JD left after accepting the job that came in as soon as he turned his phone back on, but not before yanking me to him and kissing me thoroughly. A tiny nip to my bottom lip, the dark hungry look still in his eyes, promising me he’d see me soon, he was gone. I shook my head and swallowed down the rush of lust that he’d created with a single fucking kiss, and tried to decide if food or work would be my first course of action.
Kelsey found me in the kitchen, having seen her dad leaving she decided to come see if I was still capable of speech, or movement, I thought as I caught her smirking. “What?” I asked, pulling out the ingredients for French toast. “Hungry?”
“Looks like Dad had you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she offered, her smirk growing into a full blown smile. “Seriously, you have a little-” she gestured to her own neck and I felt my eyes widen. He hadn’t.
I turned my head and tossed my hair back as I studied my neck in the reflection of the microwave glass door, and sure enough, a bite mark. Shit. I groaned and then glared when she laughed. “Not funny, Kelsey.” I pulled my hair back down, but then sighed as I looked at the ingredients in front of me. Hair hanging meant a greater chance of eating said hair by accident, fuck. I sighed and pulled it back and twisted it into a knot as I pulled open the junk drawer and grabbed a hair tie. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice that he-” I was muttering, trying to flip through ALL the times we came together and remember the feeling of him BITING me, but nothing came. Nothing other than the flush caused by how good every time he touched me felt. Or the images of his body, naked and glistening with sweat as it hovered over mine. Fuck.
“You just went red, pale, and then let out a gasp,” she offered from the stool she was studying me from. “You want me to leave you alone to take care of whatever caused all that?”
I shot her another look and picked up the first egg. Cracking it with more force than necessary, I ignored her. Eggs, cinnamon, a hint of cream, vanilla, then thick slices of bread before adding each to the lightly buttered pan. “Grab the powdered sugar, syrup, and I think there’s some whipped cream in the fridge-”
“You didn’t use that with-” I groaned out loud at the very idea that my best friend kept mentioning the sex she was insinuating I’d had with her own father. “Joking, Ani, God get a grip.”
“Let’s never, ever, ever discuss YOUR dad and me-”
“Screwing like rabbits?” She offered, which earned her another sharp look. “Fine, but I’m your closest friend, so if not me, then who?”
JD called a few hours after Kelsey had tortured me to her heart’s content. He was elbows deep in a case, but he wanted to hear my voice. After reminding me of all the ways he liked to hear my voice, he sighed and said he had to go. My answering sigh was met with a low chuckle and he promised me that he was just as eager to see and hear me in person as soon as possible.
I had gone back to my desk, listening to the voicemails from the calls I’d missed while we were ‘occupied’, I rolled my eyes at Roger’s insistence that he wanted to speak to me again. Hearing my dad sound irritated that Pandi was down, and that I’d closed the loopholes for him to backdoor his way into the AI’s system. I knew I’d have to call him back, but work called to me.
Getting lost in the story I’d been working on, I ignored the reminder that Roger had shown up at my house AGAIN while JD and I were locked in our own bubble. I took heart in knowing that he hadn’t been able to breach my security, but it was annoying regardless. Pandi broke through as I fell into a world of my own creation, telling me that once again, Roger was on my doorstep.
Asking for the intercom, I kept typing as I spoke. “If you don’t remove your lying, cheating ass from my property, Roger, I will be forced to electrify the door, the porch, and the fucking pathway. While seeing you flail around as current flows through your sorry ass would amuse me, I hear the paperwork for such shit is enormous and a pain in the ass to fill out, so kindly fuck off.”
“Ani, come on, you know that you can’t throw away what we had.” He was pleading, while trying to make it sound seductive and alluring. I snorted. “Do you really think that JD Richter, hero at large, is gonna be happy with you after screwing a hybrid astronaut?” Nice, first try to remind me of how ‘good’ we had it, then insult me. “I mean, have you SEEN Molly Woods?” Even better, show that you’d fuck her, you moron.
“Roger, what we had was at best temporary insanity for me, at worst it showed how fucking desperate I was for sex with something not battery powered.” Take that, you tasteless prick. “As for JD and his past? I have seen Molly Woods, and he and I have talked about her.” Again, what did he think, I just randomly hump hot men? “He seemed pretty fucking happy after we spent almost 24 hours locked in MY house, which again, I want you to walk away from. This is your last warning, Roger. Leave now, never darken my fucking door again, or ZAP.” I hadn’t stopped writing, multitasking wasn’t only something JD excelled in.
“Fine, but don’t call me when your little rebound implodes.” I truly snorted so hard I had to stop typing. Shit, honestly? “I mean it, I’m moving on-”
“With the coed?” I offered, through giggles that the snort had turned into. “Great, let me know where you register. I won’t buy you a wedding gift, but fuck if I won’t laugh at the teething toys she picks out for playtime.” With that parting shot, I told Pandi to turn off the intercom, but watched the camera to make sure he flounced off, and hoped that he’d go asshole over head again so I could keep the good times rolling. Sadly he didn’t fall down, he shot the camera a glare and then walked calmly to his car. I sighed and wondered if he would stay fucking gone this time.
I answered my dad’s call as I was making breakfast the next morning. I could hear his frustration in just the ringing of the phone, but the heaviness of it in his tone caused another eye roll.
“Dad,” I cut him off before he could gain steam at how irresponsible it was to ignore the world, meaning him clearly, for whatever idiotic reason I could have had. “I wanted, no I needed, time alone.” With JD, and his naked body, and fuck, where was I? “I don’t know what the big deal is, we used to ‘unplug’ every weekend when we went camping.”
“Yes, but then I had you in my sight and I could keep you-” I heard him huff an exaggerated sigh. “Anilea, you have to understand that you’re my little girl. No matter how old you get, no matter how independent you are, you’re still my daughter.”
“I understand that,” I sat down with my full breakfast and put him on speakerphone. “But you have to get that I AM an adult, Dad. Putting surveillance software on my AI, or GPS trackers on my car, or any of the other ‘protective’ measures you want to take is stifling. Trust that you raised me to be careful, please?”
“Roger-” he started, and I groaned. “You have to admit, Ani, he’s not the first in a long line of assholes that took advantage of you. He lived in your house, ate food you bought and prepared, paid no bills, and I’d bet money that you even bought him things he mentioned he liked.” So? I like to give people gifts, and what better gifts than things I knew they wanted? “I’m not saying you shouldn’t be generous. Kelsey is a case in point, she’s good people.” He’d met Kelsey during one of his visits to the house and took to her immediately. “But men? You have a bad track record. Think of Jason-”
“I’d rather never think of Jason, Dad.” The fling, if you could call it that, that had made me blush when JD asked for more information about my past indiscretions. “Besides, that didn’t go that-”
“He had my name forged on the marriage license, Ani.” I shut my eyes at the memory of Jason Sallinger. A lab tech that worked under my dad, but was nearer his age than mine. Attractive, and predatory, I hadn’t known at sixteen men like him existed. At least not in my world. “If I hadn’t realized what was happening, I can’t even think of what would have happened.” We’d learned, as the police investigated Jason, that I wasn’t his first attempt at the con. And at least one of his past paramours was missing and had never been heard of after they eloped.
“You know that I’m more careful, Dad.” Now, I thought, I didn’t let anyone really know how deep my pockets were. How vast the wealth was that I’d earned through my own creativity, and through my inheritance from Mom. “Roger has no idea how much I’m worth.”
Dad sighed again. “Your house alone paints a picture, Ani. Your two vehicles, the trips you take that aren’t promotion related. And the books? For fuck’s sake, sweetie, you’re on every talk show every time another one is released. He knew enough. It’s why he can’t let go, or at least-”
“He showed up while the system was locked down.” Dad’s end went completely silent. “And he showed up a few hours after it went back up. I told him I planned on shocking him, literally, if he shows up again.”
“Ani, let me send the man I use to-” He took a deep breath and I could almost see him preparing to admit something he knew I’d find irritating. “Help keep you safe. He can check to be sure that Roger doesn’t have his own shit in place to watch you.”
I didn’t consider that Roger would do anything like that, but in a flash I realized that he might. Maybe not before I caught him, but now? Now he seemed desperate to keep me. I reluctantly agreed to his offer. Adding that I’d want this man to remove anything he found, which Dad said was the entire point, of course.
He promised to come with the man, hopefully later in the day, and I told him I’d make us an early dinner.
“Get the Scrabble board out,” he demanded, and I smiled. “It’s been too long since I trounced you at wordplay.”
“Good luck, old man,” I challenged, and hung up grinning from the return to normalcy.
Dad was true to his word, and with Kelsey beside me, we watched the two men, the stranger holding a device of some sort in his hand go inch by inch around the exterior of my house. Then, even though I protested that there wasn’t any way that Roger had planted anything in my house, they did a repeat performance to the interior. I was shocked when they found a few tiny gadgets inside to add to the small group they’d uncovered outside.
“This,” Dad told me as he held up one of them, “is MY GPS tracker from your car.” Nodding to show my understanding, he went on. “It’s going back on, Ani, because there were two others in the same car.” Wait, TWO? “One is no doubt Rogers, but the other one? Either he’s idiotic enough to double up, or someone else put it there.”
“I’d think it was him,” the other man offered. “There were two of everything we found. Close enough to make me think that he was using two simply to make sure he had a backup in case one failed.” He shook his head at the stupidity. “He’s not a rocket scientist, is he?”
“He teaches poetry,” Kelsey offered, bringing Dad and his friend lemonade. “So, no, not a rocket scientist, and he also has the most pedantic ideas about Longfellow.” I shook my own head at her irritation with Roger’s opinions on poetry.
The other devices were for sound, which means that he had probably heard JD and I from the first visit he made to my house and most definitely the sounds of our lovemaking. Good, I thought, suck on that. I invited the security man, whose name he reminded me was Kelvin to dinner, but he declined.
“My wife made reservations for tonight.” I smiled and walked him to the door. “I put your dad’s tracker back on your car. Both of them are being tracked, and I’d advise you to keep them on. This ex of yours, he doesn’t sound all that stable, but even if he is it’s safer.” I agreed and thanked him for his time. “Don’t mention it. Just stay safe.”
“I’ll try,” I started to shut the door, but he stopped me.
“JD is a good guy,” my eyes widened and he grinned at me. “Your dad filled me in. I know him, and he’s a good one. If you’re with him, you’re safe.” Then he said goodbye and I finally closed the door.
Dad had invited Kelsey to dinner, like she needed an invite, and the three of us ate and then gathered around the Scrabble board I’d set up on the opposite end of the dining room table. I was laughing as the two of them argued about the validity of a word when Pandi informed us that we had a guest. Dad looked at me with shrewdness as I told it to let him in, and then as I sat at a table with my dad and Kelsey, JD walked in to meet my father for the first time.