Fourteen ~ Caliste
“Would you like more of the lamb tartare?” I glanced up from the small amount of barely eaten food on my plate and gently shook my head. Raphael’s plump lips flattened. “You must eat. Not a lot, because then you’ll get fat and your dresses won’t fit, but you must eat. Joseph, give Onyx a serving of the tartare. You’ll love it once you try it. Mayberry Park does a wonderful job with it, serving it with green apples, aged goat cheese and charred leeks.”
“I don’t much care for lamb,” I whispered even as Joe, who was now pretending to be some sort of major domo in a new dark suit and white apron, spooned some of the ground meat onto my plate.
“I went to a lot of trouble to stop at that damn place to buy you this food. It’s classy and refined, like you. Eat it.”
I threw Joe a pleading look, but his rather round face remained frozen. Lifting the heavy silver fork, I poked at the raw ground lamb.
“They say eating raw meat that’s ground isn’t safe,” I gently reminded my kidnapper. He scowled and shoved a forkful into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. “Yes, well, I do have a tender tummy and if I should—”
“Eat the damn food, Caliste.” Raphael’s tone was bitter cold. I forked up a tiny bite then pulled it off the fork with my teeth. Joe stepped back to the corner of the dingy kitchen as I forced the meat down. A shudder ran over me. “There, you see, that wasn’t so bad. Wash it down with some wine or have another helping of the tomato and plum salad.”
I settled on the wine. I liked wine and it matched my blood red cocktail dress. “You must have broken a few speed laws getting to Colchester and back so quickly. What kind of business did you have back in town?”
He shoveled more lamb into his face. I silently prayed that it was riddled with E-Coli. “We had things to set up at Gems. Don’t you worry your pretty little head over it.”
“Yes, of course.” I lowered my eyes to the glob of meat on my plate and played with my wine glass, sipping modestly. What on earth were they doing at Gems? No one was there, surely. I shifted in my seat, uncrossing then crossing my legs. I peeked through my lashes to find Joe ogling my legs. I hoped his attraction to me would help when I made my break. “It’s a lovely table.” That was the truth. Fine utensils, a candelabra with flickering white tapers, a heavy cloth table covering and fine china plates. Oh, and of course, the two dozen white roses he’d purchased for me sitting off to the side in a delicate glass vase. Anywhere and anytime other than here and now it would damn romantic.
Raphael preened like a peacock. Damn the bastard. How could a man who looked so good and held such a high-ranking job be so disturbed?
“Thank you. I know the rest of this cabin isn’t fit for your tiny slippers,” he gave the rundown kitchen a sour look, then returned his attention to me. “But it’s only for the night. Tomorrow at this time, you’ll be free from those dirty whores who are dragging you down and we’ll be on a plane. Tell me, my darling, where do you want to go? I was thinking Milan at first, but now I’m leaning toward Malta, as they’re very LGBT friendly and I know you’d like that.”
“I would, yes, thank you. Do you not consider yourself gay?” I asked over my wine.
“God, no. I simply like beautiful women who know their place and dress accordingly. My father instilled morals in me.”
He slammed a fist to the table, making the wine glass beside his plate jump and topple over. I gasped then bit back what I was about to say.
“I said I’m not a fag and neither are you! You’re a beautiful colored woman! Now you’ve ruined my appetite. Go get ready for bed. Joseph, escort Onyx to her bedroom, then come back and clean this mess up.”
I shot to my heels, threw my napkin to the table, and regally limped from the kitchen with Joe on my heels. Once I was inside, I spun to face the young man, my eyes welling with unshed tears.
“Please, Joe, don’t leave me!” I whispered, linking my fingers prayerfully. “If he comes in here, he will hurt me, use me in unkind ways. Please, please, don’t leave me here to face his wrath!”
There was a quick moment of uncertainty before he shut it down and stalked out. The door shut with a firm snap and I heard the key turning into the old-fashioned lock. I ran to the makeup table, pulled out the file, and froze. Joe said something and the door flew open. There I stood, back to the makeup mirror, file hidden behind my back, staring at Raphael. He’d shed his tie and tuxedo jacket. I’d never seen a man look so potently virile and terrifying all at once.
“Go clean up our meal,” Raphael said, never once pulling his gaze from me to even look at Joe. Joe lingered. I felt a moment of joy that was then dashed when he ambled off after shutting the door. “Why are you standing there looking stupid? I want to see you in that white French nightgown that’s in the top drawer. Oh, and change your wig, that’s not suitable for bed. Put on something demure.”
“I’m not tired,” I said as my fingernail file bit into the tightly clenched fingers.
“Neither am I. We’re going to rest and read for an hour in our pajamas, then you will turn out the light. I’ll join you in your bed and you’ll give into my desires. I promise I won’t hurt you. You look terrified.”
“I just…this is upsetting.”
“Nonsense,” he said with a smile as he turned from me and began shucking off his shirt. “This is the first day of a new life for you, my darling. One that will mean never having to spend time with some dirty groping fiend again. From here on out, you’re a one-man woman. Of course, I may still find a suitable woman to marry as I would like children someday. My family would never accept you or any mulatto—ungh!”
I drove the file as deeply as I could into his back, right between his shoulder blades. He shouted in pain, flailing around to reach the nail file lodged in his back. I ran to the door, ripped it open, and raced through the ramshackle cabin as quickly as my injuries would allow. The front door was unlocked. I threw it open and ran as fast as I could around the car and into the corn field. The pain in my leg and hip was incredible but I pushed through it. Stiff, rough leaves slapped me in the face as I barreled blindly onward. One shoe got lost in a mud puddle, the other high heel I tore off and threw aside as I limped onward. Lungs burning, heart thundering, I crashed through corn plants higher than my head. My pulse tripled when I heard Raphael and Joe shouting at each other. I made a wild left, cutting back and forth in a zig-zag pattern, and burst out of the corn field unexpectedly.
Joe stood on the dirt road about fifty feet from me. I screamed and took off down the road. Joe thundered after me, catching up when I twisted an ankle in the ditch that ran along the dirt road. He threw himself at me, catching me around the waist and taking us both to the hard ground. I grunted on impact. All the air left me. I battled with all I had, fists and feet, but was overpowered and drug back to the cabin by my arm, which was twisted up behind my back.
“Look at you! Where is your fucking wig?!” Raphael bellowed as he rested on the door jamb, his hands and face smeared with blood. “Cover up your head now, you ungrateful cow!”
He slapped me across the face, then groaned in misery. Lip bleeding, I was pushed and tugged back to my room, then shoved inside. I landed on the floor, my hip oozing blood and my cheek burning.
“Don’t do anything stupid anymore,” Joe hissed, then slammed the door shut. Locked in once again, I shimmied over the thick carpeting, and sat in front of the old TV set. As Leave it to Beaver played, I wept into my hands. My head came up when I finally heard the two of them approaching my door. I wiped at my snotty face with the skirt of my ruined cocktail dress and painfully hoisted myself to my dirty bare feet.
“…more bandages when we return to Colchester. It’s fine for now. Go clean up the damn mess in the kitchen and then make sure all the fucking doors are locked. I’m going to bed now.”
“No,” Joe said. I wet my lips and listened.
“No? What the fuck do you mean no? Get out of my way, you moron.” Raphael sounded irate. Being stabbed will do that. Shame it didn’t kill him. I should have gone for his neck.
“No, you’re going to go in there and be mean to her. Hurt her. I can’t let you do that.”
Oh Joe, you big, stupid brave thing!
There was a long pause. Perhaps Raphael was scared of his hired help. Joe certainly outweighed him.
“You’re smitten with her, aren’t you? She’s mine. She will always be mine,” Raphael growled and then a gun shot rang out. I yelped at the report, then covered my mouth with my hands. A thud. Someone hitting the floor. Eyes glued to the door, I screamed into my hands when a slick, red puddle of blood oozed under the doorway.
Please, dear Jesus, let that blood be Raphael’s…
The door opened and Raphael stepped over Joe lying on the floor. There was a mess of blood and skull all over the door. I couldn’t look away. Then, the door closed on the gruesome scene.
“Now, we’re going to do this again” My gaze flew to my captor. “Get into your nightie and get into bed. Fix your makeup, ask me about my motherfucking day. Do it now. And get a fucking wig on that hair of yours!” Raphael shouted as he placed a handgun on the nightstand beside his twin bed. “I’d suggest you do not place one tiny foot to this side of the room. As much as I love you, I will shoot you.”
“I…I am scared,” I confessed as I stumbled to the closet. He groaned as he eased an arm out of his bloody undershirt. “Please don’t kill me.”
“Then don’t be an ignorant whore. You’re not that person anymore, Onyx. You’re my mistress. Act like it.”
“I’m sorry.” I whispered, then stepped into the closet, blindly pulling a blond wig off a foam head.
“I know you are. Put the white nightgown on.” I hurried to do as he asked as my mind spun like bald tires on an icy road. There was no way out unless I could get that gun. “Stop dawdling, Onyx. I’ve waited months for this. Do not make me exercise my manly rights to slap you into obedience.”
Oh, good Lord, the man was certifiable.
I wiggled into the prim white nightgown with a tiny pink bow resting on the high collar, and then meekly exited the closet. Raphael was in his bed, in blue pajamas, his face and hands speckled with wet blood. I nearly gagged. He looked up from a hardcover book he’d been reading and smiled at me as if I’d just gifted him the crown jewels.
“Ah, yes, that is exactly how I’ve dreamed you would look. The blond bob is perfect. Now touch up that makeup and get into bed.”
“Yes, of course,” I murmured, taking a seat on the tiny stool. I used a makeup removing wipe to clean off the dirt and blood from my failed escape. Hands shaking, I touched up my eyeshadow and blush.
“Ask me how my day went.”
Lord sakes, I knew how it had gone. He’d kidnapped me and killed a man in cold blood. “So, Sugar, how was your day?”
He made a sound like a cat filled with cream. How he could be so contented after just being stabbed was beyond me. Perhaps his psychosis was blocking out the pain.
“It was one of the best days of my life. That’s enough makeup. Get into bed. Say your prayers and turn off your light.”
Bile bubbling in my nearly empty stomach, I laid down the rouge brush and shimmed under the pristine pink cover and spotless white sheet.
“Say your prayers, Onyx. Ask God to forgive you for harming the man who loves you.” I glanced over. He was watching me intently. So, I nodded, closed my eyes, and begged God to forgive me for all my sins. When I looked over again, he was grinning widely. “You’re such a good woman.”
“Thank you.” I turned off the tiny bedside lamp and lay there, in the dark, with a dead man sprawled out, brains and blood seeping under the door, and waited for him to try to join me in bed. His bed creaked; the floor groaned. I held the covers up under my chin, resigned to fight for my life even though I had never struck another human being in my life, aside from the recent stabbing incident. He touched my face, the wig, and then kissed me on the cheek.
“You’re my perfect dream come true. I promise I will keep you safe and at my side forever. Now get some rest. Tomorrow will be a busy day and we don’t want you to have bags under your eyes.”
He moaned as he straightened up and then crawled back into his bed. I rolled over, away from his matching little light as he resumed reading, and silently waited for him to go to sleep. He never did. About two am he got up, turned off his light, and left the room – with the gun, I was sure – locking the door behind him. I lay there, silently weeping, as he had a running conversation with Joe about black-skinned beauties on pure white beaches. I rolled to my stomach and buried my face into the new pillow to muffle my screams.