Frank paced nervously in front of his office windows. He could feel his hair graying by the second and his heart pounded like it was on the verge of exploding. This thing had spiraled out of control. He was staring down a speeding freight train with no means of stopping it or clearing the tracks. And for what? His career? A career that would be over and destroyed just like everything else in life he valued. What would his children say about their father now?
Landon strode into his office and closed the door, sank into a chair and propped his feet up on the mahogany desk. “This is all your fault,” Frank uttered without turning around to face him. “You’ve destroyed all of our lives and for what?”
Landon chuckled and locked his fingers behind his head. “Relax, Sullivan. We’re not going down today or any other day.”
Frank whirled around. “You made a deal with the devil and it’s costing all of us our lives!” His face was bright red and a vein protruded from the left side of his neck.
“Save that dramatic flair for the courtroom,” Landon mocked. “I made a deal with Coronado, who is hardly the devil; and we’re going to come out on top. You watch.” He rose from the chair and headed toward the door.
“Yeah, but at what cost?”
Turning to face Frank, Landon’s mouth drew up into a twisted grin. “Relax. I’ve already got a guy lined up to take the fall. Besides,” he hissed, “wouldn’t you give anything for your freedom?” Frank dropped his head and exhaled. “Well, wouldn’t you?” Landon sneered.
“Yes,” Frank uttered.
“Six hours and counting,” Ian taunted, purposefully blowing smoke into Audrey’s face. She tried to blow it away and though she could dissipate the smoke, she couldn’t take away the stench of Ian’s words. His words strangled any hope of living through this. “Let me ask you a question,” Ian said, grabbing Audrey by the hair and yanking her head back so he could look into her eyes. “Do you think you’re going to go to Heaven or to Hell?” Audrey didn’t answer; she just closed her eyes as reality washed over her. She was going to die. Releasing her hair, Ian took another drag from his cigarette and then dug the burning butt into Audrey’s bare thigh. She jolted upward and cried out from the pain. “I’d get used to the heat if I were you,” Ian seethed. “Tramp.” He sauntered down the hallway, leaving Audrey alone with her thoughts.
The truth was she probably deserved to die, but not like this. No one deserved this. It wasn’t as if she had been a good person all of her life. Then again, had anyone? Wasn’t all of humanity flawed and sinful? With her wrists taped together behind the back of the chair, Audrey couldn’t wipe her tears so they trickled down her face and dripped onto her lap, stinging as they ran over the burn and down her outer thigh. A small part of her wanted to scream, as loud as she could, but she knew it wouldn’t help. In fact, she was certain it would earn her more pain. At any rate, between the lack of food, water, sleep, light deprivation and the mental and physical abuse she had endured, the fight had left her and her willingness to survive was slowly slipping away. Faces entered her mind, flashbacks of people she loved and places she missed. She thought of her mother, who had bright red hair like hers and always greeted her after school with homemade chocolate chip cookies. She had fond memories of her father, who always had a smile, even when he was dying. She wondered if…if she got the chance to go to Heaven, would she be with them again? How she had missed them.
Audrey was raised Catholic but it had been years since she attended mass or went to confession. Now, it was too late. She thought of Father Montague and how he always made her feel welcome. She’d given just about anything to see his face right now, to have the chance to jump into that confessional booth and spill her guts. Her sins filled her mind. She hadn’t been a good friend or a faithful wife, though her unfaithfulness was not without motive. She did what she did to save Leon’s career, but only God knew that. To everyone else she was the whore who screwed Landon Parker. The thought of being with Landon repulsed her, but her only other choice would have been Frank and she couldn’t do that to Kira. She tried. She went to his office one night, acting distraught over Leon’s affair with Cheryl. Frank bought her act hook, line and sinker, but when push came to shove, she couldn’t go through with it. They started to kiss and all she could think about was Kira. That left Landon as the only alternative. She did it because she thought saving Leon’s career would somehow save their marriage; but it backfired. She never could forgive him for sleeping with Cheryl and no matter how many one-night stands she had following his affair, the heartache of his betrayal never went away. She began to hate him but now, in the quiet of an honesty that only comes at death’s door, Audrey knew that it wasn’t Leon she hated, it was herself.
Closing her eyes, Audrey silently prayed. She asked God for forgiveness and salvation and for another chance at life. She prayed that Kira, whatever she had been told, would one day know the truth; and that Leon would know that she finally forgave him and always loved him. A sense of peace filled her heart and even if it only lasted a moment, it was a moment Audrey would treasure.