Don't forget to visit the Mine!!
It's been a long time coming, but the end is finally here. I've been trying to decide what to do next, and to be honest, I still haven't planted it in stone. I guess we'll see what next week brings. :)
~ Chapter Forty-Two ~
Arianna looked toward her mother. “What’s he talking about, Mom? Did you know about this?”
Justin watched the scenario play out in front of him, helpless to stop it now that it was coming out.
“I don’t know— I haven’t the slightest…”
“Oh cut the crap, mother. You did know, didn’t you?
Esmarelda’s shoulders shook. “No, I don’t understand.”
Lenwood popped back around the corner and stopped in front of his wife.
Justin’s body shoved against the back of the chair, trying to get away from the rage he felt in the older man’s body.
“It was all the ‘I want this, Lenwood. Can I have that, Lenwood. Let’s re-decorate the house, Lenwood.’ Blah, blah, blah. You drove me to insanity. I was so deep in debt I couldn’t get out. I didn’t want to tell you for fear you’d leave me, so I borrowed money off a man someone from the firm knew. When I wasn’t able to pay it back, he became furious. He sent men to kill me, Esmeralda.”
“So how did it come about with Arianna?” Justin interjected.
Lenwood glanced his way, as if just then remembering his presence.
He shrugged. “I didn’t have the money. I foolishly told him he could take anything he wanted if he’d just let me live. He wanted Arianna.”
Esmeralda gasped, and so did Arianna and Justin.
“And you let him take her?” Esmeralda asked the horror plain in her tone.
“I had no choice.” Lenwood put his hands out, turned toward Arianna. “You understand, don’t you, Pumpkin?”
Justin was becoming concerned by Arianna’s silence. The look on her face was so herat-breaking. Betrayal. He glanced toward Arianna’s mom. She wore much the same expression. She may be a spoiled, demanding woman, but she hadn’t known. Relief washed through him. Arianna wouldn’t be left without a parent, after all.
“Understand? Are you serious, Daddy? I worshiped the ground you walked on. After he took me, I fantasized about you coming to save me, but it never happened.” Tears slid down her face, and she slid into one of the plush hospital chairs.
Justin rushed over and dropped to his knees in front of the chair. He wrapped her in his arms, not knowing what to say. How could you comfort someone in a situation like this? Especially someone you’d come to love?
She laid her head on Justin’s chest. So tired. She wanted…no, needed, sleep. Maybe she was already asleep and this was some bizarre nightmare she’d awake from, but she knew better.
The whoosh of the elevator brought attention from all of them. Two uniformed policemen strode toward her father, their steps full of purpose.
They stopped in front of Lenwood and the tall, skinny one read him his rights, turned him around and popped cuffs on his wrists.
Although the circumstances were horrid, Arianna finally felt a sense of peace. It really was over. Her arms tightened around Justin’s neck. “Take me home, Justin. Take me to see Chance.”
“I will, Arianna. As soon as the doctors release you.”
Her arms tightened even more. “You know. I have so many broken dreams, but the promises you’ve given me give me hope. For a better future. For a good life with my son, and I thank God for answering my prayers.”
“Yes,” Justin said, crushing his wife into the safety of his chest. “I’ll never let anything happen to you Arianna. You are my love. My life. And so is Chance.” He pulled away and brushed a tender kiss across her nose.
“You saved me Just in time, Justin.” She giggled.
His eyebrow rose.
“It was funny. Just in…ah, forget it.”
Understanding dawned and he smacked at her shoulder in a playful way. “Wow.”
Sobering up, she looked deep into his eyes. “Yes. Wow.”
The policemen led Arianna’s dad away, his shoulders slumped.
She didn’t understand what caused her dad to allow such a horrendous thing to happen to her. How could a father remove the protection and love he felt toward a daughter? For money, no less? Arianna shrugged. It didn’t matter. She had Justin, and she had Chance. And she even had her mother, and Mary.
She smiled as Justin led her back to the bed in her room. It had been such an eventful day. No week. No, life. She sighed. Things would be better now that ‘the Monster’ was in jail, and so was her dad. A sting of hurt zinged through her, but she shrugged it away. Thank you for bringing me through this situation, Dear Lord. It wasn’t always easy, but you were always right there beside me.
Justin helped her into the bed then turned around to grab his chair. He set it right next to her bed and slid onto the hard surface.
“Sleep now, Arianna. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
She grabbed his hand and pulled it to her chest. “I know you will, Justin. I love you, you know.”
Her smile grabbed his heart and plummeted it to his toes then back to his chest.
“I love you too, Ari. Get some sleep now. The rest of our lives will be waiting when you awake.”
Smiling, she slipped into slumber knowing his promises weren’t broken dreams, but future ones.