Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vengeance: Chapter 3

                I stepped behind a tree to change. As much as I hated to admit it, it would feel nice to have on clean clothes again. I heard Jude rustling in the brush and peered around to see what he was doing. He had cleared some of the weeds and was setting up a tent. I quickly pulled back to finish dressing. When I looked up again, he was staring at me.

                I was so startled that I froze. The look in his eyes was liquid fire and somehow, it transferred to me. 

                I felt my blood start to boil but, shockingly, it was not an unpleasant feeling. I verbally gasped and, as quick as the moment had begun, it ended with him spinning around and marching off.

                “I hope you don’t think we’re both sleeping in that tent, together,” I snapped in his direction.
                “Don’t worry, you can have the tent. I’ll catch naps here and there when I can.” His response lacked the brashness that I had been expecting and caught me off guard.
                “Um, no, you need to sleep too. I’m, uh…” I trailed off, not willing to apologize but feeling guilty that he wouldn’t be getting sleep. What was it about him that made me have such drastic emotional turmoil? I shrugged it off, sure that it was due to the train wreck my life had become.

                That night, we sat around a campfire, making food (Jude had apparently come prepared for life in the wilderness) and not talking. I didn’t know what to say to him. I didn’t care to speak. Yet, I hated the silence and wanted nothing more than to scream just to hear noise. My mind immediately went back to Henry, and our wedding day.

                Henry had been a fun, lovable man. Always making jokes, always making people comfortable, he had never had a lack of friends. When he chose me to be his bride, I was so proud and honored that I never could have imagined that he didn’t love me.

                I remembered walking down the aisle towards him. 

                My father had been sniffly that day. Teary because he was giving away his youngest daughter, the older two having moved on to the city lights and glamour the minute they had become of age. I had been the homebody, the girl who just wanted to settle down in a small home and have the family life I had lacked as a child.

Looking back, I realize that my father must have been aware of the situation I was getting myself into. As much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t. I felt letdown by him and his choices but I knew that he had tried. What I couldn’t forgive was Henry. How he could have watched me dedicate my life to him, how he could have used me to satisfy his own needs to be a first class citizen, no matter how righteous his intentions were?
I felt a small relief that we hadn’t had the opportunity to start a family of our own. How far could he, would he, have taken this scam?

“What is it,” Jude asked, interrupting my painful memories.
“What do you mean?”
“You look like, I don’t know, like you’re in pain.”
“Just remembering,” I replied dismissively. I had no interest in discussing my memories with a man I barely knew and certainly didn’t trust.
“Remembering what?” He obviously wasn’t smart enough to take a hint.
I wished to be loved by another, but I desire no man's pity,” I responded. “Henry pitied my situation and, on top of that, he used me. For someone who grew up reading fairytales, my life sure wasn’t what I expected.
Jude didn’t bother responding. I had thought he would defend Henry, his friend or partner or whoever they were to each other, but his face took on a reflective, soft expression and then faded away, back to his hard angles.

After that first night, we didn’t talk again about the past. Jude would disappear for some time during the day while I stayed in camp, usually melancholy and lifeless. I didn’t bother asking where he went and he didn’t care to ask me how I was doing. Then, one day, it all changed. We heard noises in the brush, noises that reminded me of when Jude had found me. Suddenly, I found myself on the ground, Jude pressed on top of me.

“Shh, don’t make a sound,” he whispered. Too scared to move, I just lay there, staring wide eyed at him. Our breaths mingled and somehow seemed to become one. All of a sudden time was standing still. I could feel my heart beating, was sure that he could feel it through my thin shirt. All of a sudden, I wasn’t frightened anymore. Not of what was out there in the woods, not of him, not even of this crime ring. No, frightened was certainly not what I was feeling. Whatever I was feeling, Jude seemed to be feeling it to. His eyes were searching mine, questioning what was going on. He leaned closer and I was sure he was going to kiss me. And I wanted him to.

The noise thundered past us, breaking the trance that we had been in. It had been a horse, grazing nearby and now trotting off towards the stream. I pushed Jude back, embarrassed by what had nearly happened. 

How could I have felt those things? This man was a reminder of what I had lost and involved in it, in some way. I forbid myself from allowing him to get close again, barred myself from allowing those feelings to rise to surface. There was no way I was going to start an illicit affair with Jude.

After our near kiss, I suddenly was even more suspicious of Jude’s intentions. He had never explained to me why we were living homeless in these woods. Why couldn’t I go home? Why did I have to live out here, without a shower, without a bed, without any normal comforts? My misgivings led me to follow him one day. I couldn’t help myself. I made my way into town following slowly behind him. His purpose led him in a straight, quick line and my submission seemed to have lulled him into never thinking I may break out and question him one day.

He finally stopped near an old, rundown shack that was close to my father’s home. My whole life it had been abandoned and still looked so to me. I quickly ducked behind a tree as Jude looked around and disappeared into the house. I crept close, pressed against a wall. The door hadn’t been shut all the way so I could hear the conversation with little effort.

“Rockwell,” I heard Jude say. Rockwell, where do I know that name, I thought to myself.
“Campbell. I’ve heard a lot about you. A new rookie on the force. Taking over the Ridgefield case I hear.”
“Yes sir. The father has been very helpful though he still doesn’t know where the daughter disappeared to. Would be a shame if we couldn’t use her life to persuade him to help us,” Jude answered.
I bit back a gasp, barely believing that Jude had been using me all along. I was surrounded by betrayal and lies.

“Can you believe they call the leader of this cell the Emperor of Evil,” the first man chuckled. “If only they knew just who he was.”
“You mean, if they knew you and he were one and the same,” Jude replied sarcastically. “Have you heard from Lilianna,” he continued.
“Lilianna was a fool,” the mysterious man spat. “She thought herself coy and got careless. That was the reason Henry was able to penetrate the cell. Luckily, we took care of it.”
“Taking care of that though is what netted the loss of the girl in the first place.”
“Yes, well, we couldn’t very well have let him continue gaining information. It was all fun and games until he caught a glimpse of me at the station one day. Once he knew who I really was, his fate was sealed.”
“What of the father? He obviously has no idea where she is,” Jude pointed out.
“We should have killed him years ago when he walked the first time. But now we have use for him. We just need leverage. Find the girl. Bring her to me. Do it quickly.” His tone obviously indicated that Jude had been dismissed.

I snuck around the house, trying to get away before they came out. As I went past a window, I caught a glimpse of the man called Rockwell. I did know him! 

He had come to the house to tell me about Henry’s murder. Now I discover that he was likely behind the whole thing. As soon as I rounded the corner of the street, I began running again.

I made it only as far as a small park before hands grabbed me from behind. I screamed but the public park was deserted and the unsavory neighborhood was unlikely to have many residents and those it did have were not likely to come to my rescue. I wrenched my body, trying to slip out of the grasp of my assailant but he was too strong. He dragged me towards the woods and there was nothing I could do to stop him.

I had been found.


  1. Oh crap >.< I love your writing, so jealous.

  2. This increasingly rivals some of my favorite novelists, Heaven. Are you published?