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Page 45



I exhale. “Somewhere,” I say. “I don’t know. I’m wearing that red dress, not even jeans. I really like it.” I can hear my voice slurring now. There should be a number on the house, I think.

“The red dress.” He speaks the words low, and I think he’s angry.

“Are you mad at me?” I ask. I don’t know why I find it funny, but I giggle.

“What’s the address, Kate?”

“I’m looking, geez,” I say, stumbling forward to look at the house. “Thirty-four.”

“Thirty-four what, Kate,” he asks. “What’s the rest of the address?”

“Well, how am I supposed to know that, smarty pants?” I ask. “Thirty-four. It’s what it says on the house. Hey, you’re calling me Kate. Not Katherine. Kate.” That seems significant, I think. Kate. I like the way it sounds when he says it, so I repeat it a few more times. Kate, Kate, Kate.

He ignores me. “Ask someone. Or look at the mailbox. Are you on the lake?”

“Nope, not the lake. I'm somewhere not far. Hey! Do you know where we are?” I yell as I walk toward a couple making out. “They’re just looking at me like I'm a weirdo, Caulter.”

“Ask them the address.”

“Are you annoyed with me?” I ask him, then more loudly toward the couple, “What’s the address?” When they tell it to me, I repeat it slowly to Caulter. “You're irritated, aren't you?”

“I’m not annoyed with you, Kate,” he says. “It looks like it’s fifteen minutes from here. Where are you?”

I exhale. “I just told you. Why are you asking me the same questions over and over? My head hurts.”

“I mean, are you outside?” he asks. “Are you somewhere safe?”

“Yeah, I’m totally safe.” I stumble back toward my spot on the side of the house. “I need to sit down. It was hot in there, and the guy that was dancing with me was too grabby. And he was hard and it was nothing like --”

“What guy, Kate?” he asks, his tone menacing. “Who was fucking touching you?”

I laugh. “Some guy,” I say. “We were just dancing.”

“In that red dress.”

“I look hot,” I say. Am I slurring more now? It feels like I have a wad of cotton in my mouth. “I have to admit you were right. Dresses are good on me. Hey, has anyone ever told you that you say fuck a lot? Because you do. Fuck fuck fuck. You also do it a lot -- the fucking, I mean. A lot more than I expected.”

Caulter growls. “Do not fucking move an inch,” he says. “Nobody lays a hand on you, do you understand?”

“You don’t own me, Caulter.” I say, but the phone cuts out. Or I’ve accidentally hung it up. I’m not sure. I sit down on the grass, cross-legged, not caring that someone can totally see my crotch. Where is Jo, anyway? I type slowly and methodically, sending her a text.

Outside. wher ru

I don’t get anything back, so I try to keep my eyes open and wait for Caulter.

She hung up on me. Kate fucking hung up on me, after telling me some asshole was grinding his hard-on against her all night, while she’s drunk at a party.

She’s out at a party, drunk off her ass, and wearing that fucking red dress.

I chose that red dress. I did not imagine her wearing it to a party where some guy would run his hands all over her.

That red dress was made for Kate, crafted to perfectly accentuate her long legs and that curvy ass. I can imagine what she looks like in it right now, at a party full of horny guys.

I step harder on the gas pedal.

I’m beyond irate. I passed that a while ago, back when I realized she’d gone to a party. I don’t know what’s a million times more angry than irate, but that’s me.

I’m flying down these windy roads, taking the turns without breaking. If some guy so much as lays a finger on her…

I grip the steering wheel, my knuckles white.

I can’t think straight, even when I reach the house. Cars line both sides of the street, so I just stop mine in the middle of the road and leave the lights on. Tearing down the walk that leads up the lawn, I see her.

There she is, leaning awkwardly against some guy who’s trying to steer her away from the house.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I yell. Kate’s eyes open wide at the sounds of my voice, but she's obviously intoxicated.

“I’m just standing,” she slurs.

“She’s with me,” the guy says. “Who the fuck are you?”


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