SECOND CHANCES

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Aaliyah’s eyes fixated on the spot and her lips quivered with raw fear, as a dozen possibilities ran through her perplexed mind.

“Nathan,” she breathed and Lucas panicked at once, throwing himself through the door.

“Your psycho ex-husband?” Lucas asked oblivious of what she had sensed until a peal of sickly dry throat laughter burst from a corner of the room.

“More like husband,” the laughter faded and introduced a vicious snarl.

Lucas spun around at once, finding the source of the noise from the room and encountering a most angry demeanor on the man’s face.

“You know for someone who should know better, you throw yourself into assumptions too much,” Nathan said dryly.

“Shut up, man. Not one more word from you,” Lucas yelled at him in annoyance.

“Oh. I would have thought you’d want to know what happened to her… What’s her name?” Nathan said and feigned forgetfulness, tapping his forehead for remembrance.

“What? Who?” Lucas cried, stealing a glance back at Aaliyah to make sure she was alright.

“Uh, Samantha.” Nathan replied and grinned with wicked satisfaction.

“What? Samantha was you?” Lucas blurted once and then it hit him, “Samantha was you!”

Nathan effected a nod at once like one who took pride in their sinister work.

“You crazy motherfucker!” Lucas yelled and lunged at him with all of the violence he could muster.

Nathan laughed at how well the bait worked, counting three seconds before Lucas was within range. Blinded by rage, Lucas threw a hand and his entire body followed the brute force behind his fist. He didn’t see it coming. Neither did Aaliyah. Only Nathan did; a quick swing of the butt of the gun which he had concealed cleanly connected with the back of his skull. Lucas fell to the floor in a heap.

Aaliyah let out a mechanical shriek when she saw Lucas fall to the ground as he did.

“Lucas!” She screamed helplessly and shook him to resuscitate him.

Just then, Nathan grabbed her by the nape of her neck and hauled her upright. “Get up.” He bit out. With his free hand, he motioned to one of the empty chairs at the kitchen table with his pistol. “Sit.”

Trembling from head to toe, Aaliyah obediently lowered herself into the wooden chair, wondering how the hell she was going to get out of this situation, or if she would even make it out alive.

Nathan holstered his pistol and took a seat across from her before pouring himself a cup of coffee. “Black, just like my soul.”

“How did you find me?” She asked, unable to keep the tremble in her voice from seeping through. She had a feeling she knew, but she wanted to hear it from him.

He chuckled, the sound making the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. Her senses were screaming at her that she needed to get away from this man quickly.

“A very helpful woman named Deborah,” he answered. “She was kind enough to divulge your location. Evidently she has it out for you, Angel.”

I knew it. That crazy bitch!

“What she failed to mention was that you’re pregnant,” Nathan’s eyes narrowed into angry slits at the sight of her swollen belly. “and with another man’s child that is.”

She shrank against her seat and wrapped her arms protectively around her distended stomach.

“That should be my baby you’re carrying, not his.” he growled in disgust, pointing an accusing finger at her belly.

Aaliyah swallowed hard and hoped it didn’t sound as loud as him as it did to her, though she summoned her courage and sat a little straighter.

“So what now? Are you going to kill me? Just like you killed Chavez?”

He chuckled again. “You heard about that, huh?”

“So it’s true,” she said shakily. “Why? He was your best friend.”

Nathan slammed his fist down on the kitchen table, causing Aaliyah to jump. “You think I don’t know that, Angeline!” he shouted. “All I asked was for one simple favor; to find you. And you know what he did? He backed out; on me! He really didn’t give me much of a choice. So, I shot him in his bedroom apartment and made it look like a suicide.”

Aaliyah closed her eyes and turned her head away.

“Eighteen months, Angeline. Eighteen, long, agonizing months without you. Do you realize what you’ve put me through?” He snarled.

Aaliyah’s lips parted in a gasp at his words, appalled.

“What I put you through?” she growled, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. “What about me? What about the horrible things you put me through, Nathan? I loved you. You were my husband and I loved you! You promised to protect me and keep me safe. Where in our marriage did it go wrong? What did I do to make you hate me so much?”

“I never hated you, Angel.” he told her. “I loved you. I still do. However, what you lacked was submission. And well, men like me...we have needs.”

She tilted her head slightly. “Needs?”

“Power and sex.”

“How dare you.” And her voice cracked. “I was your wife, Nathan. I am not some punching bag for when things don’t go your way. And I sure as hell am not some play thing you can take advantage of whenever you see fit.”

He stood from his chair, abandoning his drink as he moved behind her.

Aaliyah’s breath caught as he did. She had bared witness of what this man could do and she was terrified at being at his mercy once again.

“You’ll be whatever I want you to be.” He rasped, his voice husky and deep as his fingers combed through her brown colored strands.

“Don’t touch me,” She hissed, trying to shrug him off.

At her words, his nostrils flared. In a sharp movement he brought his hand up and hit her hard across the side of her face. Her head whipped to the side with the force of the blow. The sound of his palm hitting her cheek echoed through the room, for a moment, time seemed to stop as Aaliyah sat there, face still turned and eyes obscured by brown bangs.

“See? You’re doing it again, Angel.”

Her hand went to the place where he’d made contact. The slap stung just like the sting of a bee, and moments later she could feel the skin on her face swelling up.

“You’ve really made a mess of things, you know that?” he said and stepped back to regard her again. “Because of you I had to get my hands dirty. First Chavez and then that damn kid who forged that alias you’re currently using.”

Aaliyah paled. Oh, please God, no.

“What did you do? What did you do to Clay, Nathan?” she asked, her voice trembling.

“Gave him the beating of a fucking life time,” he answered smugly.

Aaliyah’s eyes widened and she turned to face him. She was so mad at him, her anger was palpable—a dark entity threatening to choke her.

She abruptly pushed back her chair and stood. “You sick bastard!” she cried, beating her fist against his chest. “He was just a kid! He was only trying to help—”

In one quick movement, Nathan flipped her around and slammed her forward against the table. She bent at the waist, face pressed against the wooden surface while her feet remained on the floor. She struggled to right herself but she felt the warm weight of his body covering hers, his pelvis pressed to her rear and his torso settling over her back.

His breath tickled her neck as he growled into her ear, “Because of you I lost my job at the LAPD. Because of you, I lost everything. You ruined everything!”

“You brought that all on yourself,” she croaked. “You should have let me go. You never loved me. Why couldn’t you just let me go?”

“Because you’re mine!”

Aaliyah’s eyes widened at the coffee pot dangling over the edge of the table and took the opportunity to escape as she felt his weight shift off of her.

“Get off me you sonofabitch!” She shouted, grabbing the handle and whipping around, the glass pot and the contents against the side of his head. Nathan screamed, the glass and liquid burning his skin, temporarily blinding him.

Knowing she would never have a better chance than this, Aaliyah bolted out of the kitchen but before she could reach the front door, a hand grabbed a fistful of her brown hair and hauled her head back forcefully before slamming her head forward against the wooden door with inexplicable force.

Aaliyah collapsed to the ground, her hand instinctively clutching her pounding head.

“You fucking bitch!” He growled, raising his right leg and delivered a sharp kick to her side, extracting another pained cry from Aaliyah. She gasped as she tried to scramble away but was easily deterred by Nathan delivering another blow to her side.

She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around her stomach. At that moment all she could think about was the baby. She had to protect the baby.

“Let me tell you something, that parasite growing inside you and everyone you love is dead!” He threatened, plucking a shard of glass from the side of his head and letting it drop to the floor. “They are all dead!”

“No,” She gasped as she pushed herself up on her knees and turned to Nathan. “No they’re not!”

Nathan roughly grabbed her by the throat and slammed her back hard against the wall.

“You’re a fucking dirty little whore, you know that?” he snarled. “Pregnant with another man’s child while you’re still married! I warned you, Angeline. I fucking warned you what would happen if you left me.”

Her small form shuddered with the force of her sobs as she feared for her family’s safety.

“Please,” She pleaded, hands grasping weakly at the fingers squeezing her neck.

At last, Nathan loosened his grip on her throat and let his hand fall away. Aaliyah gasped and choked as she tried to recover from the assault.

A small fragment of glass lay on the floor, across from her, beside Nathan. She looked away from the fragment, hoping he hadn’t noticed that she’d seen it. But she was fooling herself, and she knew it, because he saw everything, everything.

Maybe she would be able to get the fragment before he could stop her. It was a million-to-one chance. Hell, face it, impossible.

Although reaching the fragment of glass was probably impossible, she didn’t have any other alternatives. Nothing to lose.

Aaliyah raised her knee, forcing her leg up between them, and delivered a kick to Nathan’s chest that sent him sprawling back. She lunged for the broken piece of glass but Nathan reached her before she could bring the shard of glass up and turn. Smiling, he tore the fragment out of her hand with such force that she thought her hand cut into two before it slipped out of her hand, and she squealed in pain.

Before she could react, Nathan slashed the shard of glass across her stomach, which cut through her shirt, opening a gash that spurted blood.

Aaliyah gasped in pain and her hands instinctively went to the wound to slow the bleeding. Warm blood trickled through her fingers as her mind whirled with pain. It was deep, but she didn’t think it was deep enough to harm the baby.

“Since you can’t seem to behave yourself, I’ll start off with your little friend here,” Nathan said, cocking his gun.

“No!” Aaliyah cried. She scrambled to her feet, ignoring the searing pain coursing through her body and lurched toward Nathan. She grabbed the gun with one hand and lifted it away from Luke’s face and up towards the ceiling causing Nathan to pull the trigger while his other hand grabbed a fistful of her hair. He gripped her hair so rough she screamed.

“Please,” She whimpered, fruitlessly trying to remove his hand from her hair. “You’re hurting me.”

“I’m going to be doing a lot more than hurting you here in a moment, Angel.”

Just then she heard the sound of tires crunching gravel and the hum of an engine somewhere outside.

Jason. No!

Nathan led her to the front window, her back pressed to his front while still managing to keep his hold on her hair as he peered out the window.

“Oh? We have company.” Nathan mused. “Is that him? Is he the one who took you away from me? The one who filled you up with his seed and impregnated you?”

As Aaliyah opened her mouth to scream, he clamped a hand over it, stifling any sound of alarm. She struggled wildly in his grasp, but he held her firmly against him.

“Shh,” he whispered into her ear before tracing kisses down her neck. “If you scream, you’ll ruin the surprise, okay?”

As tears streamed down her face, Aaliyah stared at the front door, praying Jason wouldn’t barrel through that front door. If he did, Nathan would shoot him on sight, killing the most precious person in her life and the father of her unborn child.

A/N: I really do enjoy leaving you at cliffhangers. Ha!

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