I grin at her as I rock Darby in my arms. There’s my fighter—slowly but surely, she’s starting to show herself again and it’s all because of the little girl in my arms.
“Okay,” Darbs sobs into my neck.
I roll my eyes and motion with my head for Jocelyn to come over to us.
“The only way this is going to work is if you two start getting along. You about ready for that?” I ask her when she’s a few feet away from us. She wipes the tears away from her eyes and nods.
“Alright,” I say, pulling Darby away from me and turning her around to face Jocelyn. “This is your big sister, baby. That’s how I know she was playing a game, because I’m her daddy too.”
Jocelyn sucks in a breath and gives me a horrified look as I smirk.
I really hope she didn’t think I was going to make it that fucking easy for her.
Supper’s finally on the table and we’ve moved to the dining room so we can eat comfortably. Darby is shooting questions at her Momma faster than she can answer them, but I’m actually content to see that they’re engaged in conversation finally.
Of course, she made her promise first to never try to hurt me again, and once that little deal was struck, the two of them became engrossed in each other.
Jocelyn asked her about her school and if she liked her teachers, and Darby told her that I keep her home and she gets her learning here instead of a school.
I take a sip of my wine as I watch the two of them. It really is like looking at the present and the past sitting across from each other. The same damn fire in their eyes, the same big brown eyes, and the same facial expressions. Hell, they even laugh the same way. If Darby were a little older, I’d take them both into my bedroom tonight, but she’s not ready for that just yet.
“Did Pater tell you that you used to have brothers too?” Jocelyn asks, resting her chin in her hand and smiling at Darby.
I slam my hand on the table and they both jump. When Joce looks at me, I give her a dangerous stare and shake my head slowly. She clears her throat and her eyes fall down to her plate.
“Who’s Pater?” Darby asks curiously, tilting her head first at Jocelyn, then at me.
Joce clears her throat but instead of answering her, she stabs a piece of pork and pops it into her mouth. She smiles and shakes her head.
“Never mind,” she replies once she’s done chewing. “I was just remembering a nightmare I had once and I got confused with what I was trying to say.”
“Okay,” Darby replies with a shrug as she drops her fork onto her plate. “Daddy? I have to use the bathroom.”
I nod and suck my teeth, before picking up my glass and taking another sip of wine. As Darby walks by me I smile at her and wait until she’s gone from the room before I turn my attention back to Jocelyn.
“Don’t you ever try that bullshit again, do you understand me? It’ll take next to nothing to throw you back into that fucking pit and this time, I’ll seal that lid forever,” I snap at her as quietly as I can. Darby has some kind of sonic hearing and if I’m too loud right now, I’m sure she’ll hear me from wherever the hell she is right now.
“I’m sorry,” Jocelyn says miserably for what seems like the millionth time in the past few hours. “I don’t know what she does and doesn’t know and I was just trying to talk to her.”
“Ask her about her studies, her favorite colors, or her favorite cartoons. Don’t ever bring up family again. The only family she needs to know about is the one at this table,” I reply evenly.
Jocelyn turns her eyes toward me and holds my stare for a moment. I can see the small flame starting to build and it’s making me hard.
“Why didn’t you tell her I was her mother?” she asks me quietly.
I reach down under the table to shift myself. I don’t want Darby to see this when she comes back. There will be plenty of time for that later.
“You’re not a stupid girl, so stop acting like one,” I respond with a smirk. “You want her to love you? To know who you really are? Then you’re gonna have to stay above ground long enough to earn that. Shit doesn’t get handed out in this house, you know that. Anything you want comes from being good and working hard.”
“And does she have to work hard for everything she has so far?” she asks in a low, dangerous tone.
I throw my head back and laugh. Now this is the girl that I grew to love so many years ago. This is the girl that tried to send her brothers away from my house and this is the girl that’ll do what I want her to do in order to try and do the same for Darby.
I drop my arms on the table and cross them, leaning forward and shaking my head.
“How old were you the first time I had you? Nine? Ten? Come on, Joce. You should know better; the kid is too young for me right now. Besides, she won’t be able to take everything I have to offer, not until she’s older and much deeper where I need her to be. I don’t like my pussy to be too tight or too young.”
“What’s her name?” she asks thoughtfully after a moment.