Where’s The Pendant?
Awakening on that first day the light through the window hurt my eyes, and my head felt as if a dozen jack hammers were tearing my brain cells apart. Not to mention the roiling of my stomach. Where was the damn bucket? Joe chose that moment to appear in the doorway, even worse, he was calling me wife! I stared in wide-eyed surprise at him as he stood there, wedding certificate in one hand and two photos of our wedding in the other. He brusquely threw them all on the bed.
“That’s impossible.” I had to hold my head from the pounding pain. “Where’s your mother? I need to speak to her.”
“My mother?” he looked to be thinking about it before answering. “My mother has gone to stay with her sister. She won’t be back.”
“Sister?” another relative never mentioned. This has to be a hallucination or a terrible dream, there was no way on earth I would have married the roach. I felt sick again.
He began bellowing at me. “What is yours is now mine. We are married and the union consummated.”
“I don’t remember marrying you. I couldn’t have- “
“Oh, but you did my sweet.” He leaned closer. “It was your idea” he sneered.
When he leaned towards me the rancid stench of him could have knocked me out for another seven days. “Your insane if you think I could or would marry you.” I sunk down into the bed trying to sooth the pain in my head. I wanted to go to sleep again. This was turning into the worst nightmare of my life.
“You know.” He said “I would hate anything to happen to Duffy’s store, or for that matter Duffy himself. It would be terrible if he met with a…let’s say an unfortunate accident.”
I knew the latter was impossible. Still Duffy’s was my store, my only reason for living in Castle Cary. The only thing I held dear. Joe left the room slamming the door behind him. All I could think of was that I was trapped in the Twilight Zone. For the moment, my head took precedence over everything else and hopefully if I slept I would wake to normality.
When I awoke again it was by the light filtering through the window late in the afternoon. My headache had dissipated to a light throbbing. I still felt groggy, as if I had spent the night drinking, I should be so lucky, at least it would be a saner reason. Married to Joe! If it was true I was Mrs Roach, oh God I need the bucket!
I tried to think what my last thought was. I remembered arriving in London, booking into the hotel, buying leather, everything after that was just a haze. My brain was lost in quicksand. How the hell did I get from there to here?
I sat up too quickly and my head spun, I laid down for a moment until the dizziness eased. Sitting back up a lot more slowly, my only thought was to pack my bags and get out. What about Duffy’s? I couldn’t just walk away from it, I could sleep there, but then the words edged into my mind of Joe threatening to burn it down. What the hell was I going to do? I had to find Mrs L. I had no idea where to look. I would have to wait until Joe went to work so I could go through her drawers to see if there was an address for her sister, not much of a plan but it was the best I could do at the present.
I suddenly remembered Joe saying the marriage had been consummated. I dropped my hand to my nether regions. No, I didn’t think it had been surely, I would feel different, sore maybe, something. That thought alone was responsible for the next ten minutes of throwing up, and not in a bucket. Damn the clean-up was going to be a bitch. I was in my nightdress, so who changed my clothes? I could only hope Mrs L had done it before she departed for her sisters, I don’t think I could handle the alternative. I felt queasy enough.
My stomach rumbled. When was the last time I ate? Surely, I couldn’t have been lying in my bed for the seven days. I would have starved by then I felt weak but not so much that I felt I had gone seven days without food. I slowly got out of bed and stood on my feet.
I dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen, I needed food before the grumblings of my stomach alerted the neighbours. Joe was leaning against the counter with a coffee in hand, and as soon as he saw me his face turned to a smirk. He took a step forward, I took a step back getting into my defensive stance.
‘Don’t worry my sweet I have no intention of…forcing myself upon you. You are not exactly attractive, I would go so far as to say you are quite ugly, really.’
“Well your no Adonas, have you looked in the mirror lately? Anyway why did you marry me if you think I’m so ugly?” I grabbed the door jamb still feeling a little woozy.
“As I said what is yours is now mine. I want your mother’s pendant. So be a dear and go get it for me.” He said putting his cup down on the counter.
I caught my breath, this was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth. No one knew about my mother’s pendant but me. I had told no one about it, so how Joe knew was a mystery. “I don’t know what you are talking about. My mother had no pendant.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. My mother gave me the pendant on my thirteenth birthday so it belonged to me and not my mother.
A sneer edged the corners of his mouth. “I see so you are going to play games with me then. I know you have it and soon I shall have it.” Yeah, in your dreams buddy!
Joe was dressed in uniform so when he left the house then, I knew he was going to work. At least I would get some peace and quiet. Time to think of what to do. I sat down on the kitchen chair feeling as alone as I have ever felt. Mother was gone, Duffy and now Mrs L.
He might want the pendant but he was not having it, it was securely hidden away. I just hoped that it would stay that way. I wasn’t afraid of Joe, I could handle myself in a fight, I just didn’t know how I was going to handle this so-called marriage. I hated him with every fibre of my body.
For the next few weeks I barely saw Joe. I had turned Mrs L’s room upside down looking for anything that might tell me where she was or where her sister lived, there was nothing. I even ventured up into the attic, still nothing. Joe never approached me when he was home, and if he spoke it was to find fault with me or call me names. That I could handle, I just ignored him like I would a moth. There were times he would shout, and I returned the same.
Mostly the shouting was caused by my question about why I had no memory of getting married, and what happened to make me so ill. Joe’s excuse was that while we were at dinner at the restaurant I got sick, and when he took me back to my hotel I fell going up the stairs causing a bump to my head. It sounded idiotic how did one bump their head going up stairs?
He smiled when he added that I had also suffered an injury to my back, supposedly I had landed on a half-hammered nail affixed to the carpet runner. The nail had left a small round wound between my shoulder blades. Until then I didn’t even know I had anything wrong with my back. Next stop bathroom to see for myself. Although I could barely see it, it was there, a small round scar.
His threats to burn my store down continued. I had no doubt that he could and possibly would burn it down. He didn’t ask for the pendant again, which I found weird as he had given me the impression the only reason he had married me was because of it. Nothing added up.
One thought hampered me. Why had I become so ill at the restaurant in the first place? Thoughts crossed my mind as to whether I had been drugged. Was his mother part of some scheme to see me married to him? Is that why she had not returned? Why in God’s name would I have married him in the first place? He kept rattling on how it was my idea, perhaps I was insane, or had a moment of insanity, did that happen to people, a seven-day insane bunk?
Joe had no clue that I owned Duffy’s Antique emporium, and I let him think that Duffy was still in charge but overseas on a buying trip. I wasn’t sure how long I could pull it off for, but he didn’t ask questions and I didn’t volunteer any.
Duffy had owned the emporium and had been a close friend of my mother’s since before my birth. He was in part more of a father to me, he’d always been around. When he died, he left me the emporium in his will. I missed Duffy, the talks we had, his humour and wit. To lose him only a few years after my mother took its toll. When my mother died it was his shoulder I cried on, and the one I turned to for consolation. When Duffy passed, I couldn’t say why I decided not to reveal his passing with anyone.
There were many times over the years I felt the heartbreaking absence of family. I had friends from school I occasionally went to dinner or movies with, along with faithful customers and suppliers at my store. I missed my mother most of all. She was a beautiful woman, bright blue eyes and honey blonde hair. I had black hair and brown eyes, so I didn’t get my colouring from her, I must have gotten them from my father, a man I had never met.
Mama was funny and gentle, she always made me feel like I could do anything. She read to me every night, one book or another, even up until the dreadful accident, I honestly couldn’t remember a night she didn’t. She was also a hugger, one of the things I missed most about her. Mrs L was not.
Although I had not met up with friends since London. Two of them Caroline and Joanne sent me messages saying they were moving. They left no forwarding address, which I found very odd. I had a sinking feeling Joe had something to do with it. My world felt like it was shrinking around me.
Most meals I spent alone or I stayed at the store working out. There were some things that had become hateful tasks such as Joe’s washing. I added an overabundance of rose, carnation and lemon oils to his washing, preferring to burn his clothes. His rancid scent carried into his clothing, through the house, just everywhere. The oils helped but only slightly. Pegging my nose when doing his washing was the only way to get it done. Why was I doing his washing? Because he would leave them all over the house until I did, dirty wart hog.
I began making plans to move my store to another location. I took time out of my day to check any area as far away from Castle Cary as I could find. I even checked any promising sites in Scotland. Storing away cash payments so I would have money to spend for removals was the only way I was going to be able to get away.
If I was going to make the break everything had to be done in secret, with the hope that I could locate a place he would not find me. I would no doubt have to change the name of my store and possibly my name as well. This was not going to be an easy task with him being a police officer.
Over the next few months my store had three break-ins. The only thing stolen was the cash money I had saved, which was in the safe, and three times I had the locks on it changed. An expensive venture. I knew it was Joe, each time a robbery occurred he was off on one of his so called secret police duties, that had him missing for days sometimes weeks.
I decided to hire someone to help me in the store as business had picked up from my online sales. I hired a woman named Ula, she had been the only one to answer my newspaper advertisement. Ula and I hit it off from the start and she learned very fast how to run the online auction site, inventory the stock, and sort out my invoicing and banking. She was a down right bloody blessing. During break times, we sipped tea in the back room. I listened as she told me about her farm and of her husband Sloane, whom I got to meet on her third week of working in the store.
Ula fifteen years older than I, and was just a little shorter than my five feet seven. She had a stunning head of cropped white hair that stood to attention, giving her the wild, I’ll scratch your eyes out look. Over the next few months Ula and I became good friends, no we became best friends and she was a hugger.
I was unsure of why I felt such a strong connection to her, perhaps it was something about Ula that reminded me of my mother, though I have never told her such. Ula was a strong outspoken woman who never held back, and a humour to match my own.
I admired her knowledge and expertise with herbs and their uses. Ula had herb fusions to sate the worst of headaches, aches and scratches for a stream of local customers who came to the emporium. A walking herbal encyclopedia. One thing that did seem strange was the occasional suggestion that maybe I should come stay with them for a weekend, week or month. Ula made the comment every few weeks whether in jest or whispered.
Ula’s husband Sloane a broad six foot six Scot had flaming red hair streaked with silver, and a beard to match. I had never met anyone so tall or who loved his wife with such devotion and adulation. He often called in to bring Ula’s lunch or pick her up after work, staying for several hours, while the three of us chatted away. A far cry from being at home with a stinky swamp rat.
Ula and Sloane had a farm just outside of town. I had so wanted to visit but something in the pit of my stomach urged me to keep our friendship a secret. I had even recited her phone number to memory just in case Joe checked my phone. I had no reservations the bastard did so on a regular basis, I could always smell where he’d been, which was just about everywhere in the house. I learned fast that if Joe thought I was friendly with someone he paid them a visit, and either they would leave town or refuse to speak to me again. The situation was becoming intolerable.