Chapter 7

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

Nick closed the door and began short, measured steps towards Jenna. His dark, menacing eyes narrowed into thin slits and, like his handgun, with its long cylindrical suppressor, were aimed directly at her.

Jenna’s breaths became fast and shallow, her heart thumped violently against her chest. A rush of fear-driven adrenalin powered her to lurch up, sideways, anyway. But her restraints were too strong. She groaned, cursed, tried again, failed, cursed some more.

A scream took birth in the back of her throat.    

“Jenna… I wouldn't do that.”

The gun’s barrel pressed against her temple.

Jenna froze.

Nick grinned.

There was something perversely malignant about it as if he were enjoying it just a little too much. He rolled his free hand onto the pistol and with one smooth motion cocked the gun.

A thousand tiny bugs seemed to invade Jenna’s skin. “P… please don’t,” she whispered.

His smile broadened.

Jenna closed her eyes, steeled her body.

And prayed for two things.

That her mother would be ok.

And that the verdict in the after-life would display more forgiveness, more understanding, than this life had.

Another click… then a swift, low phut sound, like multiple candles extinguishing at the same time.

Jenna felt her body unexpectedly free of the bed constraints and instantly snapped open her eyes. In Nick’s hand was a sizeable switchblade, next to her a severed strap. He slowly, methodically slipped the knife and his gun inside his tailored jacket.

Jenna grabbed the momentary freedom and scrambled like a wild, trapped animal to the far corner of the bed, tucking her trembling knees beneath her.

He flicked his head towards her manacled hands. “Can’t do much about those without a key,” he said in a calm, condescending manner. “Even a blade won’t cut through those.”

As if he owned the place, Nick leant against the bare wall, foraged his pants pocket and drew out a cigarette packet. When he had a lit cigarette hanging from his thin, straight lips, he chucked the packet onto the bed. A long, deep drag later and silvery-grey wisps surrounded him. Jenna fought off the urge to cough.

“You know,” he said between drags, “you remind me of a horse I once had. Beautiful she was. At least fifteen hands high. But wilful, stubborn. In the end… well…” He shrugged a shoulder.  “I had to put her down.”

“Is this your way of scaring me.”

“Oh, I think I have already done that, don't you?”

 Humiliation burnt her cheeks. Anger fuelled her next words. “Why are you here?”

“You know why.”

“Because I messed up?”

“Our family business is our own, Jenna… not the world’s as you’ve suddenly made it.”

“My mother was being abused,” Jenna hissed.

“And she knew, out of family ethics, to keep it quiet,” he hissed back.

Nick dropped the butt to the linoleum floor, stamped the life from it. “It’s time for you to act like the good daughter.”

“And that means?”

“To do as I say.”