Things are not always as they seem…
Elena cowered, hands covering her face, shoulders shaking as she sobbed out an apology. “I’m s-sorry. I d-didn’t know t-that college parties were l-like that.”
The calm shouting disappeared.
Real shouting began.
“You didn’t know? Elena, I don’t keep anything from you! I’ve told you all the twisted stories from the calls I’ve had to run.” He pointed to the door. “You know the shit that happens when alcohol and frat houses mix!”
He was too close to her.
She was cowering.
At some point, I’d walked to the kitchen, found a glass, and filled it with water.
And now, Elias’ face and shirt were soaking wet.
He wouldn’t hurt Elena. From the look on her face, I knew she was shrinking out of embarrassment at having disappointed him. I’d soaked him to get him to calm down, like a squirt bottle and two fighting dogs because the blackness had started growing so thick, I could barely see him anymore.
He looked down at his shirt. “What the hell?”
I rested the cup on a nearby bookshelf. “Calm down, Elias.”
He flicked his finger toward the other side of the house, through a set of French doors. “To your room, Elena. We’ll deal with this tomorrow. You have school in the morning.”
Thankful for the reprieve, she skittered off into the darkness.
Once she was out of sight, Elias turned his rage on me.
“You stepped way out of bounds.”
“I know.” The words came out more sarcastic than I was intending. Kind of. “But you were getting loud.”
“And? She messed up.”
“Yelling at her about something that’s already happened isn’t going to fix anything.”
He crossed the room, stopping almost right on top of me. “I’ve been a part of Elena’s life more than her own father. You really think you can come in here and tell me how I’m supposed to act with my family?”
“Do you normally yell at her?”
He searched my face. “When she messes up.”
“Like that?” I pointed at the spot where Elena had stood not but a few minutes ago. “I don’t think so. She looked confused.”
And I couldn’t see you anymore. Something’s engulfing you, Elias.
It was something I’d never noticed before tonight.
“This was a bigger screw up than most.” He wasn’t as loud, but there was still that razor blade edge to his words. “She could’ve gotten hurt. Raped, even. And then she’d have to live with that pain for the rest of her life while some privileged asshole gets a slap on the wrist because Daddy’s got friends in the motherfucking Sheriff’s Office.”
“Then tell her that instead,” I urged. “She was looking at you like she’s never seen this version of you before.”
I didn’t know how I was remaining as calm as I was, but I figured it had something to do with what I’d seen earlier. My brain couldn’t process the anomaly and be pissed at him at the same time. This laissez-faire attitude was the result of that mix.
I was suddenly in his arms, his palms grasping the underside of my thighs.
He strolled past the dining room table, set me down on the kitchen countertop, and nudged his way between my knees.
My heart was beating fast, but it wasn’t out of fear. Right now, my heart was beating like a hummingbird’s wings because of closeness. Male scent. Soft lighting that hit his face from the right angles.
His hands went from under my thighs to flat on either side of me on the cool countertop. He then grabbed me around the waist, pulled me to the edge of the countertop, and lowered his forehead to mine.
It was hard to breathe. To think. “Yes?”
“Kerah.” His voice was low with an odd sort of yearning and need I’d never heard before, from any man. “Please.”
“Please what, Elias?”
He lifted his head and looked at me, our noses almost touching. “Make it stop.”
“Make what stop?”
A mist covered the whites of his eyes. “The pain.”