***POV – Melaena
The little boy holds onto the number 13 jacket, raven black hair in serious need of a comb, the face of a little angel, sinlessness exemplified by big green eyes highlighted against thick dark lashes – an image of perfection. He smiles at me and the dimples in his cheeks deepen, a small hand reaches out to me. I take his hand, but then his eyes turn hazy, fearful, and all of a sudden claws reach from the shadows and pull him towards the darkness. I try to hold onto him, frantically, as if knowing I’m his only hope, but slowly his hand slips from mine and he gets pulled further and further away until he’s entirely engulfed in the blackness.
I shout out, but silence is my only answer, my shadow my only company while I’m standing in a weathered house on a starless night.
“I won’t give up!” I shout hoping the boy can hear me, “I won’t give up!”
“Melaena,” The voice drifts towards me and it sounds just like Kiara, “open your eyes. You’re dreaming.” I blink my eyes a few times and then lift my aching body into a sitting position. It’s dark, the only light coming from a small barred window. I can feel that I’m lying on a bed, a hard lumpy one. I put my feet on the ground and the bed squicks like hundreds of baby rats looking for food. The eerie sound sends a shiver down my spine.
“Eventually bitch. I thought you’re never going to wake up.” Kiara scolds me but her voice is hoarse and soft and I can hear the anxiety bubbling out. I blink my eyes again, trying to get them accustomed to the darkness. I make out her figure, a spooky shadow in the dim light.
“Kiara? Where are we?” Before she can answer someone grabs me around my neck, throwing me off balance. The grip is so tight I’m almost choking.
“Mel, I’m so glad you’re up!” Baffled I turn my head to see Luke’s face leaning on my shoulder.
“Luke? What the hell is going on?” I try to find Kiara’s hands and then I clutch onto them, trying to combine our strength.
“I think Harry drugged and kidnapped us. It’s the only thing that makes sense.” I think back and I remember us driving and then there was an accident, the next we wake up here.
“Drugged? You think it could harm the bean?” Kiara sounds worried and now I’m thinking the same thing. My hands move over my tummy protectively.
“Let’s hope it’s ok.”
“What bean?” Luke asks scrunching his nose.
“A magic one,” I answer quickly, but he just rolls his eyes at me saying ‘whatever’.
“Are you hurt?” I ask. A dim pain throbs in my left arm and after a quick recall, I’m pretty sure it’s broken or at least badly bruised.
“Nothing life-threatening on my side and Luke is fine.” I scan over them, just to reassure myself, but even though Kiara has some blood and bruises on her face and arms, she seems to be alright.
I can see through the window that it must be night. Even if nobody realizes that Kiara and I are missing, they’ll definitely be looking for Luke.
“They’ll come for us, don’t worry,” I say and Luke puts his arms around me and he leans against my chest.
“I’m not worried. Damion and Alejandro will come and kick their buts!” I smile at his total trust in his big brothers and the way he’s trying to comfort me.
“Let’s see if we can find out where we are, maybe we can find a way out.” I get off the bed and hold on to Luke and Kiara. We give small steps forward, trying to navigate in the dark.
“I think I found a light!” I softly mumble to my co-captures, trying to sound enthusiastic and brave. I feel around with my fingers and find something that might be a switch. I flick it and a not-so-very-bright light fills up the room and relieve spools over me. At least we can see a bit better now.
Suddenly an ear-piercing gut-wrenching scream sounds up just outside the door to our left and we all cover our ears for a few seconds.
“What the fu … frick?” I change the word just in time, not wanting to swear in front of Luke, but he’s way too observant. Guess it runs in the family too.
“Don’t worry, I’m not a kid anymore … I’ve heard the word loads of times.” He smirks at me and I mess up his hair even more. A key turns in the lock of the door, where the scream just came from, and instinctively I move a few steps back dragging Luke and Kiara with me. I try to hide Luke behind me but the dude is at that stage where boys are more brave than bright. Do they ever get over it, I suddenly think, cause I’m sure men never grow up. At least not the ones stuck in my life. I pull Kiara as close to me as I can while we anxiously watch the door open slowly.
Harry steps in, his dark eyes piercing right through us, sending chill after chill down my spine.
“Why are we here?” I ask, trying to sound brave. He lifts his chin and tries to smile, but the scars on his face contract, keeping his mouth in a straight line.
“You are my leverage cause I’m not a very trusting person, and everybody I kidnapped has a purpose to assure I get exactly what I want.”
My heart falls into my shoes, our whole plan is ruined now. Uncle John, Deimos, and Garcia had everything worked out, to capture Harry without sacrificing anybody. But now, us being kidnapped, threw a wrench in their plans. I look at Kiara and I can see she’s thinking the exact same thing.
“And what DO you want?” Maybe we can just give him everything he wants and then he can get the fuck out of our lives.
“Well, as I’ve said before, my main priority is revenge, and then I want my kids to have the life they deserve. Oh, and Darren wants you. That’s it. See, I’m not an unreasonable man.” I swallow down the vomit pushing up. D eventually has a full name – Darren. I don’t know anybody named Darren.
I open my mouth to ask what he means, but he gives a dismissive hand gesture and continues on his own.
“Ug, you’re just as nosy as your mom – and it got her killed by the way. But, for her sake, and because I have some time to spare before the guests arrive, let me spell it out for you. First I want Garcia to let Darren take over the business, then he’ll probably die, that’s why the little guy is here.” He points at Luke who pulls a face and crosses his arms. I wonder how he knew Luke is Garcia’s son, but that doesn’t matter right now.
“This lady,” his finger is now on Kiara, “will ensure that her daddy eliminates the man who physically fulfilled the order and made all these cuts. They’re in the same jail you see.”
“You are here so your brother and daddy dearest won’t try anything stupid. I will at last gut your father and have my revenge. Darren will make your brother suffer the way he did. What’s the saying … an eye for an eye,” His eyes are hazed as if he’s seeing a vision. He blinks a few times and then looks at me.
“And you’re also here for Darren.”
“My brother is here? Which one?” It feels as if I’m choking on air, thinking that one of my brothers is going to be tortured by this beast.
“The psycho twin.” Jackson, he has Jackson! I put my hands in my hair, pulling it while I let out a helpless grunt.
“My brothers are going to GUT you!” Luke shouts, his eyes brimming with anger. I swear all the Grimms suffer from some kind of stupid braveness disease.
Harry’s face contorts into another sinister Joker-type smile. He opens the door to leave but turns back. He laughs softly and makes a tsk-tsk-tsk sound with his tongue.
“I won’t count on it, little Garcia. I won’t count on it.” Then he’s gone.
We stare at the closed door for an unknown amount of time after he left, just blankly looking at it without blinking as if it’s our last hope.
“So it’s safe to say he’s totally bonkers.” Luke scoffs. Kiara falls onto the bed, probably due to the same tension I’m feeling in my body.
I try to open the door, knowing it won’t budge, but I just had to try. Then I look around, taking in our surroundings.
I walk to the barred window and look outside, but only see trees in the moonlight. We must be on the second floor of the building. Kiara joins me and she squinches her eyes as if that’s going to tell her exactly where we are.
I turn around to take a better look at the room. It’s not very big and it seems as if nobody stayed here for a long time, the cracks in the walls covered in moss between the other signs of decay. Something about it looks kinda familiar.
On the one side, I notice an old bathroom hosting a toilet and broken basin, but lacking a door. Well, that’s good since the bean makes me want to pee much more than needed.
“How did they take you?” I look at Luke, hoping they didn’t drug him.
“They kidnapped me at school. Mom was late and they threw me into this white van. Then they brought me here and stuck me in this room.”
“So you were not drugged? Did you see anything?”
“Yep, we’re in this old freaking house in the woods, a very old freaking broken house.” Damn, that doesn’t help much, does it?
“Can you remember anything else?” Luke pouts his mouth to think.
“The door has some horses on it, then there’s this big-ass chandelier and a huge staircase.”
I look at Kiara and she seems just as shocked as me. Could we be in the haunted house?
“I’m hungry, do you think they gonna feed us some time?” Luke complains while opening a broken cupboard as if he’s going to find some hidden food inside. The sound of the door unlocking again makes me stand in front of Luke while holding my breath. A huge man, covered in tattoos, walks in and drops a pizza box and a bottle of water onto the only table in the room.
His gaze moves hungrily over me and then settles on Kiara. He licks his lips and I can feel Kiara’s grip squeezing the hell out of my arm, but I don’t dare to flinch or move.
“Eat up.” His eyes still clinging to Kiara’s chest. I know my friend is scared shitless and I need to do something.
“Thanks, you can go now.” His lustful gaze moves back to me and he gives me a stinky grin.
“Whatever you say princess, but I’ll be back soon.” He makes a clicking sound with his lips and then gives Kiara an air kiss before he walks back out the door. I let out the breath I was holding in. I grab Kiara’s arm and pulls her closer to me.
“We need to fight with everything we’ve got.” She nods and bites on her lip. Luke rushes over to the pizza and grabs a big slice, putting almost the whole thing in his mouth.
“Go slow, dude. It’s not going to run away.” I laugh, trying to be brave for him. Kiara takes a piece of pizza and hands me one.
“We need to keep up our strength and you need to feed the bean.” I take it reluctantly from her, knowing she’s right, but I also don’t want Luke to stay hungry. I decide to eat only one piece, and then let him have the rest.
“What is it with you girls and beans, heh?” Luke comments with a mouth full of food. Kiara laughs, but it’s not a happy one. He stuffs that pizza into his small body with big bites until nothing is left. Luke yawns and rubs his eyes with his fists. I lead him to the bed and let him lay down, covering him with the one and only blanket on the edge of the mattress. I sit next to him, holding his head on my lap, stroking his dark hair softly and Kiara sits on the other side of the bed.
“Do you think he’ll let us go?” Kiara asks while she fiddles with a loose spring sticking out from the worn mattress, looking at it as if she blames it for all our troubles.
“Well, maybe you and Luke, but Jackson and me … ” She pulls a straight side-grin and I know by now it’s her I-don’t-have-a-fucking-clue face.
“Why would Garcia just give everything up for Luke?”
I try to tell Kiara with my eyes, hoping she would get the message. I don’t want to say it out loud in case Luke is listening. She frowns, but I think she gets it when I do large hand gestures, facial expressions, and lip speaking. Her eyes pop with an oh-shit look. I knew the hours we spent perfecting our non-vocal communication would pay off someday.
“Ok then.” We sit on the bed in silence, each one occupied by our own thoughts. I know that Uncle John and the boys will do everything possible to save us, but what if they’re too late.
What if they hurt Luke, cut up Jackson, rape Kiara, kill my baby? I’m not sure which of these scenarios are worse … and I for sure as the raging fires of hell don’t want to find out. Time seems to stretch out, each second seems like an hour and each hour seems like a lifetime.
Every little noise has us jerking up unsettled, just to flump down again. My arm pounds with pain, but somehow I welcome it, needing something to ease the fear clinging to my spine like a freaking demon to the gates of hell.
The door opens again and then I feel like I’m going to faint or throw up, or both. For a moment I thought that maybe I’m hallucinating again, but Kiara’s fingernails stab into the skin of my upper arm and I know she’s seeing the exact same sight as me.
Tattoo-creep drags in a man that looks almost like Uncle John’s twin and drops him with a ‘THUD’ on the floor unceremoniously before kicking him in his ribs.
“Ug,” he snorts painfully, curling into the fetal position. Tattoo-creep laughs out loud and winks at Kiara before leaving. I swallow down some spit, although my mouth is as dry as the Sahara desert. Neither Kiara nor I attempt to move, we just stand there looking at each other with huge owl-eyes, contemplating the possibility of the situation.
There laying on the floor in the flesh is my fucking long-lost father. Sorry, but this situation calls for a real swearword. He groans pitifully again drawing our eyes to him, his body and clothes covered in blood, a rotten, metallic stench mixed with sweat radiates from him and I pinch my nose close with my fingers.
“Yuck, he stinks!” Kiara is also holding a finger under her nose. This brings me into action and I turn him onto his back slowly. Kiara rips a piece of cloth from what’s left of an old curtain. She runs to the bathroom and wets it before handing it to me. I start cleaning the dried blood, so we can assess his injuries. He opens his steel-grey eyes and I can see the wonderous confusion in them.
“Miranda?” I guess I remind him of my mother. A smile spreads over his face and he reaches out and softly strokes my cheek with his thumb. Numbness takes over my body, I don’t feel anything, zilch, nothing and to top it off, I can’t think as well. I think even my autonomic system has shut down, I’m not blinking or breathing …
“Hey, dad. It’s Melaena.” He frowns slightly and then he looks worried, hurt, even broken. Something in his eyes reminds me of Ilkay, maybe Logan, I’m not sure, but I’ve seen that look somewhere before.
“I’m so sorry, for everything,” His voice is a soft whisper, his eyes still sad, a single tear runs down his right cheek and drips to the floor. A dirty hand grabs mine and holds it tight, the fingertips bloody, looking like raw meat. They’ve removed his fingernails. Holy-fucking-shit! Must be the yelling we’ve heard before.
“They have Jackson,” his voice is so soft and weak, but I heard it as clear as daylight. My stomach churns and it feels as if the bean is trying to press all my organs up my throat at once. The demon clutching my spine increases his grip causing a dull ache to spread through my body.
Breathe, in-out, in-out, breathe, in-out, in-out, just keep breathing. I blow out a long breath, take in a short one, but it’s as if each breath robs me of oxygen instead of replenishing it in my lungs.
“Mel, stay calm, think of the bean …” Kiara’s hand on my shoulder helps to jag me from the rim of spiraling out of control. Long breath in … slow breath out … I feel my lungs fill up … working again.
“Mel, I wish we had more time, but I’m really sorry for everything. I know I’ve made mistakes, but things are not as bad as you think. Jackson will explain it all when you get out of here.” His eyes are pleading with me for forgiveness but I don’t know if I can do that. I look at his mangled-up body, and decide to smile at him, it’s not what he wants, but it is a start.
“I’m so glad you ended up with Damion, if it’s not fate I don’t know what is. He’s a good lad. Mel, I’ve never stopped loving you or your brothers, never. Maybe one day you’ll understand and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive …”
“We need to get a little something from your dad.” I didn’t even hear tattoo-jerk unlock the door and give a rattled jerk at the sound of his deep voice. This time he brought a friend, a muscle-man with a shaved head and uncontrolled beard. Harry is standing in the doorway. I get shoved away from my father’s body and then muscle-man digs a knee into dad’s chest pinning his left arm out in a tight grip to the ground.
Tattoo-jerk then grips his wrist and draws out a knife. I jump up as if I was stung by a bee, Luke is now sitting up on the bed, his eyes still sleepy. I need to get to him, I need to protect him.
“You might want to close your eyes,” Harry says as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. Instinctively I draw the blanket over Luke’s head while Kiara obediently closes her eyes with her hands. Look away, Mel, look away now. But I can’t. Tattoo-jerk then slams the knife down and with a sickening bump-splat noise my father’s pinky is lying on the ground separate from his hand. My father’s groan rings in my ears and I put my fist into my mouth to keep me from making a sound or puking, or both.
Kiara chose to open her eyes just when Tattoo-jerk picks up the cut-off limb while simultaneously wipes his knife clean against his sleeve. She looks at my father’s hand and lets out a scream that might just wake the dead, before slamming her hand over her mouth.
“Oh, come on girls, we need something to send to your family, and I can’t cut off your fingers now can I,” Harry smirks before they close the door and I hear the tell-tale sound of the lock. My father is clutching his disfigured hand, his face bloodless, while the red liquid oozes from his fingers covering the wounded area. The look in his eyes mirrors mine, FEAR.