I was sitting on the train to the beach, laughing at a stupid joke, courtesy of Chrissy. I was still upset from the night before, but I was hiding it well and almost starting to relax.
And then I saw him.
I should have expected it; we were going near the area where he lived. But I was completely shocked to see him sitting there, just a few seats away.
Every bit of humour drained from me. Shit. If he followed me, he'd know where I lived and where I went to school. He'd find Mum, and kill her, like he threatened to do. And God only knows what he'd do to me.
I hadn't realised I was staring at him, but now he was staring back. I looked away. Maybe he hadn't recognised me yet.
No, he was still staring. It might have been the eyes that he knew, almond shaped and mismatched. Or the dark hair and heart shaped face. Whatever it was, he was pretty pissed to see me. But as usual, he was hiding it well.
He probably wasn't drunk right now. He didn't particularly like being drunk in public after he'd gotten one too many public drunkenness charges. I wasn't sure which was more dangerous - my father with all of his logical capacities in tact, or my father out of control.
I glanced at Isobel, who I registered was looking at me oddly. My father moved, and my gaze snapped back to him. He still appeared calm, if distasteful. I knew that look. He was sober, and it was bad. Images flashed across my mind from many years ago. The edges of panic teased my mind, washing over me.
"Rhea!" Chrissy had grabbed my arm. Everyone was staring at me. I found that I was poised on the edge of my seat, hands gripping it like claws, ready to spring. They probably wanted some sort of explanation. The truth was the only thing that would make sense.
"That's my dad. No! Don't turn. We'll just get off the train and go on our way and hopefully he won't follow us."
Elijah looked confused. "Your dad?"
"I don't live with him anymore."
Our stop came up, and we all rose and collected our things. We filed to the door, Chrissy in front of me, Elijah behind. As we passed my father, he reached out and grabbed my wrist.
We locked eyes. Elijah put his hand on my waist. I jerked my hand away and got off the train.
Not daring to look back, I hurried my friends along the street to a coffee house, where I hoped he would think we were going to stay. Needless to say, he followed us directly in. Perfect. We casually ordered drinks, then sat towards the front of the shop, in full view of the customers and staff, where hopefully he wouldn't bother us. Now we just had to stay in particularly public places, and if he kept it up, we could just call for the police.
I tried to ignore the fact that he hadn't stopped staring at us since we got off the train. He sipped his drink with the air of a cat waiting for its prey to stray too close.