“Right, but why did you finally leave him this last time? You said that he had beat you up before. So, what happened this time to make you leave?” he asked.
“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” she breathed. He was right—there was something that happened between her and Joe the last time he hit her, but saying the words out loud would make it all too real. She didn’t want to admit that she was with a man who could say or do the things he did to her.
“I know that it might be uncomfortable for you to talk about your ex, but I have to know if I’m going to be able to properly protect you and your daughter,” he reminded.
Rose took a deep breath and let it out if she was going to say it, she just needed to get it all out. “The last time he beat me, he told me that if I didn’t get my ass back in line, he’d kill us both,” she whispered the last part. How could a man kill his own child? “I couldn’t take the chance that he meant it, so I grabbed Sadie and left.”
“I don’t blame you,” Thorne said. “I would trust every word he told you—every threat. If he said he’d kill you both, he meant it. A man like that doesn’t make a threat that he’s not willing to keep.”
“That’s what I was afraid of, so I left him and never looked back,” Rose admitted. Saying the words was easier than she expected it to be, but it still took a toll on her. Rose suddenly felt completely worn out and ready to sleep for days. “I’m really tired. Do you have any other questions for me?” she asked, knowing that she sounded a bit bitchier than she wanted to.
“Does he have any weapons?” Thorne asked.
“You mean, like guns and knives and stuff?” she asked.
“Yeah, that about covers it. Did he keep any in the home when you were with him?” he asked.
“Um, no,” she said. “Well, nothing that I noticed. We had knives in the kitchen. I guess they could be considered a weapon.” She thought about all the things she had to leave behind when she took Sadie and left.
“I really didn’t go through his stuff,” she said. “And when I left, all I cared about was packing stuff for Sadie and a few things for myself. I left everything else behind and ran.”
“Where was your ex when you packed up and left?” Thorne asked. She tried not to think about that day too much, but she remembered it like it was yesterday and not weeks ago now.
“He left at nine to head to work on the morning that I left. I remember it because I had been up most of the night, nursing my black eye and busted lip. He had beat me pretty badly the night before and I finally reached my breaking point. That night, while I sat in the corner of our bedroom, watching him sleep, I thought about all the things that I could do to him to get him back for what he had done to me. I was sick of being his punching bag.”
“That wasn’t the first time he hit you?” Thorne asked.
“No,” she almost whispered. “I thought that I could change him, and yes, I know how stupid that makes me sound. I stayed for my daughter’s sake until I just couldn’t stay anymore. He is a monster and there would be no changing that.”
“No, there never is a way to change someone like that,” Thorne said.
“You sound like you’re speaking from experience, Thorne.” He sat back and looked her over.
“I guess I am. We all have a little bit of a monster inside of us, don’t we?” he asked.
“I don’t believe that,” she countered. “I don’t know you very well, but you seem like a decent guy,” she said.
“Yeah, don’t confuse me being a good guy with me helping Savage out. I’m doing this because he asked me to, not because I’m a good guy.” She felt a little hurt by his statement, but that was silly, right? She didn’t know Thorne, so why should she be hurt that he didn’t really want to help her out of the goodness of his heart? She went to her cousin for help, and Savage gave it. That was all that really mattered in any of this.
“Don’t look at me that way, Rose,” Thorne breathed.
“How am I looking at you?” she asked.
“Like I kicked your puppy,” he said.
She smiled and nodded. “You read my mind,” she teased. “How did you know that I was picturing you kicking my puppy?”
“Please tell me that you didn’t bring a fucking puppy along with you,” Thorne grumbled.
“No, but I was just trying to lighten the mood,” she said.
“That’s not what this conversation is about,” Thorne said. “I need to know what I’m going up against. You told me a little bit in the car, but I need more details.”
“Well, he didn’t have any weapons that I noticed when we lived together. What’s your next question?” she asked, trying to sound more business-like.
“Do you have a formal custody agreement with the guy—you know, something saying that he can see Sadie?” Thorne asked.
“No, as I said in the car, we were never married. His name is on the birth certificate, but he never sued me for physical custody of her, but I wouldn’t put it past him. That’s why I went to Savage for help. I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean, I can’t run forever but there is no way that I’m going to give that asshole my daughter, even if a court tells me to. I can’t do that to her. Sadie is innocent in all of this. She can’t help it that her father’s an abusive twat. It was my choice to be with him and it’s my decision to get her as far away from Joe as possible.”