All I Want

Page 22


I’m out the door before I even realize I’m moving, running faster than I ever have. I slide on the gravel, grabbing the door handle and nearly ripping the damn thing off when I swing it open. As soon as I get in my truck, I grab my phone out of my cup holder and with frantic fingers, light up the screen. It fades to black immediately, dying on me and causing me to panic further.
“Fucking shit!”
I toss it to the floor with enough force to break it, and pull out of the parking lot, barreling down Cheseco Avenue in the direction of Tessa’s apartment building. I have to believe she’s there with him. I didn’t think to write down that fucker’s address, or even glance at it, and there’s no way in hell I’m turning around to do that. She has to be there. I can’t think of a scenario that involves her not at her apartment and somewhere else.
Somewhere I might not be able to get to in time.
Eight grueling minutes later, my headlights illuminate the parking lot out in front of her building and I see her car parked in its usual spot. I’m relieved, but only momentarily, as the red Camero parked next to her comes into my line of sight.
My tires screech as I barely make it to a spot before I’m jumping out of my truck and taking the stairs to her level. I’m running, fast, faster, until I reach her door and jar the locked handle.
“Tessa! Tessa, open the door!”
I bang repeatedly, each time with more force than the previous. My hand begins to throb, then burn with a fire that shoots down my arm to my elbow.
No answer. Not a single noise. She’s here. I know she is, and she isn’t answering me.
Or she can’t.
I bang one last time before stepping back, turning sideways, and ramming my shoulder into the wood. It cracks against me, driving me into it again and again. My shoulder screams for me to stop, but I don’t. I can’t. I can barely breathe. My lungs are heaving and trying to pull in as much air as possible while my head fills with images of Tessa, unable to respond to me.
“FUCK! Come on!”
One last drive and the door splits at the frame, swinging open and allowing me to come crashing into the room.
The scene in front of me has me struggling to stay upright.
To take a step.
To do fucking anything besides stand motionless.
I see his hands around her neck, squeezing, as she tries to remove them. The body on top of her, pinning her to the floor as her legs twitch, struggling to kick off his weight.
Then her eyes grab me.
They’re tear streaked, straining to stay open, and paralyze me with a pleading look that has bile rising in the back of my throat.
“Somebody wants to watch? Fuck, I’m down for that.”

I hear his voice and it snaps me out of my trance, sending me flying at him. He’s knocked to the ground, freeing Tessa, and I get in a few punches before I turn my head at the sound of her desperate attempts to take in a breath.
I fall to my side with a blow to my jaw, pulling this piece of shit with me.
Tessa’s voice is hoarse, but still urgent as I slip out of each grip this fucker tries to put on me. I block several blows to my ribcage, a strike to my head, and one to my gut. This guy knows where to hit, but I know better, and I also know he’s going to tire soon. He becomes frustrated, slipping up and allowing me to gain the upper hand when his controlled movements become frantic.
I grab his neck, pinning his head in place while I flip him so he’s on his stomach. I pull his arm behind his back, twisting his wrist until he cries out.
“Sorry. What was that?” I twist it more, feeling his entire body strain against the pressure as his screams fill the apartment. I drop my head next to his ear. “I should fucking kill you right now.”
“Yeah?” He laughs, turning his head so his one eye is trained on me. “Fucking do it then, pussy.”
He tries to buck underneath me, but I dig my knee into his back and keep him pinned. I look up at Tessa, narrowing in on the purple and red marks coating her neck, the rapid rise and fall of her chest, and the look on her face I never want to see again.
I try to convince myself that my next actions are based purely on my duty to protect Ben’s sister. That there’s no underlying motivation here. No emotions driving this.
But I’m lying.
Our eyes meet, and I hold her gaze as I twist his wrist until I push past the resistance, waiting for that snap.
I get two of them.
“ARGHH! FUUUUCK! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!” He flails underneath me like a fish out of water, his hand limp in mine, no longer connected to the bones in his arm. “YOU BROKE MY WRIST! ARRGHH SHIIIT!”
Tessa drops her stare to the man beneath me, eyes wide and wild as she reaches up with a trembling hand and rubs the skin on her neck.
“Where’s your phone?” I ask her.
She doesn’t acknowledge me. Not even with a flinch. The body I’m holding down goes slack and I shift my grip on him, putting more of my weight onto the middle of his back.
Her head snaps up, and I see the same stark panic in her eyes as I did when I first broke in, but it’s mixed with something else. Apprehension; maybe some guilt. I’m familiar with this look. It’s the same look people have when they’re about to confess to something, when they have no fucking clue how it’s going to be received.
And now I’m starting to feel uneasy.
She sits up on her knees, straightening her posture. “He brought drugs here. I didn’t know he had them with him. I swear. I thought it was just pot, but then he was snorting lines of coke when I came out from the bathroom, and I…”
I twist the fucker’s other wrist and he squeals, cutting Tessa off. “Are you fucking high right now?” I ask her over his whines.
She shakes her head with rapid movements. “No, I didn’t… I don’t think I am.” She squeezes her eyes shut, whispering with a shaky voice, “Fuck, I don’t know.” Her eyes shoot open again, pleading for understanding. “He blew a hit in my face before I knew he was doing it. I’ve never done it before. I swear, Luke, but I don’t know if I’m feeling it. I don’t really feel anything right now.”
I drop my head, shutting my eyes with such force that it causes my head to throb.
This is just what I fucking need.
“Where is your phone?” I grunt out through a clenched jaw, my eyes meeting hers.
She quickly reaches onto the table behind her, holding her phone out to me with a trembling hand. “I brushed the coke off the table. I don’t know if he has more on him, but it’s all in my carpet. Should I vacuum it up?”
I ignore her question and slide my grip to his elbow, securing him better, and letting his limp arm fall to his side. I’m not worried he’ll use that one anymore. I reach into the front pocket of his shorts.
“If I get stabbed with a fucking needle, or anything else, I’m breaking your other wrist.”
He whimpers beneath me as I clear his right pocket, moving onto his left. I enclose my hand around something small, feeling the sharp edge of the plastic dig into my palm before I slide it out. Opening my hand, I reveal the baggie, staring at it briefly because I don’t need to analyze it. I know exactly what it is.