A Gift!

Dear readers,

Today, I’m feeling good. I wrote another 1,073 words and breached the missing chapter!

So, as I gift I bring to you another segment from the novel. This takes place the night of and the day after Kevin’s arrest for kidnapping. This chapter has been one of my favorite to pen so far, and I’m keeping the best bit to myself… at least for now.

But, I’ll shut up and let you all get to it!

Enjoy,

BZ

 

 

 

I had put my nose where it didn’t belong. Those kids were not my responsibility. I scoffed at myself.

“You’re pathetic,” I said to the bushes. I’d been in the bar all night, and now I was stumbling my way up the sidewalk to my apartment building. I tripped over something and probably would have broken my arm if someone hadn’t caught me.

“Woah there, buddy,” a man I’d never seen before said as he helped me straighten up. “You could hurt yourself doing something like that.”

“Thanks man,” I smiled, a stupid look on my face. Even when the two other men came out of the shadows, I was still grinning like an idiot. If I had been less inebriated I would have realized that something wasn’t right. But, since I was hammered, I didn’t figure it out until a right hook connected to my left eye.

I’m ashamed to say that I crumpled like a house of cards. But even that didn’t keep my attackers from delivering their message. In between well placed kicks they told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to keep my nose out of other peoples’ business. For the first time, I really agreed.

 

I woke up the next morning on my couch. I didn’t immediately remember how I got there or what had happened the night before. Then I tried to move. That brought everything back to me, along with several sharp pains. With each new pain catalogued and the caked blood on my lip and forehead noticed, came the memory of dragging myself into the elevator, and the feat of getting into my apartment.

At some point during the attack, I blacked out. Either from the drunkenness or the pain. Maybe a mixture of both. I don’t know how long I stayed curled up on the concrete sidewalk, but when I came to, the attackers were gone. Add immense pain to intoxicated motor skills, and you get a Kevin that couldn’t walk. I literally crawled into the building, and into the elevator.

Once on my floor, I crawled the short distance to my front door, fumbled with my keys, and managed to stand long enough to unlock the deadbolt. The walk to the couch seemed impossible, but I made it. And then proceeded to pass out.

On the couch, I groaned with the effort of sitting up straight. As I hobbled to the bathroom, I was afraid to look in the mirror. As I became more lucid the throbbing in my face intensified. My swollen eye, blueish and angry, and my busted lip were just the surface of my damages. My head was pounding, the trail of dried blood down my right cheek enraged me. As I examined my sore ribs the purple bruises made themselves known. The memory of boots slamming into my sides rushed through my head with each of my prodding fingers.

I counted to ten.

The imprint of knuckles on my left eye sent a dangerous chill through me. My blood-caked lip stung as I sent my investigating tongue across it. I checked my ribs one more time, probing with shaking fingers. I hissed with the pressure- at least one rib was cracked.

That was the final straw. I turned, too angry to look at my broken body anymore, and slammed my fist through the wall. I didn’t notice the pain in my hand as I extracted it from the drywall, only the shaking, seething anger coursing through my entire body.

 

I had no doubt who had sent those men. I knew that morning that I was now on a mission to ruin that man’s life. The first step in that mission was to make a phone call.

I was still in my clothes from the night before, so my phone was in my pocket. A quick push of a button and the line was ringing.

“Kevin?” Madeleine’s voice sounded concerned. I looked at my watch. It was seven a.m. on a Saturday. No wonder she was concerned; I worship sleep.

“I need you to come over.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Just come over.”

“Are the kids ok?”

I sighed, remembering that the house was empty. My patience worn thin by my pain and anger, I snapped.

“Just get over here as soon as you can!”

“Ok,” she soothed. “I’ll be over in twenty.”

“Madeleine?” My voice was softer, stopping her from hanging up.

“Yeah?”

“Can you grab some ace bandages on your way?”

“Bandages..?” Before I could answer, she continued, “Sure thing. I’ll be right there.”

While I waited for her, I cleaned as much dried blood from my face as I could and put ice to my hand and lip. With the plastic bag of ice pressed to my eye, I plopped a few more pieces into a small glass. Then I poured my strongest whiskey over that; I definitely needed it.

 

 

 

I was leaning against the counter when Madeleine knocked on the door. I yelled for her to come in, preparing myself for her reaction.

“Hey,” she said as she came through the door. She was digging through the plastic pharmacy bag, not looking at me yet. “I didn’t know how many bandages you needed…” She pulled one out to show me, and looked at me for the first time. She trailed off and the bandage fell from her hand.

I took another long drink of my whiskey, which I’d already refilled once, as the bandage rolled across the floor.

“What happened to you?” She rushed over, leaving the bag on the counter. I looked her over, and was surprised. I was used to seeing the night-loving Madeleine in her lavish dresses and flawless make-up. This morning was a side of her I’d never seen. She was wearing an old concert t-shirt, so faded that it was some shade of grey and the letters were crackled. Her jeans were worn and bagged off her hips in a casually sexy way. Her long red hair, usually with each strand in its place, was wild and damp from the morning drizzle. Her face was fresh and cosmetic free, letting me see her soft smattering of freckles for the first time. Even in my rage and pain, I was extremely attracted to this version of my friend.

“What’s it look like?”

“It looks like someone beat the fuck out of you.”

“That pretty much sums it up.” I winced as she put a manicured finger to my eye.

“Who did this?” she asked quietly.

“Jeff Zimmer’s cronies.”

“What exactly happened last night?”

I had called her from the bar last night, but I’d already been drinking. I’m sure my story had been convoluted at best. So, I told her about last night’s amber alert, and getting arrested. I told her how I had ratted out Zimmer’s abusive lifestyle, and so the bastard had his friends ambush me. As I told her of their repeated kicks, she put a hand to my side. I hissed and flinched.

“Fuck, Madeleine!” She took her hand away, as I leaned back with both hands on the counter. “I tell you I might have broken ribs and you decide to touch ‘em?”

She unwrapped an ace bandage during my rant. “Take off your shirt,” she demanded. I tried to obey, but I really couldn’t.

“I need help,” I admitted. She ran a hand through her long, wavy hair and set the bandage roll down. She helped me out of my shirt with a tenderness I appreciated. She dropped the shirt to the floor. Ever the neat one, I glared at her.

“Really?” She arched an eyebrow at me. “You care about cleanliness right now?”

“I’m not going to be able to pick it up later,” I told her. She huffed at me, bent to grab the shirt and walked it to the laundry room. As she walked away, I caught myself looking at her ass. I sighed and looked at the ceiling; this was no time to get hung up on my only friend.

I followed after her, but turned into the bathroom. We were going to need the light. We were both silent as Madeleine started wrapping my ribs. I watched her in the mirror, hypnotized by the rhythmic motion of her hands. I hissed as she applied pressure to my sensitive sides. Her lips murmured soft apologies.

Madeleine met my gaze in the mirror. Her green eyes swam with concern, and I was suddenly enraged.

“This man has caused enough pain.” My voice was low, and rumbled slightly in my chest. Madeleine’s reflection remained frozen, staring at me. Waiting for me to continue. “Everything he’s done all this time… he’s a coward.”

Finally, she straightened up, my ribs successfully braced. She transitioned into cleaning my various cuts and bruises, though I’d done most of it already.

“Hurting Evie, terrorizing Brandon,” I hissed as she dabbed at the cut on my head. “He didn’t even have the balls to deal with me himself!” My body shook, and Madeleine shushed me. I turned to look at her. “And now he’s hurting you too.”

She looked up at me, surprised, her hand still mid-dab.

“He’s done hurting the people I care about.” My body still shook, and my ragged breathing scared us both. “I’m going to destroy that bastard.”

“How?” Her voice was hoarse. I read her lips more than I heard her.

“I know his secret.” I felt the cold anger seep through me, a lethal determination that curled my lips in a small sinister smile. I watched Madeleine’s eyes widen, afraid of this new side of me, but then her own small fire blazed inside her.

“How do we take him down?”

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