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   Chapter 9 Nine

Wildflower By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 24366

Updated: 2019-11-07 22:53


Everything in my body freezes, and my first instinct is to push Emily behind me, and run towards him with a raised fist. But I can't move a muscle.

"Tristan, is everything alright?"

I hear her voice, concerned laced in the words, but for once it isn't enough to break through. My eyes are locked on the demon standing across the street, smiling his devilish snarl right at me.

"Who is that?" Emily asks, this time her voice enough to snap me out of it enough to remember she is still here, within view.

I quickly push her behind me and stand up, shaking my head a little to clear it as my father comes walking towards us. There is no doubt now, that it's him, in the flesh unfortunately.

I was hoping I might be seeing things, but since Emily can see him as well; that hope is now crushed.

So many questions swirled my head, but one stuck and pushed at the forefront. How did he get out so early?

I want to know how, why, who, and when? How long has he been out? Has he been following me the entire time?

"What, no greeting? Aren't you glad to see me out and alive?"

My father grins and opens his arms for a hug. A flare of anger surges in me at seeing him be so familiar, and I snap.

Lunging without thinking, my fist connects with his face in a sickening crunch. I feel a few cracks under my knuckles, not sure if it's from his face or my hand.

Judging by his slightly bleeding nose, I'd guess it was him.

He nods his head, wiping his nose. "Suppose I deserved that, " he mutters, the grin no longer plastered on his face.

"You deserve a lot more than that, you son of a bitch. What the hell are you doing here? How did you find me?" I spit out at him.

My father scoffs. "You really think it was that hard to find you? Have you forgot who I am? You aren't the only one in this family with some brains, son."

I hear Emily gasp behind me, her body tensing against my back.

Shit.

"That's, your father?" she whispers, but it's loud enough for him to hear. The grin is quickly back on his face, and he tries to peek around me to get a look at her. I try and push her further behind me, but unfortunately, I'm not that large in size, only in height.

"Who do we have here, Tristan? Aren't you going to introduce–"

"No."

My father clamps his mouth shut and glares. "Fine, then I'll introduce myself, since I seem to be the only one here with some decency." He leans over again and smiles at Emily, who I know is looking out from behind me, without having to even turn to check.

"My name is Clause Bastien, " he says, gesturing to himself.

I look down at Emily to see her reaction, and as I suspected, she seems confused. She has never heard that last name before.

Clause catches on quick, and his smile only grows.

"Ah, I bet this is your first time hearing the real family name. My dear son here has never wanted to embrace it, although legally, he has already claimed it. He has decided to try and go by his mother's maiden name, but we both know he can never shed himself of his past, " he says, his eyes now firmly locked on me.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I ask, my voice low and tense.

Clause takes a step back, finally allowing some distance and breathing room between us. Also allowing me to realize that we're still in a public place, with a few people giving us fleeting looks as they pass by.

Despite how much I am shaking with rage, I have to keep myself in check; or I'm landing myself right back in jail; there is no doubt about that.

"I need your help, " he says and holds a hand up as soon as I roll my eyes and open my mouth. "I know, typical yes, but hear me out. This time, it isn't just me that needs your help."

"I don't care enough about you, or anyone you know, to help them in anyway. So, I'm not going to bother to hear what you have to say, " I say and turn to Emily, clasping her hand tightly in mine.

"We're leaving, now." I tug her lightly down the sidewalk.

"Tristan, it's your mother, " Clause calls out. The one word makes me stop in my tracks.

Mother.

Though I know the idea is impossible, I still turn around.

"Your mother needs help, and you're the only one who can help her, " he says, taking a few steps closer. "I wouldn't have gone through the risks I did to find you and get here, just to lie about something like that. You and I both know what I'm saying is true."

"My mother is dead, you told me that yourself, " I whisper.

Clause shakes his head, and I swear I see what looks like remorse in his eyes. "A white lie I told you, because I knew for the time being, she wasn't coming back. What you didn't know, is she is alive and I've been trying to earn her freedom. You were a part of that, 10 years ago."

"W-what? You can't mean..."

Clause nods as my mind immediately wanders to the bank robberies James made me carry out. My father was involved in that this entire time, he knew what was happening to me, that I was being set up and let me walk right behind those bars to serve those grueling 10-years.

He knew about it all.

Yet he did nothing.

I feel the rage start to build up inside my again, creating a burning hot ball in the pit of my stomach. One soft touch, however, and the anger instantly disappears, and I'm brought back to reality.

I look down at Emily, staring back up at me with her large, bright blue eyes, shining with concern and slight terror. She has no idea what's going on, at least not entirely, just whatever I have told her of my father and our twisted family history.

"Whatever you have to say, can wait until we're alone." I reach into my pocket and toss him my phone. "Put a number that I can contact you at, we can meet-up later."

Clause looks hesitant, but slowly types a number in and throws it back. I check and make sure it's an actual number and tuck it back in my pocket. Without another word, I turn back to Emily.

"Let's go home, " I say and reach for her hand again.

She presses her lips together and nods, giving one last look over her shoulder at my father, before I tug her along. I can feel his burning gaze on my back as we walk away, but I fight the urge to look back.

If he wants my help, we're doing it my way.

Which means Emily is to be nowhere near it. I don't want her to be involved in my family bullshit at all, and I don't want her to be anywhere near the fire if everything blows up in my face, which it likely will with my father.

***

"Want to talk about what just happened?" Emily asks once we're through the door, kicking her shoes off and wandering over to the couch. She crosses her legs under her, then looks at me with her wide eyes.

I let out a long breath through gritted teeth, quickly going over any possible way I could explain to her how I feel, but words escape me.

Emily nods her head and smiles, gesturing for me to sit next to her. Her hands are on my shoulder the moment I sit down, massaging the many knots and tension I haven't realized I've been carrying.

"You don't have to say anything right now, I understand it might be really confusing and painful for you to see your father out of the blue like that. But if you're going to see him, I want to know if you decide to do something that might get you in trouble, " she says, her

er to calm my mind and stop the trembling in my chest.

The moment my skin touches hers, warmth spreads through me, and I instantly feel at peace. The racing in my mind ceases and her scent swirls around me, calming my nerves like a splash of warm morning sun.

"I missed you, " she whispers, burying her face into my chest.

Her words cause my heart to jump, the warmth continuing from my stomach all the way to my toes.

I plant a kiss on the top of her head, taking a moment to enjoy the bliss scent of her strawberry shampoo I have come to love. I'd go as far as to say, I'm addicted to the smell, and I don't think I can go more than a day without it.

"I missed you too, love." I nuzzle my cheek against her hair, holding her tighter against me, no longer caring about keeping my towel up.

I just want to enjoy having this angel in my arms for a few, uninterrupted minutes, until I tell her everything that happened, and the mood turns sour.

"You should probably put some clothes on, " she says, her voice slightly muffled from my body. I pull her away, looking down into her deep blue eyes, wondering once again how I became so deserving of her.

Giving into the urges from earlier, I dip down and capture her lips, almost moaning at their familiar softness and gentle heat. I place a hand on her back to press her closer, showering her just how much I missed her, and need her.

The way her fingers clutch my arms, tells me she understands, and I hope she never forgets.

I reluctantly pull away, smiling at the breathless look on her face, giving her one smaller kiss, before turning towards the bathroom. I close the door slightly and change, going over what I want to say to her when I explain everything, but nothing seems to fit.

There is no good way to say what I have to say, if she really does want to know everything. I haven't made any deal with my father, but I would be lying to her, and myself, if I said I wasn't still intrigued by what my father might have to offer.

Which means, I at least owe it to her to explain, to be open about my life, especially if I do truly want her to be a part of it; completely.

Once I'm dressed, I come back out to see Emily already sitting in the living room, playing on her phone while she waits. She turns it off and smiles up at me when I walk over, gesturing like before for me to sit down next to her.

I sit down and she instantly curls herself into my side, resting her head on my shoulder and draping her arm across my stomach. I let out a deep breath, her presence once again calming my growing nerves.

"So, did you want to talk about what happened with your father today? We don't have to, if it's too much for you, " she says, snuggling her cheek against my arm. My heart races and my mind clouds, but I quickly shake it away and focus on what I tried going over in the bathroom.

"There is a lot to explain, I don't really know where to start, " I say.

She shrugs. "That's okay, I raced over here as fast as I could so we would have a lot of time."

That makes me realize, she did make it over here quite fast.

"Did you happen to get your own car?" I ask.

Emily shakes her head and leans back to look up at me with a gentle, innocent smile.

"No, I got a drive from my Uncle Lucien. He's in town visiting for a couple weeks and he is staying with my parents and I."

My heart stops at the very distinct and rare name. How many people in the State of New York, are named Lucien? Hell, how many in America? It isn't a very common name.

And Clause happened to mention a man named Lucien today. It can't be a coincident. Lucien Bradford. Emily's last name is White.

"Does your family have another last name? Like your mother's maiden name?" I ask, earning a confused look from her.

"Well, my last name is my mother's maiden name. I was born before my parents were married, remember? For five years, I carried my mother's name, and we never really bothered to legally changed it, my parents never had a problem with it. Why?" She pulls back further, her brows creasing.

"What is your father's last name again?" I ask, my hands beginning to shake.

"Bradford. Why, what does it matter, Tristan?"

Lucien Bradford. Her Uncle, is James' brother.

Which means they're all family.

My mind is unable to process everything that floods into it, all the realizations and further questions filling my head until it feels like it's going to explode.

What are the chances?

Is this a punishment?

For once, I found the perfect life; freedom, the perfect girl.

At first, I was afraid the presence of my father, Clause, threatened all of that, especially Emily. But I realize now; it was always threatened, from the day I agreed to work with James.

I'll never truly be free.

And Emily will never be safe, as long as she is with me.

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