“For the last damn time, sweetheart,” he sneered, “nothing will happen to them if you do what I say. And the faster you realize you’re mine and you acknowledge and embrace your true feelings for me, the faster my men leave them alone.”
“You can’t just force someone to fall in love with you, Blake.”
He huffed. “I’m not. You are in love with me. You’re just being difficult. Get ready for bed.” With that he turned and left the room.
Tears continued to fall down my cheeks as I went through the motions of getting ready for bed. The entire time I wondered what Kash was doing and if he was okay. My eyes flicked over to my phone thousands of times, but I knew he wouldn’t call. And with what had already happened today and how closely everyone was being watched, I knew I couldn’t call him. Not that calling him would do either of us any good anyway. If anything I would just make things worse. I prayed for the hundredth time that he would someday forgive me.
When I walked back out of the bathroom, Blake was lying in the bed, propped up against the headboard, his upper body bare. I wondered how many women wanted this. How many fantasized about his body against theirs and downtime before or after. I wanted to laugh at how seriously mistaken they all were about this Adonis. No. Not Adonis . . . not anymore. He was the damn devil. Lucifer had been a beautiful angel. And that’s exactly what Blake was. He was beautiful, but something had happened to him and he was now nothing but pure evil.
Forcing myself to climb into bed beside him, I kept myself as close to the edge of the bed as possible and tried not to cry out in protest when he stretched out beside me and pulled me close. My body was shaking so hard, the entire bed was shaking with me. I prayed he’d get tired of it, but he held me closer and began whispering soothing words in my ear. But I knew it was all a lie, and I knew what he was capable of. I stayed awake for hours shaking and silently crying until sleep finally claimed me.
MY EYES FLUTTERED open and I looked around the dark room. The first thing I noticed was the empty bed beside me before I heard my phone vibrating again. Trying to remain quiet, in case Blake was somewhere nearby, I crept back into the bathroom and my heart squeezed when I saw the name on the screen.
“Hello?” I whispered, and peeked behind me into the empty room.
“Rach, oh my God, you need to get out of there! I’m not just—”
“Kash, slow down and talk a little softer. What’s wrong?”
He was breathing heavily and I could hear the rumble of his truck’s engine in the background. “Are you okay? Has he hurt you?”
I wanted to tell him that I was sorry for everything and that I’d lied to him yesterday . . . but I needed to keep up with this pretense to keep him safe. I cleared my throat and tried to sound strong. “Of course he hasn’t. B-Blake wouldn’t do anything to me.”
“Babe, you don’t need to keep lying to me. I’m coming for you. I will keep you safe. Just try to stay safe until we can get there, okay? Rachel, I love you. I love you so much, I need you to know that.”
My heart broke at his frantic declaration, but I didn’t understand. “Who is ‘we,’ Kash? And don’t come here, please don’t. I’m fine, I promise.”
“Is he right there next to you?”
He breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “Rach, he’s bad. He’s so much worse than you originally thought. Stay as far from him as you can. If you can escape, I need you to. If not, just stay where you are, I’m coming to get you.”
“Kash, no!” I harshly whispered, and turned again to make sure I was still alone. “Don’t come here, I’m fine. I’m sorry you’re upset that we broke up.” My voice hitched and my eyes began watering. “But you need—you need to move on. I’m so sorry. Wait. How do you even know where I am?”
“How is his house set up, babe? I need your help on this.”
“C’mon, Rach. How is it set up, where’s the room that you’re in?”
“Listen to me, you can’t do this! You need to go back home, you’re going to ruin ever—” I cut off and ran into the room to watch the screens. If Kash was coming for me, that meant one of Blake’s guys was following and Blake would know soon. “You need to turn around! Turn around, Kash, please.”
“What room are you in?” he yelled suddenly, startling me and causing me to drop the phone.
I knelt down onto the ground and swiped my hand under the bed until I felt it and pulled it back toward me. “Kash, are you there?”
“This is very important. I need you to tell me exactly how the house is laid out, what room you’re in, and what room Blake is in. Can you do that for me?” His voice was strained and I didn’t understand why he needed to know all this so badly.
“I don’t know where Blake is. Really, this isn’t a house, it’s more like a studio apartment. It’s just one big room with a bathroom, and when I woke up from the phone vibrating, he wasn’t in bed with me any—” I broke off quickly at Kash’s quick intake of breath. I slammed my eyelids shut and wanted to curl up in a corner and die. I wanted to assure him we hadn’t done anything, but what was the point? Forcing my eyes back open, I studied the screens. Almost all were of shots of the Jenkinses’ houses and our apartment complex, focused in on Candice’s and my door and windows. But one was facing a building. I studied the nondescript outer walls for a few moments until I noticed the three cars in front. “Are you or Mason at the police station?”
“Why would you ask that?” His tone was harsh and clipped.
“Um, well, just tell me if you are.”
“No, I’m coming to get you.”
He paused for a few beats. “He’s on his way to get you too. Did you—” He inhaled deeply and the pain in his voice when he spoke tore at my heart. “Rachel, did you sleep with him?”
“Kash . . . ,” I whispered softly.
“Please, I need to know.”
I turned to look at the empty room again and hung my head. “No. I’m so sorry for today, Kash. I didn’t want to do that to you, please know that I would never just hurt you like that.” I choked on a sob and pressed a shaking fist over my mouth while I collected myself. I knew I shouldn’t be telling him. But I needed him to know I couldn’t just do this to us, and maybe if he understood he would turn around and go back to his apartment. “Blake has these guys tailing everyone. He’s watching you and Mase; he has someone on Candice, her brother, and their parents . . . I’m so sorry, this is all my fault. He blew up George Jenkins’s car this morning.” I willed him to understand how demented Blake was. “If you do something right now, I don’t know what else he’ll do. I need to do this; I need to be with him. So please, go home.”
His hissed a string of curses away from the phone before asking quickly, “Why did you think we were at the station?”
“On one of the screens, there’s a video, and it looks like he’s sitting outside one. It’s showing a normal building across the street, but there are three APD cruisers in front of it.”
“Thank God. Okay, babe, listen to me. I’m going to call some people so everyone else will be safe in case Blake catches wind of us coming there. But try to keep yourself safe. We’ll be there soon, okay?”
“Kash, please listen to me. It’s not a good i— Oh, shit.”
“All the screens just stopped their live feed!” I hissed, and looked wildly around the room as I stood up and backed myself into the corner.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it’s just a bunch of screens with flowers on them! Oh my God, what if something happens? I won’t even know now. This is my fault.”
“Flowers. Rach, did you say flowers?” I was still chanting over and over again that this was my fault, so he spoke louder, “What flowers, Rachel?!”
“It’s just a bouquet of these flowers.”
“What kind?” I heard his truck accelerate and wanted to know why flowers were so damn important right now when I couldn’t see what was happening to my family!
“Just tell me!”
“They’re those—I can’t remember what they’re called. They’re white and reddish, pinkish . . .” Dear Lord, is this how people feel on Jeopardy!? “Oh! Carnations!”
“Son of a bitch. Rachel, get the f**k out of the house and run. Baby, do you hear me? Run! I will find you and I will make sure you’re safe. Just get out of the goddamn house!”
“I’ll tell you later, don’t grab anything, just go!”
The fear in his voice finally caught up to me and without another thought, I took off out of the room. The door was already open, and my feet had barely touched the grass outside when I was yanked back by my hair. A cry of pain clawed its way out of my throat and I landed hard on my hip. I searched for my phone in the grass around me but came up empty. I screamed for help as Blake began dragging me back into the house by my hair and prayed that Kash was close.
“I’m disappointed in you, sweetheart.”
“Please, let me go!” I grabbed on to the wrist of the hand that was holding my hair and tried to pull myself closer, but he yanked my hands off and continued dragging me toward the bed.
“You really think I would leave you alone and not be near the door? How stupid do you think I am?” He laughed softly. “I’m not an amateur.”
My mind raced. Amateur?
He tsked softly. “My mother will be so upset when she gets the news. I was this close to letting everyone live to see the morning. For a second there, you almost made me proud with your responses to your little friend.” He yanked harder when we got to the bed. “Get up.”
I did as I was told and the relief of his letting go of my hair was enough to make me sigh.
“Tell me something, sweetheart. Do you want your friends to live?”
“And you’re willing to do . . . what? To have me call off my boys.”
“Anything! I told you, anything. Just please don’t hurt them, and I need to know before that they’re okay!”
He pulled a remote out of his pocket and instantly the dimly lit bouquet disappeared and the live feed was back on each screen. The one that had been in front of what I’d assumed was the police station was now sitting as a dash cam and the driver was weaving in and out of traffic on the highway.
“Now, lie down. Grab the center bar of the headboard.”
I whimpered as I crawled onto the middle of the bed. I can do this. I can do this. For Kash and the Jenkins family. I can do this.
As soon as I was lying down and holding on, Blake was grabbing handcuffs out of the nightstand and handcuffed my wrists to the wrought-iron headboard.
I can do this. I can do this.