Author's Note: To my anonymous reviewer Jess, who has insisted on a sequel and never quit bugging me.
Sequel to 'Another You, Another Me'.
Warnings for alcohol abuse, sex, and viciousness. The usual.
I don't own Red Eye and I don't make any money out of this.
Thank you Angrw for yet again putting up with me, grammar, and my silly questions. /Nic.
I should have told them that he came to my house that day. I should have told Dad that we had a visitor, a deadly, crazy, blue-eyed visitor who might as well have killed us both. I should have… Well, I didn't. If I had, then I might not have found myself bound to an uncomfortable chair some weeks down the road.
Wait. Let's rewind this. It's fairer to share the whole story, isn't it?
I help in any way that I can. Cynthia and the Lux are a mess. I comfort to the left and right and give out orders until I am relieved of that by higher-ups and the police. I give them his name, sit for hours with a professional artist working for the FBI and describe Jackson's eerily handsome features to them, shuddering as the quickly materializing grey shades on a white piece of paper slowly, but surely, transforms into him.
They take my clothes and my fingerprints. I protest wildly when they try to do a full-body exam. I was only with him on the plane, I sneer. Let me keep some amount of dignity. I blush and try to hide it when I think of the marks on my body.
When all is gathered, photographed, collected, catalogued, and done with, they tell me that he doesn't seem to exist. He doesn't exist. Does that mean that he won't come after me? Does that mean that they think I did all of this myself? His marks are on my body. I know he exists. We'll talk again.
But there're witnesses, phone calls that were made, a cell phone with fingerprints on it, shorter, darker hairs sorted out of my longer locks, unexplainable unless my version is true. And I'm off the hook.
"Miss Reisert, you have been involved in a very serious attempt at an upstanding politician's and his family's lives-"
I swallow hard.
"We have reason to believe that your version is solid, and on top of that, Mr. Keefe vouches for you."
I swallow again.
"You are no longer a suspect." The special agent smiles, a smile that never reaches his eyes. I sense the underlying threat. 'We will keep our eyes on you.' I hope they'll be there when he shows up again. I hope they'll save my life when it comes to that.
I am so close to asking the artist if I can have a copy of that sketch. It's in black and white but I almost see the blue tinges in his eyes, strong and willful, persuasive, kind and mean, all at the same time. But I don't ask. How would I explain that?
Calm is a fraud. Peace is a state of mind and not a fact in this violent world.
I've been jittery, I've refused to take time off from work, my house is meticulously clean, and I've never run so many miles per week before in my life. After the first few of weeks of skewed reality, of a feeling of hopelessness in a vile, volatile world, I've finally convinced myself that I am calm, unafraid, that I am safe. I've been watching my father's house, making rounds every night after work, passing by every morning on my way to work. It has helped keep my focus off myself. But that was before. Before the calm, before the peace. Because I refuse to go through two new hellish years of nightmares and self loathing. I don't deserve that. I didn't do anything wrong.
It's Saturday morning, nine a.m., and a very innocent time of day. The sun shines brightly through crystal clear windows, partly open to the warm breeze that brings with it scents of heated asphalt, salt from the ocean, and newly cut grass.
I am calm. For real.
The door bell clings twice and I put down my steaming cup of freshly made coffee before I make it to the hallway.
Yes, maybe I should have known. But I didn't.
I pull a strand of hair away from my face as I swing the door open. And freeze. Oh God! His hand slams into my chest before I can utter a word, before I can even think of closing the door. I stumble back and fall ungracefully on my back. Terrifyingly fast, he pulls the door shut behind him, locks it and bends over me, collecting my arms in his before he flips me over on my belly. I still haven't had the time to react, but now the scream fills me, the terror and the naked fear so strong that it turns my body into a useless quivering puddle. I inhale sharply only to have a palm, a salty-tasting, well-known palm, pressed into my face. The scream comes anyway, I'm too far gone and I can't prevent it, but it's inefficient, a hoarse mumble reverberating against the callousness of his willpower.
My mouth is still open wide in a soundless cry when he stuffs something deeply inside it, a cloth, a rag. I try to spit it out, try to shape my tongue around it to push it out of my mouth, but it's shoved too far inside and I almost choke on it in my attempts to get rid of it. While I'm fighting the cloth, he fiddles behind my back and I feel something tighten around my arms, until they are connected like one, pain already radiating up my shoulders and my neck.
In less than a minute I've gone from peace to a bundle of fear and tied-up limbs on my hallway floor. The coffee's still hot and as I trash on the floor, he stands, studies his work, stretches for the cup, my cup and takes a sip.
"Nice coffee, Leese. I must remember to get myself an espresso machine one of these days. There's nothing like freshly ground beans." He smirks and takes another sip before he sets the cup back down. "Aw, don't cry. A man can only take so much." He crouches before me. "How many times have I made you cry?" His eyes narrow and he makes a face as if he's counting. "Three? Oh, well…" He shrugs and stands. "That's not a lot. Let's see if we can make that four, maybe five… and six… all in a day's work." He straightens a rope between fisted hands and bends over my legs, tying them as tightly together as my arms, quickly, deftly. He's done this before. Many a time. I don't even try to prevent him. I'm a wuss, I know, but I don't stand a chance.
I fight to swallow my saliva without swallowing the cloth and gag, panicking when it slides slightly further into the back of my mouth, my eyes watering from the coughing and vomiting reflexes it sets off. "Mmmmm," I cry and plead with my eyes for him to show mercy. I don't want to choke slowly to death. I want to die from a stab wound to my heart, or maybe a gun-shot wound, the quick violent death he promised me the last time we met. Because I know I'll die. I know he's here to kill me. I only pray it'll be fast.
Jackson straightens again and looks around him before he grabs my arms and starts pulling me towards the living room. I twist and wriggle in his grip, turning from my belly to my side and back to my belly again. The carpet leaves rough burn marks on my hip where my pants slide increasingly lower from the friction and my tears flow freely from the pain, the fear, and the degradation.
Not being able to speak is the most humiliating part of it. I can't beg him, I can't tell him that I hate him, I can't lie, cheat, cajole. I'm completely, hopelessly in his hands. And I know he's up to no good.
He drops me unceremoniously in the middle of the room, shoves the table and a chair to the side before leaving the room altogether. I lie motionless, feeling nothing but dread, already so burnt out on fear that it has now become a dull throbbing in my heart rather than that sharp spike that just might keep a person alive. Me alive.
I've given up already.
He returns a moment later with a kitchen chair and places it right next to my head. Then he sits down, straddling the chair backwards and looks at me.
"Are you afraid yet?" His voice is softer than I anticipated. I expected rage, fury, an explosion of hate. Instead he sounds like a cool spring morning covered in sugary dew.
I bend my head awkwardly and look up at him. I don't nod, I don't shake my head. It won't matter if I comply or if I'm playing defiant to my last breath. He won't forgive me my refusal to budge that day.
He regards me. "Okay," he sighs between clenched teeth and stands yet again.
I yelp into the soaked cloth when he pulls at my quickly numbing limbs, a strong arm snaking around my waist and hoists me up off the floor, dumping me onto the chair. I'm dizzy from suddenly being in an upright position, and it doesn't help that his face is all of a sudden inches from mine.
"I'm gonna release your legs for a moment, Leese. If you play hero, I'll have to hurt you and I don't wanna do that just yet. Do you understand me?" His eyes search mine and I get to study his face for the first time since he forced himself into my apartment. That artist wasn't half wrong. Or was it I who knew his face all too well? I look away and wince when he grabs my chin and forces me to bend my head towards him again. "Do you hear what I'm saying? Nod or I'll have to be rough."
My eyes widen and I give him half a nod. His face splits into a smile. "Peachy."
So I don't move when he unties my legs and then attach them deftly to the legs of the chair on each side. Even though I could kick out and maybe, just maybe hit his face, I stand by my promise, hoping desperately that if I do what he says, then I might get out of this.
In a closed casket.
My arms scream in protest when tingling blood rushes through compressed vessels as he releases my upper limbs temporarily and then ties them up again, the chair and I now connected as if we're a new entity. A new kind of animal.
Because I feel very far from being human, and humanity as I know it.
I wish dearly that he'd let me speak. I want him to tell me that he'll kill me. Or not. I need to know.
When he's done, he studies his handiwork, strolling casually around the chair, regarding me with ice cold eyes, gleaming in the bright morning sun.
"I am very pleased with you, Leese. You've been most compliant. I figured you'd fight more but this was easier than I anticipated." He stops briefly in front of me and smiles terrifyingly beautiful. "Now, where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?"
My mouth turns dry. This is not what I thought. I know very well, crystal condemn-me-to-hell clear, where we were. My fingers ache from the memory of his warm skin against my fingertips, my chest still cries from the sudden loss of his weight on me as my father's voice resonated through the house. I know very, very well.
He looks at me and frowns. "Right. You can't talk." He sighs and then he snaps his fingers. "You didn't have this much clothing covering you."
My eyes bulge as he pulls out a large knife from somewhere. "Mmmmmmm!!!!"
He grins wickedly. "It's a frightening sight, isn't it, Lisa?" He flips it in the vacuum between our bodies. "I'd truly hate to be at the receiving end of this." He presses the edge against the tip of his index finger and immediately a drop of crimson forms beneath it. He jerks the knife away and studies the blood. "Huh. I always forget how sharp this thing is." He bends over me and I twist my head to the side, the only motion I can achieve to try to get farther away from him. He inches closer, his legs between my thighs and when the knife reappears right before my eyes, I try to snap my head away, only to bump my cheek into his chest.
His scent is familiar. Breathtakingly so. My traitorous body responds to his closeness just like it has always done ever since he first stepped into my life. My belly clenches, my nipples harden, my breaths become gasps and heat floods my face. He can't possibly notice it on my tear streaked appearance and I take a tiny comfort in knowing that.
He snickers and pinches a piece of my blouse between his fingers, his fresh wound leaving a smear of blood on the white. Then the knife descends and I cry out, the sound muffled, pathetic. There's no pain, only a slight gush of cooler air on my shoulder as the fabric falls apart and reveals my pale skin. My whole body begins to shudder uncontrollably when the knife descends yet again, cutting away the blouse from my other arm, then in a smooth circle down my chest until I'm left with mere shreds and my bra.
His leer is too much for me to bear and I close my eyes hard. They fly open again as he pulls at one strap of my bra and slowly inserts the knife under it. He lets the two pieces fall before repeating the process on the other side. Then he crooks one finger inside the elastic fabric between my breasts, pulling it out and downwards before he cuts through it, making my bra fall apart with a snap. I groan uselessly into the rag and jerk against unyielding bonds. Bastard! A sickly inner vision of that knife planted in my chest, blood pooling down on my thighs, soaking my pants, haunts me every time I close my eyes. So instead I get to watch as he slowly, slowly drags the knife along my trousers, the fabric giving no resistance to the sharpened steel, right leg, left leg, all the way up to my groin.
I gasp and buckle. Please let me speak! Let me cry and plead! I begin to yet again give in to the bleakness of my situation and drop my head in utter submission.
I blink when he stops his textile assault. "Look at me, Lisa. You don't get to get away from this. If you retreat into that pretty little head I'll beat at it until you come back out. Get me?"
I inhale shakily, cough, almost choke as wetness seeps from my eyes, my nose, and my half-open mouth. I must be a vision. I nod slowly and look up. His eyes are level with mine and his frown dissolves as our eyes meet. "Good girl." Then he grips my pants with both hands and literally tears the rest of them apart and off me as much as he can with the chair and the ties and all.
The room isn't cold, far from it. Jackson has little beads of sweat on his forehead and I am sticky all over from the thick Floridian heat that has begun to rise. And yet I freeze, shudder, unable to control the spasms that wrack my body.
Puppy eyes are the best I can do, trying to hold his gaze as he steps around the chair and moves in behind me. Please, leave me with some dignity! What will they say about me when they find me? That I was in on this? That it was a perverted sex game that turned deadly? I mourn my father's disappointment more than I mourn my life.
Something touches my shoulder, and it isn't cold and sharp. I flinch hard anyway only to find a warm hand slowly descending down my front, rounding my breast, just about touching it, a thumb brushing past my nipple, shying away, slipping lower, caressing my clenched belly before it stops at the edge of my panties. His chest leans against my back, his breath is on my neck. With his other hand he grips my chin and forces my head up and closer to him.
"Lisa," he whispers in my ear. "Hold that thought." With that he clenches his hands in the fabric of my panties and yanks them brutally to shreds before he leaves the room.
My front door slams shut.
I'm stunned by the sudden silence. Am I alone? Is it a trick? Waiting a few more precious seconds, I then frantically start trying to free myself; rough rope chafes tender skin on my ankles and wrists as I twist and turn, pull and shove, desperate to get loose. The chair is solid and heavy and at least it doesn't topple. Whether that's good or bad I'll never know. I fight for my life. I fail.
So here I sit.
If I had told them that he came to my father's house that day, would that have prevented this from happening? If my father had been able to get his hands, maybe his gun, on Jackson, would that have saved me? If the police had found a person to the name, would that have helped me now?
A lot of ifs.
My brain works on overdrive, my whole life passing by in my mind, my life and how it led up to this point. I jump with every sound in the building. Toilets flush. Dogs bark. A man and a woman shout. My stomach growls.
How can it think of food when its mistress is in this predicament?
My lips are dry, as are my cheeks, tears useless. I don't know how many hours that have passed but I have seen the shadows passing over the walls and figure it must be late afternoon. I missed breakfast and I've missed lunch. I'll miss dinner… How long does it take to starve to death? The tears come again, and I feel utterly sorry for myself.
I hear a key in the lock and my heart speeds up as I watch as a lean man clad in dark pants and a black long-sleeved T-shirt come back into my life. I glare, seethe. If looks could kill, then Jackson would incinerate before my very eyes. He strides forward, lazily, munching on something and stuffs the last of whatever it was into his mouth before he licks his fingers clean, one after the other.
He stops after the third and regards me as if he sees me for the first time. Then he takes one stride towards me and reaches for my face. I bend away, waiting for the blow, but he sticks his hand between my lips and starts pulling out the stinking piece of cloth that I've learned to hate so much. Fresh air rushes into my lungs and I inhale deeply, intending to drown him in a stream of words when he stuffs my mouth with three, four, or more of his fingers, moving them tauntingly, slightly in, slightly out. He tastes of garlic, bread, kebab meat, chili, his fingers are slick, oily, rich with fresh tastes, and I'm unable to stop myself from licking at them, swirling my tongue between his digits until there's no taste left. I'm hungry! I want more! I need food!
His other hand presses at the back of my neck and the hand in my mouth is still pushing lewdly in and out. Suddenly his mouth descends on mine, his tongue intermingling with his own fingers as well as with my lips and tongue. He tastes wonderful. Of food and peppermint. Better than anyone has ever tasted before.
"I -ate -ou!" I manage between thrusts, lips, and the batter of hormones.
He moves away slightly and lets his eyes roam my naked body before turning back to my glare. "You ate me? Or you hate me?" A smile tugs at the corner of his mouth.
I finally spit out his fingers. "I HATE you!"
"Mmmm, yes… well, considering, I'd say I have a lot more reason to hate you."
"You- No -What?" I stutter.
He crouches before me and puts his palms on my thighs, just a little too high for comfort. His touch tingles and itches. "See, Leese, you screwed me up, made me look like an idiot in front of my people, and on top of that, you gave them everything, my picture, my fingerprints, strands of my hair! Goddamnit! Is there no stopping you?"
"You? I- "
"I know you feel offended, Lisa." His voice is deceptively soft, understanding. "I know you feel that you've been the subject of a vicious crime and that you are just an innocent pawn in a game that goes on way above your head. That you think that I'm just a crude murderer and kidnapper, a hideous person, barely human."
"Then how is it that the mean assassin is sitting at your feet tonight, hungry for a hint of encouragement, longing to slip his hands up the inside of these silky thighs, to touch you, to find out what makes you tick, how to make you scream with desire, how to release you and make you free?"
My eye twitches. I had so many things I planned to yell at him as soon as he ungagged me, if ever, and now I find myself speechless.