how I referred to it. A constant state of chaos that had a
stranglehold on me.
Stay away from her.
My father’s words
invaded my thoughts, a red haze clouding my vision momentarily.
In all the time that
I’d known the man, after all the warnings he had dished out, all of the threats
he made, never had I wanted to defy him so badly.
But for the first time,
it wasn’t to get back at him.
It had nothing to do
with him period.
I wanted Payton. I wanted
her with a passion I’d never experienced before. I wanted to hold her in my
arms, to lay her out beneath me and bury myself so deep inside her that she no
longer thought about any other man. I wanted to own her, to possess her.
It was crazy.
Pushing away from the
heavy bag, I retrieved the bottle of water sitting on the window sill. Staring
out into the night, I could see my reflection on the window glass. The crazed
look in my eyes was something I’d gotten familiar with. I knew what was inside
of me. A beast that needed to get out.
No amount of adrenaline
had ever extricated the turmoil though, and Lord knows I had tried. Too many
I downed the rest of
the water and tossed the bottle into the small recycle container in the corner.
Placing my hands on the wall above the window, I leaned forward, trying to see
past the reflection into the night and that’s when it came back to me.
It was her I’d seen,
even before I met her.
She was the one I’d
been drawn to, the reason I hadn’t wanted to wake up. Closing my eyes, I tried
to conjure up the image of the woman who infiltrated my dreams, the way she
looked then. She was just out of reach.
Just like Payton.
Stay away from her.
As Conrad’s words
bounced around in my head and images of Payton’s face continued to drift
through my mind, I knew what the right thing to do was.
For her sake, I needed
to stay away. I needed to pretend we never met, ignore the fact that I was
obsessed with her.
There was only one
She unhinged me.
And I wasn’t strong
enough to resist her.
One week later
Wiping the sweat from
my face with the edge of my T-shirt, I allowed the wrench to fall from my hand
and land with a shrill clatter on the concrete floor. The sound was
surprisingly reminiscent of the noise that was clanging inside my head. Even
with the music blasting, I couldn’t block out the frenzied thoughts bouncing
around inside my skull.
The garage door was
open, the chilly November wind whipping through the open space, but it did
little to cool me down. My skin felt hot, my blood was racing through my veins.
Although I could usually get myself under control by working, that wasn’t even
“Fuck,” I growled,
thrusting my hands through my hair, then sliding them down to the back of my
I paced the floor just
like that, my eyes on the ground, my hands gripping my neck, the muscles
I’d been strung tight
as a bow since last Friday. Six days ago.
The last time I saw Payton.
I could still feel her
breath on my lips. I was kicking myself in the ass for not kissing her, for not
taking her into my arms and holding her, touching her. I just wanted to know
what she would feel like against me. If I could have done anything differently
about that night, that would have been it. It was the only damn thing I could
And it was slowly
It didn’t help that
Conrad was watching me like a hawk. If I didn’t know better, I would have
thought he was tracking me. Maybe he was. I actually wouldn’t be at all
If it weren’t for my
sister requesting that I have dinner with them every night, avoiding him would
have been a hell of a lot easier. But it was hard for me to say no to Aaliyah.
So, every night, I had to endure my father’s scowl at the table. He would
purposely bring up Payton’s name and every damn time his eyes would be on me.
So far, not since the