Sins of Worship Chap. 2

Devon hummed as he made his way through his house. He pulled the wig off and placed it back on the stand. Devon went through the motions as he cleaned and prepared himself for the night. He dressed and went down to the subbasement.

“Hello beautiful,” Devon greeted the man as he went to the closet and pulled out his waders and a smithing apron to wear.

The man struggled against the bonds and his cries were muffled by the gag that was tied tightly.

Devon walked around him as he pulled his plan to the front of his mind. He nodded and went to the large red tool chest. He opened the first drawer on the right and grinned. He lifted the hand sander and headed to the modified work bench. Devon made sure the straps were clean and sat the sander down. He turned and went to the storage closet off to the left and pulled out the bolt of tarp plastic.

The man’s eyes followed Devon as he spread out the plastic in layers under and around the table. The hairs began to stand up on his arms as Devon began to hum and upbeat tune while he sealed the gaps with gorilla tape. The man struggled against his bonds to no avail. He closed his eyes and sent up a silent prayer to a god he had long ago given up on.

Devon finished his preparations and went over to the man.

“Jon wasn’t it?” Devon pulled the key from around his own neck and unshackled the hands from the floor board ring first, “you won’t be missed. You’ve been very unkind and a horrible father to three lovely boys. Don’t worry,” he chuckled, “they’ll know you’re dead so that they can collect the insurance money. It is the very least you can do for your family.”

Jon tried to argue and plead around the gag as he pulled at the cuffs.

“You’re not my first nor will you be my last. I have perfected the hostage holding bonds. You’ll never get out of those cuffs. That’s why they’re separate then connected. A ton better than shackles. Now if you try to run this will take a lot longer than I have planned.”

Jon sagged and allowed Devon to move him from the floor to the work bench.

Devon untied the first layer of the gag then removed the cloth he has shoved in Jon’s mouth.

“You can scream as much as you’d like. We’re not that far from civilization but this room is sound proof and layers of concrete and a layer of steel between us and the earth.”

“Why?” Jon whimpered.

“Why not?” Devon shrugged.

“Someone hired you didn’t they?”

“Nope,” Devon popped the ‘P’, “I found you on my own. You originally bought the last case of Bluemoon and proceeded to almost run me over with your cart. That put you in my sights,” he undid the clasp in the middle of the cuffs and clasped them to the table, “then I followed you home. Your home life and the way you treat your family is what really landed you here.”

“W-what? I got the last beer?” Jon stared at him confused.

“Yes siree bob you did and that pissed me off,” Devon made sure Jon’s legs were secured before he plugged in the sander, “then I followed you home. I watched you for a few days. Your anger and your abusive nature did you in. Your sons deserve better,” his eyes darkened and his lips set in a fine line, “your wife should have left you a long time ago. I don’t know how she bore you three children and continued to stay with you,” he all but spat.

“Sh-she’s my second wife.”

“No matter,” Devon waved his hand in a flippant gesture, “we’ve ended up here either way.”

Devon picked his humming back up as he took the sander to each finger. He took his time and let the music of Jon’s screams lull him into his comfortable place. After he finished with both hands he went to the table he had set up the morning before and rolled it over still on the layered plastic.

“I think that I would love to see what your femur looks like,” Devon picked up a syringe and a small vial, “this will make sure that you’re not going into shock on me my lovely man,” he injected the medication above Jon’s hips, “you’ll be mostly numb from the waist down. I think I’m going to leave the femur for later. I saw what you did to the oldest boy’s knee. I think I’d like to see what a sober athletic man can accomplish,” he grinned.

“Please,” Jon’s couldn’t keep his eyes open and gasped as the pain radiated up his arms.

“Oops! I forgot your morphine,” Devon grabbed a clean syringe and picked up another vial and administered the pain medication in a low dose, “there. That’ll help keep your mind clear enough. Sorry about that. I almost had you slip away. It’s a funny thing how chemicals can trick the mind.”

“Don’t do this. You’ve taught me my lesson I swear.”

“No,” Devon’s smile dropped again as he balanced the mallet in his hands, “your oldest is about 19. You’ve got probably about 19 years still to learn but we don’t have that kind of time. So Jon I hope you’ve made your peace,” he brought down the sledge hammer with all his might.

 

Devon handed a cup of coffee to his receptionist.

“Janice if I ever promise to take another international call please murder me,” Devon joked.

“You were in there a lot longer than I thought. I saw you sneak out to get a late lunch. I would’ve ordered in for you. Thanks for the coffee! You always get my order right,” Janice took a sip and her eyes closed with pleasure, “so perfect.”

“I didn’t want to bother you. Plus, I needed the fresh air. Give me another hour and a half and we can be out of here,” he lifted the armful of folders and his laptop.

“Sure thing. I’ll keep the others out of your hair.”

Devon disappeared into his medium sized office. He went to his desk and turned off the call forwarding from the office phone. He pulled the mobile from the cabinet and swapped his SIM back into his real phone. Devon sat down at this desk and pulled up the research on his latest conquest. Valerie Austin, 32, single, and head of a major charity firm. He didn’t like the way she represented herself and she had taken his last girlfriend from him with a blink. Sometimes vendettas were moved to the list. Spontaneity wasn’t always the cleverest.

Sins of Worship Chap. 1

Devon set up his alerts in his phone and left the burner with the serial number cloned in the bar’s bathroom.  He spent a few minutes in front of the bar getting the attention of a few workers with jokes and charisma.  Devon left his tab open when he exited through the side door.

There was crime scene tape already in place by time Devon arrived a few hours later.  He watched as the police combed over the scene and the detectives swapped ideas.  He bit back his smile and ruffled his hair as he made his way to the barricade.

“No,” Devon shouted as he tried to push pass the officer there, “you have to let me in that’s my girlfriend’s house!”

“Sir,” the detective turned around to see what the commotion was all about, “you know the woman that lives here?”

“Yeah,” Devon ran his hand through his hair, “it’s my girlfriend’s place.”

The detective pushed the barricade aside just enough for him to slip through.

“I’m Detective Carter and that’s my partner Detective Richardson.  I’m sorry to have to tell you.”

“No.  Not Amy.  Not Amy!” Devon tried to push pass the detective.

“You don’t want to go in there.  It isn’t worth you seeing what’s left of her.”

“W-what’s left of her?” Devon’s eyes went wide and he grew still, “what do you mean?”

“She is the latest victim of the Douglasdale Slasher.  Let’s go down to the precinct.  I think it’ll be best for you to talk there.”

“No.  I need to see her.  She,” Devon gulped, “she just can’t be.  No.  I don’t believe you,” Devon shook his head as tears puddled in his eyes.

At that moment the coroner pulled the stretcher out the house to take downtown.

“Nooo!” Devon dropped to his knees as tears spilled down his face.

IV. Me As I Am

                Gabby walked into the room and stopped.  She looked around and realized she must have walked into the wrong door. Though Gabby knew it was the second on the left but she had to have been wrong.  On the bed lay several different dresses with heels to match.  There were different undergarments and hair accessories as well.  There was a large tote and bag that had some more female attire.  Then Gabby heard a very male voice in the bathroom singing.  Gabby eased her way through the room to the bathroom.  Her blood ran cold as she gasped at the sight before her.  It was his room.  Evan wore a black garter belt with lacy panties and a well stuffed bra as he applied his makeup in the mirror.  Evan turned when he heard her gasp.

                “Oh fuck,” Evan mumbled and dropped the mascara wand.

                “What the holy hell is this?” Gabby gestured to him.

                “I can explain,” Evan grabbed his robe and tied it tightly around him.

                “I don’t think that you can.”

                “Gabby please just listen,” he reached for her.

                “Don’t you touch me you sick twisted motherfucker,” Gabby pulled away with a disgusted frown.

                “Please wait.”

                Evan dodged around Gabby and shut the door.  He stood in front of it so she would not be able to leave.

                “Am I just some sort of test to see if you like vaginas?”

                “What?! No it was never that.  I like you,” Evan pleaded.

                “More than you like dick?” Gabby continued to glance around the room at all of the female clothing.

                “No.  I mean yes.  I mean shit.  I’m not gay,” Evan answered exasperatedly.

                “You’re wearing woman’s underwear for god’s sake,” Gabby’s face twisted again.

                “That doesn’t mean I’m gay.  Not all transsexual individuals are gay.  It’s about identity of self not who’s in my bed,” Evan swallowed down the pain and blinked back the tears.

                “All the drag queens I know are.  You cross dressing son of a bitch.  How could you tease me into falling for you?” Gabby crossed her arms.

                “Gabriella.  Just listen please.  It isn’t like that at all.  I care for you.  I am not attracted to men.  This isn’t about sexual orientation this is about gender.  Of all people I thought that you’d get that,” Evan’s voice dropped disappointedly.

                “So you’re telling me you’re gender confused?”

                “No.  It’s not exactly that black and white.  As much as I love being a man I also enjoy being a woman.  It has always been that way,” Evan sought the easiest way to explain it to her.

                “This is w-what you were keeping from m-me?  You’re not cheating on me,” Gabby said quietly as realization dawned on her.

                “Yes.  I knew that you would react the way that you did.  I wanted to be sure of how I felt about you before I let you into my inner shell.”

                “You are such a freak.  A grade A fucking freak,” Gabby shook her head and balled her hands into fists.

                “Don’t you understand?  This is who I am and I cannot change that.  Believe me I tried.  Years of therapy and tons of different medications and still they couldn’t fix me.  It took me forever to come to terms with who I am and I won’t let you or anyone else take that from me,” Evan stated firmly.

                Gabby stood there and finally looked up at him.  She suddenly felt she had betrayed him.  Gabby had broken his trust and faith in her.  She had reacted like everyone else probably had.  Gabby had been his friend first and she had failed him as a friend.  She saw the pain in his eyes from the words that she had thrown at him.

                “Look.  I am freaking out here.  I just need some time.  I need to focus and wrap my mind around this.  Then we can talk.  I just need to get out of here,” Gabby sighed and unclenched her hands.

                “So you’re canceling our date?”

                “Yes.”

                “Fine.  I get that.”

                Evan had more that he wanted to say but he knew that he had already used up her patience.  Evan felt like he had lost Gabby and he was upset with that but he hoped Gabby would use her skills and see it for the truth.  He stepped aside and opened the door.  Gabby walked to the door and stopped.  She looked up at him again.  Gabby threw arms around him and gave him a tight hug before she left. 

Evan sighed and went back to the bathroom.  He had somewhere to be so he didn’t have time to think about it.  Evan wrapped his hair and put the stocking cap on before he pulled on the wig.  Elani finished getting ready and as she tied on her manolos a thought occurred to her.  Elani jumped up and grabbed her clutch bag.  She glided down the stairs and to the game room where she knew Jacob would be.

                “Jacob!” Elani called.

                “What Elani?” Jacob paused his game.

                “Why the hell did you let her up?”

                “Who? What?” Jacob turned to her.

                “Gabby.  You know that I have an event this afternoon and you let her up.”

                “Oh shit Elani, I didn’t even think about it,” Jacob stood and went to his friend, “I am so sorry.  I was in the middle of cooking and I just was like ‘he’s upstairs’.  I am so fucking sorry.”

                “That’s what I figured. Your stomach was controlling you.  I wasn’t expecting her until eight.  I’m not even sure why she came over early,” Elani sighed.

                “I’m so sorry.”

                “I should’ve told her a long time ago.  We’ve been dating for a year and I still hadn’t told her because I was so scared.  Well I gotta run before I’m late,” Elani slung her purse over her shoulder.

                “Well I know it isn’t any better but you’re looking hot as hell tonight.  Evan has nothing on your sex appeal.”

                “Don’t forget I’m a lesbian.  Your hard body does nothing for me,” Elani winked at him.

                “Baby girl I could change your mind,” Jacob joked as he sat back in front of his console system.

                “See ya later.”

                Elani climbed into the purple convertible with the top down and headed to the luncheon she had put together.  She removed her sunglasses as she reached the restaurant.  Elani checked her makeup and reapplied her lipstick.  She stuck the tube back in her purse and climbed out the car.  Elani smiled at the valet as she handed him her keys.  She flipped her strawberry blonde curls over her shoulder.  Elani sashayed her way into the restaurant.

                “Elani you are as gorgeous as ever,” Aaron said as he kissed her cheek.

                “Thank you.  You too clean up well.”

                “We have gotten everyone here and were just waiting for you,” Aaron stated as he led her into room full of familiar faces.

                “Thanks darling.”

                Elani handed him her purse and went to the middle of the room.  She greeted everyone as she passed them.

                “Thank you everyone for coming out.  We are here for a terrific cause.  I’d like to thank a few people before we get started.  Firstly, Mr. Aaron Williamson for allowing us to meet here in his lovely restaurant, Rachael, my bff, for helping organize this and lastly all of you who understand that it is time to bring our families home from overseas,” thunderous applause went up, “the petitions have been signed and sent to capitol hill.  The proceeds from this evening will go to the families of our troops who are in need of assistance especially those who have been widowed.  So again thank you for your time and donations.”

                Elani handed the microphone back to Aaron.  She found Rachael and gave her a tight hug.  Elani was pleased with the outcome.  There were a few hundred people and a few more that had sent in donations and a more waited for the auction to begin.  Elani made sure she made the rounds and spoke with everyone at least once before she sat down and had her lunch.  After she ate Elani went to the small stage that had been put up during the meal.

                “Alright ladies and gentleman the moment you have all been waiting for.   The bachelor and bachelorette auction,” applause, “our first eligible bachelor please come on up.”

                “Here I am ladies.  Pull out your check books,” Michael grinned as he approached the stage.

                “Okay we start the bidding for Mr. Michael Hendricks at,” Elani looked him over, “Two dollars. Do I hear two dollars?”

                The room erupted in laughter.  Michael playfully punched her.  Elani smiled and looked around the room.

                “How about $50?”

                “$50!”

                “$100!”

                “$200!” another woman shouted.

                “Wow look at you.  The ladies like a strong man.  He’s as big as an ox and smart as a dolphin or whatever a smart animal is.  So we have $200.  Do I hear $250?”

                “$250!”

                “$300!”

                “$300 going once…300 going twice…300 going three times–”

                “Two thousand dollars,” a warm silky voice called from the back of the room.

                All heads turned toward the voice.  She sat in the back with her face hidden by a large dramatically trendy hat.  She stood up and pulled cash from her purse.

                “Wowzers!  That is two thousand big ones once, twice, three times and sold to the mystery woman with the sexiest hat in the world.”

                Michael smiled excited about being purchased for the weekend at such a high price.  He walked from the stage area to the woman who had bought his time for the weekend.  She lifted her head and took her hat off.  She shook her hair loose and grinned at him.  His breath caught.  It was the millionaire from the top of the hill.

                “Esmeralda Dominic,” Michael whispered.

                “Nice to make your acquaintance.”

                Elani continued the auction until they had given all the men and women to the highest bidder.  No one had out done Michael but Sam had come in a close second at $1725.  They had raised more than they had shot for and they were proud.  Elani wished everyone farewell and headed home.  She stopped at a gas station to fill up the car.  Elani had a trip the next day and didn’t want to have to stop before she hit the road.  Elani went in to prepay when she literally ran into Gabby.

                “Sorry.  I am so clumsy sometimes,” Gabby said and looked up.

                “No worries shug,” Elani smiled behind her sunglasses and walked passed her.

                “Do…do I know you?” Gabby asked as she gazed at her.

                “Probably from some social gathering.  I do a lot of promotions and fundraisers around here,” Elani suggested as she stood in line.

                “Hmm.”

                Gabby walked to the exit then froze and almost dropped her mug.  She lifted her sunglasses and looked over at Elani again.  Her jaw dropped and she went back over to her.  She left several feet between them as she stared at her.

                “Evan?” Gabby whispered.

                No response.  Gabby sighed.  She must have been confused but she was sure.  Gabby walked closer so it was barely a foot between them.

                “What’s your name?” Gabby asked curious.

                “Me?” Elani asked as she turned back to her.

                “Yeah.”

                “Elani.”

                “Hm…what’s your last name?”

                “Masen.”

                “Fuck.”

                Gabby stood there in shock.  It had only been hours.  Just hours and there they were face to face again.  She watched as Elani paid for her gas and walked passed her.  Gabby turned and followed her out.  Gabby passed her bike and went straight to the convertible.

                “Miss.  I am going to have to ask you to stop following me dear,” Elani replied as she pumped gas.

                “So this is what you look like.  How are you going to act like you don’t know me?  We almost slept together dammit,” Gabby exclaimed and felt a few people at the pumps turn.

                “Not here,” Elani said through clinched teeth.

                “I’m serious.  You walked by me like you didn’t know me.  Pretended not to have remembered me quivering next to you just a few nights ago.  Acted like we aren’t involved.  I am not a stranger.”

                A few of the men at the pumps forgot what they were there to do now that they had the images in their minds.

                “Gabriella this is not the place,” Elani responded as she continued to watch the number rise on the pump.

                “You’re gorgeous,” Gabby said once she really looked at her, “you look like a bulked up Peta Wilson.  My god you’re unbelievable.”

                “Thank you.”

                “I’ll meet you at your house,” Gabby turned and went back to her bike.

                Gabby secured her coffee and the bike roared to life as she headed to Elani’s house.  Elani sighed and finished the task at hand.  She took a fearful glance around.  Their eyes were still on her.  She hung up the pump and turned back to her car.  Elani was greeted by a friendly face.

                “If things don’t work out with the biker girl, you can feel free to call me.  I’ve taken ballet for the last ten years,” a beautiful brunette smirked and lifted her leg straight up behind her head slightly as she handed her a business card.

                “I’ll keep that in mind,” Elani smiled wickedly and got in her car.

III. Mission Impossible

Evan jumped out the shower and dried as quickly as possible.  He brushed his teeth and made sure his room and bathroom were tidy.  There wasn’t anything that needed to be hidden.  Evan heard her as Jacob let her in.  He cursed under his breath.  Elani and Brie had done lunch and it had run longer than he had expected.  It had made him late.  Evan hated having to deal with Elani’s schedule when she relied on his free time.

“Hm just getting ready?  What’s been up with you lately?  You’ve been late several times for the last few weeks,” Gabby point out as she entered his room.

“Dealing with my sister and her crazy friends.  I’m almost ready.”

“Good.  Trystan is waiting for us.  You know if she doesn’t get a drink soon she’ll melt or something,” Gabby laughed as she leaned against his doorframe and watched him dress.

“It’s just a causal restaurant right?”

“Yup jeans will be fine.”

Evan dressed and they headed down.  Jacob had already left to meet the others.  He locked up and followed Gabby down to her car.  They headed to meet everyone at the restaurant.  Gabby smiled and hugged everyone.  Alicia was as gorgeous as ever, Rachael was connected to Aaron as if they were conjoined twins, Trystan was in Michael’s lap and Jacob was nursing a beer.

“Hey guys.  So what is the plan for this evening?” Evan took a seat.

“To get tipsy and then get laid,” Trystan said as she kissed Michael’s cheek.

“What happened to Darlene?”

“She was a buzz kill,” Trystan waived over the waitress, “shots of Jose Silver for everyone on my tab.”

“At least she kept to the code and waited for you to show Evan.”

Trystan and Evan went back to the school yard in years.  They had been best friends since before they could drink.  They had made a rule in college that neither would start drinking until the other showed if it was an event they would both attend.

“Hey I never break a vow.  We’ll be 80 and I’ll wait for him,” Trystan smiled softly.

“What started this ritual?”

They looked at each other quickly then back at everyone else.  Trystan shrugged then threw back her shot.

“Well a very long time ago one of us got a little too drunk, then was slipped something and was put in a situation that we didn’t like.  We ended up being taken down to the police station and we promised each other since that we would always have each other’s back before drinking,” Evan explained.

“Wow.  You both have a record so I’m not even sure who it was,” Aaron shook his head.

“You don’t need to know.  That wasn’t the question.”

“Okay whatever you say.”

They ordered dinner and more drinks.  They laughed and danced for a very entertaining evening.  Gabby drove them back to his place.  Evan kissed her goodnight and left her in her car.  Gabby frowned as she watched him go inside.  It wasn’t like Evan to end the evening without an invite in.  Gabby sighed and headed home.

****

Elani brushed her hair and looked in the mirror.  She applied a light coat of lip gloss then grabbed her bag.  She slipped on her heels and headed down the stairs.  Elani got in her car and headed to the mall.  She needed a few new clothes and a new pair of shoes.  Elani wished she could order things off line but she knew that she could not because everything had to be tried on.  She entered her favorite designer store and went straight for the tall section.  Elani waved at the sales woman.

“Elani, I have some things for you.  When they came in I just knew that you would love them,” Diane walked to the back and returned.

“Thank you so much Diane.”

“Not a problem.  You’re always one of our best clients and I know how hard it is to find clothes for your size.”

“Thanks.”

Elani went into the dressing room and tried on the clothes that Diane had handed her.  She smiled as the clothes fit perfectly.  Diane was skilled at picking out Elani’s clothes.  Whenever Diane was there Elani never had to get them fitted.  She loved the way the pants fit and gave her curves where she was slightly lacking.  The blouses and skirts were just as perfect.  Elani loved that her day had been cut in half without having to search for too much more.  Elani found a few more things on the racks then checked out.  She moved onto the shoe store.  Elani bent down and grabbed a pair of shoes off the bottom shelf as she stood back up someone ran into her.  Elani immediately dropped the shoes and caught the person before they fell.

“Oh god thank you.  I am such a clumsy girl sometimes,” the brunette said as she blushed.

“Not a problem.  Glad that I was here to catch you so you didn’t get a nasty bump.”

“Yeah,” she blushed.

Elani winked at her and grabbed her shoes.  The brunette moved on to her shoe size for her tiny feet.  Elani grabbed two more pairs of shoes and went to the register.  She sighed as she headed to The Smoothie Joint.  Elani people watched as she ate and enjoyed her smoothie.

“Elani?”

“Hey Brie how are you?”

“I was just gonna call you,” Brie sat across from her.

“Small world,” Elani forced a smile.

“So are you going to the Tipton benefit this weekend?”

“Oh I wish.  I actually have to fly out of town with Evan.  Family event this weekend.”

“Oh bummer I guess I’ll have to call Erika and see if she’s free.  So what did you do today?”

“Just got some shopping done. I’m heading home to pack and clean house,” Elani stood and disposed of her trash.

“Oh when will you be back?”

“In a few weeks.  I’ll make sure to give you a ring,” Elani gathered up her bags to signal her departure.

“Oh sure.  I’ll see ya later then.”

“Laters.”

Elani quickly left the mall.  She put her bags in her convertible and headed home.  She put all of her bags in the back of the closet in the hall then headed to the shower.

Evan dried off and went to his closet.  He dressed and went back to the bathroom and pulled out the hair dryer.  Evan made sure to spray a little of his musk cologne in the bedroom since Gabby arrived.  He padded down the stairs and went to the den.  Jacob had already occupied the Playstation and was too loud for him to even think about trying to play the Xbox.  He watched as he played with his friends and shouted at the screen.  Once he was finished he turned and acknowledged Evan’s presence.

“Hey dude I thought Elani was here?”

“She finished her errands and is napping.”

“Oh okay.  What time is the gang coming over tonight?”

“In a couple of hours.”

“So is Elani seeing anyone?”

“Jacob,” Evan smiled, “how many times are we going to go over this?”

“I know.  I was just curious.  Not for myself.  I have a friend Jen who is interested.”

“Oh okay.  I’ll let her know.”

“Is Trystan and Michael still together?”

“Crazy enough they are.  I have no idea how it’s working out but those crazy kids are perfect for each other.”

“Go figure.”

****

Gabby checked her watch and sighed.  Evan was late getting her.  She was pissed it was not the first time that he was late getting her and he had not called or text.  Gabby tapped her foot and began to pace around her apartment.  She had talked to her friends and they agreed that there was no way he would have time to cheat as she suspected between work and her.  Gabby had believed them for a few weeks but it had become a habit.  Evan had made it three times on time in the last week.  She was worried.  Evan seemed to be distracted and preoccupied a lot of the times they spent together.

Gabby sat down at the bar in her kitchen and tried not to look at the clock again.  Her phone buzzed on her hip.  Gabby pulled out the phone and checked the notification.  It was a text message from Evan canceling their date for the night.  Some sort of family emergency.  She sighed and immediately sent a text to Trystan.  She usually had the in on what was going on with Evan.  Trystan hadn’t heard anything either.  Gabby grabbed her jacket and left her apartment.  She got on her bike and headed into the city.  Gabby didn’t want to brood around her place alone.

Elani sat with Aaron on the couch and held his hand as he cried.  He and Rachael had a fight and he was not taking it well at all.  It have never come up but something had triggered a extremely loud argument over who made more money.  Elani was friends with both but knew that Rachael had many people to run to and Aaron was far away from his family and had only a few people that he could lean on.  Elani had already been on the way to that side of town so she was agreed to stop by for him.

“Th-thank you s-s-so much for coming by.  I just don’t know what happened.  It had never been a problem before.  She’s always brought home more money during the peak seasons.  I’ve always brought home the most money on a normal basis.  I’m not sure what happened or what triggered her.”

“You know she’s been having a lot stress at work with Mrs. Dominic back in the world.  She has lost a few major accounts and just needs a big project to bring her back around.  I can help with that.”

“You think that’s true?” Aaron looked at her hopefully.

“Definitely.  She’s feeling insecure because she hasn’t had a strong job but we’ll make sure she gets something.”

“Okay if you think that will help.  Thank you so much for being here with me.”

“Not a problem.  I was thinking about order a pizza how does that sound?”

“Perfect.”

“Get me a beer and I’ll order.”

While he was in the kitchen she grabbed Evan’s phone and sent a text to his girlfriend.  She grabbed her phone and called for delivery.

“Food ordered.”

Aaron smiled at her and they sat back down in front the tv.

II. Oh Girl Almighty

Elani slipped into her leggings and pulled on her flowing navy skirt.  She made sure her blouse was in place and checked her reflection.  Elani smiled pleased with her appearance.  She zipped up her knee high boots and grabbed her black hobo bag.  Elani sashayed down the stairs to the kitchen.

“Hey beautiful,” Jacob kissed her cheek.

“Hi handsome.  So do I look trendy enough?” Elani turned.

“You’re gorgeous and perfect.  Thank you so much for coming with me.  I just couldn’t go alone again.”

“Not a problem.  I get to hob knob with hot wealthy people and a few celebrities.  I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Elani said with a laugh, “I’m glad it isn’t a black tie event because I have nothing formal to wear.”

“Just try not to make the others jealous because you are stunning and I don’t want to have to fight with any heiress types,” Jacob teased.

“I’ll try not to.”

Jacob walked her to the car and opened her door for her.  He got in and they headed to the restaurant.  There were several photographers out when they arrived.  Jacob held her hand and tossed the keys to the valet.  They stopped and posed for the cameras then went into the restaurant.

“Wow does Novak have a date?  Beautiful woman at that,” Brie smiled as she met them in the parlor.

“Hi Brie.  This is my friend Elani,” Jacob put on his business smile.

“Elani?  Like the Elani who helped us raise all that money for the marriage equality campaign?! Oh my god!  It is totally my pleasure,” Brie took her hand and shook it profusely.

“Nice to meet you Brie,” Elani gave what she hoped was a warm smile that hid her annoyance.

“You are such a grade A class act philanthropist.  We aspire to be like you.  I feel honored just to breathe the same air.  What are you doing here with him?” Brie’s smile widened frighteningly as she cut her eyes to Jacob.

“He and I go way back.  He’s been my friend for several years,” Elani chuckled.

“He’s kind of weird,” Brie made a face.

“I am right here Brie,” Jacob narrowed his eyes at her.

“He’s not that bad once you get passed his exterior of dorkiness,” Elani feigned whispering.

“I’ll take your word,” Brie grabbed her hand, “here let me introduce you to everyone.”

“Actually,” Elani gently took her hand from Brie, “I’ll walk around with Jacob for a little while then we can meet back up.”

“That would be awesome!  See ya laters,” Brie bounced off to other new comers.

“What the hell was that?” Elani asked as they made it to the main area.

“That is my competition.  She works for another agency,” Jacob chuckled.

“She needs a chill pill.  I thought I was going to have to punch her.”

“Brie is an acquired taste,” Jacob replied as he led Elani to their table.

“Wow is that design phenom Christian LeBlanc?” Elani’s mouth fell open in awe.

“Yes.  I’ll introduce you,” Jacob waved to Christian and he headed over.

“Jacob doll,” he kissed his cheek, “you are looking mighty fierce tonight.”

“Of course I am.  I am wearing your new line,” Jacob smirked.

“And I am very pleased,” Christian turned to Elani, “and who is this gorgeous bombshell?”

“My best friend in the entire world Elani.”

“Ooh girl friend what I could do with a statuesque frame like yours.  How tall are you?” Christian eyed her appraisingly.

“Six three,” Elani blushed.

“You must come out to my studio,” Christian presented her with a card.

“Oh jeez,” Elani took a deep breath to rid her of the lightheadedness, “it would be my pleasure.  I simply adore your sharp eye and daring designs.”

“Ooh yes I am going to love you.  Well I better get back to the masses before someone says I’ve got favorites and hate everyone else,” Christian blew them kisses as he headed to the crowd.

Elani watched as he sauntered off.  She was pleased to be surrounded by so many well known people.  She could not believe how many people recognized her just through her charity presence.  She loved that she had entered new names into her contact list and made connections that would aid in her efforts to make a difference.  Elani enjoyed most of all watching Jacob interact with people.  He was not a social butterfly and preferred to just work alone and create ideas but he was a master a selling his talent.  Jacob gave his speech and accepted his award.

Jacob watched through the night as Elani made him popular.  His colleagues respected him however, like Brie, thought that he was strange.  He had gone to many other events single or with Evan that questions had arisen.  Jacob was pleased that everyone enjoyed Elani’s company and let down their shields with him.  Jacob’s own boss seemed more willing to spend time with him and not keep him at arm’s length.  Jacob had known that Elani would be what he needed to open more doors for him.  Jacob held back his laughter as men approached her and flirted openly.  Jacob knew that there was no man in the room that would catch her fancy.  Elani fit their ideal with her height, legs for days and with eyes like malachite she could bring them to their knees.

“I am ready to get out of here,” Jacob mumbled as he walked to her side.

“Thank you god,” Elani whispered through a fake smile, “this Brie chick is about to catch it.”

“Thanks for everything.  We have to get going.  Her brother is flying in and we have to pick him up at the airport,” Jacob announced as he took Elani’s.

“Oh so soon?” Brie whined.

“I’ve got your number and I’ll call and we can do brunch,” Elani said with a smile.

“Promise?” Brie pouted.

“Promise.”

Jacob whisked her away and they returned to the house.  They both showered and met back in the kitchen when Jacob poured drinks.

“That bitch is crazy.  If you want I can totally get her blacklisted or something,” Elani advised as she took her shot and chased it with juice.

“I can’t believe how nice you were.  I can’t take ten minutes of her and she was like up your ass the entire night,” Jacob shook his head.

“I allowed myself to think about her as a character in one of my stories.  She’s temporarily useful then I can get rid of her by the next chapter.  I’ll try not to kill her,” Elani poured another shot.

“I wouldn’t mind,” Jacob laughed.

“I can’t.  I’m way too hot to go to prison.”

They shared a few more drinks then Elani retired for the evening.  Jacob crashed in front the television a marathon that was on.  There was a knock at the door.  Jacob smiled and let Gabby in.

“He’s upstairs.  He’ll be down in a little bit.”

“Cool.  What are we watching?”

“Best Chef.”

“Ooh I love this show,” Gabby said and plopped down on the couch beside him.

They were engrossed in the show as Evan came down the stairs.  They hushed him as the host announced who was packing their knives.  Evan sat down beside Gabby and put his arms around her shoulders.

“I told you!” Gabby squealed.

“Damn you.  I so thought the French guy was going home with his ugly hair and attitude.”

“You guys are so funny,” Evan chuckled.

“Did you use my lotion again?” Gabby asked as she cuddled into him.

“Uh oh yeah.  It was in the bathroom,” Evan tensed as his eyes met Jacob’s, Jacob shrugged.

“So now you smell like lilacs and sunshine,” Gabby giggled.

“It could be worse.  I’ve been with him after he’s been at the gym,” Jacob remarked.

“I’m glad that I haven’t.  What are we doing tonight?” Gabby looked to Evan.

“I figured we’d take a look at vacation spots tonight.  Figure out where we want to go while you’re free.”

“That sounds boring.  I was thinking more along the lines of poker.  I kind of invited a few people over for poker.”

“The question was pointless then? Well I’m glad that I was invited.”

“I was,” Jacob said with a laugh as he got up, “I’ll get the chips and cards.”

“You guys made plans without me?” Evan pouted.

“That’s why I had to get back here.  It’s only going to be a handful of people,” Jacob called from the hall.

“Okay.  Let me go put on real clothes then.  Be right back.”

Evan raced up stairs to change and make sure that the bathroom upstairs was presentable.  He ducked in his room and made sure that Elani had not left anything out like before.  He knew that Gabby would not go home afterward.  When Evan made his way back down stairs Trystan and her girlfriend were there as well as Alicia. He greeted everyone and sat down at the table beside Gabby.

They played several hands of poker and drank enough that everyone had to crash at the house because driving would be too dangerous.  Gabby curled up against him as they climbed into bed.

“You used a lot of my lotion.  Your entire room smells like a girl,” Gabby giggled, “you didn’t masturbate with it did you?”

“Uh…nooo.”

“You did! Dude that isn’t cool”

“Sorry I didn’t have anything else.  I was in need of some relief,” Evan continued the lie.

“You’re lucky you’re so damn cute.  Will you sing me to sleep?”

“What do you want me to sing?”

“I don’t know.”

Evan hummed a little then began to sing softly as Gabby cuddled close and fell asleep.  He smiled down at her and closed his eyes.

I. Boy Knows Girl

Evan glanced down at Gabby as they relaxed after a tough day.  Evan had pulled her away to take time away from the hustle for a evening together.

“I still can’t believe I managed to talk you into dating me,” Gabby smiled as she leaned against him while they watched the sunset.

“That is super cheesy,” Evan put his arm around her.

“I know but after everything it’s been the best months of my life.  I don’t think I would have made it through the week of finals without you. You were my rock.”

“It’s what I’m here for.  I wish I had had you when I was finishing up it would have made it a lot easier.”

They kissed and watched as the sun disappeared behind the lake.  Evan made a low hissing sound.

“You know it doesn’t really hit the water right?” Gabby giggled as they stood.

“Of course.  I think it is a cute little lie that I like to live,” Evan brushed himself off.

“It is adorable.”

They headed back to her apartment.  Evan made Gabby dinner and they ate quietly enjoying their time together.   He kissed her good night at the door and they made plans for the following day to go to the movies.  Gabby smiled the entire night as she cleaned up her apartment and showered.

Evan had been at the top his class when he had graduated two years before her.  He had gone back to school and was now only a semester away from his doctorate.  Evan was one of the hottest young journalist around.  He had his name on at least four different by lines a week. Evan did stories for the local news paper, national magazines gave him assignments, several self interest articles for the city run magazine and his blog was always in the news somewhere.  Evan had made a name for himself and everyone expected a book deal in the near future.

Gabby had one year left before she achieved her masters in psychology.  She had been introduced to Evan via her professor when Evan had covered a study on what multiple personality or dissociative disorder for Psychology Affair magazine.  It had been her assignment as an intern to assist the doctors.  They had hit it off and had become quick friends.  Then the night of Evan’s articles were published they had gone to celebrate and Gabby had almost slept with him.  Evan, forever the gentleman, had turned her down but they had started a relationship.

*****

Gabby arrived at Evan’s house.  She knocked and waited for him to answer.  She knocked again and she heard some movement inside.  The door opened and a very scruffy, disarrayed and sleepy Jacob stood in the doorway.  Jacob grumbled and left the door open as he turned back into the house.

“Hello to you too,” Gabby entered and shut the door behind her.

“New idea a few days ago,” Jacob mumbled.

“Ah 48 hours.”

“More like 72.”

“Damn Jake go to bed.”

Gabby whistled and went to the kitchen.  She made herself food while she waited for Evan.  After she ate she checked her watch and sighed.  Evan was late again.  It was summer so she knew that he wasn’t in class.  She figured he might be on assignment but he would have called.  Gabby got comfortable on the couch and flipped through the channels.

Gabby had not realized that she had fallen asleep until the strong hand shook her.  Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at Evan.  His hair hung damp from a shower she assumed.  She leaned forward and kissed him.

“You are so adorable,” Gabby whispered against his lips.

“Thank you.”

“I missed you.  You told me to meet you here at two and I was here and had to deal with a grumpy Jacob,” Gabby pouted.

“I know.  Sorry about that.  I got stuck with a newbie at the office.  I went by and got tickets for the seven show which gives us time for dinner before,” Evan smiled.

“That sounds good.”

“Perfect,” Evan kissed her one more time, “I’m going to get fully dressed and then we can go.”

“Sure.”

Gabby noticed then that he had come down to wake her in only his shorts.  She moaned and noticed his blush as he disappeared up the stairs.  She stretched and made sure she was fully awake before he came back down.  Evan was just as attractive when he came back down fully clothed.  His light auburn hair was long in the front to his ears and the back was short.  The Zack Morris hair cut as she liked to refer to it.  His skin was smooth and half a shade darker than her ivory complexion. He wore form fitting distressed jeans and a grey clingy tee shirt.

“Are we going to dinner or are you going to just ogle me?”

“Oops sorry.  You are just too hot for words sometimes.”

Evan opened every door for her and allowed her to order first.  They talked about their coming classes.  Gabby loved to hear him talk about his classes.  He was such a child prodigy that he was years ahead of others he had grown up with.  He had graduated high school early which put him through college early.  His parents had allowed him to stay at home so he took full course loads every year from dawn until night so he could achieve his goals as quick as possible.  He was the only other person she knew that was just as passionate about education as she was.  She talked about the internship she had coming up and going back to Washington to see her family before classes began.

As they left the movie theatre Evan spotted someone who he didn’t want to cross.  He kept his head down and ushered Gabby to the car.  As she got in the car the man he had been trying to avoid spotted him.  He ran up to his side.

“Hey Evan.”

“Hi Hank.”

“Hey…uh…ya know can you give Elani a message for me?”

“Sure,” Evan tried to not sound annoyed.

“Tell her ya know just give me a call.”

“I can’t promise she will but I will relay the message.”

“Thanks man,” he turned and went back across the street.

“Who was that?” Gabby asked he got in the car.

“An old friend of mine,” he started the car and pulled into the traffic.

“What did he want?”

“I hooked him up with another friend of mine and it didn’t work.  She wasn’t interested.”

“Oh poor guy.  He seemed to really feel something for her.”

“Yea I told her to end it after the first date but she didn’t for like a month.”

“Wow.”

“Yup.”

They made it back to his place and he opened a bottle of wine.  He turned on his favorite jazz station low in the background and handed her a glass.

“Good day folks,” Jacob said as he entered from his room.

“Car, truck, RV or motorcycle?” Evan asked as he smiled at his friend.

“Lips are sealed,” Jacob said as he went to the kitchen.

“Ooh must be something big if Mr. Vehicle designer extraordinaire is keeping his lips sealed.”

“Yea it’s amazing that he can keep a secret.  I remember when he did that jeep he wouldn’t shut up for a minute,” Gabby said with a smile.

“That was different.  This is something unique,” he said as he made himself dinner.

“Well you know we’re here when you’re ready to spill.”

“Coolbeans.  Are you guys going to be making out?  I just need to know because I’ll go to my room.”

“We’ll head to my room then.”

Evan and Gabby went up the stairs to his room.  She settled on his bed.  Evan began to light a few candles and turned on his cd player.  Gabby untied her shoes and placed them on the floor at the edge of the bed.  Something under the bed caught her eye.  She inhaled sharply as she pulled out the lacy fabric with her forefinger and thumb.

“Evan,” she threw the bra at him.

“What?” he caught the fabric and gulped he had thought he had gotten it all.

“Whose is that?”

“Oh….uh,” his face turned red, “see it’s a bra.”

“I can see that.  I asked who does it belong to?”

“Someone else,” he tossed the bra aside.

“Obviously because I am not that busty or broad through the shoulders.”

“It was before,” he thought fast, “it was before we committed to a monogamous relationship.  I haven’t really cleaned under my bed.”

“Ok,” she took a deep breath and sat back on the bed, “it’s only been like a month right? Yea something like that.  I just honestly didn’t think that you had seen anyone else with all the time you worked and spent with me.”

Evan sighed and went to Gabby on the bed.  He leaned her back and kissed her softly on the lips.  He wouldn’t allow her to get too involved because he wasn’t ready to go further that night.  He had tried to limit their sexual activity so they could build a strong emotional and mental relationship as well.  He ended up holding her while they talked.

“I’ll see you this weekend.  I’ve got girl friend things to do over the next few days.”

“Ok.  Get home safely.  Don’t forget to text me when you get home.”

Gabby kissed him and went to her car.  Evan waved then went back into the house.  He sat down and joined Jacob on the Xbox.

Gavin’s Love Story Part X

Felicity grabbed the little box and managed to get it under her shirt before the camera turned around.  She made her way to the bathroom and started the shower.  Felicity stood in the corner behind the toilet and opened the box.  All of the secret messages were still there untouched. A new one awaited with the others.

There is no time like the present. I am sorry that it has taken this long to get the courage. There will be a water delivery.  That is the moment for us.

Felicity folded the paper neatly and put it back in the little trap box.  She twisted the pieces to lock the box.  Felicity undressed and got in the shower.  She wondered when Dawn had entered.  It had been several weeks still without a word from her.  Felicity avoided the mirror as she toweled her hair dry.  The sight of the scars made her impulsive and irrational towards her actions against Gavin.  Her fingers moved along the imperfect skin as she applied lotion and she tried to ignore the rage that simmered in her chest.  Felicity applied the cream around her ankles where the shackles had rubbed for weeks until they had removed a few days prior.  She bit her lip to keep the emotion from being released as it began to boil within again.

*****

Felicity had finished the chores and had settled in the study.  There was a knock at the door.  She looked at the clock.  Gavin was almost home from work.  She could not open the door even if she wanted to.  Then she heard voices as the door opened.

“I am sorry that I am running late.  I forgot that about the water delivery.  The coolers are almost empty,” Gavin’s voice carried through the house.

Felicity’s ears perked up.  She didn’t recognize the other voice but she knew that it was the water delivery.  Felicity closed the book and rushed from the room to the dining room where one of the coolers was.  She skidded around the corner and run into Gavin.  His face was stormy when he looked at her.  Felicity tried to look pass Gavin to the dining room that was only steps up the hallway.

“Sorry sir.  I was just going to check the door and let them know to wait for you,” Felicity dropped her eyes.

“No need.  I got it.  It is just the water delivery.”

“Oh I should help him so he isn’t burdened,” Felicity moved to go around him.

“No,” Gavin grabbed her by the throat and pressed against the closest wall with narrowed eyes.

Felicity took a moment to let the fear wash over her as her instincts kicked in.  She jammed the heel of her hand into his wrist and brought her elbow across his chin.  Gavin let go and stumbled back.   Felicity rushed by him to make it into the dining room with the delivery guy.  Gavin turned and grabbed her by the ponytail before she could round the corner.  Felicity wrenched his arm forward using both hands, smashed him in the face with her right hand and swept his leg to get him to let her go.  Gavin released her as he went to catch himself. Gavin regained his balance and grabbed at Felicity again.

Felicity swung at Gavin and caught his jaw.  Felicity knew she was not at her best form since Gavin had starved her for two days before he had given her broth late the previous night.  Felicity knew that she didn’t have the strength but she had the desire to be free.  Her fight had been renewed in her from the letter that Dawn had left.  Felicity automatically fell into her stance.  Gavin blocked her jab but had not expected the upper cut.  Gavin swung a hard left that knocked her off balance.  Felicity caught herself and moved forward with a double jab and a cross.  Gavin’s eyes went wide.

Gavin had remembered the classes that Felicity had taken as he had to put forth effort to defend himself.  He had assumed that when he broke her that she would forget who she used to be.  Gavin stepped back in measured movements.  Felicity’s stance held her power hand as her right so Gavin switched his stance and forced her to circle the opposite way to gain ground.  He had not expected her to switch stances and advance on him just as fast and strong from the left dominant position.  He blocked the jabs and rotated back so the upper cut displaced a fraction of its power.  Gavin realized if he tried to stand with her it was going to be more work.  He lashed out with a wild arched over hand to get Felicity to fall back and he snapped a kick at her to get her off balance.

Felicity wobbled and Gavin lunged at her.  She moved with the motion and slid across the floor.  Her back hit the edge of the china cabinet as Gavin struggled to get her to her back.  Felicity pulled her knee to her chest and pushed out but Gavin was stronger and swift with his movements.  With her fists balled tight she continued to move in his grip to cause him to expel his energy.  Gavin got the upper hand and she was moved to her back as she grew tired.  Felicity took the moment to catch her breath and tried to focus around the pain and blurred vision.  Felicity let Gavin position himself over her legs as she guarded her face and neck.  She placed her left foot on the outside of his leg, surrendered her neck to be able to grab his wrist with one hand from the outside and one from the inside, then she arched her hip as she pulled him down.  Felicity rolled over top of him and punched him in the groin.  When he moved forward to protect his groin she turned and ran.

Felicity smacked into a body she had not expected.  It was the delivery man.  He nodded at her and stepped out of her way.  Felicity breathed a sigh of relief as she went for the kitchen door.  Gavin had closed it and she realized she needed his hand print to get out.  She made a frustrated noise about to move to another room when she heard movement from the front of the house.  She turned to go to the front when Gavin and the delivery tumbled into the room and knocked her back.  Felicity watched as the man punched Gavin as she got to her feet.  She heard Gavin break free of the delivery man after a moment of struggle.  Felicity did not look back as she moved into the dining room as quick as she could manage without slipping.

“Felicity,” Dawn had just entered from the front door.

“He’s right behind me,” Felicity threw herself into Dawn’s arms.

Gavin rushed into the room and the delivery man caught him by the shirt and pulled him back.  Gavin fell back to the floor and immediately was back on his feet and advanced on the man.

“Marcus Gavin is quick,” Dawn called as she pulled Felicity away.

Marcus ducked the right hook that Gavin drove at him.  Gavin swung close again with his left. Marcus grabbed his arm, twisted it back and flung him into the wall.  Gavin pushed off the wall and his back hand fist caught Marcus in the jaw.

Felicity realized that there was the one exit from the house in the room and Marcus had just thrown Gavin in front of it.  She pulled Dawn as she moved the other way to the hall that would lead around.

Gavin pushed Marcus back away from him and he stumbled back into Dawn.  Dawn tried to let go of Felicity before she fell but it happened too fast.  Felicity stumbled from the momentum and pull of Dawn.  Felicity caught herself.  She turned back to Dawn.  Marcus clambered back to his feet but with the moments of freedom Gavin had moved further in the room and grabbed at Felicity.

Gavin grabbed her arm.  Felicity placed her other hand over hers and twisted at the hip away from him and pulled out of his grasp.  Marcus grabbed Gavin as Felicity moved to Dawn. Marcus boxed Gavin’s ears and followed with a right cross.  Gavin shook his head and spat at Marcus.

“Dawn,” Gavin breathed out harshly, “all these years.  I never thought it would be you.”

Gavin went to tackle Marcus.  Marcus leaned forward, forced Gavin forward and slipped arm around Gavin’s head and yanked him into his body.  Marcus brought his knee up into Gavin several times as hard as he could.  Marcus wrenched Gavin’s body as much as he could as he tried to tighten his hold around Gavin’s neck.  Marcus heard the click before he felt the sting of the blade cut across his thigh.  Marcus let Gavin go and kicked him back as hard as he could. Gavin was quick on his feet and had the knife almost to Marcus’ throat.  Marcus rotated out, grabbed his hand that held the knife, switched his grip with his other hand and went to Gavin’s throat with a quick chopping action.  Marcus flicked Gavin’s wrist with a twist and he dropped the knife.

Felicity grabbed Dawn off the floor and pulled her out of the room.  She glanced back relieved that Marcus was not just a strong guy Dawn had found.  Once the knife hit the floor Felicity was confident enough to guide Dawn out of the house.  She led them to the door.

“Dawn where is your car?”

“A block over.  I didn’t want Gavin to see it when he came home,” Dawn held on to Felicity as they headed for the door.

Felicity froze when she heard a scream from Marcus.  She looked back.  She could not see them from the living room but she knew Marcus was in trouble.  Felicity groaned and pushed Dawn to the front of the house.

“Felicity no.  I brought him here to rescue you.  Marcus knows the risk,” Dawn pulled her.

“If he kills Marcus then what is stopping him from coming after me?”

“The one way ticket to Argentina that is waiting for us in my car.  Come on we must go,” Dawn pleaded.

“I want to but I cannot consciously leave a man to die.  Not on my behalf when I have already killed one person here.  Go get help call the cops whatever.”

Felicity shoved Dawn to the door and turned back to the kitchen and dining room area.  The beatings crossed her mind, the starvation, the unwanted sexual advances, her broken spirit, her obedience after time, Jane’s dead eyes, her marked skin and her lost past drove her forward.  Her fear tangled into her courage but she swallowed it down.

Marcus was on his back and Gavin struggled to get the knife closer to his throat.  Felicity grabbed a chair from the table and raced to Marcus’ aid.  She brought the chair down hard across Gavin’s back.  Gavin dropped the knife and fell forward with a grunt. Felicity dropped the remains of the chair.  Marcus shoved him off and immediately was on his feet.  Marcus grabbed Gavin by the hair and slammed his face into the floor a few times before he yanked him up and locked his arms behind his back.  Gavin tried to struggle but Marcus had the advantage.  Marcus kneed Gavin in the back of the leg to keep him on his knees.

Dawn sprinted around the corner as she flipped her phone shut.

“The authorities are on the way,” Dawn replied as she eyed the scene.

“Felicity you have to finish this,” Marcus told her.

“I-I can’t,” Felicity’s voice trembled.

“Felicity,” Dawn picked up the knife from where it had fallen and handed it to Felicity, “you have to do it.”

“No,” Felicity tried to push the knife back at Dawn.

Dawn curled Felicity’s fingers around the hilt and made Felicity hold it.

“Felicity do it!  If you do not do it then it will haunt you forever,” Dawn ordered.

Felicity looked at Gavin as he struggled to get free of Marcus’ strong arms that held him.  Her eyes flickered to the knife in her hand.  It was the knife that had taken Jane’s life.  It was the knife that had scarred her left shoulder.  It was the knife that had been Gavin’s security blanket.  Felicity looked down at her battered and bruised arms and cracked knuckles.  The knife lay in her palm with her fingers curled around it where Dawn had placed it.  Felicity flipped the knife in her hand to a usable grip with the blade along her wrist and hilt firm under her fingers.  She moved to Gavin.   She locked her eyes to his.  Felicity saw the action before he moved.  She turned but it was too late.  Gavin knocked Marcus back and he advanced on Felicity.  Gavin tackled her around the waist.  Felicity’s face smacked into the floor as she fell.  She scrambled to turn over and not give him her back.  Felicity swiped the knife at him and the blade caught his cheek.  Gavin out maneuvered her and pinned her to the floor.  Felicity tried to free her arm.  When she realized she would not get another chance at him she dropped the knife and flicked it across the floor away from him.

“This is much better,” Gavin snarled down at her as the blood began to trickle down his cheek.

“Dammit Gavin let her go,” Dawn yelled as she pulled out the drawers on the island in the middle of the kitchen until she found the right one.

“Or what?” Gavin laughed.

Marcus was back on his feet and moved to them.  Gavin punched Felicity then slammed her head against the tile.  She let out a groan as Marcus pulled Gavin off of her.

“Gavin I didn’t want to do this,” Dawn lifted a small hand gun that she had hidden and aimed it at Gavin.

“Dawn,” Gavin’s face filled with surprise, “I am speechless.”

“Years,” Dawn shook her head as she moved to get a better position, “years I helped in your perverse game of finding a perfect mate.  You went too far.  You should have let her go.”

“Which one?” Gavin smirked.

“I did everything you told me to so that I could protect her.  I lied for you, I hid bodies, I poisoned women for you and all I asked was for you to stay away from my niece once you let her go.  She never spoke about her time here to anyone but me,” Dawn’s eyes filled with tears.

“Poor little Jane should not have double crossed me.  She was going to help that one over there escape,” Gavin jerked his head to a barely conscious Felicity.

“It was not her,” Dawn gave him a watery smile.

“What?” Gavin’s eyes snapped to her.

“I spent the first year planning with Felicity.  I would write the plan on the cardboard tampon applicators or insert then into the boxes with other feminine care products,” Dawn made her way closer to Felicity as Marcus pulled Gavin back.

“You. . .you what?” Gavin’s face lit up with rage.

“I knew that you would break her and that she would never go if I did not help.  Then you moved her here and it was almost impossible with all the cameras.  I had given up on our plans.  Then you killed Jane.  You wrote your end when you killed her Gavin.  I cannot help in your games any more.  Gavin’s love story has to come to an end.  Now you should go lock yourself in the cage downstairs so that I do not have to use this gun,” Dawn nudged Felicity with her foot.

“Not likely,” Gavin stepped back into Marcus and brought his heel of his boot down hard on his instep.

Marcus tried to grip Gavin tighter but with another stomp he automatically released him.  Gavin lunged into Dawn.  Dawn yelped as she was knocked back and Gavin grabbed the gun.  Dawn closed her eyes and resigned herself to death.  The shots rang out and she jumped but felt no pain.  Dawn opened her eyes and saw Marcus on the floor as the blood oozed from the three chest wounds.  Her eyes flew to Gavin as he walked back over to her.  She crawled backward and she hit the cabinets.

“I don’t think so,” Felicity said through clinched teeth.

Dawn’s eyes went to the woman.  She had been so worried about her life that she had not realized that Felicity had gotten back up.  Dawn saw her sway a little but her confidence steeled her gaze as she held the knife to his throat.  Gavin froze.

“You cannot do it,” Gavin chuckled, “if you could then you would have done it the first time you had the chance.”

Felicity blinked heavily as her vision swam.  She gritted her teeth to keep the bile at bay as she pressed the knife closer and she felt the stickiness of his blood on her fingers as he gasped.  Her arms seemed too heavy and her arm slipped a little and he took the opportunity.  The sirens were closer and Felicity knew she just needed to hold off a little bit longer.  Her body was loose as he shoved his elbow into her gut.  Felicity was unfocused for a moment then she lifted her head and saw him as he turned with the gun in hand.  Felicity flipped the knife in her hand and before he could raise the gun and aim at her she moved into him and jammed the blade into his bicep.  Gavin howled in pain and dropped the gun.  Felicity drew back and plunged the knife into his side.

Gavin gritted his teeth as the pain washed over him repeatedly.  Gavin swung at her with his good arm and knocked her back.  He held his arms against his body and looked around for something to tie off the wounds.  Felicity had stumbled back then she took a dive for the gun.  Gavin moved at the same time.  They almost collided as they both got a grip on the gun.  Gavin had his injured arm stretched out with the gun in his grip.  He used his other hand to strike at Felicity.

Felicity grunted as she tried to take the gun from Gavin.  They scuffled on the floor as they fought to gain possession of the gun.  Gavin’s blood made it more of a struggle as the floor had become slippery and tacky.  Felicity blocked as many of his hits as she could.

Dawn was not sure what to do.  She did not want to give Gavin the upper hand but she was worried about an injury to herself.  Dawn watched as they struggled for the gun.  Felicity had managed to get on top but was too weak to hold the position.  Gavin was able to maneuver her off and the tussle continued.  Dawn jumped as the gun went off.  She heard the front door shatter as the police announced themselves.  Dawn barely heard them over her screams.

*****

The repeated beep of the monitor grew louder, the wheeze and hiss of the ventilator droned on, and the stale medical disinfectant overwhelmed the sense of smell.

“Felicity,” a familiar voice weakly called.

Felicity tried to move but the weight of the pain was too much to push through.  She groaned and wiggled her nose to make the hoses more comfortable on her face.  She swallowed and felt the tube in her throat.  Felicity fell back into unconsciousness.

When Felicity woke again she felt a little stronger.  She swallowed and the tube was gone.  She counted the tubes on her face and the ones that ran up her arms and to her unhappy surprise the catheter.  Felicity made a face of discomfort.  She swallowed again and worked to open her eyes.  Everything was blurred.  She blinked a few times and heard movement to her right.  She tried to turn but realized that there was a device that held her head in place.  She waited for them to come in her vision.  Felicity gasped.

“Mom,” Felicity croaked out.

“Yes baby it’s mommy,” her mom grabbed her hand and squeezed it, “so long.  Then you came back to us.”

“Flower,” her dad moved up behind her mom.

Felicity smiled up at her parents.  She had made it out.  Felicity closed her eyes and relaxed knowing that she was free.  The tiredness overcame her again.  She tried to open her eyes again and could not.  She exhaled and smiled again.

The beeping grew rapid then was one long sound.  A few moments followed and the hiss stopped.  The room grew still.  Felicity heard her parents’ voice softly.  Freedom.

 

Dawn grabbed her bags from the grocery cart and loaded them into the car.  Dawn had gotten the keys from the police once they had released the house.  Gavin had never changed his will and everything of his belonged to her.  The thoughts of what to do with all weighed heavily on her as she competed her errands.  Dawn ducked into her car as someone grabbed her arm.  Dawn jerked back with her can of pepper spray  posed to spray but hesitated when she recognized the face.

“Dawn,” Will said softly.

“Oh you scared me,” Dawn stepped back out of the car.

“Sorry.  I know after everything you’ve been through I shouldn’t have snuck up on you,” Will took her hand into his, “I got a call this morning from the hospital.”

“What is it?” Dawn’s eyes began to water before Will even opened his mouth.

“Felicity didn’t make it.”

“Of course.  Of course,” Dawn squeezed her eyes shut, “she got him but he still got her in the end.”

“I am so sorry.  I know you two were close.  I wish I had known.  I could’ve helped. I could’ve done something,” Will wrapped his arms around Dawn.

“No one could have done anything,” Dawn shook in his arms.

Dawn remained in his arms as the grief rattled her.  Failure and regret settled deeply in her chest and she would never forgive herself.  Her lack of actions had cost her family and a friend.  It was not the ending to the story she had hoped for.

Gavin’s Love Story Part IX

Felicity had grown accustom to the shackles as she moved about the house.  She cleaned the kitchen slowly and made sure that each nook and cranny was given attention.  Dawn had not arrived in a week.  Felicity had wanted to ask but had learned not to speak unless spoken to.  Since Jane’s death Gavin had been on edge.  Her punishments had been almost daily upon her return upstairs.  Felicity swallowed hard as the time on the rack floated through her mind.  A shiver skated up her spine and she shook her head to be rid of the memory.

“Felicity where are you?” Gavin called as he entered the house from work.

“In the kitchen,” Felicity removed the gloves and let her hair down as she knelt on the floor.

“Very good,” Gavin petted her head as he entered the kitchen, “I know I am home early.  I do expect you to put a rush on dinner.”

“Yes sir,” Felicity responded quietly.

“I’m going to shower.  I will return shortly.  Dinner should be served,” Gavin turned and left the kitchen.

Stone faced, Felicity rose to her feet and put away the cleaning supplies.  She washed up and went to the fridge.  Felicity mentally made the recipes as she looked over the contents.  She knew his typical showers after work were enough to make a decent meal.  Felicity moved as efficiently as possible and pulled out items.

Gavin sauntered in to the room half an hour later.  He eyed the table and gave a pleased smile.  Gavin patted her head as he took his seat.  Felicity remained on her knees by his chair as he ate.

“Today was a very productive day at work.  I think that I have done well this last quarter.  I had earned a vacation.  I could take a week off don’t you think?”

Felicity knew that the questions he asked while he ate were rhetorical.  She kept her head down and tried not to let the worry of what a vacation from work would mean for her.  Felicity stayed quiet and kept her eyes down cast.  When Gavin had finished she cleared the table.  She silently slid his cup of coffee in front of him as she had grown accustomed to.

“You have been doing very well the last several weeks,” Gavin stood and sipped his coffee as he walked around her.

Felicity remained silent since he had not given her permission to speak. Her head was bowed and hands clasped behind her back.  Gavin stopped behind her and pressed in close.  Felicity swallowed hard and closed her eyes.  She locked her jaw to keep the quiver from her lips.

“With Dawn’s absence you have taken up her role and excelled at it.  You have accomplished not only your tasks but also her chores.  I am pleased.  You should be rewarded,” Gavin pressed his lips to her ear, “but you will not be.  You are still in the red.”

Gavin stepped back from Felicity and walked around to face her.  Felicity kept her head down but opened her eyes and watched his feet.  Gavin took a few steps back.  Her eyes flickered across the floor unsure of what was expected.  Gavin lifted his arm and she stilled herself for the slap.  When Gavin’s other arm lifted and he tossed the steaming coffee Felicity wanted to scream but swallowed it down.  Her arms automatically flew up and her mouth fell open.  She stood on her toes and shook as she tried to push the flight response down.  Tears poured silently from her eyes as her body began to convulse in response to the violent action.  Felicity collapsed as her body tried to cope.  She wrapped her arms around her waist and she curled in on herself to control her sobs and body movement.

“Clean up this mess and be in bed before I come from the library,” Gavin’s cold eyes looked her over then he left the room.

Felicity’s eyes darted around the parts of the room she could see.  She closed her eyes tight and the sobs began to shake through her.  She forced herself to her knees.  Felicity wanted to take care of the blisters that had begun to form but knew that she would be punished if she left the room a mess.  She swallowed hard and cleaned as fast as she could while she kept her movements as shallow as possible.  The pain washed over her with every move. Felicity finished and went to her room.  Locked in her bathroom Felicity cleaned her skin as safely as she could.  She applied the burn cream that she had found in the medicine cabinet.  She looked at her reflection and knew there would be scars over her chest and part of her face.  Felicity dressed in a loose gown as she readied for bed.  Felicity took a deep breath and knelt at the side of the bed.

“I haven’t done this in over a decade and I am not sure you’re still listening to me.  I am indifferent to your existence,” Felicity’s voice was raspy as she folded her hands, “if you are a fair and just being then you will have him kill me.  Put me out of my misery.  I,” she wept as she continued with words broken and slurred, “I cannot do this anymore.  I wanted to live but this is no way to live.”

Felicity leaned her forehead against her folded fingers. She didn’t wipe the tears away.  She let the energy drain as she cried and gave a mumbled ‘Amen’.  Felicity eased in to her bed and hoped that the door to the bedroom would remain closed.

*****

“Felicity do it!  If you do not do it then it will haunt you forever.”

Felicity looked at Gavin as he struggled to get free of the strong arms that held him.  Her eyes flickered to the knife in her hand.  It was the knife that had taken Jane’s life.  It was the knife that had scarred her left shoulder.  It was the knife that had been Gavin’s security blanket.  Felicity looked down at her battered and bruised arms and cracked knuckles.  Felicity flipped the knife in her hand to a more comfortable grip.  She moved to Gavin.   She locked her eyes to his.  Felicity saw the action before he moved.  She turned but it was too late.  Gavin knocked his captor back and he advanced on Felicity.  Gavin tackled her around the waist.  Felicity’s face smacked into the floor as she fell.  She scrambled to turn over and not give him her back.  Felicity swiped the knife at him and the blade caught his cheek.  Gavin out maneuvered her and pinned her to the floor.  Felicity tried to free her arm.  When she realized she would not get another chance at him she dropped the knife and flicked it across the floor away from him.

“This is much better,” Gavin snarled down at her as the blood began to trickle down his cheek.

Gavin’s Love Story Part VIII

Gavin pulled his arm back and swung the flogger down hard across Felicity’s backside.  Felicity eyes flinched  but she remained quiet.  Gavin moved to the other side and brought down the flogger again.  Gavin repeated the action several times from her shoulders down to her calves.  When one arm got tired he switched to the other.  He ignored the tears that silently fell down Felicity’s face.  Once both arms were tired Gavin stepped away breathless.

“This is your fault.  I would not have had to do this if you had obeyed.  Stand up,” Gavin dropped the flogger to the floor, “I said stand up,” he repeated when Felicity failed to move.

“I-I can’t,” Felicity voice broke.

“I said,” Gavin yanked her bound hands and dragged her from the bench, “stand up.”

Felicity howls echoed through the room.   She struggled to her feet and stumbled after Gavin as he pulled her from her room through the house.  Felicity bit back the sounds that begged to be released.  Bile rose in her throat as her vision blurred from the pain that ran sharp through her entire body.  She swallowed hard as Gavin flung the door to the basement open.  Felicity braced herself for the stairs.  She  was appreciative that the momentum kept her upright.  Gavin stopped at the bottom of the stairs and she fell to her knees with no strength left to hold herself up.

“See,” Gavin pointed, “look at what you made me do!  You see that.  That is because of you.  You failed and it had a great cost.”

Felicity stared at Jane’s unblinking eyes.  Jane’s skin had already gone ashen and her eyes clouded.  The blood settled around Jane’s lifeless body. Felicity could not choke back the bile as it rose.  Her stomach emptied as the tears flowed heavily down her face.  She idly wiped her hand across her mouth.  <I’m so sorry Jane. So so sorry.>  Felicity began to hiccup as she tried to control her sobs.

“You forced my hand and it cost a friend her life.  I wanted you to have someone to talk to, someone that could be your friend and be an ear to listen.  It should not have been Jane.  I warned you both.  How was she going to help you escape huh?  What was the plan?  Were you going to wait to gain my trust and let you go out with her and she would never bring you back?  Was that the plan?” Gavin’s voice rose the longer he spoke.

“N-no.  I was not planning,” Felicity’s mind worked to form the proper words, “to leave.  I just wanted to get to know her experience and learn to make you happy,” her voice shook as her eyes darted around the room.

“Ha!” Gavin lips turned up in a humorless smile, “and I’m the king of France.  I thought you were done but it is obvious you are not.”

Gavin yanked her to the back of the basement and down the hall.  With his free hand Gavin pulled the keys from around his neck and unlocked the hidden apartment.  Gavin shoved her through the door.

“Clean yourself up while I figure out the next steps,” Gavin pulled the knife from his pocket and cut the bonds on her hands.

Felicity saw the disappointment in his eyes before she bowed her head.  She nodded but did not move. Gavin slammed the door behind him.  Felicity listened to the locks being engaged before she allowed herself to weep.  She lay on the floor curled into herself and wept until dry sobs rocked her body.  Felicity crawled to the bathroom and ran a bath.

Felicity made her way slowly to the bedroom after the bath.  She applied the cream as best as she could and fell onto the bed.  Her eyes closed and Jane’s screams filled her head.  Felicity’s eyes opened back immediately.  She tried to think of other things but nothing came.  Gavin’s repeated draw back of his arm and the slosh of the blood repeated in her mind.

Gavin lifted a screaming Jane by the throat and pressed her into the wall.  Felicity ran to him and pleaded for him to release Jane.  Gavin snarled as he shoved Felicity away.  Jane tried to press her chin down as she grabbed for the inside of Gavin’s wrist.  She had been assaulted too much to focus her strength.  Gavin dodged her knee and slammed her into the wall.  Jane’s mouth opened to scream but there was nothing since Gavin’s grip tightened around her throat. 

Felicity picked herself up off the floor and lunged across the kitchen at Gavin again.  She hit him hard enough that his grip slipped on Jane.  Jane managed to get away.  Gavin spun around and brought his elbow up hard across Felicity’s face.  Felicity stumbled and fell back to the floor as she tried to keep her stomach contents down.  Jane had gone for the rear doors in the kitchen.  The lack of oxygen and over all distress dulled her senses.  Gavin pulled her by her hair and she fell back into his grasp.  With a well placed blow to the back and a strong hold around her neck Jane could barely stand. 

Gavin dragged her to basement door.  He yanked the door open and shoved Jane through it.  Jane covered her face and neck as she tumbled down the stairs.  She lay at the bottom too battered to react immediately.  Gavin turned his attention back to Felicity. Gavin grabbed her from behind as she tried to shuffle out of the room. Felicity stepped back into him and brought her elbow up high but only grazed him.  He had seen the move coming.  Felicity stomped back on his foot and when his grip loosened she spun around and lead the heel of hand in to a power upward shove toward his face.  Gavin caught her by the wrist and snapped her hand back.  Felicity yelped in pain.  She tried to bring her knee up between his legs but she had broadcast the move before any actions had taken place and he countered.  Gavin landed a punch to her temple then one to her throat and she collapsed half conscious into him. Gavin smiled down at her.

“I adore that about you Felicity.  So much fire,” Gavin cradled her as she tried to struggle, “there is no need for that. There is no dismissal yet.  Now come along.”

Gavin pulled her with him to the basement.  He shoved her through the door.  Felicity caught the banister and clumsily made her way down the stairs.  Jane had moved across the floor and was almost hidden.  Felicity could see the bruises that had begun to form along Jane’s body.  She wanted to move to comfort her friend but was too frightened.  Gavin sauntered down the stairs to them.  He yanked Felicity over to the cage.  Gavin grabbed the handcuffs from the table and cuffed Felicity to the cage door. She pulled at the cuffs and pleaded with Gavin.  Gavin shook his head as he moved across the room to Jane as she whimpered.

“You were free.  Someone risked everything to make you free,” Gavin was soft and kind, “they gave so much to get you where you wanted so bad to be.  Now look what you have done.  You threw it back in their face.  Such a waste of a good favor.”

Gavin pulled the knife from his pocket.  He never left home without it.  With a flick of his wrist the blade flipped out.  He grabbed Jane by her hair and turned her to face Felicity.  He watched as Felicity and Jane shared a look.  A chuckle burst from Gavin.

“Tell her thank you Jane.  Tell Felicity how much you appreciate her getting you in this position,” Gavin held her up so she was on her knees.

A sob escaped Jane but she said nothing.  Gavin pulled her hair tighter and slid the tip of the knife down the side of her face. A trail of blood trickled down her face where the soft tissue had been split.

“Do as I say,” Gavin commanded.

“Thank you Felicity.  I will never have to look over my shoulder again,” Jane’s eyes were soft.

Jane had accepted her fate.  She had known Gavin would be back in her life and she would run or fail.  Her thank you to Felicity was genuine. Felicity nodded. Her eyes never left Jane’s.  When the sharp blade slid from ear to ear under Jane’s chin and Jane gasped their eyes remained locked.  Gavin released Jane and knelt over her body.  Felicity lost count of how many times his arm drew back and the sickening sound of torn flesh slopped in her ears. Jane gurgled and one hand rose defensively but never made it more than a few inches before it flopped back to the floor.  Felicity closed her eyes when Jane’s eyes lost focus.  She forced herself to swallow repeatedly.

Gavin stood, wiped the blade clean on his pants and moved to Felicity.  Gavin unlocked the handcuffs and dragged Felicity up to her room.  The shock had taken over Felicity.  She felt Gavin’s hands undress her and she felt them as they forced her to lay across the wooden bench with the leather pillow top.  She felt each strike of the flogger and she accepted her punishment.

Felicity shook as the dry heaves settled to hiccups.  <So so so very sorry Jane.> Felicity pushed herself up off the bed and limped over to the small dresser.  She pulled on the soft satin night gown and went back to the bed.  Felicity pulled the covers up and stared at the ceiling.

*****

Felicity opened the door to the fridge.  It was stocked.  She glanced at the door.  Someone had been to fill it.  Felicity had lost track of time and was not sure if it had been days or weeks.  The lights no longer changed with the daylight hours and there was no clock.  The television and the phone had been removed at some point since she had been returned.  Felicity made a meal and tried to close her mind.  She was sure that her therapist would say she had PTSD and without coping mechanisms would fall into a dangerous state of mind.  Felicity had torn the journals into pieces when she tried to express her feelings in written word.  Felicity did not know what was expected of her and she was sure that there was another punishment headed her way.  Felicity had accepted the fact that Gavin had probably torn her room apart and she prayed that he didn’t find the hidden messages that had been delivered to her when her supplies were restocked before she had moved into the house.

Felicity woke and there was noise in the apartment.  She dressed quickly and headed to the living area.  Gavin tossed books into empty boxes.  His lips were in a fine line as he completed two shelves.  Felicity walked forward.

“What are you doing?” Felicity asked in a soft voice.

“Do not speak.  Assume the position and do not move until I give you permission,” Gavin ordered without a look in her direction.

Felicity knelt by the chair in the welcome position with her head down.  She listened as Gavin packed up the books.  Gavin opened the doors and stacked the boxes outside.  The door stood open as he made his way across the room and back again.  About forty-five seconds between each side.  Felicity’s legs twitched with the desire to run but she did not move.  Felicity visualized the house layout and thought of the fastest route and how to get to each exit.  Once at the exit she would be trapped without the handprint for the scanner.  Felicity closed her eyes and calmed her heart.  There would be no escape.

Gavin’s Love Story Part VII

Felicity sat in the tub as the shower sprayed her with warm water.  Her knees were pulled to her chest and her arms were wrapped around her legs.  Felicity rested her chin on her knees as she stared at the wall.  She strummed her fingers on her arms as she fought to focus. Felicity closed her eyes and willed the water to wash away the last several weeks.

Felicity, now clean and dressed, moved in to the small kitchen area.  She casually moved from the counter to the fridge seemingly without a goal.  Felicity had gotten accustom to the new home and she had heard the sounds of the electronics.  The almost silent whirl and whine of the cameras had been distinctive once she focused.  Felicity opened the fridge and stood there with the door open then closed it.  She paced back to the bookshelves.  Felicity paused when she heard the keys.  She quickly grabbed a book and sat on the couch. Felicity relaxed once the door opened.

“Good evening,” Dawn entered with a smile.

“Hi Dawn.  How are you?” Felicity pretended to mark her place and placed the book on the table.

“I am well.  How are you feeling today? Gavin said that you had cold symptoms,” Dawn placed the bags on the counter in the kitchen area.

“Much better after the rest and soup.  I think it may have been allergies.  The seasons are changing?” Felicity knew it was a risk but took it anyway.

“Oh my. I must tell him to make sure he removes his shoes and such before he comes to visit.  With autumn air come complications.  I’ll be sure to get medicine for that the next time I go to the store.  Here are your feminine care products and he requested a new shampoo and soaps.  Everything else is for here.  Go on and put those things away,” Dawn handed the items to Felicity.

“Thank you Dawn,” Felicity took the things to the bathroom.

Felicity closed the door a quarter of the way.  She placed the shampoo and soaps on the side of the tub.  She edged herself at an angle behind the door and opened the cabinet there.  Felicity took a breath and opened the box of tampons.  She quickly slid the envelope from it and stuffed in her bra.  Felicity kicked the door closed and made show of putting the box in the cabinet there.  She returned to the kitchen.

“Gavin will not be with you tonight.  He has a meeting with a client from Japan.  Would you like me to cook for you tonight?” Dawn folded the bags.

“No I will be fine thank you.”

“Alrighty then.  I will see you.  He has programmed the house number in there correct?” Dawn pointed to the phone that hung on the wall.

“Yes.”

“If you need anything ring me dear.”

“Yes ma’am.”

*****

Gavin watched as the interior designer put the finishing touches on the bedroom.  He was pleased.  The new security had been installed and all the adjustments had been completed in the days prior.  Gavin felt the tingles in his chest and his mouth slowly turned up.  He waved the last of the crew out and rushed down the stairs.  Gavin pulled the keys from around his neck and opened up the doors.

“Felicity my love,” Gavin called out as he entered.

“Yes?” Felicity appeared from the bedroom.

“Did you pack the bag like I advised?”

“Yes sir.”

“Remember it is okay to call me Gavin now,” Gavin took her hand into his.

“Yes Gavin I have packed my bag.  Should I retrieve it now?” Felicity kept her head bowed.

“Yes.  Put on your slippers and grab your bag.”

Felicity did as instructed.  She felt Gavin’s eyes on her.  His nervous energy made her anxious.  Gavin took her hand into his.

“Felicity today is the day.  Fifteen years I have searched for the perfect mate.  I have been stern I know but I have loved deeply.  I knew when I saw you the first time almost two years ago now that you would be the one.  Felicity,” Gavin took a breath and a grin spread across his face, “you are now part of my life.  I am taking you to the house.  In the house the same rules apply.  Nothing has changed except you will have more freedom and responsibilities.  I am ecstatic to be able to share this with you. Only one other had made it this far.  She was nothing.  You are the only one worthy of me,” Gavin kissed her hand.

“I am glad to share this with you,” Felicity forced on a smile for his benefit.

Gavin led her up the stairs to the main house.  He gave a quick tour to familiarize her with the layout.  Gavin ended the tour with the bedroom they would eventually share.

Felicity eyed possible exits and weapons as they  moved through the house.  She realized in most of the house the cameras were not hidden, all windows were barred, and all doors connected to the outside required finger prints to open since there were no door knobs.  Felicity took a deep breath as he lead her up the stairs to the bedrooms.  She gasped as they entered the master.  Felicity did not want to be impressed.  She moved around the room and touched everything.  There was a large television mounted on the wall, all the furniture was cherry, the bed was a king size, and it had all the closet space a woman could ask for.

“How?”

“I did observe you.  I know your likes and wants.  I probably know you better than you know yourself.  I designed this room with you in mind. There are new clothes in the closet for you as well, the television has cable, and the bathtub in the en suite has jets.  Before you ask yes the there is a shower as a separate stall.”

“My perfect master suite,” Felicity mumbled.

“Anything for my love,” Gavin pulled her into his arms.

“Gavin this is too much.”

“Nothing is too much for you my dear,” Gavin kissed her lightly.

“Th-thank you,” Felicity pressed her face to his shoulder brow creased and lips in a fine line.

“Alright. I do have to be on my way.  There will be a dinner party next week.  Think of what you would like to cook to meet my friends,” Gavin let her go and moved to the door.

“Your friends?” Felicity felt the blood drain from her face. <Great other sociopaths.>

“Yes.  You have earned outside contact. Stay beautiful my dear,” Gavin blew her a kiss and left the room.

<His friends? This is a trap.> Felicity moved to her bag.  She opened it and unpacked to distract herself.

*****

Felicity watched as Gavin instructed on the place settings for the dinner table.  Felicity tried not to roll her eyes at the repeat of the last hour.  Felicity had completed finishing school and was aware of how to set a table properly but Gavin was persistent in teaching her how it was to be done.  Gavin cleared the table and stacked everything on the roll out serving tray.

“Alright now your turn,” Gavin crossed his arms over his chest.

Felicity nodded and stepped to the tray.  In less time than it had taken Gavin, the table was set and candles lit.  Felicity placed her hands behind her back and stepped aside for Gavin to look it over.  Gavin walked around the table and nodded his approval.

“Well done.  Now have you picked out the recipes that you will be making tomorrow?” Gavin stood by her side.

“Yes.  Do you have a list of any food allergies?  I would not want to make any of your friends ill.”

“There are no food allergies.  Let me see what you wish to cook.”

“There is nothing to show.  I have it all in my head.  I used to cook for my family.  I know several family meals that I can prepare.  I have selected a chicken and a seafood dish.  That way they have the options of what they would like,” Felicity bowed her head as Gavin moved to stand in front of her.

“Memory.  I do not like that.  I prefer to see the meals that you wish to prepare so that I may make sure they are appropriate,” Gavin held out his hand.

“Of course.  I can pull something similar up on the computer for you,” Felicity allowed herself to be lead to the office.

Gavin pulled the keys from around his neck and unlocked the doors.

“If you please,” Gavin gestured for her to enter first.

Felicity sat at the computer with her eyes closed.  Gavin reach around her and typed in his password.

“You can open your eyes.”

“Here,” Felicity pointed to the screen after she found something, “my recipe is a little different because it is a family hand me down.  Then there is the other.”

“Hm,” Gavin read over the meals, “these are acceptable.”

“Thank you,” Felicity let a small smile grace her lips.

“Dawn will be here soon and she can take the grocery list to make sure it is completed today,” Gavin shut off the computer and walked Felicity out of the office.

Felicity walked around the kitchen and itemized the appliances and pantry items.  She made a mental list of what she needed for tomorrow night.  Dawn arrived that afternoon prepared for the active evening of precooking.

“Dawn,” Felicity greeted her with a smile, “you don’t live here?”

“Not any more.  Gavin has you in the main house so there is no need for me to stay here.  You have the honor of keeping him company and taking care of him.  I will be here Monday through Friday part time.  He will be all yours on the weekends,” Dawn sat down her bag and looked around the kitchen, “no prep work yet?”

“I have a few things that I need from the store,” Felicity handed her the list, “will I be able to come with you?”

“Unfortunately not.  At this time you have not been integrated into the lifestyle enough,” Dawn looked over the list.

“Am I going to die here?” Felicity muttered.

With a sigh Dawn turned to her, “that is up to you my dear.”

“I don’t really like that answer at all.”

“I understand that this is not the ideal situation or the perfect courtship.  I have done this time and again.  You have excelled where others have failed.  I believe from your nature that you will survive.  I trust that you know yourself as well as you know the rules here.  Felicity you have a fantastic survivors instinct,” Dawn held her eyes for a long moment, “alright deary I am off to the shops.  I will return shortly.  Go on and begin the prep work for what you can.”

“Yes ma’am.”

 

Dawn brought in the knives and other cutlery when she returned.  Felicity eyed the items as she worked with Dawn in the kitchen.  She glanced at the cameras and knew that it was not worth the discipline.  Felicity turned her attention back to the work in front of her.

“These are beautiful knives.  This kitchen is a dream,” Felicity filled the silence to keep the tension down.

“He has set it for his perfect wife,” a grin crossed Dawn’s lips, “Gavin is thoughtful even though he in unconventional.  After we finish here we will begin review for tomorrows rules and expected behaviors.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Felicity resigned to make the meal and evening as spectacular as she could.  She was a captive but no less a perfectionist.

*****

Felicity was amazed at her appearance in the mirror.  She had taken time and followed the guidelines and the result was stunning.  The dye had faded in her hair so her natural vermillion had returned.  It was swept back in an elegant French braid. She wore no makeup per Gavin’s request.  Felicity looked down at the empire waist dress.  The blue brought out her eyes and the green  pattern made her fair skin flawless.  Felicity took several deep breaths.  She slipped on her shoes and put on the earrings that had been on her dresser when she returned from her shower.

“You look gorgeous,” Gavin entered the room.

“Thank you.”

“The guests will be here shortly.  Dawn has arranged all the food.  All you have to do is be amazing.  I know that you can accomplish that,” Gavin took her hand and kissed her finger tips.

They settled in the foyer.  Gavin gave her a refresher on the evening as they waited.  The bell rang and Felicity jumped.

“You will be outstanding,” Gavin reached the door and opened it, “Will.  So glad you could make it.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything.  This must be the wonderful Felicity,” Will reached out his hand.

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Felicity held out her hand.

“Oh the pleasure is all mine,” Will kissed her hand.

“Please come and have a drink before dinner,” Felicity led him to the sitting room.

“I certainly will.”

Felicity maintained her place in the sitting room.  She greeted the new guests as they arrived.  Felicity realized as they sat down at the table she had enjoyed the meet and greet.  Once all plates were filled Felicity stood.

“I would like to give thanks to you for traveling here tonight.  It is a pleasure to have my table full.  I look forward to many more gatherings.  I hope that the cooking is pleasing.  To a wonderful evening with great friends,” Felicity raised her glass.

“Cheers,” Gavin raised his glass from the other end of the table.

Felicity kept the topics light and steered the conversation as Gavin had instructed her.  She accepted the compliments of her cooking with a simple nod and thank you to each guest.  Felicity maintained her position two steps behind once dinner had concluded. She stayed behind Gavin as he made conversation with his friends.  Gavin ushered her to a corner and she took the seat without hesitation.

“One more glass of wine then the sparkling water.  We do not want them to think of you as a lush,” Gavin instructed.

“Yes sir,” Felicity kept the smile on her face as he leaned to her ear.

“You have been excellent tonight.  Do not do anything to cause me to punish you,” Gavin kissed her ear and walked off to where the men had moved to a separate corner.

“Your Gavin is mighty handsome,” Mary took the seat across from Felicity on the couch.

“He has always been easy on the eyes,” Jane sat next to Mary.

Both women were unremarkable in appearance.  Felicity saw the ordinariness of the women challenging.  There was nothing that stood out.  She tried to hold them in her memory in case the information was needed.  The small talk was a bore and Felicity allowed her mind to flow to her life before Gavin.

“So how did you and Gavin meet?” Amy brought her back to the present.

“Oh well we met in my self defense class.  He came in to help an instructor and it was love at first sight,” Felicity hoped her smile was as wistful as it had been when she practiced it.

“Oh my how charming,” Mary giggled and held her hand over her chest.

“He didn’t think so when I hip threw him,” Felicity chuckled.

“Gavin does like control so I can only imagine,” Jane smiled a little too familiar for Felicity to ignore.

“You speak from experience?” Felicity gave Jane her undivided attention.

“Oh you didn’t know,” Amy leaned in after a glance to the men, “Jane and Gavin were a thing years ago.  Jane just fell in love with someone else.  Gavin was upset about the break up but moved on.  I think her name was Claire but then she left town for a job in Paris.”

“The way Gavin speaks of you I doubt he will remember the numerous others,” Mary laughed, “he kept this wonderful secret for over a year.  It is so fabulous to finally meet you.  I can see why he kept you hidden.  You are intriguing, charming and a fantastic host.  I would keep you for myself as well.”

“I think that is enough wine for you,” Amy took the glass from Mary and handed her water.

“How long were you and Gavin together?” Felicity moved to Jane’s side.

“Maybe six months.”

“How was he back then?”

“Oh uh,” Jane eyes quickly went to Gavin’s figure that had his back turned to them, “I don’t think that I want to talk about that.  Maybe we can have lunch together and we can talk about it another time.”

“How are you going to manage that with Felicity’s agoraphobia?” Mary asked.

“My what?” Felicity shot a look at Amy.

“That is why we had not had a chance to meet you isn’t it? Gavin said that you have agoraphobia,” Amy narrowed her eyes.

“I,” Felicity stood and moved back to the chair against the wall, “I prefer not to call it that.  It is more of a social anxiety and panic disorder.  It isn’t all of outside that terrifies me.  It is part of dealing with my PTSD.  Agoraphobia is just a generalized label that people that are unaffected like to use,” Felicity held her head high as she improvised from the given script.

“We should change the subject,” Jane suggested as she gulped down the rest of her wine, “I don’t think we know each other well enough to get personal.”

“Thank you Jane,” <plain Jane brunette.  I can remember that.> “you are always welcome to come over for lunch.  I will check with Gavin on what is acceptable,” Felicity gave a polite smile.

“That sounds like a great idea,” Jane mirrored the smile.

The conversation returned to the mundane lives of the other three women as Felicity plastered a smile on her face and nodded.  Gavin called an end to the night and the guests hugged and kissed before they took their leave.  Gavin escorted Felicity back up to her room.

“Undress.  I will draw you a bath,” Gavin rolled his sleeves up as he headed to the bathroom.

“As you wish,” Felicity  replied as she removed her jewelry.

Felicity stepped into the tub once she was undressed.  Gavin washed her as she remained silent and obedient.  Gavin handed her a towel and left the bathroom.  Felicity dried off quickly and met Gavin in the bedroom.  She stood before him nude with her hair loose around her shoulders.  Felicity kept her eyes down cast as Gavin circled her.

“You are wonderful.  Tonight you were marvelous.  I could not have asked for better,” Gavin touched her with his finger tips, “I am very pleased.  I will see in the morning for breakfast.  Sleep tight,” Gavin kissed her lightly and left.

Felicity stayed in the spot.  Gavin had been known to return without notice and expect her to be where he had left her.  Felicity remained unmoving for two hours.  With weak legs and sore shoulders Felicity dressed and got in bed. Her mind drifted to Jane then immediately to the security system.  Felicity swallowed hard fear thick in her throat.  She closed her eyes and prayed to a god she had not believed in for years.