His reasoning was that if I’m going to act like a whore with no care for the wholesome image he’s built, then I don’t deserve the money he’s worked so hard for.

Now I’m trapped at home, under pretty much 24-hour surveillance, and I have a weekly allowance that he completely controls.

The only reason I’m even out tonight is because he had a trip to DC suddenly sprung on him at the last minute and he didn’t have enough time to tell his goons to keep me locked in.

The bartender shoots Mr. Intimidating a look as if she needs his approval before she pours the shots. He looks up from his plate of food long enough to nod his head at her.

With a sigh and a mutter, the bartender turns around and grabs a dusty bottle of tequila off the bottom shelf.

“Not that one, Missy,” Mr. Intimidating growls, his head popping up. “Grab the one off the top shelf.”

The bartender shoots him a startled look, but he just stares at her as if there will be no arguments. With a curse, she turns back around and slams the bottle back down on the shelf causing a small cloud of dust to puff up.

Sophia smirks triumphantly as the bartender grabs a bottle of silver tequila off the top shelf and turns back, pouring our shots.

“That will be forty dollars,” Missy says expectantly and cocks her hip.

Sophia just rolls her eyes and digs around in her purse. After a moment, she pulls out three bills and slaps them down on the table.

The bartender quickly grabs up the cash, counts it, and proceeds to stuff it down her bra.

“Hey…” Sophia says to Mr. Intimidating just as I reach for two of the shots.

“Yeah?” he grunts, glancing up.

“I didn’t catch your name? I’m Sophia and my friend here is Beth.” She sticks out her hand and he looks at it as if it will bite him or something.

“Johnathan,” he says and looks towards me. Once again, there’s that little jolt and I feel a little breathless.

Now that we’re closer, and I can get a really good look at him, he seems even bigger than he did from afar.

With a start, I realize his face is actually quite handsome.

With his beard and ruffled hair, there’s a rough, untamed gruffness to him that I’m not used to seeing on a daily basis. Most of the men in my life are clean-shaven, sharply dressed, and polished to the point that they’re almost girlish.

This guy, though, there’s nothing polished about him. He’s rough and gruff all over.

My father would hate him. He’d probably have me committed if he found out I was even near a guy like him.

“Nice to meet you, Johnathan,” Sophia says and drops her hand once she realizes he isn’t going to shake it.

Johnathan nods his head and starts to turn away from us.

“Hey, Johnathan,” Sophia says, pulling his attention back.

Johnathan arches a brow at her.

Sophia smiles and says sweetly, “May we borrow your salt?”

“Sure,” Johnathan says and slides the shaker of salt that was next to his plate over to us.

“Thank you, Johnathan,” Sophia says, her smile growing even wider.

He grunts and his eyes slide back to mine, lingering. I swear it’s a force of will for me to turn away.

Picking up our shots and newly acquired salt shaker, we start to carry it all back to Lindsey and Amanda.

“He’s totally into you,” Sophia giggles as we walk.

I cast a glance over my shoulder and sure enough Johnathan’s eyes are locked on me. I can feel his eyes on my ass, searing me with heat.

I shake my head. “My father would have an aneurism if I hooked up with a guy like that.”

“That’s why you should totally do it!” Sophia says, her eyes lighting up.

“I can’t,” I protest with a laugh. “I’m still in deep shit from the last time we went out.”

Sophia’s face sobers and she comes to a sudden stop. “You know I worry about you. It’s not… healthy for your father to keep you locked up.”

The dark cloud over my head seems to swell and grow bigger, and I force a smile in an attempt to block it out. “It’s only temporary. He’ll get over it eventually…”

Sophia looks me in the eye and says, “You know you can move in with me. You’re a grown woman, you don’t have to put up with this shit.”

I know she means well, and I know she is being completely sincere. She is worried. She’s always worried about me. She’s my best friend and she’s been looking out for me since we were in Kindergarten. But even she doesn’t know the full extent of my father’s control.

Over the years, since my mother passed, it’s only grown worse.

I shake my head. “You know I can’t.”

I can’t because my father wouldn’t let me get away that easily, and helping me would only cause trouble for her. Her father might be the Chief of Police in Garden City, but even he isn’t untouchable.

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