Reliving fate, p.29

Reliving Fate, page 29

 

Reliving Fate
 


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  It was all a lie. She's known who I am this whole time.

  Wow, I'm a real idiot.

  I ignore her because, in the grand scheme of things, she is nothing. With my heart in my throat, I raise my eyes, and there he is. Standing before me is the man who took so much from my family and everything from my big sister.

  Blond hair.

  Oh my God, it's the man who bumped into me at the fair. He was around my family! He's the same build as the one watching me at the restaurant, too. It was the same person. It was him all along.

  Bile hits the back of my throat. I swallow, not willing to give him the satisfaction of knowing how scared I am.

  I didn't get a good look at him when he was hurting Celia. I was young and petrified, but now that I see him, I'm thrown back to that day. The terror comes flooding back like a fucking tsunami, and I want to cry.

  Don't let him see you cry, for Christ sake!

  His stare makes my stomach bottom out. He's looking at me like I'm a meal, but I won't allow myself to react.

  I steady my shaking hands. Every moment since Celia died has been leading to this point right here. And I have no bloody clue what to do next.

  It's not exactly looking good.

  I need you here with me, Celia.

  "Why?" I ask. My voice is calm, and I surprise myself because I feel anything but calm. My body burns in anger and the desire to kill him. Before I laid eyes on him, I wasn't sure if I could take a life, but, my God, I wouldn't even hesitate.

  Hate engulfs me and courses through my veins.

  Everything is there again--Celia hiding me, her screams, the smell of wood from inside the cabinet before it was overpowered by blood, the sound of her choking, and then the knife cutting through her flesh.

  Pain rips through my body as I relive every aspect of that day. I feel and smell it all again, and I want to die.

  Celia was so, so scared. She knew she was going to die at the hands of this animal.

  Oh God, why did I start this?

  "I've thought about Celia many times over the years."

  "Don't you fucking say her name!" I spit, glaring at him. I couldn't hate him any more than I do. "Why? Answer me!"

  His cold stare scratches at my skin like sandpaper.

  Answer me, you bastard!

  "Isabella," Faith says.

  I don't want to take my eyes off this piece of shit in front of me, but the way she just said my name makes me think she's going to explain.

  I've waited too long for this. Celia's death was so senseless, and Faith will never validate it, but there had to be a reason.

  "What?" I seethe, turning my attention to the bitch.

  How stupid am I to have trusted her?

  "Look around, Bella, and tell me what you see."

  I don't because I've seen it already, and I'm still clueless. Obviously, she's not here to help those girls, but I don't know what she's doing with them.

  Wait.

  Oh, fuck.

  Young women. All those rooms...

  "You're fucking sick," I mutter. My ears are ringing.

  This is a brothel. She sells those girls to men for sex.

  No. No, no. Did she do that to Celia?

  My body goes light, and my head feels like it's floating.

  Don't pass out. Breathe!

  Oh God, my heart aches for my sister. Did these arseholes make her sell her body?

  Faith laughs. "I can tell what you're thinking. Celia found out too early what was going on. She ran, but we couldn't let her speak out."

  No. I don't want to hear anymore.

  I pinch the bridge of my nose and take a breath. That's what she was running from. They killed her. Jesus, now, I understand why she didn't want me to tell anyone what I was about to witness.

  I drop my hand. "You sent your lapdog to kill my sister before she could tell anyone what sick fucks you were."

  "Watch your mouth!" Lapdog snaps.

  I flick my hand at him. "Fuck you!"

  "When I saw you, I immediately knew who you were. I don't forget a face, and you're a dead ringer for Celia. It couldn't have been more perfect. Initially, I did worry that you would figure it out too soon as well, but you didn't," Faith says.

  "Who are you?" I ask her.

  How can someone do that to another person?

  The three girls behind Faith cower and look to the floor.

  "I do what I have to do to survive."

  "No, you do what you do because you're evil and rotten and selfish."

  She slowly shakes her head. "I don't expect you to understand. This is what Keith and I inherited. This is how we stay alive in a place like this."

  "That's bullshit. This might not be Disneyland, but you don't have to do this. You don't have to be this person. You can let me go."

  "Oh, I can't do that. I'm owed."

  Lapdog laughs, and the crass sound makes me want to vomit.

  "Everyone in life has a fate, Isabella," Faith says.

  "Right. So, yours is to be a pimp, and my sister's was to be a prostitute. You're a fucking fruit loop!"

  "Watch your mouth," she spits.

  "Seriously, you want to sell me for sex, but you're offended by swear words? Wow."

  "Tank, take her to the back. When you're done with your turn, get the girls to brief her. Business as usual."

  I turn ice cold.

  When he's done? When he's done with what?

  "No!"

  I take off, but Tank--the bastard--is faster and catches me, covering my mouth with his disgusting hand. He laughs as I frantically thrash around to get out of his grip. Digging my nails into his hand, I rip down, and he lets out a deep scream.

  "Fucking bitch! I can't wait for this!"

  He shoves me through a door and launches me at a bed. My shoulder blades scream at the force he used to push me. I land in a heap, bouncing on a mattress I'm sure is filthy and covered in things I don't even want to know about.

  Faith said he'd get his turn.

  What does that mean? What's he going to do to me? Is Faith planning on letting him kill me? Oh God.

  I flip over and scrub my hands over my face to try and clear my panic and think rationally. I need a plan. And a miracle.

  Think, Bella!

  He's still standing in the doorway with both hands gripping the frame like he's holding himself back from ripping me apart. His eyes are void, and his yellowing teeth are bared. Everything about him is evil to the core.

  "What to do with you..." he says, tilting his head forward and stepping into the room.

  He grabs the door, and in one swift movement, he slams it shut. I'm trapped with him. Ice wraps around my heart.

  I push myself up and stand beside the bed. The room is basic with just a bed, a small side table, and a bin. I don't want to know what is in the drawer. The mattress is covered in a white sheet. No quilt and no pillows.

  There are so many questions I want to ask, so many things I want to say, but it makes no difference. I don't want to give him the power of denying me answers, and I don't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me upset.

  Whatever you do, show no fear.

  "Has any encounter with a girl ever been consensual? Or do you always have to force them?"

  He snarls, and the sound cuts through me. I swallow.

  Don't react.

  My heart is going a hundred miles an hour. I can hear it thump.

  I put my arms behind my back and grip my hands together. It's an act that's trying to make me appear more confident and casual so that he doesn't know I'm bloody terrified while concealing the fact that I'm shaking.

  "Are you trying to end this sooner? Faith wants to keep you a while, but don't think I won't go against her if you push me."

  How long is she planning on keeping me then? Days? Weeks? Months?

  She has to know that Rocco would find me eventually though.

  My head is spinning with so much information, confliction, and fucking terror.
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  "You murdered my sister. If I'm going to die, too, don't think I won't take you with me, you sick fuck!"

  Tank laughs, and it's horrible. "You can't stop me. We both know I can do anything I like to you, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it." His footsteps echo through the room as he plants his chunky black boots down on the floor.

  He's getting closer. I want to back up or leap over the bed and have something between us, but that's what he wants.

  He got what he wanted with Celia. It played out exactly how he'd envisioned, but that won't happen with me.

  I can feel her with me right now more than I ever had over the years. When I was little, I used to lie in bed at night and pretend she was beside me. I felt close to her then, but that was nothing compared to this moment. She's here, and we'll do this together. That thought gives me so much strength; I know I won't back down. Whatever happens, whatever he does, I will face this and see it through with my big sister.

  Tank tilts his head as he comes to a stop about a meter away from me. I raise my eyes to meet his and let go of my hands behind my back.

  "You're going to die, and I'm going to watch," I say. I'm running on adrenaline, anger, and stupidity. Thank God, because if I wasn't, I'd be begging and trying to run.

  He doesn't get to win. Not this time.

  "You have no idea who you're dealing with. Your sister didn't have that problem."

  I frown. "Except she did because she figured out your disgusting little scheme and ran."

  His mouth spreads in a sickening grin. "And look where that got her. I took her life, Bella." Closing his eyes, he breathes heavily through his nose. "Oh, it was good. My best kill by far. She tried to fight." His dead eyes open and pin me to the spot. "The skin on her neck was so soft and so warm under my hands as I squeezed."

  Shut up!

  I press my mouth together as my stomach goes on a fucking roller coaster.

  How scared was she when he was strangling her? I should have interrupted, ran for the door to spook him.

  I did nothing!

  Tank takes another step, and I can feel his breath across my face. He smells gross, like cigarettes and stale beer. Without warning, he snaps his knee up and ploughs it into my stomach.

  Fuck.

  I cry out, gripping my tummy, as I fall to the floor. Pain rips through my middle, making tears well in my eyes. I double over, my knees and elbows hitting the wooden laminate floor.

  "See? I can do what I want."

  "Go to hell," I hiss, lifting my head and coughing through the agony.

  Tank chuckles. "One day. You'll be there sooner. You can say hi to your dead sister."

  Screw you.

  I don't care when he threatens me, but when he mentions Celia, my blood boils. He took her life and changed mine forever. I despise the animal.

  "What you're doing isn't working. Say what you want about her, but I don't care." It's a massive lie, but he doesn't need to know that.

  Planting my hands on the floor, I stand up. My stomach is so tender that I don't even want to stretch it out by being upright, but I have to. "You act so tough, like you do whatever you want and no one can stop you. You killed Celia because Faith had told you to. Well done for listening to Mummy, Tank."

  Oh, shit, what if she's actually his mum?

  With a guttural growl, he flings his head forward and smashes his forehead against mine. A scream rips from my throat, and I stumble sideways, hitting the side of my head against the wall. I grip the plasterboard and lean against it for support.

  My head feels like it's splitting. I blink and turn around again.

  You can take it. Don't back down.

  He tilts his head to the side. "She begged, but you won't, will you?"

  "Why don't you hold your breath and wait for it?"

  "Oh, I'm going to enjoy this." He stands taller and puffs out his chest; it makes him look twice the size. "Your skin is so fair, so soft."

  His hand slips into his pocket, and I resist the urge to watch what he's doing. I keep my eyes firmly on his.

  Though I'm not looking, it's hard to miss the bright reflection on the window from the knife.

  "This is the one I used on Celia."

  Motherfucker.

  I feel like I've been kneed in the stomach again.

  It's fine, it's fine, it's fine. Don't stop looking at him, and don't react!

  Gulping, I fight hard to stay in control and not look at the weapon that was once covered in my sister's blood. "Bit old now, isn't it?"

  The corner of his mouth lifts in a snare. "It still works," he whispers.

  Oh my God, how many other people?

  I roll my eyes. "This is getting boring now. Why don't you leave and let Faith get on with whatever she's planning? We both know you're going to be called out there soon." I hope.

  Tank's eyes turn black, and he lunges. I shove my hands out to protect myself, but he's too quick. His fist slams into the side of my head, and I drop to the floor.

  Pain radiates through my skull, and it instantly starts throbbing. My ears ring, and my vision blurs. I feel him before I see him. A heavy weight lumps down on my legs, pinning me to the floor. My head is spinning, and I try to lift my hands, but it hurts too much.

  Two rough, large hands cling to my neck, and my eyes fly open wide.

  Fuck, he's going to kill me.

  I claw at his hands, scraping my nails through his flesh. He growls, but he doesn't move. He squeezes harder until I can feel my windpipe close completely. I can't breathe. Panic takes over. I thrash my legs and frantically tug at his hands while I gasp for breath that doesn't come.

  This is where it ends.

  I've never been that scared of dying, and I didn't think I would be massively scared when the time came. But I am.

  I open my mouth and try to suck in air, but it doesn't work. His grip is too strong, and I can feel myself weakening. My legs kick seemingly of their own accord, and it takes so much effort to dig my nails into his hands.

  I'm tired. My heart is working overtime, and my lungs deflate in the most painful way possible. The corners of my vision turn dark, like I'm approaching a tunnel.

  My legs still.

  I'm sorry, Celia.

  Suddenly, the pressure is gone. I cough loudly, sucking in air, my arms flying up to gently cover my now-naked neck. The weight from my legs disappears, and my lungs inflate.

  I look up, and Tank is standing above me, smirking. He lifts his heavy boot above my head and then...darkness.

  FORTY-SIX

  * * *

  BELLA

  I wake up, and I'm in a different room. I'm momentarily disorientated, but the second I realise what's going on, my heart stops.

  Faith. Tank. He killed Celia.

  This can't be the end. I have to get out.

  My head is pounding so much that it makes my eyesight blurry. Groaning, I push myself up, so I'm sitting on the bed, and I hiss as my ribs scream at the movement. I wince, holding my chest with one arm.

  The three girls, who are probably a couple of years older than me, stare at me. I want to ask for help, but I'm paralysed by fear. Everything hurts.

  How long was I out for?

  The last thing I remember is lying on my back on the floor and seeing the sole of Tank's black boot above my head.

  "Are you okay?" a voice says.

  I can't tell which one of them spoke, as my vision is still impaired. I rub my temple, and it feels wet.

  What the hell?

  As I pull my hand from my head and down in front of my face, my eyes widen. Red blood covers my fingers. I look up and meet the eyes of the person who spoke. She comes into focus a little more now. Her hair is light and super long.

  "I'm bleeding."

  "It's okay. I think it's stopping," the tall, skinny one says.

  I blink, and it improves my vision. The world is sharp once again. Pressing my other hand to the wound near my temple, I check again. There is less blood this time.
She's right; it is stopping.

  The littlest one, the redhead, takes a tentative step closer to me and repeats her friend's question, "Are you okay?"

  No, I'm really not.

  I have cuts and bruises and a possible broken ribs, but worse than that was thinking he was going to kill me. It was hearing what he said he wanted to do. And the very worst part was him talking about my beautiful big sister like she was a piece of meat.

  "I'll live," I reply. If I can get away, I might anyway. "How long was I unconscious for?"

  "About forty-five minutes," Red replies.

  God, I must have been gone for at least two hours then. Rocco will be looking for me by now. I said I would be quick, and he would have given me about an hour, ninety minutes at most, before he started to worry. He won't have a clue where I am, and he doesn't know I left with Faith. But he won't stop until he finds me.

  "Who sleeps in here? We need to get out of this place."

  The room is much bigger than the one Tank had me in. There is a double bed complete with cover and pillows, a wardrobe, and a chest of drawers. This must be one of their rooms.

  They look between each other with an is-she-serious-about-escaping expression.

  I'm deadly fucking serious. I'm not staying here. I'm not having sex with anyone. And I'm not going to be killed by Lapdog.

  "Hello?" I snap, clicking my fingers. If I didn't feel like I might throw up, I would stand.

  "He does. You really don't want to run. We've seen what he does to the women who try."

  So have I.

  "Where are the exits?" I ask. "Do the windows open?"

  "There's only the front door. The windows don't open wide enough to slip through. I've tried the windows," Red replies.

  She doesn't make eye contact, and her head is tilted down enough that her red hair cloaks her face.

  Damn it, she's tiny as hell, so if she can't squeeze through, then I definitely won't.

  "Okay. We go out the door then."

  "The men will arrive in an hour and thirty minutes."

  That's not happening. It's not. There is no way in hell I'm letting anyone touch me.

  "No," I snap. "We're leaving before they arrive."

  "I don't see how you're going to achieve that. Honestly, it's best to go along with it. If you do what you're told, life isn't so bad," the tall one says.

  "Which one are you?" I ask.

  "Eliza."

  "Eliza, never in the definition of the phrase, Life isn't so bad, does it include human trafficking and prostitution."

  That's what this is. Faith gets girls and sells them like they're possessions.

  "Now, I'm trying to get out of here. Are you three in or not?"

 
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