Protecting Her
Author:Allie Everhart

“But she didn’t,” I say.

“No!” He bursts up from his chair. “She said she would, but she didn’t! Fucking bitch!” He slams his fist down on the desk. “How could she do this to me?” He storms off to the side of the room and starts pacing the floor.

I’ve never seen him like his. Within an instant he switched from being normal to acting almost deranged. Shelby’s right. He’s not stable. I haven’t been around him for months. Like he said, he’s been on the campaign trail for most of last year, following around one of our presidential candidates. The organization is grooming Royce to be president someday, and part of his training is to watch another candidate in action.

“Royce, just calm down.”

He whips around, and storms back to me, slamming his fist on the desk again. “I will NOT calm down! That bitch is going to ruin my life! I’m going to be the fucking President of the United States! A president cannot have some bastard child running around!”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying the bitch is dead. I just haven’t arranged for it yet because I just found out about this. All these months, I thought she got the abortion, so I was going to leave her alone. Then last week, I hired one of our freelancers to check on her to see what she was up to. Make sure she wasn’t telling anyone about me. And yesterday he reported back to me and said he found her, living in some small town, and pregnant! She told me she’d take care of it!” He’s screaming and his face is red, his eyes dark. “But she fucking lied to me!”

He collapses into his chair.

I wait a moment for him to calm down, then say, “When is she due?”

“I don’t know. Maybe late September, early October. Who the fuck cares? She’ll be dead by then. And so will her bastard child.”

“Royce, no. Leave her alone.”

He picks a letter opener off his desk and points it at me. “You’re telling me you wouldn’t do it? Some woman threatens your marriage? Your future? You’d just let her do it?”

“This woman hasn’t threatened to do anything. She’s left you alone. She probably just wants to have the baby and have nothing to do with you.”

“How fucking naive are you, Pearce? The bitch knows I’m a billionaire. As soon as that kid’s born, she’ll sell her story to every tabloid, then come after me for money.”

“She could’ve already done that. She has no reason to wait until the child’s born.”

“You can’t talk me out of this. She’s a liability. I can’t risk having her around.”

“You are not killing her. She’s carrying your child. Are you seriously going to kill your own child?”

“It’s not a child. It’s a mistake.”

I can’t believe he said that. I want to reach over and beat him unconscious. I’m probably extra sensitive right now because I’ve just spent a week at home with my own child, who I love more than anything and would do anything to protect. But even if I didn’t have Garret, I’d still feel this way.

“If you didn’t want a child, then you should’ve used a goddamn condom. You’re a grown man, Royce. Stop acting like a teenager and take some fucking responsibility for your actions.”

“I AM taking responsibility. I’m cleaning up my mess. Getting rid of her.”

“I will not allow you to do this. It’s wrong, and you know it. You’re a father. Just down the hall you have a baby girl. You would never harm Sadie, so why would you even think of killing your other child?”

“It’s not the same,” he says quietly.

“It IS the same! It’s still your child! Please, Royce, just let her have the baby. It’s just a few weeks from now. Let her have it and see what happens. I bet you anything she’ll leave you alone.”

“I can’t risk it.” His voice is calmer now, but the rest of him is still tense, his body rigid, his back straight. “Perhaps if I didn’t have the presidency in my future, it would be a different story. But I can’t put my future at risk. I’m going to be president. And no one is going to stand in my way.”

“Do something else. Have someone keep watch on this woman to make sure she never tells anyone. Give her enough money to keep quiet. Anything. Just don’t kill her.”

“I’m done wasting my time on her. I’m putting the order in tomorrow. It should be done within the week.”

How could he do this? The woman is nine months pregnant. With his child! How could he not think this is wrong?

I hesitate, because I know I shouldn’t be doing this but I’m desperate. “Jack has shit on you.”

“Yeah? So? He has shit on everyone.”

“He’ll use it against you. I’ll tell him what you’re planning to do and he’ll stop you.”

“Why the hell would Jack care?”

“Because he doesn’t believe in killing pregnant women.”

Royce laughs. “Most people don’t, until they’re backed in a corner with no way out.”

“I’m serious, Royce. I’ll tell Jack, and I’ll get him to stop you unless you agree to call this off.”