Sugar Free Page 46

Kerry puts a hand on my shoulder and I turn to face her. “I’ll see you next Monday in my office so we can get ready for your preliminary hearing. You’re going to need to take the stand like we discussed. I think it’s worth a shot for Judge Reyes to go ahead and hear what your testimony will be. I think there’s virtually no chance he’s going to drop the charges against you based on your testimony alone, but we have to take the opportunity to try.”

I nod, my head still a little foggy and reeling from everything that’s happened. “Whatever. I just want Beck out of all this trouble.”

Her eyes stare at me intently for a moment before she sighs. “Yeah…well, I’ll let you talk to Beck about that.”

Not very reassuring on her part, but I still feel good about her representing me. My preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday because Monday is Martin Luther King Day and the courts are closed. But it appears Kerry and I will be working that day to prepare for what I’ve come to think of as my snowball’s-chance-in-hell defense.

“Take care, Sela,” Kerry says as she turns away and starts across the parking lot to where she must be parked.

I slowly turn around, bracing myself against the reactions of the two most important people in my world. I simply can’t bear to see condemnation and disgust in Beck’s eyes; the easier burden is to see the disappointment in my daddy’s.

So I look at him first, and find his head tilted with a soft smile of gentle love on his face. In that one look, I know that Beck has told him the entire truth of what happened that night and he still loves me no matter what. My dad opens his arms, and in five steps, I’m wrapped in a hug. I turn my face away from where Beck is standing and put my cheek against his bulky chest while he squeezes me hard.

“It’s okay, baby,” he practically coos at me. “I’ve got your back. You’re going to get out of this just fine.”

My dad…my rock. Just like when I was raped.

“It’s okay, baby. Your mom and I love you and will protect you forever. You’ll never get hurt like this again.”

Those were sweet words back then, but I didn’t believe them. I was so paranoid about getting attacked again for the longest time, I distrusted every person who tried to reassure me of my safety.

Just like I don’t believe his words now. There’s no way in hell I’m getting out of this.

I pull away from my dad, still refusing to look at Beck, who is standing no more than two feet from us. When my dad looks down at me, I say in a shaky voice, “Can we go home?”

My dad looks hesitantly at Beck, and even though I’m not looking his way, I can feel the irritation vibrating off him.

“For fuck’s sake, Sela,” Beck grits out, and his hand is then on my arm, turning me to face him. “Your home is with me.”


“You’re coming back to the condo with me,” he rolls right over me.

I pull my arm away, take a step back. Beck looks pissed and hurt at the same time. I notice my father turns from us and walks a few feet away to give us privacy. This tells me immediately that he is siding with Beck on this. By the mere fact that my father isn’t pulling me down the street to his car right this minute tells me that he thinks I belong with Beck.

I just can’t believe that.

Turning back to Beck, I nervously tuck my hair behind my ears with both hands and tell him with a raised chin, “Beck, don’t you think this is over between us? I got you caught up in my crime, and I’m now trying to make things right. But to do that, you’ve got to let me go.”

“You seriously can’t be that naïve,” he says curtly with narrowed eyes. And damn…he looks so beautiful even in his complete disgruntlement with me. Nothing would make me happier than to just walk right into him, snuggle in tight, and hang on.

Never let go.

But that’s a pipe dream now.

My dad turns around quickly on us and puts an arm around my shoulder. “Honey, why don’t we all go to the condo and talk this through. Beck and I have some thoughts, and frankly, you two need each other more than ever.”

“How can you even say that?” I ask him in astonishment. “I’ve ruined our lives by my actions.”

Beck makes a scoffing noise, but when I risk a glance at him, he’s still glowering, his hands now shoved deep in his pockets.

“Sela,” my dad says calmly. “Let’s go to the condo. We’ve got things to discuss, and when we’re done, if you want to come home with me, I’ll take you there. Okay?”

What I really want to do is stick my head in the sand, my ass in the air, and become the proverbial ostrich. I want to ignore all of this, go to my childhood bed and stay in with the covers pulled over my head until they come to cart me away forever.

But one more hard look at Beck, past the anger in his eyes, I still see a deep and abiding love within them. No matter how mad he is at me, I don’t think I killed the good stuff.

At least I hope.

I look at my dad and nod. “Okay. Let’s go.”

I rode in the backseat of Beck’s car, my dad in the front. I really wanted to ask my dad where his car was, but the silence was so heavy I was afraid my words would sound like a thunderclap. Besides, I have to assume it’s at Beck’s place and they rode to the courthouse together as a means of solidarity.

Once we get to the condo, Beck goes straight to the kitchen to make coffee and some tea, while I mumble about wanting a quick shower. I didn’t get one at the sheriff’s department today, although I was given a bar of soap to wash my face, as well as a small toothbrush with what felt like bamboo stakes for bristles and a flat-tasting toothpaste. I felt the grunge of crime sticking to me and needed to wash it off.

I come back into the living room, my long hair wet and wrapped up in a bun, but otherwise fully dressed and ready to hightail it out of here when we’re done. I sit on the couch beside my dad and see a cup of tea cooling before me on the coffee table. Beck is standing near the window-wall with his hands in his pockets.

He appears ready for a difficult conversation, much like he did when I told him all the details of my rape. He doesn’t look as uncomfortable, but still a bit angry and wary of me.

Yes…of me.

There’s something about me and my presence in his life at this moment that is making him wary.

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