The young woman trailed her fingers along the flat surface of the concrete balcony in front of her. She stood, leaning over, her head resting in her propped up arm. While her free hand slid back and forth, feeling the every bump and crack along the surface. Her eyes stared off ahead, not really seeing anything, not really looking for something. She released a long sigh, one year. One year it had been since she had received the band on her left ring finger. Her fingers stopped sliding and instead her thumb slowly rubbed the golden metal on her ring finger, with a gentle push she gave the ring a twist. Her hand had become numb to the feeling of it, sometimes she feared it had molded into her finger. A knock at the door startled her, the thoughts she had struggled to clear flooding back to her in a second. She turned and went to answer the door, on the other side she wasn't surprised to find old Nana. Emily Hughes had been there since her birth, and practically raised her as her own child. A warm smile spread across the young woman's face as she invited her in.
"You should be outside, enjoying the day out with your friends." The elderly woman shook her head, glancing at the stack of books piled at the foot of the bed. "Not be cooped up in here all day."
The young woman chuckled softly, they had this discussion every other day. "You know how it is Nana, it's better that I just stay here. Besides I don't mind," she answered picking up a picture from a nearby table running her finger around the frame as she smiled down at the laughing people, "it's not like I have any friends here to go out with. My life is inside these four walls, and it ceases to exist once I step outside of them." She painfully looked away, gently setting the frame back in its spot.
"That's just about the saddest thing I've ever heard in my life." Emily crossed her arms, frowning at what remained of the wild girl she had seen grow up. "If your parents knew about-"
"What?" The girl interrupted her in a bored tone. "What difference would that make Nana? They honestly couldn't care less about what happens to me, they've done their job right? Nagging about my problems to them would only result in a lecture and shaming from them. I'd rather leave things as they are." She took a seat on the edge of her bed, looking with sad eyes at the short woman in front of her.
Emily sighed, giving in to the argument once more. "Alright fine, have it your way. I just came up here to tell you that James called, he was boarding soon and will be home by night fall." The woman informed her as she walked out of the room, not looking back at the smiling young lady. So James would return in time for their anniversary afterall, she laid back on the bed smiled up at the ceiling.
"Katherine!" her mother-in-law shouted down the hall.
"Coming!" She shouted jumping off the bed and hurrying down the hall.
A couple miles away, a young man sped down a narrow, winding street. Close behind were three police cruisers, blaring their sirens, trying to get the culprit to stop. The man glanced up at his rear view mirror, an annoyed frown settling on his young face. "Quit chasing me! I didn't do it!" He shouted frustrated, the word murderer echoed in his head and in the empty car. Anyone with a right sense of mind wouldn't have ran away if they were innocent, but given that he had been set up, his only option was to run; to run, hide, and somehow prove his innocence. Out of all the people it had to be him who they decided to plant the evidence on.
A curve up ahead was fastly approaching, it was too late to try to slow down. He slammed down on the break and made a hard right, the screech of the rubber on the road only accelerated his already sprinting heart. If he didn't crash he was sure he'd die of a heart attack. First finding his brother dead, then being arrested for the murder, then finding out that it was all a trap, and now being chased by the cops down a road that could barely be called safe at 30 miles per hour, much less 90.
The sudden turn had sent the papers in the passenger seat flying, a security ID slid out of a manilla folder. The smiling young man was dressed in a gray suit with a black tie, the name Ethan Patterson typed below it.
The loud bangs of guns shooting at him, had Ethan trembling with anger and fear. How could they not see he was innocent? He had only been in the country for a week and this was how they recieved him? He drove the car in a zig zag, hoping to avoid getting shot. The glass shattering behind him said that wasn't working. Suddenly a loud pop sent the car flying off the road, rolling and tumbling down a small hill and through various trees. The cruisers came to a stop at the edge of the road, the officer that had hit the wheel, popping it, was the first to scramble down to the burning mess.
He ran to the drivers side of the upside down car, but when he reached it the door laid three feet away. Slowly he approached the opening, his gun out and loaded. He ducked and peered into the car; empty.
"Search the area! Now!" He shouted as he spun in a circle, scanning for any signs of life. Immediately all the officers ran off in different directions hoping to catch the murderer.
All Ethan felt was pain, his arm was bleeding from a bad gash. His head was pounding, someone wanted to get out; luckily his legs weren't in too bad shape, he ran as fast as they would allow him. Trees passed by as he kept running, he didn't know where he was going, or what he would do once he got there, but he just knew he had to get away. It wasn't too soon before he was out of breath; too caught up in his lack of air, his foot caught in raised root and he tumbled down. He landed face first in the dirt, the world was fading in and out. He lifted his eyes and found he was inches away from a giant stone wall. It was covered with growing green branches.
Ethan winced as he stood and looked up at the wall, he was considering whether he should climb it when he heard shouts behind him. He looked behind him and saw no one, but he figured they weren't too far behind; without much other choice, he grabbed a branch and began his way up.
The jump down sent a shooting pain through his right side, he grabbed it and took a look around. He had landed at the edge of a giant garden, large rose bushes stood in front of him, he stepped through a small gap between them and made sure to stay out of sight. Hiding behind bushes, he crouched down when he heard laughter. It was a soft laugh, filled with innocence; curious, he peered around the bush. His eyes landed on a young woman horse back riding. Her hair flew behind her as she raced over bushes, through and around statues; she seemed at one with the animal, galloping along with it. She had the most brilliant smile he had ever seen, her cheeks pink from the wind biting at them. Without realizing it he had started to walk out behind the bush toward her, wanting to see her up close. The sharp pain in his arm reminded him of the situation, a small shack a couple yards away caught his attention. His turned to look back at the girl one last time, and then carefully made his way over.
Katherine let her horse rest, before returning back to the stable. There she fed him, and brushed him before returning back to the house. Being out in the open always calmed her down and made her feel at peace. She walked in and was three steps into the stairs, when Ms. Williams called her.
"You have heard that James returns tonight, have you not?" The cold woman, asked approaching the staircase slowly.
"I have." Katherine answered trying to keep the smile on her face, something about her Mother-in-law always made her feel gloom.
"And how have you prepared for his arrival?" She stopped a couple feet away, both hands resting on top of her cane.
"Pre-prepared?" Katherine asked confused. What exactly was she supposed to prepare?
"Yes, as his wife you have a responsibility to be ready to welcome him back to his home." Ms. Williams looked her up and down frowning in distaste. "You can't possibly be thinking about recieving him like that. The least you could do is fix yourself up."
Katherine looked down at her clothes, completely losing the happiness she had felt thirty seconds ago. "I'm sorry m'am, but when your husband is gone sixty percent of the time, 'preparing' seems pretty pointless. I can't wait to see James, and excuse me if my appearance isn't to your taste but you were the one that chose me." Katherine answered trying to sound polite, but it came out more as a bark.
She turned and hurriedly ran up the steps to her bedroom. Why does that woman insist on degrading me? What have I done to her other than show concern for her? Katherine was blowing steam in her room, her hands balled into fists.
A tall figure slid in, carefully closing the front door behind him. The entire house was dark and quite, even the staff had gone to bed by now. He picked up his suitcase and ascended the stairs, turning to the left at the top.
"Where do you think you're going?" A familiar voice whispered behind him, his shoulders slumped; he slowly turned around to face his mother in her robe. "Your wife's that way." she nodded behind her.
"Yes, but my room is this way." he answered pointing his shoulder behind him.
The old woman approached him, slowly; he didn't need light to see she was glaring at him. "When are you going to man up? You have duties to fill, and I want to see my grandchildren before I die." She growled.
"I told you, I can't. I-I-I just can't." He answered frustrated. "The therapy isn't working." He whispered embarrassed.
"Well then figure it out! Because I won't be dealing with this anymore."
"Dealing with what mother?" James felt anger rise in him. "With your dysfunctional son? Let's not forget that you made me this way, if anybody's at fault here it is you."
"How dare you blame me for your problems? For your pervertedness?" She spat.
"Had you not driven my dad to kill himself maybe we wouldn't be here." James retorted, he didn't have time to register what he had just said before he felt a sharp sting from where she slapped him. He lifted his head and looked her dead in the eye, without another word he picked up his suitcase and quickly descended the stairs.
"Where do you think your going?" The angered woman whispered down the stairs.
"Somewhere to breathe." He answered with a slam of the door.
She slowly made her way down the stairs, by the time she reached the door, she could see his tail lights heading down the long road to the gate entrance.
She closed the door and turned back to the stairs, but a voice stopped her.
"Ms. Williams! We caught an intruder!" A dark gentleman ran up to her from the kitchen.
"What?! Where!?" She asked alarmed.
"In the garden shed!" He answered. "We've restrained him, but he asks to speak to the owner."
"Take me to him." she answered.
"Yes m'am." He nodded, offering her his arm for support.
Together they made their way to the shed, inside 2 men stood next to a slumped over figure on the ground. His shirt was stained with blood and he was covered in dirt. His hands tied behind his back and legs bound together.
"Who are you and what are you doing on my property?" She asked in a stern voice.
Slowly Ethan looked up to squint at the bright light, once his eyes adjusted he saw an older woman in a robe, her hair braided to the side. He was weak and it took him a moment to gather his thoughts. "I'm sorry M'am, the last thing I wanted was to trepass onto your home. But I found myself with no alternative, I mean you no harm. Nor do I wish for anything, except for you to release me, and I'll be on my way."
The old woman smirked, recognizing the young dirty face. "Your in a heap of trouble aren't you? You're all over the news for killing that rich lawyer guy."
"I swear I didn't kill anybody. I've been framed." Ethan stated, struggling to hold his head up.
"I'm sure you have, that's what they all say." She frowned at the dirty man before her. A thought suddenly forming in her mind; her cold, dark mind. "Leave me alone with him." She ordered her workers, they looked at her like she was mad, in truth she could have been; but she repeated her order and they warily filed out. "So you're innocent huh?" she asked looking down at her prisoner.
"I swear to you I am." Ethan answered, filling with hope that she believed him.
"Alright, then I shall let you go." She answered smiling. Ethan lifted his head, filled with hope and strength.
"Thank you Ms., I-" he started saying but stopped when she held up her finger.
"With one condition of course." She added. He tilted his head confused.
"That is?" He asked for her to clarify.
"You do me a favor." She answered. Ethan couldn't be more confused. What could I possibly do for her?
"Anything." he answered after a moment of silence.
"You see," she started explaining pacing in front of him, "I don't have many years left in me, soon I'll be leaving this earth and I would like to ensure the advancement of my family. Unfortunately my idiotic son isn't up to the task, so I ask you to sleep with my son's wife, and ensure me a grandchild."
What? I couldn't have possibly heard right, I hit my head hard. That's what it is, now I'm hearing things. "I'm sorry you want me to what?!" he asked in disbelief.
"You heard me, I need you get my daughter-in-law pregnant." she answered without skipping a beat. Was she not hearing what she was saying? She was nuts!
"Even if it worked out, the chances of getting pregnant after one night are not in your favor, if I slept with her, that'd make the child mine. And not your blood." I pointed out the flaw in her crazy plan.
"True, but she won't know that. You must do this so she doesn't find out it's not my son, and when she has her child thinks it's his. And although unlikely, it does happen." She dismissed it with a wave of her wrinkly hand.
"What kind of an immoral person asks someone to do this? To lie to someone like this?Its-its-its crazy!" he yelled disbelieving.
"Crazy like your story of innocence. You do this, I set you free. You don't and I call the police and tell them exactly who I have tied up in my garden shed." The soulless being answered.
Ethan felt his heart sink, he had jumped into the garden of a soulless creature. Slowly his head moved up and down. She smiled pleased, and ordered her guard to feed him, have him cleaned up, and give him one of James' suits.
He was escorted at gun point to a bedroom, the wife's he pressumed, and then shoved inside. He heard the lock click as they turned the key, he knew a guard would stay at the door to make sure he kept his part.
He slowly turned and tried to adjust to the darkness. A bit of moonlight shone through the thin curtains covering the glass doors, opening up onto the balcony. The room was very tidy, with a few books and notepads strewn here and there. It was simplistic, in the middle of the room was his target. The large bed seemed to swallow the small figure curled up in the middle under the cover. She lay on her side, her face facing the left. He walked toward her, as he was starting to walk to the left to look at her he stopped. I can't look at her face, not after knowing what I'm about to do. He turned and went in the other direction, sitting on the edge of the bed; he hesitated, Maybe prison isn't too bad. He thought to himself. Sighing, he slid closer to the sleeping figure; he laid his head next to hers, and simply listened to her steady breathing pattern.
"God forgive me." He whispered.
He slowly and gently wrapped an arm around her middle, gently he pressed his lips to her bare shoulder. She smelled like hot cocoa on a snowy night, he trailed his lips up to her neck. Slowly she stirred, he moved to her jawline, starting to lean over her. His wounded arm still stung a little, but they had patched him up, so it could support his weight. He gently started to turn her and she finished for him; Once you start there's no going back. He wished there was another way. And with the last bit of dignity he had thrown out the window, he pressed his lips against her soft ones.
He was expecting her to wake up and scream; not for her to respond. She moved her lips in synch with his, wrapping an arm loosely around his neck. She pulled away and smiled, it was the girl from the garden, she was gorgeous up close.
"James?" She whispered, still not opening her eyes. Not knowing what to do he kissed her neck in response, she sighed content.
Katherine smiled at her husband's touch on her skin, he kissed her again and she didn't know what it was, but it sent goosebumps racing down her skin. The kiss turned passionate fast, and it fireballed from there. "James, is this real?" She whispered, hoping he was feeling the intensity she was.
"Mhm." He murmered in her neck.