“I didn’t think you’d care,” I lamely answered.
“Didn’t think I—” She took a deep breath before her voice exploded in anger. “For crying out loud, he came over and had pancakes!”
“Aunt Carissa,” I began but was cut off.
“Just tell me, Lake… are you in any danger?”
“Why would you ask that?” My face and voice remained impassive despite the pandemonium erupting inside my head.
“Because I really thought you were dating him. I can’t say I’m comfortable with you seeing this boy if you are.”
“No, I’m not seeing him. We were hardly even friends.”
She searched my face for signs of dishonesty, and it was the one time I prayed my aunt didn’t know me as well as she did. She seemed to give in to whatever answer she had found when she asked, “What happened to those poor kids? How could anyone do such a thing?”
“Aunt Carissa, he was a suspect, but they let him go. I guess they found new evidence.”
She didn’t appear convinced by my explanation as she furiously scanned the paper before slamming it down to glare at me. “Why do I get the feeling you aren’t telling me everything?”
“What do you mean?” I asked as I fought to keep my gaze on her. If I looked away or let my voice change infinitesimally, my aunt would catch it. She was too observing.
“What is your involvement with this guy and don’t you dare lie to me. A hot guy doesn’t just show up and eat a person’s pancakes without having a reason.”
I struggled with an answer, but a story worth telling, much less believing, wouldn’t surface. Damn the newspapers and damn Keiran Masters.
“He, uh, asked me out once, and I said no. He showed up because he was pretty persistent about it, but that’s over now.”
She eyed me warily before peering down at the paper again, scanning it once more before shaking her head with a look of sadness etched across her features. “It’s so tragic. Lake, I want you to promise me you will be careful. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you. After your mother died—” She paused mid-sentence and her eyes widened in horror. “Oh, Lake, honey. I’m sorry. I know this isn’t what you want to hear yet but—”
“Aunt Carissa, not now,” I urged but it sounded more like a desperate plea.
“Lake, I did this for you. I know you think you don’t want to hear it, but you need to. You’re already eighteen and will be graduating in just a few months. I couldn’t send you off into the world without knowing what happened to them. I’m sorry I lied to you.”
“I know, Aunt Carissa. You don’t need to apologize again. I just need time to figure this all out.”
I couldn’t tell her there was nothing to figure out or that instead, I couldn’t bring myself to admit they were really dead. I couldn’t even promise to try.
* * *
My room held a quality that wasn’t there when I left this morning, and when my eyes landed on my brooding teenage tormentor leaning against the wall, I understood why.
“It occurred to me the little stunt you pulled today was not a one-time deal or a brief lapse in judgment.”
Remembering his earlier threat, I quickly spun around to leave, but he was across the room with his hand over my mouth before I could cross the threshold. He pulled my arms back to rest at the small of my back. After I was restrained to his satisfaction, he quickly loosened his grip as if he were afraid of hurting me. I laughed despite my current position.
“So can you guess why?”
“I hardly think I need to be in this position or have you in my room in the middle of the night to play a fucking guessing game.”
“Careful with those big words, little girl.”
“Get over yourself, Keiran. We’re the same age.”
“That’s where you have it wrong. I’m nothing like you.”
I gritted my teeth to tamp down the onslaught of desire I couldn’t shake but held on to the growing anger. “Say what you came to say and get out.”
“What makes you think what I came to do involve words?”
“Because you seem to have a lot of them.”
His deep chuckle vibrated all the way down my body. “Is that a challenge?”
“It’s whatever you want it to be. I just want you gone.”
His laughter ended, and I knew he was assessing me in the way he always did, gauging my sincerity. I felt my words and their meaning down to my soul, and still, I knew I didn’t mean it. It frustrated me more than the sexual buildup he insisted on creating every time we were near.
I wanted to put him away forever. They wanted to kill him.
I was being pulled in two different directions—the need to hurt him and the need to protect him.
The sweet scent of his breath was intoxicating, and then I felt it—his lips near my ear.
He whispered, “And I just want inside you.”
I felt the rush, the clench, and the goddamn fucking need.
Each encounter, no matter how close he got to me or how far he stayed away, made it harder and harder to keep my promise.
“Your scare tactics are getting old, Keiran. We won’t be in high school forever.” He pressed against me from behind but didn’t make any further movements.
“If you think I’m trying to scare you, then my seduction skills need serious work. Besides, I don’t need fear to control you anymore. My cock is pretty good at making you do what I want.”