Chapter 34: Chapter 34

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 62

Kate’s confidence fled the instant she saw Kyle come back in. He appeared to walk taller while his face beamed with a victorious expression. Tightly in his hold was Alex. He ceremoniously tore the cloth that had been secured over her head. She looked disoriented and stumbled as he guided her further into the room. Kate forced herself to look past Alex and saw Kyle had made eye contact with her and was smiling brighter than he had before; she was finally giving him the true reaction he was looking for. He carelessly dumped Alex onto the table and was rewarded with a painful grunt from the brunette. 

“I don't understand your confusion, Katelynn. Her weakness is my advantage.”

“Weakness?”

“You, Hazel. Really, it was almost too easy.” He laughed then leaned down close to Alex’s face to pull her attention to him. “It wasn’t Hazel or Luke. I just want to make sure you knew that. Owning a business brings an array of visitors.”

“Leave her out of this. You have me,” Kate begged.

“That’s not enough,” Kyle said looking back up. “She’s as complicit as you are.”

Kate studied her friend and tried to hide her compounding anxiety. Alex was watching her with a hazy gaze. As she looked lazily around the room, her features ran through a cycle of emotions. First, there were flashes of confusion mixed with a slight realization of what seemed like the inevitable. Then her eyes covered her distress and expressed remorse. Kate felt her stomach turn. It was one thing to be the one under the blade but a whole other when it was someone she cared for, and that's what Kyle wanted.

Once Alex was fully restrained he rolled up her shirt. “Look at that canvas.”

“Stop, Kyle,” Kate continued to plead, “I’m the one that killed your father.” She twisted her wrist more; she had to get free. A possible way to stop the madness, but she had to make she used it to their advantage.

Kyle disregarded her pleas and presented the silver ring she knew so well. “I’m thinking I’ll have you add this final touch. It’s only fitting.” He slipped the ring onto his index finger and adjusted the knife in his grip again. Kate watched helplessly as he traced the blade along Alex’s skin. “Where should I start, you think?”

Alex flinched at his touch and the remaining fog that had clouded her eyes suddenly cleared.

“You’re pathetic,” Kate called out. She needed to get his attention back on her. “You’re probably impotent too. Such a handsome ladies man that can't get it up unless he's using a knife.” Satisfied that he stopped and looked to her she quickly continued. “You think power is tying women down and getting off on torture. Why don’t you untie us and see who really walks out of here.” 

A quick swipe had a cry of pain fill the room and a pure satisfaction crossed Kyle’s face. She wouldn’t stop until she found a way to get him away from Alex. It was one thing for her fate to play out like this, but Alex didn’t deserve to be there. It wasn’t how she saw it ending. Whether he succeeded and killed her, Alex was supposed to fly in and finish the story. But, now Kate hung in a different reality. Kyle was a new threat, the real threat. He had studied them, took notes, and when he struck he was prepared. The table wasn’t for her, it was for her to watch as Alex was tortured and ultimately killed. He wanted her to feel the helplessness she had with Tyler. Now she was consumed with a fresh fear, but she had to think around it. There were always options, and the loosened buckle was it. 

Kate looked at Caleb who stood like a statue. Before Kyle came back he was trying to leave, yet now he couldn’t seem to move from his spot. She looked back to Alex and their eyes made contact. They spoke silently to each other and Kate made sure she knew she saw her determination to get them out. Alex nodded and focused back to Kyle. She looked as if she was preparing for battle. Kate’s heart began to beat faster. Her mind raced. She couldn’t allow Kyle to continue. 

Kate turned back to Caleb. “Enjoying the show? This is what you really wanted, right?” 

Caleb’s head snapped up. With his daze broken he spun away. “I’m leaving. You’re on your own with this one.”

“No!” Kyle curved around the table and leaped forward to stop his Uncle. When he reached him Kyle grabbed his arm. With a twist of his waist, he pointed back at Kate. “She’s the one who has done wrong.”

“She has, but Kyle, you don’t bring me here. This isn’t how it’s done.”

“You can’t leave. I have it all planned out. Nothing will ever come back to you.”

Caleb disregarded him and spun away. “I’m leaving.”

Kyle once again reached for his Uncle. With a side step, Caleb dodged the grasp and came back with a solid hook. The contact sent Kyle stumbling backward. It was the trigger in him that sent him into a rage. He rushed Caleb. 

Kate watched it all unfold and began to mentally prepare herself for her own battle. She had one chance. Her side stung and ached. The warm flow of blood had lessened, but waves of pain shocked through her with every minuscule movement. She would just have to fight through it. As the struggle continued she got her wrist out enough that she had been able to free her arm. She grabbed the leather strap to create the illusion she was still fully restrained.

Kyle suddenly cried out. His outburst halted all of Kate’s planning and her attention fully fell on him. He had jumped back as Caleb fell away, the knife Kyle held reemerged. He turned slightly and Kate saw the shocked look of realization wash over him. He fell to his Uncle’s side. Kate couldn’t see Caleb, but she heard the painful gasps he released.

She had to make sure he came to her and not Alex. She took the chance and called out, “Good job, Kyle. All that planning and you go and kill the wrong person, again.”

Kyle sprung to his feet. His eyes were pure black with the immense rage consuming him. He charged her with the knife leading the way and a battle cry ripping from his throat. 

Her fear quickly turned to the adrenaline she needed to fight. As he came to her she moved to the side away from the sharp point. It grazed her, but she ignored the new pain and released her grip on the strap. With the downward momentum, she brought a fist into his nose. She felt it shatter. He cried out at the instant pain. Blood began to flow and the knife clanged onto the concrete floor. As he recovered Kate struggled with her other hand. The over-extended position had left her muscle weak and tired. Pins and needles overwhelmed her arm as the blood rushed back to the extremity. She had to work past it. He would recover and be ready to finish his true intentions. She fumbled with the buckle but found success and released her other arm just as he began to rise. She leaped off her feet and knocked into him. He pushed back against her and they split apart. Chains rattled as her legs tangled and she went down hard. The force of her landing caused her brain to buzz. She had spotted where the knife had settled before she fell and began to search blindly for it. Just as she was within reach she felt him crest over her. He crashed down hard and flipped her over. He forgot about the knife and wrapped his large hands around her neck. She clawed at his vise-like grip and flinched at the blood dripping from his broken nose. She felt herself choking. Air no longer seeped past her throat and the blood was pressing out in all directions in her head. She felt the panic build at the reality that he was going to squeeze the life from her. He ranted as he bore down on her. She didn’t hear his words, but his tone sent her mind spinning with memories. She could see Tyler’s eyes just as he had opened the door and saw what horrors Kyle had done. They had been filled with absolute fear and confusion. She could do little then, but now she had a chance to save him. She began to well up with something primal, something of pure survival.

The gleam of the knife caught her attention and she frantically ran her hand across the smooth floor. Her fingers skimmed the blade and it spun in effect. She strained and struggled but managed to get a secure handle on it and brought up as hard as her weakening body would allow. It easily pierced his neck. He fell away in shock and pain as his own mortality consumed him. Kate gagged on the burst of oxygen that filled her lungs. She rolled away as far as the chains still attached to her would allow. Kyle tried to stand up, but just as fast fell back against the table. The hand that held his bleeding wound limply fell away. With each second that passed his eyes grew more distant until they became empty and lifeless.

The adrenaline faded as fast as it had flooded Kate’s veins. The room felt as if it was holding its breath for everything to settle. 

She looked towards the table when she heard Alex struggling and speaking to her. “Kate? What’s going on?”

Kate tried to answer, but her voice refused. She rubbed her throat to relieve the pain, but it did little to bring her voice back beyond a hoarse whisper. Alex kept talking and moving. Kate tried to stand but found all she could do was roll to her side to fight the pain and lack of strength. Suddenly her position created a paralyzing flashback. She felt like she was in a tunnel and any voices or sounds were miles away. She lay weakly on the ground with Tyler clutched in her arms. She was surrounded by the hollow darkness again. It felt like a cold blanket over her; an impenetrable sheet of ice. A warm voice beyond her tried to break it and bring the light back. Memories and pain gripped her heart and the mere thought of opening her eyes created anxiety. 

The familiar voice persisted. It became louder and closer. “Kate, answer me.”

Kate wasn’t sure if it was because her mind was drifting back to the present, but when she spoke again Kate realized Alex was over the top of her. 

She lifted her lids slowly and when she saw concerned dark eyes looking back at her she shook her head in confusion “How?”

Alex smiled. “And you mock my superhero abilities.” 

Kate tried to find humor in her words but found she could only stare in disbelief.

Alex’s smile faded and she looked her over. “You’re bleeding, let me help.”

Kate began to respond when she saw a shadow appear over Alex. It caused her to push back in a panic.

“Kate, stop.” Alex gripped her shoulders and forced her focus on her. “Look at me. It’s okay now.”

Kate took in a breath and looked back up, but her mind wasn't playing tricks, there was someone in the room. She couldn’t make out who it was but he was checking Caleb.

Alex turned with her shifting of weight. “Luke, we need to stop the bleeding.” She looked back to Kate. “Okay, so it wasn’t me.”

“He needs medical attention,” Luke commented, but not to them. That was when Kate realized there were more people. He turned to Alex before he jogged out of the room. “Medics are on the way, but I’ll get my first aid kit.”

Kate was torn between emotions. The gap between the bar and the present was a swirling abyss of unknown but her own overwhelming shock stifled any questions. 

Alex read her and spoke to her query. “Apparently he’s good at his job.”

Kate tried to smile and accepted the simple answer. There was plenty of time to fill in the holes.

Alex then gently brought the torn shirt back together to cover her exposed skin and applied pressure to her wounds while they waited for Luke. Luke returned quickly with Hazel hot on his heels clutching a good-sized duffle bag. 

She addressed Alex as she pushed Luke to the side.  “Did you think I was going to let Luke sideline me? I pretty much earned my right to be here.”

“She was the one who figured out the location,” Luke added circling the women.

Alex smiled and dropped her head. “You’re a marvel, Hazel.”

Hazel didn’t respond beyond a smile and set the bag down. She knelt next to it opening the largest zipper. She pulled out large gauze pads, antiseptic, tape, and a wrap. 

Alex sidestepped slightly but drew Kate’s hand into hers to keep contact. 

Hazel brought Kate’s attention around. “I can’t see how deep the lacerations are. I’ll do my best right now but I can’t promise you that you won’t need more care.”

“Can I have your jacket?” Alex asked, looking up at Luke.

Without a thought, Luke pulled his arms out and handed it over. Alex wrapped it around Kate’s shoulders and tried to ease her shivering. 

Kate barely noticed what Hazel was doing. She was in a daze of disbelief at what had just happened. She stared at Kyle. His lifeless eyes directed downward. His body was limp, no longer a threat. It slowly began to settle and she realized the magnitude of what really happened. She forced her eyes back to Alex. When the brunette felt her attention shift to her she moved to be in Kate’s eye line.

Kate spoke as well as her damaged throat would allow. “I wanted to stab him.”

“You did, and saved us.”

“No.” Kate shook her head and looked back to the man that had been the cause of her living nightmare. “I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to stab him for every year of life he took from Tyler. For every moment of pain that would lead to growth, for all the love he will never feel, or joy he will never experience.”

Alex put her hand under Kate’s chin and gently turned her head to face her and made sure their eyes met. “But you didn’t.”

“But I wanted to.”

“You didn’t, and that’s what makes you the good guy.”

Kate looked at her but didn’t answer. 

Alex eased back to study the chains around Kate’s ankles. “Is there a key somewhere?”

“Kyle.” She shrugged. 

Alex moved to him and checked every pocket of his jeans but found nothing.

“There’s a jacket in the corner,” Luke suggested.

Alex picked it up and hastily checked the pockets. Though the real threat was gone Kate suddenly began to feel more confined and trapped. She yanked at the chains.

“Just hang on.” Alex tried to soothe. “We’ll get out of here, I promise.”

Kate relented and laid back. The let down slammed into her. She shivered more from the shock that began to set in. Her throat ached, her head throbbed, and pain radiated from the exposed nerve endings.

“Got it!” Alex exclaimed.

She rushed back to Kate and began releasing the restraint. 

“The medics are waiting.” Luke nodded towards the doorframe.

“No,” Kate said. “I’m walking out of here.”

Luke turned to inform the hovering men when someone shouting had them bolting from the post they had held.

“What’s going on?” Alex asked suddenly standing.

“I don’t know. I’ll check it out,” Luke called back jogging from the room. 

It felt like forever before Luke returned, but he stopped before stepping into the room. He shook his head in disbelief to what was unfolding before them.

“He had Michael,” Luke paused. “I mean Jeremy, drugged and restrained in the basement. He’s pretty messed up but think he’ll be okay.”

The two women looked at each other in shock with the realization of how close Kyle got to succeeding and getting away.

Even with Kate’s declaration of leaving on her own volition, it became clear that neither woman had the strength to lift each other up. Luke quickly stepped in to get Kate to a standing position. Alex immediately cut in and shouldered Kate’s weight. The two slowly made their way from the room. Kate took one last look at Kyle and then to Caleb being wheeled out. He watched them as he passed, but his own peril held him still. Kate should have felt relief, but at the moment she felt nothing. Numbness consumed her. Once they cleared the doorframe Kate realized why the room looked familiar.

“My house.”

“Yeah,” Hazel whispered from behind them. “It was quite a cocky move Kyle made. He bought the house but used the name, Michael O’Hara. Except he was still in prison at the time escrow closed.”

It made sense, a twisted sense that only Kyle understood. He had wanted to recreate the original environment he had her in. The only place he could do that was in her home, her old bedroom. The difference was he upped his game to adapt for more control.

“He was right,” Alex said.

Kate stopped in confusion. “About?”

“You, and Hazel.”

“What do you mean?’

“He knew I’d cooperate if there was an inkling you were alive. And Hazel.”

“Hazel, what?”

Alex blew out an exasperated breath. “He knew if he threatened to hurt Hazel I would give in.”

Kate’s head dropped. “I’m sorry.”

Alex shook her head and pressed to move them forward. “Don’t be.”

Kate looked back to Hazel who hovered closely next to her. “Are you okay?”

“I am. Though I think Alex owes me for the way she spoke to me,” she said with a wink.

Kate looked at Alex who only shrugged slightly. She was about to respond, but when they got to the front porch she stopped their movements. “Wait.”

Alex obliged and helped lower her down. Alex sat with her but remained silent. Kate didn’t acknowledge the concern and looked out onto the street. She mentally reminisced when the neighborhood used to be alive with children laughing and running up and down the lawns with no care to a division of property, and the owners didn’t mind. Now her old grass was brown and overrun with weeds. The cracked drive echoed a cry for happier times.

A sea breeze rustled over the overgrown grass and rippled the puddles of rain that had collected, but it was the light chiming above her head that caught Kate’s attention. She looked up and to her surprise, the wind chimes that Tyler had made her still hung in the spot they had picked out. The rusted pipes collided as small turtles made from found seashells twirled in the breeze. She couldn’t help but smile. She looked to Alex then back to the chimes and wiped at the tears that began to well.

Alex studied her face and then looked at what had her attention. “Wow, those are still there?”

“Yeah,” Kate whispered. “Am I crazy to think that’s him saying it’s all okay now?”

“Honestly? I think-” But she stopped and smiled. “Yes.” 

Kate turned to the gaping door and darkness within. The now abandoned building was once a home she built with Richard with the simple plan to raise their son and be happy. She had never wanted to return to it. Tortured ghosts now haunted empty walls and vacant rooms. She began to struggle with every detail that had been created since she was thrown into her new reality years earlier. She could no longer hold in the build-up of pain. She had spent so much time wanting to reach that moment and as she sat at the end all she had were tears. As she wept Alex gently drew her into her. Kate began to feel self-conscious of her breakdown and tried to pull back, but sensing it, Alex only held her tighter. She held her until the tremors subsided. As they faded away Kate leaned back and looked at her friend. Staring into Alex’s eyes a sudden wave of calm came over her. She hoped it was the start of a stillness of mind she had craved for it to be truly over.

Alex smiled and caught the final tear before it could follow the path the others that had carved their way down Kate’s cheek. “I think we need to have Hazel really check you out.”

“And you. Have you looked at yourself recently?”

“Nothing a hot shower and stiff drink won’t cure.”

“I can only do so much. I really suggest getting some other medical care,” Hazel said carefully coming back into view.

Alex cocked her head towards her. “Why, when we have you?”

Hazel chuckled and shook her head, but relented. She lowered herself next to Kate and joined her two friends in silence as the activity picked up around them.

“What about them?” Kate asked, and looked back into the interior of the house. 

“I’ll take care of it,” Luke said. “Caleb Sloane has quite a lot to answer for, but so do you both,” he added and nodded to Byron leaning against the door of a black SUV.

Both Alex and Kate looked to the man focused directly on them. Kate sat up a little straighter and met his glare with her own. He broke the contact and climbed into the passenger side, slamming the door. They silently watched it as it curved around the cul-de-sac and down the street.

“I’ll do my best to keep the truth on the surface,” Luke promised.

 “Thank you,” Kate whispered hoping she could believe he had any pull in what truth would be spun. At that moment she didn’t feel fear or worry about what was, she was prepared for the next step in the battle.

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: November 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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