His Light in the Dark(7)By: L. A. Fiore
“How old are you?”
“Wow, you’re really old.” Moving closer, I looked really hard at his face.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for wrinkles. At twelve you should have a lot.”
“I’m twelve, not forty. Your dad’s twenty-four and he doesn’t have wrinkles either.”
“I know. He says it’s magic.”
Cole chuckled. “Do you want me to get you a glass of water?”
“I really don’t want water.”
“I didn’t think so. You ready to go back to bed?”
“No. Want to watch a movie?”
“Princesses?” he asked.
I wanted to watch princesses, but I knew Cole didn’t like them. “We can watch something else.”
He sat back on his heels and looked at me a minute. “How about the Little Mermaid II?”
I knew my face lit up, I felt it. “Really, my new DVD?”
I threw my arms around him because he actually wanted to watch a princess movie. His body went still, I felt as he tensed, and then his arms moved around me and he held on, like it was the first time he’d ever been hugged.
“I’m glad you’re here, Cole.”
His voice sounded odd again when he whispered, “Me too.”
If I stayed really quiet, he’d forget I was here. He hadn’t started in on the whiskey, just beer, which meant he had a woman coming over. That was always a good thing because he never bothered me when a woman was over. It was only after she’d leave, especially if the night hadn’t gone well, that he’d take his frustrations out on me. I asked him once why he didn’t just give me up since he clearly hated me. His answer had sent chills through me, honestly it still did. He said I’d ruined his life so he intended to ruin mine. Wasn’t sure what I had done and could only assume I had ruined it by being born.
For nearly a year, life almost felt idyllic because I had spent much of that time with the Donatis. That day, almost a year ago, Dad had messed up—smacking me around while we were still outside. I’d never seen anything like it; this huge muscled and tatted guy came out of nowhere and charged my dad like a raging bull. I’d seen rage, but it was usually directed at me. To see the same in defense of me, I’d never forget the fear in Dad’s eyes. Someone who was bigger and stronger than him in full out fury, hell bent on teaching him the lesson he so loved to mete out on me, and from a man who didn’t even know me. Up until that point in my life, no one had cared what happened to me and I thought no one ever would.
I was wrong.
Mace became like a god to me in that moment; I’d sell my soul for him if he asked me to. And after I met Mia, I never knew a family could be like that. Even though it was just Mace and Mia, there was love there. It was only my dad and I, my mom had left like Mia’s mom, but unlike me, Mia had a really great dad. I wished sometimes that he were my dad too.
Thanksgiving was in a few days; I had never had a real Thanksgiving. The Donatis had invited me to join them; Aunt Dee and Dylan would be there too, a real family Thanksgiving. I wanted to go, wanted that more than I’ve ever wanted anything, so I had to remain out of sight and stay as quiet as possible so as to not draw attention. Especially since my dad hated the Donatis after Mace had shown him up. The fact that he hadn’t pitched a fit about me spending time with them, even knowing he was usually too drunk to notice or care, concerned me because it was only a matter of time before it did become an issue.
Mia had promised to show me how to decorate the perfect gingerbread man; hers would no doubt have too much pink and sparkles on it. For a girl who had a dad like Mace, she really was very girly. And despite her odd love of princesses and all that was glittery, I craved her company; had even sat through countless viewings of her princess movies, because her innocence cast its own light. Like in her movies, Mace and Mia were my guardian angels, my light in the dark. Her medallion, the one she had given me the night we first met, was pinned on the inside of my shirt. Had I worn it around my neck, it would have just been one more way for my dad to hurt me, but I was never without it. Even if it was all in my head, it had become my talisman, made me feel strong even when reality was quite the opposite.
At the sound of the doorbell, I relaxed my shoulders because Dad’s date was here. One night down and only three to go.
Leaning back in my chair, I stared at all the food still on the table. I had eaten my body weight in food, knew everyone else had too, including Mia, and it looked as if we barely ate a thing.
“Do you always eat this much food?”