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Everyone stopped what they were doing when she walked in. Her kind of beauty was rare around these parts, a mixture of animal sensuality that made you want to throw her over a table and fuck her silly, crossed with a hard look that let you know it would be the last thing you ever did in this world. Her mother had almost that same look at the same age, but motherhood had tempered hers a bit. I didn’t say anything. Just stopped to gawk like the rest of the locals. Despite my forty pounds, bushy grey beard, and tattered dirty t-shirt she came over and sat beside me at the bar, ignoring the eleven other empty seats beside us. She ordered a Jack, on the rocks, and drank it silently beside me.

Despite the hard façade, I could see she wasn’t as cool as she wanted to be. A little tinkle of ice in her glass as she held it, staring at it. Willing her hand to stop shaking but not quite succeeding. And her cigarette hanging out of her mouth, the tip jiggling just a bit. I was glad to see she was as over wrought as I was. It was almost ten years since I’d seen her last at her trial. She wouldn’t see me when I went to visit her after so I moved on. ‘Course I had nothing to hold me there anymore so I moved way the hell on. But she found me. Deep down I guess I knew if she wanted to look, she’d be here eventually.

I was still nursing my Rusty Nail. Down to one a day now. Not like it was, all those years where I’d drink myself into oblivion. At least I hadn’t squandered the money on whores. One whore was enough and she was long gone. The angel was on her third Jack before she opened her mouth. “Hey” she said. Her voice was already hoarse from too many cigarettes and when she went to light another one I took it from her and crushed it out. Everyone was watching and all the noise stopped as they waited to see what this tough bitch was gonna do to the old man.

“Not many men would even try that, Daddy.” She dropped into a whisper and people strained to hear.

“You’re not too big for me to tan your ass, bitch.” Was my reply.

With a cry she was on me and out of the corner of my eye I could see people jump. Her arms went around my neck and she didn’t stop crying for at least five minutes. I closed my eyes and smelled her stinking body, certain I’d never smelled anything so heavenly. Finally after she settled down I helped her up and we went back to my hotel. Not my hotel room. As seedy as I looked, I owned the only hotel in town. A small four room place, neat, clean, and simple. No TV, no internet, no Giresun Escort room service. People came here to really get away from it all. The office was a separate building and was attached to my cabin. I did have my own internet but still no TV. I led her home and pointed her towards the shower.

As Cristina cleaned herself up I went to one of the vacant rooms and showered. I shaved off my beard and put some clean, neat clothes on. When I got back to my cabin she was still in the shower so I started some dinner. I usually ate at the bar but I had some canned chunky soup and things. She came out of the bedroom just as I was putting the food out. She had a few scratches and what looked like bug bites on her bare shoulders. Her whole aura screamed forty one, not thirty one. She just stared at me as she sat and ate and I stared back. I’d always hoped we’d see each other again but I wasn’t sure if I would and until now I never realized how much I missed her.

“This is gonna sound really stupid but, how’ve you been?” I asked.

Her face cycled through about fifty different permutations before mirth won out. “I’ve been good.” she said. “It was worth the eight years in Kitchener, after the trials.” She laughed this time. “I actually got out last year but it took me a while to go through the usual places you’d have stayed. I thought about it but I should have come here first.”

I jerked my thumb towards the wall behind me. “I just showered in the room we stayed in that summer.”

“Dad, that was the happiest time of my life.” A single tear rolled down her cheek and I reached out and wiped it away with my thumb.

“You have to know, if I had any idea you were gonna do that, I’d have stopped you or done it myself.”

“I know.” She got up slowly and walked over to me. She brushed a hair back from my eyes. “You were so in love. You couldn’t see it.” She pushed me away from the table and sat on my lap again, sideways. “The thing is, I was in love too.” Her arms went around my neck and she brought her forehead down to rest on mine. She’d used my toothbrush to brush her teeth. Her eyes stared into mine but to be honest, I couldn’t see. I was too old and she was too close. “I thought I was sick,” she continued. “Dirty. There was nothing sexual, I was too young. It never occurred to me. I just felt I needed to be with you. Like a wife. Do your laundry. Do your cooking. All the things mom didn’t do.”

“How did you find out?” I asked her. She knew what I meant. She hadn’t Giresun Escort Bayan told me.

“She thought I was off at Wonderland with Stephanie.” This time her giggle reminded me of the old her, from years ago. Young. Innocent. “I came back home and she was in bed with a guy from the gym. Can’t remember his name now. Remember the white guy with the dreadlocks? Him. They were talking about how his friend was gonna make sure you had an accident on a jobsite. You were doing those towers in Toronto at the time, in fact you were going over drawings that day at the site. His friend was a construction laborer there. When they talked about how they’d already tried to kill you I knew I had to do something quick.”

She leaned closer and rubbed her cheek against mine, slowly. I could smell my soap on her and it smelled a hundred times better than it ever did on me. “Remember,” she whispered in my ear, just before she ran her tongue around it. “That’s the day I called you from the clinic. Said I’d hurt myself. Just to get you away from work.” She began tracing the wrinkles on my face with her lips. “You were the only man I ever got to know and for those eight years you were with us you’d never talked down to me.” Her lips tightened as the crossed the corner of my lips and I moved mine a bit to catch her but she was gone. Moving on. “She could barely remember what grade I was in at school. You knew every one of my teacher’s names. You talked to me. Listened to me. Took me to every doctor’s appointment. Came to every game. She couldn’t even make it to my high graduation! The decision was easy.”

She got up off my lap then sat down again, this time facing me with her legs either side of mine. “When you went to the office the next day I made a nice breakfast for her and put some of her old Percs in her eggs. She passed out, I dragged her to bed, put her nail stuff around her and set the fire. They never would have even looked at me if that friggin UPS truck hadn’t hit me when I tried to ride off. I’m just glad you got the call to meet me at the hospital before the police figured out about the fire.

I had to choke back a sob. “I’m glad I got to spend those two weeks here before the police found us.” I said. “I was so fucking frustrated though. I was just finding out you were everything your mother wasn’t. I felt so guilty because you were sort of my daughter. And you were so young.” This time I couldn’t hold it back and I sobbed openly. “I was at your trial and when they tried you Escort Giresun in adult court I felt I’d failed you. Lost you.” She was kissing away my tears as they fell. “The funny thing is, I trusted you implicitly even after I found out what you’d done. Again I felt I’d failed you because if I had been more aware you wouldn’t have had to do what you did.”

“But Dad. Ben. If you and mom had split up I never would have seen you again. Despite what I went through, I think it’s for the best. You’re aliiive!” she squealed and threw her arms in the air, then brought them back down around my neck. “We’re here now, and free. Well almost.” She put her hand up and cupped my cheek and for the first time her lips came down and joined mine in a kiss. It was soft and sweet and I never wanted it to end.

My heart soared along with my blood pressure and pulse. As she went through her trial, her appeals, my love for my step-daughter grew from an innocent parental love to a deep abiding respect for her strength, determination, and maturity. She’d never really revealed her motivation for killing her mother, back then, except to tell me privately it was because her mom had been cheating. As she turned twenty, twenty two, twenty four, I watched from afar the few news reports on her. And my love turned less than platonic, or more than platonic, and I was certain it was misdirected. But now I knew for certain my feelings were reciprocated.

When I picked her up and carried her into the bedroom, I no longer saw Cecile. I no longer saw my ex-wife who sought to kill me, in her. I only saw the girl who had sacrificed and gone through hell for me, then came looking for me. And when her clothes came off and her glistening center welcomed me home, at thirty one years old the first man to be there, it was the culmination of years of hope and fantasy.

I remember the last thing she said to me before they locked her up. Before she shut me out of her life. She was in front of the courthouse in… Brampton I think it was. Some reporter asked if she had anything to say to me before she went away. By then all the appeals were done and she was twenty four years old. I had been the perfect daddy, supporting her every step of the way, that I could. She looked right at the camera and said, “For you, Ben. See ya.” Then she winked and turned away.

Eventually we moved back down south and I hung out my shingle again. I stayed local, doing houses and small public buildings. The kids are doing well and have no idea their mother is so fiercely protective and capable of murder. Thankfully Cecile’s life insurance, which I was the recipient of, was enough to send her to college and set us up so I can take any vacation time I want. We return often to that small town and that small hotel where our life began.

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