“Yes, I am. I’m also the man who’s been fucking the shit out of your wife. Well, at least one of the men she’s been fucking.”

Jason muttered the word, “Bastard.” All he got in return was another violent kick, but this time to the leg. I wanted to rush over to him, but I needed to think things through clearly. I simply couldn’t believe my eyes.


“Zoe’s such a whore, Jason. Don’t you realize that?”

Jason spit on his assailant’s shoes, and I noticed blood coming out along with his saliva.

“I thought for sure you would leave her. Kick her ass out of the house. That way she could have been with me. We could have been together forever, Jason.”

Jason’s temper started to flare up. “If Zoe’s such a whore, as you put it, why would you even want to be with her?”

“Don’t get smart with me, Jason!” Another kick to his chest. “Don’tevertake that tone with me! The only reason you’re still breathing is because I need you to get to her! I know the skank bitch won’t show her face unless it’s to save your pathetic ass!”

“Zoe loves me and only me!” Jason exclaimed. “She always has!”

“How sweet! Not that it’s going to matter much a few minutes from now.”

I saw Jason about to get kicked again, and I couldn’tmaintain my composure one more second. I screamed out, “Quinton!”

Quinton swung around to face the living room. I could see him squinting to make out my shadow. “Zoe, my love!” He reached out his arms. “Come to Poppa, baby!”

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“What are you doing here, Quinton?” I asked as I walked into their view. Jason was frantically trying to wave me away, silently telling me to run. There wasn’t a chance in hell of me doing that. I looked back at Quinton. “You killed Allison, didn’t you?”

Quinton grinned at me like he thought the question was humorous. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!”

I was dazed and confused. Part of me still didn’t want to deal with what was going on. I was prepared to face off with Tyson, but not Quinton.

“But, but, but why?” I stuttered. “Why are you doing this?”

Quinton held up his gun and scratched his temple. “Gee, I dunno, Zoe. Maybe something just snapped.”

I noticed the gun had a silencer on it. No wonder Jason and I didn’t hear the gunshots when Andy and Barney were killed.

“Yeah, that’s it,” he continued. “Temporary insanity brought on by falling in love with a trifling-ass bitch!”

I struggled to find some words. “But, but we thought Tyson—”

He interrupted me before I could finish. “Ingenious, wasn’t it?” he boasted, waving the gun around in the air. “Planting the earring and everything? I knew the police would pick up on that, and if they didn’t, you would.”

He gave me a devilish grin. “Setting up Tyson as the fall guy was perfect. Not that he gives a shit!”

“How did you—?” I hesitated and thought back tothe confrontation in Quinton’s hallway. I clearly remembered that Tyson wasn’t wearing the earring because Dusty had ripped it out in the parking lot. “The day Tyson came to your place, he wasn’t wearing it.”

“Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh,” Quinton chuckled, shaking the index finger of his free hand like he was scolding a toddler. “Correction! Thefirsttime he came to my place he wasn’t wearing it.”

“What do you mean by that?”

Quinton ignored my question. “Now that I’ve had a couple of months to reflect back on it, Zoe, I really should have let him kill your bitch ass then. The stupidest thing I’ve ever done was prying his fingers off your neck.”

Now I was starting to get pissed. How dare he come off at me like that? I realized I needed to stay calm because Quinton was there for one reason and one reason only—to kill me. However, when he made his last statement, I threw tact out the damn window. I walked within two feet of him and slapped him in the face. “Then why didn’t you, you bastard? You fuckin’ piece of shit!”

Quinton rubbed his cheek. I started to try to grab the gun, but I didn’t want to risk Jason getting shot. I didn’t care what happened to me at that point. I probably deserved it anyway.

“Aw, come on, Zoe,” Quinton chided. “No need to be rude. Let’s not make this situation any uglier than it already is.” He pushed me down on the floor next to Jason. “Why don’t you just have a seat down there with your man?

Cool your heels off.”

Quinton was really sick! I thought back to all the passionate afternoons and evenings we spent together. He was so romantic, so giving of himself. To think, all along he was a psychopath.

“As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me,Zoe. Tyson didn’t have on the cross earring the first time, but he did the second.”

I glared up at him, trying to make some sense out of what he was saying. “The second?”

“Can you believe that piece of shit came banging on my door, demanding I leave you alone?” Quinton asked, enraged.

I was beginning to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. If Quinton was crazy enough to kill Allison and two police officers, what would keep him from killing Tyson? “And what did you say to him?”

“Aw, nothing much,” Quinton quickly replied. “I sat there for a few minutes, listening to him profess his undying love for you. I told him he really needed to be telling all of his bullshit to Jason. He said he already had and told me about their punk-ass fight.”

Jason yelled out, “You’re the punk, mutha fucka!”

Before I could stop him, Quinton kicked Jason in the head. “I beg to differ with you, Jason! You’re the biggest punk of all! You married the queen bitch and bred babies with her!”

I cradled Jason’s head in my lap and looked around for a weapon, anything I could use to defend us. I was willing to die, and I would have begged Quinton to get it over with if Jason was safe and in the clear. I couldn’t let Jason pay the ultimate price for my sins. I just couldn’t. Our kids needed at least one of us to survive.

Quinton was pointing the gun at Jason’s head. I desperately needed to change the subject, so I asked him, “What did you do to Tyson?”

Quinton started laughing, guffawing even. He went over and leaned on the counter in hysterics. I was just glad he stopped pointing the gun. “You want to know what I did to him? I’ll be glad to tell you. I killed his ass!”

I prayed the whole nightmare would go away.

“I killed his ass and buried him in the train yard right along with my brother, my sister, and Diamond!”

“Train yard? Diamond?” I just knew I had to be hearing things.

“Yes, Zoe.” Quinton came back over and knelt down in front of us. “You remember the first time I fucked you, Zoe? In the train yard? Guess what? We did it right on top of the graves I dug for my brother and sister fifteen years ago.”

I was in shock. “You killed your brother and sister?”

“Among other people,” he answered calmly. “As for Diamond, I know what you did with her, Zoe.” I looked away in shame. “I know what you did, and she paid the ultimate price for your pussy too. Just like Tyson.”

He ran his fingers through my hair, grabbed my face, and tried to force his tongue in my mouth. I refused it.

He stood back up. “I hate to borrow that old clich�, but if I can’t have you, nobody will.”

Jason tried to push his way up off the floor, using his hand to no avail. His eyelids were fluttering and he was barely conscious.

“Enough of this!” Quinton exclaimed. “Come to me, Zoe!”

I hated to let go of Jason but I had to try something, and there was nothing on the floor that would help out my cause. I placed Jason’s head on the floor and slowly got up. “Quinton, I have an idea. If you really want us to be together, why don’t we just leave? I’ll go anywhere you want to go. Just don’t hurt Jason, okay?”

“How admirable, Zoe.” He looked me up and down like he was pondering my offer. “However, I don’t believe shit you’re saying.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“Truth?” He started laughing again. “You don’t know the meaning of the damn word.”

Quinton suddenly grabbed my arm and flung me against the kitchen counter, making me hit my ribs against the overhang. I screamed out in pain. He walked up behind me and pressed himself up against my back. “Oh, did I hurt you?” he asked, pulling back the hair out of my face so he could see my profile. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, baby.”

I asked a logical question. “If you don’t want to hurt me, why are you here?”

He took a deep sigh. “Because I’m confused, Zoe. Part of me wants to wring your little neck, but the other part of me wants to carry you away someplace andmakeyou love me.”

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