Chapter 21

Carter POV Cont’d

She remains silent as she waits for me to get my point across.

“You don’t love him. You’re still here-not because you’re too weak to leave-but because you’re too strong to leave.

You put up with this sht because you know it’s not about you. It’s not about your own safety. You do it for your brother. Everything you do, you do for other people.

Not many people have that kind of courage and strength, Sloan. It’s inspiring.”

Her lips part and she sucks in a soft rush of air. Based on her reaction, I’d say she’s not used to being complimented. And that’s sad.

“I’m sorry I said those things to you at the restaurant,” I tell her. “You aren’t weak. You aren’t Asa’s doormat. You’re…”

TOO LATE : CHAPTER 21 – 30. Thingscouplesdo

A tear trickles out of her left eye and trails down her cheek. I lift my hand and press it to her cheek, letting the tear fall against my thumb.

I don’t wipe it away. If anything, I want to bottle it up and save it. This is probably the first tear she’s ever cried as the result of a compliment, rather than an insult.

“I’m what?” she asks, her voice soft and hopeful. She’s looking up at me, wanting-needing me to finish my sentence.

My eyes drop to her mouth and my chest constricts at the thought of what her lips would feel like sliding against mine. I swallow hard and finish saying the words I know she needs to hear.

“You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” I whisper. “You are everything Asa doesn’t deserve. And…” I take a step closer and she tilts her head up as I lean in toward her and whisper, “And everything I want.”

She sighs softly and we’re so close I can feel her breath on my lips—so close I can already taste her.

I run my hand through her hair to pull her toward me, but the second our lips almost meet, the backdoor to the kitchen begins to open. We both separate, facing opposite directions.

I open the refrigerator just as Jon walks into the kitchen. I look away from him, but not before seeing the knowing look he shoots me. The suspicion.


I hear Sloan open a cabinet behind me. I reach inside the refrigerator. “Want a beer?” I ask Jon, holding it out toward him.

He takes two deliberately slow steps toward me, eyeing me hard, and takes the beer from my hand. He glances behind me at Sloan as he twists off the cap. “What did I just interrupt?”

I wait to see if Sloan wants to answer, but she doesn’t. There’s just a long stretch of silence.

I grab another beer out of the fridge and then close the door, glancing in Sloan’s direction. Her back is to both of us as she pours herself a glass of water from the sink.

I could act like Jon is overreacting. I could feign innocence. But Jon would know better. I know what it looked like when he walked in here-both of us turning in opposite directions, separating, looking guilty.

Jon doesn’t know me. For all he knows, I’m just like him. Making him think I’m not worried about repercussions would probably gain me more respect from him than not. Making him believe I think Sloan is just another “wh’re” (as Asa would say) would be better in his eyes than if I actually thought she was anything different.

I look back at Jon and smirk as I take a step toward him. “Wouldn’t you like to know.” Just as I pass him, I wink, allowing him to think whatever he wants.

I walk confidently outside and as soon as the door shuts behind me, I press my hand into the wall and let out a huge rush of air.

I can feel the pull in every part of me-the bI.ood rushing to my head as my lungs drag in all the breaths Sloan took from me in that kitchen. Or took from Luke, rather. Because that was all me just now, pulling her to me, wanting to put my mouth on hers. That had nothing to do with why I’m here.

And I got exactly what I deserved for allowing it to happen. Jon knows he walked in on something and now I have to figure out how to fix that before Asa finds out.

Shit just got real.



My hands are shaking as I take a sip of water. I know Jon is still in the kitchen, standing somewhere behind me, but I don’t want to turn around. He disgusts me almost as much as Asa, and knowing he thinks he saw something between me and Carter gives him a leg up. I know how he works. I’m not stupid.

I set the glass down and glance behind me. Jon is standing against the fridge, staring at the words I wrote. He lifts his hand and traces his index finger around the words on the dry erase board, then he runs his finger through them, erasing them. “What the fuck does this even mean?” he says, glancing back at me.

I face him full-on, folding my arms over my chest. I hate how his eyes scroll down my body. I hate how he looks at me-like I’m the one thing he can’t have. Only now that he thinks Carter almost had me, I somehow seem more attainable to him.



My heart feels like it slips up my throat. I can feel my pulse beating in my neck as Jon begins to take a few steps toward me. “Where’s Asa?” he asks, his eyes roaming over my bbs rather than my face.

“In our bedroom,” I say, wanting him to know that Asa is right here in the house. I don’t mention that he’s passed out and probably won’t wake up for several hours.

It’s funny how things work sometimes. I fear Asa more than anyone-but Asa is also my only protection against people in this house.

Jon glances up at the ceiling. “He asleep?”

I shake my head. “No,” I say. “I came down to make him something to drink.”

I can see in his eyes that he knows I’m lying. He knows I’m only trying to protect myself. He takes another step forward until he reaches me.

Something changes in his expression. I see the sinister look in his eyes—the hatred—and I open my mouth to scream.

I want to yell for Carter to come back inside. I want to yell for Asa to come downstairs. But I can’t, because Jon’s hand clamps around my throat, stifling my voice.

“You want to know what I’m sick of?” he asks, glaring at me as he squeezes his hand tigheter. My eyes are wide, but I’m unable to nod or shake my head. My hands are gripping at his hand around my throat as I try to pull it away from me.

“I’m sick of Asa getting everything he wants,” he says. “And not letting me have sht.”

I squeeze my eyes shut. Someone will walk in soon. Carter, Dalton-someone will stop this.

Just as that thought passes through my mind, the backdoor opens and relief washes over me. I open my eyes and Jon spins around, his hand still gripping my throat.

My wide eyes meet Kevin’s eyes. He pauses in the doorway, staring at us. I barely know him because he’s not here at the house much, but I don’t care. He’s here and Jon just got busted. He’ll be forced to release me.

“Get out of here,” Jon growls at Kevin.

Kevin takes in the scene. Jon pressed against me, one of his hands gripping my hips, the other around my throat, the fear in my expression. I try to shake my head to silently beg Kevin not to walk away, but he misreads the situation, because he laughs. Or…maybe he doesn’t misread it. Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he’s just as sick as Jon. Kevin holds up his hands and says, “My bad, man,” and steps back outside.


Jon spins me around and pvshes me toward the living room, out of the kitchen. I try to scream, but nothing comes out. His hand is still clamped around my throat.

The living room is dark and empty and I try to fight my way out of his grip, but I’m getting weaker by the second with every drop of air he’s refusing to let me inhale. I can feel the panic set in, but I force it back down. I can’t lose control of myself right now.

He pvshes me onto the couch and as soon as he releases his grip around my throat, I drag in gasp after gasp of air, coughing and sputtering until I have enough air in my lungs to scream. But before I’m able to do that, something cold is placed against my throat. Something sharp.

Oh, God.

I squeeze my eyes shut as soon as Jon’s other hand begins to push my knees apart. I have never felt terror like I feel right now. I’ve been in dangerous situations before-usually at the hands of Asa. But I’ve never feared for my life at the hands of Asa.

Jon is different. Jon would hurt me just to pnish Asa.

His hand runs up my thigh and settles between my legs. I can feel my legs shaking from the fear that’s overtaking my entire body.

“Asa thinks everyone else’s girls are fair game, but he’s the only one who gets a piece of this?” He lowers his mouth to my ear. “He owes me a few favors, Sloan. And I need you to repay one right now.”

“Jon,” I choke out. “Please stop. Please.”

He brings his mouth to mine. “Say please again,” he whispers.

“Please,” I plead one more time.

“I like it when you beg.” His mouth crashes against mine and I immediately taste bile as it makes its way up my throat. There’s nothing gentle about his mouth as his tongue forces its way past my lips. The more I try to fight to free myself, the harder he presses the blade against my throat.

Through all the fear and all the struggling, I’m somehow still able to hear the quiet click of a gvn.

Jon freezes on top of me and when I open my eyes, I see the metal tip of a gvn pressed against his temple.

“Get away from her,” Carter says.

Oh, God. Thank you, Carter. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jon’s hand slowly leaves my throat. He presses it against the back of the couch. “You’re gonna regret this,” he says to Carter.



I look up at Carter, seeing something in his eyes I’ve never seen before as he stares down at Jon.

“You’re wrong,” he says, his voice steady. “The only thing I’ll regret is not shooting you three seconds ago.”

Jon swallows and slowly begins to back away from me. Carter never pulls the gvn from his head as Jon pulls himself to a seated position. Carter moves the gvn to Jon’s forehead and stares down at him.

“Apologize to her.”

Jon doesn’t waste a breath. “I’m sorry,” he says, his voice shaking.

I pull my legs away from him and scramble off the couch. I back away from the couch, behind Carter. I bring my hand to my throat and rub at it, trying to massage away the pain from Jon’s grip.

Carter takes a step away from Jon, but keeps the gvn pointed at him.

“I think we both have secrets we’d like to keep from Asa. You didn’t see me in the kitchen with Sloan and I didn’t see you forcing yourself on top of her. You agree?” Carter says to him.

I don’t know how I feel about that-being their bartering tool. But I know if Jon goes to Asa with his suspicions of what he saw between me and Carter in the kitchen-Asa will hurt Carter. And that’s the last thing I want.

Jon nods. “I never saw a thing.”

Carter says, “Good. We’re on the same page then.” He presses the tip of the gvn back to Jon’s forehead, shoving Jon’s head against the back of the couch. “But if you touch Sloan again, I won’t even worry about having to inform Asa because I’ll kll you myself.” Carter uses all his force to smash the gvn against the side of Jon’s head.

Jon doesn’t even have the chance to react. He falls against the arm of the couch-his whole body limp. Out cold from one blow to his head.

I’m staring in shock at Jon when I feel Carter’s hands grip my face. I glance up at him and he’s giving me the onceover, checking for injuries. “Are you okay?” he asks.

I nod. As soon as I start nodding, the tears start coming. Carter pulls me to him and my whole body starts to shake with sobs.

He runs his hand down the back of my head and presses his lips against my ear. “Sloan, I hate to ask you this because the last place I want you to be is with Asa right now. But you’re safer up there. Go to your room and don’t come out for the rest of the night, okay?”

I nod, because I know he’s right. Asa is the devil himself sometimes, but at least he would never allow anyone in the house to hurt me. Besides, he’s out cold. Just like Jon.

Carter walks me to the base of the stairs. “Do you have your cell phone on you?”


“Call me if you need me tonight. Otherwise, I’ll see you in the morning,” he says, running a soothing hand over my cheek.

I completely forgot about tomorrow. I have school tomorrow. Class with Carter. The thought of being with him at school-away from all this shit-is the only thing I have to look forward to right now.

“Okay,” I say, my voice still shaking from the result of the last half hour.

He leans in and ksses me on the forehead, then releases me. Jon starts to stir on the couch, so Carter nods up the stairs, wanting me out of the room before Jon wakes up. I turn to walk up the stairs, in shock over how different life inside this house is compared to what it’s like outside this house.

Normally when someone gets attacked, it’s reported to the police. But inside this house, it’s handled internally. It’s used as a bargaining tool. And instead of going to the police, I go upstairs to a guy who is ten times more dangerous than the person who almost rapped me.

But this house doesn’t follow the same rules as the outside world. This house is a prison with its own set of rules.

And Asa is the warden. Always has been.

I just don’t think Asa realizes that now that Carter is here, he could easily be overthrown.

I hope he never does realize it. Because that wouldn’t be good for any of us.



My mouth is dry.

I roll over to reach for one of the bottles of water Sloan always keeps by our bed. I can’t open my eyes because my whole head feels like it’s about to explode, so I feel around the nightstand until I find one. My hands are shaking.

I already want another hit. This time I’ll be smart about it. I won’t do it when I’m so tore up on whiskey, I pass out and waste my high like I did last night.

I bring the bottle of water to my mouth and down the entire contents in two huge gulps. I toss the empty bottle across the room and fall back onto my pillow.


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