When I woke up in the morning, there was another tray of food at the edge of the bed with a badly cooked omelet, hash browns, sliced kiwi and a glass of OJ.
Ritualistically, I brushed my teeth first, had a quick shower and pulled on a t-shirt from the wardrobe. I was actually starting to like Jackson’s choice of clothes that he’d bought for me.
I reached out for the tray of food before sniffing it. The omelette tasted alright, but a little on the saltier side. Jackson was a bad cook indeed.
When I was done eating, I climbed out of bed reluctantly and made my way out of the bedroom to find Jackson sprawled on the couch with a book in his hand.
I recalled all the events of the previous night and how I continued to accuse him even after he’d repeatedly told me he was innocent. I realized that lashing out on him wasn’t going to get me anywhere. If anything, I had to stay calm and find another way.
There was one thing that was clear, Jackson wouldn’t hurt. If he wanted too, he would have done that when he first brought me to this cabin. I would be in a chair, bound and tortured.
Like his other victims. A voice hissed in my head.
I brushed off that thought because my gut told me Jack was telling the truth. He hadn’t killed those people and I hoped like hell that I was right.
“Thank you for the breakfast.” I said, trying to appear a little cheerful.
“Glad you’re still alive after having it.” He grumbled.
Normally, Jackson would say something else along with the retort, but today he remained silent, almost detached.
“I want to say that I’m sorry for the things I said to you yesterday. I didn’t let you explain.”
“Damn right you didn’t.” He said in a monotone, sitting upright. “I want to know who killed those people as much as you do, Riley. You’ve got to believe me.”
I sat down on the couch beside him. “You’re saying you didn’t kill them?”
“Probably said it a million times since yesterday.”
“Call me Jack.” He insisted.
I gave a nod. “Jack, how about you pretend to be in my shoes for a minute? Imagine if you were kidnapped by a psychopath and you heard all the news about him on tv, all the atrocious crimes he committed, wouldn’t you be having doubts as well?”
He grinned. “I’d be thinking goddamn he’s hot and I’d want to bang that psychopath one of these nights.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re just feeding your own ego.”
Jackson chuckled. “You want me, Cotton-Candy, you just don’t want to admit.”
“Keep telling yourself that until you convince yourself.” I said.
“Will sure do, ma’am. And I promise you one of these days, you’re going to come in my bed willingly, begging me to put my hands on you and that time, Riley. I’m gonna say ‘I told you so’”
“That could possibly happen in your dreams.”
I heard him laugh as I climbed to my feet and was headed towards the kitchen. My face resembled a beetroot, and I didn’t want Jackson to see how the things he said affected me. Mostly the flirting.
When he flirted with me, and teased me, it gave me certain butterflies in my stomach, the type I was having right now and that really made me mad.
It infuriated me how he was always sarcastic about serious issues, as if the police weren’t even looking for him, like his face wasn’t all over the fucking news. He was acting like we were here on a vacation.
That afternoon we barely talked, Jackson was on the couch playing PlayStation 4, some race car game that was boring the hell outta me. He was having a huge bowl of tortilla chips and a can of Coke. I’d noticed he always ate all that junk food and still managed to stay fit.
I decided to cook something for lunch. “How about grilled chicken sandwiches and egg salad for lunch?”
“Whatever the wife wants.” He called out to me.
I shook my head. He was back to being a complete joker and it made me smile.
“While you’re at it, could you hand me a coke from the fridge, please?”
“I believe you possess two pairs of limbs. Last time I checked, I was just your Nurse, not waitress.” I said. “Take it yourself.”
I heard a snigger in the background.
I was dicing the vegetables, facing the stove when I felt his body hovering behind mine and then I watched from the corner of my eye as he crossed me and pulled out a can from the fridge.
Instead of walking back into the living area, I felt his presence behind me. A shadow. My heart turned to ice as I wondered what would happen. My hands were practically shivering as I sliced the veggies.
Was I wrong to assume he wouldn’t hurt me?
Was my time up?
If he was standing behind to hurt me, I had a knife in my hand ready.
“Riley...” He said in a soft husky voice.
“Would you mind very much if I tied your hair up?” He asked.
I felt his fingers run through my scalp and gather my hair in his fist as he tied it up in a high ponytail.
“Riley?” He started again.
“Would you mind if I kissed that little black mole on your back?”
Jack was acting insane but the sexual tension was too much and my knees were having a hard time keeping me standing.
“Only if you don’t bite me.”
I heard the soft sound of his chuckle before his soft lips grazed my back and the wetness of his tongue against it. I closed my eyes, my hands were still shaking. The knife slid down and hit the floor. He spun me around slowly to face him, and I was stuck between his tall, strong body and the granite counter.
Strands of dark hair fell over his eyes as he stared down at me. His charcoal black eyes seemed lighter in the sunlight, almost like dark coffee. The last time that he’d kissed me it was in a public place, between the blasting noise from the speakers and the general public but today, the silence was our only audience.
His hands caught mine, he brought them to his mouth and kissed. “I would never hurt you, Riley. You don’t need to be afraid of me.”
“Who said anything about being afraid?” I asked.
And then Jackson’s lips crashed against mine, he kissed me softly at first and then deeper. I could taste the hint of tortilla chips and the smell of his intoxicating spicy cologne mixed with it. Never had I assumed tasting tortilla on a man’s mouth would turn me on so much.
My hands automatically grasped his hair and his hands went down to my thighs as he picked me up and placed me on the counter top, bringing me a little closer to his imposing height. I moaned loud when his hands reached for the hem of my shirt and up to cup my breasts. And then suddenly there were tears pricking my eyes which is when we stopped because I’d started to sob.
Jack probably realized the reason why I was crying. He cupped my face in his hands. “I’m sorry, Riley. My hands just went inside your shirt on reflex. I won’t do it again.”
“It’s not that, Jack. You don’t understand.” I explained.
“Then make me understand.”
“I shouldn’t be having these feelings for you, and yet here I’m kissing you and letting you feel me up.”
“I said I was sorry...”
“No Jack, it’s not that I don’t want it. I... I crave for it. I want you to keep doing these things to me that you were doing now.” I continued. “It’s just that, I know you won’t hurt me, but I’m scared you would hurt someone else.”
Jack still had a confused look on his face, or he was just good at pretending to be dumb.
“All those serial killers. They did really bad things to other people, but they always had this one person in their life, the person they loved or were attached too that they didn’t hurt.” I said, “If you did those crimes, Jackson, I don’t want to do this with you. I’d rather...I’d rather you kill me, too.”
“You’re just ashamed of having these feelings for me. I get it.” Jack said, his expressions were laced with hurt and understanding.
He straightened my shirt and helped me down from the counter. “I can keep repeating myself and say that I’m innocent and I didn’t kill those people, but you’d still have second thoughts about it. There’s no other way around it, I mean, look at you, Cotton-Candy, you’re shaking when I’m near you and that’s proof enough how scared you feel when I’m near you.”
I wiped my tears with the back of my hand. “I’m not scared of you. Look, Jack, there’s no denying that I feel something for you. An attraction, maybe, but it could be possible because I haven’t...I haven’t...” I trailed off.
“Fucked anyone in a while?” He completed for me.
My cheeks had caught fire. “That’s one way to put it.”
“Oh, Sweetness, you offend me.” Jackson grinned. “If it really is about not having your carnal needs met, then I can help you with that problem, ma’am. No complains.” He had that cocky laugh going on again. “We can have a go and you can tell me then if you still crave for more, which I’m sure you will. I’d be glad to oblige again because it sure gets lonely in here.”
“Where do you get all that confidence from?” I couldn’t tell if he was serious or joking which was most of the case where Jack was concerned.
Before I could answer, he said. “There’s no solution for this because you’re not the type of woman who’d want to have a little adult fun so what we can do right now is that I can save you from this embarrassment and we stay the heck away from each other.”
“Trust me, Riley. I’m doing what’s best for you because once I have you in my bed, there would be no turning back. You’re still not sure about yourself and I can’t take advantage of that fact. Once I find out about who is doing this, I’ll drive you back to town myself, but until then we steer clear off each other.”
I nodded. At that moment, I was sure with all my heart that Jackson hadn’t committed those crimes.
I just needed proof to prove it and most of all, I had to help him find out who did it.
The question remained.
Who could do this, and why?
I was pulled out of my thoughts by a sudden harsh knock at the door. Jackson and I exchanged glances and I didn’t miss how his dark eyes turned smothering and vigilant.
We thought we’d imagined those sounds until there was a knock again. Jack jumped to his feet, turned to me and said. “Go to the bedroom and stay hidden in the closet or under the bed .” He ordered me.
“Now Riley! There’s no time to fucking argue about this!” He growled and I flinched.
His tone reminded me of the time Jack used to be locked away in the asylum and he used to bare his teeth to the hospital staff. Without much thought, I picked up the knife and retreated towards the bedroom with the question on my mind.
Who could it be at the door?