~Part 5: What Really Happened…~

Hi all!! I’m so sorry this post is a little late! My schedule all week has been nothing but chaos. Between work and writing…I had to rewrite my paperback manuscript for my last book because it got deleted when I tried to upload it for publishing. So, I’ve been working around the clock to get that done. I finally finished it yesterday. It is up now for purchase on my amazon page for any of you that are interested. Also, we got a new peak hour schedule through Lyft. So, it’s been a task getting used to that as a full time driver. 

Now, I’m starting my next two projects: Book 2 to Saving Her and a new book that is not in my series called It’s Not Fair. I can also get back to my blog routine as well. So, with that being said, here is part 5 to the mysterious thriller…what really happened? Will Cassandra survive? Or will she perish in the darkness alone? 

The next few hours dragged by as I contemplated my life and how it all came to be this way. How? How and why?

Randall never did answer all of my questions. All he told me was I deserved this…I deserved to be chained away in his custody like this. Was this his way of saying that if he couldn’t have me that nobody could?

If he was going to eventually kill me, I at least deserved to know everything. After all, I would be taking it all away with me to my grave at this point.

The pain in my wrists and my side was starting to subside which only meant that I was near death. I could feel all my blood on the floor around me as I moved my legs closer to my body. Did I want the light on anymore to see the damages? No…I’d rather die in the darkness that way my soul wouldn’t be tainted by the sight of what this place really looks like. Somehow, the not knowing is way more soothing than the knowing.

I could feel strands of hair falling into my face as I tried desperately to blow them away. With each attempt and fail, I could feel the tears welling up more in my eyes. It wasn’t long now until I exploded into a hysterical fit of sobs.

I heard a door opening and closing fiercely in the near distance. Then, footsteps that practically ran up to me. The sounds had me scared and shivering from head to toe.

“You are going into another room,” Randall’s voice responds from in front of me.

“W…why?” I choked out in almost a whisper.

“Never mind that–“

“Randall! What are you doing with me? Why? Where am I? Why did you take me?” All the questions rambled out in a rush as I fought his touch against my body and wrists. “Randall! Answer me! I deserve answers! If you are going to kill me, then I deserve to know! Obviously, I’m taking your secret to my grave, so just tell me!”

The tears were spilling over as I cried loudly. Terrified and angry at Randall for doing this to me with no explanations other than I deserved it. What exactly did I deserve in his eyes?

“You need to be quiet!” He spat in my face.

“Then tell me! Tell me how I got here,” I countered. “If you answer me honestly, I’ll do whatever you want.”

Randall took a deep breath, then let it out slowly.

“I will explain everything to you once I move you into a different room. You have to cooperate with me, though. I don’t want to have to kill you, Cassandra.”

That answer had me feeling relieved. So, he wasn’t planning on killing me. He just planned on keeping me hostage for some odd reason. I nodded.

“OK.”

With that answer, he untied my wrists and grabbed onto them with one hand so I wouldn’t try fighting against him. Then, in one swift movement, he picked me up from underneath and cradled me in his arms as we moved from the dark corner to another dark room down the hall somewhere. I gathered the door was already opened as Randall swiftly walked through the open doorway with my feet barely touching the door frame as he stepped through. I could feel him setting me on top of a hard, cold mattress. A bedroom? The room was darker than the corner he had me in…what was happening?

“Randall…what are we doing in here?” I asked shakily.

“You wanted answers,” he replied as he shut the door and locked it. “Then, you are my slave after that.”

Instantly, I regretted agreeing to doing whatever he wanted. I only said it to try and get him to talk…I don’t know why I didn’t think he would take it literally.

“W…what are you going to do?” I asked quietly as the shivers appeared once again to remind me that I am still alive.

“First, give you the answers you have been seeking. Remember that party? At Leah’s?” Randall asked in a soft voice as I heard him pulling a chair up to the bed to sit in front of me. 

How could he see in the pitch blackness? Did he have those night vision goggles on? He had to…there was no way he could be maneuvering around in the darkness like this without falling or tripping over something. 

“Yeah?” I responded shakily.

“Do you remember talking to Conner outside on the back deck?”

I though a moment before responding.

“Yeah?”

I didn’t like where this was going. The shivers got worse with each hunch I had.

“I was at that party, you know…looking for you…”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. I went specifically for you. Little did I know, I would find you flirting your way in with Conner Evans. So, I let you and Conner have your fun. Minute by minute, I grew angrier, but I couldn’t draw attention to myself…” Randall began.

“Randall…what did you do to Conner? Is he here with me?” I asked. I don’t know why I though Randall would’ve kidnapped Conner as well. Maybe it was a hopeful hunch that between the both of us we could escape this.

Randall laughed slightly. 

“No. You are here alone. Actually, Conner Evans….he won’t be missed by many.”

“Where is he?” I spat out. Anger replaced my fear in this moment. Conner had to be OK…he just had to be…

Randall laughed again this time a little louder. The sound made the shivers harder to control. 

“What is it that the fisherman always say? Oh, yes…Conner is now swimming with the fishes. Well, his body is, now,” Randall answered in a matter-of-fact tone.

My heart sank to the bottom pits of my chest cavity. What did he just say? Is he admitting to killing Conner?

What? You killed Conner?” I asked. 

“I had no choice, Cassandra. Conner was a fighter and threatened to warn you about me. I couldn’t let that happen–“

“Yeah, well, he had every right to warn me about you!” I shouted. 

“Cass, you need to cooperate like you promised. If you don’t, I won’t keep talking and I’ll have to inflict pain on you…pain I don’t want to inflict. You see, I didn’t mean to kill Conner Evans. A simple blow to the head enabled him from ever waking up again. He knew you were mine. He knew I had my sights set on you, but he still pursued you anyway. You, on the other hand, did no better by playing into his flirty hands like a whore in heat. I had to get you away from all that. I had to get you all to myself, so once Conner was knocked out and stuffed into the trunk of my car, I followed you. I followed your every movement, and studied everything about you. You had no idea the entire night that Conner was never coming back. I even had one girl tell you that he went home for the night because he wasn’t feeling well and you believed it. Naive you are. Once you were alone, I sneaked up behind you and spiced your drink. You didn’t notice because you were so drunk at that point. I stood there watching you as you passed out in my arms. I told everyone I had to take you home because you were too drunk and passed out. Poor Leah begged me to have you stay the night, but I told her you had asked me to be your designated driver. She believed me…they all did. I threw Conner’s body into the lake outside of town after that. You didn’t wake up til days later…you know the rest,” Randall explained quietly as if there were people standing on the outside of the door listening to us. 

Was this some kind of joke? Was he being serious with me? A part of me couldn’t help to think he was lying to me, or at least hiding part of the story from me…the part he didn’t want me to know. 

“I don’t believe you,” I said after a moment of processing what he just confessed to me.

“What?” 

“You heard me. I. Don’t. Believe. You,” I repeated making sure I enunciated every syllable angrily. 

Randall laughed. 

“I knew you wouldn’t cooperate or believe anything I told you. Why would you when I kidnapped you, right? That is why you’re in this room. You are going to eat, Cassandra,” Randall said sharply as he stood and pushed the chair away. “Whether you like it or not. No more fighting. If you don’t eat, then I guess you will perish in this room. The way I see it, I’m doing you a favor in not murdering you for disobeying me earlier and being unfaithful to me at the party.”

“I’m not yours, Randall! I never was!” I shouted angrily. A burst of confidence surging through my veins. 

“Yes, you are. The sooner you accept that, the better your fate will be in this room.”

“Is that why you took me? To prove a point that if you can’t have me then nobody can, right?” I asked suddenly before he exited the room leaving me alone again.

“Yes.”

With that, Randall exited and locked the door behind him. I was alone once again in the darkness. He could’ve at least turned a light on for me if I was going to be stuck in this room forever. Maybe he didn’t want me capturing my surroundings in fear of eventually escaping and running to the police…

With the answers he gave me running through my head, I sat cross legged on the cold bed, put my head into my hands, and cried. I cried for Conner. I cried for his family. I cried for my family. Last, I cried for myself. 

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~Part 3…Am I Stuck Here Forever?~

I sat here next to the stone cold wall for what felt like hours. Was I ever going to be able to go home to my family? I had to figure out a way to escape.

Feeling around me on the floor for anything I could use in my escape plan turned out useless. There was nothing but dirt and…water? Was that a puddle of water I felt or was that a puddle of my blood? I couldn’t tell anymore. The pain in my body seemed to seize for the time being. Or maybe my body was going numb from the loss of blood…I couldn’t tell anymore. At this point, I didn’t care either as long as I found a way out of here. The specifics could be figured out later.

As I sat there and tried to think of an escape plan, I also started to think of Randall…I couldn’t believe Randall Atwood was the master mind behind all this. I knew he was mentall unstable in school, but I NEVER pictured him being capable of a crime such as this. He was on the honor roll and insisted on being a part of every club possible. No…he had to be someone else. He wasn’t the Randall Atwood I knew…I refused to believe so. 

Just then, I heard a door opening down the hall. That had to be him coming to check on me. I laid my head back against the wall and pretended to be asleep as I tried to calm my breathing.

“You’re not sleeping,” his husky voice said once he approached me. 

He was so close to me I could feel his hot breath on my neck. What was he going to do to me? My heart instantly started racing again. 

I didn’t answer him hoping to fool him into thinking I actually WAS sleeping.

“I said, you are not sleeping,” he said again in that same husky tone only louder this time. 

Something about his voice sent chills down my spine and had me afraid for my life now. I opened my eyes to the darkness that still consumed me and said, “What do you want with me?”

Instead of answering my question, I felt him push a plate towards me. 

“Eat,” was all he said. 

“What is it?”

“Food. Now, eat.”

“You can’t expect me to eat something I can’t see…if you want me to eat it, then tell me what I’m eating!” I shouted in frusteration.

He didn’t answer. Instead, he stood up and I heard him walk back down the hall as I continued to yell after him. Whay wasn’t he answering my question? It was a simple question…

The way he remained mysterious had me on edge unable to trust him or anything he gave me even if it was actual food. I pushed the plate away with my knee and cried hysterically; all the pent up emotions of what has happened finally spilling over. 

I need to get out of here. Now. 

With no other solutions coming to mind, I started pulling and yanking at the chains that bound my wrists around whatever pole I was sitting next to. I thought it was a pole anyway with the way it felt. 

I pulled and yanked for I don’t know how long; until my wrists started hurting real bad. I was sure I was bleeding again. The chains felt as though they weren’t going to give way just by me pulling at them. They were too strong for that. I needed to find something to cut them with…or to cut my own hands off….

Cutting off my own hands was indeed a plan in mind, but a last resort I wasn’t going to shy away from. I was desperate and had to get out of here. Cutting off my own hands left me with a higher possibility of living rather than sitting here in my own blood waiting for Randall to kill me. I knew his plan was to eventually kill me when he had had enough of me or saw that I wasn’t the girl he thought he was in love with. 

Right now, though, I saw no way out. I was trapped here until the opportunity arose for me to fight back. If it ever came. I only hoped my parents weren’t missing me too much yet. I didn’t want them to freak out on me for not being home or calling for help. They wouldn’t even begin to understand the predicument I’m in. I only hoped they knew I loved them dearly if I never got the chance to go home…

What about my little brother? He needed someone there to protect him throughout his middle school and high school years. Knowing there was a possibility that I wasn’t going to be there for him killed my heart. I was always there for him when he needed someone to help him practice for his baseball leagues or his karate classes; even for his soccer games. Him and I became a team which was something that was rare with siblings of different ages. My brother and I were the special siblings; we became close the moment he was born. I remembered telling Mom that I had to be in the room with her when he was born. I was eight. Dad wouldn’t allow me, so I snuck into the room anyway. I held Mom’s hand and watched as my little brother was brought into this world. I had no idea at that time that this world was so evil; that it carried evil people in every corner. every crevice, every turn. If only I knew then, I would’ve prepared my little brother for what this world was all about. Now, he was going to grow up without me and never know about the certain demons that lurk among us. 

How unfair and twisted this world was…

I took a deep breath and tried to relax my body. Maybe I could try and get some real sleep. Maybe if I did, it would help me come up with some kind of escape plan. Right now, my mind was buzzing and feeling woozy. I needed to relax. 

The question still remained at my eyes closed. Why me? Why did this have to turn out the way it did?

~Part 2 Of The Story…Who Are They?~

“Who are you?” I asked through the tears that began to stram down my face. “What do you want with me?”

“I want nothing, but you,” the man grumbles. “Who I am is nothing of importance.”

“Then, tell me where I am…and why it’s so dark in here!” I almost demand. I am scared and this sick man needs to understand that. If he isn’t going to tell me who he is, then I will drill him for other information.

“Nowhere,” he says not giving a shit about my fear. “The darkness helps stimulates the other senses.”

“You are sick!” I yell out in what sounded like a plea. My tears stream more down my face. I just want to go home. I had a great life with my friends and family. I was going to be going to Illinois State for college in less than a month, and I used to be super excited about it. Now…I don’t even know if I’ll be alive by then.

“Why are you hurting me?” I cried when he doesn’t answer. My thoughts flick back to the earlier pain I had endured when I woke up. He was cutting pieces of my flesh off with what felt like a very dull blade of some sort. Then, he bandaged me up like he had done nothing wrong; acting as though he was my savior. I know different. He is a sick monster. My mind wanders to the thought of who else he brought to this place and tortured like this…but why is he doing this? What does he have to gain from this? Is it some sort of sick fantasy he plays out in his head? I need to know why!

“You are fine for now. You are not hurt anymore,” he says in his low grumble. This man is not making any sense.

“English, please! Tell me why! I need to know…what have I done to you to deserve this kind of torture? I don’t even know who you are…”

“Everyone has sins they need to pay for. I kill them off one by one…but you seem to be pleading for forgiveness. That is yet to be determined…that is why I’m taking my time with you. Who I am…is not of importance. I am simply a nobody in your world. What you have done you ask? Well, when someone is interested in you and shows their interest through gifts, you act like it is an embarrassment in your world. Then, you walk right through me like I’m not there. Shame on you for being so rude! This is why you are here…with me…forever,” the man explains. I have to listen carefully because the way he speaks is not in a clear way that I can understand. I have to put the pieces together and listen in between the lines. I am not stupid, however.

“Randall?? Are you serious? You are Randall Atwood?” I spit out as the realization hits me hard.

The man doesn’t say anything. Instead, he produces a low chuckle indicating my realization had been correct. The fear is now replaced with shock. Randall Atwood was the one that kidnapped me and is torturing me…he will probably kill me, too.

“Why? Why, Randall? I’m sorry that I acted that way with you…but is that any reason to kidnap someone and hurt them? Think about what you are doing!” I tried to rationalize with him. Anything was worth trying in this moment. I had to find a way to escape this.

“It is worth it when I get to spend the rest of my life doing whatever I please to the love of my life,” Randall replied.

“Randall…please…think about this…”

“I already have. The deed is done, Cassandra. You are mine forever. Here in this dark place. No one will find you. No, in fact, they already think you are dead,” Randall explains as he begins to walk away from me leaving me in this dark corner alone soaked in my own tears and blood.

No, he can’t do this to me! This cannot be true! I have to find a way out of this! Surely, my friends and family don’t believe I’m dead…

I slump my head against the cold, hard wall behind me and cry some more. Who am I now? I’m no longer Cassandra Williams, valedictorian at Wingra High School. I am just another body that has been added to the possible others here in this dark warehouse. Never to be found again.

Thank you for reading part 2 of the mystery that slowly begins to unfold. Stay connected for part 3 is coming in a few days! 

~How About A Short Story Excerpt? Part one~

As I was working today, I realized today is blog day…which led me to thinking what should I do for my blog? Then, as I got to thinking about it in between passengers, I thought yeah! A short story today would be a perfect blog/blog series to start!! I don’t have a title for this short story. I don’t have character names yet either. All I have is a short excerpt and in my next blog I’ll have more details to go off of. For now, here is what I have for “part one”:

I am awake. No, I can’t be awake because everything was a dream, right? What if it was all real and I’m left here alone in the dark to perish? I must call for help, but I can’t see anything. I don’t even know where I am. My voice is barely existent in my throat and I’m afraid no one will here my cries, anyway. I have to try…I have to find a way out of this hell I’ve been dragged into. Why me? That is the question I am now asking. What have I done in this world to deserve such a cruel fate? 

The sound of boards creaking in the distance have the hair on my arms standing on end. I am in an old building, and he is out there somewhere. Waiting. Waiting for me to escape. He finds thrill in chasing me like I’m some kind of prize he always wins. I need to get out. 

My hands are bound together behind me in some kind of thick rope. It gets tighter around my wrists every time I try to pry it off. I think I am bleeding, now. Oh, my! I can’t remember what happened! Why am I here? The last think I remember is I was out with friends and something large struck me from behind. Now, I am alone in this dark corridor bleeding profusely with no means of escaping. I am going to die here. No one will notice my disappearance and if they do, it will be a short story on the news; nothing spectacular. I am a nobody. The worst thing to be in a situation like this because no one will be out looking for me. I will die, and no one will notice the difference. 

I am scared that he will return and repeat the torture. The sick torture. What has he done to me? My breathing starts to become heavier as I think of all the sick possibilities. I am panicking now. Also, the worst thing to do in a situation like this, but I have nothing else going for me. 

Just then, I hear a door opening in the near distance. Oh, God! He is coming for me! My panicking will not help save me. He is going to kill me I know it! The footsteps grow louder and louder sounding as though he is walking on concrete. I am in a concrete building somewhere…a warehouse? The footsteps continue to grow louder with each agonizing second until I can feel him upon me. 

My body shudders as he lays a rough hand on my face. He can see me, but I can’t see him. He begins stroking my face as though reassuring me everything will be alright. Somehow, I don’t believe him. I don’t trust this monster of a man. Then, I feel his hand drop to my arms holding me in place. Oh, God! What is happening? I whimper from the touch, afraid of what is to come from this man. Then, I feel a cold cup being forced to my lips as though trying to pry them open. “Drink. Now,” he says in a deep voice. I do as he says. Instantly I am relieved to feel cold water being poured down my throat. I hadn’t noticed how thirsty I became through my panicking. Is he taking care of me? A capture taking care of his fugitive? What is this? Where am I? Who is he? 

All questions still go unanswered as I am afraid to speak even the slightest word to him. I am petrified. Thoughts of my friends and family run through my mind like vivid visions. Where are they all now? I can only hope they are all OK…I hope they will at least miss me when I’m dead. 

I hear another sound coming from this man that brings me back to my terrifying reality. A wrinkling wrapper….oh, no…His hands are on me again, this time viciously grabbing my arm and squeezing. I cry out in pain as he starts to wrap it with whatever was inside that wrapper. “Hold still,” he grumbles. My arm is throbbing in pain and there is nothing I can do about it except to listen to this strange man. I am forced to trust this strange man, and I hate it. 

“Where am I?” I blurt out. The pain gave me the courage to speak finally, but was I ready to hear the answer? “Nowhere important,” he grumbles back. With that, he quickly finishes the wrapping of my arm, then leaves me to bawl in my own self pity alone…in this dark corner. I want to go home. I want to go back to my old life before all of this happened. I just want to be me again…but I see now, that isn’t possible anymore. I am stuck here to slowly die and be this man’s slave or maybe his whore…at this point anything seems better as long as I am alive.

 

 

~Book Blogging~

Being a first time published author is hard work! But enjoyable and exciting all the same. I love it. I love watching my career start taking off and watching the progress. So…I’m working on my second novel now. About a singer who gets into a really bad car accident that puts her into a coma and her family is around her sharing memories so you get to learn about who she really is…because when she wakes up she doesn’t remember. There are many ugly twists and heart wrenching parts in the book. 

Anyway, those of you that have followed my first book Hopes and Destinies from the beginning, you all know that I didn’t post the last 2 chapters. This is a must read book! A five star review already! So, if you haven’t please buy and read it both ebook and paperback are available! Ebook is available for $3.99 and paperback is available for $5.99. Next week, I have a week promotion on it where ebook sells for $1.99 and paperback is $2.99. If you like what I write, stay tuned for more novels by me. This is just the beginning!! 

 Here is an image of my paperback book! 

A mysterious romance novel about a girl who is living a double life to stay alive. She experiences murder and love all in the same life not knowing that one day both of her lives she is living are about to merge into one. She realizes the man she is so desperately in love with isn’t who he says he is, but neither is she. She starts to learn that sometimes fate gets in the way…maybe her destiny of living a double life. What was once destinies, is now hopes of finding solitude and love again. -About the book-

amazon.com/author/jesspagor  

Read the sample and leave a review. (There’s free sample of my ebook). An author wouldn’t be an author without the readers. Even for a little light reading 🙂

I do have a twitter account now for those that would like to follow me for more updates. You can find me at @jesspagor

The weather here is crappy; rainy and thunderstorms. Lots of wind too!! You would think we had a tornado…. We had a tornado last week. That was pretty scary! We had to hide in our little bathroom…(we don’t have a cellar or a basement). Every sound of the tornado was heard…luckily we were all safe. 

Life has been pretty crazy with advertising and marketing for my books and home stuff. Of course the tornadoes played a huge part in my time lol crazy crazy. 

Here is an image of my ebook of Hopes and Destinies. Everyone has to start their career somewhere and its always at the bottom. It always gets better from here! Tell your friends and anyone else you may think will like my books! My saying is: There’s always an author out there for every person. Just like there’s a hairstylist for every person and a doctor for every person, a mechanic for every car. My books are classified as suspicious romance and dramatic romance. If this is your genre or an interesting genre to you, then these books are right up your alley!! Try the free samples today!! 

~PUBLISHED!~

Hey guys!! I know it has been a while since I wrote on here but things have been busy. First off, if you have been following my novel Hopes and Destinies you know I didn’t post the last few chapters. I DID finish the book and have published a kindle copy and a paperback copy. Below is the link to my author page on amazon so if you loved the book please please please go on there and purchase and find out what happens next! By the way, I am doing a promotion on this novel starting next month so be sure to buy it then!! Right now, it sells for $5.95 on kindle. Starting next month it goes down to $2.99 that’s half price!! Only for the month of June though. Also, if you purchase the kindle version, you can purchase the paperback version for $1.99!! That’s quite the deal because the paperback alone sells for $10. 

amazon.com/author/jesspagor

You all have been such a great inspiration to me because I thrive to write stories for those that love to read them. You all made this possible for me and that just makes my day making your days. This blog is going to be short, but I just wanted to give an update for those that have been wondering. I am now a published author and the happiest I’ve ever been!! You all can expect more from me in the times to come. With that being said, I am working on a new book right now. It’s actually a rewrite on my very first novel I wrote in highschool and never got it published. So I will be posting a link also to my author facebook page. Be sure to like it to follow me for more details and updates on new novels. I will be starting a twitter account soon for my author page as well for those of you that like to follow on twitter. I will post on this blog site when I get that up and going. 

@jpagorauthorpage – on facebook!

Anyway, go check it all out!! 

 

~Chapter 7 to Hopes and Destinies is now complete!~

Sorry it took so long guys! It has definitely been a crazy few weeks. I was dealing with the passing of my aunt. Was constantly going back and forth to Illinois (3 hour drive one way) for a few days which took away writing time. Started a new job so for a little while I was working 12 hour days 7 days a week ugh. Got engaged! Now things are starting to cool down a little bit thank goodness! I finally had time to finish chapter 7 today. I tried to keep everyone updated as much as I could because I don’t want you guys to think I just stopped writing. No No No! Anyway, here is chapter 7! I am starting chapter 8 today! (Also, now it is fishing season so watch out for my fishing and gardening blogs!) 

My body is melted into the bed. I couldn’t get out of it even if I tried. Even with the smell of bacon and eggs wafting in from downstairs. I roll over and put the pillow over my head to block out the smell. That does smell delicious, though.

I try to lift my body up into a sitting position wipe my eyes, but the pounding headache from lack of sleep isn’t helping matters. Even though this bed is so comfortable to the point where it causes my body to melt into it, doesn’t mean I slept. My mind wandered all over the place from the events of yesterday to Jason hurting to the thoughts of what could possibly happen today. All of that makes me curl up even deeper in this bed. Maybe the bed will eventually swallow me up and I’ll be gone forever…

“Hope,” a tiny voice says from the bedroom door. I try to sit up enough to see whom the voice belongs to, but fail at every desperate attempt.

“Yeah?”

“Are you awake?”

What kind of question is that? Of course, I’m awake if I’m talking…

“Yeah.”

“Can I come in?” The tiny voice whispers.

“Yeah…”

A long shadow covers the bed now as the person with the tiny voice walks into the bedroom. My eyes follow the shadow to its owner. Shayna. Her eyes look sad as she stands over me.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her.

She sits down on the bed beside me, and takes a few deep breaths.

“It’s Jason,” she says without looking at me. Her eyes are trained on the floor with her hands in her lap.

“What about him?”

“I’m not supposed to tell you…”

“Shayna! Tell me!”

She closes her eyes as she responds with, “he wants to turn you in.”

What?! I am shocked. I feel winded, like I was just punched in the stomach. Hard.

“Are you sure?” I ask her in a choked voice.

“Yes. Last night, I tried talking to him about this whole situation like I promised you. He didn’t want to talk about it, so I let him go to bed and sleep on it. Well…this morning he gets up…the first thing he says to me is…he is going to do the right thing. He doesn’t want to harbor a fugitive…he doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore.” Tears are now streaming down her face. She looks defeated. “I can’t let him do that to you, Hope. You’ll die…”

“Why does he want that?”

“He said he doesn’t want to lose his career he’s worked so hard for…”

I interrupt her by throwing the covers at her. I am half way out of the bed when she starts asking me what I’m doing. I ignore her by storming out of the room, down the stairs to the bedroom where Jason is at this moment. I push the door open hard, and see him putting on his uniform. He looks at me in surprise, his shirt half way buttoned.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I shout at him, walking forward so he walks back against the wall. Exactly where I want him.

“Hope…”

“No, don’t you dare start with that! You want to feel closer to the dead, right? Is that why you are doing this to me? Why don’t you just take your gun and shoot me in the head, then!”

His eyes are wide with fear as he stands in the corner against the wall he backed into; too speechless for words.

“I trusted you, Jason! Yeah, I may have lied to you, and I’m sorry. If I could take it back, I would, but I can’t. At least I came clean to you last night! This is how you show your feelings for me? By turning me in? I guess I know where I stand in your eyes. You never loved me the way you say you did…”

“Hope, you’re a goddam fugitive! It is my job to turn people like you in…”

“No! It is your job to protect people like me who are hiding from the bad people! Haven’t they taught you anything in police academy? Or do they just teach you to be the biggest assholes that only think about yourselves?”

“Hope, you lied to me! How can I believe that you are who you say you are, not to mention innocent…?” Jason counters. The words hit me like knives all over the moment they leave his mouth.

“Jason, you have to understand…”

“No, what I understand is that I fell hard for you. Something I haven’t done to anyone since her,” he says indicating the ex-girlfriend story he told me a few days ago. “Then, you have to lie to my face about everything you are. What a slap in the face, right? Nice way to make me look like the fool in this situation, Hope. Now, you expect me to protect you?!” He scoffs and walks away not finishing his thought.

I am wounded deep. Deep into the pit of my heart. A wound that will never go away no matter how hard I try to fix it.

“Explain something to me, then!” I yell after him. He stops short in the doorway, his back facing me.  “Why did you come after me yesterday?”

He doesn’t say anything as he ponders his answer. He takes a deep breath and slowly turns to face me.

“I don’t know,” he says, then turns and walks out of the room leaving me alone; speechless. My heart has officially been ripped from my chest and stabbed a million times. My chest hurts as I try to breathe in deep breaths to stay calm; my lungs are fighting for air.

The room is caving in around me, and I can’t take the feeling anymore so I run. I run for the front door in tears. I make it to the door, swing it open and run. I keep running down the front porch steps, through the yard, and down the street. I don’t bother to look back at the screaming from Shayna as she screams after me. I don’t bother to slow down until I see the supermarket in my view. I make the rickety steps two at a time, fumble with my apartment keys until I get the door unlocked, and dart inside. I slam the door shut, locking it quick behind me. I lean against the door, breathing heavy, and cry. I cry for what feels like hours, until my tears run dry; my body dry heaving.

What am I going to do, now? I think to myself. I should go to Aunt Bethany, but I don’t want to hear the I told you so’s. I should go see how she’s doing anyway…

I take a moment to compose myself, grab my purse, and make my way back down the creepy stairs. I don’t pay attention as I run across the street to the parking lot. Once I reach my car, I am in it and driving down the road towards the highway to the hospital in Madison.

The atmosphere at the hospital feels different today, somehow. I notice there are hardly any nurses or doctors on staff today as I walk down the hallway towards the intensive care units. Aunt Bethany is hooked up to more machines today, I notice as I walk into her room. I have to stop and collect myself again before walking any further into the room from the sight I see.

“Aunt Bethany?” I choke out, walking toward the end of her bed.

“I’m here, honey,” she whispers. “Come to me so I can see you.”

I walk slowly to the front of the bed. She is looking at me with dark grey eyes that are sunken in now. Her skin a pasty white; a yellow tint to it. I hear her ragged breathing as she tries to keep her breathing even.

“Come to me, dear,” she whispers as she sees me. I kneel toward her face close enough so she can attempt to give me a kiss on the cheek.

“You’re worse,” I mention as I stand back up.

“It is God’s way,” she whispers back. “What upsets you? I see…by your face…you’ve been crying.” This sentence alone takes all her energy away. I see it by how she struggles to say it; like she is fighting her lungs with air.

“I hate seeing you like this, Aunt Bethany. You need to fight this.”

“It is my time, Destiny. It has been my time for a very long time…”

“No! Because you say it is? Because you want it to be?” Tears are streaming down my face again.

“Don’t be upset…I will always be there right next to you. Even when…you don’t know…it.”

I take a quick breath and look her dead in the face as I tell her what has happened. “Jason wants to turn me in.”

Her breath catches as she tries to breathe. Her eyes never leave mine.

“Aunt Bethany…I saw my father yesterday. The detectives cornered me outside of the hospital when we were leaving…took me to jail. My father came and tried to take me back with him…Jason saved me. I told him everything…now he wants to turn me in because he thinks I’m a fugitive running…because of you I lied to him in the beginning…because of you is why I hurt so much right now…because of you I hurt him…” More tears come streaming down my face as I choke out everything that has happened because of her.

“How…can you…think…that?” She whispers as tears start streaming down her face as well.

“Because it’s true, Aunt Bethany. I love him and now I hurt him. I love him and now he is going to turn me in…”

“Listen to me, Destiny…If he loves you…too…he will not turn…you in…”

I am sobbing now. I turn away from her so she doesn’t see me cry hysterically.

“I just came by to tell you thanks for everything.”

“Destiny…wait…”

I stop, wipe away the tears, and turn around to face her again.

“Chuck…passed away…last night…” she whispers out in a soft, choked up voice.

No…I start to cry again as I walk out of her hospital room. This is a nightmare. This all cannot be happening…any moment I will wake up…any moment…

I continue walking out of the hospital aware that in this moment, it may be the last time I see Aunt Bethany alive. She is dying fast. A lot faster than expected. Don’t think about it, Destiny. You have a lot more to think about right now…

“Hope!” A man’s voice yells my name as I’m halfway to my car in the parking lot. The sound of his voice makes me jump and instantly freeze up.

A hand is on my shoulder. I spin around to come face to face with…

“Jason!” I exclaim. “What are you doing here? Are you here to turn me in?”

“Will you listen to me?” He asks in an irritated voice.

“No, I will not. The time for listening has come and gone, Jason. Right now, I’ve got to get out of town…”

“Not without me, you’re not.” He retorts in a stern manner.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You are not leaving this town without me.”

“Have you gone insane? I confided in you and you wanted to turn me in. Do the right thing, remember?”

“Hope, I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know why I’m here because I should turn you in instead of helping you…”

“How are you helping me, Jason? All you’ve done was get in my way and threaten to take me back to Chicago.”

“Hope, I’m scared, OK?”

I take a step closer to him. “You don’t think I’m not? Do you have any idea how hard it is to wake up every day and keep pretending to be someone else for ten years straight? I’ve wanted to tell you since day one, Jason, but I can’t get turned in. I can’t go back because if I do my father will kill me. That is the only reason he came here yesterday.”

“No, but I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Not until I met you. You make me want to look up for once in my life instead of down at the shadows. I don’t feel the need to be close to the dead anymore, Hope…all because of you. I guess that’s why I’m here putting my entire life on the line for you…”

“So, you don’t think I’m a fugitive…?” I ask sarcastically as I fold my arms across my chest. This boy is a roller coaster ride, literally.

He takes an exaggerated breath before responding. “I don’t know, Hope. I do…but, somehow, I don’t. Shayna believes you. She told me last night to follow you, and stick by you because you need it. I’m just not sure if that’s what I truly believe…”

“Yes, you do,” a tiny voice sounds from the distance behind us.

We both turn around and see Shayna making her way over to us.

“Yes, you do, Jason,” she says once more as she reaches us. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be right now apologizing to her.”

“Shayna, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay home,” Jason says, angrily.

“Yeah, well, she needs you, and you need me.”

“For what?”

“To help you keep your mind straight. We are twins, Jason, remember that. No matter what we need each other. Right now, in this situation, you need me to help you straighten out your thoughts because your scared. You are scared to follow your instincts for once. No offense, but you would kind of fall apart without me,” she says matter-of-factly.

“Shayna, sometimes I hate you,” he says as he shakes his head.

“I know,” she responds with the brightest smile. Anyone could see it from space. Then, she turns to me and says, “Will you please forgive my jackass of a brother so he can be your body guard?”

I can’t help, but to laugh at the way she words that question. She always has a way of making me laugh, somehow. No matter if we are in a situation like this or buried in paperwork in my office.

“What is your plan, then, genius?” Jason asks Shayna before I have time to respond to her question.

“We go with it, of course.”

“No, that’s not how this works. Protecting her means we have to keep her hidden…”

“And not turning her in,” Shayna says as she casually interrupts her brother like he was boring her.

I shake my head as they make plans concerning me right in front of me like I’m not here.

“You guys, can we go back to my place and discuss this so I can shower and change my clothes?” I ask, interrupting their bickering.

They both stop and stare at me like I have gone insane. The expression on Jason’s face just went from angry to angrier, and I didn’t think that was possible. Every muscle in my body clenches tight.

“Have you both gone insane?” Jason exclaims to both of us.

“What?” Shayna asks, clearly confused now as to why Jason is yelling at her, too.

Jason ignores her and continues yelling, not once taking his eyes from mine. “We are going back to my place until we can figure this out!”

“As much as I love you, Jason, you are the biggest pain in the ass ever!” I start yelling back, not realizing the words flowing from my mouth. “I’ve slept in these same clothes for the last two days! Not to mention I’ve been hiding for the last ten years of my life, I think I’m OK going back to my place to shower!”

“Absolutely not!”

“Now all of a sudden you want to care when just a few hours ago you wanted to turn me in?!” I’m yelling at the top of my lungs now. “I am going back to my place whether it’s with you or without you.”

I start walking towards my car, leaving him there to stew.

“I’ll go with you!” Shayna shouts after me. She runs to the passenger side of my car. Once we both reach my car, we look at Jason one last time before climbing in it.

“Shayna, make sure you guys get what she needs and head back to my place. She can shower there,” Jason says calmly before he turns and starts to make his way back to his car.

Shayna nods and climbs into my car. Once her and I are inside, I ask her where her car is.

“It’s at home,” she responds.

“How’d you get here if you didn’t ride with Jason?”

“I took the bus,” she says casually.  “I would’ve climbed into the backseat of his car, but he would’ve known. I didn’t want him to know I was coming because he would’ve never come here.”

I nod showing her I understand. Then, we drive in awkward, thick silence all the way back to my apartment. Once we are there, I pull the car up to the front of the grocery store, and we both get out of the car. She follows me up to my apartment, and I realize she has never been inside my apartment before. What kind of friend am I? I unlock the door and allow her to walk in first.

Shayna walks in slowly taking in everything around her. Her eyes are wide as she looks around at my tiny, unkempt apartment.

“This is where you live?” She asks in shock.

I nod, afraid to use my voice to answer her; afraid of what she might think of me now.

“Why?” She asks, turning to face me.

My expression grows puzzled at the sound of her question.

“What do you mean?” I ask her.

“I mean, you are the general manager of a good business and you live in a tiny apartment that, no offense, looks like could give you hepatitis,” she responds as she continues to look around her.

“It’s a nice place to live for now, and cheap…”

“Why not buy a house? You can do that, you know.”

“I’m in the process of buying a house, actually,” I lie to her.

She looks at me and narrows her eyes. “Really?”

“Yep.”

“Where?”

I take a moment before I answer her. Crap, she knows I’m lying…

“Not too far from here…” I say, slowly.

“Why do you insist on lying to me, Hope? I know you’re full of shit the moment you start talking. That’s how I knew you were telling us the truth about you and your…situation. You are so easy to read it’s not funny.”

“Look, my plan is to buy a house once I find something I like. For now, this place is home.’

“This place doesn’t have wallpaper!” She exclaims.

“So?”

“Or walls that are painted! Looks like a jail cell in here if you ask me.”

“Well, no one did, Shayna,” I respond in a flat tone that makes her shut her mouth.

I roll my eyes at her, and make my way to the clothes pile in the corner of the living area/bedroom. I dig through the clothes to find something that isn’t horrible smelling or extremely dirty. Once I’m happy with what I find to wear, I take it to the bathroom to shower. I feel dirty. Not like I was outside rolling around in the dirt dirty, but dirty like a…whore? Who am I? I turn the water on as hot as I can stand it, undress, and get into the shower to wash it all off; wash everything off.

Once I’m out of the shower, I get dressed in the new clothes I picked out for today, and go back to the clothes pile to find a few more outfits to last me a few days. I put them all into a Walmart bag along with all my toiletries I’m going to need every day. I am aware of Shayna standing behind me the entire time watching me; watching my every move. I can’t help but wonder if she was telling the truth about Jason not knowing about her plan or if he knew all along and meant to send her with me to watch me…

I turn around and look right at Shayna once I’m finished packing my bag. Her face instantly goes red from embarrassment. Caught.

“You lied to me, didn’t you?” I ask her in a quiet voice.

She continues to stare back at me without a change of expression or even a blink of an eye. I take a step towards her and repeat my question a little louder this time.

“You lied to me, Shayna, didn’t you?”

“I don’t understand, Hope…” she starts to say.

“Your brother knew you were coming along, didn’t he? It was the plan all along to get you to come up here with me to watch me.”

She doesn’t say anything. Her eyes are wider than ever. She’s shocked that I caught on to their plan.

“I’m not stupid, Shayna. I’ve been watching the way you hover over me. I’m not dangerous. I’m not going to run away.”

“He’s just worried…” She says quietly, her eyes trained on the floor the entire time like she’s ashamed of herself for lying to me.

“Yeah, he sure seems worried about me,” I say sarcastically to her. I am so annoyed at everyone right now. I wish the last two days didn’t happen.

We don’t talk to each other the rest of the time inside my apartment. As soon as I have everything together, we are walking out of the apartment and descending the rickety stairs. We make it to my car, and all the way to Jason’s house without saying a word; all the while the atmosphere is growing thick with awkwardness.

Jason is waiting in the screened in porch when we arrive. He runs to the garage to open it for us so I can drive my car into the garage to keep it hidden from view. Shayna is already out of the car by the time it comes to a full stop, and I’m throwing it into park.

“She’s mad at us,” I hear her say to Jason as I’m getting out of the car.

He is glaring at me as I shut the car door behind me. I glare back and make my way to the front porch where he is grabbing my arm, making me spin around to face him. I rip my arm away as soon as I am face to face with him.

“You have no reason to be mad at us,” he says in a stern voice.

“Yes, I do. Where am I sleeping since I’m not allowed to go back to my place?” I say in the same tone.

“Hope, we need to talk…”

“No, we don’t. Not anymore. By the way, my name is Destiny,” I spit out at him with no feeling or emotion in my words.

He winces at my words like knives were hitting him.

“You can take my bedroom again.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Look, you wanted a body guard. Now you got one…”

“I’ll sleep on the couch downstairs,” I say, interrupting him.

I push him aside, and make my way into the house. I find my way somehow to the living area on the main level, and make myself at home by putting my bag on the floor next to the couch and grabbing blankets from the top of the couch to lay them across the couch in a pallet form.

Jason walks in to watch me. He stands in the doorway with his arms crossed, a straight face expression on his face.

“Maybe I overreacted,” he says after a few moments of silently watching me make myself at home.

I’m sitting on the couch taking my shoes off as he says that. I stop in mid-action and look up at him.

“A little?” I ask in a flat tone. “You know, Jason, I would’ve though you would’ve done your research after I gave you my statement. That’s what good cops do, isn’t it? Or do they not teach you that anymore in the academy?”

“Will you stop throwing my job in my face, please?”

“Why?”

“Because, Hope…Destiny, you have no idea what it’s like being me or doing what I do on a daily basis. I strive to be the best, plain and simple. I follow the rules and yes, I did my research on you that night you were here and told me your story,” Jason explains not moving from his spot in the doorway.

“Then why did you still accuse me?” I exclaim. I am standing now as I throw my arms in the air.

“Because all the reports said was yes, your father was guilty of murdering your mother, but it also stated that you are a wanted felon in Chicago for the attempted murder of your father.” I am silent. I think my lungs have left my body because I can’t breathe. He goes on. “The report stated that you tried to murder your father after watching him murder your mother. After you stabbed him, you ran away never to be seen again. I follow the law, Destiny. My job is to bring people like you in especially after seeing a report like that.”

“Then what am I doing here?” I choke out.

Jason takes a deep breath as he runs a hand through his hair.

“Last night, your father pressed charges against you. He put a price on your head so high the entire area of Madison will be looking for you. I almost lost you once, I’m not going to lose you again.”

“What about the law?”

“I don’t believe you’re a killer, Destiny. Am I confused? Majorly. I need you to tell me everything, and please don’t ever lie to me again.”

“I never intended to hurt you, Jason.”

“No, Destiny, you never intended to fall in love with me.”