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Paying Daddy’s Debt(5)

By:Alexa Riley



“Oh, but you do.” I say, taking a step closer. “Something far more valuable than you realize.”

It takes him a moment, but I see it dawn on him a second later.

“Jasmine?” he asks, confusion clear on his voice.

“See? Deep down you know how precious she is. And I want her.” I’ll have her. I don’t say that part out loud.

It makes my stomach churn to see him think this over. He didn’t immediately deny me what I want, which makes me believe he hasn’t considered her a commodity before. Will he now that I’ve presented an offer? My research told me almost no one knows she exists. Which is probably why she hasn’t been used as leverage. Or worse, payment. But I also don’t think his debts have ever been this bad before. There is a price on his head now, and from the marks on his face, I’m guessing someone already tried to claim that price. Men like him will always choose their own life over anyone else’s, even their own daughter, which is why I feel no guilt taking her from him.

“What do you want with her?” he finally asks. I note that he hasn’t said no.

“I want a moment alone with her. Then, depending on what she decides, we can proceed.”

“You want to be alone with her? For how long?” So the negotiations begin, but I truly believe he is going to let me have what I ask for. This show he is putting on is more for his own conscience.

“A few minutes. Enough for me to explain what I want and for her to decide.”

“What are you going to do to her?” He looks flushed again. Like he’s ashamed to consider what I might do.

He’s a solid piece of shit, but at least he’s asking questions instead of sending me in there to her. I can’t imagine any father allowing this conversation to even begin. But he is, and it makes my heart ache for the dark-haired beauty who’s caught my eye.

“I’m going to talk to her. And when she decides what she wants her future to be, I’ll leave.” I don’t mention that she’ll be on my arm when she does it.

“And if I say no?”

“Then I’ll leave. But my offer leaves with me.”

I’ve already got plans to do this without him, but it would be easier if he handed her over. This way, there’s no coming back and knocking on my door, trying to change the deal. If this is all done the way I want it to, then it will all be over soon.

“You’ll talk to her. And then pay off all my debts?” He looks down to the papers, probably trying to calculate how much he owes.

“Yes. I want to talk to Jasmine.” I keep saying her name because I love the way it sounds in my mouth. “And once I’m finished, I’ll take care of all your debts. No matter what she decides.”

There is no way she’s not coming home with me, so my words are empty.

“Fine. But she’s a bit skittish around strangers.”

That’s all he says in way of warning before he nods toward the stairs. I take them one at a time. When I reach the top, I see a door and hear something that sounds like crying.

I move toward the door and stand outside, pressing my ear to it. There’s a sniffle, and then another small cry escapes. I ball my fists at my side, thinking that he must have done something to make her feel this way. That piece of shit father of hers had better not have lain a fucking hand on her or I’ll rip off his fingers.

I take a calming breath and knock softly on the door.

“Jasmine. I’m Ash.” I wait a moment and hear her cries quiet. “Open the door, sweetheart.”

There’s a pause, followed by what sound like soft footsteps.

“It’s okay. I’m here to save you.”





5





Jasmine




I stare up at the grayest eyes I’ve ever seen. His words sink in, yet they make no sense. For some reason he looks familiar, like I’ve seen him before, but I can’t place it. His eyes soften when they meet mine for a moment, then I watch anger take hold.

His dark hair and the shadow of his beard only add to the deadliness that lurks with him. His size doesn’t help. Towering over me easily, his broad shoulders fill the doorway.

“Who made you cry?” he grits out, stepping toward me and into my room. I step back, and he slams the door closed behind him. A lick of fear creeps up my spine, and I glance over at the open window. Before I can even look back, he’s pulling me into him, wrapping his arms around me in a tight hold.

I should push back. My panic should be rising higher with each second his arms are wrapped around me so tightly, but instead I melt into him. I bury my face in his suit jacket and let the tears fall, taking the comfort from this stranger. It feels so good to have someone hold me. It’s then I realize I can’t remember that last time someone hugged me, pulled me close. The thought makes me sob even more. Before this moment I would have thought I’d panic and fight to get free, but something about this is different. Right.

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