I glance back at the door over my shoulder and start throwing my things in my bag even faster. I don’t even look at what ends up in there but I know I’m running out of time. After one last look at my duffel bag, I look around my bedroom to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything important.
The pounding on the door grows desperate and I’m afraid the door won’t hold if he keeps going like this. My heart races in my chest and cold sweat trails down my temple. I’m definitely out of time. I notice my hands are shaking when I pick up my bag and throw it over my shoulder. If I don’t get out before Levi comes in, I know exactly what my punishment will be. Only the thought of it makes my stomach clench and makes me feel sick.
“Jaleena, open the door! Your father wants to see you in his office,” says Levi.
Uh-huh, nope. There’s no chance in hell I’m going with my father’s goon. I’ve been in this world long enough to know that my father’s office means pain and torture. I have scars to prove it thank you very much.
I take another deep breath and tiptoe to the window. In all of the bedrooms, the windows are locked, but the lock in the doors are missing. Courtesy of my father. Little does he know that I broke it on this window years ago after months of sabotage and every week I drip a little oil in the cracks so that they open silently in case of an emergency.
“Damnit” I whisper under my breath when I hear the sound of my door breaking and Levi flies into my room. I open the window with more force than necessary, but it’s too late. I’m standing with one leg on the roof under my bedroom window when I feel a death grip holding my leg that’s still inside my room. I drop my head and take a deep breath. It was too good to be true. Of course, I can’t escape my father’s minion. Asshole.
“Now, you’re coming back inside and I’ll take you to your father and maybe we can forget about this little plan of yours. I wonder what daddy-dearest would think when he hears about this,” he says with a sneer.
I stiffen and the dark memories threaten to overwhelm me, but I banish them to the hidden box in the corner of my mind. In my mind, I lock it and toss away the key. These aren’t memories I want to remember, they’re already consuming every minute of my dreams and that’s more than enough. I close my eyes and turn around slowly. In front of me, Levi tightens the grip he has on my leg with one hand, and with the other, he is holding a gun which he is aiming straight at my face. I know I don’t have a choice but to go with him.
I know from experience what it feels like when I don’t do exactly what is expected of me. Levi is one of the worst. Although my father has dozens of security guards who only keep an eye on his office and my bedroom, not all of them are that bad. I even play poker with some of them. That is if I don’t take into account the mess they have to clean up for my father. My father is one of New York’s greatest crime lords and I’m well past the age of getting his protection. I know how to fight, shoot and kill someone in many different ways with only my bare hands. It’s not the life my Mom wanted for me, but she’s been dead for years now. I’m still convinced my Dad had something to do with it, but he never told me. Truthfully; I never asked.
“Ahw don’t worry Levi. I’ll come with you so you can kiss my dad’s ass after he’s done torturing me.” I just never know when to shut up.
I almost regret it when I feel a sharp pain on the right side of my face from Levi backhanding me. Almost. I grin at him. He grabs my elbow and takes big strides across my bedroom toward my father’s office. He knocks softly and after my father's ‘come in’, he opens the door and pushes me inside. I fall to my knees on the hard floor and smile a little. The only times I’ve been to my father’s office was because I once again broke his rules. Rules I didn’t even know existed, but I suspect he made them up on the spot so he could inflict some more pain. So I know I’m in for another torture session.
“Ah, there you are sweetie. I was starting to wonder what took you so long to come and see me.”
What. The. Hell. I lift my head and look at him bewildered. He must’ve choked on some of his own drugs and had a bad trip or something. He's even fucking smiling. After my Mom died I frequently wondered if he ever had some love in him. I still think he faked it all and he never really loved her. Hell, he never even loved me and that should say enough.
I shrug and look at him. “You know how it goes Father. Polishing my nails, freaking out about what clothes to wear tomorrow, boy trouble.” I answer him. His gaze darkens and he smiles tightly before nodding his head to the left corner of the room.
“Jaleena, I want to introduce you to someone. This is Michael, one of my new bodyguards. He’s been working for me for years and I just promoted him. He’s taking you shopping for your birthday today.”
Ah, he didn’t forget after all. Happy fucking birthday to me. But it also gives me a chance to get out of the house and if I ever want to escape this hell hole, I do actually need to get out. I’m eighteen today so legally I can go anywhere I want without my father's permission. I nod briefly to my father, turn around and put a beaming smile on my face.
“Hi, Michael. Nice to meet you, I’m Jaleena. I just need to get my purse so if you can give me a few minutes?” I ask him sweetly.
He nods sharply after they share a look and I turn back to my father.
“Can I go now or did you need me for anything else?” I ask.
There’s a look flashing across his face that I can’t decipher so I put it into the back of my mind to think about it later. Now, it’s time for plotting my escape.