I introduced my five-year-old daughter to the man I’ve been seeing – she yelled the first time she laid eyes on him.

When Jessica introduced her daughter Emma to her boyfriend Alex, she expected a warm welcome. Instead, Emma screamed in terror, convinced by her father’s warnings that Alex was a threat who would take her away forever.

I never imagined it would turn out this way. The sound of my daughter, Emma, screaming for help still rings in my ears. It was supposed to be a happy day, the day I introduced her to Alex, the man I’d been dating for over a year. But instead, it was a disaster.

Alex and I met at a charity event. He was charming and kind, always ready with a smile or a joke. We clicked immediately, and our relationship grew strong. We were serious, and I knew it was time for him to meet the most important person in my life – my daughter.

But I was scared. My divorce from Tom, Emma’s father, had been rough, and I worried about how she’d react to a new man in our lives.

Tom and I had shared custody of Emma. He usually babysat when I was out with Alex. Tom had already met Alex a few times and didn’t seem to have any problems with him. Or so I thought.

I spent days planning the perfect introduction. I made Emma’s favorite brunch – pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. I even bought a new dress, wanting everything to be perfect. Alex arrived right on time, holding a gift and wearing his most welcoming smile.

“Hey, Alex, come on in,” I greeted him, my voice shaking slightly.

“Thanks, Jess. I’m excited to finally meet Emma,” Alex said, handing me the gift. “I hope she likes this.”

“She will,” I replied, hoping it was true. “Let me go get her.”

I walked to the bottom of the stairs and called out, “Emma, sweetheart, can you come down here for a moment? There’s someone I want you to meet.”

I heard the sound of little feet running down the stairs. As soon as she saw Alex, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her face went pale, and she looked terrified.

“No! Mommy, please, no!” Emma screamed, tears streaming down her face. She ran to me, hiding behind my legs. “Don’t let him take me! Please, Mommy!”

I was stunned. Alex looked as confused as I felt. I knelt down to Emma’s level, trying to calm her down.

“Emma, honey, it’s okay. This is Alex. He’s a friend,” I said softly, stroking her hair.

“No! He’s bad! He will take me away! I don’t want to go!” she sobbed, clinging to me tightly.

“Why do you think he’ll take you away?” I asked, my heart breaking at her fear.

“Daddy said he will! Daddy showed me pictures and told me to run if I ever see him!” Emma cried.

I felt a surge of anger and confusion. Tom had done this? Why would he scare her like that?

Alex knelt down beside me, his face full of concern. “Emma, I’m not going to take you away. I promise. I just want to be your friend,” he said gently.

Emma didn’t respond. She just cried and held on to me tighter. I stood up, holding her in my arms, and turned to Alex.