“Who is that guy?” My voice is tight, restrained.
Cinder makes a retching sound, “That’s Lawrence, her
on-again, off-again ex. A real loser.”
My eyes return to the two of them, as Goldie slips away
so they can talk off side of the bar. “Then why is she talking
I hear it in my tone. Jealousy. It throbs in me with angry
waves that want to push me to my feet and close the
distance between me and them.
Her reaction to him isn’t like it is to all the other men
who belly up to her, wanting her to love them. The familiarity
is real, a connection is there, even if it’s only a
“Goldie’s too nice to turn anyone away outright,”
Cinder says, disdain evident in her voice.
“Yeah, I got that,” I mutter back.
Over by the massive tree, Lawrence leans in closer to
Goldie, his hand pressing against the wall behind her,
cutting them off from the rest of the bar. His body language
screams possession, a clear trespassing into what I have
come to consider as my domain.
My bear roars within me, a primal urge to protect
what’s mine threatening to overtake my calm demeanor.
Calm the hell down, Ted. Everything is fine.
Goldie tries to maintain her composure, but her smile
has vanished, replaced by a tense line of restrained frustration.
Nope. I’m up and stalking across the bar in a second.
Lawrence doesn’t see me coming, too wrapped up in his pathetic attempt to reclaim what he no longer has any
Lawrence’s voice rises enough for me to catch snatches
of accusations and demands. “This game has gone on long
enough. You know how good we are together, baby girl. I
can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I need you. You take such good care
Instantly, I recognize the reason they keep getting back
together. Goldie’s heart is bigger than she even probably
knows. This son of a bitch has been playing on her helpful,
loving nature. But what the fuck has she been getting?
Then Lawrence dips down and lays his lips against hers.
I surge toward them, my fingers wrapping around Lawrence’s shoulder and wrenching him away. His eyes
bulge in surprise, followed by a scrutinizing icy glare.
“Who are you?” he challenges. Tension crackles through
my muscles as the pretty boy stares me down with
Goldie’s eyes widen when she sees me. “Ted?” she asks.
“It’s okay. Everything is okay.”
I reach out for her wrist and pull her out from under the
slimeball who kissed my girl.
She’s not your girl.
She is even if she hasn’t admitted it yet.
“Ted?” Lawrence repeats with dry amusement, as if my
name is a joke. No part of me is even slightly humorous
“I’m Goldie’s boyfriend,” I announce to him with a
grim, forced cheerfulness. “And if you kiss her again, I will
rip the lips right off your weasley face.”
“Ted,” Goldie urges quietly. She wants me to back off,
but a rage pumps through me. A rage I didn’t know I
possessed. I was the calm one, the reasonable one.
But reason has abandoned me and I’m seeing red.
Lawrence frowns, looking to Goldie for confirmation.
“Seriously? This guy?”
“Scratch that. If you even touch her, I’ll pull your limbs
“Ted,” Goldie’s voice continues to get lower, softer.
“What kind of blue-collar trash are you slumming it
with, baby girl?” Lawrence asks, with an incredulous scoff.
My vision turns red as control slips from my grasp.
I’m painfully aware of how I don’t !t Goldie’s aesthetic,
how out of place I am here, though for a moment I started to believe I could be at ease here. But as soon as I step outside, the cold reality of having to deal with Eli’s debts, to figure out a way to get enough money to keep him from getting killed, is what’s going to keep me up all night. Even if I resell all the appliances I’ve fixed up, it won’t be enough.
And this guy with his expensive shirt and slick
demeanor putting me down for honest work makes me so
angry I could spit.
Or shift. . .