“No.”


He stops in his tracks and turns. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me fine. I live here.”

“No, I live here. You’ve just been hanging around.”

Like dead weight, his tone implied.

Nice, Drew. Nice. I don’t want it to hurt. I know what he’s doing and why. So it shouldn’t hurt. But, of course, it does.

“You asked me to move in with you,” I say. “Which means I live here.”

His dark brows lift nearly to his hairline. “Have you been listening to a word I’ve said? I don’t want you here.”

“Well that’s just tough shit, isn’t it?” I cross my hands over my chest as I say this. It’s that or let him see that I’m shaking now.

Drew takes a step in my direction, his color returning with a vengeance. “What the f**k is wrong with you? I. Don’t. Want. You. Here.”

It takes all I’ve got not to cry, to lift my chin up to meet his eyes. “I. Don’t. Care.”

For a moment, he just looks at me, his color blooming over his cheeks. Then he grabs the hairs on the back of his head like he’s going to rip them out. His biceps bulge, and his teeth flash in a grimace. “Why are you just standing there? Go.” He waves a hand as if I’m a fly and he needs to swat me away.

“Why won’t you f**king leave!” He’s shouting so loud now my ears ring. Veins pop out along his neck. His face is so red with rage that it’s contorted. I should be frightened of him. He’s looming over me, six foot four feet and two hundred and thirty pounds of raging man. One blow could break my face. But I’m not frightened because everything about his quivering body speaks of restraint. He’s coming apart at the seams, but he’s holding himself back from lashing out.

It doesn’t stop my own rage though. It’s a lit fire in a dry forest. “You want to get away from me so bad, you f**king leave.”

“It’s my f**king place!” he bellows. And his arm punches the air for emphasis. “You crazy ass—” Even now he can’t call me a name. A strangled shout breaks from him. “Just leave me the f**k alone.”

“No!” I get in his face. Maybe I want him to hit me. I sure as hell want to hit him, hit something. “And there isn’t a thing you can do about it.”

“Oh, yes I can.” In full maniac mode, he stomps into our bedroom. Before I can follow, he’s out again, carrying an armful of my clothes. Shock has me rooted to the floor. I want to cry. I want to laugh. I want to punch him when he wrenches open the door and tosses my things out.

“You motherfucker,” I shout.

Not to be outdone, I go to the room and get a handful of his things. His own shock, when he sees me, is nearly comical, were it not for the fact that he’s breaking my heart.

“You’re being the ass**le,” I retort, tossing his things onto the lawn. “So you get out.” Maturity has officially left the building. Along with our clothes.

Nostrils flaring, he moves to go into our room again. I know he’s after more clothes. I dodge in front of him, blocking the way. Drew skids to a stop, teetering before he snarls.

“No,” I snap. “You don’t get to manhandle any more of my stuff.”

He’s so angry now, he vibrates. “Get. Out!”

“No!” We are nose to nose now. “I’m not f**king leaving. Do you hear?” My throat hurts from the force of my words. “I’m never leaving you, Drew. No matter what you say. I’m. Never. Fucking. Leaving!”

It’s the truth. I won’t leave him. But I don’t have to look at him. Not when hateful tears are pricking behind my lids. Not when my lip is quivering. Angry crying is a curse. I turn from him, but he clearly sees. I march away. I was wrong. I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough; I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

“Anna!”

I ignore him. The door to our room, when I slam it, rattles the windows. I lock it for good measure, just in time, because he’s on the other side.

“Anna, damn it!” He smashes his fists into the wood with enough force that something cracks. But the door holds.

“Get bent,” I shout in a voice way too high-pitched.

With a snarl, he pounds once more, and adds a “Fuck!” for emphasis. Then he’s gone.

I’m pretty sure if his leg weren’t broken the f**king bastard would have kicked down the door and physically tossed me out by now. Like he did my clothes. God, that hurt. It still does. Our dresser drawers are tilting haphazardly, half hanging out from their housing. T-shirts, and one of my bras, hang from them like streamers. I focus on that lone bra. A ridiculously expensive La Perla sky blue bra that Iris gave me on my twenty-first birthday. The bra Drew slipped his fingers under the night he’d asked me to move in with him.

He emptied my lingerie drawer? That dick. My f**king bras are on the street, probably being ogled by some f**king frat boy.

The thought, for some inane reason, makes the damn burst. I sob, great big hulking sobs that I try to contain by shoving a pillow into my face. Smothered by down and hunched over on the floor, I almost don’t hear him.

“Anna.” His voice is ravaged, but so close and clear, he has to be leaning on the door. “Anna, baby. Let me in.”

I hate myself that my whole body vibrates with the need to do as he asks. I just want this fight to end. I want him to hold me. I want to hold him. And then I remember that my panties are likely hanging on the bushes and curl tighter into myself.

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