In many ways, Nicole had been blessed.
Genetics had given her the worthiest combination of both her parents' best features. She was a tall girl with a lean and muscular, rather than thin and willowy, physique and the right bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio that most grown women required surgery and frequent dieting to duplicate. With her long strawberry blonde hair and bright blue eyes, she seemed like an All-American girl. Arguably her best feature were her long legs, the flesh of which tanned easily and the muscles were finely sculpted by her more sportive pastimes. She particularly loved showing them off in tight jeans or short skirts.
She had never suffered the awkwardness typical of teenage girls. She had instead used her physical agility and mental dexterity to her advantage, making herself at home both in her high school's track team and on the honor roll. Her effusive charm and ready smile made her supremely popular with students across the strata and various cliques, and she frequently either enjoyed or endured the attentions of the male members of the student body.
She was a singular catch for any fellow lucky enough to gain her attentions. But, if she was the pinup fantasy of her adolescent peers, her father was the subject of their deepest nightmares. The boys who learned he was a cop, and homicide detective Nicolas Knight at that, may have fretted that he was legally permitted to carry a gun. Those who had met him were terrified of him, without having even seen evidence of any sort of weapon in the house.
The few boys Nicole had maintained a rapport deep enough to warrant meeting her father for the first time rarely returned to her household afterward. Not that Nick threatened or bullied them in any obvious way; like say, polishing a shotgun in the boy's presence, as most overprotective patriarchs are wont to do. No, his approach was far more subtle than such a demonstration... and yet far more intimidating.
Rather, he would calmly sit in his easy chair as Nicole's young suitor would awkwardly perch himself on the leather sofa, and Nicole would finish getting ready for the evening out. Nick's posture would be at rest, yet completely alert rather than an expression of relaxation. He would steeple his fingers and gaze unwavering and unblinking at the adolescent who hoped to win his only daughter's fickle affections. The predatory look in his eyes as he gazed at the boy one could imagine on a ravenous arachnid eying a particularly big and juicy fly wandering too close to its web, waiting patiently for that minute but ultimately fatal miscalculation on the part of the hapless bug. Nothing would be said, or needed to be. An intense silence would descend upon this tableau, monitored only by the dull metronome of the grandfather clock in the hall relentlessly ticking the minutes away and the jackhammering of the youngster's heart within his chest.
It was a look he'd perfected over the centuries as a vampire, and refined through now-decades of questioning difficult suspects.
It was usually a point in a teenage boy's favour when he could escape with his date, while still in control of his bladder. Though Nicole suspected that her father had something to do with her dates' reluctance to deepen the association, she never quite caught on to the method used to dissuade them.
As far as Nicole was concerned, her father was a total softie, and the lack of mutual congeniality was quite genuinely perplexing.
As far as Nick was concerned, he simply clung to his old-fashioned values with the tenacity of a pitbull and refused to consider any young gentlemen who wouldn't court his daughter properly. After all, a young man should have the wisdom to pay the girl's father the deference one should always display as a prospective suitor for a young lady's hand. Yes, even if it was just a night out at the movies rather than a marriage request. All things being equal, the sentiments were little different.
Nicole was also quite fortunate, indeed, in that her father trusted her judgment enough not to chaperone the outings, as well. As it was, he had the remarkable ability to put the fear of God in an adolescent who might have wandering hands, within a matter of seconds. Needless to say, Nick's propensity for overprotective displays had insured that Nicole had still not been kissed by her sixteenth birthday.
And that was exactly the way her father wanted it. But—once she realized what was happening—Nicole quickly tired of her father scaring her dates away.
So, typical teenager that she was, she decided to fight fire with fire. Of course, any sane adult knows that playing with fire will get one burnt... but try telling that to a stubbornly determined sixteen-year-old.
So, while her father was busy at work during the usual nocturnal hours, and her mother was sleeping off a thirty-hour shift at the morgue, Nicole snuck out of the house to go to a friend's party.
The friend in question was at her house alone, as the parents decided to take a vacation—renewing their passion by retreating to the site of their honeymoon. Nicole's friend hardly wasted a moment letting everyone know her parents would be gone for the weekend, and there would be dancing and drinking.
Nicole happily agreed to go, without letting on to her parents about the party. She was the last to arrive at the soiree because she had spent a great deal of time waiting for her mother to fall asleep and having to walk the entire way in heels, so it was nearly midnight and the party was in full swing when she was ushered into her friend's house.
The latest dance-pop tunes were blasting from the stereo system, though Nicole had yet to determine a song that she liked. A red Solo cup was shoved into her hand by an overly-friendly young man and she hesitantly took a sip.
It burned her throat on the way down, but had a strangely pleasant after-effect. She finished the drink with little difficulty and immediately requested more.
She didn't count how many drinks she was handed, nor did she believe the pleasant buzz she was feeling to possess a hidden danger. She thought of nothing other than how great the party was and the pulchritude of the boy who was dancing with her.
At first, she dropped a playful kiss on his lips, wanting to try that for some time with a boy, and no longer hindered by her inhibitions or parental influence. The kiss was followed by another and another, then curious touches which quickly became more aggressive overtures.
It wasn't long after that that the boy steered her into a bedroom, and clothes were drunkenly tugged away. She found herself drawn to his throat, began kissing that area in earnest.
Against her own flagging will, her teeth pressed into his throat.
“Ow! What the fuck?!”
Nicole flung herself away from the boy, stunned into sobriety.
Her erstwhile paramour dubbed her a “crazy bitch” and, as the sound of police sirens drew near, collected his discarded clothing and departed swiftly, leaving her to explain her predicament.
* * *
Nicole sat in a corner of the holding cell in Toronto's 96th precinct, the cells nearly at capacity due to the event. Those who hadn't been swift enough had been caught, placed in the backseat of a cruiser, squired to the station and summarily thrown into what was colloquially termed the “drunk tank.”
The cells slowly emptied as angry parents claimed their children, until she remained the last in Holding. In her solitude, the shame of her crime now hung upon her. She felt a righteous indignation at the boy who'd left her high and dry, along with keen embarrassment at what her parents would say.
She was going to find out as, thirty minutes before dawn, her father's deceptively soft footsteps descended the stairs leading to the cells. His face was carefully blank as he stood in front of her cell.
“Daddy...” she began.
His tone was cold, almost indifferent. “Not a word, Nicole Marie Lambert-Knight.”
She swallowed and obediently fell silent. He only used her full name when she was in a great deal of trouble. This was likely to be very unpleasant.
“I talked to the uniform who tested you—you were more than three times above the legal limit of intoxication. This is the one time you're very fortunate to have inherited... my constitution, or you'd be dead from alcohol poisoning.” He was now glaring at her. “What possessed you to sneak out of the house, go to a party where alcohol was being served to minors, proceed to get smashed almost to the point of blacking out, and then jump into bed with a random boy?”
Nicole, after a moment's hesitation, finally said. “I just wanted to hang out with my friends.”
Her father shook his head. “And where are your friends now? Home. While you're in a cell.” His gaze intensified into a glare. “You have brought shame upon myself and your mother but, ultimately, you have brought shame upon yourself. I will not have my daughter acting so carelessly and crassly, and putting herself in danger. You're too smart to act this stupid.”
The paternal dressing-down stung; nevertheless, Nicole jutted her chin out in defiance. “Like you didn't do anything stupid when you were younger.”
“You're right, I did. Once,” he replied softly. “And I'm still paying for it every day of my life. The last thing in the world I want for you is to make the mistakes I once made. Once done, they can't be undone.”
“Not another word.”
She quieted, youthful obedience to her father's will still holding its sway. Instead, she glared silently back at him.
A uniformed officer hesitantly approached. “Detective, do you want to take her home?”
After a brief staring contest waged between father and daughter (which he won, as Nicole guiltily dropped her gaze down to her shoes), her father held up his hand to stay the younger officer. “No.”
Nicole's head snapped back up. “...what?! Daddy!”
He studiously ignored her. “I'll pick her up at the end of my shift tomorrow night. She needs to learn that there are consequences to her actions, and that I won't be around to bail her out every time she's in a scrape.”
Nicole glared at her father again. “Ugh! I hate you so much!”
Her father merely shrugged at Nicole's adolescent melodrama. “It's not my job to be liked. It's my job to raise you right.”
Then he turned on his heel and left his daughter alone behind the cold bars.