I’m crying before I realize I am. Hot tears stain my cheeks when I thought I’d cried myself out of them. But these are different. They’re born of anger and betrayal as he does nothing but stand there and stare at me like I’m imagining things.
He’s not going to dignify me with any real answers.
It only pisses me off more. I release a strangled growl and then rush past him, into the house I once called home.
Dad scrambles to follow. Salvatore takes off too, coming up last.
I navigate the home almost blindly, more out of familiarity than a conscious effort. I streak through the house several paces ahead of Dad, making it to his private office where he’s so often worked out of. Surely, if he’s kept so many secrets over the years there’ll be even more to uncover in here.
The room he’s done business out of, met with his influential associates out of, where he’d probably sit and monitor me from for who knows how many evenings.
“Delphine, enough of this nonsense!” Dad barks. He finally catches up, grabbing me by the shoulder, and whipping me around to yell in my face. “I will not allow you to disrespect me under my roof!”
Salvatore shoves Dad against the wall. I stumble back at the force of the collision, Dad’s hand vanishing from my shoulder.
A shocked second passes where I gape at the scene before me. Salvatore has Dad pinned against the wall, the two men’s hatred a thick and uncomfortable layer in the air.
“Don’t touch her,” Salvatore warns, sounding borderline feral. “If she doesn’t want you to, you will never touch or speak to her again. Daughter or not.”
Dad grits his teeth in Salvatore’s face. “Is this the part where you use your mafia tactics to intimidate me, Mancino? Go ahead. Give me your best shot.”
“Intimidation is the least of your worries, DA. You should be on your best behavior right about now.” Salvatore winds his fingers tighter into the front of Dad’s shirt and slams him again against the wall to reiterate his point. “You owe Delphine some answers. Answers you’re going to give her. Is that understood?”
Dad glances at me for the first time since Salvatore snatched him up. An unnerving shiver prickles down my spine. I see something in his eyes I’ve never noticed before—a flicker ofmalicethat’s almost enough to transform his face into a man I no longer recognize.
I take a step back in alarm, my heartbeat pounding.
“Alright,” Dad says finally, in a calm, cool tone that’s equally as unsettling. “What do you want to know?”
In the overfifteen years that I’ve known Delphine, including three separate times where we’ve dated, I’ve never been inside her house—the Adams residence on 1600 Grove Street in the suburb from hell known as Westoria.
When we were teenagers, I spent plenty of time sneaking Delphine in and out of the house. I stalked by the large gray home from time to time as a troublemaker seventeen-year-old, glaring at its many windows, mulling over how I could seek revenge. As an adult, on the few occasions I’d visited Westoria, I still drove by it with thoughts of Delphine… and her father whose guts I hate.
Confronting him once and for all has finally unveiled the mystique. I dash after Delphine and Ernest as she sprints off into the house.
The space is wide and the ceilings are high. Everything’s colored some sort of variation of cream, and full of fragile porcelain that makes it feel like more of a museum than home. All prim and proper and fucking perfect.
That’s what Ernest Adams always tried to portray—perfection.
District attorney from an affluent background, married to a beautiful prima ballerina who birthed him two equally as perfect kids. Delphine’s older brother is a biomedical engineer and Delphine’s…Delphine.
Loving family. Big mansion. Successful career.
From the outside looking in, Ernest had it all. But that still wasn’t good enough for him. He had to go and betray the heroic knight-in-shining armor reputation he had built up for himself.
I barge into his home office at the moment he’s caught up to Delphine and spun her around, gripping her shoulders. He shouts at her, his face twisted in indignant anger.
Seeing him try to flip this on her, setting the stage for manipulation, after all the shit he’s pulled, makes me snap. I spear him into the wall with only a thin leash restraining the full extent of my temper. Only the vague reminder that Delphine is here, and I don’t want to traumatize her by ripping him to shreds.
I could. Easily.
I used to think my level of hatred for him was intense and insurmountable.
Knowing what I do now about what he’s done, how he’s manipulated Delphine for years, is enough to make me blackout with rage.
“Don’t touch her,” I growl, baring my teeth like an animal. “If she doesn’t want you to, you will never touch or speak to her again. Daughter or not.”