Triple Beat-nook
Author:Mari Carr

“Wake up,” he demanded.

She stiffened when he shook her roughly.

“Wake up, you little bitch. It’s time you started earning your keep around here.”

He was drunker than she’d seen him in a very long time. His words were slurred, his dark eyes struggling to find her face.

“I can get a job. Earn money.” She prayed to God that was what he meant, though her heart knew it was something else when his hands drifted to her breasts, squeezing them painfully.

She twisted away, but despite his drunkenness, he was stronger than she was.

“I don’t want fucking money from you.”

Dani tried to push him away when he shoved his hand into her panties.

“No!” she cried out. “Please.”

“Shut up. You’re gonna like this, Dani.”

His rough fingers were thick, callused and cold. She wrapped her hand around his wrist, trying to pull him away. Her touch was ineffective as he burrowed deeper between her legs, touching her where she’d never been touched before.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Why would he do this?

She had never fought her father. Not with words or with fists. Not once.

Dani considered that, feeling slightly shocked by the fact.

Why hadn’t she?

Something inside her snapped. His fingers breached the opening to her body, the touch agonizing. It felt as though he was ripping her in two.

Reaching out blindly toward her nightstand, she wrapped her hand around the base of the lamp. She lost her grip as pain ripped through her when he pushed three fingers deep inside her.

She screamed.

“Goddamn. Dry bitch. I’ll take care of that. Gonna shove my cock in that tight little hole.” He pulled his fingers out and chuckled malevolently when he saw blood on them. “Virgin.”

His tone was one of approval, one Dani had never heard him use when talking to her. God, how fucked-up was this? She had to get out of here. Now.

He reached for the fastening on his pants, his clumsy fingers fumbling with the zipper.

She took advantage of his distraction. Lifting the lamp, she brought it down on his head, hard. It was wrought iron and made a loud crack when it connected with his skull.

He grunted and fell back on the bed. She spotted the blood dripping along his scalp, staining her pillow, and for a brief second, Dani wondered if she’d killed him.

Then, he groggily raised his hand to his head. She’d only knocked him out for a second. “What the fu—”

That was all Dani heard as she jumped out of bed and ran from her room. She managed to get out of the apartment, beating on the neighbor’s door, begging Ms. Stern to let her in.

Mercifully, the woman did. Dani raced into the apartment, slamming the door closed behind her. Ms. Stern threw the deadbolt and the chain seconds before they heard her dad come out into the hall.

Ms. Stern called 911 as Dad beat on the door, demanding that Dani come out. Dani leaned against the door, praying the locks would hold as he rained a steady stream of insults at her, calling her a slut, a whore, a cock tease.

She didn’t realize she was crying until Ms. Stern wiped her eyes with trembling hands.

“It’s going to be okay, Dani. The police will be here soon…”

***

Dani dug into her purse for a tissue. For a moment, she considered pulling over. Driving and crying didn’t mix.

“Get it together, girl,” she muttered to herself as she fought back the tears. She blinked several times and then took a steadying breath. She was doing herself no favors with this damn trip down memory lane.

She’d spent her entire adult life recreating herself, working hard to overcome a childhood spent living in fear. She had been helpless and fearful when she was a girl and apparently some of those traits had carried over, despite her best efforts to shed them.

It had to end here. She refused to carry the label of victim for one second longer. She’d go back to New Orleans, face the bastard who’d tried to destroy her and show him he held no more power over her. Then she’d return to Nashville and embrace a very bright future with no regrets or fears, and without the shadow of Russell Patton casting her in never-ending darkness.

Dani Patton had died the night her father crawled into her bed. And Dani Lewis had emerged from the ashes. It was time to dump the baggage.

She made the exit that took her to the next interstate, the last stretch of her trip before she hit Louisiana.

She recalled the last time she’d been on this road so late and grinned. Mercifully, not all of her memories were bad.

Dani had snuck out of the Lewises’ house after learning her father had been released from prison. He’d cut his two-year sentence down by a month due to good behavior. Dani had been counting on that extra month because it put her that much closer to her eighteenth birthday.