Dangerous Secrets:Callaghan Brothers, Book 1(2)

By: Abbie Zanders

But she hadn’t sold out completely. There was never a moment when she wasn’t looking for some way out, for some means of escape. After several months of enduring this, she’d given up hope of anyone coming to find her. No, to get out of this, she’d have to find her own way. And to do that, she had to remain alive. If that meant playing along with his sick game to gain a little of his trust? To lull him into slipping up just once? So be it.

He leaned over, the smell of finely-aged Scotch and expensive tobacco barely noticeable. That was a good sign. One or two drinks mellowed him. Much more than that, though, and he tended to become abusive.

His lips touched her skin, right above her brow as he pushed the hair out of her face. It was the gentlest of kisses, one that might be given by a true lover. She sighed again, making sure she relaxed her face to give the impression that she liked it.

When he tensed, her heart began to beat faster. His lips pressed a little harder against her forehead, followed shortly afterward by his palm. “Jesus, Kiara, you’re burning up,” he said, his whisper acquiring a concerned tone. He pulled the covers from her body, saw that she was soaked with sweat. Within seconds, the cool breeze had her shivering uncontrollably.

His hands lifted the hem of her thin nightshirt and sought out the Telfa pad bandages on her side. Pulling one of them off, he cursed again, a sure sign that something was wrong. Knowing that he wouldn’t buy the possum routine for much longer, Kiara opened her eyes and looked straight into his. For a brief moment, she caught genuine fear in them.

It was hard to believe this was the same man that had murdered her entire family in cold blood. The same man who had brutally beaten, stabbed, and sexually abused her over the past few months. The same man who was now touching her as though she was precious to him.

He was unstable; Kiara knew this. Severely bipolar, if she remembered anything from her Catholic high school health class. Who would have dreamed then that the three-minute blurb within a class period dedicated to mental illness would have become so relevant in her own life?

“You should have told me, Kiara,” he chided, pulling off the bandages and slathering ointment on the puffy stab wounds, covering them once again with clean ones. The pneumonia had lowered her resistance, enabling an infection to settle in. She lowered her lashes in what she hoped passed as a sign of submission. She was getting really good at playing this game, and it sickened her.

“Always trying to be strong, aren’t you? Always trying to show me that you’re worthy. That’s one of the reasons I love you, Kiara. But you have me to take care of you now.”

Kiara shuddered again, not so much from the fever as from the complete and utter devotion in his eyes. It was hard to decide what was worse – this, or the wild gleam he got when he believed that she had betrayed him somehow.

Thankfully, he took the shudder as yet another indication of how sick she was. “Don’t worry,” he said, licking his lips as he covered her up again. “I’m going to get you some antibiotics, okay?” Kiara knew better than to answer, so she nodded very slightly to show that she understood.

“Do you want some water first?” She nodded again. Her throat was so swollen and dry she could only swallow with tremendous effort, and it hurt so much it really wasn’t worth it to try.

He left and returned quickly with a small glass of water. Sliding his hand beneath her shoulders, he tried to lift her up and hold the glass to her lips. Her ribs protested, causing a small grunt of pain. She winced, bracing for the expected blow. This time, thankfully, it didn’t come.

Taking the glass away, he tucked the quilt around her and left, promising to return shortly with medicine. Only when the sound of the powerful pick-up on the gravel driveway met her ears did Kiara breathe a sigh of relief. By her best calculations, she had about an hour before he returned.

She undulated her body in an attempt to move the forgotten tube of ointment up to where she could grab it with her hands, gritting her teeth against the pains shooting up through her chest and back. Pain was good. Pain meant that her body and mind were still functioning, and as long as she had breath in her body, she had a chance.