“Do you know how to use a gun?” Jackson asked me as he pushed the curtains away to look outside the window.
“Obviously you can use a knife to save your life, right?”
What the hell was with his rhymes?
“Yeah. I guess.”
He opened the kitchen cabinets, the ones that were stocked with too many jars. He reached out for one and pulled out a gun from it. A gun out of a large empty cookie jar.
I stared at him appalled.
“What? I keep my guns where no one can find them.”
He handed me a butcher knife. “Take this, and go to my room. Stay hidden until I tell you otherwise.”
“If I don’t come for you within ten minutes, stay hidden.” He instructed. His expressions told me this was a serious matter.
Whoever was outside the door could be dangerous.
On second thought, Jackson had always been the king of threatening, killing and harassing people. How bad could be the person standing outside compared to Jack?
I quickly scrambled into the bedroom, shut the door behind me and crawled beneath the bed, clenching knife in my fist in a death grip. My hands were literally shaking.
There was no sound coming from outside and that stressed me to no end. Why wasn’t Jack speaking to someone? Did that intruder silently bludgeon Jack in the head and dragged him out of the cabin?
What if Jackson’s lying there out cold and the intruder’s coming for me next? What do I do then? Use the butcher knife on a person? In my career as a Nurse, I’d helped doctors during surgeries and it had never bothered me to see blood as much as it would any normal person. But to literally go for the kill?
I shuddered at the thought and hoped Jackson hadn’t gotten into trouble.
The bedroom door opened a while later. I held my breath for a few minutes and suddenly a hand wrapped around my ankle.
I screamed so loud, the birds abandoned their nest.
“Relax, Riley. It’s just me.” Jack said as he peeked at me from behind me.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” I asked as I crawled out form under the bed.
His face was unreadable, it was like he had mastered the art of pulling an impassive face. “You won’t like it. I’d suggest you should steer clear from seeing this.”
“I have to see it.”
“You won’t be able to handle it.” He warned.
“Who was it at the door?”
“No one. The person left a package.” He informed.
Why wasn’t Jack explaining everything in detail instead of me asking him all these questions?
“What’s in the package?” I was dreading the answer I’d hear from him.
“For Fucks sake, Riley! Will you just let it go?”
“No, I won’t!” I said storming out of the room.
“Riley!” He kept calling out to me but it was too late.
On the table sat a box that had been unwrapped and was open. The glitter gift wrapper lay in tatters along with a pink ribbon. The box was red, not because that was the original color but because it was matted with blood. The putrid stench of the liquid was unbearable.
The sight before me was going to give me nightmares. Inside lay a heart.
A human heart.
I closed the box and stared at the gruesome gift.
Whose heart was it?
I had scary thoughts plague my mind. What if the heart belonged to...
My brother? Maddy? Or Aaron?
I banished those thoughts quickly.
“Incase you’re wondering who it belongs to. I’m guessing it’s the previous kill. Nurse Roxane.”
“How are you so sure?” I asked.
“I checked the news. There’s no sign of any more bodies getting discovered so it has to be her.”
“Why do you think they sent us this package? What do they want to prove?”
“I don’t think they want to prove anything. This is just a memo to let me know they have found my location. Whoever it is that is playing this sick game is keeping an eye on us.” He said, placing a parchment on the table.
It had spots of blood on it. I picked it up and read it.
Once upon a time there lived a handsome prince
He grew up and started living in an asylum since
The heir to the Million Dollar dynasty. A lone Wolfe.
Then starts the killing.
The Bodies are piling.
Jackson is lying.
I found you, and that’s a shame.
I won’t tell a soul if you play my game :)
I stared at the note long and tried to remember Jackson’s handwriting. It was a bit different, although I knew criminals could fake a different handwriting to avoid getting caught.
What if Jack is setting it up to look like someone left the package when he’s the one who put it there himself?
Jackson passed me a suspicious look. “What’s going on in that little head of yours?”
I shook my head. “Nothing.”
“Are you perhaps wondering if I’m the one doing it and pretending it is someone else?”
How does he mind read just by looking at my face?
“That did cross my mind for a fleeting moment.” I said. “What do you think about the note?”
I tried to see his reaction. A slight clue would give him away.
He stared at the note for a long time. “One thing’s definitely clear.”
I arched a brow. “And what’s that?”
“This killer, whoever that he is...” he trailed off to create more suspense. “He is pretty bad at poetry.”
And I almost threw a knife at him. “It says you’re lying. What are you lying about, Jack?”
Jack looked outside the window, his eyes staring at a distance. “It says that I’m lying about not having committed those murders.”
“It’s for you to decide, Riley. If the police get me, there will be a trial against me and if I’m found guilty, I may be hanging from a noose one day.”
Even as he said that, I couldn’t hear the pain in his voice. He was just stoic and I didn’t know how I felt about Jack being executed.
“If you’re innocent, Jack, it will be proved in court.”
Jack chucked, a sad undertone to his laugh. “My sweet Riley. You’re far too naive to underhand how truly vindictive people are. You either become a hunter or get hunted. I chose the former.”
He looked straight in my eyes. “I cannot die because of some murders that I never committed. I have to get to this killer phantom first before he gets to me.” He blinked. “Let me guess, you still don’t trust me, do you?”
“My mind tells me you’re manipulating me just as you manipulated all those people you killed before, but my heart says that you’re telling me the truth.” I didn’t think I would say it. “I trust you, Jack. I’m afraid you will break that trust one day.”
“The day I break your trust, Riley, consider me dead.”
There was so much sincerity in his tone that it was hard not to believe him.
“You’re going to get what you’ve been asking me for the past few days.” He said.
“And what’s that?”
“I’m taking you home.”
We rode in silence in his car, a navy colored Mercedes Benz SUV this time. I didn’t know if I was happy to finally go home or sad. In just a matter of four days, I’d come to like Jackson more than I wanted to admit.
When he kissed me, my body felt like it was on fire. There was this unspeakable hunger inside my body that could have been extinguished with his touch. I was a coward and I didn’t want to admit that I liked it.
That I’d fallen in love with him.
Thirty minutes on the road, and there was a violent gush of wind followed by harsh pelting of the rain on the windshield. It was dark outside and the road surrounded by trees on all sides.
I should have felt scared to be alone in a car with a notorious Wanted criminal, driving in the middle of nowhere but it was funny how my gut told me I had nothing to fear from Jack.
The rain was so harsh that we could hardly see the roads. I watched him as he up in front of a shabby motel.
“We will stay here for the night and I’ll drop you off home tomorrow morning.”
“That sounds okay.” I said.
We didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to ask him to keep driving and risk our lives. It was already late and the roads were wet.
We were greeted at the reception by a timid boy with a name tag that read ‘Ben’. He passed us a toothpaste commercial smile. “Welcome to Country Creek Motel. I’m Ben at your service. How may I help you?”
He talked like a recorded voice message on repeat.
Jackson smiled. He was wearing a blond wig that actually looked nice on him and wore contacts. His original brown eyes were now blue.
“I’d like one room for the night please.” Jackson said.
“Sir, unfortunately, all the rooms are taken at the moment due to the storm and...”
Jackson threw a bunch of cash on the table.
Ben’s smile grew wider, he glanced around and pocketed the money. “Perhaps I can do some arrangements.” He pulled out an old register that seemed like it had been pulled out of the ground after being buried for several years. “Put your name here, sir and please sign. Card or cash.”
“Cash, please.” Jackson said.
Ben smiled, “this way Mr and Mrs. Miller.”