Bianca can’t walk away from her family—she’ll have to run.
Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father, and the wicked schemes of another—with no way to escape.
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“Who is he?” I asked. It was strange meeting Dad’s weary gaze over a vase of wild lilacs. We never kept flowers in the house.
“Let’s put these with the others for now.” He stood slowly, like a man twice his age, and placed the vase alongside the various plants and funeral bouquets lining the countertop. “Do you want a glass of ice tea?” he asked, opening the fridge.
“No, thanks, Dad. Sit back down. We need to talk.” I was anxious to find out what caused him to act so weird at the cemetery. In my whole life, I’d never seen my father disrespect anyone until today, when he refused to shake hands with Chase Archer.
“How about a piece of chicken? The church sent over enough to feed an army.”
He was avoiding the conversation.
“Can we just get on with it?” I asked, frustrated. “Who is this Chase guy, and why didn’t you want him at Mom’s funeral?”
Dad shut the refrigerator, plodded to the kitchen table, and repositioned himself in the chair across from me. “It’s difficult to know where to start.” He raked a hand through his hair.
“Don’t beat around the bush, Dad. Just say it.”
He took a deep breath and blew it out. “That man you were talking to…at the funeral…”
“Yes. Chase Archer.” I nodded slowly.
“He—” Dad dropped his head to his hands. “Oh, God, please, help me say this,” he cried hoarsely.
My chest tightened. Whatever this was about, it was a big deal.
He raised his head and returned his gaze to mine. “Bee, that man is your biological father.”
My brain scrambled, as if someone lifted my head from my shoulders and shook it like a box of puzzle pieces. I pressed my fingers between my eyebrows. “Whatever. Good one, Dad.”
Dad was pretty clever, I’d give him that. I could see how he’d think I’d fall for it—with me and Chase having the same hair color.
“I wish I was joking, but I’m not.” Dad’s voice was a rough whisper.
The truth hurts. I swallowed the sob working its way up my throat and blinked back the sting of tears. The truth hurt, all right. Like an overinflated basketball bulging through my eye sockets.
“Honeybee, I’m so sorry you have to learn this now, the same day we buried your mother. Of all days, why did he have to show up today? He knew how distraught we’d be. Just as selfish as he always was.” Dad frowned and cut his eyes to the wall.
“Selfish?” I snorted. “Don’t you think you and Mom were selfish, not telling me who my own father is?” Hysterics rattled my ribcage like angry prisoners. I couldn’t hold them in much longer.
He reached for my hand.
I jerked it to my lap. “No. Just talk. Please.”