Alexa stared at her parents in disbelief. The pain now in her body wasn’t from the beating she had taken but from their words. She wished her eyes were still swollen shut, so she didn’t have to look her mother in the eye.
“Payback is a bitch isn’t Alex,” her mother had said to her. She stood there looking at her daughter smugly. “I told you, you would pay for your sins.”
“What are you saying?” Alexa croaked thinking she already knew but she had to hear the words with her ears.
“If you hadn’t defied us by leaving this would have never happened to you,” her father explained as if to a child. “God was punishing you for dishonoring your mother and me.”
“Did you send those men?” she asked her voice going high with fear.
“God sent those men,” her mother answered haughtily. “We merely paid them.”
Alexa screamed when the privacy curtain screeched to the side, and Colton came stalking in yelling “What?” Both her parents stepped back from the clearly angry man. Yet he was immediately regretful when he saw how badly he had scared Alexa.
“Sorry sweetheart I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he told her grabbing her hand. “It’s only me.”
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I was more surprised than scared.”
“What is going on in here?” the detective said coming into the room. “Are you ok Ms. Whitfield?”
“She’s fine,” her mother barked. “This man terrified her coming into her room like that. I thought this was a private suite.”
“Who are you ma’am?” the detective asked firmly.
“We are her parents.”
“And they paid those bastards to rape their daughter,” Colton announced. “Arrest them!”
“What?” the detective said baffled by what was being said.
“We did no such thing!” Mrs. Whitfield shouted her voice was going high and screechy. “This man was interrupting a private conversation. As he is not family, I demand that you take him out of here.”
“No!” Alexa cried out, reaching for Colton’s arm. “Don’t leave me, Colton.”
“I’m not leaving you with them,” Colton growled at the two older people. He went to stand by her, putting an arm around her shoulders. He felt proud when she nestled into his side. She trusted him. “They hurt their own daughter. Hell if I let you hurt her again.”
“We are her parents. We love our daughter. Why would we hurt her?”
“I don’t know nor do I care why. All I know is that you did.”
“Ma’am let me speak to you and your husband outside please,” the detective said politely but firmly.
“Alex tell them we did no such thing,” her mother commanded looking down at her daughter.
“Please mother, leave me alone,” Alexa begged. “I only want to be left alone.”
“Fine. Then we will leave you alone like you’ve left us on our own. How you could do this to your frail and sick parents, who rescued you from the crack whore that was your mother.”
The woman turned and walked past the detective out of the room. Her husband followed along.
“Did they pay those men to rape you?” the detective asked Alexa. She stared up at him with those huge brown eyes full of tears.
“They don’t mean anything by it,” she said softly. “I’m a bad daughter. They deserve so much better than me.”
“Will you testify that they paid someone to rape and beat you?”
Alexa shook her head. “I can’t,” she whispered. “They’re my parents.”
The detective stared at her for a long moment and then turned to catch up with her parents.
“Alexa,” Colton began sitting down on the bed facing her. “Why didn’t you tell the detective what they said?”
“I can’t Colton,” she said her voice thick with emotion. “I love them. I can’t believe they would … I just can’t fathom that they would … my mother often takes credit for the bad things that happen in my life. She says it is God’s punishment for me because I disrespect her every chance I get.”
“You know that isn’t true.”
Alexa looked at him dubiously.
“I don’t know if it is true,” she replied softly. “What I do know is that bad things happen to me when I try and get beyond my parents’ reach.”
“Something always happens to my car whenever I tell them I am leaving. I usually say I am leaving the night before but my car is always broken, or the tires are slashed when I come out the next morning.
“Whenever I try and buy clothes that they don’t approve of they usually end up ruined in some way.”
“Sweetheart that isn’t God or bad luck. That’s your parents sabotaging you.”
She looked away from his pitying countenance. The tears weren’t too far behind. Burying her face in her hands, she finally accepted the fact that her parents had her raped and beaten.
She had suspected but didn’t want to think that they were capable of such behavior. She was their daughter. They were supposed to love her. Clearly, she was unlovable, but that didn’t give them the right to physically hurt her. Why couldn’t they leave her alone?
They needed her plain and simple. She was to take care of them in their old age. That was why they had adopted her in the first place. When they couldn’t have a boy to carry on the family name and business, they took in a girl who would care for them, as they grew older.
“Alexa,” Colton began moving closer to her. “Come here.”
She readily climbed into his lap and burrowed in close to his solid warmth.
“You are not their puppet to control,” he said to her earnestly. “You are your own person. You can’t let them run all over you.”
“I know. I just … they’re my parents, and I love them, but I know they – they don’t love me.”
“No, they don’t sweetheart. I don’t know why because as far as I can tell you are a very lovable person. But whatever their reasons you can’t protect them from their actions over and against your interest. You have to take care of yourself first.”
“I wish they would just leave me alone,” she hiccupped in between sobs. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”
“Put them in prison then.”
“I can’t do that!”
“They would never survive inside a jail.”
“Something tells me your mother would be more than capable of handling herself in prison,” Colton drawled.
“I don’t want that for them. I need to get away from them.”
“Do you have a place to stay tonight?”
“Yes. No furniture but I have rented a small apartment down the street from the office.”
“Ok. You can stay with me.”
“No, I don’t want to put you out.”
“You won’t be putting me out. Plus I have security at my place. You’ll be safe from your parents, in case they want to finish what they started.”
“You don’t think …” Her eyes grew wide at the idea. Would they hurt her even more? Wouldn’t that be – death?
“I wouldn’t put anything past them, Alexa. You need to be careful.”
“Thank you for letting me stay with you. I would go to Grayson’s, but I don’t want to get him involved in all this. Not that I want you involved, but you have more resources like security to keep you safe.”
He knew he shouldn’t care about this other man in Alex’s life, but he felt a certain amount of possessiveness over her now. He was protecting her. He needed to know everything about her including her relationship with Grayson.
“Here are some scrubs for you to wear. I’ll let you change. When you are ready just open the door.”
“Colton, thank you,” she said earnestly.
“Your welcome Alexa. I’m only sorry that I got to you too late. From now on, we walk out of the office together.”
“Ok,” she agreed with a small smile. He was awfully bossy, but then again he was her boss and now her savior. She should listen to him. He only had the best of intentions right? That was what she had thought about her parents and look how that had turned out.
Yet Colton was different, wasn’t he? He didn’t want her to take care of him outside of work. Or did he? She would see how things went now that their relationship had taken on this added dimension of salvation.
She was grateful to him for everything he had done and said today. She wouldn’t have been able to handle the whole situation without someone by her side. Wanting to call Grayson she ultimately didn’t because she hadn’t wanted to involve him in this mess. Best for only her to get dirty.
But Colton had stayed by her side through it all. Even during the internal exam and photography. He had been solid next to her the entire time, except when he gave his statement to the police. Yet he had come back to her and come back kicking ass. He had not let her parents get away with hurting her. She only wished she could do the same.
Perhaps one day she would have the courage to confront her parents, but for right now all she had the bravery to do was move out of their home. That would do for now.