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Near Her

The latest installment in the For Her series, sequel to Protect Her, Love Her, Hold Her, Keep Her, From Her, With Her, and Beside Her. Quil and Claire have finally triumphed. Despite the obstacles littering thier way, they are at last happy. What happens when the darkest secret of their past comes back and threatens to seperate them forever?

I disclaim. Y'all should read the sequels first.

8. Chapter 8

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“I informed him Claire would be coming home with me. I wasn’t going to let her stay there… you have to understand that. I couldn’t allow a defenseless child to be hurt. Especially not… she was so alive, when I knew her as a baby. She was always smiling or laughing, always happy.” I smiled a little at the recollection of those simpler days.

“She used to call me Kwiw—she couldn’t pronounce my name. She was the sweetest little girl I’d ever seen. And he hurt her. I could see that in her eyes, when I talked to her teacher. She was shattered. I couldn’t let her stay there for another second.

“He laughed and said I should feel free to take her. He wished me luck… and smiled. It was just a… a game to him.” I looked at Claire. I’d never brought myself to tell her this story before, and I could see it was affecting her. She sat very rigidly in the hard plastic seat, determined not to break down. I ached to comfort her.

But I couldn’t. Yet her pain did give me the strength to lie. I was breaking the law, perjuring myself, but I knew if I didn’t I’d never be able to help her again. So I really had no choice but to say, “I left the house then. I signed Claire out of the school… I copied his signature. And I took her to her aunt Emily’s house.”

“Why not her mother’s?”

“She didn’t want to.” It was that simple. “I knew Sam and Emily better than Lina—Claire’s mom—and I frankly trusted them more. Besides, I asked Claire. And she said she’d rather go to Emily’s.”

“Do you have any knowledge of how Jonathon Denson died?”

I breathed in deeply, trying to find the right words. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. It was the crucial question. I had to answer it right. “Didn’t he get killed by a wolf? Some freak accident thing… must have been right after I left his house. I think I read about it in the paper.”

“Were you present at the time of his death?”

“No. He was alive when I left.”

“You did not in any way, directly or indirectly, cause him to die?”

I pleaded innocent, didn’t I? “No.” Outright lie. But that’s a moot point. The important thing is whether or not I’ll be believed.

“Thank you… your Honor, no more questions for this witness.”

The judge rapped the gavel twice against the podium. It reminded me, in a distant corner of my brain, of watching The Crucible at Forks High in eighth grade. The judge had always done that right when the witches were getting dragged off to be killed.

Well there’s a cheery thought.

Paul stood. “Mr. Ateara,” I had to conceal a little snicker at this, “can you tell me the nature of your relationship with Dr. Ateara in the years immediately after she left her father’s house?”