No, no, no! I need to run, to get out of here, but something has me fixed in place. My legs are lead. My body weighted down and heavy. There is something, everything, blocking me from getting out of this mess. No, no.
“I’m going to kiss you.” I see teeth, a full set of threatening teeth attached to the face of a man I barely recognize anymore. “I’m going to hold you down and kiss you. Then I will tear your clothing off. And if you try to resist that, I’m going to set you on fire and let the flames strip you down to nothingness. How would you like that?”
“No, I don’t want it.” His face… it’s too close to mine. I can feel hot breath blowing all over me. “I don’t want you. I have something that I like, a person I really want to be with, it isn’t you. It’s not you.”
“Don’t tell me that you don’t want me. I see you flirting, parading around in front of me, being suggestive.” Something is around my throat. Something that I can’t get off. I claw hard at my neck but the sensation remains. The air is escaping, leaving my lungs, I don’t think I can handle this much longer… “You are asking for this, Esme.”
I didn’t know… I want to scream that loud, but I’m in too much pain to do so. I didn’t mean to.
What could I have done differently to stop Mr. Jones looking at me like someone he wants to lock in a room to take advantage of? I shouldn’t have behaved like I did. I should have kept my distance, never worn a skirt, had a boyfriend or two for him to know that I will never be interested in him like that. Anything to keep him away…
“This isn’t your fault.” That voice sounds suspiciously like my hero, Theo, reminding me that I shouldn’t have to worry how I’m coming across to men, that Mr. Jones should have known how to control himself. But he can’t be here, he must be in my imagination because I can definitely feel my life slipping and ebbing away. “You did nothing wrong, you can’t blame yourself, there is nothing that you did wrong, Esme, nothing at all…”
But his voice is drowned out by the awful accusations being thrown my way by Mr. Jones. He’s stripping the life away from me, trying to finish me off, wanting me dead, while also telling me how much he hates me. I can’t stand it, I can’t get him off, I can’t force him to let me go. It might be time for me to give up.
“I don’t want the business,” he growls. “I don’t want any of it. I just want you. I don’t need a company that is losing me money all the time and getting in the way of me and you. That’s why I pull your hair in the playground, because I want to be with you. That’s why I yell and hurt you, because you are mine.”
Matches. He waves them around in front of me but I’m still pinned down and unable to escape. Gas.
Oh my God… the electrical fault. There was no electrical fault, it was Mr. Jones and he’s going to do it to me again. Again and again until I finally give in and give him what he wants. He won’t give up, he refuses to.
“You will be mine.” Flames are everywhere, licking all over my already injured skin. “If not mine, then no ones. I won’t let you leave me, I refuse to accept it, I can’t take it. I need you to be mine or dead. I need to collect the insurance check and walk away from this business. I can’t be here any longer. I won’t, I refuse to…”
“Think… think of the staff,” I gasp out as the black smoke billows in to my lungs. “All the people who are relying on you, needing you, wanting you to support them. None of them deserve this. Don’t do it to them.”
His face twists up in to an almost inhuman smile. “I didn’t do this. You did. It was you. All of this is your fault. You don’t get to look at me like that, wanting to get away with it because this is all because of you.”
He’s gone. He takes off running, and even though I need to get through the molten hot lava to get to him, I do. I will do anything to get my hands on that man and to choke the life out of him. If I kill him, rid the business of him, then maybe everything else can survive. Mr. Jones is the catalyst, he is the one who needs to go. Without him, the world can blossom and grow. Except him, nothing else needs to die. I just need to… to get him, but he’s just out of reach. Every damn time I lean forwards he slips out of my grasp, like gossamer thin bits of thread, I can’t get hold of him, I can’t grip him, I can’t save anyone. This is all my fault. I am unable to be the hero that I so desperately want to be. I won’t be able to look Delia in the eye anymore, or anyone else that I work with, because they will all know that I had Mr. Jones, that I could have taken him out and that I was too weak to do anything decent…