*This scene is un-edited, so please excuse any errors.
A while back I talked in my reader group about something I always wondered. What if Damon made it out of the house and to the cabin with Winter that Halloween morning the video broke? If he’d had a chance to explain to her himself who he really was, how would things have panned out? This scene starts off in her bedroom room, as it does in the book…
I stand up, pulling on my jeans.
“Get dressed,” I tell Winter. “We gotta get out of here.”
But she just kneels on the bed, facing me. “What’s wrong?”
“Now,” I order, sticking my phone in my back pocket and looking for my shirt.
But she doesn’t move. “You’re scaring me,” she says.
“So what else is new?”
I gather up my shit, making sure I have Michael’s keys, but when I look at her again, she still isn’t budging.
“I said get dressed. Let’s go.”
With her head turned toward her phone, hearing notifications go off for her, as well. One after another.
She drops her voice, demanding, “What’s happening?”
I stand there, not knowing what the hell I can do to salvage this. How can I get her out of here and gone and make this all go away so she never finds out the nightmare that’s happening out there right now?
Behind me, I hear an engine racing at full speed down the driveway, and I drop my shit to give up and just let it happen.
I start to take out a cigarette, but I shake my head.
Not yet. Not like this.
Grabbing Winter’s hoodie, I slip it over her head, her eyes widening behind the locks of hair falling in her face. I slip on my shirt and shoes and lift her into my arms, keys in my hand. “Hold onto me,” I whisper to her. “Hold onto me tightly, okay?”
Worry creases her brow, but after a second, she reaches over, grabs her phone and then circles my neck, her legs tightening around my waist. Opening her bedroom door, I don’t wait. Her dad rushed home, because of the video. He’s coming straight to her bedroom.
Shifting her to my side, I walk quickly to the back of the house, jogging down a rear stairwell and landing in the kitchen. I unlock the back door and rush outside just as I hear the front door slam open, into a table.
Holding Winter around the waist with one hand, I get my keys ready as I dive under the cover of the trees and unlock Michael’s car. Whipping open the passenger side door, I set her inside and wrap her seatbelt around her.
“This isn’t your car,” she says, sounding more like an observation than a question as she sets her phone in the cup holder.
I click her belt. “It belongs to a friend.”
Slamming her door shut, I run around to the other side and climb in, starting the engine, but before I take off, I dig in my back pocket for my phone and quickly type out a text to Michael.
I need 24 hours, I tell him. Don’t tell them I’m in your car.
He replies instantly. Okay.
Of course, he’s on his phone right now. The whole town has to be going crazy.
I can’t look.
I shift into Drive, but I pause just a moment.
If I’m facing some serious trouble for that video, taking Winter could make it a whole lot worse.
“Is everything alright?” she asks.
I look over at her, her lips swollen from me, and her hair beautifully wild.
My eyes burn. God, she’s perfect.
And she’s right where she’s supposed to be. In the seat next to me, because she’s mine. She’s my heart.
I need her to find out the truth from me.
“It’s fucking Halloween,” I say. “Let’s go to a creepy, secluded cabin.”
She smiles. “With my ghost?”
I hit the gas, swinging the car around and racing across the lawn, under the trees, and barreling out of the gate as quickly as possible so they don’t see us. Hopefully. “I’ll tell you my name tonight,” I promise.
And I roll down the window, tossing my phone and hers out onto the black road.
I look over at her as she sits where Trevor sat last night. Hands in her lap, head turned toward me and resting against the seat. Softness in her eyes, wonder on her lips… God…
I hold the wheel with one hand, reaching over and cupping the side of her face with the other. She leans into it, and an overpowering need to hold her surges in my arms. I curl my fingers into a fist rather than dig them into her neck and hair like I want to. I don’t want to scare her, but Jesus… What is it about her?
I check the rearview mirror every fifteen seconds. It’s only a matter of time before they find us. They may figure out I’m in Michael’s car without his help, and I can’t use my credit cards, so they’ll ponder how far I can go with the cash in my wallet. They’ll eventually discover my father has property in Vermont.
Luckily, he would send one of his own people to get us out of there before trouble showed up. He may be the shittiest person alive, but there’s a perk to being his only male heir.
I run my hand through my hair and turn up the radio, trying to drown out all the shit hitting the fan.
Rika must not have said anything to Michael yet when I texted this morning about what we tried to do to her last night. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have covered for me this morning.
But of course, she didn’t. She got her revenge, in more ways than she expected, because Winter facing the horror of finding out who I was without me there to explain it would’ve hurt worse than being arrested for sleeping with her. I could’ve lost her this morning.
I just need today.
We stop for gas once. I pay in cash, grabbing snacks, but Winter doesn’t eat, unable to keep her hands off me.
“Come here,” I say, but all I can manage is a whisper. She’s taking the breath out of me.
I grab her, helping her climb over the console and sit across my lap. Her legs and bruised bare feet lay over the console, and she wraps her arms around my neck, smiling.
My heart hammers, my blood warming under my skin. She looks like a cloud. Soft, floating, gentle, peaceful… But clouds carry storms. Lightening and thunder and rain and all of winter’s edges.
She’ll be the last thing I think of before I die.
I shift into Drive, and we take off, her in my lap the rest of the way up into the mountains.
We arrive in the early afternoon. I coast down the long driveway, leaves kicking up under the tires as the cabin comes into view. This was the one place women weren’t allowed when I was growing up. He and his friends would get together to hunt, ski, or hideout when he needed a safe house. The lake provided a buffer on the east side of the cabin, and sixty-two acres of forest and mountains provided a barrier to the north and west. The only way in and out is the mile-long driveway we just traveled, and the closest neighbor is three miles down the road.
We’re the only ones up here.
I swing the car around, putting her door parallel with the porch, and kill the engine. Hopping out, I scan the area, making sure no one is around. There are a few houses across the lake, but everything is usually empty by this time. The leaves are past their peak, and it’s too early for snow. Late October to mid-November is pretty quiet,.
The wind blows my hair into my eyes, and I inhale the scent of pine needles and earth. It’s like a tree house. If I had it my way, this cabin would be hidden on branches high above where no one would find her.
Slamming the door, I walk around the rear and come up to her side. She stands outside her door, digging in the cup holders before running her hand over the floor.
“What are you looking for?” I ask.
I slip my hand into her hair, caressing the back of her neck.
“I thought I brought it,” she says, her voice light. “Do you see it?”
I slide my hand around, holding her throat and pulling her up to whisper in her ear, “All I see is you.”
I nuzzle her ear before kissing her hair.
She turns just enough for me to see a smile on the side of her face. “My parents are going to call the police.”
“Anything to be with you for one more night.”
I know she wants to text to let them know she’s fine. Maybe it’ll dissuade them from any drastic measures if the cops know she wasn’t kidnapped, but her parents know who she’s with. They’ll come to take her away from me.
She spins around to face me, her eyes on me but not quite meeting my gaze. “Not just one more night.” She shakes her head, worry pinching her brows together. “We keep sneaking around until I’m eighteen.”
If only that were our only problem.
The screen door on the cabin flaps against the house in the breeze, and wind flows across the roof, catching in the chimney to make a small howling sound.
There’s no more sneaking around. Everyone knows now. Except her.
“I’m not real, Winter.”
A gleam hits her eyes as she holds my waist and steps around me, spinning me with her. “You only come for me in October,” she says, her back to the house now. “Like spirits do.”
She releases me and starts to back up, following the sounds of the house as she steps slowly. “Am I all alone here?”
Her whisper is so soft, it’s almost a murmur.
I take a step forward for her every step backward. “No one will hear you.”
And all of a sudden, my senses are heightened. The hair on my head. Every strand blowing in the wind. The feel of her on my fingers and I’m not even touching her yet. The deafening silence of her scream that she hasn’t uttered yet and that no one will hear.
She slips the hoodie over her head, taking her undershirt with it, and dropping them on the ground. Her hair dances across her bare chest, tickling her skin.
And I stalk her, because I will always haunt her.
I hear her swallow, my eyes drawn her to her tummy and smooth waist as she moves. “Will you come for me next October too?” she plays.
I step up next to her, running my knuckles over her nipple.
She gasps, turning and reaching for me, but I move out of reach just in time.
“And the next?” she asks. “Forever?”
The back of her leg hits the porch step, and she lifts her foot, feeling for the step. Up she goes, one after the other, until she reaches the top, holding out her hands to feel me coming.
I just follow, just out of reach.
She trembles, because we’ve slipped into our roles, and she loves to be scared. Her arm sways to the side, and she hits one of the beams of the porch. She grabs it with both hands, wrapping her arms around it. I stop behind her, pinching the bottom hem of her sleep shorts and pulling them down her legs.
Her fair hair breezes across the skin of her back, and I pull it off her shoulder, away from her face, as I brush her ear with my lips. “Bed, Winter,” I tell her. “Now.”
But she shakes her head. “Here.” She’s already panting. “Fuck me here.”
I grab her hips, pulling her naked body into me as I kiss her neck and wrap a hand around her throat.
Trailing my mouth over her jaw, to her cheek, I tilt her head back to kiss her mouth. I cover her breast with my other hand, feeling her press her ass into my groin.
I pull back just enough to take off my shirt and hold her against me as I unfasten my jeans.
She hugs the beam, circling it with one of her legs as I come back in, squeeze her throat, and thrust up inside of her. “I’m not pulling out,” I growl in her ear.
Her breathing comes in a short, quick bursts. Then, she turns and hovers her mouth over mine. “Come inside me,” she mouths over my lips.
My cock swells, and I let my head fall back, exhilarated. Digging in my pocket, I bring out the rosary and slip it over my head, to my neck as déjà vu sweeps over me. The first time I wore it with her she was in front of me, just like this, climbing a tree. The first time I kissed her.
She was always mine.
Gripping her throat with one hand and her waist with the another, I fuck her up against the pole, sucking and biting everything my mouth can reach. The rosary beads dig into my chest as I thrust against her back, and my fingers curl around her throat, my nails digging in gently.
She’ll never get my marks off of her.
I push inside of her again and again, her cries and moans lost into the woods, far beyond anyone’s ears.
“Oh, God,” she groans. “Harder. Please.”
I plaster my body to hers, holding her tight against me as I slide in deeper and faster, over and over.
“I’m never going to stop,” I whisper. “I’ll always come for you.”
She whimpers as I thrust again and again.
“You’ll never get me off of you,” I tell her in her ear. She was mine in that fountain, mine in the tree, mine…
She cries out, her body tightening around my cock, and she throws her arm back, grabbing me around the neck and holding me to her.
And suddenly…she stills.
Breathing hard as I keep fucking, her fist clenches around the rosary and then she sucks in a breath. “D…D…Damon…”
Water fills my eyes, and I squeeze them shut. “I told you I might kiss you again someday.”
I ride her hard, and she cries out, convulsing as she wraps her arms around the beam with both hands. “Damon… Oh. God.”
“Tell me not to stop.” I thrust again and again, my chest grinding against her back. “Tell me not to stop.”
She lets her head fall back, gasping. “I hate you.” She cries out. “Don’t stop.”
And I pull out, spin her around, and lift her into my arms, taking both of us to the porch floor where I slide back inside of her.
She scowls, planting her hands on my chest, the rosary wrapped around her fingers as she digs her nails into my skin.
“No one’s coming to help you.” I pump her hard, her mouth falling open and her back arching as I hover over her lips. “Not tonight.”
She moans. Her nails slice into my skin, but her fucking leg is wrapped around me, begging for it.
She pants and whimpers, and I see a tear stream down her temple as we come, my hand gripping the curve where her thigh meets her hip as I thrust once, twice, and three more times.
I shudder, spilling inside of her, my head floating back to my body after a few seconds as I hold myself over her with one arm planted on the floor, at side of her head. She’s pinned there, her arms locked between us, holding me away with her hands still on my chest. She barely breathes, a look of fright on her face.
My mouth curls in a small smile. She fucking wanted it.
I dip down, licking her nipple, and she starts shaking her head frantically.
She shoves at my chest, and I tense my muscles, barely budging because she’s not that strong.
She reaches down and touches herself between her legs. “You came inside me.”
She starts to scurry backward, and I let myself slip out of her, but I stop her from leaving. I pin her hip back down to the floor, keeping her still “No, no…” I taunt. “You keep her ass down. Keep my cum inside you for just another minute.”
Her hands fly, slapping me and pounding me in the chest. “You,” she gasps, screaming. “How could you do this?”
I hold her flailing body underneath me. “There are no forks in my road, Winter.” I glare down at her. “Whatever has to be done is always easy.”
“You’re sick!” She starts sobbing, her emotions taking over. “Oh, God.”
Her hand whips across my face as she goes mad. She squeezes, claws, and punches, the pain nothing compared to how it will hurt to let go of her.
I release, and she scrambles backward, pulling on her shorts and sliding down the steps, holding out her arms to feel me coming. She scurries to find her shirt and hoodie.
And even though, I knew this wouldn’t be easy, I kind of like this part. She still looks like a cloud. Storms, thunder, and lightening.
I rise, refastening my jeans. “Come inside the house,” I tell her.
“Like hell,” she growls through her teeth, pulling on her clothes and backing away from my voice. “You tricked me. How does it feel to know you had to be someone else to get me to want you?”
I cock an eyebrow. I wasn’t someone else. I was the me no one wants me to be.
The man only she wanted.
She stumbles back into the car, feeling around it until she’s clear and then continues down the driveaway on foot.
I stalk her slowly. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’ll take my chances.”
“Don’t be silly, Winter.” I step toward her, moving around behind her. “That’s our baby you’ve got there.”
I reach around, placing my hand on her stomach, and she pivots, trying to push me away, but I just hold on.
“I’m not pregnant!”
I get in her face, hovering over her mouth. “You will be by the time we drive home tomorrow,” I tell her. “There’s a warm bed inside and only one thing here for me to eat.”
“Ugh!” She hits me, but I don’t let her go. “I’ll get rid of it if I am.”
“You won’t.” I yank her hips in. “Because you know that would hurt me.” I pull her in again. “And because you love me.”
She continues to fight my hold, trying to get away and walk off into the wilderness in her bare feet.
I tug her body into mine again. “And because you’re better than my mother,” I whisper down at her. “Do you know she was your age when she had me? You’re not too young for that.”
She cries, shaking her head over and over again.
“You’re never escaping me, Winter.” I lean in close, so she can feel my words on her face. “You never did.”
She grabs my rosary. “Take me home!”
I dive down, throwing her over my shoulder. “I’m your home, baby.”
And I carry her back to the house, up the steps, and punch in the code to unlock the door.
She flails and growls as I step over the threshold and close the door again. I carry her deep into the great room, smelling the wood of the beams overhead and the remnants of cigars. Carrying her to the kitchen, I swing open the door to the basement and reach just inside, flipping all the switches. A soft buzz reverberates through the house as the electricity flows, and I spin around, turning on lights and starting the electric fireplace.
She punches my back and kicks her legs, but eventually, she tires and her tears take over. She hangs over my shoulder, crying. “You wanted to hurt me,” she says. “Why? Was it a prank? To see if you could fuck a girl who couldn’t see you?”
She trembles, and my heart feels like it’s tearing in two. I’d kill anyone who ever did that to her.
I tighten my arm around her thighs. “I wanted you to talk to me,” I tell her. “I concealed my voice, hid the rosary, showered off the cigarettes… I didn’t want you to be scared of me.”
Her voice is small, thick with tears, but quiet. “I’m scared of you.”
Fuck. Why shouldn’t she be, right? She’s used to feeling eyes on her. Used to people thinking that just because she can’t see that she also can’t hear their whispers. She thinks I took advantage of her, and I did, but not for the reasons she thinks. I didn’t want her to fuck me. I wanted her to like me.
I wanted her to see me.
Setting her back on her feet, she spreads her arms wide, finding the kitchen island behind her and the stools.
I keep my voice calm. “I didn’t push you out of the tree house that day.”
She moves around the island, distancing herself but still facing my voice.
“You didn’t mean to, but you did,” she says. “But I didn’t really blame you. Not then.” She pauses. “Not until later.”
I move around the island, following her step for step and inhale for inhale as she hears me approach and continues to maneuver away.
“It was the things I heard in the years to come that made me more scared,” she tells me. “That made what happened that day worse and you nothing but bad.”
Her father told her things about me. I should’ve guessed that. What did he tell her? I can only imagine, and unfortunately, none of it was probably a lie.
Tears well in her eyes. “And look what you just did to me.”
I shake my head. “Stop.”
“How many people have you played with?” she fires back. “And fucked?” “Twenty? Thirty? Forty?”
She halts on the other side of the island, gripping the edge as she spits out, “Will you still want me when that many men have had me?”
I bolt over to her, my heels digging into the floor as I grab the corner of the counter and launch myself at her.
“What?” I circle her waist and lift her up, brushing her nose with mine. “What did you say?”
She doesn’t fight me, just turns her head away from my mouth.
“You’re mine.” My Winter. “No one else will ever have you.”
“More than that, they’ll have my consent,” she growls, turning back, her warm breath on my lips. “I’ll be moaning their names like I never did yours.”
My lungs empty, and I almost drop her. No.
“You scare me,” she sobs. “You were mean to me. My first day of school in the locker room. In the lunch room. In the janitor’s closet. Damon Torrance always brought horror.”
Our foreheads meet as I stare at her lips. “He doesn’t know how to be gentle when he’s scared,” I tell her. “When he wants someone that he’s worried doesn’t want him. He always wanted you close. Always.”
“And if he’s gets too scared that he can’t have it, he takes it?” she asks. “Are you going to take me again tonight?”
I growl, releasing her and shoving the bar stools onto the floor. Take her? I whip, shoving every piece of shit sitting on the kitchen counters onto the floor. Pots and pans crash onto the tile, wooden utensils clatter to the floor, and a glass lid to something shatters against a wall.
She stumbles away, into the living room, fear etched across her face, but I don’t stop. Everything comes tumbling down, and I kick the wooden cabinets, leaving fucking dents in everything I can until my muscles burn and my heart can barely beat over the knife in my chest.
I gasp and groan with the pain, my legs and arms getting slower and weaker, and I fall back against a wall, near the doorway to the master bedroom, exhausted.
Take her? She means hurt her. I would never hurt her. Ever.
I never wanted her frightened. Just scared, because she liked the thrill. Like I do. And I wanted to take her along with me. I want to take her everywhere with me.
But I’d never force her. Is that how she sees it?
Is that how she’s going to remember it?
I close my eyes, images of my mother and all the times she never had to physically force me flashing through my mind.
But I also never felt like I had a choice, because it was someone who I thought loved me.
Winter feels just as used.
“There’s an alarm on the wall.” I look up at her as she moves backway, feeling her way past the sofa table. “Turn ninety degrees, and it’s twelve paces, on the left side of the door,” I tell her quietly. “Bottom right button. Security will come. They’ll call your parents for you.”
She doesn’t move right away, as if waiting for it to be a trick.
“Go,” I tell her.
She turns, heading slowly to the front door, and I watch her find the panel to alert security. She flips open the cover and runs the pads of her fingers over the buttons to find the right one.
I hang my head, rubbing my eyes with my thumb and middle finger. Someday she’s going to wonder why I didn’t just try to be kind, but I don’t think I would do it differently if I could go back. I loved making her fight me when I was Damon, and I loved making her smile when I was her ghost.
But suddenly, she’s there. I see her feet, then her legs, and then she’s in front of me, her thigh brushing mine. I pop my head up, looking at her face and then glancing at the alarm behind her, seeing she hasn’t pressed the button.
“Why did you want me close?” she asks.
I look at her through the blur in my eyes, the answer coming so easily. “Because you were the only one who crawled into the fountain with me.”
I see her stand there, and I know she’s remembering that day. Us, just the two of us, for a few minutes, hiding from the world.
She liked me.
“And in every bad moment since then,” I tell her. “I climb back in there with you.”
Tears pool in her eyes again, and I want her to know it was never that easy for me. I wanted more than sex. I wanted everything from her.
I don’t want her to breathe another breath without me for the rest of her life.
“What bad moments?” she asks.
I swallow the lump in my throat. “A story for a different day, Winter.”
I’m fucking tired of the past. I caress her face, brushing her hair out of her eyes, and she lets me.
After a minute as I watch the turmoil play behind her eyes, she draws in a deep breath. “They don’t want us to be together,” she whispers.
I almost smile, exhaling.
She believes me.
I bring her in, holding her head and kissing her temple. “I don’t give a shit what your father thinks.”
She squats down and picks up a butcher knife grazing her toes. She rises, holding it tightly. “In case you misbehave. I still don’t trust you.”
I laugh a little, but I can’t not misbehave. I cover her mouth with mine, kissing her deep and slow, because she thinks she knows Damon Torrance, but she doesn’t know him at all, and I’m going to show her tonight. She’ll say my name.
She whimpers as I pull away to catch my breath and go back in.
I feel a sharp needle prick in my abdomen and stop kissing long enough to glance down as she points the knife into my torso.
I dart my eyes up to her face.
“Is there any more to tell me?” she presses.
I clench my teeth. “Yeah,” I warn her, remembering the fucking video. “You’re going to want to kill me a few more times tonight, but you’re still going to want me.” I cup her face with one hand, kissing her forehead. “I just want one more night with only you before your father has me in fucking handcuffs.”
She drops the knife. “I think we can work together to make sure he sees reason. I have some skills.”
I hug her to my body, and she wraps her arms around me.
“I don’t even care, baby.” I glare at the fucking door like it’s going to scare anyone who comes through it. “If you’re mine, I don’t give a shit about anything else.”
I’ll always come for her.
Lifting her into my arms, I gaze at her pretty face as I carry her into the bedroom.
She hugs me again, burying her face in my neck. “I need a bath.”
I veer to the bathroom inside the master bedroom. “I’m not pulling out.”
A sad, little laugh escapes her. “Yes, you will,” she says firmly. “I want to go to Homecoming before I grow up completely.”
“I’ll take you to Homecoming,” I whisper in her ear.
“You’re not a student.”
“Then I’ll give you a ride.”
“My college boyfriend, hm?” she teases, bringing her face up in front of mine. “You’ll be back at school soon.”
I’m not going anywhere. I’ll transfer to Trinity in Meridian City. If, somehow, I escape any charges with Winter’s help, Will and Kai will fucking need me. Michael will need me. And Rika’s going to dread me.
Holding onto her, I reach around and turn on the shower and then place my hand between us on her stomach. My thumb grazes over her tummy. “I’ll never be away from you.”
And we strip down, stepping into the water, back in the fountain as I pull her back into my chest. I bow my head, kissing her softly and trying to hide my smile as I touch her stomach and wonder what the next month will bring. You’re mine forever now.