Savage Rhythm

By: Chloe Cox


He can’t sense weakness. If he senses weakness, he’ll never open up, and the book will be a failure and everything will be ruined.

Molly put on her game face. She was almost there. She could see all the out-to-the-public members of Volare and their friends, laughing, flirting. She was sure they could see her, out of place in her cheap business casual attire, but there wasn’t anything to be done about that now.

Unfortunately, the Volare people weren’t the only ones who could see her.

“Hey, sexy librarian! C’mere!”

Molly jerked her head around. “Sexy librarian” was definitely new—new enough that it actually penetrated her invisible catcall shield.

The guys doing the catcalling, though—nothing new about that. Drunk. College-aged frat boy douchebags. Their clothing was more expensive than anything she’d ever owned, and they were doing their drinking while tying up an impressively large boat, but otherwise it was the same sort of harassment she’d gotten used to a long time ago.

But she hadn’t expected to have to deal with it here. Volare had an impeccable reputation. These guys were definitely not Volare.

Not now, she thought grimly. But she’d made the mistake of letting them know she’d heard them.

“Hey, I’m talking to you,” one of them said. She didn’t turn this time. “C’mon, you’re making me all hot for teacher.”

The others laughed. Assholes. How was it possible that otherwise normal adult males so frequently didn’t know the line between flirtation and harassment? Like the fact that she was walking away, visibly uncomfortable, wasn’t a clue?

Unless making her uncomfortable was the point. Gross.

Molly sucked in another breath and kept walking. Almost there. No big deal. She wouldn’t let it throw her off her game. She’d dealt with far, far worse.

She could hear the party now, the clinking of glasses, laughter, mixing with the sounds of the waterfront, waves crashing into pilings, sea birds overhead, and she focused on that. Otherwise maybe she would have heard the douchebag come up behind her.

Instead she just felt his hand on her arm before she knew what was happening, and then his breath on her neck, hot and smelling of whiskey, such a distinct, terrible smell, a smell that brought back way too many memories.

She jumped and tried to pull away, violently. His hand was like a vise.

“Hey, relax,” the frat boy said. He had sandy blond hair, same as Molly, blue eyes, a tan, and an annoyed expression. Like he was pissed at her for having the temerity to be scared.

“Get your hands off of me,” Molly said, pulling again. She was starting to freak out a little bit. Starting to feel like she was losing control. What was it about this guy?

“You don’t have to be such a bitch,” he said. “We were just trying to talk to you.”

He’d called her a bitch. A bitch. And the worst part was that he wasn’t letting her go. Molly was trapped talking to this asshole because he was stronger than her and he wouldn’t let her go, and he freaking knew it. What did he want, an apology?

“Get. Your. Hands. Off of me.” She seethed.

Molly felt herself start to blush with anger, and that only made it worse. This entitled jerk was humiliating her, was making her look weak, was making her feel weak, in front of the very people she needed to impress. She could feel the attention of the Volare party on her now; this was officially a scene. And she was already fucking up her one golden opportunity. Her one chance to get out of that goddamn trailer park full of people who thought she was trash, her one chance to get away from all the things that had happened there, from the person she had almost turned out to be. Her one chance to make sure her sister Lydia didn’t have to go through the same things.

“Or what?” the frat boy said. Then he smiled. Like he knew, he smiled.

Like he fucking knew what she was, like he saw right through her. Like he knew he could do this because she was just what she’d always been, the trailer park slut, just like her mother, just like Robbie and his friends had said she was after what had happened.

Be strong. Molly wasn’t going to let this jerk steal her future from her just because he felt like showing off for his jerk friends, and she wasn’t going to let anyone tell her she was a slut, ever again. She gritted her teeth and prepared to get medieval on his ass.