Cutting the next piece, she grunted in pain from using her left hand. It made her mother laugh. “A sprained wrist, for God’s sake. That’s all you have. You want to hear the injuries you gave me?”
Yes. The longer Lindy fixated on the wrongs done her, the more upset she would get and the less attention she would pay to anything else.
“I left half my skin on the roadway when I jumped from the car. My entire body was a mass of torn, oozing, bleeding scrapes with bones poking out. I broke my collarbone, my upper arm, my elbow, my lower arm, my wrist, my hand and every bone in my fingers.”
Mila wrapped a second piece of tape, again securing most of it to the chair. Sam could easily break free of what touched him.
“Every one of my ribs,” Lindy went on. “My hip, my pelvis, my femur, my lower leg, my ankle and my foot. I didn’t crack open my head, though. Can you believe that? That means I lay there in the weeds, in more red-hot agony than you could ever imagine in your stupid little brain. I lay there, and I listened to his screams, and I watched the flames coming closer, and I couldn’t do a damn thing to save myself while I burned alive.”
Mila continued cutting and wrapping pieces of tape, praying it looked like his hands bore the brunt of it. Done, she moved to the front of chair, tape and knife in her good hand, and spoke for the first time since Sam had arrived. “My wrist hurts too bad. If you want me to tie his ankles, you’re going to have to cut the tape for me.”
Lindy swept a pile of books from the table nearest the door. “It’s a damned sprained wrist!”
“If you wanted me to have two good wrists for tonight, you shouldn’t have tried to kill me Saturday.” Mila knew the mere fact that she’d spoken angered Lindy. She saw it in her eyes, heard it in her gasp, recognized it in the sudden clenching of her fist. Family rules: Mila never spoke to Lindy unless it was necessary, never criticized her, frowned or scowled or rolled her eyes at her and never asked for or expected anything of her.
Lindy stalked across the room, and it took all of Mila’s strength not to cringe or shrink away. It was a small source of wonder that she didn’t want to as badly as she always had before.
“I should have drowned you at birth.” Lindy’s breath was fetid and hot on Mila’s face.
A smile slowly curved her mouth. “Look at the fun we’d be missing if you had.”
She’d never seen Lindy so enraged. Spittle flew from the corners of her mouth, and she gulped shallow breaths through her rebuilt nose, tremors rocketing through her from head to toe. The shaking of her hand was enough to make Mila dizzy from the up-and-down swirls of the pistol’s red dot.
“You’re a coward,” Mila said, her voice drawing strength from someplace else. Behind her, Sam murmured her name, a faint warning. She glanced at him and recognized worry and concern and love and faith. He trusted that she knew how to handle her mother better than he did.
“Bitch!” Lindy staggered forward, switching the gun to her other hand, slapping her open palm against Mila’s face. She had always been so fast before, spinning, circling, landing a second punch before Mila could refocus her eyes after the first. But broken bones and skin contractures from scarring made for slower movement.
Mila’s cheek stung, but she didn’t touch it. “My father knew how to kill. He took his time with it. It was art to him. He made tender slices, delicate cuts and savored the lifeblood he released. You…you sneak up behind people. You stab, butcher, and then you run away like the coward you are.”
“You think this isn’t art?” Lindy spread both arms to indicate the room. “I’ve lain on the grass and smelled my own flesh roasting off my bones. Now I’m going to sit outside and smell your flesh roasting. I’m going to listen to your screams, like the most beautiful music ever played. And I’ll know no one will save you, because your boyfriend will be dying right beside you. It’ll be beautiful.”
Mila scoffed. “That’s not saying much, given how amateurish the rest of them were. My father would be embarrassed.”
Lindy lunged again, her fingers curved into claws, her rage too great to control. Mila stepped back too late. Her mother slammed into her, and they fell to the floor. Vaguely Mila heard scuffling—Sam freeing himself, please, God—but it was lost in the furious wounded-animal screams coming from Lindy’s mouth.