Wait Until Dawn
Copyright 2011 Bailey Bradford
Rich came to with a pounding in his head that resonated with the pounding on the front door. He whimpered as he pried his eyes open, then gagged as he drew in a breath. How long had he been here, unconscious on the kitchen floor? Long enough that his body had tried to flush out the toxins he’d kept it supplied with. Long enough that his muscles screamed in protest when he tried to roll over and push himself upright. Rich didn’t even want to know what the wetness was his palm landed and slid in.
The banging on the door became louder and he dimly became aware of a man’s voice shouting his name. Rich cringed as his brain put a name to the voice. He didn’t want his father to see him like this, didn’t want his father to see him at all. Hell, he couldn’t stand to look at himself, how could anyone else?
“Richard, open this door or I’ll break it down!”
Rich had no doubt his father would do just that. The problem was, Rich couldn’t seem to find the strength to move. He swatted at something his hand brushed against as he tried once again to get his arms under his body to shove himself up. Rich glared at the offending item, frowning when he saw that it was an empty water bottle. He didn’t remember buying any bottled water, much less getting up from the floor and drinking any. His palms slid through puddles of…he didn’t want to know what, especially since he landed flat on his chest in the mess. Rich grunted as his chin whacked the floor, but he managed to roll to his back. The ceiling spun and rippled until he blinked it into focus.
“Rich, oh son.” A sob from the doorway startled Rich more than the words. He’d kind of thought those were just in his head. He craned his neck so that he could see his father standing in the kitchen entryway. Despite his own confusion over how the man had gotten inside, Rich noted the tears on his father’s cheeks. He couldn’t bear to meet his eyes, to see the disappointment and pity he was sure he’d find there. His father was a retired
police officer, and he’d know what the mess Rich was laying in was from. Houston
Rich swallowed and closed his eyes as his father walked toward him.
“How long have you been laying here? What have you been using?”
Rich heard his father’s knees pop and knew the man was kneeling nearby. A cool, rough hand slicked the hair back from Rich’s brow. The soothing gesture reminded him of how his father had taken care of him when he’d been a child, sick with the flu or some childhood malady. Tears stung Rich’s eyes as he cleared his throat. No one had touched him in so long. No one had been allowed to.
“Don’t know,” Rich croaked in answer to the first question. “Whiskey, some prescription pain meds,” he managed for the second.
His father grunted, then Rich was lifted by two strong hands under his arms. He opened his eyes as the world tilted and spun. His father stood and brought Rich up with him, holding him up until his toes barely touched the floor. Rich couldn’t avoid looking in his father’s dark brown eyes then, eyes so like his own. Except his father’s reflected a wealth of love and compassion Rich hadn’t been expecting. There was no condemnation in their depths, no judgment in his father’s expression. Rich felt something terrible rise up in his chest, then it burst free in a strangled sob. He clung to his father, and for the first time since he’d been abducted and tortured by the mad man who’d cost him everything, Rich cried, secure in his father’s arms.
Diego Montoya tucked his son into bed and brushed a damp lock of hair off his brow. Though his touch was gentle, Diego railed in silent fury at the sick bastard who’d hurt his boy. Rich had been such a bright light in the world, dedicated to his job as a
police detective and to having fun, enjoying life. Then he’d gone to McKinton to help his former partner, Laine Stenley, catch the man who’d killed Stenley’s lover years ago. Rich had ended up a victim of the killer’s, tortured and sliced open in too many places to count. How he’d survived was a mystery. Houston
But this, Diego knew as he looked down at Rich’s pinched features, this wasn’t surviving, even. He traced a fingertip over the faint silvery scar that ran from the outer corner of Rich’s left eye to the hinge of his jaw. The doctors had done a good job stitching him back up. The scar itself wasn’t so bad, but there were more, and the ones Rich carried inside were worse.
Diego cupped his son’s right hand. The index finger had been severed at the second knuckle. There was nothing the doctor’s could do to reattach it since the missing piece hadn’t been found. Diego couldn’t stand to think of what the killer had done with it. He wished the fucker was still alive. Diego would love nothing more than to tear the bastard apart, slowly. Forget justice and courts. There was no justice for that asshole’s crimes. Not even an eternity in the fires of Hell were cruel enough for him.
After placing a soft kiss on his son’s forehead, just as he used to do when Rich was a boy, Diego stood and made his way into the kitchen. The entire house was filthy, a reflection of his son’s depressed state, but the kitchen floor where Rich had laid in his own filth for who knows how long was especially nasty. Diego found a mop but the sponge was dried out and cracking. It fell apart when he wet it. Sitting it by the overflowing trash can, he looked around the kitchen. Dirty dishes, but not many. As thin as Rich was, he probably ate very little if at all. No paper towels, no dish towels.
Diego’s fury pulsed white hot inside him. Where were Rich’s friends? Had he pushed them all away as Rich had done to him? And what about the man Rich had helped in McKinton, where the fuck was he? Didn’t Stenley give enough of a shit to check on Rich, see how he was doing? Rich had almost died trying to help that man. Diego suddenly had a new outlet for his anger, but first he had some cleaning to do. Maybe by the time he was done, he could speak to the man without threatening to kill him.