I give up and type in ‘Blake Law Barrington early years’. Nothing. There is not a single photograph or piece of news about him. I try to imagine him as a child. A little older than Sorab and suddenly tears appear in my eyes. Poor little thing. I have never come across it. Where a child who has been abused by its parent grows up to be a man and protects his abuser in such a loyal fashion. As if what his father had done was right. Did his mother know? The thought sickens me.
I don’t understand what I am mixed up in.
I spend the morning and most of the afternoon wandering aimlessly around the apartment. The truth is I am stuck in an uncomprehending daze. I am even tempted to attempt contact with Victoria’s mother. But the memory of that shrill look in her eyes frightens me. As if she is teetering on the border of madness. It is as if she is trapped in her own hell.
At four o’clock I hear the front door open. Blake is early. I run out gratefully to greet him. I have so missed him. I come to an abrupt stop in the middle of the corridor. It is not Blake standing just inside the door looking at me, but his father.
“The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli of England, 1844
‘Hello, Miss Bloom.’
‘Hello,’ I whisper.
‘May I come in?’
‘You are already in.’
His mouth twists haughtily. ‘True.’
‘Blake’s not here.’
‘I didn’t come to see him.’
He passes me on the way to the living room, stops a few feet away, and prompts, ‘Shall we?’
I follow. I am so furious with this man that my hands are white knuckled fists. I actually think I hate him. In fact, this is first human being I have met that I could feel all right about killing. This is the man who attacked a child and molded him into cold, money-making machine. But I know better than to order him out or to show my fury. I recognize that he is at the end of the maze I am lost in.
He stops in the middle of the living room. He does not sit and I do not offer him a seat. ‘What do you want?’
‘You have taken something very precious to me and I have come to ask you to give it back to me.’
I shake my head. ‘I don’t have anything of yours.’
‘Don’t play games with me, Miss Bloom. I haven’t the time or inclination. I want you to leave my son.’
‘What is it with you people? Don’t you think Blake is old enough to decide who he wants to be with?’
‘I’ve seen you. I’ve watched you beg my son to hurt you,’ he says softly. But the venom in his calm words shocks me far more than if he had shouted at me. I take a step back. His cold eyes are unblinking. They watch me like a snake does its prey. He takes a step forward. ‘This is the first time I have seen it. A woman begging a man to abuse her. I have to admit I enjoyed it even if my son didn’t deliver. Next time you want to be hurt, ask me. I know exactly how to make you scream.’
I stare at him blankly. The walls not only have ears, they also have eyes, Blake. You didn’t know that, did you? My mind scrambles for a way out of this nightmare. What has this man seen? He has witnessed me with my legs wide open, the black and orange dildo buried inside me. But I don’t feel shame or humiliation. I feel fear. To beat down the fear, I simulate courage. I raise my chin to a f**k you stance.
‘If you think your son shouldn’t be with me, why don’t you approach him directly?’
He looks at me strangely. As if I am a creature of very low intelligence that he is trying very hard to communicate with. ‘Because I don’t have to. I have what you want.’
‘I’d rather die than take a penny from you.’
He smiles. ‘I wouldn’t insult you with money. You are far too subtle for that. Rather I am giving you another opportunity to be selfless and do something wonderful.’
I stare at him wordlessly as he weaves the net that he hopes to catch me with.
‘I see a gloriously bright future for my son, but you are in the way. Your genetic imprint, your lack of education, your…your lack of social standing will eventually drag him down. What I am offering is a place in the countryside, near a good school, a beautiful home, a car, of course money, and introduction into better society than you have known.’
‘I can’t make that decision for Blake. He is old enough to choose what he wants.’
He holds up a hand. ‘Let me finish. I know you are in love with my son. And believe me, that is something greatly in your favor. I know how difficult it must be for you, but the consequences if you do not leave him are enormous, incalculable…for Blake.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘If you don’t leave him, I will destroy him.’
I laugh. A wild disbelieving laugh. ‘You would destroy your own son just because he doesn’t marry the woman you want him to.’
‘What good is a son I have no use for?’ he asks. His logic is so simple, so direct, so painfully sociopathic that I gasp.
‘I would. I would destroy him in a heartbeat.’
‘Name me,’ he says conversationally, ‘a politician, a leader of a country, an important man in any sphere, and tomorrow I will turn him to nothing.’
‘I’m not going to be responsible for destroying anyone so you can prove your power.’
‘If you don’t choose I will have to, and that will be a little less spectacular for you because then you can pretend that I had not the power to destroy, but only knowledge beforehand of something that was already in the pipeline. Choose anyone. Of course, I would prefer it if you did not pick prime ministers or presidents of countries. It is always expensive and time consuming to maneuver them into their positions of power—and they are all, other than one or two, being good little puppets at the moment, but if that is what it takes to convince you, then so be it. Or perhaps you would prefer a billionaire who particularly irritates you. Bill Gates? Warren Buffet?’
I shake my head. ‘I’m not playing your game.’
‘Fine, I will choose. The head of the IMF has been displaying a little less obedience than usual. I choose him. Tell me what kind of disgrace you would like to see come upon his unsuspecting head.’
‘In that case let him be accused of rape. Not just any rape but the rape of a maid in a hotel room. Let her be of Asian descent. Thai would be too common. Would you be happy with Burmese?’