We went over to The Blue Moon and had a few drinks and some food. After riding the mechanical bull, I returned to my seat beside Zach. I kissed him and took a drink of water. He praised me on my bull-riding skills and got up to use the bathroom.

Moments after he stepped away, I was startled. My spine straightened and my breathing ceased when I heard the voice of the demon.

Close in my ear, he said, “Mm…Abi-gail Win-ter-field.”

I turned apprehensively, knowing who it was. It was indeed Dr. Epps. I was immediately overcome with fear. My heart was beating fast and out of my chest. I couldn’t think as I just zoned out. He looked different. His hair was no longer long, and he’d done away with the goatee.

He continued, “You’re here, all grown up, sexier, and with my stepson. My eyes must be deceiving me.” He sniffed me as he walked around me. “Mm…you still smell so good…so sweet.”

I was timid. But I threw what remained of my glass of water in his face and hissed, “Get away from me!”

He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his face with it, and countered, “Now is that any way for you—my fa-vo-rite patient—to treat your favorite doctor? Huh, Ms. Winterfield?” He put his handkerchief back in his pocket and leaned against the empty chair across from me. “Seeing you up there riding that bull like that—yum!  Had I known you were such an amazing rider, mm…I would’ve exploited that a long time ago.”

“You filthy, diabolical son of a bitch,” I hissed. I tried to slap him, but he grabbed hold of my wrist, which made my skin crawl. “Get your filthy fucking hand off of me,” I snarled, yanking my wrist from him. I slapped him across his face with my free hand.

“Mm…that feels really good, and it still turns me on. Reminds me of old times—and you know how great they were. I see you still love to fight. And I still know how to handle a little fighter like you.” He looked at me licentiously and licked his lips. “See what you do to me,” he said, looking down at his zipper.

I don’t know why my eyes betrayed me, but they did, as they followed his in the direction of his filthy crotch. “You sure know how to get me hard as a rock,” he said, pulling the seat close to me.

That look and creepy talk was the same as nearly twelve years ago. I couldn’t believe I was in his presence again and feeling the way I had when I was fifteen years old—scared and helpless. It sent chills down my spine.

Jumping out of my seat and backing away from him, I blurted, “You’re an abysmal pig—a total waste of genetics.”

Just as I was backing farther away from him to run to the men’s bathroom to get Zach, Zach reappeared, leaping onto Epps, knocking him out of the chair and onto the floor.

A customer and employee pulled Zach off Dr. Epps while he shouted, “You stay the fuck away from her. I’ll kill you if you ever come near her again. You understand me, you fucking rapist pig?”

Getting up from the floor, Epps straightened his clothes and walked up to Zach. “I thought I taught your wimpy, namby-pamby ass a lesson the last time you thought your balls were big enough to step to me like this. And you do remember what happened the last time? Don’t you?”

Epps turned his attention to me, stared at me as if he was swallowing me up with his eyes, shook his head, and said, “Mm, mm, mm…look at you, all grown up and voluptuous. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you when I saw you riding like that. You picked a real fine one, stepson—a nice feisty piece of ass, isn’t she?”

Zach cursed and punched him, sending him to the floor.

I retorted, “You sleazy, cocky motherfucker!”

Getting up with blood pouring copiously from his nose and mouth, he laughed. “And that it is,” he said, looking down at his zipper. “Isn’t it, Abigail?” He raised his brows at me brazenly, taunting me.

You sick fucking monster!

I kicked him right where his mind went, hoping to release upon him the years of pain that he had caused me. And if he could never use it again, then all the better.

Ah! You…fucking…bitch!” he screamed and howled, clutching it tightly, as he fell crippled to the floor. I would’ve kicked him in his groin again, but he had both hands covering it while he rolled on the floor.

Zach crouched down beside him, yanked him up by his collar, and gritted through his teeth, “You know what you did to her, and I’m going to make you pay for that.” He released Epps’s collar and threw him back to the ground. “You’re a piece of shit!”

“I’ll see you in court!” Epps promised, yelling from the floor, still writhing in pain with jewels in hand.

“Yes, you will,” I hissed.


Enraged, Zach drove fast and negligently while scrolling through his cell phone.

“Zach, pull over, please,” I said.

“For what?”

“You’re going to get a ticket, get us killed, or kill someone else because you’re driving recklessly. Now pull over so I can drive.”

He ignored me and continued his sloppy driving.

“Goddamn it, Zach. Pull the damn car over before you kill me!” I yelled, looking at him with both my hands planted firmly on the dashboard.

He looked at me, saw the fear in my face, and finally pulled off the road. “Slide over,” he said, getting out of the car and slamming the door behind him.

I scooted over, adjusting the seat and mirrors. “Don’t forget your seat belt, babe,” I said. He put it on, and I drove off.

Zach eventually got Stan on the phone and advised him of the altercation we had had with Dr. Epps.

“I understand all of that, Stan. Trust me, I do. I’m willing to run that risk. I want this motherfucker on a meat hook, pronto! Stan, I’ll take care of that; just set up the meeting with Smithson at the DA’s office for the earliest date possible. All right, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Zach grabbed my right hand and kissed it. “I’m sorry for scaring you with my careless driving.”

“Already forgiven, babe. So what did Stan say?”

“He’ll scan the database and reach out to some of his contacts to see if Henry files any charges.”

“Do you think he would file any?”

“With Henry, anything’s possible.”

“Babe, what was he talking about when he said he already taught you a lesson?” I pried. I needed to know. The way Zach had stood toe-to-toe, measuring testosterone with Epps when he was reminded of the “last time,” made it seem like there was a score to settle. There was undeniable bad blood in the air between them, and when Zach had punched Epps, it looked like Zach had only scratched the surface at trying to even that score.

“We’ll talk about it later, Abi.”

“OK,” I replied, even though I knew he meant we weren’t going to talk about it ever.

What the hell happened between the two of them? Why is Zach so secretive about his past? What did Epps do to him?