On Thursday evening, Nina was home alone with pizza and a movie for company. When Marc was away, she took extra care to bolt every door and triple-checked to make sure the alarm was armed. They lived in a neighborhood where the crime statistics barely registered with the police department, but psychopaths didn’t care what zip code you lived in.
She threw on her favorite cotton nightie, grabbed a plate of pizza, popped the disc in the DVD player and settled in for a quiet evening of entertainment. The opening credits were still rolling when the doorbell rang. She paused the movie and charged towards the front door like a raging bull.
“Who is it?” she shouted.
“Nina, open the door. It’s me.”
She froze for a split second, wondering what on earth he was doing at her home this late. She made it clear how she felt about him and couldn’t imagine what was so important that he would show up unannounced. But then again, that seemed to be his favorite MO where she was concerned. She opened the door grudgingly. Phillip stood at the entrance with a silly grin on his face.
“You’re crossing the line as always. This is my home. It’s after nine o’clock at night.”
“I have good news.”
“There’s this invention called the telephone. Use it.”
“Are you going to let me in or would you prefer to have your neighbors call the cops because there’s a suspicious looking black man standing at the door and no one’s letting him in?”
“You weren’t too concerned about the neighbors when you stole my diary,” Nina griped, as she led him to the living room. “Or did you have someone else do your dirty work?”
“Goodness, Nina. Can’t you let that go? I told you I don’t have anything that belongs to you.”
Nina offered a mirthless laugh. “What do you want?”
“Geraldine came back. I don’t know what you said to her, but it worked.”
“Is there a full moon out tonight?”
“She said the two of you met and you helped her see things in a new light.”
“Did the light suck the grey matter from her brain?”
He sat down on the sofa and gestured for her to sit next to him. “I have something to give you.”
“No thanks. You’ve given me plenty. I still carry the scars.”
“Nina, please. I know I haven’t always been the best father. I wasn’t there for you as much as I should have. But I wanted to say thank you. You gave me my wife back and I wanted to express my gratitude,” he said, removing a small black box from his jacket pocket.
It didn’t make sense to Nina. After her conversation with Geraldine, she was positive there was no way she would stay with Phillip. Something must have happened to change her mind, something huge. Why would she go back to him? What was keeping her? Nina was sure she wouldn’t like the answer. She of all people knew how Phillip operated and how persuasive he could be. Maybe he worked his particular brand of black magic on his wife. What a shame.
Nina took the box from him and moved to the far end of the sofa and opened it. Inside was a stunning cross, encrusted with dozens of small diamonds with a large birthstone, her birthstone in the center. Based on the brilliance of the stones, Nina estimated the gift to be worth tens of thousands of dollars. She was speechless.
“I know how important your faith is to you,” he said.
“Then you should familiarize yourself with Leviticus Chapter 18. The gift is very generous, but I can’t accept it.” She returned the cross to the box and placed it in his hands.
He took her refusal as an affront. “You’re my daughter. Why can’t you accept a gift from your own father? I had this made especially for you. There’s even an inscription.”
He seemed genuinely baffled by her response. How odd. What did he expect? That she would jump into his arms, give him a big hug and tell him how much she loved it and he was the best dad ever? Well, that scenario already played out when she was a kid and it ended badly. She wasn’t falling for that trick again.
“You know why I can’t accept it.”
“Don’t do this, Nina. You said I was a sociopath who hated women, including you. That’s the most painful thing anyone has ever said to me and it hurt even more because it came from my own daughter.”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you had feelings. You should have told me sooner.”
“This is funny to you?” he asked softly. “You think how I feel about you is funny?”
Her mood transformed from playful sarcasm to a dangerous place she had trained herself to avoid entirely. “That’s the problem, Phillip. I don’t know how you feel about me. I could only interpret your actions. Based on our history, I came to the painful realization that you weren’t capable of giving me what I wanted: a father who wouldn’t take advantage of a little girl’s desire to be loved and accepted by her dad without conditions. I promise you, I’m fine with it. You don’t have to pretend. Most kids take their parents’ love for granted. I had to learn that I couldn’t have what other kids had in that regard.”
It was a jaded view she had spent years cultivating, another survival mechanism. It only hurt if she talked about it and she never had until now. She could feel the tightness rising in her chest and prayed to God she wouldn’t start bawling right then and there.
“That’s not how it is, Nina,” he said, desperate for her to believe him. “I’ve always loved you. You have no idea how much. That will never change. You don’t see it because you don’t want to. You prefer to dwell on bitterness and negativity.”
“It might be easy for you to dismiss what you obviously refuse to acknowledge and that way, you don’t have to take responsibility. I never had that luxury. You took away who I was supposed to be, the woman I would have become, so I had to work like a dog to create a new me from scratch. Do you know how hard it is to create a new person from the damaged scraps that existed before?”
They both fell silent. When he reached over to hold her hand, she brushed it away.
“You were lost to me for eighteen years, Nina. A parent never stops being a parent.”
“Don’t talk to me about parenthood. Add that to the long list of things you took from me.”
“I know you believe I was responsible for your miscarriage but you don’t know the whole story.”
“Enlighten me, then. You knew I was in trouble but delayed calling for help. Every second counted and the outcome could have been different if you weren’t trying to be a control freak who wanted to teach me a lesson.”
His expression was deeply melancholic, as if she had just twisted a sword in his chest. “That baby was my first grandchild. It took the ambulance at least fifteen minutes to get there. Everything happened quickly, from the time you said something was wrong to the time you passed out, it was a few short minutes. After the paramedics showed up, I stayed behind to clean up the blood on the floor the best way I could before I left for the hospital. The doctors said he was gone before the ambulance got there, all they could do was treat you.”
#1 Amazon Bestseller in the suspense and women's psychological fiction categories.
Boston executive Nina Kasai has been living a lie since her days as a student at Stanford University. But she's about to learn that some secrets are too big to stay buried.
Years ago, Nina fled from her life of wealth and privilege and vowed never to look back. The horrifying truth has been locked away in her hidden diary, and in the mind of a disturbed woman who will never tell, ever. However, the perfect life she's since created is about to come crashing down when Phillip Copeland --a ghost from her past with political ambition and secrets of his own, makes Nina an offer she can't refuse: her silence in exchange for his.
Soon, it all goes horribly wrong when a shocking double-cross sends Nina reeling, and devastating loss threatens to push her over the edge. To make matters worse, her diary, the only link to her secret past has been stolen.
To reclaim her life and bring this twisted game to its stunning conclusion, Nina must confront the past she's been running from, and find the courage to make a life-altering decision that leaves multiple casualties in its wake.
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Genre - Psychological Suspense
Rating – R
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