Kiss of Death Boxset, page 1
Kiss of Death Boxset
Make Me #0.5
Kill Me #1
Kiss Me #2
Other books by LP Lovell
Make Me #0.5
13 years old
“She has fire in her soul and grace in her heart.”- Unknown
Life has this way of dealing you a crap hand. You might be born into a loving family, you might have a shot at being something, and then it all falls apart. Your parents die in an accident with no living family to look after you and you end up in a place like this, an orphanage. It’s just me and my little sister, Anna, now. In the blink of an eye I was no longer protected and loved, I became the protector at the tender age of eight. Five years we’ve been in this place, and I’ve learned how to survive, because as much as this is supposed to be a place that takes care of children, that definition is apparently open to interpretation. I’ve learned though…the only person who will ever look out for you, is you.
Sitting on the floor of the cupboard, I wait for the two members of kitchen staff to leave. I hear to clanging of pots and pans being put away before the lights power down, depriving me of the tiny sliver of light I had to see by. Waiting until I hear the clicking of the lock, I leave my hiding place. My stomach growls at the thought of food as I tip toe across the kitchen and open the pantry door. Spotting a loaf of bread, I swipe a couple of slices and two apples, before quietly closing the door again. The trick is to not take too much and risk them noticing. Getting in here isn’t hard, it’s the getting out that’s difficult. The kitchens are in the basement and with the door locked the only way out is through a tiny window that leads above ground. I find a spare cloth and use it to wrap my stash up like a parcel. Jumping up on one of the steel work units, I reach for the window, jerking the old latch hard to get it loose. It opens with a loud creak and I wince, hoping that the matron isn’t lurking around. I’ve been stealing food from the kitchens for months. I know she knows, but she just hasn’t caught me yet.
The Russian government pay orphanages such as this a basic rate per child, for their food and clothing and general care. I guess the matron saw an opportunity. Like I said, the only person you can rely on is you, and she’s definitely looking out for herself. She likes to think of us as cattle, if you can cut the cost of keeping each child, then you increase profit. Our food is rationed to just one meal per day, and clothing is passed down from older children to younger ones until the material is so thread bare that it’s disintegrating. Anna gets stomach cramps and feels dizzy due to lack of food sometimes, so I steal some for her. Not enough that it would be noticed in theory, but around here, everything is noticed.
I push up on my hands and drag myself through the window. My shirt catches on the rusted metal frame and I hear the material tear. Shit.
I wriggle my body, and the irony of the fact that my starvation has made me skinny enough to steal food and escape through the kitchen window is not lost on me. As soon as I’m clear I reach back in and swing the window back in place. The groaning of the hinges and click of the latch is loud, and I freeze, pressing myself against the wall of the building as I hold my breath. My heart pounds in my chest, the danger of being caught giving me an adrenaline rush. I start running again, making it across the small courtyard before I push up the window that leads to mine and Anna’s room. We share it with two other girls, but they don’t really talk to us. One of them made Anna cry when they arrived a few months ago, so I told her I’d cut her hair off in her sleep if she ever looked at her again. They both refuse to even look at me or my sister now. It’s not like I threatened to kill her or anything. They’re not the only ones. The other children steer clear of us. We don’t make friends. We don’t have to, because we have each other and that’s all we need.
I throw my leg over the windowsill and drop down on the other side. Anna sits bolt upright, pressing herself against the wall.
“Shh,” I whisper, placing my hand on her leg.
“You scared me,” she breathes.
I roll my eyes. “Who else is going to come through the window?” I keep my voice low as I turn around and slowly slide the old sash window back down. I know it must have woken the other girls up, and I know they see me disappear some nights, but they say nothing.
I kick off my shoes and pull back the covers of Anna’s bed, climbing in. She shuffles closer to the wall, making more room. I’m supposed to sleep on the top bunk but I can’t remember ever actually sleeping up there for an entire night. Anna has nightmares and if I don’t sleep with her she wakes up screaming.
“Here you go.” I place the small package on the bed and unwrap it, revealing the two slices of bread and two apples. Anna picks apart a piece of bread, placing small pieces in her mouth. It saddens me to see my little sister take her time, savouring a piece of bread. A piece of bread. It wasn’t always like this. Our parents were good people. They took care of us, loved us. Anna was only five when they died, and she can’t remember them at all. The therapists say that she’s repressed the memories, as if her mind doesn’t want to remember because it’s too sad, too ugly. I’m left alone with the memories of a life that could have been, the ghosts of a better time, and the horror of how they were torn away. I don’t see things the way I used to. I learned quickly that tears don’t help anything and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. I prayed and begged, and soon I also realised that if there was a god, surely he would help me, help us. No one will help us. It’s up to me. I will get us out of here one day. I will protect Anna and make a better life for us.
“I’ll save the apple.” Anna smiles brightly and puts one apple under her pillow
I kiss Anna’s forehead. “I love you, bug.”
“Love you,” she breathes as her eyelids start to get heavy and her breathing evens out. I let the sound of her soft breaths lull me to sleep.
I wake up when something collides with my face, the sound of skin meeting skin ricocheting around my skull. My eyes shoot open and I immediately scoot up the bed, flinching away from the matron. She stands with one hand on her hip and an apple in the other.
“Come with me,” she says with a sickly sweet smile on her face. Anna huddles against the wall and I can feel her shaking.
“It’s okay,” I tell her.
I know what’s coming and I don’t want Anna to see it, so I get up and follow the matron out of the room. She leads me to her office on the other side of the orphanage and opens the door, stepping inside and keeping her back to me. I close the door and stand there, my eyes fixed on the worn brown carpet.
She whirls around and back hands me across the face so hard that the blow sends me to my knees. Spitting a mouthful of blood onto the floor, I bring my hand to my face, feeling my split lip. She stands, towering over me, her face set into a cold mask. The matron looks like a school teacher with her grey hair pulled into a twist and her knee length skirt, topped off with a cardigan. Yeah, she looks like a real nice older lady, except she’s not. This isn’t the first time my face has had a run in with her hand.
“Stealing food!” she shouts. “Ungrateful. You are ungrateful and spoilt. I’ve been too lenient on you, Una Vasiliev.” I say nothing and she points at a chair. “Sit.” I sit and she shouts for someone to come in. I hear the door open but don’t take my eyes off her. To the outside world she seems like this nice person who runs an orphanage, but she’s not, she’s far from it. I see her for what she is and she knows it. Whoever just walked in comes up behind me and binds my wrists to the arms of the chair, then they move away. I start to panic, tugging against the restraints.
“What are you doing?” I ask, my voice hitching.
“Teaching you discipline.” She smiles, placing a cigarette to her lips and lighting it. I’ve never seen her smoke before. She gets up from her seat behind the desk and approaches me. The look on her face is full of such venom.
“You will learn your place, Una. You are nothing and no one, an unwanted orphan. Say it!” She shouts in my face, spit flying from those thin, cruel lips. That cigarette hangs between her fingers and the smell of tobacco wafts around the room. I stare back at her defiantly, refusing to break, refusing to acknowledge what she wants from me. The rough wood of the chair bites against my bare thighs, exposed by the shorts I’m wearing. The leather belts that secure my wrists to the arms of the chair are worn, but they still chaff against my skin, leaving my wrists raw when I fight against them. The matron likes the children here to be well behaved and easy. I’m not. I know what they have planned. I refuse to accept this fate and above all I refuse to accept it for my sister.
“I will teach you your place, girl.” She hisses. “Remember that you deserve this.” She takes the cigarette and stamps it into my shoulder. It hurts, it really hurts. I grit my teeth, biting back the scream that’s trying to work its way up my throat. The scent of burning flesh fills my nostrils and I gag against the smell of my own melting skin. A twisted grin forms on her lips. She enjoys my pain, so I fight against my own instincts. I lock my jaw and steel my spine. I stare her right in the eye. This isn’t my first time taking her abuse, and it won’t be the last. Her punishments went from a few pink stripes with a belt across the backs of my thighs, to crimson bleeding stripes across my back and several punches to the face that involved a chipped tooth or two. Of course the more she’s given out over the years, the more resilient I’ve become. So resilient that I can pretend that this doesn’t make me want to scream and cry. It’s not even the pain that makes it horrible, it’s the fact that every time she hurts me, I’m reminded that I really am alone, that no one will come and protect me. She stares me down and I stare right back, spitting another mouthful of blood at her feet. One day, I will kill her for every horrible deed that she has ever done. But I have to survive long enough to do it.
“Everything in life is temporary.” – Unknown.
I stare at the crack that runs across the old tile floor. My heart is beating fast and I cling to Anna’s hand in an attempt to stop myself from shaking. The other children are lined up either side of us, each one wishing a hole in the ground would open up and swallow them. Anything to escape notice. Their shallow, panicked breaths only remind me that I’m not safe, that we’re not safe. Anna’s nails bite into my palm, and sweat slicks her skin, making her tighten her hold on my hand. I try to block out the sound of heavy footsteps as a pair of boots slowly cut into view, disrupting the small patch of tile I’m focused on. I swallow heavily and squeeze my eyes shut, praying to any god that might listen that he’ll keep walking. As always, my prayers are met with a mocking silence. I flinch when cool fingers touch my chin.
“Open your eyes, girl.” I bite back the whimper trying to make its way up my throat and open my eyes. The face in front of me is one that is branded into my mind, the nightmare that every child here at the home wakes up screaming to in the middle of the night. I know him only as volynshchik, it’s from a children’s story. The Volynshcik is a man who would lure children from their parents using a magical pipe. Only this man doesn’t lure children from their parents and he needs no pipe. He takes the children who have no parents, the abandoned and the unwanted, the desperate and the neglected. But no amount of neglect could possibly be more frightening than the whispers of his name, the tales of what happens to the children he takes…well, buys. Because the matron not only starves and beats children, she also sells them.
On the outside The Volynshcik looks like any other man, short cropped hair, slightly greying, a face that isn’t particularly memorable, but it’s his eyes that have me shaking in fear. His eyes are completely void of life, more animal than human.
“This one’s pretty.” He says with a sick smile, never taking those icy eyes off me. “How much?”
The matron steps forward, her hands folded behind her back. She narrows her eyes at me before addressing him. “She’s no good as a whore.”
He snaps his gaze to her and she recoils, dropping her head. “I didn’t ask if she was.”
She glances at me out of the corner of her eye. “She’s unruly. She can’t be broken.” She presses her lips together. “We tried.” I glare at her and hatred crawls over my skin like insects. I rub my free hand over my left arm, hiding the burn marks she branded into my skin only a few days ago.
A twisted smile pulls at his lips as he turns to me. His eyes drag over my body in a way that makes me feel sick to my stomach. “How old?”
“Thirteen.” The matron replies.
He grips my jaw tight enough that I know it will leave a bruise. Those cold eyes bare into mine and despite the debilitating fear gnawing at my gut I stare right back at him. He laughs, startling me. “I’ll take her.” No, no, no, no. He leans in close, blowing vodka scented breath over my face. “And I will break you, child.” He presses his lips against mine so softly and it’s more terrifying than if he’d struck me. I slam my eyes closed again, fighting tears. “I promise.”
All I can hear is the frantic pounding of my own pulse in my ears. This can’t be happening. Anna wraps her arms around me, the sound of her sobs muted to an agonising moan as she buries her little face in my chest. Her tears soak through my shirt, wetting my skin. I can’t think. All I can do is hold onto her tightly and hope that something or som
A rough hand lands on my shoulder, yanking me back away from her grasp. “No!” I shout.
The matron stands behind Anna, holding her in place as she reaches for me, her cries becoming so tortured that I feel my heart breaking. The image of her becomes blurred as the tears fill my eyes.
“Let go!” I thrash against the man but he applies more pressure on my shoulder until it feels as though my bones may physically crumble under his grip. “Anna.” I sob. I fight him every step of the way, refusing to go quietly. An arm wraps around my throat and I tuck my chin, sinking my teeth into his forearm.
“Fuck!” He releases me and I fall forward onto my hands and knees. I’ll crawl to her if I have to. A scream makes its way up my throat when strong fingers wrap around my ankle. I catch sight of my sister, her sweet face red and tear stained. Then something hits the back of my head and everything goes black.
“Innocence is like polished armour; it adorns and defends.” - Robert Bishop
Blinking my eyes open, I groan and flinch back against the bright fluorescent lights over head. My head is pounding and my body feels stiff and achy. All at once, everything comes rushing back. Anna. I panic, sitting bolt upright. The motion makes my head spin and my vision dip in and out. All I can see is concrete. The walls, the ceiling, the floor, all grey and bleak. No windows, no anything. I’m laying on a fashioned bed, hanging from the wall via two chains. It’s a prison cell. I notice a security camera set into the corner of the room above the door, the red light on it blinking. I pull my knee’s to my chest and wrap my arms around them, fighting back tears. I squeeze my arms tighter in an attempt to stop the violent shaking of my body. Anna and I have never had it easy, but we at least had each other. Only now, I’m here, and she’s still there at the mercy of that evil woman.
Other author's books:
- The SaintLeave Me (Touch of Death Book 2)Love Me (Touch of Death Book 3)Kiss of Death BoxsetOne Contract (The Game Book 1)Conquered: She Who Dares Book TwoSix Zeros: The Game Series #6Seven Days: The Game #7
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