Grabbing the door handle, inside her mind she was screaming at herself. Why the fuck was she going through this? She had to leave.
To get away.
What if he remembered that night?
If he remembered, you’d have known long before now.
She sat right near the door, and Preacher turned up the heat.
“Looks like we’re in for a cold winter.”
“Yeah, very cold.” She lowered her hoodie and tried to get comfortable.
“I haven’t seen you around in some time. Everything okay with you?”
“That’s what Bishop said.”
“You and Bishop have talked about me?” she asked.
“He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong,” he said. “He thinks he’s upset you.”
“That’s crazy. He wouldn’t do anything to upset me.”
“That’s what I told him.” He patted his hands on the steering wheel as he navigated through the streets. It had started to rain, and the truck smelled like him. She remembered now the last time she’d been in this truck. He’d taken her to see the doctor because of Bishop’s prank.
The cut on her arm seemed so long ago now, a lifetime ago.
“Can I ask you something?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
“It’s about the party.”
If she got any tenser, someone would have been able to snap her with a blade and she’d have been torn in two. “What about the party?”
“Did you see a woman head to my room? Or a woman who said she was going to … be with me?”
“No.” She hoped she hadn’t said it too soon. “No, I didn’t hear anything.”
Her house was up ahead, and she saw the lights were on.
The moment he stopped the truck, she climbed out. “Thank you for the lift, I appreciate it.”
“Anytime. Hey, Robin,” he said.
She had no choice but to stop and turn toward him. Tilting her head to the side, she waited.
“You know if there’s anything bothering you or you need to talk to someone, you can come and talk to me, right?” he asked.
“Yes, I know. I do totally know that.” She nodded at him again. “I better get inside. It’s cold.”
She walked into the house and immediately heard her parents arguing.
“You will not speak to him again, do you understand me?” Bear’s voice was loud, scary. She was used to him yelling, but this held an edge of anger, real anger.
“Or what? You can’t tell me what to do or how I can live my life. You’re nothing to me, Bear. Why don’t you go and screw all those little bitches I know you love so much? It’s what you’re good at, remember? Screwing meaningless sluts. Do they even know what you’re doing? I bet you’ve got kids all over the place.”
“If I did, they would be right here.”
“You would not bring your bastards here.”
“I would, and I’d make you take care of them. Even make you watch me as I fuck their mothers.”
She heard her mother gasp, followed by the unmistakable sound of a slap.
“You’re a bastard.”
“And if you even dare to talk to that bastard again—if you think you can go shooting shit with the law, the only place you’ll end up is six feet under, and believe me, I will take great fucking pleasure in pulling the trigger.”
Closing the door, she hoped her arrival would stop any arguing.
Seconds later, Bear came around the corner, all smiles.
“Darling, how are you?” he asked.
He wrapped his arms around her, and she didn’t push him away even though she was tempted to do so.
Her mother didn’t say anything, just sniffled as she walked upstairs.
Robin felt sorry for her. She and her mother didn’t always get along, but it didn’t mean she wanted her to suffer. This wasn’t the life she’d want for anyone, regardless of how they treated her.
“I’ve got to talk to you about something,” Bear said.
“What is it?”
Bear took her arm, leading her into the living room.
Removing her bag and coat, she sat down, looking at her father, wishing she could tell him, confide in him, but she had no way of knowing how they would react.
“There’s a new cop in town.”
“Chief O’Klaren, I know.”
“Has he been to talk to you?”
“No. Why would he want to talk to me?”
“He’s asserting himself as the one in charge.”
She laughed but stopped when she saw how serious he looked. “Oh, hasn’t … Preacher dealt with him?”
“We’re dealing with it, but until we know everything, I’m going to need you to keep quiet. Don’t talk to him. If he insists, you come to me. You don’t talk, remember.”
“I remember the drill.”
“Good.” He pulled her in close, hugging her. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. What is going on with you lately?”
“Nothing.” She’d been saying it a lot lately. “You know, studying.”
“You’ve always been the studying kind, but it has never stopped you from hanging out with Bishop. I haven’t seen him around.”
“He’s got plenty of girls to keep him company. I really need to get my homework done. Are we done? I won’t talk to O’Klaren.”