Author: Animorphgirl PM
Summary: What if Stephanie's phone company didn't bring back her service after Joe Morelli's intrusion? Takes place during "One For the Money". My first Evanovich fic—please read and review! REVISED! Correct version this time!Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Angst - Stephanie P. & Joe M. - Words: 3,651 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 03-10-12 - id: 7910929
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own Stephanie Plum or any of the characters in Janet Evanovich's series. They are the sole property of her and are being used without permission, but also without any financial gain. Please do not sue—I'm a poor librarian still living at home with my parents.
Summary: What if Stephanie's phone company didn't bring back her service after Joe Morelli's intrusion? Takes place during "One For the Money". My first Evanovich fic—please read and review!
Note: Revised and updated. Follows the first book except for any pop culture references which are contemporary.
I knew that Morelli had intended to scare me and embarrass me. Knew that when he left the phone in the bathroom, he figured I'd call for help and find someone who could unlock the handcuffs. That I would be humiliated in front of at least one more person, and possibly think twice about being a bounty hunter and trying to track him down.
Also, maybe feel bad enough to give him back his car.
Well, too bad. He definitely wouldn't be getting his car back now. And I was mad enough to run over both of his feet with it if I ever came across him again. Forget about bringing Morelli in alive—Vinny would have to accept his dead body.
At least he'd given me my phone. I pressed the "on" button, praying that the phone company had reconnected my service.
No such luck.
I was trapped in my apartment and the door was locked, so it wasn't like someone could come in if I yelled loud enough. My walls weren't sound proof, they weren't paper thin either. My bathroom didn't have a window, so I couldn't open it and yell for help. I tried picking at the cuffs with my left hand, but they were unyielding.
I was trapped. Possibly, I'd die here.
More than possibly.
Mary Lou and I had seen this horror movie TV a few years ago. It was one of those free movies you could watch if you subscribed to a cable internet provider. That had been back when I'd had a steady job. We'd watched it, even though I usually hated scary movies, because the previews made it look so bad it sounded good. The perfect movie to watch and make fun of.
In this movie, these two guys wake up and are trapped in a really horrible looking bathroom. They can't escape the bathroom because their legs are chained to fixtures in the room. There's also a dead guy lying in the middle of the room. One of the men, Dr. Gordon, figures out that the dead guy is holding a tape recorder, and that there's a tape in it meant for him. Once he plays the tape, he finds out that he's supposed to kill the other guy in the bathroom, Adam. He has a little under a day to do this.
I won't say what happened in the end because that kind of ruins the movie, but I will say that one of the men made it out of the bathroom by chopping off his foot, and the other didn't. It's kind of implied that he dies in the bathroom, but who really knows.
I really didn't want to cut off my hand to escape my bathroom. I didn't even have something sharp enough to do it. I'm not big on self mutilation, and the few knives I do have are in my kitchen. Not a far walk, except I was handcuffed to my shower rod.
If I ever got out of this alive, I was going to kill Morelli. I'd find him, somehow, use my gun to hack off his private parts, then his eyes, then his arms, and finally, I'd run him over a few times with my dad's Buick. His last thoughts would be that he should have let me take him in to see Vinny when he still had the chance of only serving a life sentence in jail.
I replayed the fantasy for awhile, which sort of helped keep the panic at bay. After a couple of hours, though, the panic won out, and it was all I could do not to have a screaming fit and probably hurt myself trying to get off of the damn handcuffs. I mean, okay, sure, I probably wouldn't die right away. I had a water source, and I'd learned somewhere that it took weeks to starve. I'd be okay as long as someone got worried and broke into my apartment to rescue me within, oh, maybe two weeks.
Except I was fighting exhaustion even as I thought about this and realized that one of the problems associated with being handcuffed to your shower rod was not being able to lie down and take a nap. I closed my eyes and wondered if I should even try to fight the waves of exhaustion. I couldn't lie down, and I doubted that I could sleep standing up. Could I sleep leaning against the wall? I opened my eyes, moved towards the corners of the tub, testing out the wall. Better than standing in the middle of the tub, but not by much.
Well, I'd have to suck it up and deal with it. Sleeping leaning against the wall was my only option. Maybe someone would break into my apartment the following day. Hell, I'd almost be happy to see Ramirez.
Well, no, I wouldn't. He'd rape me, but he wouldn't bother unlocking the handcuffs. He'd probably think it was funny. Maybe he'd kill me after he raped me, which meant that this pain in my arm would end, but I'd probably be in more pain before I died because of the aforesaid raping and other acts of mutilation he'd definitely perform on me.
I'd really ticked him off.
I revised my prayer to God and asked that anyone except Ramirez would break into my apartment and help me out of this mess.
The night wasn't a pleasant one. I'm not even sure if I really slept, just sort of drifted in and out of consciousness. When the sun came out signaling it was a new day, I felt even more tired than I had the night before.
Did I mention my right arm felt like it was on fire? Not only did my arm hurt like hell from hanging in one position for hours on end, but the damned cuffs were really starting to dig into my wrist. I hadn't noticed that until now.
I turned on the shower and tried to drink at some of the water. Of course, the water was ice cold, because it takes awhile to heat up, and I hadn't considered this when I turned the water on. I got a full blast of the spray, which woke me up a little, but also intensified the physical and mental pain I'd been feeling. I drank several mouthfuls of lukewarm water and stared up at the offending handcuffs.
I began cursing whoever invented them, and then myself for buying them. No, not for buying them. For not having the foresight to know that Joe Morelli would break into my apartment and use them on me.
Hell, even for failing to lock the door to my bathroom. I'd locked my apartment door—why hadn't I thought to lock my bathroom door? Wasn't this scene straight out of the movie Psycho? Ugh, I didn't want to think about that.
Stop thinking about crazy bathroom movies, I ordered myself.
Right, like that would help.
I leaned against the wall again and prayed, for the umpteenth time, for someone to find me. Anyone.
Well, mostly anyone. I prayed again, specifying once more that I really did not want Ramirez to find me.
I don't remember much else, but I think I drifted in an out of something resembling sleep only to be awoken by my phone. Of course, I couldn't answer it. I gritted my teeth.
I heard my mom leave a message. Something about coming over for dinner. Later, the phone rang again, and my cop friend Eddie left a short, nondescript message before hanging up. The sky was beginning to darken when the phone rang for a third time. I screamed, almost missing Morelli's message completely.
"…It's me, Joe. Uh, just wanted to…well…check up on you. Make sure you got out okay. Call me back if you feel like it." Long pause. "And hey, I still want my distributor cap back."
I perked up. Maybe he'd be back.
Funny, I'd been so eager to brutally kill Morelli before. Now, I almost wanted to see him. I mean, hell, he wasn't completely heartless. If he was bothered enough to call and check up on me, maybe he'd break into my apartment again. See that I was still handcuffed, and decide that I'd suffered enough. Maybe I'd even tell him where the distributor cap was. I could promise to tell him if he let me out.
No, that was stupid. He'd want to look for the cap. Maybe he'd let me out after he found it and made sure his car was okay. If he had his car back, he might just leave me there to rot.
I mean, he'd already killed someone without being provoked. I knew that Morelli was a jerk, but was he a murderer? He'd helped me when I'd encountered Ramirez that first time…but that could have been a way to scare me off. Tell me I was in too far and he'd help once, but after that, I was on my own.
My teeth started to chatter. I shut my eyes again, hoping for sleep.
In the middle of some dreamlike hallucination involving Rex being chased by an army of alien bees, I heard the main door open. The door shut and then there were footsteps that became increasingly louder.
Please, please, please, I prayed for the umpteenth time, let it be Morelli. Or someone who could get the cuffs off. Just not Ramirez.
I think I cried at some point. There was water on my face that hadn't been there since the attack of the cold water from the shower head.
I heard someone working at the lock, then some swearing. The door opened and then shut. My heart started going a million beats a minute. Between my heart racing and the sleep deprivation, I wouldn't have to worry about dying of hunger or thirst.
I'd have a heart attack first.
Footsteps. The bathroom door opened. Joe Morelli stood in the doorway, giving me the once over.
He didn't make any moves towards me, but I think this was more from disbelief that I was still standing there than anything else. Like my presence there was the stuff from his nightmares.
The desire for revenge was there, to an extent, but it was overshadowed by the desire to get out of the handcuffs and be in my warm bed.
Hell, I'd even settle for sleeping on the floor. Just as long as I could be horizontal and not be stuck with a throbbing arm.
My throat was dry, and I swallowed a few times. I realized that I was fighting back sobs, and at this realization, fought them back even harder. Morelli couldn't see me cry! Not like this!
"Are you going to stand there, or let me out?"
I'd meant for my voice to sound hard, but it came out raspy and uneven. A few tears fell out of my eyes, despite my best intentions to keep the waterworks under control.
At least, until he was gone.
He folded his arms. "Don't tell me you've been like that the whole time."
"Let me out!" I practically screamed.
Morelli jumped, then began rummaging through my purse. Unlocked the cuffs without saying a word. I nearly fell to the floor, but he caught me in his arms just in time. He carried me out of the room and I hoped he'd take me to my bedroom.
A minute later, I found myself being placed on my bed. Covers being wrapped around me. Fear of suffocation by Morelli drove off the comfort of being wrapped in soft sheets and blankets, and I fought.
He grabbed my hands, enough to restrain me but not enough to really hurt. Well, not enough to hurt the uninjured hand. The injured hand stung pretty badly by Morelli's movement. I gasped with pain, and he loosened the grip on the uninjured arm. Released his grip entirely on my injured arm, moving that one to smooth out my hair.
I hated to admit it, but it kind of felt nice.
His voice was soft and reassuring. "I'm just going to tuck you in, Stephanie."
"That's it?" I murmured, laying still.
"That's it," he promised, pulling the covers over my still naked body.
I usually slept in a t-shirt or nightgown or pajamas, but I wasn't going to complain. I was too tired to care much about what I was wearing, or lack thereof. Morelli was sitting on the side of my bed, still stroking my hair in comforting, rhythmic beats. I pulled the covers up over my chin, and shut my eyes.
When I woke up, it took me a few minutes to remember what had happened. Since I was now entirely awake and mostly free of the pain caused by the handcuffs, my temporary relief at seeing Morelli rescue me had diminished considerably. I got up, pulled on a bathrobe, and headed to my bathroom to get my gun. I was 80% sure it was loaded, and Morelli would have hell to pay. I put the gun in one of my robe's pockets before heading out to make the arrogant bastard pay.
Speaking of creeps, I wondered where he'd gotten to. I walked around my small apartment and found him standing at my stove, cooking something that looked like a mixture of eggs and vegetables. I wondered where he'd found them, since I was pretty sure that I was out of groceries.
"Morning, Steph," he said, not bothering to turn around. "I figured you might be hungry."
I took a seat, but glowered at him. The food smelled good, and there was no point in torturing him on an empty stomach. My gun sat snugly in my robe pocket. It wasn't going anywhere. I'd eat the meal Morelli had prepared—probably out of guilt—and then shoot him dead.
Probably, my aim would be better after I was well fed.
"You're scum, Morelli."
He turned around. "I left you the phone, didn't I?"
I bristled. "They cut off my service because I hadn't been able to pay the bill!"
And they should have restored it after I'd paid, but I guessed that those things took time. Now that I thought about it, I was really pissed off at the phone company. But it hadn't been entirely their fault. They hadn't broken into my apartment and handcuffed me to the shower rod.
That had been entirely Morelli's doing.
He nodded sagely and brought a plate of food to the table, placing it directly under my face. "So that's why you were still there when I came back to check on you."
I pushed the plate food a few inches away, then grabbed it and began to eat its contents. No point in wasting good food.
I kept glaring at Morelli in between bites, though.
He took a seat next to me and placed an arm next to mine. It took all of my self control not to stab it with the fork.
"I'd have been over earlier had I known," he said quietly.
I pushed his arm away before I lost it and started stabbing him with the fork. Okay, maybe I'd still stab him, but I didn't have a lot of eating utensils left, and I couldn't very well finish eating if the fork was covered in blood.
"You shouldn't have left me handcuffed me to the shower rod."
He shifted. "Yeah, maybe." There was another pause as I wrapped the blankets around me, suddenly feeling very exposed. "Look, Steph, I'm sorry, okay? I'd…" Another long pause. "I'd never hurt you like that. Not on purpose."
I guess the subtext of that was: I'm not a psychotic rapist like Rameriz.
Which I knew. Morelli wasn't exactly someone you'd bring home to your parents, but he wasn't a sadist. He probably felt bad that I'd been unable to get help for...however long it had been. A day, two days? I had no way of knowing.
Another, entirely random, thought occurred to me. "Where'd all that food come from? I could've sworn my fridge was empty."
Morelli smiled. "It was. Except for some moldly bread that I threw out. That stuff can make you really sick. I went shopping earlier."
I gave a noncommittal grunt and looked at him. He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. I glared at him and moved the strand back in front of my face.
Without meaning to, I glanced at the window. The screen was broken beyond repair, but the window was bolted shut. I'd have to do something about that once I had enough cash. That, and replace the shower curtain. Morelli had probably thrown that out after he'd put the robe on me. Not that I minded—it was pretty much useless.
Just meant more stuff that I needed to buy with money I didn't have.
I rubbed my hands together in an effort to get warm. Why was I suddenly so cold? I noticed the marks on my wrist where the cuffs had been. They were pretty deep, but I didn't think they were infected.
He saw me looking, because his face darkened and he said, almost defensively, "I bought some stuff for that, too. I put some on your hand before you woke up. Your hand should be okay in no time."
I didn't answer. I scraped at the edges of the plate, looking for fragments, having consumed the entire omelet without realizing it.
"Listen…Steph?" He sounded tentative, almost worried. Well, not worried, exactly, but maybe alarmed. Like he still wasn't sure I was okay.
I sighed. "What."
"We need to talk. About you bringing me in. I have a plan…"
He outlined his version of what had happened. About halfway through, I got up and started walking towards my bedroom. I withdrew the gun from my robe, holding it at my side so I could use it if I felt the need. I sat back on my bed as Morelli continued talking. He wanted me to work with him. Wanted me to help him prove that he'd shot the guy in self defense.
Also offered me protection in exchange for helping him. Protection from Ramirez.
It was tempting to say yes.
"I could shoot you now," I said, raising the gun.
He removed the gun from my hand, pulled the covers back from the bed, and tucked me in again.
"You wouldn't do that."
Anger flared up in me. "I could file a police report. Breaking into my apartment—twice—chaining me to my shower…that's not just harassment. That's assault."
Morelli raised his hands in surrender. "Not on purpose."
I pulled the covers over my chest, forming another barrier of protection against this man who'd periodically messed up my life. "Damnit, Morelli, I could have died. Do you really think I would have cared that you hadn't meant to kill me?"
"You did steal my car," he pointed out, but he couldn't quite look me in the eye.
I guess we both realized it was a stupid thing to say. A pitiful excuse for what he'd done. But, when had Morelli ever been a decent guy? Not only had he taken my virginity at age sixteen, he'd written about it on public property. Which had gotten back to my parents, which had gotten me grounded.
"I'm not forgiving you." I paused. "And I'm definitely not going to trust you."
"But…" he prompted, a smile playing at his lips.
I sighed. "I need the ten thousand dollars. If this is the way to do it, then fine." More to myself than anyone else, I muttered, "I didn't think you'd murder someone…until a few days ago."
His hand reached out to stroke my hair. "Get some more sleep. I'll be back in a few hours with some wires and a bug to record you. We're gonna have to work together on this."
I didn't respond, just rolled over on my side, away from Morelli. I usually slept on my back, but I wanted to make it clear the conversation was over.
We had an uneasy truce. Nothing more.
I was still going to keep my doors locked, and now my window. And Morelli still owed me a new screen for my window and a shower curtain.
Even if the one I'd had before had been kind of ugly.