mine-Page 5

“Do you want me to tell her you’re coming?” York asked.

The day of reckoning has arrived. I’ll have to explain why I broke off communication.

“No, don’t tell her I’m coming.” I touched the locket. “I’ll see you tonight.”

“You won’t see me. Unfortunately, I’m not in New York.”

I twisted the locket in my hand. “Where are you?”

“I’m in Tokyo. I’m trying to set up a soda endorsement for her.” York had been managing Zola’s career for the past years. So far, I assumed he’d been doing a good job. No one complained, not that I stayed in touch enough to find out.

“When are you coming back?” I asked.

“In two weeks, so… let’s make sure we maintain our temper, Hunter.”

“I don’t do anger management.”

York sighed. “Okay, man. Just don’t…have me regret this.”

“Thanks for the support.” I hung up.

Worry hit me. It had been five years since I’d seen Zola. My feelings for her still felt wrong.

In this world, I’d dealt with a lot of shitty, violent, rapey men. For once, I was trying to be a part of the male population that stood for something more than their cocks and money.

I must maintain control.

My emotions shifted whenever she was around. Even when we were both young, she did that to me. She would crawl into my bed. It was never sexual. I was thirteen. She was eight. I’d just been happy to be comforted, to feel someone near me. Growing up in a house without my actual family, sometimes loneliness closed in. Sometime only darkness served as my anchor.

Zola became my light.

Every night, I pretended to be asleep, and she would sneak in my bedroom with her teddy bears, place them on my pillow, and then pass out right next to me. And as soon as she dozed off, I pulled her close, hugging her and secretly pretending she was my mom.

Every morning, when I woke up, she’d be gone.

We never talked about it.

Then, I grew older, and she did too. I would come back from military duty. By then, Zola was seventeen, and I was twenty-two. Unfortunately, she figured we could cuddle like we used to. But I knew better.

My bedroom door clicked.

I opened my eyes and grabbed the gun under my pillow. After being in Special Forces for so long, sleeping with a gun had become a habit. The door screeched open, and I remembered as I woke up that I wasn’t on base.

I was home.

Still, I waited.

A small shadow tiptoed across the wall. I already knew whose lovely shadow it belonged too. Barely a second passed before my comforter shifted, and Zola slipped onto my right.

I closed my eyes, not wanting her to leave, but knowing that we were no longer kids. I was a man, and although she was growing, she was no woman yet. My heart raced. Dark urges roared inside of me, telling me that the cuddling would be okay.

But I knew it wouldn’t.

Zola scooted closer, right next to me, and placed her hand on my chest. She was so warm and soft. The shit scared me.

Fast, I grabbed her wrist.

She gasped.

“Go back to your room, Zola.”

She trembled. “I thought you were asleep. I wasn’t going to stay.”

“Then what were you going to do?”

“Cuddle with you a little.”

“We’re too old to cuddle, Zuzu.”

She swallowed. “Then, what can we do?”

I couldn’t let myself fall into the things that I was imagining. “Goodnight, Zuzu. We’ll hang out in the morning.”

She left, and she had to. I wouldn’t have wanted to just hold her as she slept anymore. I wanted to caress her soft skin and cup that ripe, curvy ass. I wanted to taste those stiff little nipples that had begun getting hard against my chest as we hugged. After she left, I locked my door. And from then on, I locked it before sleeping.

Stop thinking about that shit. Focus on the present. Her stalker.

My phone buzzed.

I checked it.

York had sent five pictures of the stalker’s messages. Each image showed a letter with only one word scribbled over and over on each page:

MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

The psycho left a cursive signature.

Brokenhearted.

I glanced at the pictures, shaking my head at that one word written over and over. Fire blazed in my chest. I grabbed my phone and dialed Baptiste.

Baptiste answered on the first ring. “Hunter?”

“I need your help.”

That creole accent rode his words. “Anything. What’s wrong?”

“Zola’s in trouble. Someone’s stalking her in New York.”

“This day has come. Your call to adventure.”

I didn’t understand what he meant. Too much adrenaline pumped in my blood. Nothing could happen to her. No one should have the right to scare her. Whoever the psycho was, I would do him worse than we did Nakita’s killers.