When I step through the double doors, I keep walking, thinking I’ll go outside and get some fresh air. Cool down a little. I’ll take a moment alone and then go back in to tell Mallory I’m leaving for the night. There’s plenty of security here, and Ryan can more than handle things without me. I often wonder if Ryan would even want me on his team if it hadn’t been for Miles making him hire me. Sure, he wants to fuck me?he may even want something more?but I’m not certain he thinks I can do my job. He’s often looking over me. He’s even put a guard on me a time or two.

I’m lost in thought as I’m walking, not paying attention to where I’m going. Before I realize what I’m doing, I bump into someone and ice-cold hands wrap around my arms. They steady me and keep me from falling over, and I look up to apologize. But the words stick in my throat as I look into the cold blue eyes that mirror my own.

“Hello, Paige.”

My father’s voice sends a chill down my spine and I shiver involuntarily. I manage to swallow the scream building in my throat, and he smiles at me, enjoying my terror. He always liked when people flinched away from him. It gave him some sick high. He’d almost savor it. His hands give me a squeeze and then let go. I think he’s going to walk away, but he leans down and whispers in my ear. They’re the first words I’ve heard him speak to me since he killed my mother. Back then he told me if I ever spoke a word I’d end up like her.

“My, my, you’ve grown to look exactly like your mother. Such a beauty, sweet Paige. It was such a shame to end her life. What a waste. She looked magnificent every time I had her under me. Especially when she cried.”

He leans back a little and looks down at me, a soft smile on his face. He reaches up, and his glacial finger wipes away a tear I didn’t know I’d shed. The fear inside me leaches out in the only way possible. A single tear formed of my shame and my hate, and he derives joy from it.

“Just like her.” His voice is full of reverence, maybe even desire. How my mother loved him, I’ll never know.

This time when he smiles, it’s wide and sinister, and I want to run. I want to leave this place and get as far away from him, and the memory, as possible. He looks past me, and I see his gaze lock on someone over my shoulder, but I don’t turn to see who it is. I’m frozen, fear crippling me into stone.

“Look at our little family reunion,” Alexander says, and I’m shaken out of my trance.

I take a few steps away from him, off to the side, and watch as he speaks to Miles. I look over and see Mallory partially behind him, with Captain nearby, staring at me. Understanding passes between us. He knows Miles and I hate our father. Miles has been working for years to tear Alexander’s world apart.

My mind is churning as I look at Ryan. I want him to run over and hold me, catch me before I crumple to the ground. Sink into all that protective strength I know he has. But then I want him to stay where he is and not come near me. I don’t want the evil that my father gave me to touch him. Or for my father to see another weakness I have. He’s great at using anything he can against you.

I hear raised voices, and out of the corner of my eye I see a scuffle. Before I know it Miles has Alexander pinned to the wall beside me. Still I don’t move. Just like all those years ago, I’m standing here doing nothing. Still as weak, no matter how hard I try to fight it. To pretend otherwise. I watch as Miles chokes Alexander and Captain stands by, letting it take place. The two of us do nothing to stop what’s happening, but allow it to continue.

Good, I think to myself. Let it happen. Let it finally be over. My mind wills it to happen.

But Mallory walks over and places her hand on Miles’s, ending it. Miles lets Alexander go, and I can tell in the moment he’s let everything go, as our father falls to the floor. I look down at the weakened monster at my feet and I want to spit on him. The man who’s haunted me for years, who has never been far from my thoughts. I want to make him pay for what he did to my mother, and keep him from ever doing it again. To finally stand up for her. Miles might be finished. It’s the end of the road for him. Maybe for Miles it’s over, but not for me. It’s only just begun. It won’t be over until he’s six feet under. I can’t let go.

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