Relax, just feel it
”An addict? ” Jacob inquired, his voice rough.
Grace nodded. ”A lot of people called her that. ”
”Im sorry. ” His hand moved from her head to her shoulders.
”Don be. ”
To her shock, right then, Jacob picked her up and walked into his bedroom. The only light came from the full moon outside. She remained absolutely silent as he pulled a blanket off the bed and then sat down in a window seat similar to others about the house. He slung the blanket around her shoulders and held her in his lap like she belonged to him, while he leaned against the wall. She sat up but his body surrounded her. Protected her.
”Why am I telling you? ” she asked, wondering how it was that she felt so safe with him. And whether she should be frightened at the reason behind the feeling.
”Because you obviously need to talk. Did that phone call have anything do with your brother? ”
”How… ” She gasped at his perception.
”It terrified you. You only react like that when Simons hurt. ”
Her nod was jerky. ”It was Simons father, Kenny. ”
”Your father? ”
Her blood seemed to turn ice-cold. Taking a deep breath, she told Jacob the reason why Kenny cared nothing if he destroyed her. ”Hes not my father. ”
Jacob looked down at the flat sound of Graces voice. ”What? ” The urge to wrap her up in his arms and press her against his chest was almost irresistible. He fought the urge because he needed to see her face.
”My mother, Helena, was pregnant by another man when she married Kenny. ” She stared fixedly at the dark square of the bedroom doorway. ”My biological father was already married. He didn want his mistress after she became pregnant and refused to get rid of me. She was destitute. ”
His heart clenched. He didn even know this side of Grace; all he had ever wanted was for her to feel loved. But he could now understand why that love wasn enough. He reached forward to place his hands on either side of Graces face, gently forcing her to look at him. ”I won let anything happen to you. ”
The sincerity of his words made tears spring into her eyes. He brushed them away with his thumbs before they fell to the floor.
”Thank you. ” She rested her cheek against his shoulder for support. ”I don know what to do. ” Her voice wavered with emotion.
”Kenny never let her forget, ” she continued. ”Almost every week, hed say something to remind her that I wasn his, that hed taken her in when she was knocked up. He didn even give me his name. ”
Jacob felt his hands curl into fists but forced himself to remain silent, aware that she needed to talk. It humbled him that she trusted him enough to share something so painful. Hed had no choice when his secrets had been ripped from him and used to sell newspapers, but he knew just how much courage it took to deliberately entrust another person with such private pain.
”And she never stopped reminding me that it was because of me that she was stuck with a man who beat her when he was bored, and … and used her. ” Her slim shoulder shifted as she took a deep breath that hitched. ”While I was growing up, Kenny used to disappear without explanation for weeks, and then return like nothing had happened.
”My mother used to wait for him, as if hed come back and rescue us from poverty. Then one time, he didn come back. They divorced when Simon was barely two. ” She stopped speaking, staring down at her hands. She began fidgeting with the fabric of the blanket shed wrapped herself in and didn continue.
A thousand thoughts raced through Jacobs mind as he contemplated everything shed revealed.
Jacob wanted to strangle her parents. Instead, he gave in to the urge to touch her and closed one of his hands over hers, not certain that shed tolerate any further contact while mired in the past.
Her eyes were confused when she finally turned to look at him. ”Why did she love him for such a long time? Why did she? We both knew he had other women. Was she that grateful that he took her in when she was pregnant? ”
He could tell from the tone of her voice that she was expecting an answer. A response. Even though her expression indicated that she already knew that there was none.
Jacob could imagine her mothers befuddlement at this child of hers who was so without deceit, a child who wouldn allow her to forget grim reality in useless illusions. ”She sounds like a woman who lost her way. ”
”Where does Simons father fit in? ”
Fear clouded her gaze. ”Kenny didn return for him after our mother died. Even before her death, I was the one who took care of Simon. But now hes back. ”
Encouraged by her lack of resistance to their linked fingers, he reached out with his free hand and stroked her hair off her face, shifting his body closer to hers at the same time. ”What exactly does he want? ”
”Simon. ” Pain devastated the pure blue of her eyes to a dull shade. ”Ill fight him ill I have nothing left, but Im afraid. Hes Simons father. Im only his half sister. ” She leaned just a little into his stroking hand.
He was pleased that she saw him as a source of strength. ”Youve raised him. ”
”You don understand. Kenny isn some riffraff – hes rich. He always was, though he never gave us a cent. I suppose he married my mother because she was so very beautiful and he wanted her. But, then, he threw her away. He didn care about Simon then. ” Desperation was apparent in her too-fast speech.
”He told me that hed remarried and had a stable home for his son. I think he only wants Simon because he can have children with his new wife. ” She was shaking, as if with rage. ”I can let that happen! Kenny will hurt him. I saw him hit Simon when he was a baby! ” Releasing his hand, she clutched at his forearm. ”I saw him! ”
Gently disengaging her fingers, he took a chance and wrapped his arms around her. After a momentary hesitation, she softened. ”You must not worry so much, Gracie. I am here. ” Her pain tore at him. ”How rich? ”
”Hes a partner at the Derek Williams . ” She named a prominent law firm. ”He knows judges and psychiatrists. He said hed have me declared unfit if I didn give him Simon, and that hes convinced judges who are friends of his that I have a bad lifestyle.
”Ive tried to fight it but all my motions to the court keep getting denied and his accepted. Ive fought every way I can but I don know how much longer I can stall him. Im so scared. I can lose Simon. I can . ”
Jacob felt his instincts growl in warning. How dare anyone threaten this woman? This strong, beautiful woman, who, unbeknownst to anyone, belonged to Jacob Wolfe . He pulled back and tilted her face up with a finger under her chin, his anger intensifying when he saw that her eyes were shiny with tears she refused to shed.
”Do you trust me, Grace? ” If she didn , he was damn well going to teach her to, even if he had to cuddle her in his lap all night long.