Treat me, p.18
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       Treat Me, p.18

         Part #8 of One Night with Sole Regret series by Olivia Cunning
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  a gunning engine and screeching tires stopping just short of ramming the back end of Amanda’s car hadn’t yanked him out of his lust-fueled daze.

  “I knew you were seeing someone!” Tina shouted as she jumped out of her SUV. “I knew it. Did you fool around with your little whore in front of Julie?”

  Jacob instinctively shifted Amanda behind his back to shield her from Tina’s wrath. He could feel Amanda trembling as she clung to his shirt with both hands.

  “Hi, Aunt Mander!” Julie called from inside the car.

  Tina stopped in her tracks, her furious gaze shifting from Jacob’s face to the car parked in the driveway. Her jaw dropped, and for a minute Jacob was certain her head would explode as her face turned from a shocking red to a violent purple.

  “You’re sleeping with my sister?” Tina blurted. “My sister?”

  “It’s none of your business,” Jacob said calmly. His belly was churning itself into a massive knot of anxiety, and he was pretty sure Amanda was going to shake herself to pieces if she didn’t stop trembling so hard behind him, but what he did with Amanda wasn’t Tina’s business. He refused to deny what was going on between the two of them just to make Tina happy.

  Tina’s arm shot out, her fingers bent into vicious claws. Jacob threw up an arm in defense, but Tina didn’t grab him. She went after Amanda.

  “How could you?” Tina screeched, yanking Amanda out from behind Jacob.

  “Ow!” Amanda protested, throwing off Tina’s hold before Jacob could intervene. “Calm down.”

  “I’m not going to calm down,” Tina yelled. “I’m going to fucking kill you.”

  Amanda stepped back to avoid an incoming blow. Jacob didn’t understand why Tina was attacking Amanda and not him. He tried to catch Tina’s flailing arms to prevent her from hurting someone.

  “Will you stop?” Jacob said, grabbing Tina’s left wrist in an iron grip. He trapped her right arm against her side as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. She struggled against him, lifted one leg, pressed her foot against the door of Amanda’s car and shoved. Jacob had to take a couple of steps to regain his balance, but he didn’t release her. “Have you lost your mind?”

  “How can you do this to me?” Tina railed at Amanda, who’d taken a defensive stance with her back against her car, her arms in front of her body and her hands clenched into loose fists. “You know I still love him!”

  Jacob was so stunned, his grip went slack. Tina immediately launched herself toward Amanda.

  “If you hit me, I will hit you back,” Amanda warned as she slid sideways around the hood of the car. She obviously didn’t want to fight, but Jacob was glad she didn’t plan to take a beating lying down.

  “And what do you mean you still love him?” Amanda yelled. “You hate his guts. You just don’t want me to have him. You never want me to have anyone.”

  Tina shook her head, her silky blond hair dancing around her shoulders. “I only hate him because I still love him so much. I don’t want to love him. But you, you can’t have him! I’ll kill you before I’ll let you.”

  “Do I have a say in this?” Jacob asked, wondering if he still had water in his ears from swimming and was hearing everything entirely wrong. Tina loved him? She had a strange way of showing it.

  “You know you’re with her because you still want me,” Tina said, taking another swing at Amanda, who proved to be quite good at dodging blows. Jacob wondered if the sisters had turned to physical violence in the past. “Why be with a poor substitute when you can have the real thing?”

  “Actually, I have no desire to be with you at all, Tina,” Jacob said. “I’ve been trying to get Amanda to tell you we were involved, but she was afraid you’d freak out, so we decided to keep it a secret.”

  “I told you she’d freak out. She hates to lose to me more than anything,” Amanda said and then she narrowed her eyes at her sister. “But you lost, Tina. Jacob is mine now.”

  Amanda wasn’t quite quick enough to avoid Tina when she launched herself over the hood of the car and tackled her to the ground.

  “You, bitch,” Tina snarled, battering any inch of Amanda she could connect with.

  Jacob grabbed Tina around the waist and tried to pull her kicking, punching, screaming body off Amanda, but Tina grabbed handfuls of Amanda’s hair and refused to let go. Gritting her teeth, Amanda slapped Tina across the face, sending her head flying back to connect hard with Jacob’s shoulder. If anything, Amanda’s slap pissed off Tina even more. She yanked Amanda’s hair so hard, Jacob feared she’d rip it all out.

  “Let me go!” Amanda kicked at her sister, but couldn’t reach her without scalping herself.

  “Stop this,” Jacob demanded, squeezing Tina’s wrists until she cried out and the strength went out of her grip. Free at last, Amanda scrambled to her feet.

  The sisters glared at each other like a pair of wolverines. Jacob was sure they’d tear into each other again if he released Tina’s wrists.

  “You should go,” he said to Amanda. There was no way he’d be able to calm Tina down as long as Amanda was there.

  “What about Julie?” Amanda asked.

  Now that the two women had stopped screaming, Jacob could hear Julie wailing inside the SUV. He turned and peered in at her through the windshield. Julie’s face was streaked red, her eyes were overflowing with tears, and she wasn’t simply crying, she was sobbing. This was not something a child should witness. Hell, this wasn’t something he should witness. He’d known Tina would be upset, but the woman was practically insane with irrationality. She couldn’t take care of a defenseless child in her current state of mind.

  “Take her with you,” Jacob said to Amanda, who nodded and rushed for the back door of the SUV.

  “If you fucking touch her,” Tina railed, “I’ll have you arrested for kidnapping.”

  “And I’ll have you arrested for assault,” Amanda shot back before opening the car door.

  “Why are you fighting?” Julie shrieked. “Why are you fighting with my mommy?”

  “Shh, it’s okay Julie Bean,” Amanda said. “I’m going to take you to see Grandma.”

  “I want my daddy!” Her piercing scream was like an ice pick to Jacob’s heart.

  “I’ll see you soon, princess,” he said as Amanda lifted her out of the car. “Go with Aunt Mander. I need to talk to your mom.”

  “I’m not talking to you, you fucking imbecile,” Tina said. “You’d better let me go.”

  “I’ll let you go when you calm down.”

  “I’m not going to calm down, you piece of shit. I said let me go!” Tina wrenched her wrist from his grasp and immediately started swinging her free fist. He backed away, but not before catching a sharp blow to the temple. The enormous diamond on her finger scraped his flesh as she pulled back to hit him again. The open wound stung as blood welled to the surface and trickled down his face. Jacob struggled to keep his grip on Tina’s other wrist while fending off her attack with his free hand. She was a lot stronger than she looked, he decided as he tried to contain her fury without knocking her out.

  “Daddy!” Julie screamed as Amanda tried to get her struggling body into her car. “You’re bleeding. Daddy!”

  With his attention diverted, Tina landed another sharp blow to his collarbone before he finally caught her hand.

  “Stop this,” he said. “You’re upsetting Julie. What do you think hitting me will accomplish?”

  “I want to hurt you as much as you’ve hurt me,” Tina growled, yanking on her arm.

  “I’ve never hit you,” Jacob said. “Never.”

  “God, you’re stupid.”

  Jacob stiffened as if she’d punched him again. Actually, he’d rather she punch him than call him stupid. “Don’t call me that.”

  “Why? You’re a fucking idiot. You don’t understand anything.”

  “Maybe if you tried explaining it to me in small words,” he said tersely. But he wasn’t interested in what she had to say. He wanted to com
fort his daughter, who was still screaming for him in the back of Amanda’s car, not listen to more of Tina’s bullshit.

  “You never fought for me, Jacob,” she said. “For us. We had—what?—one big argument about your infidelity before you left me.”

  “You accused me of cheating on you all the time, Tina. Even when I hadn’t cheated.”

  “But you did cheat, Jake. You admitted it.”

  “Yeah, I admitted I wronged you and I left. That’s what you said you wanted.”

  Tina shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. Jacob didn’t feel the least bit sorry for her. She’d driven him away. Made his life so miserable he had to force himself to go home. If Julie hadn’t been there, he’d have avoided going home at all.

  “Maybe I wanted you to fight for me.”

  “Who the hell was I supposed to fight for you? Were you cheating on me with some guy?” He kind of hoped she had been. Then he wouldn’t have to feel so low about his own infidelity. God knew the woman needed to get laid.

  Tina blinked at him and shook her head. “You’re so dense, Jake. There wasn’t anyone else. Ever. There still isn’t anyone else.”

  “I’m taking Julie home,” Amanda interrupted. “I’ll call Mom to come watch her, and I’ll leave.”

  “You’re goddamned right you’ll leave,” Tina spat. “I never want to see your whore face again.”

  “She’s not a whore,” Jacob said.

  “Did you fuck her?” Tina asked. When Jacob didn’t dignify her question with an answer, Tina snorted. “Then she’s a whore.”

  “Go to hell, Tina,” Amanda said before climbing into her car, starting the engine, and driving away.

  “Somebody call the police,” Tina screamed. “She’s taking my child!”

  “Will you just stop?” Jacob said, releasing both of Tina’s wrists now that Julie and Amanda were gone and safe from her wrath. “Julie didn’t need to see you blow up like that. She’s probably scared to death. You know Amanda would never take her from you or harm her. Why don’t you try acting like an adult for once in your life?”

  “Like you can talk,” she said.

  Jesus. Why had he ever thought this woman was attractive? She was nasty. Rotten to the core. He hoped her influence didn’t rub off on Julie, but he’d witnessed Tina’s effect on Julie’s thought processes more than once.

  “I’d like to talk, not fight,” he said, raising both hands in truce. “Just talk. Do you think you can calm down enough to do that?”

  Jacob scowled at the sound of approaching sirens. “I think someone called the cops on us,” he said. He wiped his bleeding temple with the neckband of his T-shirt. He wasn’t surprised the neighbors had called the police. He just wished they’d arrived when he’d been trying to break up the fight and gotten knocked around by his ex-wife.

  “You’re not going to see Amanda again,” Tina said.

  “I plan to see her this evening, as a matter of fact.”

  “Then you’ll never see Julie again.”

  Jacob’s eyes narrowed. “What are you talking about?”

  “Promise you won’t see Amanda again or I’ll . . .” Her eyes narrowed maliciously. “I’ll send the cops after her for kidnapping Julie. She’ll go to jail, Jacob. Do you want that for her? How do you think that will affect her life? Her career? She’s a teacher. They’ll fire her over this for sure.”

  Tina’s cold smile turned Jacob’s blood icy in his veins.

  “You wouldn’t lie to the cops just to keep us apart,” Jacob said. Hoped.

  “It’s not a lie. She took my daughter without my permission. That’s kidnapping.”

  “Amanda had my permission to take Julie,” Jacob reminded her. “She’s my daughter too.”

  “Maybe. But which of us is the custodial parent? Whose decision will matter to the court?”

  Jacob wished he’d fought for split custody, but at the time, having Tina as the custodial parent seemed best for Julie. Tina had been the one to convince him of that, so maybe she was right; he was incurably stupid.

  He didn’t want Amanda to get in trouble, but Tina’s threat didn’t hold water. “They won’t keep Julie from me because her aunt took her home without your permission.”

  “But they will if her father is physically abusive and her mother has a restraining order against him.”

  “You don’t have . . .” It occurred to him that she was threatening to tell the police that he’d done the attacking, not her. And who would they believe, the gorgeous blonde with bruises on her wrists, a torn shirt, and scraped-up legs and arms, or the hard-muscled metal singer with a small gash on his forehead, but was otherwise unharmed? Amanda would back up his story, but did he want to put his faith in the legal system and risk losing Julie?

  With lights flashing and sirens wailing, two police cruisers pulled up his driveway and screeched to a halt. Jacob didn’t even have a chance to explain what was going on before he was face down on the asphalt with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Someone hauled him up into a sitting position, and he glared up at Tina.

  “Don’t do this,” he warned.

  “Are you going to keep fucking her?” Tina asked.

  “Who I fuck is my business, not yours,” he growled.

  “What happened here, folks?” one of the officers asked.

  “He grabbed me,” Tina accused, thrusting her reddened wrists in the officer’s direction.

  “Self-defense,” Jacob said.

  The officer lifted an eyebrow at him. “You needed to crush her wrists to defend yourself? You must outweigh her by a hundred pounds.”

  “Would you rather I had punched her in the face?” He was mad enough to do it now.

  “Are you threatening her?” the officer asked.

  Jacob took a deep, calming breath and released it slowly. His shoulders were starting to ache from the position the handcuffs held his arms in. And he sure didn’t want to take a trip downtown to the police station. “No. She attacked her sister, and I was trying to break up the fight.”

  “Her sister?” The officer glanced around. “And where would she be?”

  “She took my daughter,” Tina said, suddenly acting frantic. “Without my permission.”

  “Is that why you attacked your sister? To prevent her from taking your daughter?”

  Tina blinked. “Uh . . .”

  “Is the child in danger?” the other officer asked. Immediately he spoke into the communication device at his shoulder. “We need to issue an Amber Alert.” To Tina he said, “Can you give me a description of the child, the kidnapper, the vehicle?”

  “This is ridiculous,” Jacob said. “Amanda took Julie home. To her own house. Just go there and you’ll find our daughter safe and sound in her room. There’s no reason to issue an Amber Alert. She wasn’t kidnapped.”

  “We’ll be the judge of that,” the officer said. He took Tina aside and questioned her out of Jacob’s hearing. He had no idea what Tina was telling the officers, but Jacob’s only means of defense was to stick to the truth. He knew he wasn’t in the wrong, but would the law see it that way?

  He needed to call Amanda and warn her that her sister might do the unthinkable. He tried shifting his arms so that he could reach the phone in his front pocket. He wasn’t sure how he thought he’d get a call to connect if he actually managed to reach the device, but he was desperate.

  “Do you have something in your pocket?” one of the officers asked.

  “No.” Jacob realized a second too late that he shouldn’t lie to cops who thought he assaulted women and was an accessory to kidnapping a child. In the blink of an eye, he was face down on the asphalt and being frisked.

  “Nothing in your pocket, huh?” the officer said.

  Jacob cringed when his phone thudded on the ground in front of him.

  “Nothing illegal or dangerous in my pocket,” he clarified.

  “Who were you trying to call?”

  “His whore, I’m sure,” Tina said snidely.
  “I told you not to call her that!” Jacob bellowed. It was hard to keep his cool in the humiliating position he currently found himself in.

  “Is that why you attacked your wife?”

  “Ex-wife,” he said between gritted teeth. Currently he didn’t even want to claim her at all.

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