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Authors: ML Ross

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CHAPTER 21

 

 

Amy

 

    My
head is throbbing.  My mouth is completely dry and my throat feels raw.
 I can’t lift my head or open my eyes.  It’s too bright.  I lay
there as visions of last night replay in my head.   I wigged out in
front of Dillon and all of his friends.  They’re going to think I’m a freak.
 I slowly roll to my side and curl up holding my belly. I still feel sick.

I roll out of Laney’s bed
and make it across the hall to the bathroom.  I’m sticky with sweat, so I
splash my face with cool water and rinse out my mouth.  I sit hunched over
on the toilet with my arms holding my stomach until the horrible pain subsides.

    I
shuffle out of the bathroom and start to head back to Laney’s room when I hear
voices down the hall, one of them is Dillon’s.  I follow the sounds to
Dillon’s closed bedroom door and stand just outside listening.

    “Her
mother is crazy and in a looney bin, Dillon.  That shit runs in the
family.  She needs medication just like her mom and will never be normal.
 I know you feel sorry for her and you feel like you have to take care of
her like a lost puppy, but she’s not your responsibility.  I’m sure she
can get into one of those group homes for sick people like her.  Your
business is slowing down because you don’t have the time to care for it like
you used to.  She’s taking you away from your passion.”

    “Come
on Candice.”

    “No
Dillon.  It’s true.  She needs help that you can’t give her.”

    “Listen,
I have a client that’s going to be here any minute.  I can’t do this right
now.”

    “Fine.
 I’ll get us some coffee.  When you’re done with your client, we can
talk.”

    I’m
standing there listening to her and I can’t even get angry.  She’s right.
 The door opens and Candice steps out.  Her hair is a mess and she’s
wearing one of Dillon’s t-shirts.  Her legs are bare.  Tears burn in
my eyes as I struggle to hold them back.  Did she sleep in there with him
while I was passed out in Laney’s room?  Are they back together?  Is
he thinking of a way to get rid of me right now?

    Candice
grabs my elbow and shoves me back into Laney’s room and shuts the door.  I
can’t speak.  I’m hurting so bad.  “You’re not good for him Amy.
 He’s a good guy and he feels sorry for you, but you’re not his
responsibility.  Stop trying to play house with him.  You know deep
down that you are not okay.  You’re sick like your mother and you need
help.  Do you really want Dillon to have to deal with your freak-outs?
 His business is suffering.  You’ll ruin his life.”

    I
stare at her.  Words don’t come.  She shakes her head at me as if to
say I’m not worth her time, then leaves the room and closes the door behind
her.  What was I thinking?  That I would just get over eighteen years
of hell and all of a sudden ride off into the sunset with Dillon. How could I
ever make him happy?  I grab a bag from Laney’s closet and shove my purse,
my journal and a jacket inside and make my way out of the house.  I know
Candice sees me as she stands in the kitchen with her cup of coffee.  I don’t
look back, I just keep walking.

    It’s
early in the morning and it’s already hot. The air is damp and humid.  My
body feels clammy and my clothes start to cling to me.  I think I’m
dehydrated.  I throw up several times on the trail as I make my way to the
elm.  I’m not only physically sick, but mentally drained.  I don’t
belong here.  I don’t know where I belong.  I got caught up in
fiction books and dreams of having someone to share a normal life with, but I’m
broken.  I’m sick like my mother.

    I
stand at the break in the fence.  I never wanted to be back on that side
of the fence, but I don’t know where else to go.  I wipe my tears from my
cheeks and crawl through the break in the fence and then collapse beneath the
elm.  I stare up into the branches, watching them move with the direction
of the wind, listening to the whistling sound as it travels through branches,
spinning the leaves.  Sobs wrack through my body as I wrap my arms around
myself.  I have no one. I have nothing.

     I
rub at my eyes, trying to soothe the burning and then I pull my journal from my
bag and begin to write everything I feel.  My journal has always been my
friend.  I tell it everything and it keeps my secrets.

    As I
write, dark storm clouds start to hover, darkening the pages of my journal.
 I remember the officer telling me that the house will remain vacant for
some time until the owner’s estate is settled, and that I am free to collect my
belongings.  I don’t really have any belongings, but at least I’ll stay
dry until the storm passes and I decide what the hell I’m going to do.

    I
grab my bag and hike back to the house.  It’s so much darker on this side
of the fence.  The fence and the tall trees always kept the light out.
 A cool breeze whips through the air, causing the hair on my arms to stand
straight up.  My body shivers as a feeling of dread spreads through me.
 This was my prison.  Where am I going to go from here?

    The
house is unlocked.  I push the door open and visions of my last moment in
this house flood my memory.  I can see my mother’s face as she came at me
with a handful of her pills.  I can hear the pills bouncing on the tiles.
 I can hear my screams for help.  I’m shaking and breathing heavy as
I try to shake the memories.  I scan the room and notice the yellow tape
from the police’s investigation discarded in the corner.  An empty can of
soup still sits on the countertop.  Her pills are gone.  I’m assuming
the police confiscated them.  Her things are still scattered around the
house.  Shoes, a sweater, a book.  I can’t stay here.  I run to
my room lifting the mattress on the floor.  It’s all still here.  I
slide my notebook, Pride and Prejudice and the picture from the perfume ad from
underneath the mattress and then glance around at the rest of the room.  There’s
nothing.  I have nothing here.  Eighteen years and I have nothing.
 Just painful memories.

    A
noise startles me.  I hear a faint ringing sound.  I follow the noise
until I realize it’s my phone.  It is inside the bag I packed earlier and
it is lying on the kitchen floor where I dropped it.  I dig through my bag
and pull out my phone.  Laney’s smiling face lights up on the surface and
for a second, I want to smile back at her, but then I realize, she lives in the
world that I don’t belong in, just like Dillon.  The phone stops ringing
and her happy face disappears.  I stare at the blank screen, then turn my
head quickly towards the squeak coming from the front door.

    His
tall, thin frame, covered in a pressed black suit enters the doorway, casting a
dark shadow across the kitchen wall.  My eyes travel from his black,
steel-toed boots up to his face.  His face.  My heart immediately
plummets into my stomach.  I try to swallow but my throat is too tight.
 I discretely slide my phone into my back pocket, as he closes the door
and stalks towards me, his boots tapping across the floor.  I stare at the
face of the man that has been faceless for so long in my nightmares.  When
he steps out of the dark shadows, I see his eyes and my blood runs cold.

    He’s
my father.

 

 

CHAPTER 22

 

 

Dillon

 

    “Where’s
Amy?”

    “I
don’t know.”  Candice shrugs.

    I
can read Candice like a book.  I can tell just by the look on her face and
the shrug of her shoulders that she talked to Amy and something happened. I
know it’s not good.

     “Candice,
what did you say to her?”

    “I
didn’t say anything to her,” she snaps back.

    “Listen,
we can bicker all morning.  Amy will tell me what happened, but I’m asking
you.  What happened?”

    “Fine.
 She overheard us this morning.  When I came out of your room she was
standing there like a creep listening.  Again.”

    “Fuck.”
 I try to remember what was said and then remember what Candice was
wearing.  “She thinks we slept together last night, doesn’t she?”

    Candice
shrugs again.

    “Where
did she go?”

    “I
don’t know Dillon.  I went down to get coffee and your client pulled up,
so I went out to tell him you’d be right down.”

    “He’s
here?”

    “He
was.  He asked me if Amy was around and when I said no, that I wasn’t sure
where she was and that you would be down shortly, he kind of took off.  He
was weird.”

    “What
the fuck did he look like?” I yell.

    “God
Dillon.  Calm down.  I don’t know.  He was a skinny guy.
 He didn’t look like a guy who belonged on a ranch, that’s for sure.”

    “Fuck!”
 I’m freaking the fuck out.  I pace in a circle rubbing my hands
through my hair when I hear my phone ring.  I pull it out of my pocket to
see Amy’s number flashing.
         Thank God.

    “Amy?”

    Nothing.

    “Amy?”

    Nothing.

    I
run towards the barn and rev up the ATV, leaving a thick cloud of dust behind
me as I blaze a trail towards the fence.  My mind is racing.  That
guy that abused her mother is here looking for her.  I’m praying I’m going
to the right place.  I’m praying he doesn’t hurt her.

    I
skid to a stop, spitting dirt out from the tires of the ATV when I come to the
break in the fence.  I crawl through and look around the elm, but she’s
not here.  Finally, I notice a small trail through the trees, leading into
the property.  I follow it as quickly as I can until I see the small
house.

    Darkness
shrouds the house from the tall trees blocking out all of the light.
 Thunder booms and lightning flickers in the distance as sheets of rain
begin to fall through the trees.  I’m soaked within seconds.  I
approach the house cautiously.  Once I turn the corner to see the front of
the house, I notice the truck in the driveway.  I know it’s his.  I
have to cross in front of a huge window to get to the front door, but I duck
down as low as I can.  I don’t hear anything coming from inside the house.
 My heart is beating out of control.  I get to the front door and
test the knob.  My hand is shaking.  I turn it slowly.  It’s
unlocked.  I slowly push the door and it opens with a loud screech. Amy is
standing in the kitchen with tears flowing down her face.  Her eyes are
red and puffy.  She stares at me with a look of warning, but before I can
discern what she’s trying to tell me, the door slams shut and I’m thrown to the
floor.

    “Dillon!!”
 

    I
hear her shrill scream.  As I turn my head to look at her, I see her drop
to her knees with her hands flying to her face.  The force of his
steel-toed boot in my side causes my body to jerk and slide across the floor.
 He kicks me again and again until the pain is so intense, I close my
eyes, drifting in and out of consciousness.  I can’t move.  I can’t
breathe.  I can hear her cry.  I can hear him scream at her.

    “You’re
a whore like your mother, aren’t ya Amy?  You fucking this boy? Had him
send the police after me?  You tell him about me and your crazy mama?
 You fucking bitch.”

    I
see his boots step in front of her and I try to move.  I try desperately
to move toward her.  I can’t move.  I can’t help her.  The pain
is paralyzing.

    “Your
mama left you all alone?  You know, she used to do me favors. I think you
owe me a fucking favor for hidin’ from daddy for so long and then going to the
fucking police.”

    He
crouches down and reaches out to touch her face.

    “You’re
a pretty little thing aren’t ya?  Yeah, your mamma was too.  I
remember when the old man brought her home.  She was all shy and sad. Just
wanted to please everyone. Yep.  Tell her to suck my cock and she dropped
to her knees.  Didn’t want to cause any trouble so she did as she was
told.  Fun times.”

     Amy’s
whimpers tear my heart out and all I can do is lay there.  I can’t move
and my eyes are trying to close. I hear a groan escape my mouth as I struggle
to move my legs. I dig my nails into the tile and frantically try to drag my
body across the floor, but I just can’t.

    “Fun
times are over now, Amy.  When I found your mama five years ago, she made
a deal with me.  She promised to do anything.  Anything.  As
long I didn’t take you from her.  She promised to keep our secrets.
 You broke the deal, Amy.  You told.  I just can’t have you
going to the police again.  No one will be surprised if you take too many
of your mama’s pills.  Life sucks and can be too much sometimes, right
baby girl? I’m going to fix that for you.”  He pulls out a gold
prescription bottle out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and then sets
it on the counter.

    As he
stands in front of her, he forcefully pulls her hands away from her face and
grips her wrists with one hand, holding them above her head.  With his
other hand, he reaches for the buckle of his pants.  She starts to cry.

    “Amy….”
 I hear myself gasp.

    Suddenly,
a loud bang echoes off of the walls.  My eyes widen with fear as I strain
to see her.  She has her head covered with her arms and she screams.
 A piercing scream, like when she had her night terror. What the fuck just
happened?  Then I see him, his body on the floor in front of her.

    Then
I hear my dad’s voice.  “Officer Douglas, an intruder has just been shot
on our property.  Yes sir.”

    I
collapse onto my back and see him standing above me, holding a hunting rifle in
his hand.  “Amy!” he calls.  “You okay?  You hurt?”

    “No...but
Dillon!” she cries out.  My eyes flutter, trying to stay awake.  My
dad lifts me and rests my back against the wall as I slump against it clutching
my side.

    “Dillon?
 You with me?”  I can hear the concern in my dad’s voice.

    “Yeah.”
 It fucking hurts to breathe.  “You said…stay out of it….don’t be a
hero…”

    “And
you should have listened to me, huh son?  You suck as a hero.”  He
laughs.

    “But
how did you know…to come here.”

    “Long
story Dillon, I’ll explain later.  Let’s get you back to the house.”

    “Is
he dead?”

    “Nope.
 He’ll live, but the police will take over from here.”

    I
look across the room to where Amy is still on her knees and hunched over.
 I’m afraid she’s going to regress.  I’m afraid she’s going to
withdraw again and I can’t stand the thought of her not wanting me to touch
her.

    “Amy,”
I squeak out, clutching my ribs.  I need to know she’s okay.

    She
lifts her head.  Her eyes are swollen and red.  Tears cover her red cheeks.
She looks over at me and then I watch her crawl across the floor toward me and
right into my lap.  She wraps her body around mine and cries into my neck.
 I close my eyes and hold her tight against me as her body continues to
tremble.  I’m in so much fucking pain, but I need her like this.  I
need to know she’s going to be okay.

    “It’s
over.  You’re free,” I whisper.

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