Again—it probably should. I should want to rip Sausage Link’s head off. Smother him with a pillow. Throw him out the window and watch him fall the two stories, praying he’ll land on his head.
But I just pull Sofia closer. “I’m too tired to give a shit.”
Marshall gets out of seeding the field because he has school. The rest of us—Sofia, me, Carter, Jenny, and JD—aren’t so lucky. We have breakfast together and spend the morning raking seed and fertilizer into the dirt so my father isn’t tempted to come out and break our asses. But later, after a long shower, the pressure starts to build. And by the evening it feels like a renewed weight is pushing on me—the little time that’s left before Saturday.
So I take matters into my own hands.
“Ow!” A branch rakes across my forearm as I climb, drawing blood.
“Shit!” A thin, leaf-covered limb boomerangs into my face.
“Fuckin’ hell almighty!” I smack my head on the underside of a particularly solid bough.
Why was this easier when I was seventeen? Maybe the horniness made me immune to pain. Eventually, I make it to the top—to my golden, glowing goal.
Jenny’s bedroom window.
It’s unlocked, like I knew it would be. I open it and brace my hands on the ledge to pull myself through.
“Christ on a fuckin’ cracker!” Jenny screeches from her vanity chair—where she sits, clad only in a tiny pink nightgown with thin straps. “Just scare the everlovin’ shit out of me, why don’t you?”
“Kiss your nana with that mouth?” I grunt. “Explains a lot.” When she just continues to sit, arms folded, I frown. “You’re not even gonna give me a hand? That’s pretty cold, Jenn.”
She rolls her eyes and exhales loudly—but then she gets up and helps pull me in.
I stumble forward, gripping onto her hips to keep us from falling—and we both freeze when we realize our faces are just millimeters apart—sharing the same breaths.
Then Jenny blinks and backs away. “You can’t be here, Stanton.”
I ignore her and glance at the bed. “Where’s Presley?”
“She fell asleep on the couch downstairs. I’ll carry her up in a bit.”
And then my gaze falls behind Jenny—to the flowing white dress hanging on the wall. And every bone in my body turns to Jell-O, held together by loose, shredded straps of tendon.
“Is that it?” I whisper.
“Yeah,” Jenny says—so softly. “That’s my weddin’ dress. Isn’t it pretty?”
I see her wearing it in my mind. Delicate lace, embroidered flowers wrapped around the body I know so well. Pretty doesn’t even come close.
Then I remember she’ll be wearing it for someone else—and my heart squeezes so hard, it feels like it’ll evaporate in my chest.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Stanton.”
I turn to her—desperate now. “Then don’t do this. Talk to me—listen to me.”
“I have talked to you! It’s you who hasn’t been listening!” she claims, wearing a fallen face. “You’re so stubborn—you’re so stuck on what you think is supposed to be, that you’re missin’ what’s right in front of you.”
I sit down on the edge of her bed, pushing a frustrated hand through my hair. “You sound like Carter.”
I notice a pile of boxes near my feet, opened with ribbons hanging off. “What’s this?”
“The girls from my club threw me a little weddin’ shower.”
I notice a scrap of material peeking out from the closest box. Black and . . . leather?
I pull it out and hold up a set of black binding cuffs with shiny silver locks. Attached to the cuffs is a matching black flogger.
What the hell?
But I’m already looking. Blindfold, ball gag, riding crop that’s definitely not meant for a horse, cock ring, and a wide array of dildos—purple, blue, glass, and a particularly huge battery-operated sucker.
My near-speechlessness is clear in my tone. “What the fuck kind of club are you in?”
With a scarlet blush, she takes the giant dildo from my hand and sighs. “I told you there were ways JD knew me better than you.”
“He’s into this kind of stuff too?”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
She doesn’t meet my eyes. “I don’t know—do you tell me everything you like to do these days?”