I pulled up to the darkened building at a little after nine o’clock. There was no one around, but I pulled around the back anyway, to protect Andrew if nothing else. It was his car, after all. I got out and slowly walked toward the back loading door. My fury had grown to the point that I knew I would not be in control of anything I did once I saw the bastard who had hurt my Angel. Just before I reached it, the door slid upward enough for me to walk under it, and then it closed. It was pitch dark in the loading dock, but I could see a light coming from a room at the back, and I made my way toward it. I was about ten feet from it when the door opened and a large man stepped out. I stopped walking.
I just nodded, my teeth clenched so tightly that I wasn’t sure I could open my mouth.
“Yeah, Andrew said you were a big guy. I’m Antoine.” He looked me up and down. “If I’m gonna be an accessory to murder, I’d like to know what the fucker did.”
“He raped my girl and put her in a coma.”
“Raped?” Antoine snorted. “Andrew said to hold him naked, and he don’t have the equipment for rape no more.”
“He used a baseball bat.”
The grin that had started to form on Antoine’s face evaporated in an instant. “Fuck! No wonder you wanna kill him. How you gonna do it?”
“Slowly and very, very painfully,” I said as I stepped past him into the room. When I saw Palardy still hogtied and gagged on the floor but naked now, a red haze covered my vision, and I took two steps toward him and kicked him as hard as I could in the ribs. He screamed through his gag, and I did it again. Another scream was ripped from him, and I grabbed him by the hair and yanked him up to his knees.
“Cut his legs free, Antoine. We have a trip to make.”
“Sure thing, Brenden.” The big man whipped out a switchblade and quickly cut the rope holding Palardy’s legs together. His wrists were still tied, so he couldn’t fight back, but he tried to kick me. He had been tied for so long that his muscles didn’t want to obey his brain, and if my fist hadn’t been tangled in his long hair, he would have fallen to the floor.
“Not nice, you fucking bastard,” I said as I dragged him out of the room. “Open the door, Antoine.”
Without a word, the man did as I said, and I pulled Palardy out into the dark night. We were on the side of the road that fronted the Hackensack River, and I walked quickly toward the water while he stumbled after me. I grabbed a piece of rebar from the ground and a thick, two-foot long metal pipe from a pile as I passed it. When we reached the water’s edge, I threw Palardy to the ground. He tried to get up, but I swung the pipe, catching him directly on his left kneecap, and he screamed again as his leg buckled underneath him.
“You thought the beating you got from me before was bad, you fuck? That was nothing! At least you lived! I didn’t do anything you didn’t deserve, and you put my Angel in a fucking coma! She won’t wake up!” I kicked him again, and he tried to squirm away from me, but I dropped the pipe, grabbed his hair, shoved his face into the water, and held him there until he started to flail. Then I pulled him up, let him take a deep breath, and held him under again. I repeated this a few times and then threw him to the ground again before picking up the pipe and slamming it down on his other knee. He was coughing and screaming through his gag as water streamed from his nose, and I swung the pipe again. This time it connected with his ribs, and he collapsed at my feet. “You fucked her up, you shit, and I’m going to kill you for it! But first, I’m going to let you know exactly how she felt as you raped her with that bat!” With that, I took the rebar and shoved it up his ass as forcefully as I could. His scream turned into a gurgle as blood bubbled up out of his nose, and I thought he was going to pass out from lack of air, so I took the gag from his mouth. He tried to scream, but I took the pipe and slammed it across his jaw, breaking it instantly and offsetting it by at least three inches.
For the next half hour, I beat the shit out of him, raped him with the pipe and the rebar numerous times, and listened to him try to scream through the blood that was starting to choke him. Finally, when he lay on the ground and didn’t move, his eyes closed and his breathing shallow, I took the pipe one last time and smashed it into his skull. He shuddered once and lay still.
“You done?” Antoine’s voice came from behind me.
I dropped the pipe. It hit a rock, clattered once, and then lay as still as the dead man at my feet. “I’m done.”
“Leave him,” Antoine said, stepping up next to me and looking down at the body. “Won’t be the first body I’ve gotten rid of. Won’t be the last, neither. You can clean up at the warehouse. There’s a shower next to the room I was holding him in.”
I stared at Andrew’s friend for a moment. “How do I know I can trust you?”
He snorted again. “You killed him on my property. Trust me when I say he won’t be traced back to me, and you’re Andrew’s friend. He asks me for a favor, I do it. It’s as simple as that.”
I decided I had to trust Antoine since I didn’t know the first thing about disposing of a dead body. “What are you going to do with him?”
“Don’t you worry about that. Just know that this bastard will be one more missing person who will never be found.” I turned to walk back to the warehouse, but he said, “Hey, man.”
“I hope your girl makes it. I really do.”
After cleaning up at the warehouse, I drove back to the hospital. When I parked the car in the garage, I texted Andrew and let him know it was there. He immediately texted back and said he’d come by later to pick it up. I hadn’t heard from the hospital, and I knew that wasn’t good. It meant my Angel had not woken up yet.
The nurse at the front desk told me that Angel was in the ICU and that I couldn’t see her until the next day’s visiting hours, but I ignored her and walked to the elevator. She frowned at me but let me go. I rode up to the ICU and told the first nurse I saw who I was and who I was there to see. Her face instantly showed sympathy, and she took me to my girl.
“Poor thing,” the nurse said as she moved a chair next to the bed. I didn’t know if she meant Angel or me.
I sat down and took my Angel’s hand. “Can she hear me?” I asked. “Can she feel me holding her hand?”
“I like to think so,” the nurse said, “but we don’t know for sure what people are aware of when they are in comas. Talk to her, though. It can’t hurt.”
I nodded, and she left me with the woman I loved with everything in me. Fuck, I wanted to tell her! I wanted her to know that if she died, I would, too. I wanted to hear that she loved me, too. I wanted her to open her eyes and smile at me. I wanted to kiss her and tell her how sorry I was for not keeping her safe. I wanted to tell her I had killed the bastard who had hurt her. I wanted all those things, but I just held her hand in both of mine and pressed it to my forehead. All my rage and anger from before was gone, vanished as if it had never been, and all that filled me now was the most intense grief I had ever known.
“Please, Angel, please don’t die. Please come back to me, baby. Please,” I begged her. Had I thought it would help, I would have dropped to my knees and kissed her feet. “Please, baby, don’t leave me. I love you, my beautiful Angel. Please wake up. Please.” I started to cry as I dropped my head onto her bed. I still held onto her as I sobbed into the mattress.
I hadn’t moved when the nurse from before came up to me and asked for Andrew’s keys. My sobs had stopped by then, and I just said they were in my pocket. I didn’t want to let go of my Angel. She took them and disappeared.
I suppose I must have dozed at some point during the night, but the vast majority of the time before the sun rose was spent by me begging my Angel to open her eyes. She didn’t. Not that night. Not the next day and not the next and not the next. For four days, I barely ate, rarely slept, and only left that chair to piss. Andrew showed up a few times and tried to tell me to stay strong, but I was lost. My pain and anguish were suffocating me, and I couldn’t find my way out of their oppressive grasp.
I fell asleep very late the fourth night; it was past midnight, I knew. I had been trying to stay awake so that when my Angel opened her eyes, I would be the first thing she saw, and her amber eyes would be the first thing I saw. I was exhausted, though, both mentally and physically, and I practically passed out with my head on her bed. I dreamed she was begging me to let her serve me, and in my dream, she told me she loved me and was mine forever. I felt her hands caress my head and neck as I kissed her and declared my undying love for her. I heard her voice as she called me Master and watched her as she knelt at my feet and leaned against me, content and safe and happy. It was a good dream until it wasn’t.
Slowly, the white light that had surrounded us faded to pitch black, and my Angel screamed. She clawed at my leg in an effort to stay with me, but something was pulling her away from me. “No, Master, please!” she screamed in my dream. “It hurts, Master! Make him stop, please, Master!” I tried to pull her back to myself, but whatever had grabbed her was too strong. Even for me. When she was finally pulled from my grasp into the darkness, her screams unintelligible noise now, I jerked awake.
“Fuck!” I rubbed my eyes, the dream fading rapidly. After a few moments, I couldn’t even remember any details, but I remembered my Angel’s screams. It seemed as if I could still hear them, actually. It took less than half a second at that point to realize that I was still hearing them. My head snapped toward her, and I saw her flailing her arms and screaming at the top of her lungs, her eyes shut tight. “Holy shit, baby! You’re awake!”
She didn’t seem to hear me, and I gently took her arms and held her down.
“No!” she shrieked. “Let me go! Let me go!”
“Angel, baby, open your eyes,” I said softly, but she didn’t react in any way. Instantly, I knew what she would respond to. “Angelina, look at me!” I used my ‘Master’ voice this time, and her eyes snapped open and locked on mine. She still fought my grip, though, and I commanded, “Stop struggling, Angelina! You’ll hurt yourself!”
“Yes, Master,” she whispered and lay still. She glanced around the room and then back at me. “What happened, Master? Where am I?”
“You’re in the hospital, Angel. Don’t you remember?”
“No, Master.” I slowly released her arms, and she tried to sit up, but then she groaned and stayed where she was. “Why do I hurt so much, Master?” Her eyes filled with tears as she gazed at me with blame in her eyes. “You promised you wouldn’t hurt me. Why did you hurt me?”
Her accusation cut me to the core. “Oh, my Angel,” I said, cupping her bruised cheek, “it wasn’t me. You really don’t remember what happened to you?”
She shook her head and started to cry. “Why don’t I remember, Master? What happened to me? Why am I here?”
I didn’t know what to say. If she really didn’t remember, did I want her to? Did I want her to remember the horror and pain and fear she had felt? I decided that if she was to know, I would let the doctor tell her, and I reached across the bed to push the call button for the nurse. “Remember, my Angel, we’re not alone. You remember what that means, right?”
“Yes, Master,” she whispered and then fell silent as the nurse hurried into the room.
“She’s awake! I’ll get the doctor!”
She ran out of the room, and I just stared at my love. Angel reached out for me, and I gently held her hand.
“Why did she say that, Master?”
“No ‘Masters’ or ‘Sirs’, Angel. Not here. At least not when anyone else can hear.”
“What should I call you then, Master?”
“Nothing. I know what you’re thinking. I know what you mean even when you don’t say it. And she said it because you’ve been in a coma for four days.”
She frowned at that. “Why? What happened to me?” Her voice got louder, and I frowned back at her.
“Watch your tone with me, Angelina.” I kept my voice low, but she instantly shut her mouth and nodded. At that moment, a doctor came into the room. He had been in a few times before, and although I didn’t remember his name, I recognized him.
“Miss Wykes!” he exclaimed. “So good to see you awake! How are you feeling?”
She glanced at me, and I said, “She doesn’t remember anything, Doctor.”
He frowned. “What do mean by anything?”
“She doesn’t remember anything about the attack,” I clarified.
“She remembers you, though, right?”
His frown turned into a smile. “Good! It isn’t unusual to have amnesia after trauma like hers.”
“Will she ever remember?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. It might a good thing if she doesn’t.”
“Remember what?” Her tone was harsh again, and I glanced at her. She instantly dropped her eyes.
“I’ll let Mr. Borget tell you if he wants to. I think you should just concentrate on getting better.” He moved to the bed and started examining her. I stepped back, and her eyes followed me. After several minutes, he stood up straight and spoke to her. “Well, everything seems to be healing nicely. We’ll keep you here for another day or two to make sure there are no problems, but you should be able to go home soon.” Then he spoke to me. “If the pain increases or she seems to be losing consciousness again, call the nurse immediately.”
I just nodded, and he and the nurse left. I sat back down in the chair and rested my elbows on the bed. I watched Angel closely, but she wouldn’t look at me. Five minutes of silence passed, and then I said, “Talk to me, Angel. What are you thinking?”
A tear made its way down her cheek, and I reached out to wipe it away. “I’m sorry, Master,” she whispered, her voice catching on a sob at the end. “I deserve to be punished for how I spoke to you and for being late again. Please punish me, Master.”
She did, but that wasn’t going to happen. Not here and definitely not now. “Later, Angelina. When you’re feeling better.” I took her chin in my fingers and raised her eyes to mine. “Do you really want to know what happened? It might be better if you don’t know.”
Her bottom lip trembled, and I brushed my thumb over it. “Was it that bad, Master?” she asked quietly.
I just nodded, and she tried to hang her head, but I held her firmly. “Tell me, Angel. Do you want to know? I’ll tell you if you do.”
She hesitated only a fraction of a second, and then she nodded. “Yes, please, Master. Please tell me.”
So I did. I told her what Palardy had done to her, I told her about her injuries and that she’d almost died, and I told her that I was now a murderer, that I had killed the fucker who put her in that hospital bed. What I didn’t tell her, what I couldn’t say in that setting was that I had fallen in love with her. I did watch her closely, however, to see how she took the news of what he’d done to her and what I’d done to him.
“He’s dead, Master?”
“You killed him, Master?”
She again tried to drop her head, and this time I let her. “How, Master?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
She frowned and glanced up at me through her lashes. “And now I can’t ever have children, Master?”
“No, my Angel, you can’t. Does that bother you?”
She gave me a barely noticeable nod, and I frowned. “A lot?” She just shrugged, and I took her shoulders in my hands gently. “Look at me, Angel.” She didn’t want to, I could easily tell that, for her eyes came up to mine very slowly. When they first connected with mine, they were dry, but as I continued to stare into their depths, they rapidly filled with tears, and then they spilled over and ran down her cheeks, and she began to sob. I moved so I was sitting on her bed, and I held her tenderly to myself. “It’ll be okay, my Angel,” I said softly as I rubbed her arm.
“No, it won’t, Master.”
I stopped my hand and froze. “What do you mean by that?”
She shook her head against my chest. “I just thought—no, it was a stupid thought, Master.”
I started rubbing her arm again. “Nothing you think is stupid, Angel. Tell me.”
“I…I don’t want to, Master.”
“Because, Master, I’m afraid you’ll be angry with me.”
“And if I promise not to be? Will you tell me then?”
“I don’t think you can promise that, Master. Not when you don’t know what it is.”
“Yes I can, Angel. I promise I will not get angry at you. Tell me what you thought.” I said that last more forcefully than I had intended, and she flinched.
“Yes, Master.” She took a deep breath. “I thought that maybe you would…that we might…” She trailed off helplessly, and I closed my eyes in frustration.
“You wanted to have my baby.” That wasn’t even remotely a question, but she nodded against me anyway and burst into tears again as her arms came around me tightly. I held her close and rested my head on hers. “Shh, my Angel,” I whispered into her hair. I leaned back against her bed and just held her as she cried. My shirt, which hadn’t been changed in four days, was quickly soaked with her tears, but I didn’t move. Finally, she seemed to have cried herself to sleep, and I relaxed a little. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. It was now three o’clock in the morning, but I composed a text to Andrew anyway.
Angel is awake, but she doesn’t remember the attack. She remembers me, though, and the doctor said she may never remember what that fuck did to her. That’s a good thing, I think. I have a favor to ask you. Could you bring Heidi to see her? I think it might help.I don’t know why I asked for Heidi, but I thought maybe another female would help my Angel in her grief. I put my phone back in my pocket knowing that it would be at least a few hours before I got a response from him. Then I settled back as comfortably as I could without releasing Angel and dropped into an uneasy sleep.