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I was about to answer him. To relieve him of the thought that Tanner might have touched me, when another emotion slammed into me headfirst.

Fury.

Why did I need to alleviate his suspicions to put his mind at ease when I was the one who was wronged? I was the one who he pushed out the door. If he thought I could just pretend like that never happened then King had another fucking thing coming.

I placed my hands on his chest and shoved with all my might, gaining only a few inches of space between us. “You! How dare you! You have no fucking right to be angry with me right now!”

“Pup…,” King started, his hard glare remained firm, a thick vein bulged in his neck under a brightly colored tattoo of Max’s name.

I shook my head and tried to take another step back but he stepped forward with me. “No! Don’t ‘Pup’ me! You knew who I was and you never told me! All that bullshit about me being ‘yours’ and you send me away the first chance you get!” I threw my hands in the air.

“I didn’t think I had another choice,” King said. He attempted to press his forehead to mine, a gesture that would normally render me calm and compliant, but I wasn’t ready for calm and compliant. I jerked my head back, avoiding the contact.

“No! You did have another choice. You could have fucking told me. You could have let me make that decision with you instead of making it for me!” I once again pushed on King’s chest, this time gaining enough space between us to shimmy out from his grip. I left the cabin of the boat and climbed back onto the dock, walking briskly back the way I came. The humid night air hung heavily like damp laundry on the line. I waded back into the water, not as carefully as I had the first time around. The thunder cracked overhead. Lightening lit up the sky like fireworks exploding all around me. And because I was racing through the water and wasn’t as cautious as I was the first time around, I lost my footing on every other step, sinking up to my ankles into the soft ground.

There was a loud splashing behind me. “Did you come here to apologize? Because it’s too fucking late! You should have thought of that before you lied to me,” I shouted over my shoulder. Before I even rounded the trees King grabbed me roughly by the wrist, spinning me around. Water whipped through the air as my hair skipped across the surface.

“Look at me,” he growled, tilting my chin up to him.

“I can’t,” I said, pressing my eyes shut tightly.

“Look at me, Pup,” he demanded again. “I’m not letting you go until you do.”

“This isn’t fair!” I shouted, struggling to free myself from his grip. “I don’t want to look at you! I just want you to let me fucking go!” When I finally wrangled my hand from his grip, I raised it in the air. My palm was about to make contact with King’s face when he caught my wrist midair.

“Oh, Pup,” he said, his deep voice rumbled with something sinister. He leaned down until his face was level with my own. I felt his cool breath across my check when he said, “You’re going to pay for that.” I looked up at him through my lashes just as he lifted me in the air by my waist and tossed me up into the air. I landed on my ass with a splash as I sunk underwater. I didn’t even have a chance to come back up for air when strong arms grabbed me under my arms, hauling me back up into the night air.

I sputtered, spitting out water, wiping my eyes. The salt water burned my nostrils. “What the fuck!” I shouted.

King wiped my matted hair from my forehead. Again he tipped my chin up to him. “No look at me or you’re going back in.”

“Fuck you,” I spat. King went to throw me again, but this time, I fought against him so strongly, he couldn’t lift me up so instead he held me tight and dove into the water, dragging me under with him.

When he resurfaced with me still in his arms, in the shoulder deep water, he dug his fingers into my hips. “This shit was so much fucking easier when you were afraid of me.”

I’m not afraid of you anymore, I’m only afraid of a life without you.

And he had gone and thrown it all away.

And this was about more than being angry with him.

I was hurt.

I decided to open my eyes and get it over with. I told myself that I wasn’t going to feel anything. That I would look at him and still be able to walk away.

It’s still a lie even if you’re only telling it to yourself.

Slowly and begrudgingly, I opened my eyes and when they locked onto his my breath hitched in my throat.

I told myself that it was the heat lightning flashing across the sky, charging the air around us. I told myself that it was because we were standing in the thick line of light that the full moon painted across the water that was making me want to reach out and touch the soft glow of his colorfully tattooed skin.

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