Page 51

Once I’d finished with her, I cleaned up Max. Well, he took the washcloth and did it himself, but I watched to make sure he did a good job.

Boden pounded on the wall separating our room and yelled, “Supper!”

For being a crappy motel, the walls were surprisingly thick. Even when Boden yelled, his words were muffled.

“All done,” Max said, throwing the wash cloth in the sink as soon as Boden had called for supper.

“Go ahead,” I said, waving him and Stella along. “I’ll be over in a minute.”

As soon as Max and Stella disappeared, I lifted up my shirt to check out my incision. Daniels said I had to be sure to clean it a lot. It seemed to look much better than it had last time. I splashed cold water over it, cleaning it as best I could.

I still had my shirt lifted up when I noticed Clark in the mirror, standing in the bathroom doorway behind me, so I immediately pulled it down.

“Um, I heard supper was ready,” I said. “I’ll be right over. I was just finishing cleaning up.”

“Don’t rush on my account.” Clark smiled and leaned on the doorframe.

“I’m not.” I smiled thinly at him and leaned over the sink, washing my hands and arms in the cold water. “I’m just about done.”

“It’s a shame we had to leave that last house,” Clark said, still smiling at me in a way that looked disturbingly hungry. “I so enjoyed playing house.”

“It was a nice place,” I agreed hurriedly.

I’d actually wanted to clean my cut better, per Daniels’ instructions, but it didn’t look like Clark planned on going away anytime soon. And there was no way I was pulling my shirt up in front of him.

“It’s so nice to play with pretty girls like you,” Clark commented, and that was it. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him another second.

I turned around, preparing to leave, but the flashlight’s beam glinted off something in his hand. He was holding it at his side by his hip, and I hadn’t been able to see it in the reflection of the mirror. But now I saw it clearly. Clark had Serg’s hunting knife, and he was twisting it in his hand.


“Can I get by?” I asked. I tried to pretend like I hadn’t seen it, like I wasn’t suddenly terrified. I just smiled at him as sweetly as I could and rubbed the back of my neck.

“No.” He shook his head, still smiling, and stepped toward me. “No. You can’t.”

“What are you doing?” I asked, taking a step back from him. But my butt hit the bathroom counter behind me. I couldn’t go back any farther.

“Whatever I want.” He closed the bathroom door.

I lunged forward at him, meaning to kick him in the junk, but he caught me by the throat before I could. His hand squeezed tightly around my windpipe, and I couldn’t breathe. I clawed at it futilely, and he held the knife above me, pointing it at my face so I could see how sharp it was.

“Make one sound, I’ll gut those two little kids as soon as I’m finished with you,” Clark promised me with a sweet smile.

I thrashed my legs, and I connected with him once, kicking him in the shin. His hand tightened around my throat, and he ran the blade along my cheek.

“I’d rather filet you after,” Clark said. “But I can do it first, if you prefer. It’s your choice. Which do you pick?”

His grip loosened on my throat, enough where I could gasp for breath. And that’s all I did at first, try to catch my breath.

“You don’t have to do this,” I begged. “Please.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” he said, and his hand started tightening.

“After!” I said, but I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew that prolonging being fileted was probably a good idea. “But Clark, listen, if you do anything stupid, Boden and Daniels will come after you.”

I would come after him, too, but I felt like me personally threatening him wouldn’t work as well as threatening him with Boden and Daniels. Clark already thought he could overpower me and take what he wanted, so nothing I said would sound like a threat, anyway.

“No, you listen to me, bitch,” Clark growled. His face was right above mine, and spittle landed on my face when he spoke. “If you don’t do exactly what I say, when I say, I will kill those two fucking brats the second I’m done with you. Do you understand me?”

I closed my eyes. “Yes. I understand.”

I didn’t think he would be able to hurt Max and Stella, not with Boden, Daniels, and Serg around. But then again, I never would’ve thought he’d be able to get me like this either. I’d once again underestimated man’s capacity for evil.

“Good.” He smiled wider.

Roughly, he flipped me around, slamming my face against the counter. Then he grabbed my ponytail and yanked my head back. As soon as he had my head up, the knife was pressed against my throat, the blade nearly piercing my skin.

“One wrong move, and I’ll slit your throat,” he whispered into my ear, his words soft and warm like we were lovers.

I could see him in the mirror, the look of sick satisfaction he had on his face. He let go of my pony tail so he could use that hand to pull down my pants and underwear. He jerked me back every time he tugged on my jeans, digging the blade deeper into my neck.

When he finally got my pants down, he licked his lips. I closed my eyes then, squeezing them shut, and I felt his hand roughly grabbing my bare skin.