Hi guys. Well, this one is a hard chapter to part with, I’ve had it sitting on my computer for a few days now, pondering whether or not to go ahead with it how it is. Ultimately though, it’s rough, it comes with a warning of sorts for those of a …delicate disposition… but hopefully, in the end, you’ll forgive me for it 😉 I’m nervous about this, so feel free to review!
“No Sir,” he said, “He checked out of here this afternoon, bit of a shady fellow if you ask me. Not at all friendly or chatty, was down right rude to Angela my barmaid too.” Mr Fellows told me from behind his bar, where Bill Compton had been staying. I had gone there the next morning to confirm my suspicion on what had happened to Sookie. I knew she had no real reason to flee on her own, and as much as my ego was second-guessing and telling me she’d left me because of all the dramatics that surrounded me, my heart, it knew better.
He had taken her.
I had explained all I knew, the best I could without betraying Sookie’s trust completely, to Niall. Once he was fully aware of her situation his stance on things… softened. He even offered to get in touch with his ‘contacts’ in London in the hopes of putting feelers out for Compton and any sight of him and a woman. It had gone two days, and we had nothing, nothing except a call from Pam, which was most welcome in my time of extreme panic.
“What the fuck do you mean, he just took her? Eric?!”
“I know.” I sighed as I explained everything as far as I knew it. “I know, we’re looking, no one in town that we talked to saw anything, so he clearly didn’t come back there… people know her, they’d have noticed. I’ve spent most of the day on the telephone trying to get some information from the detectives, and so far we’ve got nothing. I know they can’t have vanished out of thin air, Pam.” future
“I’m back in London, come, stay with me, you could maybe do more good here? Isn’t here the logical place for him to go? Didn’t you say he was staying in the city before? Where she’d seen him at least. And then there was the business with John Quinn.”
“Who is also mysteriously missing in action.”
“Come here, if you find nothing soon, I’ll ask around. If he’s involved with Quinn, the business deals and all that other questionable stuff he is up to… My guess is Compton is also involved. Sookie said he was a money grabber.”
It was the most logical idea, and I needed to feel proactive, sitting still in Scotland wasn’t going to do her much good if she had infact been taken to London.
“If he’s planning on taking her back to America…” My heart tightened at the prospect. “London would be the most logical place …”
She sighed, and I realised she had said just as much minutes before. My mind was distracted, to say the least. Days and nights of stress and very little sleep, and what sleep I did get was haunted with nightmares of what she may be going through.
“I had called with a reason, but suddenly it just doesn’t seem of import.”
I squeezed the bridge of my nose in attempt to calm the tension in my head.
“I’m sorry, Pam. What’s your news?”
“Well… I’m getting married, we’re aiming for December, right before the clause runs out… I was calling to tell Sookie…” She trailed off before I heard her sniffle, Pam never sniffled. “Eric we have to find her.”
“Understatement of the year… oh, and congratulations on your … wedding.” Sombre was the tone for the rest of the conversation, but I agreed that I needed to go to her, I would have more access to Niall’s friends in London from there, and my own guys for that matter. I just hoped that Bill Compton was as predictable as he was psychotic.
Niall took a turn for the worse that afternoon, the doctors worked with him for what seemed like hours, his heart was failing him, but his brain was still very much in the swing of things. By the time he came around that night, as I sat by his bedside, his ashen face was filled with what seemed like regret.
“I am sorry, Eric.” He whispered.
“Everything. I have gotten in such a panicked state over how things will be when I am not here to oversee them, that I lost… I lost track of what would be most important.”
I didn’t answer him, but he reached out for my hand and I was not so cruel as to deny him whatever comfort it was he was seeking.
“You are like a son to me, you know this. You loved my daughter, and she you. She would tell me how you didn’t fit in here, or anywhere, and that she wanted to help you find your place…” He coughed, “I just wanted to help with that too… never once giving thought on whether or not you wanted a place.”
“I do… want a place… I do. I just…”
“Deserve to be happy… and if it is with my housemaid, then so be it.”
“Even though you now know she was born to a well-to-do family of some means, and that it might secure your will a little more tightly?” I smiled, knowing he was relaxed now, only because he knew the truth. Niall was a good man at heart, but he was a real fucking snob at heart too.
“Perhaps. But do you blame me so much for it? When you have daughters, Eric, and you marry them off to who you hope are good men of some means. You remember my stubborn take on things, you might find you have one similar yourself.” He attempted a smile, before he rubbed his chest. “Fuck this body, failing me now.” He sighed.
“You need rest, Niall. I’m stressing you out too much with this, and I’m not much good to anyone stuck up here in the wilderness. I’m going to London, I’ll be staying with Pamela.”
“For how long?”
“Until this Sookie situation is resolved.”
“And you still think she was taken?”
“I do. She’s made of stronger stuff than having someone yell at her and having that drive her out.” I wanted to smile then, because she really was made of steel underneath that unassuming exterior of hers.
“If there is any help you need… I am sorry for how I spoke of her, I am not the world’s most patient man as you know and frustrated with things out of my control led to…”
“It’s fine, Niall. It’s fine. All I really care about now is finding her, and finding her safe and getting her as far away from Compton as possible.”
I left that evening, getting into London late I went straight to Pam’s, and was seen by her new maid Louise, where there was hot tea and a bed waiting for me. Not that I’d sleep much, I pondered as I got in, alone. I wanted to find her, I had to. And if I had to bash Bill Compton’s brains out in the process, well, that would just be the collateral damage I would be willing to put up with. Not that I would take pleasure in it or anything.
Of course not.
Well, maybe a little bit.
“Bill, this is so silly, where am I to go?” I motioned to my dress, or lack thereof. I had been living in my under dress for the majority of my time in the tiny apartment in London. From the views I figured we were somewhere central, but where exactly, I wasn’t sure.
“It is silly, I agree, but until I can trust you, I must keep you secure.” He frowned as he fastened one of my wrists to the iron bed frame.
“There are more books, if you get restless…”
Yes there had been many books, my distractions, my saving grace from sheer insanity.
“Bill, please. Let me go, I can’t very well …” I swallowed my gag reflex as the words came out of my mouth, “take care of my husband like this, now can I?”
He had taken me from Scotland on the twenty-fifth of October, it was now November second, and I’d had enough of being kept in line like a farm animal. I would do as I always had done, whatever I had to do, to survive. Survival was the goal, whatever I had to do in order to survive, I would deal with the repercussions of that if I did indeed survive.
He looked taken aback by my words, as well he should. I had spent the previous week resisting his conversation, advances, and even looking at him was a chore given my anger. It took me two more days of compliments, and puppy eyes to convince him to let me free when he left. Freedom, I thought, but no, instead he put me on a leash – quite literally.
Tied to my waist, the chain that held me to the bed, was now larger, tighter, and tethered to the wall. I sobbed when he left. It was the most humiliating experience of my life, and I was just thankful Eric couldn’t see me like this.
“This is insanity, Bill. You don’t treat someone you love like this!” I cried that first day, when he came back with dinner and wine. “You say you love me, you want me to… to trust you… How can I do so like this?”
And that earned me the first slap of my reunion with Bill. Right across my healing face, opening the cut on the side of my eye, and reawakening the bruise there too. For my insolence, he refused to speak to me, and for another two days, I spent my time in silence.
I was in hell, I knew it then. Hell wasn’t some realm where we went when we died. Hell was here, hell was now. And I began to lose hope of ever escaping.
When he left I would scream, I figured someone, somewhere would hear me eventually. But as the days wore on, and my voice wore out, I lost hope in that too. We were too far up, in a building that otherwise seemed empty. There was never any noise from neighbours, never any anything really beyond the odd dog barking in a distance. We seemed to be in an abandoned street too, I never heard another soul talk or move around. The streets in the distance had activity, that I could hear from so high up, but otherwise it was like I was stuck in the tower, I could see all, but touch nothing.
By the sixth of November, something in Bill shifted, and I was let free of my leash, the door was still locked from the outside, but, it was a small freedom I wasn’t about to take for granted. I decided to go full force with my plan, I needed to gain his stupid trust if I ever wanted to breathe fresh air again. He was a paranoid man, full of delusions it seemed, but he had an ego that much I knew. I also knew the right way to appeal to it. I also knew where he kept his stash of injections, it was in a small box, one he thought I didn’t notice, inside a larger box, inside a travel trunk. There was a pile of neatly folded money, some coins, and something else a power in a small bag. I didn’t care for anything other than the injections, and on that day, as I prepared our dinner, I changed their location. The largest one sat inside my makeshift pocket I created in my undergarment. I could have pushed whatever he’d been injecting me with, into the food, but with Bill’s nature, I was taking no chances that he would suspect anything. By the time he came home at nine that night, my nerves were shot to smithereens.
“Your face is healing well.” He said as he greeted me with a kiss to the cheek, softly. I smiled and tried to sound nonchalant.
“It is, I think soon I shall be able to step out with you, if that’s what you want, of course.”
He studied me for a moment, but instead of making eye contact with him, I just continued to bring the food out of the small cooker that sat in the cramped apartment.
“Is that what you want, Susannah?”
I forced a smile again, before I looked at him.
“Of course it is, Darling. I see now, things can change… It just took me a little time … to think.”
“I had hoped your time alone would help you see sense… that that life wasn’t the one you deserved.”
“It wasn’t. I wasn’t born for hard labour.” I smiled.
Just a hard marriage, apparently.
He smiled only his was genuine, where mine was the furthest thing from that.
“That’s great news, my dear. Great news indeed. I have a few more business meetings and some things to secure this week, and then I think we can start to think where we’re to live. Personally, I’d rather be back home. The English and their weather doesn’t really sit well with me.”
“Perhaps, that is if we have anything to go home to… is the house still ours?” My Grandmother’s house, one that was left to me, but of course it was left to my husband instead since women were still deemed ‘unable’ to own property. The absurd law that really grinded my gears stated as much.
“Sadly no. I had some debts that needed to be paid, so the house was used to… cover them.”
I closed my eyes. All my Grandmother’s things too were no doubt sold too. Her silver, her jewellery, most of my childhood was connected to that house, it made me sad to think someone else now stood in place of my family there.
“We can always get another house, begin new memories of our family. And I do so want a family with you, Sus. I think this time, we could do it right if you just do what you’re told… we would have to suffer no more loss.”
“So it’s all my fault?” I fought my urge to strangle him from across the table. “Not the fact that you beat me -”
“Susannah, please. Let’s not rehash history.”
“Why not? Would it be displeasing to you to do so? Why can’t we be honest here, Bill. After everything don’t we owe each other at least that much?”
He sighed, before he took a large bite from his chicken. I regretted not spiking it in that moment. He just kept on eating, as calm as you’d like annoying me to no end in the process.
I got up with my plate, no longer able to stomach the food, and threw it in the bin. He sighed from the table.
“It wasn’t my fault you know? At all. Both times the babies came early because of what you were doing. The fact that you can’t even man up and admit -” Before I finished my sentence, I was backed up against the sink, hard and fast, hurting my hip. He held me by the throat and got right up into my face.
“I don’t want to hear it, do you understand?”
“I don’t.want. to. hear. it.” He seethed, “I am sick of the whining Susannah. Sick to the teeth of it. Even when we were married it was all you do. Whine. Whine like a child, a spoiled child that needed to learn her damn place.”
My heart was beating so fast I was sure it was about to jump up my throat.
“We’re not discussing the past, not now, not ever, do you understand?”
He held my jaw, tight, so tight I was sure something snapped. His finger marks were left on my face and neck, that much I knew, I could them start to make a bruise already.
“You will stop bringing it up, you will shut up and know your place once and for all.”
When he left me go, I fought the urge to cry, from the pain and the shock, and from the humiliation of it all. What I couldn’t fight the urge with however was my mouth, and I talked back and I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that it would cost me, but another larger part of me didn’t really care.
“You’re right, I should be silent on the matter, after all, what man wants to be reminded that he murdered his children before they even had a chance to live, that he beat them out of their mother too soon… I wouldn’t want to be reminded of that, either.”
A second later, I felt his hand in my hair as he dragged me from the sink and I landed with a smack on the hardwood floor. I thought for sure he would force himself on me, and I was prepared for it, he didn’t though, sex was never Bill’s strong point, and sexual dominance was also not something he even knew existed. I don’t think he knew much about touching a woman if I was being honest. It was a fact I lived with, until I fell in love with Eric and realised that there were men that knew what they were doing with their hands…. and other parts. The only thing Bill seemed to know what to do with his hands on a woman was to beat her, and beat me he did. I tasted blood, lots of it, I could no longer see out of my left eye, I felt warm blood there too… my hands were burning, held down by his knees on them so I couldn’t move or wriggle free. I just kept thinking of the injection, if I could only get to it, everything would stop. But I couldn’t. It was as if he knew. He beat on me for what felt like an eternity, until I was choking on what I assumed was the blood I was tasting. It was only when his own hands were bloody and shaking that he stopped. His breathing was laboured as he moved off me to wash his hands in the sink.
“Get up.” He ordered, when moving was the last thing on my list of needs. Breathing came first, and even that was proving a struggle. When I didn’t move quickly enough for him, I felt him reach for me, under my arms and slide me toward the bed. My ribs cracked and I cried out in pain. I felt like I was dying.
“Get yourself cleaned up. I’ll be back in a while…”
I must have passed out, because the sun that was setting as I laid on the bed was long down when I opened my eyes again. I still couldn’t see out of both eyes, my ribs hurt, my hands were numb and I couldn’t move some of my fingers without serious pain, but I dragged myself toward the bathroom mirror. If I had any energy I might have screamed at the horror I’d seen in front of me, my face was swollen, bloody, and bruised. My hair was matted with blood, I was unrecognisable.
I sobbed quietly as I attempted to move to wash with a warm cloth, but after a few minutes it was too much and I needed to lay down. When I woke up on the morning of the seventeenth, he was mopping at my forehead with a cloth and some band aids. I recoiled.
“It’s alright, Susannah, it’s alright now.” I moved away further into the corner of the bed, against the wall, the idea of him touching me was enough to make me want to heave.
“Get away from me!!”
“I’m sorry, surely you must know how sorry I am?”
I had heard that song on many an occasion, I didn’t want to hear it again.
Instead, I moved from the bottom of the bed onto the floor, where I was able to put a little distance between us.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Susannah.”
“Then don’t!” I begged, sure that he was coming to finish what he’d started, though that may have been the fever talking.
“I’m worried for you. You were screaming in your sleep…and now you’re burning up.”
Worried? That had to be the worst joke I’d heard all year. Then I remembered. The injection. I slid my hand into the makeshift pocket, popped off the small lid, and approached him, slowly, as he sat on the bed.
“Please sit. I want to explain myself…” He asked, and that just wasn’t going to happen.
“I can’t do this anymore… I can’t…” I said as I stood in front of him, my hand on the needle. I couldn’t think, I knew if I did, I’d chicken out. I couldn’t chicken out, not now. My life depended on it. In a split second it was done, I had jammed the needle into his neck and stepped back. It took a second for him to register what I’d done… then he lunged toward me. I stepped back again, but it wasn’t working. He kept moving!
What in the hell!?
I moved so far back that I was in the kitchen part of the apartment, I noticed some noise coming from outside, but ignored it as I had more pressing matters at hand. Like my crazy ex lunging at me, half drugged. He got closer to me, his hands outreached toward me, and I panicked. I reached for the skillet, and I whacked him across the face with it, once, twice, three times just to be sure. He fell to the ground with a loud and heavy slap, and I was sure my heart was stopping in my chest. He groaned as he laid there, and looked around the room, as if someone was suddenly going to burst in and save me. I knew that to be nonsense. The only person a girl can depend on to save her skin, is herself. I learned that lesson a long time ago. There was no white knight. Not in this fairytale.
I stepped over his groaning body, his eyes I noted were rolling in his head, his mouth half moving but no sound was coming out. I searched for the needles, the little hidden box for another. When I found it, I made the choice to inject him again. This time with the full thing, I was taking no chances of him coming after me. When I saw that he was out, I ran to the door. I ran as if he was chasing me, because it felt like he was still chasing me, I felt sick, I felt dizzy, but most of all I felt fear. I needed to escape that fear, and in doing so, it meant getting as far from him as possible. I got out the door, to the dusty abandoned staircase and I ran down them faster than I recalled ever running anywhere. When I got outside, the light, the air, it all hurt my body, and I realised I was right. Whatever street we were on, it was empty, completely desolate, but I could hear sounds. I followed the sounds.
I rounded a corner, then another, all in my bare feet, and underwear, beaten and bloody. I rounded another corner, and it was like re-entering the world. There was a celebration, lots of them in fact. People were happy, so happy and cheering, it looked like a parade.
I looked for a street name, and then I knew where I was, where I had been. I also knew where I needed to go. I began on foot again my blood pumping in my ears, not caring for the looks I received, not caring that my feet were becoming as bloody as the rest of me. I ran until a hand grabbed me, and I screamed, in my head it was Bill I saw. In reality, it was a woman.
“What on earth happened to you, girl?” She asked, I had no clue who she was.
“I was … I need to get to Chelsea. Please.”
She opened her mouth, then closed it again.
“You’re far from there, too far to go… like that.”
“Please, are there buses from here? Is there a street car?”
She looked around, the celebrations continued even on this street, and I had been running for what seemed like forever.
“You won’t get one now, not in this crowd.”
“What are they celebrating?” I asked, holding onto her hand that held onto my arm.
She blinked, confused.
“The war, dear. It’s over.”