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Thomas Maxwell isn’t like most guys his age.
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Eighteen Years Old…
“Thanks, Dad,” I say as I hold the binoculars in my hand. “These are nicer than my last pair.”
Dad nods and gives me a warm smile. Bird watching. That’s what we tell Mom. But the only thing I watch is her. “You headed out to see some friends tonight?” he asks.
He always asks. For appearances.
I always lie. For appearances.
Grayson Maxwell, my father, is the king of appearances and he’s taught his little prince well.
“Yeah, AJ and Britney. A party downtown. We’ll be out until late. Might even stay the night.”
Dad smirks. “Sounds like fun. Enjoy your birthday, Thomas. Just make sure you’re home tomorrow by dinner. Your mother and aunt have a whole birthday meal planned out.”
As soon as he leaves my room, I turn off all my lights and sit in my chair by the window. I have a few more weeks of school left and then I’ll be headed for boot camp. I’m more than ready to serve our country as a Marine like my father was despite my mother’s horror when I enlisted. But the look of pride on Dad’s face was enough to have me not second guessing my decision. After a few months of boot camp, I’ll begin marksmanship training. For the past three years, Dad has taught me everything he knows. I want to be a sniper just like he was.
I pull the binoculars to my eyes and peer down them toward her house. The same house I’ve been watching for three years. My dad told me it was okay to watch people—that I wasn’t a fucking weirdo for it.
One light is on in her bedroom. I can tell he’s there because she isn’t smiling. Thalia Davis—I know this is her name because I looked in her mailbox years ago to confirm—never smiles when her husband Antoine is home. When he’s off traveling to God knows where for weeks at a time, her smile comes back and she’s happy.
Now, she’s anything but.
Her dark brows are pinched together as she frowns, her stare at the bathroom door where he’s inside is troubled. As if she can sense me, her brown-eyed gaze darts to the window. There’s no way she can see me from this distance in my dark room but her eyes plead with mine.
A tear snakes down her cheek and I’m thankful for my new binoculars. My other ones were military quality as well, but these, I can actually see details like tears and the way her nostrils flare with each terrified breath she takes.
She’s afraid because he’s mean to her.
I’ve seen the way he grabs her by the arm and shakes her. How sometimes, when he’s had too much to drink, he shoves her into the dresser or the wall. And how he fucks her when she clearly doesn’t want him anywhere near her.
But all that anger he has for her disappears the moment they have sex. She seems to relax him because then he’s calm. The next morning, I see them chatting as they drink their coffee on the back patio—as if he didn’t nearly beat the shit out of her the night before.
The routine is always the same.
Once, I asked Dad about it. Asked if I should intervene. He said some people don’t want a hero. Some people want to be the hero. That I should make sure she can’t handle herself first. And so far, she seems to smooth things out on her own. Having a stalker teenager show up to save the day might do more harm than good.
So I wait.
I wait for the moment she needs a hero.
The bathroom door swings open and Antoine stumbles out. He’s massive. A monster. His chocolate-brown skin encases bulked-up muscle from years of hitting it hard in the gym. Dad says he’s ex-military. That now he’s contracted out by the government privately to work jobs for them overseas. Dad’s ability to know everything about a person is a skill I’ve yet to master. I don’t want to sit in front of a computer learning about someone. I want to be right there. Watching them. Smelling them. Touching them.
Antoine staggers into a wall and a picture crashes to the floor. Thalia winces and pulls the covers to her chin. I want to implore her to pretend to sleep. Instead, she stares at him wide-eyed. The towel around his waist unravels from his hips and drops to the floor. He’s hung like a damn horse. A spike of jealousy surges through me. A woman like Thalia—who’s used to a giant black dick—would probably be disappointed with a normal-sized dick. I mean, the girls I’ve fucked at my school have always seemed pleased, but I don’t compare to the black hulk.
He says something to her and waves his hands in the air. She flinches. At times like these, I wish I had her house bugged so I could listen. His hand swipes out and he knocks a bunch of shit off their dresser, his chest heaving with rage. She blinks up at him with tears in her eyes. And then he’s pouncing. He attacks her on the bed, tearing away the sheets. Her perfect body—one I’ve whacked off to thoughts of countless times—is revealed. Naked. Curvaceous. Mocha brown. Smooth and silky.