Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 80

Lilly shook her head in disbelief. She couldn’t comprehend this. Her mother had been strict when she felt it was necessary, and Lilly knew Angelica had often agreed with her friends when they sent their own children away. But Lilly had never believed, never even imagined, her mother would seriously consider such a thing for her own children. She had threatened in the past, often. She and Lilly’s father had argued over it. But a part of Lilly had never thought she would actually do it.
“You made a mistake warning me, Mother,” Lilly assured her. “Trust me, there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to allow you to have me committed.”
“No one allows it, dear,” Angelica promised her. “You may think you can make such disastrous decisions on your own, but you are a member of royalty, which means you can be forced to adhere to our rules.”
And she was right. Angelica could very well force her daughter into an asylum, unless her uncle Desmond blocked the move. As head of the family, Angelica couldn’t force Lilly into anything without his help.
She had to fight the tremors threatening to rush through her body now, the fear that her mother would do something so horrible tearing through her. This was the part of her mother that her father had always shielded her from.
Lilly shook her head, disbelief still warring with fury as she stared at the mother she had always loved.
“Father would have never let you do something like this,” she whispered painfully. “And you would have never truly considered it when he was alive.”
“Oh, really, Lilly,” her mother spat. “Surely you remember the arguments your father and I had? The screaming matches? They were all about you. He treated you more like his lover than his daughter.”
Lilly recoiled in shock and disbelief. That hadn’t been true! Her father had loved her. He had taught her to protect herself. He had trained her to protect the Crown. He had trusted her. But there had been nothing indecent in her father’s love for her.
“You’re crazy!” Lilly stared at her mother in horror. “You’re the one who needs to be committed, Mother, not me. You’ve lost your mind if you think you can make such an accusation or that I will allow anyone to lock me up. I’d kill them first.”
“You should see yourself,” her mother sneered. “You’re at the edge of violence and unable to control yourself in the least. I’ll be damned if I let you destroy yourself or the Harrington name further.”
“That’s enough, Angelica.” Lilly swung around to face her uncle as he glared at her mother, the battle of wills heating the foyer with tension.
“You know it’s the truth as well as I, Desmond,” Angelica snapped. “Harold spoiled her atrociously. She believes she can do whatever she chooses now and embarrass her family. She’s not some common little whore ripping around the countryside. She’s related to the Queen, for God’s sake.”
“I’m sure the Queen really doesn’t give a damn what I’m doing at this moment or any other,” Lilly snapped back. “I do know I’ve had enough of this conversation.”
Turning from her uncle and her mother, Lilly headed for the winding staircase.
“Dr. Ridgemore will be here tomorrow to speak with you.” Her mother’s words had her freezing in her tracks. “Please try to look presentable, if you don’t mind.”
Lilly turned and looked at her uncle. “Are you going to allow this, Uncle Desmond?”
His expression was filled with disbelief as he stared at Angelica. “Hell no, I won’t allow it.” He glared back at his wife.
“You think you’re the only one who has the right to make a decision here.” Angelica’s head lifted arrogantly. “Jared can overrule you, Desmond, as you are not her legal father, and I promise you, he will.”
Jared. Her brother. Oh God, the brother she had known and loved all those years ago would have never allowed her mother to do something so heinous.
“We’ll see about that,” Desmond said. “I’ll call Ridgemore myself, Angelica. You don’t have the power to stand against me on this.”
Angelica was nearly shaking with rage as Lilly quickly moved up the stairs. Her voice lifted furiously.
“You think I have no power? Do you believe I will spend my life arguing with you over that child’s destructive tendencies? I’ll be damned if I will. She will learn to behave like a lady once and for all. Nothing else will be acceptable.”
Lilly knew she had to get out of here.
She hurried to her bedroom and the large walk-in closet. There, she jerked the hidden backpack from inside one of the heavy pieces of luggage she had stored it in and threw it to the side. Pulling a change of clothes from the racks, she quickly dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and hiking boots. She threw a light leather jacket over the backpack, slung the strap over her shoulder, then went quickly to the balcony.
Within seconds she was over the railing and hurrying toward the garage. But rather than enter the cavernous parking area, she moved past it, sprinted into the heavy foliage surrounding the stone wall, and within minutes was jumping lithely to the sidewalk beyond.
She had no idea what the hell was going on, but one thing was certain—she had seen too many of her former friends become casualties to their parents’ determination to force them into a certain mold. They had married men they hated because of the threat of disinheritance or worse. They had turned away jobs, turned away friends.
Nowadays such enforced confinement was supposed to be illegal. Yet it wasn’t. Lawyers and doctors conspired with parents. They drugged, rehabilitated, and mercilessly berated young women, and sometimes men, until they did as they were ordered. Until they became robots no longer searching for happiness but seeking only to stay out of that brutal, medicated environment.
Fear sent a chill of horror racing up her spine at the thought. She had to get away. She had no vehicle, and it would take forever for a cab to arrive.
Before she knew what she was doing she dialed a number. She stared at the phone, listening to it ring. Who the fuck was she calling?