I think about the pleasure and pain of having him fuck my ass for the first time and I know without a doubt I’ll want to repeat that experience again.

My fingers move faster and faster over my clit until my back arches and I call out Collin’s name as I come.

I MUST’VE DRIFTED off after I brought myself to orgasm and I wake with a start and quickly sit up, some of the now lukewarm water splashing over the edge of the tub. I figure the cold water was the cause for my sudden wake-up until I hear a thump and realize a similar noise is what jolted me out of my bath time slumber moments ago.

Straining my ears, I wait to see if I hear anything else and when another thunk sounds from down below, I quickly pull myself out of the tub and grab the clean towel I threw on the floor. Drying myself off as fast as I can, I grab my short black robe from the back of the bathroom door and slip it on, tying the belt around my waist. I figure its Collin downstairs since I told him to just come over as soon as he got off work. In my haste to get down to him, I forget that the front door was locked and he doesn’t have a key. Eager to see him again, my nose doesn’t register the cloying, faintly sweet, noxious scent drifting around the corner until I’m stepping into living the room and it’s too late. The smell is so strong that I almost wonder why I can’t see it floating in the air around me.

When my brain finally registers the scent, fear takes ahold of me like a pair of shackles around my ankles. I jerk to a stop in the doorway of the living room expecting to see a monster straight out of my nightmares standing right in front of me. When I see nothing but the empty room, hope blossoms in my chest. Maybe it’s not what I think it is. The front door is standing wide-open, shards of split wood sticking out from the doorframe where it was kicked in. Twenty or so feet to freedom, to fresh air that will clear the fuzziness from my head and the exhaustion I suddenly feel. The fumes filling the room are starting to blur my vision, making the ground look like it’s tilting at an awkward angle and the walls look like they’re melting. I want to close my eyes to stop the room from spinning. My whole body feels weightless, and I have to fight the urge to curl up on the soft carpet at my feet and fall asleep.

A small voice inside my head starts to scream, shaking me out of the chemical high.

RUN, Finnley. RUN!

I force my feet to move, taking a few slow steps towards the door. I can see the railings of the front porch, the green grass of the yard, the sidewalk at the curb and a car parked across the street. I can make it. In just a few seconds I’ll be out there where I can breathe again. I can run to the neighbor’s house and call Collin.

The thought of Collin gives me the strength I need to run. I need to get to him.

My feet stumble as the room continues to sway but I keep going. Just a little bit further and Collin will be there. He’ll make all of this go away.

I’m sure I look like I’m drunk, tripping and veering from side to side as I hustle to freedom, but I don’t care. I need to get out of this house.


Ten feet.

Five feet.

Three feet.

I’m almost there. I can feel a soft breeze blow through the door and a smile lights up my face as I pause to breathe in the fresh air.

I shouldn’t have stopped. I should have kept going.

Two feet from freedom and a body steps out from the kitchen doorway, blocking my escape. The fist comes towards my face so fast I don’t have time to block it or brace myself.

Pain explodes through my cheek, radiating up to my temple until I see nothing but blackness as I feel my body falling.



Down it goes until it lands on the soft carpet.

The pain in my face and head swallows all of my thoughts and I let the darkness wash over me.

THE SMELL HITS my consciousness first. Something about it tickles my senses and reminds me that it’s wrong. It shouldn’t be here and I shouldn’t still be breathing it, but I can’t remember why.

As I blink my eyes into focus, a stabbing pain on the right side of my face has me slowly dragging my arm across the carpet and up to my cheek, cupping my face in my hand to try and stop the hurt. I can feel my heart beat thumping through the pain in my cheek and each pulse magnifies the ache and brings tears to my eyes.

I move my hand away from my face and press my palms flat against the ground, pushing myself up to my knees. As soon as I’m upright, the pain in my head and on the side of my face intensifies and I whimper.

“Wakey, wakey, Sunshine.”

The chipper voice has me jerking my head towards its sound, the blast of pain shooting up to my head making me instantly regret that quick movement.

Everything comes rushing back to me in a flash of memories. The day outside the fire station, the car following me everywhere I went, the texts, the threats, the restraining order, the unusual silence from him since I filed the restraining order and me stupidly racing down the stairs after my bath hoping the noise I heard was Collin. I should have known his silence didn’t mean he’d conceded and would leave me alone. I should have known he was only letting his anger fester, giving himself time to build up to the grand finale.

Standing by the front door, next to the boxes of his things, is the man responsible for the pain in my face and the deadly scent permeating the air around me. When I see the four empty red cans tossed onto their sides by the boxes, the wetness soaking against my legs finally registers.

I watch in horror as Jordan reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a small square of cardboard. My eyes sting with the smell of gas in the air and the tears burning behind my lids as I slowly start to crawl backwards.

Jordan’s eyes are bloodshot and his face is flushed and I know he must be high on something. There’s no other logical explanation for what he’s doing right now.

“Did you think you were just going to pack my shit up and put me out of your life? Move on with another man? He can’t fucking have you! Do you hear me, Finn? HE CAN’T FUCKING HAVE YOU!” Jordan screams.

He punctuates his threat with the swipe of a match against the striker of the matchbook he holds in his shaky hands.

I’m so filled with fear that I can’t even find my voice to plead with him to stop. His thumb and forefinger hold the lit match out from the side of his body and the only sound I can make is another whimper.

“Do you have any idea the number of women I’ve fucked behind your back over the years? You were so trusting and gullible it was pathetic,” he spits out. “All those women who fucked ten times better than you and you’re the one I want. Now I’m the pathetic one and it makes me SICK!”

I can’t stop the tremors from wracking my body but I continue to inch myself further away from him, across the carpet. This isn’t happening. It’s all a dream. It can’t end like this, not when I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for and I haven’t even had a chance to tell him exactly what he means to me; what he’s always meant to me.

“Stop moving away or I swear to fuck I will drop this match right now!”

I immediately halt my backward movement while he continues to shout.

“You spread your legs for another man. How in the fuck am I supposed to get those images out of my head, Finn?” Jordan asks, the anguish in his voice ringing through my ears.

The fact that he’s the biggest hypocrite in the world doesn’t even register with him. He just admitted that he’s been cheating on me our entire marriage but he’s so filled with jealousy that he can’t even see it.

“Please, Jordan, don’t do this,” I quietly beg, the tears escaping from my eyes and falling down my cheeks.

The match has almost burned down to his fingers and my only hope is that it will go out and I can get him to put the rest of the matches down before he does something stupid. He stares at my face and I watch as his anger starts to melt away with every tear that burns its way down my face.

“We can talk about this, okay? Please, Jordan,” I whisper brokenly.

Like a switch being flipped, the anger is back and his lips curl up in a sneer.

“We’re finished talking, sweetheart. You’re dead to me now. Might as well make it official.”

The scream rips from my throat as the match drops from his fingers and flutters to the ground, the carpet in front of him bursting into flames in a whoosh of air and crackling of heat as it heads right towards me.

Chapter 20—Raging Fire

GODDAMMIT ALL TO hell I’m going to kill Wilcox.

After two straight days of work and only a few hours of sleep once I got home, I was called back into work because we were short handed. Of course it had to be because of that asshole Wilcox. I should be at Finnley’s house right now, but instead, I’m stuck in a barn filled with the smoldering ashes of the south-side wall.

As I remind him yet again about the dangers of smoking in a barn filled with dry bales of hay, the boys finish loading the hose back on the truck and I keep my temper in check until I’m in the jump seat and we’re pulling away from his house.

“I swear to Christ I’m going to just burn that fucking barn down myself and be done with it,” I complain.

D.J. unbuttons his insulated coat and slides his helmet off of his head, tossing it onto the empty seat next to him. “Now, now, you’ll be home soon enough. I hope to God you’re going to get laid tonight because this whole moody, PMS thing you’ve had going on the last few days is starting to worry me.”

I punch him in the arm and give him a dirty look even though he’s right. I have been extra bitchy since I last saw Finnley. Being away from her is nothing short of torture. Even though we talked on the phone several times during my recent forty-eight hour shift, hearing her soft, raspy voice and knowing she was curled up in bed while she spoke to me did nothing to ease the ache I had for her. It only made me think about being inside her body and watching her beautiful brown eyes widen as her pussy clamped down on my cock. Trying to push my need for her aside during my downtime at work by lifting weights didn’t help, either. Just like I predicted, every fucking time I walked in that room and looked at the subwoofer, my dick got hard and I had to lock myself in the bathroom to rub one out.

I feel myself getting worked up again, so I deliberately turn my mind towards the only thing that fires my blood as much as Finnley—my absolute and total fucking hate for her soon-to-be ex-husband. I think about every conversation we’ve had over the last seventeen days and it makes me want to hunt down Castillo and end his miserable excuse for a life. He had it all. He had the woman who should have been mine and he didn’t even care. He treated her like garbage and he smothered her creativity. She should have gone to art school. Her gunpowder designs should be hanging in galleries all over the fucking world but instead, she was forced to take a job just to pay the bills while Castillo blew all of their money on gambling, drugs and God knows what else.

He had a beautiful, smart, sexy, talented woman and he took her for granted every day for seventeen years. I can’t even believe the strong woman she’s turned into after all the shit she put up with from him. Any other woman would have been beaten down and afraid to trust again, but not Finnley. She put every ounce of her trust in me and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her down. Finally, after several days away from her, I’m going to sit her down and tell her what she means to me. What she’s always meant to me every single day, even when we were apart, and just how much my feelings have grown since we got back together. I want her to know that no other woman could ever compare to her. I want her to understand that I will do whatever it takes to make her happy. We can take it slow, we can speed it up, we can do whatever the fuck she wants as long as we do it together.

As the truck pulls into the bay, I hop down and walk into the gear locker room stowing my turnout gear in my personal locker while D.J. does the same right next to me.

“So, is this going to be like high school all over again where you ditch me for a chick and I lose my wingman?” he suddenly asks.

I pause in the middle of taking off my rubber boots and stare at him. “What the hell are you talking about?”

D.J. shrugs, refusing to look at me as he shoves his helmet into the locker and toes off his own boots.

“I don’t like this whole you having a girlfriend thing. It makes me feel unloved and neglected,” he jokes.

I shake my head at him as I finish removing the rest of my gear. “You do realize we’re thirty-three years old. It’s okay for one or both of us to settle down.”

D.J. finally looks at me in horror. “Bite your tongue! There will be no settling down. Why would I settle down with one woman when I could have a multitude of women servicing my every need? The same goes for you. One pussy, forever and ever. I mean, who does that?”

Sitting down on the bench right in front of the lockers, I start untying my Nikes that I chucked on the ground in my haste to change into my gear before we went out on the call a few hours ago.

“I do that. I still haven’t properly kicked your ass for convincing me to break up her with back in high school. I think it’s way past time for me to punch you in the face for that shitty idea,” I remind him.

“I believe the torture I endured the rest of our senior year every damn time you saw Finnley and Jordan holding hands was punishment enough. I had to deal with your Emo, depressed ass all through finals, graduation and at every party thereafter,” D.J. reminds me, holding his hand over his heart. “I have done my penance and it was harsh.”

I laugh at his serious tone before continuing. “You made me think it was the best idea in the history of the world to break up with her. I had a great girl by my side and, I fucked it all up. You still deserve an ass kicking.”

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