Authors: T.l Smith
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
I catch a cab to his office. It’s still daylight. My best option is to stop in there, as people will be present and he can’t hurt me in the daylight hours.
The cab stops, and I look up at the tall building, my heart beating furiously out of my chest. I haven’t seen him for almost two years, two long years of getting lost in drugs and alcohol. I wasn’t always addicted. I do, however, have an addictive personality, meaning I can fall into addiction quicker and faster than others. He knew this, knew so much about me. Used it all against me.
Each step I take into the building is like a knife to the heart, each step as painful as the next. Will he even be here? Of course he will, he never misses work. It’s his top priority. Once I thought that was me. How stupid I was.
Arriving at the elevator, I push the twenty-fourth floor while I watch people step in. Some look me up and down. I’m not dressed to be in a building such as this. I don’t have on a suit or an expensive pair of shoes. We stop at the floor just before his, and a woman steps in. She’s beautiful, and she looks at me with sorrow. I don’t want her pitying look so I glance away, avoiding her stare. My dress is too big, the shoes I have on just fit me, and my hair’s up in a messy bun. I shouldn’t be here. I should have come when I was better prepared and had worked up enough courage to see him. To stand up to him.
The elevator dings, and the lady that looked at me smiles on her way out. She has on a business skirt which comes up to her waist. Her shirt is loose at the top and tucked in. Shoes are high, and her hair immaculate. I watch as she walks away, then I step off and just look around. There aren't many people working on this floor. Roger has three other workers—his two receptionists and his partner in crime who’s as evil as him.
I start toward his office. It’s the last one right at the back. The receptionist looks up at me and I turn my head to his office. I can see him… he’s kissing a woman, the woman from the elevator. His hands on her back, pulling her to him. I stop and take a look around. The receptionist is now standing, giving me an odd look. I manage a weak smile and run back to the elevator.
I can’t do this.
I don’t know where to go, or what to do. I stand outside his building lost, unsure of my next step. I have a mother, she lives close by, but I’m too afraid to see her. Afraid of what she thinks of me. I haven’t spoken to her in years. Last time I did it wasn’t nice, it was anything but.
A hand touches my shoulder, so I jump and spin around. Casey stands there looking at me up and down. Casey was once my best friend, someone I thought I’d never lose, but I did. I lost everyone.
“Rose,” she whispers like she can’t believe she’s just uttered those words. I don’t confirm or say a word. She reaches for my hand, takes it and pulls me to her. It’s so unexpected, so unlike her. I stand there with my hands to my side, not touching her while she squeezes me tight.
She pulls back, still touching me. She looks much the same—long brown hair, brown eyes. She’s taller than I remember until I look down and see the high heels on her feet. So unlike the last time I saw her, the girl that was on a bar, swinging her hips, enticing the men. A catch a glimpse on her hand, there’s a large sparkling ring on it—she’s engaged.
She notices my stare and pulls her hand up. “I know, never expected it from me.” She laughs, but it’s not her usual laugh, it’s quite forced.
“Can we have lunch?” She looks across the street and points to a restaurant. I’m not sure if I want to, but my belly growls loudly, reminding me I need to eat. Why is it so hard to remember to eat?
“I take that as a yes. Come on, my treat.” She starts walking and I follow. Unsure of why, but the thought of food being the main reason I suspect.
She takes a seat in the small café and orders for us straight up. She orders me carbonara and herself a toasted sandwich. Drinks are put in front of us, and she leans forward on her hands and looks me over. It makes me uncomfortable. What’s she seeing? Someone who’s so down and broken? Or someone willing to fight for what they want?
“I still can’t believe it’s you.” Her smile picks up, but my face stays the same. “It’s been years, you just disappeared,” she continues, and my face scrunches up. She can’t be serious, can she? I told her about him, about Roger. No one believed me.
“Did you see Roger?”
“Yes.” I did see him but didn’t talk to him.
“Good, he was so worried after you left.” Her smile drops like she actually believes the bullshit she’s spewing from her mouth.
“Oh, I’m sure he was just distraught.” My voice is full of sarcasm and she picks it up. Her back straightens in her chair.
“He denies it all, you know…” she pauses when the food comes, “…I asked him, repeatedly. I know, for a fact, you’d have never just up and left like that.”
“Why do you sound like he’s the prince that walks on glass then? Because he isn’t, he is far from it…” My words are becoming meaner, I’m getting angrier as I trail off. I look to my food and start eating. She hasn’t touched hers. She just looks at me in shock.
“You didn’t give me much choice, you just left. He was the only one who knew where you went. Why would you leave and not tell anyone?” I place my fork in the bowl, sick of defending him like I used to, tired of making people think I was in the wrong and he was in the right.
“Because he got rid of me, made me run. He’s evil.”
“How, Rose? I don’t understand.” Her head shakes back and forth and I want to reach over and grab it and make her look, to make her see. My arm comes up, showing her the inside of my arm. She yelps, her eyes taking in all the track marks. Her hand flies up and covers her mouth.
“You’re a druggie?” Her eyes are wide in disbelief.
“Yes,” I spit at her. She looks at me properly now, noticing my sunken cheeks, my protruding bones.
“What does your drug problem have to do with Roger?” she asks, finally working things out.
“He held me down, inserted it into me for days, then weeks, then months. Until the point where I’d do anything for a hit.” I pull my arm back, touching the marks and hoping one day they’ll leave my body.
“How... how?” she stutters.
“I tried to tell you, that day you kicked me out of your house.”
“You wanted money, Rose. Money for that!” She points to my hidden arm.
“I needed help. Help which you didn’t want to give me.” I shake my head at her. She’s so wrong.
“You were high every time I saw you?” she screeches. I choose not to answer that. I continue eating my food in silence, and she does the same. No words are spoken until we’re finished eating.
“Where are you staying?” Her voice is soft now. I shrug my shoulders. I haven’t worked that out yet, I didn’t get very far. “Stay with me.” My head shoots up at her. She can’t be serious. The last time I saw her she shut the door in my face and told me to never come back.
“Just one night,” I agree. I do need somewhere to sleep. The streets are cold at night, and I don’t want to try my luck with Roger. Who knows what he’ll do to me.
“As long as you want, Rose.”
Her house is much the same. It’s nightfall and I’m watching her make dinner as she talks about her mysterious man. Her home is a one story very basic house—white walls, cream sofas, no pictures on the walls.
“When is your fiancé due home?” We’ve been chatting about life, well, her life. Nothing much, just how she works now at an office in the same building as Roger. She doesn’t elaborate on that, she stopped when she mentioned his name, pausing looking at me then carrying on.
“Any minute now,” she beams with the thought of him.
“What does he do?” All I know is that she’s in love with this man and that he’s nothing like her previous relationships.
“He owns his own business, works odd hours, sometimes he’s gone nights. But he said he was excited to meet you. I told him all about you.” I cringe. I’ve known Casey for six years. I was never as bad as I was toward the end. I thought when she saw me in a place that was so wrong, that my spoken words she would have believed the truth. She didn’t, she slammed the door in my face, never wanting to see me again. She was my best friend, the only person I had left, and then the door slammed on that part of my life.
A door slams, Casey squeals and runs toward it leaving me sitting at the bench. I hear kissing, whispers, and then they walk in. He’s not what I expected. I thought he’d be someone more like Roger, someone who’s fake, but he isn’t, I can tell straight away. He sizes me up, looks at me with questioning eyes. He’s tall, almost as tall as Black. His head is shaven, he’s built, but looks very dangerous. His jeans are ripped, his shirt is tight, showcasing his muscles. He has on black boots which remind me of Black’s.
Why is he in my head?
He tied me to a bed for fuck’s sake
. But he also saved me.
“You a druggie, girl?” he asks, stepping closer. I feel like I want to sink into the chair and hide.
“Sax,” Casey says, embarrassed.
“Yes,” I reply, looking straight up to him. There’s no need to deny it, it’s evident by the way I look.
“You need to leave,” he says, stepping back, waving his hand to the door.
I stand and Casey screams, “No!”
“She isn’t going anywhere.” She looks back to me. “Sit back down. Please,” she adds, then pulls Sax away.
They disappear, words are spoken, raised and rushed. I sit there, unsure of what to do. Maybe I should go, it might be easier than dealing with this. Then he walks back in, without Casey, making me nervous. He tucks his hands into his pocket, raises his head until we’re eye to eye.
“I don’t know you, but Casey seems to think you’re a good person. Though the scars on your arms are evidence that might not be correct.” My hand snakes up and tries to cover them. He notices and follows my movements.
“She told me vaguely…” he pauses, searching my face for something, “…about Roger.” My body shudders. I can still feel his eyes on me. Watching, trying to form an opinion of me.
“You’re staying, Rose, no matter what he says,” Casey says, walking past her man and pointing her thumb at him.
“I don’t want to cause trouble,” I mumble.
I don’t, no matter our differences.
“No trouble,” she says, brushing it off with her hand and going back to cooking. Sax takes a seat next to me. Not close, but just so I know he’s there.
“Where have you been?” he asks me, watching Casey. I think he’s talking to her until he turns to me. “She said she hasn’t seen you for quite some time.”
“In Lowood.” Casey gasps. Sax looks to her and then back to me.
“Why?” she asks, leaving the stove and walking to me. She leans over then bench and looks at me, waiting for me to answer.
“I don’t remember much, it was a pretty low time. But there was a man, he helped me.”
Casey smiles. “What man?”
“I don’t know him, but he seems familiar,” I mumble, thinking about his eyes. The way he watched me seemed so…
“What’s his name, woman?” she says excitedly.
“Black,” I answer.
Sax swears next to me, making us turn to face him.
“He’s not the helping kind, sweetheart,” he says, shaking his head.
“No, but he did.” I look to him. “You know who he is?”
He nods. “Yes, and if you are trying to improve, he’s not someone you want in your life. Blackness surrounds Black.”