Curtis apologised and fed her a lie about whisking her away for a few days. Her mother invited them in for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. While he described where they had been, Jessica sat quietly, she could not look at her mother, who was lapping up every word he said. She could tell her mother liked him, she smiled at her father who patted her hand. She wanted to escape to her flat and lock herself away. As once he left, she would not see him again. He had made that clear.
He stood and apologised that he had to go, walking to the door, he placed a kiss on her forehead, thanking her parents for the cake and tea. She left ten minutes later, and climbed the door to her flat. Her mother insisted she took the rest of the cake with her. Jessica did as she was told, and once in the flat she laid it on the table, walked to her bathroom and ran a bath.#
She lay in the water, allowing her mind to wander, her thoughts and dreams were replaced by the nightmares that she was back in that room. She could not close her eyes. Jessica climbed out of the bath wrapped a towel around her body, she did not want to be alone, she was scared, scared of every noise, every shadow. She locked the bathroom door and sat on the bathroom floor, pulled her knees to her chest, and allowed the tears to fall. She did not know what she would do, her thoughts turned to what she was losing. She saw his face, floating in her mind. She did her best to push his image away, but he would leave her.
She was not sure how long she sat there, but day turned to night, but still she did not move. She remained on the floor, wrapped in a towel, her hair now dry and limp. She knew there was no one out there, but she could not move. She curled up on the floor on the small rug and attempted to sleep. Her eyes remained open wide.
Night turned to day, Jessica was stiff and tired. She stood; she could not continue to sit there and wallow. She had to make herself, stand, shower, dress and do what she needed to do. Forget him, like he had already forgotten her.
She looked in the mirror, and the face that looked back was not one she recognised, she had bags under her eyes and they were still a little red.
The shower helped, she covered her dark circles with make-up, dressed and fixed some food. She nibbled at it, feeling slighter better. She was as ready as she was going to be, she had to leave the flat, or she would never do it.
She walked the opposite way to where the van had picked her up, her heart raced every time she saw one pass her. She walked to the park and sat on a bench. She scanned the area, she saw him them, watching her. Had he followed her? She tried to catch his eye, but when she blinked, he was gone. Was he hiding? Or had he left? Why was he following her? She was on her feet, crossing the park, her feet moving faster than her body as she raced towards where she saw him, but he was gone.
Crossing the path she made her way out of the park, and walked until she had walked for an hour, two hours. She had not meant to walk to his house, but her feet led her there. She was outside his house, she knocked, but there was no answer. She knocked again. She sat on the step and put her head into her hands.
“What are you doing here young lady, what do you want?” a woman’s voice said.
“Curtis, I’m looking for him.”
“Well you ain’t going to find him here, you better leave now.”
“This is where he lives and I am going to wait all day if I have to.”
“No, you won’t,” she said, thrusting her face inches from Jessica’s.
“And who are you to tell me I can’t?”
“His mother, now get out of here.”
Jessica stared at her, she could see it now, she was, he had her eyes, but she did not care, she was staying.
“I’m not leaving.”
“You are all the same, flirting, flaunting yourself at my son. He’s not single, do you get it. He’s getting married, now do yourself a favour, and jog on.”
“Married, he’s getting married!” she stuttered.
“Yes, are you deaf?”
“No, I’m not, I don’t understand. That makes no sense; he loves me I know he does. I have a right to know.”
The woman sighed and sat beside her.
“Look, you’re a pretty young thing, but you’ll find another man. You and all the little girls that come here, telling yourselves he is loves you. Living in some fantasy world, telling him you’re pregnant. Okay not you, but some of the girls, come here spill your lies.”
“I’m not,” she said. “I do love him, and he loves me. I don’t know about these other girls, but Curtis loves me, I know it.”
“How about I leave him a message, I can do that.”
Jessica shook her head. “No, I am not going anywhere.”
“I am afraid you leave me no choice young lady, I will have to call the police.”
“Good, get Officer Curtis here.”
“What did you say?”
“I know who he is, what he is.”
She pulled out her phone and called her son. Telling her about the girl on his step, as Jessica listened. His mother ended the call; he was there in minutes of her hanging up. He told his mother to go, that Jessica and he had business to talk about.
He ushered Jessica inside. He closed the door and led her into the living room. He told her firmly to sit down.
“You shouldn’t have come here.”
“I shouldn’t have, you know I saw you in the park?”
“I wasn’t in the park.”
“Curtis, I saw you, and you know it.”
“Jessica, you need to go home.”
“Curtis, you need to tell me the truth, your mum,” she stuttered. “Your mum said you were getting married.”
“She told you that?”
“Yes, she did, or is it something she tells all these girls that turn up on your door?”
“All these girls?”
“It’s only been three, and that includes you.”
“Curtis, I don’t care about them, I don’t care about how we came to be together. All I know is that we had something, and I want you to admit that you love me as much as I love you.”
He remained silent.
“Tell me you don’t and I will leave and never come back.”
“Jessica,” he said leaning towards her, close enough she could feel the heat of his breath on her face. She thought he was going to kiss her, say he loved her, but instead he took her hand, kissed her on the cheek. “I am sorry but I don’t love you.”
She swallowed, stood and walked towards the door, tears streaming down her face, she looked back at him. She turned and walked out of his life, her vision blurry as more tears fell. She was crushed; her feet led her to the beach, the water. She stood in the waves that crashed on the sand; her feet wet, she sank to her knees and allowed the water to lap at her body. She sat for ten minutes before she could move and walk home. Her body shaking, she was cold, and heartbroken.
Climbing the stairs to her flat, Jessica unlocked her door and entered, once inside, she took a long hot shower. It did nothing to make her feel any better; he had looked her right in the eye and told her he did not love her. He was either lying, or a good actor. She was not giving up on him, but as she stood in her room, dressed in comfy trousers and a baggy t-shirt, she had no idea how to get him to admit that he did.
Opening her freezer she pulled out a small cartoon of chocolate ice-cream, removed a spoon from the drawer and curled up on the sofa. Telly on, she removed the lid and stuck the spoon in. Scooping up a huge spoonful she began to eat it.
She savoured the flavour. Before she knew it, she had devoured the whole entire carton.
The next morning, Jessica left her flat, CV’s in her hand, she walked into town and set her plan into motion. She needed a job that she could rely on, no more temp work. She had many skills, with the jobs she had done in the past, she had a variety of skills, but she had no clue to what she wanted to do, what her passion was, she had never settled on one particular love. Except Curtis, she had to stop thinking like that.
It was time to stop wallowing for something she could not have. As well as handing out her C’s, she planned to meet her brothers in town, they had not spoken since she was kidnapped, not that they knew this, as far as they knew she had been whisked away by Curtis. Neither had contacted her since she found out Curtis was a cop, did they know?
She walked from shop to shop, and handed out every single one she brought with her. Some refused to take them, some took them and stuffed them in a drawer, and a few thanked her, and told her if a job came available, they would be in contact. She left the last shop feeling better about handing them out. She had been so nervous, but it was the right thing to do.
An hour later, she sat in the small café, a mug of tea in her hand, she watched the door, at the customers who entered, took seats and ordered.
“Are you ready to order?”
“Not yet, my brothers will be here soon, I guess I could order them their coffees. I don’t know if we are eating yet.”
“So do you want the coffees?”
“Yes, two black, and a jug of cream if you have it, thank you.”
“I can do that, would you like a fresh tea?”
“No, I am good thank you.”
She watched the waitress leave, shaking her head, the tight curls on her head bouncing as she did. Jessica had never seen such tight curls. They were tiny and springy, she thought for a moment if she should have a perm. She had always had the same haircut.
The waitress arrived with the coffees a few minutes later and placed them before her, just as her brothers walked in, they were laughing and giggling.
Jessica stood, as they both hugged her before they sat down.
“Jessica, we wanted to call you, we did, but we were not sure how or if you would talk to us, we were afraid you would hate us.”
“For everything, the whole thing with Curtis, I mean we knew you didn’t want to marry him or do whatever he asked to pay off our debt, but you did it.”
“The debt is gone,” Jim said.
“I know,” she said. “I wanted to tell you both, that if you ever and I mean ever let this happen again. One I am not getting involved and two, I am telling Mum and Dad everything.”
“We promise it won’t ever happen again, don’t we James.”
“We’re selling the business and starting a new one, a smaller one. Something we can manage on our own. We should never have attempted something so…”
“Big,” James said. “We are going to do it right this time, a business we know well, and we have you to thank for that.”
“Good, I am happy to hear that, but you should know, that I am not marrying Curtis.”
“No, I can’t explain what happened, all I know and can say is that he isn’t interested, and I can’t do a damn thing about it.”
“Jessica, you really fell for him?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, look all you need to know is your debt is gone and your life can move on. I don’t know why I told you that.”
She never meant to say it, but he was still on her mind, he never left it.
She left her brothers half an hour later, after devouring two pieces of chocolate cake with ice-cream and a second cup of tea.
Jessica stood outside the café, across the road, she saw him, watching her, the man who had taken her. She stood, rooted to the spot, her brothers were both gone, she was alone. She should have gone back into the café, but as she turned sign of the door read closed. She ran, as fast as she could, down a side road, why was he out? She had no idea, Curtis had told her he was in prison, but there he was in the flesh watching her, following her.
Her heart was racing, her feet hurting as she stumbled, flying forward, slamming into the wall, hitting her head, blood trickled down her face. She placed her hand to her head, and her hand soaked in the bright red blood, which was oozing down her fingers, and dripping down to the floor. She turned, her vision blurry, but he was there, standing above her.
“You,” he said, grabbing her by the arm. “You’re coming with me, I made you a promise, and I never go back on a promise.”
Jessica screamed, screamed at the top of her lungs, she did her best to fight him off, but he was strong, holding her by the arm, his fingers dug in deep.
People passed by, ignoring her cries for help, she heard him tell them, she was drunk, his sister, he was helping get her home, she was not herself. They believed him as they left him to drag her into his car. He put the seatbelt across Jessica, and tied her hands, covering them with a blanket.
Jessica could only watch as he drove her down the street. She looked out the window, and saw a police car drive by, this did not faze him. She screamed again, finding her voice, shouting for help and banging her head against the window, causing the blood to trickle down her face again as she opened the wound on her head.