My prayers? Since when have you taught me a single prayer?
I do as I’m told because that’s just how it works under his roof. I fold my hands in front of my chest, raise my eyes to God and wonder what I could possibly say that will save us from this Hell.
“Good girl,” he whispers, running a finger down my throat. “You go ahead and play the righteous little bitch like Taylee did and see how far it gets you.”
It’s a trick—the moment he mentions his mother, I know that it’s a trap and I’ve walked right into it. Within no time, the belt is wrapped around my neck and Dad’s amused laughter makes my skin crawl.
He’s going to kill me, I know he is.
The poetic thing about dying is that I’m not afraid of what comes after. I’m afraid of what I’m leaving behind and with who.
My hands immediately begin to claw at the belt, but Dad tightens even more, cutting off my oxygen. I gasp deeply, filling my lungs with air and the burn is almost enough to make me piss myself.
“Taylee always thought that her little whispered prayers would be answered. She made me pray sometimes too, but you know what I learned after all that time on my knees?” he asks, using the belt to pull me closer to him. The heat coming from him is enough to make a small bead of sweat roll down the side of my face. “Do you?”
I close my eyes tightly and shake my head as best as I can.
“How she liked to have her pussy eaten,” he replies with a light laugh. “That crazy bitch never passed up the chance to have me service her hole, and I learned my place with her really fucking fast after a while.”
So that’s where this all started. That’s when Dad became a monster.
“I don’t want to have to be like this with you, Darby—I don’t. But I’ve had my fill of disrespectful fucking children and it ends now. Do you understand me?” he admonishes sternly.
I nod, my fingers still trying to wedge some space between the belt and my throat, and when he leans back, the leather strap falls away from my neck.
I fall against him, sucking in deep breaths, my eyes watering as my lungs fight for the air they had just been deprived of. Dad wraps his arms around me, resting one of his hands on the small of my back and the other on my ass. He kisses my forehead gently and rubs his lips against my skin, holding me against him.
In other circumstances, someone would mistake us for a real father and daughter sharing a moment, in others, they’d mistake us for lovers freshly coming down from a quarrel.
“You should have just let me tell them, Darbs. It could have been smooth sailing from here,” Dad says thoughtfully.
“I don’t want them to know. Ever,” I reply quietly as I put a hand on his chest and push myself away from him. “If you really love me as much as you say you do, then promise me that they’ll never find out.”
Dad smirks and rolls his eyes.
“Are you really gonna do this chick shit with me right now? ‘If you really love me’ is such a bullshit thing to say, kid. Especially after I told you that I do. But there’s something you need to remember, Darby. It doesn’t matter how I feel about you because this is still my fucking house and we follow my rules.”
I feel the anger rise inside of me but instead of acting on it, I nod and decide that this is one of those times that I’ll have to concede a battle if I want to win the war.
“Sorry,” I mumble as I attempt to get to my feet, but Dad pulls me back against him.
“We’re not done here,” he says evenly. I swallow the sigh that I can feel begging for release and put my hands on his shoulders. I wait for the next instruction that I have no doubt will come; however, he just reaches for me and rests my head against his chest.
“I’m too tired to fuck, but holding you always feel nice,” he murmurs, clearing his throat harshly. “I was wondering, though …”
His voice trails off and I close my eyes. Nothing good ever comes from his “wondering” about anything.
“What’s that, Daddy?” I ask him quietly.
“Do you think it would be a bad idea if the next time we were together, we had the girl watch us? I mean, eventually this arrangement of ours has to come to an end and I don’t want to have start this damn training all over again. I think watching would be a better way to learn anyway, and if she does a good enough job, she can take your place right away and we can be a proper family.”
“What?” I ask, attempting to pull away from him. I feel sick. I don’t know if he means Skylar or Cleo,
but it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want him touching our daughters—or son—the way he does me.
A low, amused rumble escapes from deep within his chest as he tightens his grip on me. His hand finds its way back to my ass where he lets it rest gently and he lets out a long-suffering sigh.
“You’re too wound up, Darbs. I was joking. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna give you up so easily. I just wanted to see what you would say is all. And to be honest, I don’t want any more kids. I think we’re perfect the way we are, don’t you?”