“It’s no one, just a telemarketer.” I lift the receiver then hang it back up.
“Who was it, Sophie?” His eyes narrow as he starts prowling towards me.
“It’s no one. I already told you it’s just a telemarketer.” I walk into the kitchen to put away the groceries, praying the phone doesn’t ring again.
“I can tell by the look on your face that it was someone.”
“Drop it. It was no one,” I grumble, going about putting the groceries away.
Just then, the phone starts ringing again. I try to beat him to it, but with his size and height, there’s no way to get the phone out of his hand.
“Hello,” he answers, holding me tight against his side with one arm under my br**sts. “What the f**k?” he growls, throwing the phone across the room, shattering it against the wall. “Fuck me,” he says, pulling me around in front of him. His hands hold my face.
“I don’t know how he found me,” I tell him, closing my eyes. I have never seen him this mad.
“We can change the number,” I tell him, laying my head against his chest.
“No, baby. I mean I know how he got this number.” He picks me up, carrying me into the bedroom and crawling into the bed with me in his arms.
“What’s going on?” I ask, reading his face.
“Your dad’s in prison.”
“I know. I heard the recording when he called.”
“That’s not how I know.” He runs his fingers through the hair at the side of my head. “When you were attacked again, I had him looked into and found out he’s in prison. I needed to see if he knew anything about what happened to you, so while we were in Seattle, I went and saw him.” He pauses, looking down at me, studying my face. “While I was there, your dad asked for my name. He knew that I lived in Tennessee. It wouldn’t take him much to figure out how to find me and, in turn, find you.”
“You think my dad had something to do with me getting attacked?” I ask, skipping over everything else he just said.
“I wasn’t sure, but now, no.” He shakes his head.
“Why’s he in there?” I ask even though I don’t know how I feel. Part of me cares, but then the other part—the part that was abandoned by him—doesn’t care at all.
He lets out a long breath then pulls me up his body so I’m lying on top of him before he rocks my world—and not in the good way. “Your dad’s in prison for murder,” he says, and my stomach rolls, making me hold my breath, praying for the nausea to pass. I can’t imagine my dad killing anyone. Even when he was at his worse, he was never violent.
“I feel sick.”
His hand goes to my back, rubbing it in soothing strokes. “I gotta tell you the rest, but I need you to know it has nothing to do with you,” he warns.
“Okay,” I say, bracing myself.
“Your dad killed the man who attacked you.”
“What?” I scream, trying to jump out of the bed.
“Baby, calm down. This is why I didn’t want to tell you,” he growls, holding my wriggling body, which is trapped to his by his muscular, tattooed arms.
“You can’t tell me to calm down! How can I calm down? My dad is a murder! He killed someone because of me! How is this not my fault?”
“Your dad made his own choices. This does not reflect on you.”
“I’m gonna be sick,” I tell him, and this time, he must know that I really am going to be sick because he releases me immediately so I can run to the bathroom. I lean over the toilet, gagging.
I can’t believe this. My dad is a murder.
“Take some deep breaths for me,” he says, laying a cool washcloth against the back of my neck.
I sit back on my calves and take a few deep breaths before he picks me up off the floor, carrying me back to the bed, tucking me in front of him.
“Okay. I think you can tell me the rest now,” I tell him, wanting to get this over with.
“After I saw your dad, I did some research about what happened. I knew you would feel guilty about this, and I didn’t want that for you.” His arms wrap around me tighter, making me feel safe. “When you left, your dad sobered up. He finally realized what he did—or I guess, didn’t do. The court documents say your dad started asking around about the guy who attacked you and found out you weren’t his first victim.”
“Oh my god.” I close my eyes. I never even thought that what happened to me could have happened to someone else.
“He molested a girlfriend of his young daughter and then raped another woman.”
“No.” I shook my head not wanting to believe how really horrible that guy was.
“I’m sorry, baby.” He kisses my forehead, pulling me closer to him. “Your father went to his house to confront him about what he had done. He said the guy attacked him first, but your dad had no wounds or anything that proved his claim. Your dad killed him.” He pushes the hair away from my face, his lips going to my forehead again. “I know you feel differently than I do. I’ll be happy if our child has your kind of compassion, but I’m glad he’s dead. He deserved what he got. Actually, he deserved a lot worse for the things he did.”
I’m glad he’s dead too. I’m glad he isn’t alive to hurt anyone else. I still feel guilty though. I don’t even realize I’m crying until I feel Nico wiping the tears off my cheeks.
“Please don’t cry, baby,” he says quietly, running his hands over my head.
“Why’s my dad calling?” I wonder out loud.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out before he calls again.” He rolls me to my back, his body leaning over me. “You know I love you, and there is nothing on this earth I wouldn’t do for you. I would kill for you, walk through fire for you, and fight your demons if that’s what you needed from me.” He wipes my cheeks again before kissing me softly. “This is something I’m going to need you to fight through with me though. I know it’ll be hard for you, but I think it may help heal some of what he broke in you if you talk to him.”
“I don’t know if I can. Why is he doing this now when before he couldn’t care less?”
“He had someone checking on you while you were in Seattle.”
“What?” I breathe. I look into his eyes, and he nods then shakes his head.
“He told me he had someone checking in on you, making sure you were okay, but then one day, you were just gone and he didn’t know what happened to you.”