Thursday, July 26, 2012
Jon wrapped the sheet tightly around himself while Richard called in the trace of the call. His heart was hammering inside his ears. She had escaped? He couldn’t believe it, she was the hero. The issue was now they had to find her before Jared did. Oh god they had to find her.
“I’ve got a trace!” Richard exclaimed collecting his things. “Pelham Bay Park?”
Jon stared at him and rubbed the two days stubble on his chin. “The Bronx. She’s alone out there in the middle of the damn Bronx?” Fuck.
“I’ve got an address, let’s get over there.”
Jon took two steps at a time back up to the bedroom, threw on a pair of jeans, a cap and a hoodie. Christ, what the hell were they getting themselves into? It was two-am and they were headed out to one of the no-go places after dark in the city. He stuffed a wad of bills into his jeans pocket along with his credit card and phone. He picked up his Swiss-Army pocket knife and paused. Would he need this?
He dropped it. Who was he kidding he’d never use it. He tied on some runners and jogged back down to Richard who was coated up and ready to go.
“Do you know what you’re doing? I mean what we’re walking into?”
“I do. I understand.”
Jon’s eyes widened and he swallowed hard as Richard tucked a handgun into his jacket. “Jesus Christ, I don’t even want to know.”
“Let’s go Jon.”
Jon called for a town car to collect them at the address that Richard had for the payphone but they would taxi it over as there was no time to lose.
He bowed his head into his hands in the car.
Please God, I know you’ve been kind to me over the years but please let us get out of this alive. All of us.
The streets whizzed past as they headed up the northeast route. They were crazy, some would say insane for even doing this without police back up but he had to trust Richard’s advice to keep this as simple as possible. No matter how deadly it might become.
His belly flip-flopped at the thought of her being holed up in god-knows where for two days. Parts of the Bronx weren’t places for a young woman, hell-any woman to be alone after dark. He picked at the denim on his knee and wondered if this was the right thing to do. He did have children to think about but hell he couldn’t stay tucked away and let Richard go it alone, it wasn’t his style.
Raindrops splattered the windshield of the car as they headed north. Since traffic was deserted for this time of morning they made it with twenty five minutes.
The narrower streets of ghetto housing slid past his back passenger window. It wasn’t all bad up here, the stories and the media blew it out of proportion most of the time. Sure there were some parts you just didn’t go to and there were affiliated gangs in the neighbouring areas. He crossed his hands and took a deep breath.
“Are we nearly there?” He asked the driver. Scattered people around the streets made him nervous, if it wasn’t Jared then Devon was at risk being out here alone. He’d read the news. He knew what happened in these parts. Especially to single white-females.
“Sure thing, Pelham Bay Park is just through here. You want me to drop you anywhere specific?” The cabby asked. Richard leaned forward and gave him the exact location and the cab made a right and then a left turn down a road, shadowed by trees.
“Here you go.”
Jon dug for some bills and handed the cabby a generous tip and then eyed them both.
“Thanks - you sure this is where you guys want to be?”
Jon nodded. “We’re sure.” He checked his watch. “Do you think you could wait until a town car turns up? Just in case we need you to leave again. I’m collecting a friend.”
The cabby checked his rear view mirror. “I can wait. For a twenty.”
Jon handed him one. “Thanks. Appreciated.”
Jon and Richard stepped out of the cab and immediately shouts could be heard from one of the neighbouring houses along with a scream.
“Guys-you’re on your own. I’ve got kids.” The cabby sped off and Jon cursed.
“Son of a bitch.”
“It’s ok.” Richard looked up. “This must be the payphone she called from.”
Jon pulled his hood over his head and followed Richard. “There’s no sign of her. Devon?” He called looking around praying to god that she would appear from somewhere. They had to find her and then they had to get the hell out of here before they got approached.
Devon shivered as the rain fell and the wind chased around her ankles. She sat huddled under a stoop that kept her semi-sheltered. The house looked pretty abandoned but she couldn’t be sure. She didn’t know how much time had passed but she just hoped that her father and Jon would find her soon. She wanted to go home. She wanted to go home and live.
If Jared found her now, she knew she would be pretty much dead. Her skin was cold, wet and teeth chattered trying to stay warm. She should move, get closer to the phone booth in case they came. Oh god how much she wanted them to come.
She stood and wrapped her arms around herself and walked back down the alley. She stopped as car lights bled onto the road and a car rolled slowly to a stop. She crouched hidden around the corner and out of sight from anyone that could find her.
There was a scream and the car sped off but she heard the sound of shoes crunching on gravel and waited a little longer. Muffled voices until there was one loud and clear.
She leapt and almost screamed in relief for him but she never got the chance. A hand snaked hard around her waist from behind and dragged her back two steps while another one cupped her mouth.
“Another word-another word and you are dead. You hear me?” She closed her eyes as cold steel pressed against her temple.
She sobbed but he didn’t drag her back any further. “So the cavalry came? As per usual your father is bailing you out and fuck you must be good in bed because I don’t know why the hell that other stupid idiot is so worried about you. He’s an idiot. And one that’s about to pay.”
She struggled to breathe through her nose and tears stung her eyes. So close. She was so close from this nightmare ending and now it was slipping through her fingers.
“I have been in hell because of you. I tried to give you an easy way out of this but you had to do it your way so now it’s time for your hell.”
She tried to speak but he wouldn’t take his hand away from her mouth. He pushed them forward out onto the street.
“Hey fuckers.” He announced as Jon and her father looked up and Jon’s eyes met hers. The connection immediately hit her deep in the chest but she was so afraid of Jared was going to do.
“Devon-shit.” Both of them took a step back and raised their hands.
“Jared. Listen to me. You need to let her go.” Richard said calmly. “Let her go and we let you go.”
Jared laughed. “Like I’m about to believe that old number. You can go fuck yourself if you think I’m that stupid. The only stupid thing I ever did was trust your stupid bitch of a daughter here.”
She screamed under his hand as he tightened his grip on her and pushed the gun harder against her temple. Tears spilled from her eyes as she watched Jon so helpless. He wanted to help her but he couldn’t. No one could.
“Jared listen to me. We’ll let you go. Hell we’ll even give you the money.”
Jon nodded. “I could give you a million straight away. If you come with us.”
Jared snickered. “It’s not enough. It’s over. She had her chance to make this right and she blew it. So now she must choose.”
The blood drained from her face and she closed her eyes as she knew with unbearable dread what was coming. Her feet were throbbing but her body was numb.
“You pick which one you want to live Devon. And I’ll kill the other. I don’t fucking even care about the prison time. It will be enough knowing I took something away from you.”
“Whoa-hey now son. Is that what you really want? There is a difference between first degree murder and illegally entering a country Jared. You have the chance to run. We’re giving you that.” Her father tried to calmly talk him down.
“I don’t care. Fucking pick one!”
Her chest heaved and her heart sobbed. She would never do it. The two people she loved most in the world were standing there and Jared had played his final hand. She would never be able to live with it. If one of them died it would be because of her. Her father who had sacrificed everything for her to keep her safe or Jon who had loved her whole heartedly even in spite of her flaws. No one she knew would make this choice and she wasn’t about to either.
She saw the fear in Jon’s eyes and it broke her heart that he was even here, even if it was for her. He didn’t deserve this.
Jared released his hand from her mouth. “Who’s it going to be?”
“Jared-I beg you. Don’t do this.” She cried.
He clicked the gun and aimed it forward.
“Is it him? Your prissy boyfriend.” He waved the gun in Jon’s direction. “Or dearest father. If he hadn’t interfered in the first place none of this would have happened.”
“I-can’t.” She sobbed. “Jared please. This is life you’re talking about not a few years in prison but life.”
“You screwed me over and ruined my life Devon. You came over here and lived the life we were supposed to live. I have to take that away from you, can’t you see that?”
“Then shoot me.”
Devon looked up as her father took a step forward. “Shoot me. Since it’s my fault. My fault I interfered in your relationship.”
Jared mused quietly. “It was your fault. She would have never chickened out if it wasn’t for you. You treated her like child and all she wanted was you to back the hell off.”
It was all lies. Devon knew that now and so did her father but Jared’s warped brain didn’t make any sense of it all. She trembled against his grasp, she fought the bile that boiled in her throat. She’d never forgive herself if he shot her father.
“It was my fault.” Her father quietly repeated as she met his gaze. He nodded and she slowly shook her head and blinked the tears.
“Make the choice Devon. Make the choice or I’ll kill them both.”
“Kill me.” She pleaded. “I’m the one that you want.”
“Devon-no!” Jon crouched down with his hands on his face.
He dragged her closer and pressed his lips against her forehead. “Too easy sweetheart. I’m not letting you out of this so easy.” The grasp around her neck tightened as she struggled to breathe.
Jon’s eyes teared as he nodded and she nodded back. No words were necessary. She loved him and he loved her. None of this was ever meant to happen, not to him. Not to the man that saved her from everything including herself.
“I’m running out of patience here. You never did like your father so I don’t know why you are so emotional about it.”
Her father stared at her. But it wasn’t a sad stare. She’d seen it before. Years ago when they used to gang up on her mother. He’d give her a look before he did something and it made her heart race. She had to give them that chance. She stared again and he nodded slightly.
She stepped back, closed her eyes and rammed one of her feet down on his boot.
He shouted in pain. “You fucking bitch!” His grip released and she fell to the ground, her palms grating on concrete as three gunshots were fired. She stayed down scared to look, scared to look up and see if the two people she loved dead on the road.
Please god. Please god.
The shots rung in her ears and she kept her eyes closed until hands hauled her up by the shoulders. She was swept into strong arms and she held on for dear life. The smell was familiar, spice mixed in with rain. She looked up and sobbed when blue eyes stared back at her.
“You’re ok, we’re ok.”
Tears spilled. “Dad?” She twisted around, her heart in her throat.
“I’m right here Devon.”
She turned and saw her father standing there still holding a handgun. “God-Dad!” Oh god. Jared lay motionless sprawled on the pavement in a pool of blood.
Richard nodded. “I’m pretty sure of it.”
“Oh god.” She burst into tears as she hugged her father. His gun fell to the ground and he wrapped his arms hard around her. “You saved us.” She whispered.
“He would have killed all of us in a heartbeat Devon. I wasn’t risking it.”
“I love you Daddy. How will I ever be able to repay you for this?” What did this mean? Her father had just killed someone.
He held her at arm's length by her shoulders. “By living your life the way you are. I’m so proud of you baby girl.”
She shook her head. “I don’t deserve it.”
“Stop that. Yes you do. I’m going to fine. Jared was threatening to kill you and Jon. I had to step in and that’s how the police will see it.”
“Will they? What if you go to jail?” Her hands shook.
“Shhh. Just shhh. You’re in shock.” He slipped off his jacket and draped it around her. “The police will be here soon. I’ll get them to come to the penthouse. They’ll want a statement.”
“But how will all this work out?”
He rubbed her shoulders. “Only as his ex-girlfriend that left the country when he was put in jail. You are no longer charged remember. They can’t prove it. This is open and shut as it gets.”
“Richard, how can I ever thank you? Do you need me to get you a lawyer? I’m happy to pay for anything.” Jon butted in and stood behind Devon. The weight behind her was a comfort.
“God-I’m sorry.” She wrapped her arms back around Jon. “Please help him anyway we can.”
“Thanks. That would be appreciated.”
The police cars arrived within minutes and a quiet street in the Bronx was transformed into a scene that rivalled any movie scene. Richard talked to the police while Jon stood with Devon.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that...Jon I don’t know what I would have done if-”
He grabbed her hands and squeezed them. “Hey. Don’t worry about that now. It’s over. Are you ok Devon? I mean are you really ok? He didn’t-”
She shook her head. “No. I’m ok.” She may have been ok on the outside but inside she was a mess. She wanted to scream, she wanted to be happy this was over but her father was taking the blame for this. What if he spent the rest of his life in jail? She almost got Jon killed. She was not ok.
His hand cupped her cheek and his thumb scraped away the tears that came. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too. I’m so cold…” She stuttered.
“I know. Me too. Your Dad’s right you’re in shock- just breathe Dev. I’ll hold you.” He shook with her and the thought of losing him was still so real she hoped it would go away. She held onto his hands tight and rested her head against his chest as the police combed the area. She was happy it was over but was indifferent about how she felt.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Jon sank down on the couch his phone still gripped in his hand unsteadily. Her voice had been unwavering and strong but she would have been staying strong with that fucking low life creep sitting next to her. Five million dollars was in his range but fuck if he wanted to hand that creep a dime.
Richard was on the phone to his cop buddies to help trace the call, hell if it was even traceable. His nails dug into his skull as he bowed his head and wished to fuck he was watching a Bruce Willis action special instead of living one.
He knew now just one thing. He loved Devon. Against all odds of being a bitter twisted divorced guy and having already lived twenty years in a marriage. He loved her. He would do it all again if he got her back. He’d make sure of it.
Dusk was settling in and soon it would be night. He couldn’t bear to think about her locked up with him during the night. What if he did something to her? Fuck-what if-
“Boss, you need anything?” Josh popped his head into the living room.
Jon shook his head. “No, just go home tonight Josh. It’s not like we’re unsafe anymore.” He rubbed the dull ache in the centre of his chest. He doubted sleep was even on the cards at this point.
“I’ll come back in the morning, but call if you need anything, yeah?”
Jon nodded. “Yep.”
Josh left and the house hung with silence. His feet were restless and he wriggled on the couch as he had no clue what to do next. He grabbed his coat and scarf, cell and keys and signalled to Richard he was leaving.
“I need some air.”
Richard covered his phone. “You sure that’s such a good idea?”
Jon jammed his hands in his pockets. “Not like he’s out there now, is it? He’s fucking got what he wanted.”
“Ok but be careful and try and not be too long. Devon needs you to be strong as well.”
Jon didn’t say a word and let the door slam behind him. He wasn’t what Devon needed right now was he? He was helpless. Yes he had a great big pile of money but he wasn’t even sure that was the right thing to do. And they couldn’t involve the police properly like normal folk, well not at this point anyway without risk to Devon.
His feet hit the cobblestones of Mercer with a quickened pace. The cool air had settled into the city as winter nipped on their heels. Whistles and faded sirens were they only sound over the hum of traffic from the busier streets nearby. He walked without care except to avoid traffic as he crossed each intersection. He took a turn into the quieter run-down streets of Soho. It wasn’t a bad neighbourhood even at this time of night but he kept aware of his surroundings.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Canal Street and the street merchants, littered newspapers and trash cans were all that were left down here. His feet moved faster and his chest tightened. He must have walked two, three miles? It wasn’t enough. Nothing was enough.
His step fell into a jog until it blended into a run. His head screamed as the cold air whipped and his calves burned as he pushed through the pain barrier. A kaleidoscope of lights spun past him as he ran and ran until he came to a dead end. He crouched against the wall and his lungs heaved for breath. One hand clawed the brick and the other covered his eyes as he wretched two sobs.
Is this what he had been reduced to?
He took three more deep breaths and his heart rate steadied. The night lights came back into focus and the world was still there. Still turning.
Pull yourself fucking together.
It was all he could do for her. Richard was right and he could see that now. Meltdowns weren’t going to help her now. He stood, brushed his jacket down and wiped his brow full of sweat. He strode back into the crowds on the main drags and slowly walked his way back to his apartment. He took the stairs and climbed each one slowly building a resolve when he was at the top he’d be strong again.
When he was nearly there he stopped when something caught his eye tucked in beside the braces for the third floor railing. He bent down and picked up the twisted heart ring and sighed. “Oh baby.” He kissed it and tucked it into his pocket as he looked around the stairwell and wondered how the struggle played out.
“You won’t get the best of us.” He vowed quietly and moved back up to the apartment. It was well after midnight and Richard was sitting in the armchair.
“You all right?”
Jon sat opposite him and nodded. “I am now. Did you find anything?”
Richard crossed his hands on his stomach. “Nothing yet but I have some guys running scans in the areas and to see if we can see anyone that called your number via the satellites. It’ll just take some time.”
Jon shrugged. “I don’t know what that even means but great.”
“You should try and get some sleep Jon. You’ll be no good to her without it.”
He got up. “I should but what about the money? Should I get it?”
Richard half-smiled. “Let’s discuss that in the morning when we’ve both had a couple of hours sleep. I’ll stay in here if that’s ok.”
“Yes, of course. There is a blanket under the couch and help yourself to anything you need or to use the bathroom to shower. Everything you need is in there.”
“Try and get some sleep son.”
Jon picked up the whiskey bottle. “Help yourself to any of the booze. And Richard thanks.”
Richard nodded. “Don’t thank me yet. But we’ll get her back, ok?”
Jon managed a small smile but his heart was heavy. “Sure.”
He stripped down and crawled into his bed after two shots of whiskey and closed his eyes. His only hope was that sleep would claim him and that tomorrow they would have better news.
Her head pounded.
She’d kill to pop an Advil or two about now. The darkness had set in for the second night and she was drifting in and out of sleep. She was weary, rundown and tired but afraid to sleep. Afraid what promises that they darkness would offer her.
Would Jon come through with the money? Her gut told her he probably would. He loved her enough to but he’d still be angry if Jared made it away with five million of his money and she’d feel guilty as well.
The silhouette of a man in a chair by the window was what she could make out in the room. His breathing kicked in time with the hum of the air conditioning unit just like it did last night. All she could remember was inside this room. There was more to her life but it felt so boxed in right now. What would happen tomorrow? Would Jon show up with the cash and she’d be sent home in his arms? Somehow she didn’t think so. That would be too easy.
The day had been so long, Jared had left her alone for most of it thankfully than hovering all over her. But there was only so much she could take. She couldn’t wait till tomorrow. She couldn’t stand to let this come down to a stand-off that may or may not end in her favour.
She did it five years ago when she chose to run away from him, she could do it again. At least she had somewhere to go this time. At least she had people who supported her.
“Jared.” She spoke into the darkness.
He stirred. “What is it?”
“Bathroom.” Her heart pounded in her ears as he grunted and switched on the light.
“You did always get up in the middle of the night. Nothing’s changed huh?”
“Yup. I guess so.” She answered without fighting him. He undid the rope and hauled her up off the bed and pushed her in the direction of the bathroom.
She stood again in front of the cracked mirror and washed up. Her arms were shaking from being bound above her head and the muscles pulsed in pain. She looked like a mess. She tucked her hair behind her ears and splashed some more water on her face. She had no shoes on but there would be no time for that, she’d just have to run if she even got the chance.
“Oh god.” She steadied herself against the basin. If she failed this time she had no doubt he’d do something awful to her. She studied the cracked mirror a little closer and picked at it. A shard came freely out, it wasn’t big and she doubt it would do a lot of damage but it should deter him for a few seconds. If she could do it.
She wrapped her hand around the shard and walked back out. It was still dark outside but that would make it easier to run and hide. Where ever they hell they were.
“Can-Can I just stretch for five minutes?” She winced as she leaned back. “Everything aches.”
“Do I look like I give a shit? Get back on the bed.”
“One sec.” She bent back over and made sure the shard tip was ready as he made his way towards her. It was now or never she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
“You’re determined to be a right little-”
She came up and shoved the shard into skin, she hit his shoulder and he backed away and bellowed in pain. She leapt towards the door and fumbled with the locks, this time sliding them open quickly.
“Yes!” She flung the door open and Jared grabbed it but she squeezed through before he could close it again.
“Get back here you little bitch.”
She spun and kicked the door back so it connected with Jared and adrenaline pumped through her veins like a new lease of life as she pounded down the narrow corridor. Peeled off paint and chopped carpet was left in her wake as she rounded down a staircase hearing footsteps drumming behind her. She flew down, one-two steps at a time and through a run-down reception area.
The doubles doors out to the street opened with a crash and she kept on running. God, where the hell was she? The dark narrow gravel streets were not recognizable and there was nothing around. He gravel crunched under her feet, grating the skin but she kept running. She could hear shouts behind her but she dared not turn around in-case he was in reaching distance of her.
God she ached, but the resolve kept driving her. Pumping each beat of her heart.
She rounded the corner and zigzagged through trees that led into a reserve. She was crazy to be running into here in the middle of the night but she had no choice. She ran under the canopy of trees where the moonlight barely hit the ground and stood behind a large oak. Voices in the distance kept her weary and the flicker of fire from a bomb fire crackled into the night.
God, where the hell am I?
She took three deep breaths and stayed where she was.
“Well, what do we have here?”
Devon jumped but it wasn’t Jared she was faced with. A taller figure in a hood moved in front of her, the flame red tip of his cigarette burned like a beacon.
“Please. I’m just trying to get away-” She raked her hand through her hair. “I don’t want any trouble.”
“Sounds like you’re running away from a whole lot.”
“I am. I need a phone. Do you know where I can find one?”
He stood back and popped his knuckles. “Young white girls shouldn’t be here alone. You’ll get yourself killed.”
She chuckled at the irony. “Well I was running away from that so I don’t know if it’s any better.”
“You need to use the payphone back down the street. You better hope girl it’s working. It’s usually smashed in for quarters.”
“I just have to call someone-”
“Hey man - can I help you?” The guys stepped away and back into the darkness.
“Have you seen a girl? My girlfriend is in here? I seem to have lost her.”
“I did see a girl a while ago-what did she look like?”
Devon took her cue and quietly ran back the way she came while he talked to Jared. Her face was burning and each stride she took crunched twigs under her feet. They were likely to be bleeding but she wasn’t thinking about that, she wasn’t thinking about anything except for getting to that phone.
She kept looking over her shoulder and hoping Jared wasn’t following her. She found the street and thankfully it was deserted. And she found the payphone. The rain had started to fall and the wind whipped around her legs.
She inched into the booth and said a silent hallelujah when she picked it up and there was dial tone. She dialled the operator quickly and asked to dial collect to Jon’s cell phone, reciting the number. Thank god she could remember it.
It rang painfully. She held the earpiece and kept looking over her shoulder. Scared that Jared was going to appear out of nowhere and it would be game over.
“Hello?” Jon croaked.
Her chest collapsed in relief and tears sprung to her eyes. “Jon?! I’ve escaped...I don’t know where I am. I’m at a phone booth.”
“Wh-Devon, fuck! Do you know anything about where you are? What do the streets look like?”
“Run down, the area is definitely run down and there is a nearby park.”
“Christ that could be anywhere? Where is Jared?”
“I don’t know - god. I’m scared I just want to be home.”
“I know you do baby, I know you do. I’m running down to your father. Just stay on the phone. We couldn’t get a trace on the call you made from Jared so whatever you do stay on the line.”
She heard muffled yelling. “Dev-Dev is there a number, like a serial on the payphone you’re at?”
Devon looked over the battered payphone and the number looked like it had been scratched off with a coin. “No, it’s been scratched off.” Her heart raced as she looked over her shoulder, the rain now falling harder.
“Ok Dev... Your father is going to get the trace we’ve been on the line long enough. Just hold on.”
She spied a figure rounding the block. “Someone’s coming. I should go.”
“Your Dad says go and find somewhere safe and stay there. We’ll come and find you. We’ll come to the phone booth so check in a couple of hours - god depending where you are. We’ll come for you ok?”
“Ok-Jon-” She glanced back again. “I love you.”
“I love you too baby, hold tight I’m coming for you.”
She hung up and quickly snuck out of the booth and down the alley. To her relief the person kept walking past. She sank down on a stoop that provided some shelter from the rain and shade from the road. No one would see her here, she just had to sit and wait. And hope like hell Jared wouldn’t find her.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Seconds were like hours, minutes like days and moments like lifetimes as she waited for Jared to come back. Her arms throbbed and her wrists were raw from the constant struggle with rope that she was losing. She could kill for a drink of water as her throat was like she’d swallowed a ball of sawdust.
Where was she? She tried to listen for traffic or anything that would give her an idea where they were but all there was the hum of the air conditioner. The room was basic and she was tied up on the double bed and from where she could reach to see there was a table and chairs next to a bathroom.
Her gaze flicked over to the bathroom one last time before she closed her eyes again and tried to rest. Her strength was fading and god knows how long she would be left like this. She sighed as she saw him in the distance standing on the beach, his arms in his pockets smiling broadly at her. His hair was a little lighter and his face had been kissed by the sun.
“Hey you.” His silky smoky voice filled her with more warmth than the sunshine that was beating down on her.
“Hey...” She managed. She knew it wasn’t real. She knew that the warm sand that was pooling around her toes was nothing more than the edges of the dusty blanket at the end of the bed. She knew that the sea salted air that whipped through her hair was nothing more than the breeze from the weak air conditioning unit.
“I’m here for you baby.” He held his hand out and she could almost reach it. Their finger tips brushed and her heart sank.
“Be strong. I’ll find you. You know I always do.”
“I’m not strong Jon, not for this.”
“Yes you are. Just hold on.”
He was slammed out of her head as her eyes opened and Jared walked in. “Hey, look who is awake.”
His eyes ran over her and up to her wrists. He grabbed one quickly. “Think you can try and get yourself out of this one huh?”
She gasped as he squeezed it tight before he dropped it back down and sat next to her on the bed.
“Amazing the things that they teach you in prison. Unbreakable knots. Learnt that incase I wanted to hang myself or someone else.” His eyebrows wiggled.
She swallowed and closed her eyes but he shook her.
“Stay awake I need you to talk soon. I have a job for you.”
She mumbled against the gag and to her surprise he tugged it down from her mouth but not at a price. The tip of the knife glinted in the light.
“Try anything and I will slit your throat, are we clear?”
She nodded and took a deep hard breath without obstruction. “Oh God.” She croaked.
He lifted a water bottle to her lips. “Drink it.”
She had no time to even consider if it was water or poison but she didn’t care. Her body craved in and much to her relief it was and it soothed her throat.
He capped it and leaned over her. “Got nothing to say to me huh? After all these years.”
Her heart jammed in her throat. She knew if she showed weakness he would exploit it. “Why this Jared? Do you think you’ll really make it out of the country alive?”
He laughed. “You are not seriously asking me why, are you? I think you know why.”
“You need money?”
“Of course I need fucking money.” He snapped. “Good choice on the rock-star by the way. The only question is how much is he willing to pay me?” He grinned down at her and swept a lock of her hair away from her face. “Will you really be worth what I ask him for?” He shrugged. “Maybe not. Maybe he’ll cut his losses and move on.”
“And what-you’ll kill me?”
Jared laughed and rubbed his knee. “Oh that’s too easy lovely. Way too easy.” His thumb traced over her lip. “If he doesn’t want you. I’ll take you with me. It’s the least I can do to pay you back for the three years of hell I went through.”
“Jared I’m sorry for that.” It was the truth, she was sorry it had to come to that but she had no choice in the end.
“Oh spare me your pity and apologies. You know what you did and I’ll give you the credit for it. I always thought you were a spinless little bitch but you proved me wrong there in the end.”
“I should have broken up with you earlier.” She whispered as she winced. Her arms were seriously cramping.
“So you could run home to Daddy?”
“I was an idiot to ever believe you and that is something I’ll regret for the rest of my life. More than taking the money and running.” She foolishly hoped it hurt him.
Jared paced the room. “Shut up! Just shut up. You need to fix this and you need to fix this now or I swear to God Devon I will fuck you up so bad that you’ll beg me to kill you.”
Her belly flip flopped as she forced the fear back down. She couldn’t lose it, he’d get too much enjoyment from it. He’d know he was winning whatever sick game he was playing. She had to believe she would walk away from this no matter how hopeless it seemed right now.
She licked her lips and swallowed again. “What is it you want Jared? How much?” She didn’t even know if Jon was willing to hand over his well earned money to save her. Would she really be saved? Would he let her go if he got any money at all?
“I think a million for every year you’ve been away makes good business sense to me. And right now, you’re going to call him and tell him this. He’s got forty-eight hours to do it.”
“And if not?” She asked. “How will that ever get what you want? You’ll be screwed even if you take me with you, we’ll have no money.”
“I told you bitch. Shut up!”
He held her phone and dialled Jon’s number. “Now you will tell him he has forty-eight hours to get me five million dollars and I will be disconnecting the call before father dearest can trace it.” He held the phone away for a second. “And I mean it. No funny business.”
She nodded and held her breath as the phone rang, her lifeline. She needed to hear his voice. It rang a few times before it clicked. Her heart raced and leapt into her throat as his voice came on the line. She forced back the tears that threatened to spill.
“Hello?” He asked cautiously.
“Jon.” Her voice wavered but took a deep breath to hold it steady. “Jon, it’s me.”
“Devon! Where -god-are you ok? Has he hurt you?”
The wave of concern rushed down the line and over her like a comforting warm blanket. “I’m ok.” She said quietly.
“God-Devon I’m so sorry, where are you?” She’d never heard the panic in his voice before until now.
“Enough chit-chat” Jared growled behind her.
“Five million dollars in forty-eight hours.” She relayed to Jon.
“What? The fucking prick. You don’t worry about Devon we’ll get this sorted. You just stay strong for me ok?”
“Five million dollars, forty-eight hours to get it.” She repeated quietly, she was on the verge of tears but she held strong.
“You listen to me Devon. I will find you and when I do he will pay a thousand times over for what he’s doing to you ok? I love you and if he hurts you I’ll fucking kill him myself. You hear me? So hang on for me baby. Hang on because we’ll find you.”
*click* Jared pressed the disconnect call button. She took a deep breath.
“Touching.” Jared grinned. “Too bad he will never find me. That was under thirty seconds.”
“I need to use the bathroom.” Her voice shook but she needed a minute. Away from him, away from his stare. A minute to fall apart.
Jared sneered. “There are no windows in there so don’t even think about it.” He reached over her and cut the ropes. “But I won’t deny you the basic comforts because that’s just the big man I am.” He held her wrists and lifted her off the bed and towards the bathroom. When the door slammed behind her she was blessedly alone. She sank to the floor in a pile and sobbed silently into her arm.
She needed Jon, she hated how much she needed him but she did. He had been the one that made her believe in herself and in the world again. Away from the darkness of her past and now it was back here in her future.
You have to stay strong
She had to or she was as good as off dead right now. She rubbed her wrists that were raw from the rope biting into them and her stretched her arms as she stood steadily and took care of her business. She washed up, the cold water a relief to her hot skin. She let the cold beads of water trickle down her face and stared at herself in the cracks in the mirror but jumped when the fists banged on the door behind her.
“Hurry up Devon. No funny business.”
She straightened herself up and looked at herself one more time in the mirror and took a deep breath. “I can do this.”
“Coming.” She opened the door and Jared grabbed her by the shoulder and shoved her towards the bed. She saw the door to her freedom briefly and took a chance. She jammed her elbow back into him and leaped towards the door. He swore and shouted as she fumbled with the lock to get out. She didn’t dare look behind her as her hand landed on the door handle. She twisted it once and then lost her footing as he grabbed her from behind tumbling her backwards against him. His arm came around her neck and she held her tight against him.
“That was a big fucking mistake girl. A big one.” She screamed with everything she had in the vain hope someone would hear them and tried to wrestle from his grip but failed.
“Let me go. You’ll fuck up your own life for this.”
She was shoved forward and he spun her around and slammed her against the door. She cried out as the hook dug into her back. His palm cupped her face and held her head hard against the door. He brought knee between her legs and pinned her there.
“You ever try that shit again and you will be sorry. Am I clear?” He squeezed her jaw until she nodded and then released it. His eyes flicked down to her lips and then to her eyes and he pressed his lips against hers.
“You sure you don’t want one last fuck?” he asked. “You were always good in the sack.”
She shook her head and stopped the bile in her throat. “Please.” Anything but that.
He laughed. “Pity.” And slammed her head against the door. It didn’t knock her out but she slid down the door and the room spun out of control. He picked her back up and carried her to the bed. She feebly tried to struggle but the darkness was calling. He roughly twisted the rope around her wrists and her head was pushed against the pillow. Jared leaned over and his finger ran down her cheek.
“Night night sunshine.”
Friday, July 13, 2012
Jon checked his watch, Devon should be here any minute as they needed to get going to Teterboro. He looked up when Josh walked in.
“Great day for the elevators to be broken huh?”
Jon frowned. “Yeah really great, where is Devon? We gotta get going.”
Josh looked up as he picked up one of the bags by the door. “She’s not up here? She went up about five minutes before me."
Jon swallowed. “Devon!” He called as he stepped onto the step that led upstairs. He popped his knuckle and headed back to the front door. His heart rate quickened. “She was inside the building.”
Josh headed back out. “I’ll check downstairs.”
Jon nodded and fiddled in his pocket as Josh left for his phone. He hit Devon’s number and it went straight to voicemail. He tapped her a quick text in case she was out of coverage. Stupid fucking city bandwidth. He glanced out to the city, he was anxious to get them on that plane and to safety.
His phone buzzed and he grinned as Devon’s number came up. “Hey baby. Where are you?”
The laugh made his knees buckle. “Baby can’t come to the phone right now.”
His heart slammed into his throat. “Where is she?” He spluttered as he gripped the side of the door. Anything but this, god--anything but this.
“She’s taking a wee nap right now. If you’re lucky she’ll wake up. You better start clearing out the coffers rock star, or your girlfriend dies.”
“Fuck, oh fuck!” he gasped for air and begged his legs to move. He had her--the son of bitch had her. How did he get into the building? What did he want? Would he let her go if he actually paid him any money, alive?
Jon made it one floor before he sank against the bannister and heaved. He couldn’t breathe. God. Anything but her. He crouched and coughed as the bile burned its way up his throat.
“Jon?” Josh asked.
Jon looked up as Josh ran up the stairs. “He’s got Devon. He just called me.” He puffed.
“Shit.” Josh hauled Jon up off the floor and supported him back up the stairs to his apartment. Black and white splotches blended into colour as he sank down on the couch and put his head into his hands.
“Call her father.” Jon demanded as Josh started to dial.
“Just sit tight, I’ll call her father and the police.”
Jon laid back and covered his eyes as he got his breathing under control. He had to stay. His hands balled into fists. All the power in the world, and here he was useless. He’d played by the rules for so long. No one had ever touched him before like this.
What did he mean by asleep? Was she knocked unconscious in the struggle? His heart twisted. She must be terrified. This was her safe place. How the hell did he get into the stairwell?
He stood up and swung his liquor cabinet open and poured two fingers of scotch.
Josh popped his head in. “Richard is on his way over.”
Jon nodded and threw the whole glass back into his mouth. He winced as the liquid burned his throat. “Good.”
“Jon don’t you think you should-”
Jon poured himself another scotch. “I think you should shut the fuck up. She went missing on your watch.” It wasn’t Josh’s fault. Josh was excellent at what he did and he was trained to deal with over-enthusiastic woman that wanted a piece of his cock, not psychopath boyfriends that outwitted every move they made.
Josh nodded and left him alone again. He scrolled through every last contact in his iPhone as he paced up and down the room and then laughed. Who the hell could he call? There was no one in his world that would even understand this. He sank onto the couch defeated with his drink.
The clock ticked around thirty painful minutes and each minute that passed his gut grew more restless. Jon sighed and lifted the glass up again and swirled the liquid around. “Fuck.” He smashed the glass against the wall, and whiskey ran down like blood.
“Throwing glasses against walls isn’t going to help.”
Jon turned as Richard came into the room. “What are we going to do?”
Richard nodded and held out his hand. “What phone did he ring? I need the number so I can see if there is any trace on it.”
Jon handed the phone over and showed him the call history.
“Dammit.” Richard cursed.
“Too short. I’ll get a friend to run this at the lab anyway--they may be able to pick up something. Now, what exactly did he say?”
Jon admired the steely determination in Richard but realized it was a cop thing. He was ready to freak out and Richard was stone cold. “He said Devon was asleep at the moment and that I should start to clear out my coffers or she’ll die.”
“Dammit. Ok he wants something from us and as long as he wants something from us, nothing will happen to Devon.”
“How can you be so sure, he’s a fucking fruitcake that has my-your daughter.”
“Jon. We’ve got to stay calm, son. I know it’s scary and twisted what’s happening, but we have to stay calm. One false slip up and we could lose her. Do you think I want to lose her now that I’ve just found her?”
Jon sighed. “No of course not. I just feel so helpless. We were so close.” He punched his fist down on the table. “So damn close to getting out of here.” The thought of her alone and alone with Jared. What he could do to her. Jon swore if he ever thought about touching his Devon he would be a dead man.
“Let’s just be reasonable, let me make some calls, please just stay calm. You have to for Devon.”
“I can’t be reasonable. But make no mistake, if he harms her...” Jon raked his hand through his hair. “If he harms her he will be sorry.”
Richard gripped the top of his arm and squeezed it. “I know, Jon. I know.”
He stood, his hand on his hips. She was really gone, this was really happening. He had to deal with it, there was no way out. No escaping to St. Bart’s like a spoiled rich kid. This was happening. He took a deep breath.
“What do you suggest we do now?”
Sunlight burned against her face. Her eyelids flickered. It was hard to move, her arms and legs felt like lead. Her nose burned with each breath. She gasped as she tried to stretch, but realized her wrists were bound above her head. Her eyes snapped open and she tried to scream, but nothing came out. She was gagged.
Oh God. He found me. Her heart raced in her chest.
She tugged her wrists once, but they were secured tight. What had happened to Jon? Had he left him alone? God, what did he want? Was he going to kill her?
The possibility smacked her in the face as the door to the small room opened. She twisted her head but she couldn’t get a good view of him. His footsteps were as heavy as her heart was pounding.
“Honey. I’m home.”
He bent over her and he came into view. He was the same, weathered but the same. Stark blond hair that was dirtier now and piercing blue eyes. She flinched as his thumb scraped over her cheek.
“There there. You’re safe now.” His gaze sliced right through her and he grinned and then laughed.
“You’ve been having some fun here huh? Enjoy our money?”
She sucked in her breath as his thumb traced over her lips. “Enjoy our money?” He asked again and the tiny tear slid down her cheek.
She needed to stay strong, it was all she had left. All she could use to fight him and not let him know he got to her.
“I think you did. I think you had a gay-old time. Screwed a rock star. Opened a business. Lived a life.” She gasped as his hands gripped her neck and her heart threatened to burst from her chest.
“You know where I’ve been? Hell. Fucking hell Devon while you swanned around New York living the high life.”
His fingertips dug into her skin but he didn’t tighten his grip. “It would be too easy to kill you right now. Satisfying, but too easy when I don’t have what I want.”
Her throat was scorched dry. Her arms ached.
She closed her eyes and wished it was a dream. Like before. And when she woke she would be in Jon’s arms. Safe and sound. Safe and sound…
His hand slid down her side and she gasped as her eyes opened.
“Despite you being a backstabbing bitch. You’re still a hot and tight little thing. Or is tight debatable? That Bon Jovi character probably stretched you well and good. Little whore.”
Tears fell freely down her cheeks. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t do it? Jared was an asshole but was he a superior asshole? She should have never done what she did but what other choice did she have? He’d sucked her in and it was all her own fault she’d believed anything he ever had told her. Two wrongs didn’t make a right but the line wasn’t as black and white he seemed to think it was.
He raised his eyebrow as his hand slid over her thigh. Her skin crawled at any possibility of what could come next but he folded his arms.
“You’re lucky I have to be somewhere Devon but we can continue this…later.” He leaned over her again and the smell of stale alcohol and smoke hovered over her.
Her whole body coiled tight as his lips touched hers.
“Now be a good girl.”
And then he was gone. The moment the door clicked her lungs gave way and she heaved for a breath and choked on the tears that welled inside her. She was in hell but she had to fight. Jon had fought to keep her so she had to do the same.
She tugged hard until the rope cut her wrists in attempt to pull herself free but they were tied too tight. She panted and growled again willing every muscle in her body to tear herself free but she couldn’t.
“God.” She managed muffled against the gag in her mouth. Screaming wasn’t an option muted. “Help me, somebody please.” She whispered jamming her eyes shut as her body burned. Someone out there had to find her before Jared did god knows what to her.
She needed Jon, she needed the protection in his arms and his voice. She just prayed to god they would figure out what happened to her and that Jared fucked up and left them a clue to where they were.
She was in trouble. Deep deep trouble.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Jon was up early while Devon was down at the shop with Josh to prepare for their few days away. Jared hadn’t contacted her since the picture message he’d sent her of him and Jon and as far as he was concerned it could stay that way.
He zipped up two sports bags with his and Devon’s things and dropped them by the front door for the driver. He wasn’t one to run out on things but Richard agreed that this was the best thing for the situation, right now. He’d called his parents and now his thumb hovered over Dorothea’s number. He’d been in two minds to tell her what was really going on but now that it was so real he didn’t have a choice as she had to be aware what was happening. Especially for the kids.
He’d consulted with Richard who obviously knew a whole lot more about psychopaths than he did and Richard had suggested he needed to tell his ex-wife so they could at least be vigilant and have some security. It was unlikely that his family was a target but now he wasn’t going to take the risk.
“Hello.” She answered it hastily. Jon figured she would be running from one end of Jersey to the other as she usually did with her own side-projects.
“Hi Dottie, it’s me.”
“Dottie? You haven’t called me that in ages Jon. What’s up?”
“I’m leaving town for a few days. I’m heading to St Barth’s with Devon.”
“Well--that’s great. You don’t need to check in with me when you want a get-laid fest you know that right?”
He chuckled. “No, I don’t. But I need to tell you why we’re leaving as I want you to be aware in the coming days.”
The line went silent and then a door closed. “Ok, I can hear you properly now. What’s going on? What have you done?”
Jon rolled his eyes and then took a deep breath. “I haven’t done anything. Devon’s ex-boyfriend is in town and he's a nut job. He’s after Devon - well or me.”
Dot laughed but then stopped when she realized Jon wasn’t. “So it’s not just stalking--it’s more serious than that?”
Jon raked his hand through his hair and tapped his knuckles against the railing. “Yeah it is more serious. Devon left him behind in New Zealand for the right reasons and he’s done some time. So he’s a little angry.”
“Jesus. So call the police?”
“I have.” It wasn't a complete lie, Richard was technically the police but Dorothea would be insistent on it otherwise. “They said to lay low--as soon as he’s detected being here he’ll be deported. So that’s why I made the decision to get out of here for a few days or a week. We’ll see how it goes but I wanted to be honest with you because I think we need to get a guy watching you guys.”
She laughed. “Oh you’re not serious? We’re not the royal family.”
“Dottie. I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think that there was an element of risk. It’s slight but I’m not willing to take that when you and the kids are concerned.”
“What did he do time for?”
“He robbed a bank.” He left out the fact Devon did as well. Dorothea would never understand that and he’d promised Devon that this would stay between them.
“Ok-god.” She blew her breath out on the phone and then sighed. “Ok, do what you think is right and I’ll go along with it. But the kids better not be impacted here.”
“They won’t be as long as we have some protection. He’s more interested in either Devon or money and he knows I’ll pay it to protect her.”
“Jesus Jon, I don’t want to interfere but are you sure you’re doing the right thing here, with her? She’s not going to do one over on you or anything?”
He wasn’t angry that she had suggested it, she only knew what he’d told her. So he couldn’t blame her for asking it. “No, she’s not like that. I know her. I promise. She’s lovely and I love her.”
“Well I’m glad. It’s about time you found someone more stable than the one night stands you were having.”
“Dottie...” he warned. But again Dorothea was only stating the obvious like she always had.
“I’m just saying. You do so much better when you’re in a relationship. You like the company - no matter how much you won’t admit it.”
His ex-wife still knew him well. She should, they’d still been together just under twenty years before they separated. “I’ll give you that. You’ve met her. You’d know. You judge a good character.”
“Yes and Devon was lovely. Steph thinks the world of her. Especially after she arranged that job for her and Jesse, well he thinks she’s hot. He won’t admit that to me but I heard him being teased by Steph.”
Jon laughed. It still hurt that he didn’t have that day to day interaction with his kids like he used to as he imagined the way Steph would relentlessly tease Jesse. But he’d give it right back to his older sister.
“I did know that. How is her boyfriend?”
“Chase is a good kid. When you get back you should meet him.”
“Uh, we’ll see. I probably should so I can talk to him man to man.”
“Oh she’d just love that! Seriously Jon. If you think we need this you just let me know what to do next and I’ll make sure we’re accounted for at any time. But if you even think there is any danger, even a pinch - you have to tell me. No matter what. And if anything happens with you and Devon.”
Jon nodded. “I can do that. I’ll keep in touch via e-mail but will call if there are any developments. I have Josh with us, so I’ll get him to get hold of Mike Rew and get you someone.” His chest was tight. He secretly wished the lights would come back on and the director would yell cut and he could go back to his real life, where there were no psychopaths. Just him and Devon.
“Ok-good. Are you ok?”
“Of course.” He lied. “Devon is the one I’m worried about but she’ll be fine once I get her away from here.” He wouldn’t fall apart now, not when so many people were depending on him.
“Take care Jon and I need to go. Give the boys a call later, they miss you.” His heart sank. He’d been so wrapped up in all this that he’d not spent as much time as he’d hoped with them.
“I will. I’ll call once we’re settled on the island. Thanks Dorothea. For being good about this.”
“That’s ok. Just be careful and keep in touch with me.”
He smiled as they said their goodbyes and disconnected. He needed a drink. And a smoke. In that order. The sooner Jared was out of their lives the better and the sooner he got Devon away from his clutches it would be better.
It would be ok. He may have had to say it a few times with feeling, but it would be ok.
“You’re the best, what would I do without you?” Devon hugged Jonathan as she finished handing over the week's appointments and plans.
“I’m not sure I should be glad you are going to be someone safe, or be insanely jealous you’re going to be on a tropical beach island for a romantic getaway.”
She shrugged. “I don’t feel like it’s a holiday even though guess it is. I feel funny about the whole thing if I’m honest.”
Jonathan rubbed her arm. “You’ll be safe. That is the main thing here Devon and so will Jon.”
“I know and that’s the main thing but god. I’m just - being silly.” She finished.
Jonathan picked up her hand. “What in the blue blazed mercy is that?” He asked admiring her ring.
She grinned. “That’s my ring Jon bought me.”
“This is Versani, just down the road and this is platinum. You realize I could retire off this ring?”
“Oh stop.” She smiled as Jonathan admired it. No one had ever bought her anything that came close in sentimental value.
“I’m serious this must be worth thousands, it’s gorgeous and thick. Maaaan.” Jonathan said as he dropped her hand. “There is going to be one serious engagement ring.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m going. We need to go to the airport to catch the Jet.”
Jonathan snorted. “Oh well we wouldn’t want to miss the jet now, would we? Look how far you’ve come Miss Devon. A city girl from New Zealand to catching private jets with rock stars.”
She sighed and flicked her hair back. “It’s a little surreal at times and this will sound corny. But I don’t notice that. I mean I do, he’s amazingly wealthy obviously but I just don’t see it. I just see him. My Jon.”
“God-you’re going to make me cry. Just hurry up and go would you?” Jonathan said shoving her gently in the direction of the door.
“I’ll call you.”
“Don't you dare!” He said as he pushed her again.
“Ok, I’m going, I’m going.” She laughed as Josh stood up by the waiting area near the door for her.
“I’m ready to go Josh.”
“Let’s go then!” He held the door open as she blew a kiss to Jonathan and stepped out onto the footpath.
“So you’re used to being dragged away to tropical destinations at a moment’s notice?” She asked as she fell into step with him back up the cobblestones of Mercer street.
“All part of the job, Jon gets around, always has with his line of work.”
“I guess so.”
“Hey! Excuse me sir.” A woman yelled after him as they came to stop by the doors to Jon’s penthouse.
Devon stopped as Josh turned as the blond woman grinned broadly. “Have we met?”
Josh asked quickly flicking a glance back at Devon. “Go inside Devon.” He instructed. “I'll follow you behind.”
Devon nodded and walked into the penthouse.
“Miss Scott. The elevator is out so you’ll need to take the stairs.”
“No problem.” Awesome. Least it was only four floors and she wasn’t wearing six inch heels today.
She jogged up a couple of flights and stopped thinking she should wait for Josh, as she rounded to the third she stopped and her breath caught in her throat as she stared into the eyes of her past. “Oh god.” She breathed. She heart pounded in her chest and her fingers curled around the railing in the stairwell.
Jared was stockier and more studier than he used to be. His frame had filled out with muscle and hair was cropped and blond. His steely blue eyes shot straight to her knees.
“Long time no see baby.”
As if he could read her mind before she even did it, she took one step back and he lunged for her. The impulse to scream was muffled as his hand slapped across her mouth. The handkerchief was shoved over her mouth and nose and the fumes of something chemically potent overwhelmed her as she sank in his arms. She tried to fight, tried to wiggle but his mouth was hard against her ear.
“Just relax Devvy. It’ll be ok. You’re just going to sleep before I fuck with you.”
She fell limp in his arms and flashes of white brick of the stairwell swirled with his face. Her hands clawed feebly as her strength melted away from her and the world went black.
Monday, July 2, 2012
They arrived home at Jon’s penthouse that evening and while she was thrilled that both her father and Jon were getting on like a house on fire. She had a sense of impending doom that she couldn’t seem to shake. They were right, the only way to make sure Jared didn’t come after them again was to catch him out in the first place. But she didn’t want to face him.
It wasn’t that she was scared of him, well there was that. It was more that she didn't want to see her old self again in his eyes and she was afraid that she would. She wasn’t that girl anymore and she didn’t want to even see where she went wrong in her own life and that is what she would have to do if she faced Jared.
“Thanks again Richard.” Jon shook her father’s hand before giving her arm a squeeze and leaving them both at the door of the penthouse.
“Are you ok? You’ve been quiet since we left the restaurant Devon.”
She smiled and leaned against the doorframe facing him. “I’m just a bit scared-of a lot of things.” It felt good to be honest with him, one thing she hadn’t really done in such a long time with her father.
“I know-you’ve got a good man here Devon. As long as we’re careful we’ll be ok you’ll just have to trust me on that one.”
She looked down as scuffed her feet. “I still can’t believe you’re here.” She looked up and met his eyes. “You know I’ll never forget what you’ve done, ever. You saved me.”
He smiled and then coughed quickly. “Something told me you were worth saving and I wasn’t wrong.”
Her chest grew tight and the tears spilled down her cheeks without effort. “I don’t want to lose any of this and I’m petrified I will... you... or Jon...”
“Hey.” His stretched out to her and rubbed her arm and pulled her in. She closed her eyes as her father’s familiar scent swept over her instantly reminding her of his strength and security. She held on tight to him as the tears came.
“Devon. Come on, I know you better than that.” He lifted her chin up to meet his gaze and she smiled at his teary eyes.
“Where is the girl that so sure of herself? So confident that she could take on the world. I know she’s here somewhere.”
She sniffed and smiled. “I’m here. I just needed that.” She wiped her tears away from her cheeks. “Who am I kidding, I’ve needed that for six years.” Her father’s arms relaxed over her shoulders and he squeezed them.
“Me too, love.”
“Right.” She said her resolve now stronger as she dug her heels in. “We wait for him to call and then we go from there.” She repeated what her father had advised earlier in the night.
“You got it. And please, don’t go anywhere without someone with you, whether it’s Jon or the guy he’s hired ok?”
She nodded. It felt ridiculous, she wasn’t a superstar and she didn’t deserve this kind of attention but she knew her father was right. The more they were apart from each other, the better chance Jared had of doing something stupid.
She closed her eyes. The other sore point of this whole thing. Work was just another easy angle for Jared to find her. “I’ll talk to Jonathan tommorow. He’ll be more than happy to cover for me. He knows what’s happened but I should tell him everything so he’s aware.”
He brushed back a strand of hair from her face. “That’s my girl. Spend a few days with your boyfriend. He offered to take you away for a few days by jet. I think you should take him up on it.”
She shrugged. “I feel like I’m running away again if I do that.” And if she stayed, well she was trapped but at least in a way she was facing what she needed to face.
“Devon. You aren’t running away from this. Just think about it ok?”
She nodded. “I will Daddy.”
He smiled graciously at her again and they met in a tight embrace. “Call me if you need anything otherwise I’ll be back in touch tomorrow.”
She pressed her cheek into his chest and closed her eyes. “I love you. I didn’t say it enough when I needed to so I’m saying it now.”
“I love you too darling. Just keep safe for me.” He kissed the top of her head and left her standing there as they smiled as the elevator doors closed. She breathed out a big sigh and walked back into the penthouse. Soft music floated around her and she followed it to the source in the living area where an old Otis Redding song was playing. Jon had opened a bottle of wine and poured her a glass and handed it to her.
“You ok?” He whispered as his lips brushed against hers ever so sweetly.
She balanced herself with the wine and took a sip. “It’s a little surreal but I’m doing ok. You and Dad have been so good to me.”
He polished off his glass. “Have you ever thought that it’s because you're worth it?”
She chuckled. “Well I do keep you satisfied...”
He popped the cork and topped up their glasses. “I meant you silly as in you. Not how much head you give me-although that can be accounted for in the final tally.” He smirked and wiggled his eyebrows.
“You’re such a shit.” Devon said as she perched on the edge of the couch.
“A drunk shit. Better take advantage of me before I collapse into a wine-induced coma.”
“What’s wrong old man? Can’t handle your drink?” She asked amused as his boyish grin lit up his eyes.
“Hey-I just survived the 411 from my girlfriend’s father.”
Devon frowned. “He gave you the 411?”
“Hell yeah he did. Made sure I could take care of you and that I didn’t whore around.” His words were beginning to slur, it was adorable but what made her heart swell was knowing her father was still looking out for her.
“And he used those exact words? Whore around?”
“Well no but that’s what he meant.”
“I’m so sorry.” She said as she broke into a laugh.
She placed her wine down and slid onto his knee. “No I’m not. C’mere.” She kissed him gently and groaned as his hand slid up her thigh. Her fingers teased the v-line in his white shirt and the cross pendant that hang there.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” He asked again as their noses bumped.
“Why wouldn’t I be--I have the two best men in the world looking out for me.” Their lips barely touched but the simplicity of the intimacy made her relax.
“It’s ok to be scared. I’m scared.” He admitted softly against her ear. She linked her hands in his and squeezed it.
“I know, I just want it to be over so we can move on. I want to be able to move on for good.”
His hand stroked down her back lovingly. “We will. You’ll move in with me officially, you’ll marry me we’ll have a baby...live in my big old house in Jersey.”
Her brow arched. “Baby? Really? Even though you have four of them already.” They hadn’t discussed it as was early days but the thought of it in the back of her mind made her smile. Never had she ever considered having children from the position she was in with the money and being away from home so illegally but just maybe if this worked out for the best she could. She really could.
“I could be convinced if it was with you. You know I want to marry-” His eyes were glassy and soft but she stopped him.
“Shhhh.” She put her finger against his lips. “I know. I just don’t want to jinx this incase it doesn’t work out that way.”
He grabbed her wrist gently and then squeezed it. “I told you, no asshole has ever-or ever gets between what I want. And I meant that.”
His words were reassuring but unfortunately she was more than aware what Jared was capable of. “I believe you and I want all of it and more with you. I really do, more than anything.” She wanted redemption as well. She wanted a way that wasn’t just honesty to put all this right. But first she had to make sure that she survived this and the one she loved.
“I wish you’d reconsider me taking you away from this, I’m in half a mind to do it anyway.”
She snorted. “Kidnap me?”
“You gotta a problem with that?” He asked as his arms tightened around her waist and his scent mingled with hers as he nipped her chin.
“What are your terms?” She asked as she slid her hand inside his shirt against his warm skin.
“You’ll just have to wait and see. So, is that a yes I’ll be sending for the jet for tomorrow to whisk us away to St Barts?”
She bit down on her lip to hide the smile. “Maybe on one condition.”
“Yes you may bring the red shoes.” He added.
She laughed and swept back his hair from his forehead and placed a kiss there. “No silly - that I can go to work first and just make sure Jonathan, is ok to cover me.”
Jon frowned. “Ok you can go-with Josh.”
“Deal. I have to make sure everything is ok. You understand that right?”
“Yes I do my little control freak.”
She pinched his nipple playfully. “Look who is talking.” His arms engulfed her and he swept her up as he stood. Moments later they were naked, tangled in sheets lying diagonally across his californian king. He was snoozing with his arm across his belly and out onto the bed. She had tucked herself under it and laid against his side.
She gasped as two hands gripped her neck and she struggled to breath. Her feet kicked and her lungs shrunk as she tried to scream but it didn’t come. She choked on her words as her breath burned in her throat. God no!
“You’ll pay you little bitch. Say goodbye!” Flaming red eyes locked down on her and Jared’s smile spread wide across his face. She had to reach out, call to Jon... Something but she couldn’t. She was slipping.
She shook as her chest squeezed tight. She had to fight, she had to stay aware so she could fight. Stay above the surface and not slide into the darkness that was creeping in.
Jon! Help me.
She reached out but no one was there except the cruel laugh.
Her eyes popped open and her chest gave way as she heaved a breath in. Jon was sitting up holding onto her shoulders. It was dream. God, just a dream. Sweat poured down her temples. “Oh god.” She breathed relieved as she clutched her chest.
“Relax, you’re safe. It was just a dream baby.” He tugged her in and laid them back down. She gripped his arms as her breathing regulated and her heart pounded inside her chest.
She closed her eyes and breathed as Jon held her. “He was choking me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see you...”
“Hey, it’s just a dream. Just a dream.” He soothed as he placed a kiss on the top of her head.
She held on tight with Jon’s weight against her.
“We’ll be leaving tomorrow. There is no doubt about that.” Jon confirmed.
She nodded. “What about the plan? To lure him in?”
“For now, there has to be a new plan. We can’t risk it. I won’t have it. I’ll call your dad in the morning and let him know. Jared won’t know where we are. You’ll be fine. We can work it out from the safety of an island.”
What if they never found Jared? He could make a living out of keeping her on edge if he wanted. It would be a way for exact revenge and a cruel one. Her toes curled at the thought and her belly twisted like snakes. How far was he willing to go? Did he want their money or did he want one of them dead?
She buried her head into Jon’s chest and tried like hell to block it from her mind. It was ironic that she felt so secure but on the other hand. So very trapped.