopping down onto the cracked wooden deck of the boathouse which was large but for the most part empty for the exception of three rusted folding chairs set in front of the sliding glass doors under the little overhang. A rusted can of Dr. Pepper sat in each of the cup holders. A pink flashlight with a My Little Pony sticker was propped up on one of the chairs. I picked it up and tried to click on the switch. Nothing. I gave it a vigorous shake and banged one end against the palm of my hand. Surprisingly enough it came to life, shining directly into my eye, temporarily blinding me. I blinked waited for my eyes to readjust. With my working flashlight to help light the way I found the handle on the door and attempted to slide it open. It took quite a bit of force to get it to budge, as debris and mud caked the threshold.

Much like the deck, the cabin was empty, except for a few cabinets lining the far wall. Most of the doors were hanging off the hinges. All the shelves were missing. Three faded sleeping bags sat up against another wall. One purple, one pink, and one blue. All three were covered with mildew and frayed at the seems.

Every single inch of wall and ceiling space was covered with magazine pages and clippings. And when I looked closer, through the layer of grime that had coated the pictures over time, I could still make out the different teenage stars from boy bands or TV shows.

Teen magazines. Wall-to-wall teen magazines.

I closed my eyes again and inhaled, hoping to catch another hint of what triggered my recognition. This was a place I’d spent a lot of time. I was positive that one of those sleeping bags was mine and I was even more sure that I’d at least helped wallpaper the place with the magazine pages, because as I walked around I found myself humming one of the tunes from one of the boy bands. That particular band seemed to have their own section of wall space dedicated completely to them.

I was so lost in my mission to remember more about that place that I didn’t hear the approaching footsteps.

A strong calloused hand covered my mouth from behind, muffling my scream of surprise; an arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me flush up against a very hard, very familiar body. “Miss me, Pup?” A deep voice vibrated against my neck. The light scent of cigarettes and soap, mixed with a bit of sweat, invaded my senses. My body instantly softened at the familiarity of his touch. My breath quickened. He released me just enough to spin me around to face him.

King.

I should’ve been happy to see him. Elated even. I’d been thinking about him almost nonstop since I last saw him days ago.

But my happiness was muted. By anger. A lot of anger.

I was fucking pissed.

And that feeling seemed to be mutual because I could only describe the way King’s green eyes blazed into mine, as furious.

“What are you doing here? I thought—”

“No,” King interrupted. “I know you’re about to start your question and answer bullshit, which I normally think is fucking adorable, but right now, before I lose my fucking shit, you’re going to have to answer one of my questions first.” His voice sounded strained, raspy, like he was fighting to maintain control.

I tried to speak again, but he covered my mouth with his hand, pushing his thumb inside, silencing me with his makeshift gag. “Why the fuck was that little shit climbing in and out of your fucking window a few days ago?” He pulled his thumb from my mouth, and I regretted not biting down on it when I had the chance.

“How? Were you were watching me?”

King took his wet thumb and rubbed it over my lips, and I instinctively leaned into his touch. “Not me. But I’ve got eyes on you.” King’s brows drew into a downward point. His grip around me tightened. “Answer me, Pup,” he demanded. His fingers digging into my hips.

King wasn’t someone who could be ignored.

His tongue darted out between his lips; he slid it along the seam. I tried not to stare and instead focus on the anger that had been building for days, but my body’s reaction couldn’t be contained. It was amazing how such a little thing like wetting his full lips with his talented tongue already had my nipples standing at attention, ready for his touch.

King growled against my neck, “If he so much as touched you, I will tear his fucking head from his body with my bare fucking hands.” There was nothing about King’s demeanor that said he could be exaggerating or joking. As soon as he’d said it, I knew he’d meant it.

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