Captivated by Him(13)

By: Terri E. Laine


Tade sat on the sofa with a game controller in hand when I walked in.

“Struck out?”

He shrugged. “She’s not my type.”

I laughed and plopped down. “You’re lying out your ass. She turned you down.”

“You can’t possibly laugh. You’re back early.”

“She’s a work in progress.” I hadn’t exactly given up.

She’d been hot and ready for me in the bathroom until her friend had killed her mood, or so I told myself. Plus, she’d all but dared me, and game on. I’d have her in my bed by next weekend. That much I was sure of.

A small part of me challenged that she was much more than a game because I had no desire to hurt her. She wore a smile as easily as some sported frowns. If more people like her existed in the world, it would be a better place. Even though I teased her, I wouldn’t kill that spirit inside her. Maybe it would be better to let her walk away no matter how badly I wanted her.





8





past





Miss Connie from down the street stood in the doorway making moon eyes at Dad. He held the door so tightly, blocking her from coming in. His knuckles had gone white.

“Thank you, but you really didn’t have to,” Dad said.

“It’s no trouble. I felt like baking, but I really shouldn’t eat it. Keeping my figure.” She giggled.

What was a figure?

“I got to get Gavin ready for school. So I should go.”

“Okay, sorry to disturb you.”

He closed the door on anything else she might have said. I went back to eating my cereal when he glanced at me.

The pie landed with a thud on the counter. Dad let it fall from his hands like it burned him.

I couldn’t keep a straight face any longer. “She wants to kiss you.”

Though I laughed, Dad looked like he’d bitten into something sour. “What do you know about that?”

People kissed all the time on TV.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s not going to happen,” he added.

He eyed the pie like it might explode. It smelled like heaven to me and brought back memories of a better time.

“Because of Mom?” I asked.

Dad only looked over at me briefly before busying himself with putting the cereal box back in the cupboard.

“I told you I don’t like to talk about your mother. And Connie is a good woman. I won’t let them use someone else against me.”

I’d heard that before. It was the reason I couldn’t see my grandparents or my aunt. Dad didn’t want them to get hurt by the people who’d killed my mother.

“And you remember to hide if they come around. I don’t want you on their radar.”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.”

His phone rang and his sour look returned as he glanced at the screen. When he answered, he shifted so his back was to me and started pacing away. I could only hear what he said, but it was enough.

“Yeah.”

He’d made it to the front window while he listened and peeked out.

“I can’t. I’m pretty sure someone is watching the house.”

As Dad turned, I scooped more cereal in my mouth and focused on the library book I had opened next to me.

“No.” Dad’s voice sounded firm. “He’s too young. I won’t do—” The call must have ended, because he said my name next. “Go get your backpack.”

I hadn’t finished my breakfast, but when he spoke like that, he didn’t want an argument.

I hopped off my stool, walked down the short hallway to my room, and grabbed my backpack from the floor. When I came back into the front room, Dad had his hand out. I gave the bag to him.

“Finish eating.”

Dad opened the door that led to the small basement. It was where he did all the work for the bad people. It’s also the place where he hid money in the walls. We had a lot of it, but Dad explained we couldn’t spend one dollar of it. That was the reason I had thrift shop clothes and shoes that were too tight.

There was no way I could eat. I put my bowl in the sink and filled it with water. I washed it and turned on the garbage disposal to hide the evidence. Hopefully, Dad was too busy with what he was doing downstairs to notice.

I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and got ready to go. I walked back in thinking I had time to watch some TV, but Dad stood as if waiting for me.

He held out the bag. I took it without saying anything and ignored the fact that it felt heavy like he’d added bricks to it. I tried not to flinch as I managed to get it on my back. Dad sat on the arm of the couch, putting us eye to eye.

“You are to go to school—”

“But I still have ten minutes,” I said.

“You are to go to school, now. Enter the front and go out the backdoor to the big tree by the swings. Stand behind the tree so no one in the school can see you. Jimmy will meet you there. Give him the bag from your backpack and don’t look at it. Just get back in the school. Don’t speak to anyone until you’re done. Got me?”