He sighs lightly. “Paul had a parole hearing yesterday. I didn’t know. Apparently, the paperwork was sent to me, but I never received it. I’m so sorry, India, but it’s been granted.”
A ripple of fear runs down my spine. “He’s out,” I nearly choke on the words.
“Not yet. He’ll be released this Tuesday.”
A few days. My breath leaves me in a rush. I press my hand to my forehead, trying to calm my spinning thoughts. “But I thought I had a few more years before he got out.”
“So did I. I really didn’t think his parole would be granted. I thought he would serve his full term, especially after failed escape attempts in prison and…the letters he sent to you. The threats.”
The memory of receiving them. Seeing those words. The hatred he spewed.
The feelings of hurt and betrayal and anger at him and myself attack me, leaving me winded.
“First thing on Monday, I’m putting in for an emergency restraining order for you and Jett,” Russell tells me.
“You think he’ll come looking for us? Is Jett at risk?” Panic seizes me, and I start to quickly think of ways for us to escape Paul. Leaving the country springs to mind.
He wasn’t a violent man before he went to prison, but I saw in ink the hatred he feels for me, thinking I stole his life from him, and prison can change even the mildest of men.
The Paul leaving prison in a few days is a man I don’t know.
“I don’t think so. Paul is being released on electronic tag and curfew. He won’t be allowed to leave the Manchester area. I can’t see him risking going back to prison after trying for so long to be released that he would violate those conditions to come to London. And he doesn’t know where you are. But still, it’s better to have a restraining order in place than not.”
I know how easy it is to find people, and my name isn’t exactly a run-of-the-mill name. Maybe I should have changed it, so he could never find us.
Hindsight is a great thing.
“It’s going to be okay, India. We always knew this day would come. It’s just happening a little sooner than we expected.”
“You’re right. I know.”
“Since Paul’s parole has been granted, maybe he’s a different man now. Maybe he’s let the hatred toward you go.”
“Do you believe that?”
“I want to, for your sake. I’m getting the parole documents sent over to me today, so I can see what terms allowed his release. I do think this is going to be okay.”
“If there is anything in there—a desire on his part to meet Jett—”
“He knows he’s not allowed to, but yes, if there’s anything, I’ll let you know immediately.”
“Does Kit still live with you?”
“And do you have a good security system on your house?”
“We have a standard alarm.”
“Maybe it’s time to upgrade.”
“You’re not making me feel better about this, Russell.” I let out a humorless laugh.
“Sorry. Even though I believe you’ll be fine, I’m just trying to offer ways to make you feel safer about this.”
“I know, and I appreciate it.” I blow out a breath, running my fingers through my hair.
I hear the roar of the engines, and it brings my thoughts to Leandro. Who he is. Where I am.
“I’m seeing someone,” I tell Russell. “It’s new, but he’s in the public eye.”
“Does being with him put you and Jett in the public eye?”
“It will. We’ve been photographed together already. Not Jett, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they get my name and Jett’s. Do you think that could be a problem?”
There’s a pause while he thinks. His silence unnerves me.
“If Paul has truly changed, then no, it shouldn’t be a problem. But it will tell him exactly where you are and how you’re living your life. The media will give him unfettered access to you and Jett. My advice is to stay out of the press as much as possible upon Paul’s release. And we’ll see how things go from there.”
“Thanks, Russell, for everything. And thank you for letting me know.”
“No problem. I’ll keep you updated as I know things…and I really am sorry, India.”
“Yeah, me, too.”
I hang up with Russell and lean back against the wall, pressing my head against the bricks. I can’t believe he’s getting out now. I always knew this day would come, but I thought I had a few more years, that Jett would be a bit older.
How the hell am I going to tell Jett that his father is free?
I cover my face with my hand. Sliding it up into my hair, I tug on it with frustration.
“There you are!” Jett’s voice hits me.
I look up to see him standing in the doorway to the garage.
His happy expression drops, and he takes a step toward me, letting the door close behind him. “Mum, are you okay?”
I clear my face of all emotions and paste on a bright smile. “I’m fine.”
“Who was that on the phone?” He nods at the phone, which my fingers are tightly gripped around.
“Just a patient.” I slide my phone back into my pocket, trying to relax the tense muscles in my body.
I can see the skeptical look on his face. I can’t tell him now. Not here. I need time to think this through. Figure it out.