Page 9 of Coercion

Font Size:  

The sound that comes out of my mouth might be a laugh.“I’m surprised you remember the postcard.”

“Why?Because you think I don’t care?”

I look up into Will’s face and find a scowl that’s so genuine it makes me want to kiss him.I brush my lips against his, and Will makes a gruff noise.“No, because you went to an illegal warehouse fight and got a concussion.In the scheme of things, a postcard—”

My phone rings in my hand.

It’s my dad.

Will’s arm tightens around my shoulders.“Let me take it.”

“No.I want to talk to him.And he’ll just hang up if he hears it’s you.”

I press the button to answer and put it on speaker.I don’t care if Will hears this.I want him to hear everything.I never want him to leave my side again.He might think he has to, given what’s happened, but he promised, so—

“How could you, Dad?”

“I know, honey.I’m—”

“Don’t call mehoneyright now.What the hell is wrong with you?The twins were fine.They were happy with me, and you lured them to a shittypawnshop.Why would you do that?What did they ever do to you?”

“Bristol.”His voice breaks a little on my name, and a tiny piece of my heart breaks, too.I wish I wasn’t like this.I wish I didn’t feel anything for him at all.I feel too much for my dad.That’s always been the problem.“Bristol, I know.The twins didn’t do anything.They’re great kids.I’m so sorry.Things got out of hand.”

“Whatthingscould possibly involve the twins?”

“The money I owe—the guys—”

“Dad.”I hate youis right there, waiting for me to say it, but I don’t.It wouldn’t be true.It wouldn’thelp.“The same people as before?”

“No, but they—they know each other.And these new guys found out about the twins.They planned this whole thing.I couldn’t stop it.I had to go along with it.”

“Oh my God.”

“I had to, Bristol, otherwise I couldn’t be here.I’m with them.To keep them safe.”

I take a deep breath.The scent of Will’s skin and his clean clothes blocks out the stale smell of the pawnshop.“Tell me where you are.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, honey.These guys—”


There’s a pause, and Ifeelit.I feel the energy change over the phone.I feel my dad shifting to a new angle.“Bristol, listen.I’m in a bad spot.Would it be so bad to let your new boyfriend pay off what I owe?If you came here to pick up the twins—”Pick them up.Like they’re visiting for ice cream and not being held hostage by at least one gunman.“I’d still be in debt when you left.I’m not safe here, either.”My dad drops his voice.“They’ve already made quite a few threats.That’s why I had to do this.”

“That’syourproblem.Not mine.”

“But you always help me.”His feelings might not be hurt, but the confusion sounds real.“You always do, Bristol.We’re a team.”

“Not this time.Now tell me where you are.The people you’re with haven’t even sent a ransom note.”

“Yeah, I know.They said you’d panic more if you had to wait.These guys are professionals.”

“Holy shit, Dad.”Will stands perfectly still next to me.I’m sure it’s taking every bit of his energy not to snatch the phone out of my hands and make scarier threats than the kidnappers.

“What I mean is, if you come in here with guns blazing, the twins could get hurt.I think it would be better if we could all leave without a fight.”

My phone shakes in my hand.Oh, good.The trembling is everywhere.All of my nerves are completely overloaded with rage and shock, though I really have no reason to be shocked.I’m out of patience.

“Dad, you’ve done this so many times.You’ve gotten yourself into these situationsso many times.And I have stood by you, and helped you, and bailed you out.Every time you asked, I was there for you.I gotblackmailed by my bossfor you.”Will’s hand curls around my shoulder.It doesn’t feel like an apology.

Articles you may like