34. "I had to," he confessed
Pain woke me from the depths of my nightmare.
Despite being awake, my vision was dark. I was confused at first but then I felt something on my cheek. I soon realised that I was blinded folded. That little bit of info let me remember exactly why I was blind folded.
Muerte kidnapped me.
I couldn’t dwell on the thought too long as another shot of pain travelled up my arm, releasing my inhibitions and causing a loud cry to escape my lips. I was shocked into stillness at the deep, raspy voice that appeared out of nowhere.
The whispered voice was above me. It came so suddenly I was surprised I didn’t scream in fear. I probably would have but pain overrode the emotion of complete terror. Despite not seeing who it was, I knew the voice belonged to Muerte. It was very distinct. So much so it was unforgettable. I didn’t speak.
“If you moved any further, you would’ve dislocated your shoulder,” Muerte said, slowly extending my left arm in a way that my shoulder was fine and in it’s correct position. I let out a relieved breath but my arm was tender for being in an awkward position for too long. “I’m gonna take your blindfolds off, okay?”
I nodded and felt his fingers graze my temple. Seconds later, the heavy sensation of the blindfold faded and I blinked my eyes open. At first, my vision was blurry but after a couple of more blinks, it became clearer. And in my line of sight was Muerte.
He sat at the end of the bed, eyes on me with an unreadable expression. I took a moment to scan my surroundings. It was nightfall and from the interior, it appeared that we were in an abandoned hospital room.
“Why did you take me?” I asked, shifting until I was sitting upright. “What are you gonna do to me?”
“Nothing’s gonna happen. No matter what it looks like, I never wanted to hurt you, Vanessa.”
“Then why am I here?” I asked, watching him with wary eyes. “…Don…”
“You’re just bait to get him to calm down,” Muerte said, holding up his hands to calm me. Like this was some sort of joke or something. “Don’s a smart kid. He’s put two and two together and got me as his answer.”
“You killed his father,”
“I’m his father,”
“You know what I mean,”
The silence stretched between us. Muerte shifted and his eyes evaded mine. Leaning forward, his elbows rested on his knees and his brows were furrowed in a deep frown. I didn’t know what else to say other than watch him. Drawing my knees to my chest, I wrapped my arms around my legs, listening to the silence, to his unspoken thoughts.
“Even though he had Mateo, I considered him mine,” Muerte said, his deep voice breaking through the still air. “He was my boy but Crystal…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “She didn’t want me.”
She never wanted you to begin with, I wanted to say. Considering my position in this fucked up situation, I decided to keep quiet. Yeah, he said he wasn’t gonna hurt me but I didn’t trust him. Most of all, I didn’t trust the men he worked with to get in this situation.
“Why?” I asked, darting my gaze around the desolate room before returning my eyes to his. “Why do this? Why would you work alongside The Serpents?”
“That’s nothing you need to know,” he said, tone sharp enough to close the conversation. I wasn’t gonna back down easily; if Muerte was honest about his intentions with me, then I have nothing to fear, right?
“They killed Marcus, your son,” I whispered, ignoring the tightening in my throat. Tears burned the corners of my eyes but I kept them at bay.
His scowl was frightening. His eyes were black under the midnight lightening, like dark vortex that let to nothing but an abyss. I held my ground, didn’t convey any other emotion but the expectation of an answer.
“The man responsible is dead,” he said in a deadly tone. “I killed him with my own hands.”
The chill in his tone sliced my skin. I drew back, hugging my knees to my chest, my wrist still bound together with the handcuffs.
“You killed Mateo, didn’t you?” I whispered. His head snapped my way so fast I was surprised that Muerte didn’t experience any pain.
“I had to,” he confessed.
“Did you kill my parents?” I whispered. The muscle in his jaw tightened and, reluctantly, he looked at me.
“No, it wasn’t me,”
It wasn’t him. So… so that meant—“It wasn’t an accident. They were murdered.”
His eyes widened as he realised his mistake. Checkmate. Releasing a steady breath, he nodded. My hands tightened into fists, and my breathing became laboured with frustration.
“Why? What did they do?”
“Your father knew too much,” he whispered almost to himself, almost as if he was voicing his thoughts. He was complicit in it all. Even though he didn’t pull the trigger, he didn’t try to stop them. I didn’t need his words to confirm that truth.
“Was it the Serpents? One of them, huh?”
Instead of responding, Muerte shot to his feet. I flinched, drawing my knees closer to my chest, thinking I’d pushed him too far. Surprisingly, he said. “You must be hungry. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll get you something to eat.”
Muerte rushed across the room and slammed the door shut, stunning me into silence.