"Well, how many chances do you want to give him?" Jack asked. "It seems like he's already had plenty of opportunities to stop."
"I know," Clarice said.
"Has he stopped sending Nat and Emma back since I was here?"
Jack held his hands up. He wasn't going to decide for her, but he sure wasn't going to defend Damien either.
Clarice and Jack were sitting side by side on the floor of her bedroom, leaning against a wall. They both kept a watch on the closed bedroom door, afraid that Damien might somehow sense that Jack was there, but the apartment was dark and quiet.
They had been talking for nearly an hour, going over different thoughts, different ideas and plans, different ways to stop Damien from hurting Nat and Emma.
There were no good choices. And there were definitely no easy choices.
"He's made the decision for us," Jack said softly. "He chose money over being a father. And not just once - he's done it over and over again."
"Emma and Nat can't stop him. They can't stand up to him. We have to stand up to him."
Clarice put her face in her hands, crying softly.
"It can't wait until next December," Jack said. "Damien might try to move you guys, or hide you, or something worse."
"You can say it, Jack," Clarice said. "We can't wait until next year because I might not be around, right?"
Jack smiled sadly. "We'll figure something out."
Clarice shook her head. "No, you're right. But we have to give him one more chance."
Jack nodded. "One last chance."
Clarice and Jack stood outside her apartment building. They were both in shorts and t-shirts, but it was still sticky-hot and miserable, even though it was just after two in the morning.
"I've got to do a couple things, to make sure we're ready," Jack said. "You just rest up. When I get back, we'll do it just like we planned. And we can be done with this. Once and for all."
"When will you be back?"
"Christmas Eve," Jack said. "Just before midnight."