Sterile walls became a mass of blur as I ran to reception, ignoring the memories plaguing my mind. The last time I was in a place similar to this was to say goodbye to Mum and the overwhelming urge to sob just wasn’t an option right now. Isy was in one of these rooms and I needed to keep my wits about me if I was to find her.
“Ciao,” I greeted, manipulating my voice and forcing what I assumed was the world’s worst attempt at an Italian accent.
Hazel eyes met mine in a moment of haste, dragging down the entire length of my body. The receptionist’s nametag read Sarah, a typical British name.
Let’s hope she doesn’t notice my awful accent.
“My erm–sorella,” Thank God Leila has been teaching me certain words. “Sister. My sister. Isabelle Bianchi…”
Sarah seemed to understand exactly what I was trying to say and gave me Isabelle’s room number, believing straight off the back that I was immediate family. I took off in the direction given to me and found myself on the recovery ward in no time. I slowed my pace to a gentle jog and arrived at her door shortly after, wary on my approach.
“I’ve tried talking to her about calling the police. The poor might is shaken up,” said one nurse to another, clearly in reference to Isy.
Even they knew the true extent of her injuries. FUCK! How could we have let this happen? Spencer and I willingly let this plan go ahead, knowing he would be alone with her. Guilt quickly and aggressively consumed me, seeping its poison into my veins. I supressed its need to spread any further and pushed open her door, figuring I could deal with my emotions later on.
Her red-rimmed eyes snapped up at the mention of her name, relieved to see a familiar face.
I had no idea what prompted me to do such a thing but before I knew it, I ran to her with open arms, holding her as she sobbed. Her body shook as she released her emotions, each passing second reminding me of the borrowed time we were on.
“Did he do this to you?” I asked, finally pulling away to inspect the damage.
A cut lip, one black eye and a bruise remarkably similar to that of a hand print wrapped around her throat. The fucker!
“Sì.” She nodded.
I quickly glanced around the hospital room, on high alert as far as Alister was concerned.
“Where is he?” I questioned, mentally weighting up our options.
“He’s at work,” she replied, still closed in on herself.
I sat down on the bed beside her, grabbing her trembling hand. “We need to go to the police, Isy. This ends right now.”
“No, we cannot. I didn’t get the emails.”
“Fuck the emails,” I responded. “He could’ve killed you!” I emphasised, honing in on the mark around her neck.
“But he will take her. He will take our daughter away from us.”
Her tone was frantic by this point. Completely and utterly panicked. Of course, her distress was justifiable. This was her daughter we were discussing here. She wouldn’t go to the police without more evidence against Alister and I respected that.
A spontaneous idea formulated in my mind but I wasn’t sold on it. It was risky by all accounts, yet I knew deep down it was our only choice.
“You said he’s at work?” I pressed, suddenly standing.
A nod confirmed as much.
“Do you know if he had time to take his laptop?”
“No, he left in a hurry,” she confirmed, essentially setting my plan in motion.
“Okay. We’ll go to yours, get the emails and take you to the police station. You can stay with me and Spencer until we find you a new place.”
“No buts, Isy. Spencer cares about you and believe it or not, so do I. Get your things. We don’t have long.”
Quickly and efficiently, she grabbed her belongings and awaited my next instruction, totally dazed.
“I won’t let him take her,” I promised, giving her one last stern look before exiting the compact room.
Outside stood the two nurses from before, surprised to see Isy had a visitor.
“Sorella,” I whispered, so that only she could here.
Thankfully, she was engaged enough to understand what I was getting at.
“This is my sister. She has come to take me to her house for a few days.”
The chattier of the two smiled, seemingly satisfied with this idea. “And you’ll go to the police, yes?”
I enthusiastically nodded but kept my mouth shut, not wanting to offer my stab at an Italian accent.
“You look after her,” she advised, glancing my way.
Again, I said nothing, sticking simply to smiling, all awhile appreciative eyes shone back at me. Isy was clingy and I understood her need to be. Her fiancé had just beat her to a pulp and went into work as if nothing was wrong.
“Thank you,” she expressed, offering them both a shy wave before backing away.
We walked in silence to the exit, taking extra precaution as we went. Constantly on lookout, I refused to let Isy out of my sight and even went as far as holding her hand on our approach to the car.
“Are you okay? Would you like something to eat or drink before we head over there?” I asked, concerned for her current well-being.
The least I could do was get the girl a coffee.
“No, thank you. I am not sure how long he will be. We might be better off going straight there.”
I helped her into the passenger seat and ignored the way my heart sank upon hearing her groan out in discomfort.
“Fuck, Isy. I’m so sorry,” I revealed, crouching down to her level. “We should never have let this happen.”
Her eyes held a promise of tears, though she refused to shed a single one. Long gone was the tame creature I witnessed back in the hospital room. Now that the shock had worn off, she was determined. Empowered. Angry, even?
“You have shown me nothing but kindness, Jessica. Please do not apologise for something he has done to me,” she pleaded, grasping my shoulders. “Let us find those emails and put an end to this.”
I wanted nothing more than to do that.
“Okay,” I reassured, closing the door.
I rounded the car and settled into my seat, not wanting to waste another moment. Isy was right. We didn’t know when Alister would return and I sure as hell didn’t want to be around when he did.
“Does Spencer know?” she asked, barely breaking a whisper.
“I’ve left him a voicemail.”
She said nothing but nodded, letting me know she understood. The rest of the journey was done in silence, bar the odd direction she gave. Forty minutes later saw us reaching our destination, prompting me to stare up at one fine looking establishment.
“This is it,” she announced, glancing towards the building with trepidation.
It was obvious she no longer felt safe here.
“I’ll be right next to you,” I ensured, fixating on her trembling lip and wide eyes.
A moment later, I stepped out of the car and opened the passenger door, offering her the confidence she no doubt lacked in herself. “Why don’t you pack some things while I attempt to get these emails?”
She begrudgingly agreed and let us both inside, using her house key. I was overwhelmed by the building’s interior, mostly consisting of marble flooring, modern lights and to top it all off, an extravagant water feature.
Does a reception area really need a water feature?
“Our apartment is on the second floor,” she explained, heading towards the lift.
I followed her into the spacious box and took note of the way my hands shook as we headed towards the second floor. Classical music played quietly in the background, working in tandem to my raging nerves. The crash of the symbols broke me out of my trance, forcing me to concentrate.
“Where is his study?” I asked, gearing myself up.
I wanted things done as quickly as possible. In and out in a matter of ten minutes.
“I will show you,” she replied. “Then I will pack some clothes.”
I shot her a smile and momentarily checked my phone, hoping to see something from Spencer. Unfortunately, his name failed to present itself but Roger’s did, reminding me that I had promised to keep him updated.
JESSICA: Hey, Isy is fine. With her now at her home. Taking her to mine and Spencer’s house afterwards where she’ll stay for a few days xx
I quickly hit send and threw my phone back in my bag, mentally preparing myself. I needed those emails to save Leila but couldn’t quite shake the feeling of dread regarding what we were about to do. Alister was a dangerous man, that much we knew. Perhaps even mentally unstable? He clearly still mourned for his sister if he was willing to stoop this low. For a moment back then, I almost felt sorry for the man. Until I remembered everything he had done. The lying, the deceiving. The beating. No way was this justified. He was evil and needed stopping.
“Follow me,” whispered Isy, just as nervous as I was, if not more. “We must be quick.”
I did as instructed and followed her through the front door, ignoring the very luxurious furniture that made up her home. I longed to study the glass chandeliers and expensive woodwork, but figured it wasn’t the right time. We had more pressing matters to tend to. Like getting the fuck out of here.
“His laptop should be on his desk,” she continued, carefully cracking open a door at the end of the hallway.
The way in which she hesitated gave the moment more tension, though thankfully we were met with silence, meaning we were alone.
“I’ll handle this. Why don’t you start packing?” I suggested, already feeling claustrophobic in this apartment.
The very idea of what he’d done to her in this place was making me feel sick. Physically sick.
“Okay. You will need this.” She retrieved what looked to be a sticky note from her handbag and handed it to me.
“The login details,” I uttered, grateful for such a thing.
I had forgotten about those.
“Good luck,” she stressed, quickly slipping away and leaving me to my own devices.
I quickly crossed the threshold, noticing straight away the smell of leather as I entered. It made me think of Red but I soon put an end to those thoughts, not wanting to tarnish such a place by associating it with him.
Get the emails and get out, Jessica!
I repeated that mantra in my head over and over again, all awhile logging onto his email account. I almost couldn’t believe how easy it was. Within mere minutes, I located the conversation between Alister and Malcolm, uncovering exactly what they were planning. It seemed Alister was paying him double what Spencer was and all he had to do was get Spencer’s signature on those adoption papers.
“The fucker,” I mumbled, emailing myself a copy before deleting it from Alister’s sent box.
I thought about printing a copy off but got suddenly distracted by the sound of the front door opening and closing.
“Isabelle? Are you home, darling?”
“Isabelle?” continued Alister, clearly in search of his fiancée.
Heavy footsteps closed in on me and in a moment of panic, I ducked behind his desk, hiding myself from prying eyes.
Isy seemingly met him out in the hallway, stopping him in the midst of his search.
“Let me look at you, babe,” he soothed, almost sounding concerned.
I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. What a fucking hypocrite.
“Why have you got a suitcase?” he asked, dropping his tone from light to suddenly angered.
“I-I am leaving, Alister,” she replied, stern in her acknowledgement.
It appeared her earlier show of anger had returned, making me smile. I remained hidden and hoped for the love of god Alister would take the hint and bugger off. Not that I thought he’d ever do such a thing. The man was controlling. He wouldn’t let Isy go without a fight.
“No, you’re not,” he sneered.
I heard a commotion in the form of what sounded like him taking her suitcase and jumped at the sound of an almighty slap.
I sprang from my position so fast, I barely had time to comprehend what was happening before I swung open the door and put my command between Alister and his next move.
“Hit her again and see what happens.”