A few more curses from him, he found it and yanked.
Light flooded the room. I was greeted by a pissed-off pro basketball player, who’d showered and was wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt that looked like it was made of the softest material on Earth. Seriously. Whoever made that shirt was a genius, because I wanted to touch it.
I was raising my hand to do just that when he shifted backward. “What are you doing?”
“Your shit looks so soft. I wanted—”
“What?” I blinked. Huh?
“You said shit.”
“Shirt.” Shit. Um… I cocked my head. “What’s going on here?”
“I asked what you were doing coming in so late. And you reek of booze. I couldn’t sleep, and I heard you and your friend driving up, so I came down to wait for you. You walk like a tortoise.”
“I’m drunk. And it’s night.” That made the perfect sense to me, and I remembered his earlier question. “I was a unicorn.”
“I’m so fucking confused by you.” He rubbed his forehead. “What are you talking about now? A unicorn?” “Me and the abuela.”
“I call her THE abuela, but I’m sure she goes by Abuela too.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Sophia’s family. Her grandmother. And then there’s Nana, mija, and lots of cousins, but the abuela and I were a dancing unicorn together. I threw confetti.”
“I gathered.” He nodded at me. “You’re covered in glitter.”
I shrugged. “From the confetti and the dancing.”
“Where’d you get the confetti?”
Another shrug. “The world’s greatest mystery. Where does confetti really come from?”
Suddenly his eyebrows went flat. “You guys went drinking.”
“The booze oozing out of my pores indicates that. I thought we were past that.”
“No. I thought you camp people stayed here all the time.” He shook his head, rubbing his jaw as he looked around the room. “What kind of shithole do you stay in?”
He took in the fishing net that made up a chandelier, scanned the wall of fish hooks turned upside down. He wrinkled his nose. “This place smells too. Holy fuck.” He took a good whiff. “What is that?”
“It’s the old fishing cabin. I barely notice it now.”
“Because it’s on you.”
“What?” No! “Take that back.” I hit him in the arm.
“Who put you in here?”
“Your boss who’s a dick?”
Best friends, this guy and me. I felt a good kick in the nether regions. Not good, though.
“You can’t do things like that,” I told him.
“Like be on the same page as me.” I motioned to my groin. “Makes the he-girl happy down there.”
He groaned, but asked, “Your vagina is male? That’s where you’re going with that?”
Of course. Made perfect sense.
He rolled his eyes. “You can cut that shit. I’ve been watching you all week, and I know your deal.”
That didn’t sound good.
A knot was forming inside me. I felt its tentacles starting to wrap around. Okay. It was more of an octopus inside me, but it would harden and knot. All knots.
He sounded impatient as he picked up a bag of mine. “This whole crazy charade you’re putting on is just that. It’s a facade. You’re not a real stalker. You’re not even half a stalker.”
“I am too.”
He opened my bag, and I let him. I don’t know why, but I did. He dumped out some papers I had stuffed in there and began looking around. He went into my bedroom and grabbed some of my shirts. Putting them into the bag, he reached for more clothing.
“It’s an act,” he informed me. “Yeah, you might have weird tendencies, and you might be a fan, but that’s it. You’re not a groupie. You’re not a fanatic. If you were, I would’ve needed to kick you out of my cabin five times by now, and you’ve not once come over.” He shoved more of my clothes into the bag. “I asked you one question, and you folded. Someone truly nuts would be convinced I was asking you to marry me. She’d have horrible boundaries, and you are really all about boundaries. Jesus. You told me to back off after one personal question. You closed up and flipped the switch. You’re not even super friendly anymore.”
He was done. My bag was so full he couldn’t zip it closed.
I motioned him aside and took it, stuffing my underwear down so there was enough space to close the zipper. Then I handed it back to him.
He took it, staring at me. “I don’t know your deal. I don’t want you to know my deal, but sometime over the last week, I started to like you.” He pointed at me. “And not like that. You’re kinda cool, and I don’t say that shit to anyone, so if you claim I said it tomorrow, I’ll lie. Got it?”
I nodded. “Got it. I’m not cool.”
“See? There’s the annoying side of you.” He started for the door. “Now come on.”
“Where are you going?”
“Back to my cabin. Juan’s there, but I’ll have him bunk with Lestroy tomorrow.”
“Okay.” I waved. “Have a fun time with that.”
He stood at the door, looking back to see I had not moved with the bag in his hands. “What? No.” He threw the bag at me. “That’s for you. You’re not staying here. This place can’t be healthy. The whole thing should be burned down.”
“Don’t tell Owen and Hadley.”
“They worked really hard at airing out the smell.”
His eyes got big. “You mean it was worse?”
I was not usually the giving-in kind of girl, but I was tired.
Finding one of my other bags, I put in enough clothes for the night and some of my things from the bathroom.
When I had my phone and charger, I stood in front of him. “Ready to go.”
He eyed my bag. “What’s that for?”
He held up his bag. “That’s what this is for.”
I took it from him and tossed it to the chair. “Thoughtful as you were, you packed all the wrong clothes. I don’t actually wear half the stuff I brought with me.”
“Jesus Christ.” He grabbed my bag and shoved through the door. “Come on.”
I went with him, my insides quivering in fear and aching with excitement.
The fish cabin had won this battle.
? ? ?
Juan Cartion was sleeping on the bottom bunk. His suitcases were open on the bunk above him, and that was the only bed open. They had one of the more private cabins, so Reese bunked on the couch and said I had to take his old bed.
I started to make a comment about not encouraging the he-girl, but he clamped his hand over my mouth and hissed in my ear about not being a smart-ass. I experienced a flurry of déjà vu moments, but did as he asked. I heard Juan snoring lightly, so I decided to be kind.
And I continued to be kind, even though I barely slept.
The sun had come up thirty minutes ago, and I’d waited this long before getting on my phone. Sound was off, the vibrate too, but I was doing some research. I had something to prove to Reese when he woke up.
That was all fine and dandy until Juan Cartion rolled over in his bed. His sheet slipped down to his waist, just barely covering his dick, and I watched as he stretched. His eyes stayed closed as his hand moved under the sheet to cup himself. He yawned as his hand moved, and I knew enough to know I had to announce my presence.
I coughed. “Morning.”
His eyes flew open, and he launched in the air. “HOLY FUCK!”
A thud came from the main room. Reese was in the bedroom in half a second as Juan pressed against the wall with his sheet in front of him.
First horrified, then pissed, Juan lunged forward and grabbed the phone from my hands.
“What the fuck? You were recording me?”
“What the fuck?!” Reese glared at me.
“No.” I scrambled to my feet. I was wearing a respectable tank and sleeping shorts, but Juan pressed back like I’d tried to brand him. He sucked in his breath, moving behind Reese to glare over his shoulder.
“I wasn’t. I swear!” I motioned to my phone. “Look. I was on Google.”
He examined my phone. “What is this shit? Types of stalkers?”
Reese’s face switched, his eyes tight and his jaw clenched. He grabbed my phone, reading the screen. “Are you serious? You’re supposed to be sleeping, and instead you’re what? Looking up types of stalkers?”
Forgetting Juan, I took a step closer. “But look at the categories. I fall in, like, four of those. There’s the rejected stalker, the resentful one, predatory, the one seeking intimacy, incompetent, or the morbidly infatuated one. I’m a whole bunch of those. I swear.”
“You’re nuts. That’s what you are, but you’re not a stalker. I have stalkers. You’re not one of them.” He shoved my phone at me, rolling his eyes. “Juan, let’s switch.”
Juan’s eyes became saucers. “You’re going to sleep in here with her?”
“Her dickhead of a boss put her in a place that should be condemned. It’s not safe. Trust me. Just for a night. It was late. I was thinking you could bunk with Lestroy, or she can find a new place.”
I folded my arms over my chest. I already knew how that’d go. “My boss won’t put me anywhere else. It’s the fishing cabin or the janitor’s closet in the basement, and that main building is haunted.”