"I was 19 when Zach Ryan and I got married.." You let out a slow deliberate breath and twist the crinkly paper of the beer label you peeled from the bottle in your hands..
You had been hiding the truth about your past for a lot of reasons, but right now you can only focus on one.. What if the sordid details of your history scare Patrick away?
He sits taller, clearly intrigued.. "We were introduced in college at an annual political fundraising event I would attend every year with my father.." He nods..
"Our families encouraged us to date and then about a year later, Zach's father was elected to the senate and suddenly there was a lot of pressure on Zach and I to get married and set a shining example of wedded bliss in the public eye.."
He holds up a finger, as if seeking permission to ask a question.. "And Zach's father is Senator Michael Ryan?"
Now it's your turn to nod.. "And the senator was the one who pressured you two te' tie the knot?"
Your head goes from nodding to shaking.. "Maybe a little.. But mainly the pressure came from my father.. He's.. Traditional.." 'traditional' is your very polite way of saying he's an uptight, hyper-conservative control freak..
"Ah, I getit'.." He hums..
You smile weakly.. "I don't think you do.." Here's where it starts to get scary.. Time to see if Patrick is the guy you think he is or if he's just like every other man in your life who let you down and left you feeling disappointed.. "My father is Anderson Daley.."
He frowns.. "As in, Congressman Daley?.."
You tuck your hair behind your ear, eyes flicking between him and the paper in your hands.. "That's the one.." You laugh nervously.. You are grateful for everything your father provided you in life, but honestly you're kind of embarrassed by his judgemental views and narrow minded beliefs.. To say the two of you are politically misaligned would be a massive understatement..
"Ah.. So that's why you're so.." He grins cheekily.. "Fancy.."
You smile.. His humour eases your anxiety little by little.. It's one of your favourite things about him.. He's had that effect on you since the moment you met him.. There is an ease and comfort between the two of you.. Like you have met before in a past, or old friends who have known each other forever..
"Sure, Paddykins.. That's why I'm so fancy.." You chuckle..
You wonder, what the heck does 'fancy' mean in his view? Spoiled? Waspy? Stuck up?
Dear God, you hope not..
"So, what happened? Why did you and Zach split?" He asks curiously..
You take another, much longer sip of the icy beer.. It never gets easier, you hate telling this part of the story and the reactions, everything from pity to blame.. "I got tired of being his punching bag.." You confess quietly..
His body tenses and his hands ball into fists.. "He was abusive?" His jaw clenches and he grinds his back teeth so loud you can hear it..
"He was.. After the divorce, he showed up at my old apartment to 'talk'.. By the time he left, I had a fractured skull, a dislocated shoulder and extensive internal bleeding.. I had to have emergency surgery and spent six weeks in the ICU after that.. The verdict today.." Your voice wobbles uncontrollably, but you push through it.. "The trail has been going on for months, but Kirby - my lawyer - managed to keep my new name out of the press after I changed it to Feilds.. He was facing assault charges.. But.." Tears begin to roll down your cheeks.. "He was acquitted today.. My only hope of seeing justice served, is lost.."
He pushes himself up to his feet and comes to crouch on the floor in front of you.. "Jeezuz christ, Yevie baby.." He takes your hands, stoking them gently with his thumbs..
"Are you in danger? Do you think he will come back here?" His face is so serious, his eyes blaze with a protective and possessive intensity you've never seen before..
"I.. I don't know.. I never know.. But if he did.. And he found you here.."
You swallow hard, a lump forming in your throat at the thought.. "Patrick, I think he would try to kill you.."