The arrival of the unwanted visitor begins to take its toll on Dakota’s mental state and her relationship with the people she loves…
BOOK: Born Again
WORD COUNT: 5926
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My heart was pounding so fast, so violently, I feared it would thump right out of my chest. There was a sudden tightness around my throat, a dryness in my mouth. I could hear my pulse throbbing in my ear. The corridor had become so tiny, the walls so close, like they were about to crush me.
“No,” I mouthed again, the sound caught somewhere in my throat.
I blinked at him, trying to make out if he was really there and not a figment of my imagination, not a thing of my nightmares. I’d dreamed of him many times since he’d walked out. In my nightmares he was always the same — wearing his weathered leather jacket with the patches on the arms, and ripped jeans that were too tight for him. He always had the ponytail — the long, sleek, orange-gold mane that he adored more than his children — the beautiful hair I’d inherited. The only good thing he’d given me.
Well, that was gone now. Cut short. And the orange hair, whilst still there, had turned pale with age.
Even though his crisp, navy blue shirt covered his arms, I still searched for a hint of the colorful, garish tattoo sleeves that he’d been so proud of, and that I’d despised. I wanted to see them, just so something looked right again; just so I knew it was really him. Those tattoos of beautiful, half-naked women, majestic animals, hearts with names on them. Oh how I hated those tattoos. I remember thinking as a child that a man so cruel should never have such beautiful things painted on his flesh, because maybe the world would see them and think he was a nice person.
It took me a moment to realize I was trembling, and that my hands had curled into fists like they used to whenever I decided to fight back. Even back then I’d been stubborn, always ready to make a futile attempt to defend myself against a six-foot, two-hundred pound man determined to “knock some sense” into me.
For a second I’d forgotten that I wasn’t a helpless little girl anymore, and that, though he was still bigger than me, age and weight loss had shrunk him.
Dove must have sensed where this was going, because he stepped in front of the man who’d terrorized us throughout our childhood, his hands raised slightly, as though trying to steady a wild horse — a wild me.