Call Me Daddy(4)

By: Jade West



“I wouldn’t try it,” I say. I take a step towards him, shoulders back and easy. I could take him and I know it. He’s just another loser, another dreg from the cesspit of life, and I’ve seen plenty of those in my lifetime.

I glare at him, and beckon him forward, perfectly willing to put this piece of shit on the ground where he deserves, but he’s backing away before I utter another word, druggie feet tripping over each other.

“Didn’t mean nothing by it. Don’t even know her… never met her…”

I don’t bother watching him retreat. I’ve no need. Dickheads like him don’t bother men like me.

I pull the girl closer, and she seems to snap back to herself. Her cardigan is sodden, hanging from her shoulders, and she’s shivering.

“Laine?” I ask. “I’m Nick. Nick Lynch. You’re safe now. Where do you need to go?”

“Newhaven…” she says, and her voice is as pretty as she is. “My friend… she pulled some guy… she has my keys, my money…”

“And where is your friend now?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t know…”

“I’ll take you home,” I say, and my words are simple, obvious. I’m surprised when she follows me to the passenger door of the Merc and slips into the seat without hesitation, but she seems dazed somehow. Naïve, maybe. Maybe that’s what got her into this mess in the first place. I suspect as much.

Young, naïve and vulnerable.

No way should she be out alone this late at night. No way should she be here, in this shithole part of Brighton. I feel the anger, at some unknown parents who should be worried sick, parents who should have taught her more fucking sense.

A father who should be driving around looking for his daughter, who should be protecting her from pieces of shit like that fucking waster back there.

I ignore the twitch in my jaw. Push aside that feeling.

She needs a ride home. Just a ride home.

She’s not my problem, and she doesn’t want to be.

I close the door after her and she buckles up oblivious. She’s naïve. Definitely naïve.

But tonight she’s safe. With me.

I’ll keep her safe until I get her home.

She’s staring right at me as I take the driver’s side, still shivering, but she doesn’t look so scared now.

I wait until the mist clears from the windscreen. The wipers give a rhythmic thump from the other side of the glass.

“I can’t get in at home,” she says quietly. “Not without my key…”

“What about your parents?”

She looks at the floor. “My mum’s away.”

“And your dad?”

“I don’t have one.”

“Your mum left you all alone?”

She nods. “She normally does.”

My gut pangs. No dad.

I keep my voice steady. Warm and calm. “I can give you cash for a hotel. Take you wherever you need to go. Maybe a relative? An aunt or uncle? Neighbour?”

She’s shaking her head. “I don’t have… anyone…”

I feel the ache in my gut, stronger now. Me neither.

“You could call your phone, maybe she’ll answer?”

She looks so embarrassed, shaking her head. “I turned it off… to save battery… it hardly had any battery…”

“Do you know your friend’s number?”

Another shake of the head.

“How about Facebook? Social media?”

Her voice is so quiet. “Kelly Anne is um… she won’t… she’s with a guy, drunk…” She sighs. “She won’t even give me a second thought… not tonight…”

Isn’t that just the truth of it.

I put the car into gear. “Then you’d better stay with me until morning.”

She doesn’t even attempt to argue as I pull away.



Laine



I don’t know where we’re going. I don’t know why I’m not scared. My breath is steady now, and the air in the car is warm enough that my wet clothes don’t feel so bad. My nerves are still on edge, I can feel them beneath the relief. The relief that I got away.

I stare at Nick, trying to figure out the guy who grabbed me in the rain and saved me. He saved me.

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