“What?” she gasps.
“Erica, that man is… well, I can’t even describe how gorgeous I think he is.”
“I think someone has a love triangle brewing.” I smile and she groans.
“But I care about Sean, you know I do.” I can hear her turmoil.
“I know you do, but Grady really likes you. And again, Shannon, I’m so sorry. I really am.” My voice cracks and she tries to reassure me she’s not upset with me. We talk for another couple of minutes and she tells me how Sean was so protective of her last night and took care of her. That makes me feel better, knowing she has him.
After we hang up I cry for her; I cry for my friend who was put in a situation that could have been avoided. I cry for the girl I used to be. I cry for every fucking thing that has been hovering over my now tainted life. I vow to myself that I will be stronger. That I will learn to defend myself, and if anyone ever tries to fuck with me again it will be the last thing they do. In the end I hope everything works out, because I’m not sure how much more heartbreak and disappointment I can stand.
Over the next month I train at the gym, take self-defense classes, and start really working on myself. I feel stronger mentally and physically now.
I close my dorm room door and start to make my way down the hallway. Something catches my eye at the very far end. Or rather someone. There is a man standing with his back to me, just facing the stairwell. The only way to vacate the building is to walk past him. He’s tall and looks to be in nice slacks and a white button-down shirt.
As I get closer to the man, my stomach starts to feel queasy.
“Excuse me, sir? Do you need help?” The man slowly turns towards me and instant recognition takes place.
“Antonio Vasquez,” I whisper, and he actually has the nerve to smirk at me. I will never forget his face. It’s forever embedded into my brain. I kick him as hard as I can. He grunts, falling to the floor, which gives me the chance to flee. I throw my shit to the floor and spin around quickly, but seconds later I feel my head being yanked backwards. My scalp is burning from the way he just pulled my hair. I try to scream, but his hand covers my mouth. I bite his hand hard.
“Fuck!” He slaps me so hard across the face that I see stars and fall to my knees. Without thinking I scramble to my feet and try to escape, but he kicks me in the side. I let out a groan as the wind is knocked out of me.
“You didn’t think I would let you get away with killing my son, did you? Next time I will make sure your little girlfriend is dead,” he spits out, and that’s when I realize maybe Jayden must have been paid off by Antonio to hurt my friend. I feel a slice of pain shoot through my heart, realizing I was the cause of Shannon’s attack. I let out a scream, hopping to my feet, and start attacking him with all may might.
After getting a few jabs in, more hands are pulling me back and Antonio is wiping the blood from his lip. It takes two men to hold me back. A couple of students emerge, and they are instantly threatened to get back in their rooms or they’re all dead. I know this is it, and I can't take on all three men. I’m being dragged to the back door, when something covers my mouth and I breathe in the toxic chemicals that make me pass out.
She’s not answering her phone. My heart feels like it’s going to pump out of my chest. I promised to protect her, and now I can’tfind her anywhere. With my men watching her 24/7 on campus, I thought she was safe. Fucking Beefcake has been parked outside her dorm since I left this morning. He claims to have not seen any suspicious activity.
He told me she said she needed to study, and would appreciate him guarding outside the dorm today instead of inside. Well, now that she’s missing I am regretting my choice in security.
I clench my steering wheel as I call Grady. It has been almost three hours since anyone has seen or heard from her.
Shannon said she spoke with her this morning and she seemed okay.
“Fuck!” I shout, and punch my dashboard. I borrowed Grady’s truck yesterday to take her home.
What if Antonio got to her already? The drive to the bar is fast. It’s dead and no one is around. I sprint to my office to see him on a phone call. When he ends the call he gives me an odd look.
He seems pissed about something.
“They have her, Jared.” My heart thumps wildly in my chest. I move to sit on my couch. He continues speaking, but I feel nothing but dread.
“We will figure out how to help her, but first there’s something you need to know.” He gives me a look of sympathy.
“Did they hurt her? Is she okay?” I ask, desperate.
“From what Antonio said she’s fine, but you need to listen.”
“You fucking spoke with him?” I roar, and he holds his hands up in defense. Now we are standing nose to nose.
“Now hear me out, boss!” he shouts.
“Tell me what that motherfucker said!”
“Antonio is her biological father.” My eyes go wide in terror.