mine-Page 13

I came quick, let go of her neck, and rolled over to the other side of the bed, shivering from the small release.

Gasping, Tina grabbed her neck as if trying to get as much oxygen in her lungs as possible. Seconds later, she rolled away, fell off the bed, and hit the floor with a boom. But she didn’t let the pain get in the way. She raced to the door, not even grabbing her shoes or dress.

The door slammed.

Her pocketbook sat on the table. I doubted she’d go to the police, and it didn’t matter anyway. First, she would need some close. Second, would’ve had to explain why she was on the other side of town in a seedy motel with a strange man from a bar. Third, the island’s cops would know the hotel and the room, and not even come this way.

They don’t want to deal with me tonight.

I yanked the condom off, slung it on the dresser, and turned on the television.

Zola’s commercial played again.

I raised the volume.

The commercial was for Natural Health cigarettes. They’d been playing all over the place. The tobacco company’s logo appeared—a solid green square with a white leaf drawn in the center.

Another woman’s voice rode the images of Zola smoking pale green cigarettes. “Natural Health cigarettes provides your body with what it needs, lowering stress as well as strengthening your immune system.”

Zola walked slowly down the beach and gazed out at the sunset. A cigarette dangled from her fingers.

The narrator added. “Natural Health uses medicinal tobacco to—”

I muted the television and watched Zola.

Another scene appeared. She jogged down a wooded path, stopped, wiped the sweat from her face, and pulled out a cigarette.

Words showed up at the bottom of the screen. “Why not have Natural Health today?”

This must be a yes. I saw her twice in one day. This is a good sign.

Regardless of what had happened in these past months, I would continue my plan.

The day has come.

5

Love Requires Rules

Hunter

Zola declared, “I’m a woman now.”

She’d stood before me in that black and white bikini. I’d seen band aids that were bigger. And those silver-tipped heels hadn’t helped the situation either. I wanted to fuck her with those on. I couldn’t believe I’d made it through that dressing room ordeal without tearing off her clothes and licking between those thick thighs.

The urge came. It rose inside of my chest. No matter how much I tried to be normal—to be right. This thick sludge coursed in my veins, pushing for me to taste the woman I’d always craved.

No. Calm down.

Thank God Zola changed clothes, and we went to the car. I’d rented one with a driver to take us around until I handled her stalker problem. Zola and I sat in the back. However, I had underestimated how being so close to her would affect me.

I’d watched her climb into the car—one of my many mistakes. Thankfully, she’d ditched the bikini. Now she had on form-fitting jeans and a sky-blue top that had thin material and was unable to hide the lush breasts moving against the fabric. And dear God, her nipples pushed the soft fabric too.

Why must it always be this way around Zola?

I hadn’t been given good parents. I created a family by living with hers. I appreciated them. I did what they said.

Love required rules.

You just want what you can’t have?

Sometimes I didn’t think it was that simple. Sometimes I thought it was more. Sometimes, I even considered taking her and seeing what would happen. And sometimes, I punked out and pushed the thought away.

Why is killing easier than forgiving? Why am I quick to hate, and scared to love?

I was sure my mom had something to do with it. Since losing me, she’d been in and out of jail—drug charges and theft. After joining the military and gaining my special skills, I’d looked her up. Mom had graduated to double homicide and sat on death row.

“Come here! You piece of shit! Ten years old, and you can’t stop breaking dishes!” She ashed her cigarette on the carpet. “Always wanting. Always fucking wanting. I have no one here helping us. I’m working every day! Do you see your father here?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Do you see your piece of shit grandparents here?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about me or us.” She slapped me. “And you break my glass because you’re mad you have to wash dishes?”

I didn’t answer. It would be stupid to answer. I would get slapped again for answering. I didn’t cry either. That would get a harder one—a gut wrenching one. And I didn’t tell her it was a mistake, because it wasn’t one.

I didn’t even tell her the truth, that she’d come in drunk last night and broke the glass herself.

Buddha. Jesus.

“I’m the only one here! And you! Wanting! Always fucking wanting!”