With My Last Breath

by Lily Evans 4 months ago in fiction

An Original Story

With My Last Breath

*Chapter 1*

Nothing feels the same after you’ve lost the person you loved the most... Nothing on Earth could ever take away the pain or even come close to making you feel slightly better... I guess I’m in between the phases of denial and acceptance after everything. I mean, after hearing your father get murdered while you can only stand there helpless, it’s going to mess with you pretty badly... I wish I could go so far as to say that things eventually got better, but it didn’t. The only thing that changed was my mom getting married to a guy named Axel a month after everything happened.

The day was starting out the same as it usually does when I have school. Mom and Axel were downstairs fighting over the usual stressors; money, me, and my brother Jack going away to law school down in Florida. Today was his last day of school and he wanted to take me with him just so I could get away from this place, but no matter how much he begged and pleaded the college wouldn’t allow it. He had even gone so far as to bring in videos and pictures of the damage Mom and Axel had done to the both of us, but it didn’t seem to phase them at all. Jack is my rock and I don’t want him to go, but if he didn’t it would only keep him from achieving his degree. He was also going to try and find a way to get me out of here sooner than later.

I groaned as I looked over at the clock. There wasn’t much use in avoiding the long day ahead of me any longer so I crawled out of bed and made my way to the shower to clean away the dried blood that covered my body. Axel was a serious alcoholic and wasn’t a good one. His empty bottles either made it to one of the downstairs walls or he would find something I did wrong and smash it on me as a punishment. Some days it was just because he didn’t feel like actually throwing the bottle at the walls. A few of the other marks I had were some of my own doing... I know, I shouldn’t make it worse but it somehow made me feel like I was back in control of my life for a short time…

I grabbed the soap once I felt the hot water touch my skin and began to gently rub it in, sighing as the blood came off easier than it had last time and it wasn’t too painful today. The gashes and bruises were easy enough to hide in school, but the ones I had been caught doing myself, Axel would make sure everyone saw them. He had even gone so far once to point them out to people when we went out to places. That’s around the time I stopped going outside and how Jack and Mom found out I was doing it at all.

Mom had actually tried to help me once she found out but Axel wouldn’t let her, so Jack did everything he possibly could to make sure I didn’t die on him. He helped me to not do it as much and made sure that even if I did I wouldn’t be losing too much blood at once. I had actually almost succeeded in stopping completely until I got the news that Jack had been accepted into college. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that though just in case it made him want to change his mind about going to school…

Once I had stepped out of the shower, a refreshing cool breeze swept across my body making me slightly shiver. I grabbed my bandages and cleaning supplies and began to clean the cuts to keep them from getting infected or from opening up more and spilling blood everywhere. I had had that happen once before in school but luckily no one really noticed and I was able to clean it up in time to keep it from showing through my clothes. Once everything was cleaned, I pulled on my clothes and grabbed the work clothes I needed since I had to go to work right after school. The walk from my school to the coffee shop was almost an hour long, but it gave me the time I needed to unwind and clear my head of everything that has happened.

The people I worked with were amazing and so was our boss, Amanda, who I had become very close friends with. Amanda was one of the few people that actually gave me hope for anything. She had a caring personality and a smile that always touched her eyes, letting anyone that saw her know that she was there for you as a friend and someone you could tell anything to. Her positive attitude made the place run well and we all knew that without her, half, if not all, our customers wouldn’t bother coming back.

I’ve been working with Amanda for nearly two years now and I really can’t find anything wrong with her; aside from her habit of getting back together with her jerk of a boyfriend, Jason. Aside from that, she’s perfect in every way. I’ll be the first to admit that I do have a bit of a crush on her, but in this town being bisexual or full on gay makes you the target of some serious hate—which is one reason why Axel hates my guts and why Jack is super protective of me. As far as I know, no one has ever admitted to being anything but straight ever since two boys threw someone over the bridge just because he admitted he was gay... It had made the front page of every paper in the state four weeks in a row; especially after the two guys were sentenced to 15 years of prison each. I think they should have gotten life... I still remember crying when I first saw the headline and the name on it.

Teen boys arrested for the murder of 19 year old Alexander Hawthorne...

From everything I heard after that, his family had pressed serious charges against the parents of the two guys and had actually won the case. Not many people were pleased with that, but they understood and never spoke out against them since everyone knew the Hawthorne name... They’re one of the richest families around and hold a lot of power within the community; yet they are very nice people from what others have said about them. Jack and I had known Alexander before he graduated from school and he had been one of the nicest people with dreams of going to the big city and becoming a runway designer. From what I saw of his work, he would have made millions with his clothes. It’s a shame he’d never get to make his dream happen.

After hearing about that, I had kept my sexuality a secret for as long as I could until Axel found out and made it a public event. Since then, I’ve been the target of a lot of hate from people in town and the people I go to school with; but Jack always had my back when things got really rough... I’m a little afraid of what will happen when Jack finally goes to college next week. I had finally finished putting on my clothes and makeup, then quickly tied my hair up into a tight ponytail, revealing the scar that I had on the right side of my face; a scar that had been caused by a knife followed by a three week coma thanks to Axel’s drunken rage. Jack had nearly killed him after that from what I had been told, but he was more concerned about my life. If it wasn’t for Jack, I probably would be dead by now.

I quickly made my way downstairs into the kitchen where my bag was waiting along my usual pop-tart for the walk. I walked out the door as fast as I could before Axel had the time to notice me or say anything and began walking to the school. Since it was Jack’s last day, he didn’t have to be there until a little after nine for the pre-graduation ceremony in the gym so he couldn’t bring me to school today. Today was also the day that students from other grades got recognized for their efforts, good grades, and athletics. The basketball and football teams were bound to get a big speech for their “fantastic sportsmanship” and for getting our school the championship prize at the national games in Seattle, Washington—something that apparently hasn’t happened in like ten years. It was also the day Jack would get recognized for the amazing performance he did during our school's last concert. His playing and lyrics were so good that the judges gave him all tens and the first prize. I couldn’t be more proud to have him as my older brother.

As I continued walking, I slipped my headphones on over my ears and let the music of Mayhem fill my ears and slow down my racing thoughts. I had a playlist of all their best songs and listened to them more than any other band on my iPod. A lot of people never heard of them before and those who looked them up eventually thought I was insane for liking them at all; especially after they heard about the... incident... with one of my favorite band members. As strange as it sounds, I’d honestly give anything to see him alive in person to know what he was really like before his death.

The walk to the school was nearly over when I saw a bright red sports car pull up close beside me. I scowled and tried to walk faster, trying to avoid what I already knew was unavoidable. Finally, the car came to a stop and the faint click of two high high-heeled shoes were heard letting me know that the one and only Nikki Sutton was on her way to deliver her daily blows along with her current boy-toy, who also happens to be mine and Jack’s former friend, Drew Cooper. Drew, Jack, and I used to be the best of friends until Nikki got a hold of him. She had somehow managed to get him to hate the both of us and ruin our reputation. Drew was the one Jack had told everything to; even things that I didn’t know about. Everything we ever told him eventually made it to Nikki’s ears and soon enough the whole high school knew everything we tried to keep from them.

Suddenly, the noise of her heels stopped and she stood a foot away from me with her hand on her hip, pushing me with her other hand before she started talking.

“Tell me something,” she said sharply. “Why are you even still alive? How many people have to tell you that they don’t want you here? Do us all a favor and kill yourself; at least then no one will have to be miserable looking at your face. Maybe that’s what really happened with your dad. He probably couldn’t stand to even be around you so he killed himself and the cops took pity on him and made up that stupid murder story.”

Her words had cut deeper than anything she had ever said before. Everyone in town knew about my father’s murder. He had been downstairs watching his football tapes late one night when someone had broken in through the back window. He tried his best to get the people out of the house but ended up getting shot. The cops never caught the people responsible, but the two main suspects had always been my mom and Axel because not long after his death, the two of them married and she forgot all about him and his death.

Looking over Nikki’s shoulder, I saw that even Drew was shocked that she had gone that low.

You know something, Nikki,” I spat. “You aren’t all that. Just because your parents are rich and you can buy your way through anything doesn’t give you the right to be a bitch to me or anyone else. So why don’t you just shut your mouth, Sutton.”

Her face was red with anger, and instead of saying anything, her fist connected with my jaw and sent me down to the ground with a metallic taste in my mouth. I was used to this by now. It was normal for Nikki and her friends to deliver at least five or six good blows a day depending on if they could be bothered or not to give more. If Nikki was having a bad day, however, it would be a constant hell for the day with blows coming from her friends as well as a few of the people on the football team. No one cared about the beatings I got—even the principle would look the other way because Nikki’s parents would just sign over a check with a lot of zeros just for him to keep quiet and to keep Nikki out of trouble.

As I recovered from the punch, I watched as Nikki got back into her car and pulled into the school's parking lot. Sighing, I brushed myself off and finished the walk to school, cleaning the bit of blood off of my face.

“Krystal!” There came Drew’s familiar voice, “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

I sighed as I opened my locker but nodded once, too afraid to say anything in case it was all a trap set by Nikki; I never knew with Drew anymore and that’s what scared me the most.

“Look,” he started to say. “I know that I’ve done some really unforgivable shit to you and Jack and I can’t begin to explain how sorry I am, but I wanna try and make things right. Please give me another chance, Krystal, and I promise you won’t regret it.”

I sighed and thought for a minute before giving in and nodding. As much as I wanted to say no, I couldn’t push away all the good memories that the three of us had together. I missed having Drew around and I knew that Jack did too, but Drew’s betrayal had all but destroyed him. They used to be as close as brothers, once upon a time. I wish I could be like Jack and push away the memories and feelings, maybe then I wouldn’t hurt so much or be so ready to just sleep and never wake up.

“Alright,” I finally managed to whisper. “I guess it can’t hurt to give you one more shot; but how do I know that this isn’t all just some kind of sick joke?”

Drew sighed. “I don’t blame you for thinking that, Krystal, I really don’t because I’d probably wonder the same thing if I was you. I know you and your brother don’t trust me and you have every right not to. I can promise you this isn’t a joke but actions speak louder than words, right? I don’t want to see you hurting anymore, Krystal. I honestly love you. I always have but I was stupid and decided to choose popularity and being with Nikki over the only real friends I ever had. You two needed me to be there for you after everything that happened with your dad. Instead, I fucked everything up and treated you like you never mattered.”

“Did you just say that you loved me, Drew?” I asked a little too harshly. “I hope you can at least remember my opinion on that damn word and aren’t just saying it.”

“I know how seriously you take it, Krystal, but it’s honestly how I’ve felt for a long time. I’ve had these feelings for as long as I can remember. I figured they would just go away with time, but they got stronger and I got scared so I figured if I hurt you and pushed you away I would move on and these feelings would go away. I guess I just ended up hurting both of us instead of doing either of us a favor. Can you ever forgive me?”

I sighed and thought for a moment. “Drew, you’re lucky I’m giving you a chance right now; but it’s gonna be a long time before I can trust you again. I’ll admit that I had some feelings for you in the past and honestly thought that I might have loved you; but you ruined that by doing what you did.”

“Krystal I’ll wait however long I need to! I know things will never be the way they used to be but I want to at least try.”

I nodded sadly. No one had known about my feelings for Drew except for Jack and he had promised to keep it a secret until I was ready to tell him. I can’t even begin to count how many times I had once dreamed about being with him and holding his hand in public without anyone around me judging and laughing at us. It was a dream I gave up on after he turned to Nikki. Without another word being said between us, I began walking to my first class.

Art was my favorite class. It was the one place where I could express myself through my drawings without worrying about being judged for whatever I came up with. The art teacher, Mrs. Jones, was one of the nicest teachers in the school and was always supportive. If one of her students was having a hard time, she would have them stay after class or after school to help them and be there for them like a second mother. Her art room had a zero tolerance rule when it came to bullying. If you were caught once it was a warning, twice was detention, and a third time would get you suspended. The principle never even argued with her rules and had even added that if someone was caught doing it again after the third time, the suspension would go up to ten days.

I sat down at my usual spot, pulling out my pencils and paper, noticing that while other students were coming in, Mrs. Jones had yet to come in. She was usually the first person in the room just so she could greet everyone with one of her cheerful smiles followed by asking everyone how their weekend had been. It was rare that she was ever late to class. Maybe she was trying to see if we could handle being alone in the room without her and not do anything crazy. I started to work on my latest sketch while everyone around started pulling out their supplies and drawings from the last class. Usually my drawings revolved around whatever mood I was feeling at that moment, and after everything that had happened with Drew, I figured I would somehow work the confusion I was feeling into the drawing and then coming up with some lyrics to put in it as well once I finished the basic design. As everyone worked and talked amongst themselves, the principal's voice came over the speaker.

“Attention to all students and staff,” she said quietly. “Our assembly shall begin a little earlier than expected. Would you all please make your way to the gym and take your seats.”

We all started to get out of our seats, everyone talking about why they thought the assembly was starting almost an hour early. As I walked into the gym I almost felt suffocated as waves of students crowded into the gym trying to find a seat with their friends, or find the easiest place to fall asleep for a while. Since no one in the school really cared for me, or even really noticed my existence, I was being tossed like a rag doll until I finally made my way to my usual spot in the corner away from most of the other people. Normally sitting by myself was what I liked to do, but it seemed as though that wasn’t about to happen once Drew sat down, and looked over at me with his bright green eyes. Trying not to smile at him like an idiot, I began looking around and quickly spotted Jack with the rest of his class on the gym stage.

“Can I ask you something, Krystal?” Drew asked.

I nodded. “Sure. What’s on your mind?”

“I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go and catch a movie with me Friday night, if you weren’t working. Maybe we could even go shopping at the mall like we used to. Before you even ask, everything would be on me; I’d also like to take you out to dinner and make it like a date if you’re alright with that.”

“Good morning everyone,” came Principle Alexandria’s voice. “Today was originally supposed to be one of celebration. A day that was made to celebrate these students as they leave this school and begin the first chapter of adulthood. Today, however, is bitter-sweet. All of you here today know our beloved staff member, Mrs. Amelia Jones. She was with us nearly 50 years and has given all of us that little ray of sunshine that we all knew we needed. I received a telephone call from her daughter minutes before I called you all here. I am sorry to tell you all that Mrs. Jones has passed away as of early this morning due to medical complications.”

The room went silent and no one could manage to say a word. Even the people who always did the most talking during assemblies stayed quiet. My heart sank down into my stomach and hot tears rolled down my face just as I’m sure they were with Jack. Mrs. Jones had always been an important part of his life just as she had been for me.

“We must not forget what she meant to us,” continued Principle Alexandria. “She would not want us to make this day one of sadness, but to carry on smiling and carrying on her memory. Keeping that in mind, it is time that we see these fine students out with our best smile!”

The rest of the assembly passed by quickly with students receiving their awards. Finally, it was time for the seniors to get their diplomas and leave the school once and for all. Since Jack was one of the best students the school had, he had been allowed to give the final speech.

He walked up to the microphone with confidence and his signature smile. “Good morning. I don’t want this to be like every other speech that we’ve heard before. I want to start by saying this. We might be closing this chapter, but the next one will be the hardest chapter yet. Some of us are already college bound while others are staying behind to take a break for a while or to just find a job; whatever they might be doing, it will be like nothing we’ve ever known. I don’t know what my future holds just as I’m sure the people I’ve come to call my friends these past years feel the same. This school has built me into the person that I am today and for that I will be forever grateful. Mrs. Jones was my biggest supporter and friend, just as I’m sure she was to most of you.”

“He’s good at giving these things,” whispered Drew.

I nodded, keeping my eyes on Jack the whole time.

“Before I go, I want all of you to keep one thing in mind; no matter what, you will face nothing alone. You will always have a friend as long as you are at this school with the teachers and staff who will go above and beyond to help you and see you succeed in your dreams. I hope all of you one day achieve your dreams with your heads held high, with confidence! No matter what, anything is possible and no one but you can say otherwise.”

As he finished his speech, everyone began to clap and cheer for him. It wasn’t a secret that almost everyone in the school liked him because of the kind of person he was. So it really wasn’t a surprise that he had gotten a reaction like this.

The rest of the day went by slowly, everyone noticeably upset about Mrs. Jones not being around anymore. Even during the final part of the graduation ceremony I had even noticed that Jack’s usual bright blue eyes held a sadness that people rarely ever saw in him. It broke my heart to see him like that on the day of his graduation. Finally, the final bell rang and we were finally able to leave. Grabbing the bag next to me that held my work clothes, I made my way out of the classroom and out the front doors, hoping that the day would get a little better once I got to work and saw Amanda.

Putting my headphones in, I blasted Marilyn Manson’s, "Beautiful People" and began the walk through town; the faint smell of oncoming rain filling my nose and making me smile just a little. Thunderstorms and rain were two of my favorite things when it came to weather. There was just something so peaceful about it and the amazing smell that rain had once it had finally stopped. As I walked, I made sure to keep my head down towards the ground, not wanting anyone from school to see me or make eye contact with me. It never ended well if they did and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone’s judgmental stares today.

Today was also the day that I wanted to finally tell Amanda that I liked her. It would be a lie if I said that I wasn’t nervous as hell about it. She was normally seen with a guy, sometimes two, but she had openly admitted to being bi-sexual and didn’t mind dating girls if she really liked them. I found myself hoping that I could be someone she would allow herself to be seen with, or even just let me take her on one little date. Once the coffee shop came into view, my legs picked up the pace to where I was almost running like my life depended on it. Once I was in the parking lot and saw the black pickup truck in front of the store my heart sink to my stomach.

Jason wasn’t a completely bad person depending on whatever mood he was in, but something about him always had Amanda running back to him for more every time they broke up. Usually when that happened it would mean a girls night out and a lot of ice cream to make her feel a little better even when you knew that the same thing was about to happen again in another week or so. She would tell me a million and one times how much she hated him and how she was never going to get back together with him, yet there they were in front of the shop laughing and flirting like nothing was ever wrong. As I got closer, I began to make out some of the conversation.

“I was stupid to keep hurting you, babe,” he said with a smirk as he brushed her hair. “You know there’s no one else I’d rather be with. You’re the only girl for me.”

Amanda giggled again. “Aw, baby! You’re too sweet! You know I missed you like crazy. I was actually thinking about calling you tonight for a date. I just want to put this nasty fight behind us.”

“So do I, babe. I can’t stand fighting with you.”

Deciding that I couldn’t listen anymore, I quickly ran into the store with my heart pounding against my chest. It was almost guaranteed that they had seen me, but at this point I didn’t care. As much as I like Amanda, I don’t really like her enough to deal with the same drama all the time anymore. Once my apron was on, I quickly started taking orders and making coffees, seeing Amanda come in out of the corner of my eye I ignored her and made conversation with one of our regulars. As I handed him his drink, Amanda came over and told me to come see her once I had finished with what I was doing. My heart began to pick up speed, almost making me feel a little faint.

I sighed and looked over at my co-worker Adam. “Can you take over for a few minutes? Amanda wants to see me about something.”

He flashed a smile and waved me off. “Go get your girl, Kris!”

I forced a smile and shook my head before heading into the office. I walked in, giving Amanda my best poker face, and sat down in one of the chairs.

“What did I do wrong?” I asked.

“Krystal,” she said softly. “You haven’t done anything wrong and I’m sure you know that. I just wanted to talk to about what happened with Jason and…”

I quickly cut her off. “Look, please don’t bother with whatever speech you prepared because I honestly don’t care anymore. You’re always coming to me crying about how he hurt you, broke your heart, and how you’ll never get back with him but you keep hurting yourself like this and I can’t do it anymore. He doesn’t love you or like you the way I do and he sure as hell doesn’t give a rats ass about your feelings like I do. I guess you’ve been a little blind to see that I’ve liked you for a while now, but that doesn’t matter anymore. You go and be with Jason, but I don’t wanna hear about your breakups anymore. I need to get back to work now.”

She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “Krystal, please just listen to me!”

It killed me to drop everything I had felt for her, but it was for the best. “Good bye, Amanda.”

Once the door was closed, all that could be heard was Amanda’s cries coming from the office. I felt terrible for making her cry, but she had decided to pursue a relationship with someone who is just an abuser, cheater, and a liar. Deciding not to let this interfere with my work, I pushed it to the back of my mind to deal with it later. Once I was back at the register, Adam turned and smiled at me.

“How did it go?” he asked hopefully.

I shook my head. “She got back together with Jason, so there’s your answer.”

He sighed. “I don’t what she sees in him; he’s such an airhead.”

The rest of the day passed by quickly with Adam and I making jokes about Jason and what plans we had for the weekend. As it turned out, his boyfriend was taking him on a weekend trip to New York City to visit his sister Carly. I honestly couldn’t help but be a little jealous of Adam and Seth’s relationship. I only hoped that one day I would meet someone who was as good to me as Seth is to Adam. I wanted so badly to feel the love of another person, to have something pure and unconditional... But it seemed like that kind of happiness was out of my reach. I almost had a deep hatred for those who could be that happy while I stayed miserable; but it wasn’t something I had any power over at the moment.

Finally, the last of the customers left and we were able to lock down the shop. Amanda had only come out of the office to fix a few things or to do some of things that she needed to do while we shut down, but she never once looked in my direction or said a word to me. It hurt not talking to her, but at the same time it was honestly for the best after what had been said earlier. When I left the building, the sun had almost completely set and it had gotten cooler. Adam had offered to give me a ride home but I declined, wanting to take as much time as possible so I wouldn’t have to deal with Mom and Axel as much when I finally did get home. Sighing, I put my headphones back on and let the vocals of Mayhem fill my ears and take me to my own happy world where I could be myself and finally be happy for once.

I’ll be the first one to admit that yes, I do have a bit of a thing for metal music and the people who make it. I find it attractive and honestly pretty sexy. Most people would think I was crazy if I ever told them that or let anyone besides Jack know that I was into metal. That kind of music is forbidden in this little town of country people. It’s honestly pretty depressing if you ask me. Aside from Mayhem, I’d have to say that the second best metal band would have to be Darkthrone. I can’t really explain why I like either bands so much, so I guess you could say I made some kind of weird connection with them in dark times. I had even tried getting Jack to listen to them on a few different occasions but he practically hated it. To each their own I suppose.

The wind had picked up a bit making it slightly colder, but the sudden chill felt good against my skin since it felt like I had been on fire most of the day. I had just come onto my road when I heard the screams of Mom and Axel from where I stood. It wasn’t a rare thing to hear them fighting and it was almost normal to see a cop car pull into the driveway; the cops and I were almost on a first name basis at this point with how much they get called to the house.

Jack’s car wasn’t in the driveway, letting me know that he was probably either out with his class celebrating graduation or spending the night with his girlfriend. Standing outside for a minute longer, I opened the door as quietly as possible so they wouldn’t hear or see me come in. I looked around seeing all the broken glass on the floor, tables flipped over, and the couch was turned upside down with a little bit of what looked like blood on it. It was going to be painful cleaning all of it up later once they made up and realized I was home. As I was about to make my way up to my room, I noticed a small silver key laying on the floor; a key that I had always seen Axel wear around his neck.

Quickly grabbing it I shoved it into my pocket and hurried up the stairs as quietly as I could, wondering if Axel was going to miss the key anytime soon. I had heard him tell Mom at one point that it was the key to a safe he kept hidden in the attic, so since neither of them went up there it would be almost too easy to find the safe and whatever was inside it; especially if they kept up the fighting long enough to not hear any noise I might make. From the sound of everything, it sounded like Axel had either been caught cheating again or Mom had a little too much to drink. Whatever the case was, I honestly didn’t care as long as they left me out of it.

The attic was a pretty cluttered space that was almost overflowing with stuff Axel had brought with him when he moved in with us. Most of it was junk that was either molding or completely falling apart. The light had been broken when everything had been moved in. So the only light I had was the one on my phone, which honestly wasn’t very bright at all. Looking around I noticed a few old family pictures when Dad was still around and Mom was happy again. It always puzzled me how she was able to move on so quickly with Axel after he died. I mean, yeah people move on after time heals the wound, but to move on as fast as she did had everyone asking questions and giving her crap for it. Even her own parents gave her hell for it saying she should have waited longer.

I still wondered how she even knew Axel before everything. She had only mentioned him once before and when she did, Dad didn’t like it and had told her that she was never allowed to talk about him again. They had gotten into a fight about it that night and she had acted like he had ruined her life by saying that. It was pretty weird, but at the time I didn’t really give it much thought. Thinking about it now made my stomach turn at all the possibilities and the fact that she could have been cheating on Dad the whole time. He might not have always been the best person, but no one deserves to be cheated on when they’re giving their heart to someone. I suppose it doesn’t really matter at this point. After stumbling around for what felt like hours, I finally found the small black safe that Axel kept up here. Just as I was about to put the key in, I could hear Axel yelling my name as he stomped up the stairs.

“Where the hell is the little bitch?” He yelled. “Her shit is here, but where is she so this mess can get cleaned up?”

Then came Mom’s voice. “She probably left while we were arguing; she’s gotta come home sooner or later.”

I waited a few minutes before putting the key in the safe, making sure they were gone before even moving. The door cracked open allowing me to look inside. Instead of finding something like a gun or money, there were copies of emails, newspapers, and police reports dating all the way back to 1993. I pulled open one of the emails and began to look it over, my heart dropping to my stomach as I read.

Sent To: [email protected] Sent From:[email protected]

Subject: Finished Business

I am pleased to say that the deed is done. The families involved are unaware of my involvement and the second phase of our plan is about to take place shortly once I get the money from, the now widow, Julia Nightingale. Her bitch of a daughter will most likely pose a threat and will have to be taken care of at some point, but for the moment she is more concerned with the death of her father. Now that he’s gone we can get the money easily and once we have it, the widow will be dealt with as well. I shall keep you informed of the progress just as I have before.

-H.F.

My heart pounded against my chest as I looked through more and more emails, more and more murders by Axel’s hand showing up. The last email, however, had me nearly in tears.

Sent To: [email protected]

Sent From: [email protected]

Subject: A New Objective

As it would seem, we might have a use for Mrs. Nightingale after all. Should the daughter you mentioned previously become too big of a threat, you and her mother will take care of her. Allow me to explain myself further to avoid another embarrassment like your “suicide” termination. You will earn the trust of Julia Nightingale and turn her against her daughter. Make her hate the girl to the point where she believes she is the problem with everything. Plant some evidence if you must to convince her. Next I want you to make sure that our contacts are in place should anything happen and make sure they are told to keep her with them and turn her over to you and only you! Should she talk to the wrong people this whole operation will go under and I will make sure it’s only you that goes to prison; I don’t want to remind you again of the last mistake you made.

Please also keep in mind that the safe I have given you is to be locked at all times and you will only be given one key. Should you lose the key you will not be given a new one and it will fall on your shoulders to remember the instructions given to you as well as the names and locations of our contacts and the money for expenses. I am putting this trust in you so please do not make me look like a fool by doing this. I would, however, strongly advise that you and Mrs. Nightingale kill the child as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

Best of luck, my friend.

-S.V.

THUMP.

I jumped as I heard the sound of Axel’s boots coming up the stairs, quickly closing the safe, shoving the papers into my pocket, and hiding myself in a deep corner just before the door swung open revealing Mom and Axel. My heart pounded so hard against my chest I was surprised they couldn’t hear it.

“Where is the little bitch?!” fumed Axel as he began to search the room.

Mom followed him. “I don’t think she’s here, Axel. What are you even looking for?”

He grabbed her by the neck, pulling her just inches from his face. “That key is the only thing keeping this whole plan from falling apart. If she got her hands on it and unlocked that safe we are both going to be fucked! Do you not understand that, Julia?!”

She nodded frantically before he tossed her to the floor and walking out of the room with his cell phone in hand. Mom stood up slowly and looked around the room, her eyes stopping on the area I was hiding in, she almost looked sad.

“Krystal,” she whispered as tears began to fall. “I don’t know if you’re even here, but if you are I’m so sorry I ever let this happen. I never should have listened to him. If you’re here, you need to get out while you still can and get to the police with those papers; I don’t care what happens to me because I deserve whatever I get. Stay safe, buttercup.”

As she left, closing the door behind her, I wanted so badly to run out and tell her that everything was going be alright, that I forgave her and we could go to the police together and be rid of Axel once and for all, but I thought about the email from Axel’s partner. She was just as big a part in this as he was and couldn’t be trusted no matter how much I wanted to trust her. Slowly, I moved from my corner and looked through a hole in the door to make sure they had left. Once I was sure they were gone, I made my way to my room and stuffed the papers and key into my backpack and began to shove clothes and other things I would need in there, opening the window once I was done and climbed out of the room.

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