I try to turn but his grip on the back of my neck tightens. He slips his hand beneath my shirt and I feel the cold sharp edge of a blade.
“If you’d be so kind as to step into my office, we can be discussin’ what it is we need to do now.”
Gertrude gurgles in my arms, her wide eyes fixed on the shadow behind me.
Do I dare run? Can I even scream? I open my mouth and nothing happens. Like a horse under reign, he squeezes my shoulder, moving me as he wishes into the complete blackness of the tree line.
We stay hidden in silence until the last car leaves, my vision slowly becoming accustomed to the dimness. Gertrude turns into a sack of mush in my arms with her head lolling on my shoulder. Whatever happens, I pray she sleeps through this.
“Do you believe a child should be with her mamma and daddy?” He removes his hand from my shoulder, keeping the knife in place.
“Yes.” I feel as if the ground is rolling beneath my feet, my mind swims. Where are you, Jeremy?
“Do you believe it’s a father’s right to know he has a baby?”
“Then why, my dear, are you holdin’ my daughter?” The razor sharp edge lightly traces the path of my spine. “I didn’t let her go.”
I lick my trembling lips. “Her mother should never have kept her from you, but I swear, we had no clue—”
“What? That I existed? I’m guessin’ you didn’t. You seem like a nice enough lady. Not the type to steal the fruit of my DNA.”
I stiffen, his forehead coming to rest against my hair.
“You smell awfully good. Do you always wear perfume for Jeremy? That’s a good way to be tryin’ to keep the spark in a marriage.”
My heart races. “What have you done to him?”
His laughter rolls like thunder. “Nothin’ except watchin’ him drive off and you here all alone. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“If you hurt him I swear I’ll—”
“You’ll what? You’re not in a good bargainin’ spot at the moment.”
I gulp down the acid in my throat. “I’m holding your daughter.”
His lips brush my ear. “You won’t hurt her.” He presses the blade against my skin.
Closing my eyes, I fight the tears begging to fall. “What do you want?”
“Finally, you’re sayin’ something smart.” He pulls the knife away. Stepping around me, he reaches for Gertrude.
I hold her closer and she begins to wake.
“Easy, now. I’m not hurtin’ anyone. I just want to hold my little girl.” He stretches out his hands, the moon illuminating his hulking outline.
“Please.” His voice cracks.
I do my best to harden my tone. “Why are we here?”
“I need to protect my baby girl.”
“Then why would you attack me?”
His shoulders slump. “I didn’t. I was only wantin’ your attention.”
I shake my head. “If that was the case, you could have come to our house.”
A car door slams in the distance and in one motion he forces me into the bushes, his hand over my mouth.
“Selena?” Jeremy’s voice echoes in the night.
The pulse in his wrist slams against my cheek. “He’s not the man you think he is.” He hisses. Slowly, he pulls away. “You have no reason to be beliven’ me. But please, for the sake of my daughter, stay here.”
Taking my hand, he presses the handle of his knife into my palm and closes my fingers over it.
To be contiued….