He walked over, planted a gentle kiss on my cheek, and smiled his devilish grin. “Reservations are at one-thirty.” He leaned over, kissed me again, and breathed out a contented sigh. “Have I told you that you look beautiful today?”
I closed my eyes and breathed in his sweet scent. He always smelled like the sweetest lavender. “You tell me every day, but it never gets old.”
He smiled again, turned to pour himself a coffee, then sat next to me. I watched as he frowned a little before blowing into his coffee mug. That look on him instantly sent a pang to my gut. At that moment, I saw Tyler. Not a day went by when I did not wish I could be there for her. I missed her more than words could say. My heart ached and my teeth clenched every time I thought of Dean and what he did to her. I knew they always loved each other, but I never knew just how fierce that love ran. Dean acted on events completely out of Tyler’s control. She didn’t deserve the retribution he sought. She was an innocent victim in a torrent of lies and deceit that one man brought upon us all. The one man I always trusted. The one man with whom I thought Tyler would end up.
“You always look so sad lately, and I hate seeing you like that.”
Derren’s voice brought me out of my daydream and back into reality. “I just don’t like the thought that she’s all on her own out there. I hate the fact that one man has made her do that.” I knew he was stalking our every move. I also knew he must be tapping our phones. We were always careful, but I hated that we had to do this to keep our daughter safe. To keep her heart safe.
Leaning forward, Derren placed his hand over mine. “She’s safe now. Without Dean in her life, she can carry on as normal. Dean was always going to bring danger with him, and there was no way we were going to let that happen. He has obviously taken his father’s seat, and that’s fine. But at least he won’t be dragging our daughter down with him now.” He saw my eyes glisten a little and he clasped my hand tighter, smiling. “They’re safe now, Clara. They will always be safe as long as everything carries on as normal. I know it’s hard, but Tyler has someone in her life now that can make her happy. Let’s just cling onto that.”
I nodded and dabbed my eyes a little, not wanting my make-up to run. I hated getting my make-up or hair out of place. “You’re right, and I love you.”
Derren leaned over and softly kissed me on the lips. “I love you, too.”
Just as we smiled at each other, the phone rang. I instantly got up and ran to it, thinking it was my intern checking in.
“Hello,” I chirped into the phone.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know what else to do.”
My heart thumped and the dizziness consumed me. “Tyler?” I asked, not knowing why I asked. I knew it was her. I just didn’t think she would ever call here.
In that instance, Derren’s chair scraped across the floor as he raced over to place a hand on my shoulder. I looked into his eyes and what looked back at me was exactly what I was feeling…desperation.
“I know I shouldn’t call, but…but…” Tyler sobbed into the phone and I felt completely and utterly helpless. Panic didn’t even describe what I was feeling. Tyler knew never to call here, so it had to be something bad to make her do it.
“It’s okay. Deep breaths. Please, honey. You’re scaring me. What is it?”
Tyler went silent for a moment and sniffled a little before letting out a breath. “He’s sick, Mum. I’m so, so scared. I can’t go through this all over again.”
I inhaled a deep breath and grabbed Derren’s hand, looking him deep in the eyes as I gripped onto the phone. “We’ll be on the next flight.”
Redemption is not perfection.
The redeemed must realize their imperfections.
Frustrated didn’t even begin to describe how the last four years of my life had been. Four fucking years and I’d come up with nothing. I must have gone through six different P.I.’s because no one could dig up diddly-fucking-squat. I was tired, but I was also determined. I was never going to give up until I found her again. I had no idea what I would do once I did, but I knew I would start by crawling on my hands and knees, begging her forgiveness. I was wrong and I could admit that. I never truly wanted to break her, but I did. Even if she had betrayed me, I would still be half the man I used to be.
Nothing else seemed to matter anymore. I had built a life around revenge and had enacted it. I didn’t need to carry on this façade anymore. I didn’t need to feed off other people’s mistakes by making them pay by any means necessary. I did what I had to do to keep my businesses above water. I sold a few ventures that could keep me comfortable well into retirement age, passed on more responsibility to Humphrey, and toned down my anger…all so I could concentrate my energies into finding Tyler. I knew the day would come when I would find her, but I just didn’t think that four years could go by with still no sign of her.