“Your mother—God rest her soul—raised you better than this. You don’t go looking for a date in a bar.”
“I didn’t.” I tried to take another sip but couldn’t do it. The taste reminded me of Leo. “Can I have a cup of coffee instead?”
Dad nodded. He shuffled to the stove and picked up his ancient percolator. “Then why were you in the bar?”
“I was with Crystal. We were waiting for her husband.”
“Poor choice of meeting places.” Dad returned to the table carrying two cups. He sat down and passed one to me. He took the whiskey and poured it into his coffee. “Meeting men on internet sites and in bars isn’t something a respectable young woman does. You need to stop before you get hurt.”
Stop? Was he joking with me? I wasn’t a kid who needed talking to. “How in the hell am I supposed to meet someone?”
“Watch your tone and your language, young lady.” Dad took a healthy sip of coffee before adding, “There are better ways to meet people. Church for one.”
“Church?” I picked up my cup and glanced out the window. Maybe while I was home again, I could take care of the garden. It had been a long time since it had been properly prepared for the winter months. Turning back to Dad, I said, “Church isn’t the only place to meet a man.”
“It was good enough for meeting your mother.” Dad stared down into his cup for a minute.
His shoulders slumped, and he exhaled again. He was hurting. Some days, the hurt was emotional—the continued grief he experienced every day without Mom. Other times, like today, it was a physical pain for him. Dad was injured on his last tour of duty and received a medical discharge. When I asked about the injury, he only told me that I didn’t need to worry about him. Dad lifted his head, and my heart shattered. His eyes were glassy as he winced.
He opened his mouth to speak when glass broke somewhere in the house. My father forgot about his agony and took off. I was right behind him. We ran to the spare bedroom where a cold breeze blew in. Someone broke a pane in the side window. On the floor was a brick with a piece of paper attached to it. Scrawled across it were the words, You can’t hide from me.
Dad spun around and rushed to the front door. When I heard him swear, that prompted me to move. By the time I reached the porch, Dad stood on the sidewalk with his hands on his hips. He looked up and down the street before coming back to the house.
“Let’s wait for your friend to return before we unpack your car.”
“Why?” I pushed past Dad and ran down the steps. Someone had slashed all four tires on my car. “Who would do this?”
My father came up beside me. “How serious was this relationship between you and this man from the bar?”
“Not that serious. Dad, we barely…” The words trailed off. No way would I tell my father the intimate details of my experience with Leo. Instead, I shook my head. If Leo did this, then staying with my father wasn’t safe either.
I wrapped my hand around Dad’s elbow and tugged him toward the house. “Once Matt gets back here, I want to go to the gun range.”
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