Until You

By: Penelope Douglas

She probably didn’t even remember that I’d given it to her.

Kneeling down to hook Madman’s leash onto his collar, I twisted my lips up slightly. “You’re talking again, Tatum.”

I didn’t call her Tate. She hated “Tatum”, so that’s what I called her.

I fixed a bored, superior expression on my face.

I’d be happier without her around, I told myself. She was nothing.

And yet, I heard the little voice in the back of my head. She was everything.

She shook her head, the hurt in her eyes clear as she turned to walk away.

She wasn’t fighting back, I guess. Not today. The party on Friday night—when I’d humiliated her, and she’d punched my friend, Madoc, in the face—must have been a one-time deal.

“Is that what you’re wearing on the plane?” I asked, sneering.

I should’ve just walked away, but hell, I couldn’t stop engaging her. It was an addiction.

She turned back to me, her fingers fisting up. “Why do you ask?”

“Just looks a little sloppy is all.” But that was a bold-faced lie.

The black T-shirt was worn out, but it clung to her fit body like it was made just for her, and her dark jeans hugged her ass, telling me exactly what she would look like naked. With long, shiny hair and flawless skin, she looked like fire and sugar, and I wanted to gorge and burn at the same time.

Tatum was hot, but she didn’t know it.

And blonde or not, that was my type.

“But no worries,” I continued. “I get it.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Get what?”

Leaning in, I taunted her with a smug grin. “You always liked wearing my clothes.”

Her eyes widened, and with her flushed skin there was no mistaking that she was pissed. It was raging all over her tough little face.

And I smiled to myself, because I fucking loved it.

She didn’t run away, though.

“Hold on.” She held up her pointer finger and turned to walk to the truck.

Digging under the front seat, in the emergency pack her dad kept there, she fished out something and slammed the car door shut. By the time she’d huffed back over to me, I saw that she had a lighter in her hand.

Before I could even register what was happening, she’d peeled off her shirt and exposed her perfect chest in a sexy ass sports bra.

My heart damn near shifted with the fucking pounding in my chest.

Holy shit.

I watched, not breathing, as she held up the shirt, flicked the lighter, and dipped the hem into the flame, bringing it to ash piece by piece.

Son of a bitch! What the hell was happening with her all of a sudden?

My gaze flashed to hers, and time stood still as we watched each other, forgetting the flaming material between us. Her hair danced around her body, and her storm-filled eyes pierced my skin, my brain, and my ability to move or speak.

Her arms shook a little, and her breaths, although steady, were deep. She was nervous as hell.

Okay, so breaking Madoc’s nose the other night wasn’t a fluke. She was fighting back.

I’d spent the past two years of high school making her life miserable. Telling a few lies, ruining a few dates, all for my own pleasure. Challenging Tate—making her a high school outcast—made my world go round, but she never fought back. Not until now. Maybe she thought that since she was leaving town, she could throw caution to the wind.

My fists balled up with renewed energy, and I was suddenly paralyzed by how much I would miss this. Not miss hating her or taunting her.

Just. Miss. Her.

And with that realization, I tightened my jaw so hard it ached.


She still owned me.

“Tatum Nicole!” her dad yelled from the porch, and we both jumped back to reality. He raced over and grabbed the shirt out of her hand, stomping it out on the ground.

My eyes hadn’t left hers, but the trance was broken and I was finally able to let out a breath. “See you in a year, Tatum,” I bit out, hoping it sounded like a threat.

She tipped her chin up and only glared at me while her father ordered her inside for a shirt.

I walked back over to my house with Madman at my side and wiped the cool sweat off my forehead.

Goddamn. I sucked in air like it was going out of style.

Why couldn’t I get that girl out from under my skin? Her hot little pyrotechnics weren’t going to help flush her out, either.

That image would be in my head forever.

Fear took root in my brain as I realized that she was really leaving. I wasn’t going to be in control of her anymore. She’d live every day not thinking of me. She’d go on dates with any asshole that showed interest. And even worse, I wouldn’t see her or hear of her. She’d have a life without me in it, and I was scared.

Everything, all of a sudden, felt foreign and uncomfortable. My house, my neighborhood, the idea of going back to school in a week.

“Fuck,” I growled under my breath.

This shit had to end.

I needed a distraction. Lots of distractions.

Once inside, I released the dog and climbed the stairs to my bedroom, digging my phone out of my pocket on the way.

If it were anyone else calling, Madoc wouldn’t answer this early. But for his best friend, it only took two rings.

“I’m. Still. Sleeping,” he grumbled.

“You still up for throwing a pool party before school starts?” I asked, switching on Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch on the iPod dock on my dresser.