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STAY AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER is coming soon, but you can read Chapter 4 today!
Her father says he’s no good for her, and she doesn’t want to believe that he might be right.
Sara Friessen, the youngest daughter of Laura and Andy, believes she’ll never find the man who can make her soul sing, especially because after just one meeting with her father, every young man who has ever knocked on her door has come to the quick conclusion that she isn’t worth the trouble. Fearing the promised wrath (as Andy so aptly puts it) that could befall them if they mess with his daughter, they always run the other way.
That is until one night when a mysterious handsome stranger comes to her rescue. He’s bold and strong, just the kind of man she never expected could be real or that she would ever possibly meet—but she soon uncovers a hidden truth and the cold, ruthless side of the dark world he belongs to.
Even though he tells her to stay away from him and that no good can come from getting involved with the likes of him, Sara’s heart has different ideas, and she’s determined to show him that true love is all they could ever need.
STAY AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER (The Friessens, Book 24) is available for pre-sale at:
Did you miss your sneak peek of Chapter 3? If so, click here.
“You didn’t get any sleep, did you?” Laura said from behind him.
Andy was standing at the living room window, taking in the early morning sunrise, holding a mug of coffee. Laura slid her arms around him, her hands sliding up his chest, pressing into him, and he could feel all her softness against his back in that embrace. She pressed a kiss to his back through the thin gray T-shirt he’d pulled on along with sweats when he finally climbed out of bed at four.
“Not much,” he said, then reached for Laura’s hand and pulled her around into his arms. She reached for his mug and took a swallow of what had to be now lukewarm coffee. “Sara still asleep?” he asked even though he’d checked on her half a dozen times already. The sight of her face, the scrapes, the bruising, and just the thought of what that animal had almost done to her… He still wanted to kill him.
“Yeah, sound asleep. What do you want to do?”
He looked down at Laura. Sara had the same amazing blond hair as her mom, the same expression, the same green eyes. She was his baby girl. Laura was wearing a sleep shirt that stopped just before her knees, and she still had the most amazing figure. He couldn’t imagine his life without Laura or his children. He pulled in a breath, feeling a giant ache that wouldn’t leave his chest.
“She was almost raped. She could have been killed.” He hadn’t meant to say the words that had kept him awake all night. He dragged his hand over his jaw, hearing the scrape of whiskers. He could tell by the flicker of emotion that settled in Laura’s expression that he’d only voiced what she’d been thinking, as well.
“But she wasn’t,” she said. “Isn’t it you who always says not to start worrying about things that haven’t happened? It didn’t happen, yet here you are, doing what I should be doing.”
How was it that even in such a horrible situation, his wife could make him smile? “Okay, you got me,” he said. “She didn’t get raped because she fought her way out of it, and…”
“And she was lucky Devon was walking by and stopped it. You should reach out to him, talk to him, thank him. You’ll talk to Blake today and see if they have any leads on this guy? And Devon, do you think he knew him? Sara said she didn’t, but…”
He took in his wife’s frown and the doubt in her tone. This was the first time he’d heard her question anything Sara said. “You think she lied?”
Laura lifted his mug and swallowed the last of his coffee, then made a face as she shrugged. “No… I don’t know. I’m just tired and upset. She wasn’t telling us the truth before about the party at the dorms, and she was drinking, and this likely isn’t the first time. Is there more about this guy? Likely not, but at the same time, it isn’t lost on me how easy it was for her to lie to us.”
Laura stepped away, barefoot, and he followed her into the kitchen. She lifted the carafe, which had only dredges left, and poured the rest into his mug, then started to make a fresh pot. He leaned against the island. He didn’t know what to say.
“Why would you think she lied about the guy, about knowing him? That doesn’t make sense.”
Laura filled the reserve with water and slipped the carafe back in before switching it on to brew and turning around. He took in the outline of her breasts under her loose shirt, and her eyes told him she knew something he didn’t.
“Look, ever since Cancun and what happened there, that awful situation that scared all of us, almost losing little Becky and Brad and Neil, and your aunt and uncle being held at gunpoint…I understand it was complicated,” Laura said. “I don’t understand even now how they let him go. I know Rodney felt responsible, as if he made that man into who he was, and I get it. It scared all of us, but you, Andy…ever since that happened, you’ve become a lot more overprotective. Actually, scratch that. I saw how scared you were in Cancun, and I saw how you took it all on. Since then, I’ve seen the worry you have for not just the kids but for me.
“You know it was kind of a joke between Sara and me, that overprotectiveness that almost drowned us at times, needing to know where we all were and everything we were doing every minute of the day. I know Sara felt smothered by you and wanted space, and you know I talked to you a few times about easing up, but I could see how you always had that fear in the back of your head that something horrible could happen. And then this happened, and I’m so angry at Sara for putting herself in danger. I’m not sure what to say. Did she lie about any of what happened? No, I don’t think so, because I know when she’s lying. But did she tell us everything, everything about this guy? I don’t know.” Laura shook her head.
He’d never seen her doubt Sara before, and it did little to ease all his worry. He pulled his hand over his jaw and took in the way Laura was considering, thinking. “So we sit her down this morning and have it out, find out if she’s holding something back. I’ll make her tell us,” he said.
A smile that wasn’t really a smile touched Laura’s lips. “There’s one thing about Sara: She’s not Chelsea. She’s always been quiet and easy, but I swear she’s smarter than all the kids. At the same time, Andy, she’s always had you wrapped around her finger. If she doesn’t want you to know something, there’s nothing you can do to make her tell you. She evades, and she’s good at it…”
“I didn’t lie about last night.”
He hadn’t heard his daughter, but he turned to see her standing in the kitchen archway and took in the bruising, the scrapes, the cuts, and the outline of the man’s hands in the bruising around her neck. That bastard had tried to squeeze the life out of her. Her long hair was a mess, and she was wearing blue track pants and a hoodie that was zipped over her pink pajama shirt.
“Hey, come here,” he said and stepped away from the island. He held out his arm and took in the hesitation before Sara walked over to him and into his embrace. She sighed, and he kissed the top of her head and held her for a second. “You know we love you.”
Sara stepped away and walked over to the coffee pot beside Laura, who rested her hand on her back as she poured herself a coffee and rubbed. It wasn’t lost on Andy that Sara hadn’t answered.
“You think I was responsible in some way for what happened?” she finally said, not turning around.
He couldn’t pull his eyes from his daughter, who glanced over to Laura. She was taller than her mother but slender and gorgeous just like her. He knew how men would say or do anything to put their hands on her, to have her, and right now he imagined only finding a way to make sure she didn’t leave the house.
“Of course not,” Laura said, but as Sara turned around with the steaming mug of coffee, he could see she wasn’t as put together as she normally was, and that too made him angry, that some punk had taken something else from his daughter—her confidence.
“But I heard you, Mom, and what you said, that you don’t think I was telling you everything, that I’ve lied. You wondered if maybe I did know him.”
He was watching Sara, remembering what Laura had said about him not seeing when his daughter wasn’t telling the truth. Yeah, he’d do anything for her, for all his kids.
“But you have lied by omission, Sara,” Laura said. “Last night, you said you were going into town to study, to do homework for your composition class. Remember how you clearly told me it was a group project and it was necessary to meet with your friends or you’d fail? You said you’d be home at nine, and you were going to the coffeehouse, but you didn’t. You partied instead, and you drank, and then you were going to get in the truck your father gave you and drive after drinking. That part was extremely irresponsible, and for that part, you’re grounded. But that guy attacking you and what he did…that’s not your fault. I do have to wonder, though, Sara, if you’ve told us everything. I know you well, and I know when you’re lying. Let me be clear: There’s no room for you to lie your way out of this. If you knew that guy—”
“I didn’t,” Sara snapped, and she slammed her coffee on the counter, spilling it over. “What, do you think I’m responsible for this, led him on, teased him?”
“No one is saying that, Sara,” Andy interrupted, seeing how tightly wound his daughter was.
He’d never seen such shock on Laura’s face before as she said, “Sara, you’re twisting my words. Is there anything else about last night that you maybe omitted, any part of last night?”
Sara reached for her mug of coffee and took a sip, just a slight hesitation.
“Sara?” Laura prodded, and he didn’t miss the sharp glance she tossed his way as he watched his daughter, whom he loved more than his next breath. She wasn’t answering. So there was something else.
“Look, what difference does it make?” she said. “We were drinking. I didn’t know the guy who attacked me. Why are we talking about this, anyway? I just want to forget about last night.”
Laura made a rude noise, and he wondered when Sara had started this. He’d never noticed how she just blew them off and never answered. “It matters, Sara,” Laura said. “Don’t bother denying that there’s something else.”
Sara gave him everything, and he could see how determined she could be. She had her mother’s beauty, but she had his strong will. “It’s completely irrelevant to me being attacked,” she said, and if this were anyone else but his daughter, he’d have been amused by the unwillingness to answer.
“I disagree,” Laura said. “Nothing about last night is irrelevant, so you’d better spill right now, Sara, because my head is starting to go to some pretty bad places.”
Laura was direct, and her words apparently had the needed punch, because Andy could see the stubbornness that had been there a minute ago in Sara’s expression fade. She pulled in a breath, not looking his way, and the giant knot in his chest tightened that much more.
“Were you doing drugs?” he finally said.
“No.” She shook her head.
“Sex?” Laura said. “We’re not fools. We kind of know what goes on in college dorms.”
This time, Sara pulled in another breath, and the way she gripped her coffee, he had the answer he didn’t want.
“Not in the way you think,” she said. “We were just fooling around, that’s all. And it wasn’t just tequila. Someone brought in a bunch of prescription pills, and one of the kids crushed them up. A few were snorting lines, but not me. I heard the dealer who delivered the party favors was there.”
Andy wondered if he’d stopped breathing. By the way Laura stared at their daughter, he knew she didn’t know what to say, either.
“So now you know everything,” Sara said. “And no, I have no idea who the guy is who attacked me, or if he was at the party, or who the dealer was.”
The front door opened, and the screen slapped closed.
“Hey, Tiffy and I are out of milk, and Brandon is demanding…” Jeremy was in a faded T-shirt and blue jeans, his boots barely pulled on. He stopped in the kitchen, took one look at Sara’s face, and paused before dragging his gaze over to Andy and asking, “What the hell happened?”
“Some guy attacked me last night in the parking lot of the college dorm,” Sara replied, and she rested her mug back on the counter.
“Attacked? It looks like more than that,” Jeremy said.
Sara just pulled her arms across her front again. “Depends on who you talk to. I’m going to grab a hot shower.” Then she walked out of the kitchen and down the hall.
“Seriously, what was that about?” Jeremy said, gesturing to Sara. “She was attacked? By who?”
“We don’t know,” Andy said. “It seems your sister has a secret life she hasn’t wanted us to know about. The college parties, the drinking?”
Jeremy looked from his dad to his mom.
“But we’re going to find out,” Andy continued, “and we’ll find the guy. And when I do…” He stopped talking and shook his head.
“You’ll see to it that he wishes he’d never laid a hand on our daughter,” Laura said.
Andy took in his wife, seeing how strong she was, knowing that she understood clearly how far he’d go. A man trying to take from a woman like that was bad enough, but when it was his daughter, that was a line this man would soon wish he’d never crossed.
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