My family is going on vacation this week so the blog post will be a special excerpt from our story. Enjoy!
The warmth of the afternoon sun shook the slight chill from Alex’s cheeks, as she opened her still heavy eyes. Bright beams of winter sun were fighting to penetrate not only the windows glass but the tight space between the two brownstone buildings. As a shaft broke through the pane, into Alex’s eyes, she rolled across the crisp pillow case away from its intrusion, her gaze falling on the deep scarlet woodwork surrounding the bed. Her sleep muddled mind clutching for semblance of her drowsy thoughts.Where am I? What happened?
The flood of memories brought on a headache as she saw the past twenty four hours appear like a power point in her mind. She rolled back toward the window, pulling the sheets more tightly around her chin. The ringing of her cell phone began creeping under the closed door of the bedroom. With an exasperated shove of the covers, Alex extracted herself from beneath the blanket. A smack to her forehead sent her confusion with the sound of her phone into realization. She had left her shoulder bag at the foot of the stairs when abandoning her too large luggage. now she contemplated whether or not she cared enough about who was calling to drag herself down the stair case to answer it.The perky tone from the first floor ceased and she collapsed back onto the bed with another reverberating groan. A small black alarm clock on the window sill blazed crimson numbers into the lightened room. 4:00, that should mean something to her but the sleepiness of her rude awakening slowed her efforts to uncover it. She forced her body into a cross legged position on the mattress once more. It was late afternoon. The lack of light along with her complaining stomach reminded her that the last thing she’d done before this nightmare began was an overload of caffeine. As the details of the night before regained concreteness, her thoughts flew in a panic to the ignored phone.
Alex jumped to her feet turning toward the door only to find herself standing in front of it, still closed. Charles was probably frantic now, wondering what had happened to her, where she was, if she had even come. As her own heart pulsed its protest with adrenaline, she scowled at the doorknob, letting her hand slide from its glassy surface to fall at her side. Good… She thought, turning her back to the door and claiming a large terry towel from the pile in the trunk. It was about time he worried about her. He deserved to feel a little of that terror that had burst her dam of tears all over Jay.
“Maybe the call was Jay,” she whispered.
She shook her head, discarding the thought. Jay would not be worried about anything except waking her up. He wouldn’t be calling. He’d gotten her here, safe. His constancy a force looking out for her before she ever got on that plane. Charles hadn’t managed to rouse himself from his drunken stupor long enough to even send one of the cars from his father’s fleet to find her.
Draping the towel over her arm, Alex grimaced. With a defiant lift of her chin, she ignored the call.
The gathering warmth of the fireplace and the day’s offering of light met her in a firm embrace as she emerged into the hallway. Her hesitant steps searched the various doors along the narrow corridor.She found a small white bathroom decorated with red and black soap and candles. Alex entered and hung the Terry cloth on a wrought iron towel rack. Her toes retracted from the bite of the cold, checkerboard tile, reminding her of the change of clothes and toiletry bag she left downstairs. The faint ring of her phone laid her head against the door. , She leaned her forehead against a silk robe hanging on a hook at the top of the door,pale cream colored fabric stroking her furrowed brow. The battle began once again, over whether or not she could go down for her clothes without finding the phone to check her missed calls. Her fists balled at her sides as she straightened with a scowl.
“I’m not going down there until I’m good and ready.”
The sound of her voice echoed her to a frazzled start in the porcelain space. After stripping off her clothes, she turned the hot shower on full stream. The soothing vapors from its cascade filled the small room with relaxing steam. Sounds and worry became lost in the vaporous haze of warmth and release that soon washed tension down the drain.
Jay glanced at the clock on the phone’s display before answering the falseness in the caller’s question.
“No, Charles.” He said with sweet acid dripping from his words. “She didn’t tell me what your plans were this afternoon. The last time I talked to her she wanted to get some sleep and take a shower. I have no idea what part of that plan she is currently engaged in.”
Jay kept his voice low and hard but his face was broken into an unrestrained smile. He could almost hear the flames of Charles’ frustration crackling over the office’ connection.
“I thought she was staying at your house, have you checked the rooms in the west wing?”
The curse from Charles’ side of the phone made Jay’s grin spread over his face. “I would think her disappearance from the largest international airport in the United States, would send you hurling over land and sea to find her.” Charles’ shouts were edged with hatred even as Jay held the receiver away from him. “She’s been out of reach all day long and you’re making jokes about your own sorry lack of amenities.”
Jay’s jaw flinched as he clamped his teeth, the smile remaining on his lips. “I don’t know what to tell you Chuckie, old boy. If she won’t answer your calls and I lack anything helpful in this situation, why did you call me?”
The battle raging between Charles’ clenched teeth ground audibly through the phone. Jay grinned again. Charles’ voice momentarily sounded as if one of his gritted teeth had shattered with the force of not chewing through the line. Before Jay could irritate Charles anymore, he heard the anger in the other man’s voice become sweet and sticky with pleading. ”I’m trusting that your lack of concern means that she is alright?” If she’s punishing me for losing my phone last night, by refusing to answer my calls, you could call and explain to her why I couldn’t get to her this morning. She will answer your call, she always does. You could convince her that it was just a misunderstanding and give her this number so she can call me." Jay heard him take a breath, frosting his tone. “I can go pick her up, take proper care of her, and bring her home …with me.”
Jay choked on the sinister murmur in Charles’ voice. He swallowed back the bile rising in his throat as he could not ignore the dark subtle threat. “She shouldn’t Have been left alone in New York."
"As much as you believe I deserve what I am getting, I know you don’t believe she deserves to be frightened in a strange city”.
Jay twisted his mouth into a sneer. “Alex is being taken care of by people she can trust. If she calls me, I will give her your number and it is her decision to call or not from there. You can tell your own twisted lies about how you left her, alone and terrified in the largest international airport in the United States.”
Jay slammed the receiver of the phone down so hard, the plastic mechanism scuttled across the desk and bounced off the wall. Its retreat dislodged the receiver from it’s cradle. He burned holes through the pile of complaining plasticwith the fury in his glare. picking up the handset, he replaced it with a slam. His other fist crushed the New York number. He ached to just throw it onto the dirty floor and pretend Charles never called. With a frustrated sigh, Jay pounded a thumbtack into the wrinkled, yellow note, hanging it over his desk. “That manipulative, son of a…”
Jay pressed his greasy fingers against the thrum of fury pounding in his head. He hated that guy, every time he smiled at Alex Jay felt as if he was watching the dripping teeth of a poisonous snake. When Charles moved last fall Jay breathed an unburdened breath, hoping he would not have to argue with Alex about her boy frend anymore.
He scowled now and picked up a brown cloth from the desk, wiping the greasy smear from his face. She hadn’t let the long distance release her from those fangs though. Even when he hpleaded with her to let him go. He saw in his mind’s eye now the flash of pain in her eyes as she shook her head at him, crossing her arms in defiance.
“He loves me, Jay.” she insisted.
Jay felt the selfishness of guilt burn in his chest again. Just the way it did when he looked into her hard expression.
“Of course he does,” he’d spit back at her. “You’re smart, fun, beautiful, good. He’d be a moron not too, but Alex… What about all the crap you put up with because of the selfish way he loves you?
He stopped then as her eyes filled with tears and she seemed to crumple like wet tissue beneath his bitter words.
Jay shook the memory from his thoughts as he rose from the chair and glared at the phone again. Turning back toward the garage, he focused on the half finished Corvair. It was too late to say anything now, she’d have to find out for herself. As much as he’d longed for her to feel the difference that day as he held her and she cried over this creep. she hadn’t, and now with her so far away, he could only pray the snake would not charm her into blindness.