Page 91 of We Were Once

Standing abruptly, I press the tips of my fingers against his desk until they whiten. “He was calling for me. You know he was. My boyfriend is in jail because of some crazy story you told the police. Joshua didn’t steal the car, and he wasn’t kidnapping me.”

“Can you attest to that under oath because I was at the scene of the accident after the ambulance arrived? Let me tell you, no parent should see their child broken on the side of the road and bleeding. Josh Evans is reckless and a bad influence. But worse is that he has you convinced he’s a saint.”

“He is,” I say, pointing at my chest. “He loves me, Dad, without care of what I can afford him or because I’m a Fox of Newport. Don’t you see? He would never purposely hurt me. Never.”

“Then tell the police your version of the story. That should fix any damage done.”

He’s playing games and I need the space. I move behind the chair, standing my ground from a new place. “You know full well that I can’t remember, but my heart will never forget how much he loves me or how much you’ve hurt me.”

Waving his hand dismissively, he returns his attention back to the computer. “Pull yourself together. Hearts detour you down dead ends. Your relationship with him is going nowhere, Chloe. Let it go and let the courts deal with him.”

Squeezing the back of the chair in front of me so hard, I might break it, I lean over, and say, “You mean let him go to jail for what I know he didn’t do? I wouldn’t be that callous even to my enemy.”

“You don’t know what he did or didn’t do. I do. I saw the spite in his eyes when you got your car at the party. I’ve seen that look my whole life—jealousy and revenge.”

“Revenge?” I feel like a crazy person talking to a wall. Pacing again, I say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Why would he want revenge?”

“Open your eyes! Revenge against me, your life, what I’ve been able to give you. He may look away, but he’s always aware of what he’s lacking, what his father never gave him. He’s from a broken home from even more broken parents—”

“I’m from a broken home!” I shout, frustration taking hold.

“He confessed. Full. Stop.” A current of anger lies under his steady tone, his patience run dry. “What more proof do you need?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. He would never confess to charges that aren’t true. He would never hurt me. He loves me, Dad, and I love him. If you don’t drop these charges, then you’ll lose me in the process.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would you throw everything away when you’re so close to getting what you want?”

I reach the window and whip back. “I want him!”

The slamming of palms on the desktop startles me. He’s on his feet, anger burning through his unblinking eyes. “You don’t get him!”

“You don’t have a say.”

While his fingers dig into the wood, his gaze bounces back and forth between my eyes in an attempt to intimidate. “Do not insult my intelligence, Chloe. You will not threaten me in a childish tantrum to get your way with a boy who’s unworthy of you.” Parting the air, he shoves a finger in my direction. “And don’t ever act beneath the Fox name. You’ve been given every opportunity others only dream of having. Don’t throw it away in a shortsighted threat that could cost you everything.”

Months ago, I would have cowered under his warning, done everything in my power not to disappoint my dad. I would have closed my mouth and left with my tail tucked between my legs.

No more.

Seeing the man I love with tears that I caused, standing on the other side of a wall that your father put there has changed me forever. I see through his lies, and I’m willing to let him call my bluff.

Controlling my tone, I’m determined and unafraid. “If you don’t drop the charges and set him free, our relationship is over.” I walk to the door, the threat of me leaving is the only way to change his mind.

“If you walk out that door, I won’t welcome you back.”

I stop with the doorknob in my hand, caving in hopes of appealing to his softer side, if that even exists anymore. “Will you drop the charges? Will you help me? If not for him, for me, please?”

“No.”

I open the door. The finality of our conversation hitting my back, the end of our relationship only steps ahead of me.

“This is your last chance, Chloe.” Hearing him say that, I wonder if he gave my mom a similar ultimatum. Was she forced to leave him, too?

I look over my shoulder. “No, Dad. This is your last chance. You already lost Mom, and now you’re willing to lose me as well. Enjoy your name, your throne, and your wealth. Alone.”

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