By Chris Bedell
The honking of a car horn woke me up sometime later. Horatio was driving, and I was in the front passenger seat. Black draped the night sky as the shiny texture of the moon glowed, which meant it must have been a clear night. A few stars shined too.
It didn’t take a genius to figure Horatio drugged me. I was sure of it. It was the only way to get me out of town in addition to it explaining my black out.
My heart swelled inside my chest. “Where are we going?”
His eyes remained focused on the road. “I had to get you out of town. I thought it would be good to have a weekend alone together at my cabin. We need to clear up the misunderstandings between us, don’t you think?”
Great. I survived one crisis only to have the universe thrust me into another one. Just what I needed to have an even wider smile.
I shifted my gaze. “There’s nothing to clear up. I know who you are. You killed Mom. You tried to kill me in the fire. Besides, you murdered the social worker. And we can’t forget how you framed me for a crime I didn’t commit. Does that sound familiar?”
He shot me a brief apologetic look. “Okay. Maybe what I did was wrong. But that’s why we have to do this. I don’t want there to be any bad blood between the two of us.”
“And let’s not forget how you took out that life insurance policy on Mom. That was despicable,” I said.
I rubbed both of my eyes. The whole debacle was still a blur in the sense the situation was unbelievable. If I hadn’t been certain before, I was now. My life was something out of a nightmare. I just couldn’t deny it anymore despite dancing around the truth for a long time.
He turned back to the road, halting when the light changed to red. “You have to believe me, Esme. I’m sorry for all the pain I’ve caused you, and I want things to be different.”
He had to be kidding me. There wasn’t anything I had to do. The words, “had to” weren’t in my vocabulary when I was with Horatio. That would be too kind, as no amount of venom would be withheld. Mother was dead because of him, and I would never forget that fact.
I would fight fire with fire, though. Being nice wouldn’t help me in my quest against Horatio. Also, I didn’t care if that was a bad thought. Most people were naïve and didn’t have what it took to win psychological warfare.
More beads of sweat fell down my face. “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you? That’s why you want to take me out of town? It’ll be easier to explain my death if nobody can contradict you.”
Horatio remained silent.
His silence didn’t matter since it spoke volumes, as the uneasy feeling in my stomach wasn’t for nothing. My intuition had always been right when it came to Horatio even if I didn’t want it to be.
Cruelty was one thing English Class didn’t prepare us for. The issue of life being unfair seemed to be an essential theme to every tragedy we read. Like Romeo and Juliet. The only problem was the main characters always seemed destine to die. They were too “pure” for the world, and I started to wonder if the same fate awaited me.
Thinking about Horatio killing me wasn’t an option. Not yet. I was still alive, and that was important. Even if my stomach couldn’t help twisting in ten different directions as a result of wondering what would happen next.
I continued gazing out the window while the cars rolled by. Almost as if I called out to the vehicles to run Horatio and I off the road so this sick game would end.
He plowed down some more to the highway after coming to another red light while I realized there was one thing I would find comfort in. Horatio couldn’t kill me till we were alone. He wouldn’t dare risk an accident on the road since he was self-centered. His scheme with the life insurance money proved that point since he was greedy.
Dozing off for the rest of the car ride couldn’t be helped because it was the least I could do. There was also a lot of sleep I needed to catch up on. I would find a way out of the situation in time, though. I was sure of it since I found a way to get out of all my other problems. And this would be no exception. Horatio also lacked Mom’s love because I had no doubt she always looked out for me. Even in death. I was also comforted by good always prevailing over evil. The idea would never die no matter how trite it sounded.
The tapping of his hand on my shoulder brought me back to reality. “We’re here, darling.”
Hmmm. Horatio needed a lesson on decorum ASAP. Saying, “darling” wasn’t any less creepy the second time he did so.
I looked around. We were parked in a driveway at his lake house.
We made our way into the house after the key clicked in the door.
He showed me to the guest bedroom, leaving me to myself after a beat.
An idea hit me. I could text Chace even if there was no guarantee there would be cell reception out here. I was kind of in the middle of nowhere. But maybe, just maybe, luck would be on my side. I mean, I could at least be hopeful for one fleeting moment.
I grabbed my iPhone, struggling to find the energy to spell everything in the text correctly: You have to help me Chace! Horatio kidnapped me and I’m now at his lake house. Except I have no idea where exactly I am. But maybe you could do your fancy nerd thing and use my cellphone number to figure out my location. You have to help me. I think Horatio is going to kill me.
I pressed SEND.
Breathing a sigh of relief when the text went through was my only option. I had never been so grateful for 4G. But Chace had to save me in time because he was my only hope.