Every Friday I had to make sure a quarter of a million dollars exchanged hands between me and my tormentor. I was back in New York and it seemed, so was he. The locations for the drop always varied, they never stayed the same.
But something strange happened one week. It was Saturday afternoon and he still hadn’t made contact. Instead of feeling relieved all I felt was great trepidation. He was up to something.
I cruised down the highway in my drop-top and glanced at the time on my dashboard. Maddie and I were meeting for drinks at a cocktail lounge in Manhattan, but when I was about to dress up, she sent a text that she was running late and I should just come and get ready at her place.
I gave the parking attendant my keys and stepped through the sprawling lobby with its high ceilings, grey, smooth marble floors and contemporary sofas and furnishings. The other occupant of the elevator glanced at me and I could tell she was openly staring me. From my open-toe thigh-high suede boots to my grey off-shoulder mini-dress.
“Well…Well…if it isn’t Blue slutty Rivers…”
Just then, recognition kicked in. “Gemma,” I stated flatly, meeting her taunting gaze.
“Am I supposed to ask for an autograph now?” she jeered as she gave me another once-over. “A selfie maybe?”
“I’ll gladly sign your silicone boobs. You need only ask.” I smiled stiffly, my tone matching her scornful one.
“Hmm…” she sneered. “It’s a pity you’re about to get exactly what you deserve.” She stretched her arm and slammed the stop button on the lift.
“What are you doing?!” I tried to push her out of the way but she wouldn’t budge.
“Can you just chill out?” she laughed and turned to face me.
“What about?” I questioned taking a step back. “We have nothing to discuss.”
“We do,” she said and dug her hands in the deep pockets of her coat. “Deacon sent me to give you a message.”
“Don’t tell me you’re sleeping with him too,” I groaned and rolled my eyes heavenward.
“Can’t help it,” she shrugged with a smug smile. “He knows his way around the female anatomy. But you already know that…:
“Is this why you stopped the elevator?”
“He’s out to get you.”
“Thanks for the warning,” I grunted.
“So am I,” she added bitterly. “I have a score to settle after the way you humiliated me and forced me to move to another town.”
“Don’t stand there and act like you didn’t deserve it,” I reminded her. “You did much worse to me.”
“Is that so?”
“Just get out of my way Gemma!” I pushed her aside and as I was about to jab the button, I heard her move behind me when my back was turned. As I was about to turn around she was caught me unaware and stuck a needle into my neck.
Stunned, I slid down the mirrored wall and slumped to the floor and fought to keep my eyes open as the drug kicked in. She stood over me and I heard her voice fading in the distance. “I told you I’d get you back…”
When I regained consciousness it was in a dark back-alley, my nose wrinkling at the scents of trash and stagnant water. The cold night air made the skin of my naked body prickle. I had been stripped of all my clothes all but my flimsy lace thong and thigh-high boots. If the plan was to humiliate me then it worked marvelously. I couldn’t move and even opening my eyes took a huge effort I shivered until my teeth chattered and curled myself in a ball as I looked around and saw nothing but black plastic dustbins that overflowed with trash. I blinked my bleary eyes, unwilling to move for fear of the distant headache intensifying. It’s like I was fighting a fever that made it hard for me to focus. It started to drizzle and the wind and rain slashed at me while I just lay there helplessly and prayed that an angel would come to my rescue.
The next time I woke up, it was in luxury.
The bed felt like I was sleeping on a cloud and the bedding was crisp and warm. I snuggled deeper under the covers and hoped this wasn’t just a dream or an illusion. The last time I was-
I bolted up with a gasp, taking in my surroundings and was greeted by Maya’s comforting smile. I realized I was in hospital. “Maya!” I threw myself at her, holding onto her for dear life. “Please tell me it was dream!” I sobbed against her neck.
“It wasn’t,” she replied. “I’m so sorry sweetheart.”
After I’d cried myself hoarse, she had the nurse bring me some soup and medication. “How did you find me?” My hands were shaking visibly as I tried to feed myself. She took the spoon from me and fed me like I was a baby. I didn’t protest. My pride had taken a beating and I was too weak to put up a fight.
“Pictures of you lying in the alley are all over the news…” she paused and let it sink in. “It wasn’t hard for my security to find you because it’s a block away from my downtown office.”
“I’m not doing drugs-if that’s what that look is about.”
“I’m not here to judge you, Blue,” she stood and smoothed her elegant blazer dress. “I just wanted to make sure you’re okay,” she took her purse from the side-table and tucked it under her arm. “I have to go and check on Maddie and then I have an important business meeting. Call me if you need me.”
“Wait!” I stopped her as she walked to the door. “What’s wrong with Maddie?”
“If I tell you, you cannot leave this bed. Agreed?”
“Even if I wanted to…please tell me?”
“Someone just dumped her at a hospital carpark after she ODed,” she relayed. “The security said it was a yellow Aston Martin.”
“No! She doesn’t-she wouldn’t-she didn’t!”
“Do you want to tell me what’s going on?” she leaned on the doorjamb her sharp eyes not missing a thing.
“I-nothing…” my jaw clamped shut. I had already said too much and didn’t want anyone else getting involved. “We were at a party and someone must have spiked our drinks.”
It was obvious she didn’t believe a thing I said but she simply nodded. “Please stop ditching your bodyguards. They’re there for a reason.’
“Okay.” I dropped my gaze and sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“I’ll see you later.”
I lay in bed, tucked warmly under the covers as her boots clicked away from me. She wasn’t going to let this go until she got to the bottom of it. Especially now that Maddie had got involved after I’d told her not to.
This was all on me and I had to fix it before someone else got hurt.