Once everything has settled down and Ryder, Sierra and Ellie leave, it’s only me, Johnny, Faith and a few policeman still lingering around.
“Johnny, I don’t even know what to say. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for my daughter. Caleb is a bad man and I hope this doesn’t affect you in any way.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. And I keep my promises. I won’t let her go with him again.”
I smile at him. He’s cocky and self assured, but I know Caleb. I know how powerful he is. The one time he hit me, I left him. But I have paid for it ever since. He never put his hands on Faith… not until today. He hasn’t touched me again, but he terrorizes us. He’s always had the law on his side. Which is why I had to let her go with him today. Right now, I’m saving money to run away. After all this, I might have to do that sooner rather than later.
I look over at Johnny standing with his arms still around Faith as he rubs her back. I think she’s asleep, but she still hasn’t loosened her hold on him. When I first ran into the park, I have to admit I was already freaked out and seeing Faith clinging to this huge man with tattoos up and down his arms scared me. But as soon as I saw him with her, how he held her protectively, I knew then that she was fine.
He smiles at me as I keep watching them. He’s a big, tattooed man that looks really intimidating, but I’m beginning to think he’s just a big teddy bear. My lower belly tightens. If I was interested in dating, I would love to go out with him. Too bad I’m not. Nobody wants to deal with the mess I have going on right now.
“Do you care to carry her to my car?”
He lifts her higher into his arms. “Sure. Lead the way.”
He follows behind me and I can feel his eyes on me the whole way. I try not to do an extra shake of my hips, but I know it’s inevitable. Any sane woman would do the same with him behind them.
I open the back door and he sets her in the seat and belts her in. When he stands up, he looks at me worriedly. “What about when she wakes up? She’s going to think I left her.”
My hand goes to his shoulder to reassure him. “She will be fine. I will tell her.”
He nods and pulls out his wallet. Handing me his business card, he tells me, “Please, call me if you need anything.”
I take it and thank him again for helping Faith. I reach up on my tiptoes and hug him. I stand there absorbing the strength and heat of his body before I step back. Blushing now, I walk around to the driver’s side and drive off without looking back.
Faith was fine until I tried to carry her into the house. She woke up crying and cried most of the night. She slept with me in the bed. It was a lot for a six-year-old to go through. I didn’t make her go to school the next day. I just couldn’t. She was exhausted.
Sierra called midmorning to check on me and Faith. “Sierra, I’m so sorry to have involved your family in this…”
“Don’t you dare apologize. You have nothing to apologize for. I had no idea what you had been going through. But now that I do, we are going to help. Ryder and Johnny already have an investigator on it.”
I start to protest loudly and then realize that Faith has finally fallen asleep, so I start to whisper-yell at her. “No. Sierra. No. I can’t afford that. Please…”
“You are not paying for it. Don’t worry about it. Johnny is taking care of it all. What are you whispering for? Are you okay?’
I sigh, and then decide to tell her the truth. “Faith didn’t sleep at all. She was up crying all night. She thinks that one of Caleb’s men is going to come and take her away.”
Sitting down on the couch, I lean over and put my head on my hand. It’s been a long night and I don’t know how much more I can take. “And what can I do, Sierra? A part of me realizes that her nightmare is something that could actually happen. I will fight with every breath in me, but how can I protect her?” Once I get it all out, I can’t stop the sobbing.
“Olivia, stop. Right now, stop. Do you know how strong you are? You are one of the strongest women I know. Look how far you’ve already come. You can do this. And we are going to help you. Johnny is going to help you.”