Ruin

Ruin by C.J. Scott Read Free Book Online

Book: Ruin by C.J. Scott Read Free Book Online
Authors: C.J. Scott
it."
    He ruffled his thick gray hair and screwed up his nose. It was the face he pulled when he was about to say something he knew I wouldn't like. "Can't do that, Katie Bell."
    "Dad! Ben's a nice guy. You don't have to give him the third degree."
    "How do you know he's okay? Done a background check on him, have you?"
    "Dad." It came out whiny and Dad hated whiny. I took a deep breath and spoke to him on a level I knew he'd understand. "Look. I'm a Bell, just like you. I have good instincts too, and my instincts are telling me Ben wouldn't hurt anyone. He just needed somewhere to stay the night, and he's willing to work as payment."
    He crossed his arms over his chest. "So why's he traveling without money? Why'd he get off the bus in Winter and not Riverside?"
    "He didn't like Riverside. Too commercial. He's a history buff and an architecture student. Winter just appealed to him." I hoped throwing in the architecture thing might warm Dad to Ben a little. People thought of college students as responsible and normal, not ax murderers.
    Dad humphed . "So if he's got nothing to hide, he won't mind giving me some ID."
    "So you can do what?" I threw my hands up. "Check on him?"
    "It's a test, Kate. If he doesn't want to give me his ID, then I'll know he's hiding something."
    "Oh my God! You're unbelievable! You and Mom. Can't you just let him be? He's doing Jane and Mrs. M a favor."
    "That he is, but I'm not letting you stay here alone without having some sort of security. I don't think Mrs. M could beat him off with her walking stick, do you?"
    "Dad..." But I had no counter argument to that one.
    "It's for your own good, Katie Bell."
    That's what he always said when he used to drive me to parties in Riverside and wait out front until it was over to take me home again. Or when he wouldn't help me buy a car. I had enough saved for something small and old, but he insisted I wait until I had enough for a reliable family-sized car instead. It was safer and for my 'own good.'
    "Either I take his ID, or I stay here the night," Dad said with a shrug of his shoulders.
    I groaned. "You know I sleep in the college dorm with dozens of guys not far away."
    "That's different. Your door is locked, and the dorm has strict rules."
    It was no use. I was outplayed. "Don't tell him you're a cop, okay?"
    He frowned. "Why not?"
    "Because it scares guys off." I knew that from experience. Once the Riverside boys found out my father was a policemen, they'd given me a wide berth. No one wanted to go out with a girl whose father would tail us on our dates.
    "I thought Ben Parker was just passing through," he said with a challenging lift of his eyebrows. "Are you telling me he's a potential boyfriend?"
    "No!" Christ, where had that come from?
    From me, I realized. I liked Ben. Liked him a lot, despite our short acquaintance. I wanted to get to know him better, wanted to feel his touch again, and experience a kiss with him. Several kisses. And a lot more.
    Damn. I was falling for him and falling hard. It was going to be awful watching him catch the bus out of Winter the next day.
    "You only met him a few hours ago," Dad said.
    I leaned back against the wall and let out a long breath. "I know."
    "And he's leaving tomorrow."
    "I know that too."
    He put his arm around me, and I rested my head against his shoulder briefly before moving away. When I was a kid and Dad used to put his arm around me like that, I'd feel safe. Now, I felt claustrophobic.
    "Mr. Bell!" Jane said, heading along the corridor toward us. "I didn't hear you arrive."
    "Hi, Jane. How's your Gran?"
    "Fine. Are you here to see Kate?"
    He nodded.
    Jane's gaze slid to mine. She knew how I felt about Mom and Dad's helicopter parenting.
    "Have you met Ben?"
    "Just now, outside."
    "He's very nice. Did he fix the water heater?" she asked me.
    I shook my head. "He says you need a new one."
    Her face fell for a moment before she smiled. It was totally fake, but whether Dad realized or not, I couldn't

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