Skyheart Ranch

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Ranting and Raving


Damien was pacing the shack, which was rather difficult since the place was so small. Katie had pushed herself over to the corner, where she was curled over her center, the one place she had to protect over everything else. Damien was muttering and Katie recognized he was about to have a full-blown tantrum.

“You disappearing caused me a lot of shit, you know. I got hauled into the police station five times!” Katie frowned, confused. Damien suddenly hurled a length of rope at her. The thick knot slammed against her eyebrow, splitting it open, and Katie felt a warm trickle of blood start to slide down her face.

“Those idiots thought I killed you! Every time I had to go in, they’d show me all the pictures you took. Every bruise, every cut. Why the fuck would you do that to me? Why the hell did you take pictures? None of this would have happened if you had just fucking behaved!”

“That’s not true,” Katie mumbled quietly, but Damien heard her, because he knelt in front of her, glaring.

“What the fuck do you mean? Answer me, you stupid bitch!”

“Every time I had to go to the hospital, they took pictures. After the third time, they started asking me if something was going on at home. I always told them no, but I could tell they knew. I even talked to the police multiple times when the hospital called them. Never once did I say anything. I never said you hit me, you cut me, you raped me. I kept all your damn secrets.” Damien sneered at Katie, standing back up to tower over her.

“It’s not rape if we’re married,” he said. Katie scoffed immediately, but completely inadvertently. She turned her eyes to Damien, who glared. He reached down and wrapped his hands around her throat.

“You have something you wanna say, you ugly cunt? Huh? Something you wanna tell me?” He squeezed harder, cutting off Katie’s air and lifting her off the ground. She knew he was going to leave bruises. When he finally dropped her back onto the floor, Katie took in great, shuddering gasps of air, coughing hard as tears leaked out of her eyes. Damien laughed and stomped on her right arm, causing a loud cracking sound. Katie screamed in pain. She pulled her arm as close to her body as possible with the rope still around her wrists.

“Don’t interrupt me again, bitch, or next time will be worse.” Damien walked over to the table and slowly, deliberately pulled a long knife out of the bag. He set it near the edge of the table so Katie could see it and the implied threat it represented.

‘I have to get out of here. I’m running out of time. I can’t just wait for Cash to rescue me, I have to do something myself,’ Katie thought desperately. Keeping her right arm still, she started twisting her left wrist inside the rope tying her hands together. The rope was looser from the nail heads, but it still hurt, chafing her skin. She knew her wrist would soon start bleeding, so she hitched up her knees to hide her hands and started slowly, painfully, twisting her right wrist as well.

“Every time those fucking cops would bring me in, the press would show up. Always asking about you, the media darling.” Damien growled that last part and dug around in his bag, pulling out a flask. Katie could smell the whiskey from the corner she was curled up in. Damien took a long swig, then turned to Katie, shaking it.

“It’ll keep you warm. Might hurt that little bastard you’re carrying, but I don’t give a fuck.” Katie slowly shook her head, trying to avoid meeting his eyes. Damien gave a big, over dramatic sigh and pulled a dirty blanket out of the bag, throwing it at Katie. She cautiously reached for it, her right arm screaming in pain. She managed to pull it over herself, realizing Damien had just given her the ability to work even harder at freeing her wrists, then her ankles. He wouldn’t be able to see a thing.

“Thank you,” Katie murmured quietly, still staring at the floor.

‘Let Damien think I’m falling back into my old survival patterns; at least this way he can rant all he wants and hopefully forgets I’m here. Especially if he gets drunk and it looks like he’s well on his way,’ Katie thought, watching Damien carefully. He had brought out a bottle of whiskey and set it on the table. It wasn’t top-shelf, which confused Katie, but she had a feeling Damien was going to tell her everything.

“Father was furious at me! Not you, me! Told me I better find you and bring you back or he was going to cut me off. No money, no houses, nothing! All because the public loves you. The gun violence survivor. The girl who lost her family. The wife who tragically lost her baby. You’re a goddamn Lifetime movie. You couldn’t do a thing wrong in their fucking eyes!” Damien took a long swig from the flask, continuing to pace the shack.

“I kept telling them I didn’t know where you were, that you’d abandoned me! But then all the press could talk about were the charges that were dropped. The restraining order. You were always the fucking victim! No one gave a damn about me, how I felt, how you betrayed me by talking to the cops!”

Katie started twisting her left wrist even faster, recognizing the signs that Damien was losing control. She felt the blood dripping down her hand but she couldn’t stop. Not now.

“Father stopped having me come to his rallies. Said I was a distraction. It’s like he forgot the reason I had to stop coming to rallies in the first place was because of you!” Damien suddenly swung his fist at Katie’s face, punching her left eye and the socket. She grunted and fell against the wall but didn’t cry out.

“If you had just done what you were told, if you had just obeyed me, none of this would be happening! It’s all your goddamn fault!” Damien swung his fist again, but Katie quickly turned her head. His hit grazed her cheekbone, but missed landing directly. Damien looked down at Katie with hatred in his eyes. He spit on her, then walked back over to the table, downing the rest of the flask.

‘I don’t have much time left,’ Katie thought, trying not to panic. ‘He’s going to start with the knife soon. If I could just...get my...hand...”. Suddenly, Katie’s left hand came free from her bindings. She reached down towards her ankles, trying not to move too much.

“We were good, weren’t we?” Damien suddenly turned back around to face Katie. She froze, praying he was too drunk to notice her shoulders were uneven. Damien grasped the neck of the whiskey bottle, chugging some of it down, before swaying slightly and collapsing on one of the benches.

“We were happy, once. We loved each other. Why can’t we just go back, kitten? We’ll tell the press it was all a misunderstanding. You ran away, thinking I was going to hurt you, when really, I just missed you so damn much I was willing to violate the restraining order. Father already has it all worked out. The press release has already been written. You’ll come back and everything will finally go back to normal.” Damien took another long swig of whiskey, grimacing as it went down.

“Father won’t give me my allowance until you come back. He’ll pay for whatever I need to find you and bring you home, but that’s it. He took my money. My fucking money! How am I supposed to live without it? I need that money and that means you’re coming back.” Damien suddenly sat up on the bench, glaring at Katie. She had almost freed her legs, but stopped moving as he continued to stare at her.

“This is what’s going to happen. We’re going to get off this piece of shit ranch. We’re going to Nashville for a family meeting. Father will explain what you need to do, but for now, you just need to stand next to me while I...”. Damien sneered, as if unable to finish. Finally, he coughed and shook his head.

“I’ll say some bullshit apology at a press conference, you’ll forgive me and you’ll start attending all of Father’s rallies again. You have no idea what you’ve cost him, everyone asking about you, asking how can he be a good president if he can’t even control his own son. How can he negotiate with foreign leaders if they think he’s weak? You’re coming back with me or...”. Damien left the threat dangling, pointedly staring at Katie’s abdomen, currently covered by the blanket.

“I’ll even let you keep that bastard you’re carrying. We’ll tell everyone it’s ours, our make-up baby, our second chance baby. You’ll raise the little shit and any other snot nosed brats I decide we’re going to have. Understand?” Katie just nodded, still working on the knots around her ankles. She almost had the rope off, but she just needed a little more time. She decided to take a gamble.

“What about Cash?” Katie asked. “He’s not just going to let you take me or his baby. He’ll come for us and I know he’ll talk to the press.” Damien slowly started to smile, an evil, malicious smile.

“Well, I guess I’ll just have to kill him.” Damien stood up, swaying slightly, and walked over to the table, pulling a gun out of the bag. “Why don’t I go take care of that problem right now? It’s not like you’re going anywhere.”

Damien walked out of the shack with the gun, slamming the door behind him. Katie finally got her legs free and sat up on one of the benches, rubbing the pins and needles feeling out of her legs.

‘I might have bought myself some time, but what about Cash? Jesus, if anything happens to him, it’ll be my fault. I have to stop Damien.’

Katie stood, her legs in pain and her right arm sending out a shooting burst of agony whenever she moved it. She hobbled over to the table, digging around in Damien’s enormous bag one handed, looking for another gun and a coat. Not finding anything, she grabbed the knife off the table, gulping down bile as she stared at a blade she recognized. A blade that had so often cut into her own flesh. Well, not tonight. Tonight, this blade had a different target and she wouldn’t miss.

‘I have to do this. For Cash. For our baby. ... For me. I have to stop him.’

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