That’s when I realize that Jax and I were not in my apartment. We were in Maine in his castle. My stomach cramps again, and I rush to the bathroom, fall to my knees and heave over the toilet. It’s gut-wrenching, fierce heaving, and I can’t make it stop. I throw up again, clutching onto the seat for dear life. I need my phone. I need my man. I need Jax. Finally, the pain eases and I curl onto the floor, unable to move. Help me, God. I’m naked, and I’m in San Francisco. I don’t remember how I got here.
I squeeze my eyes shut, and just lie there. No. No. I think I fall asleep because I come to again sick as a dog. I crawl to the toilet and throw up again, returning to the floor after I’m done to fade into misery and sleep. The next time I wake up, I’m on my back staring at the ceiling. The room is dark, I realize but light beams in from the bedroom. So, I’m in the dark and it seems that I’m shivering. I’m cold. I’m really cold. I roll over and sit up on my knees, testing the steadiness of my stomach, and despite some dizziness, I seem to be past the sickness.
With some effort, I push to my feet and grab a robe from behind the door, pulling it around me, and then grab the edge of the counter by the sink to stare in the mirror. My hair is everywhere. My mascara is so all over the place that I look like I’m wearing a zombie Halloween costume. I frown. Costume. Mask. I remember now. I relive that moment, back at the castle, when this all started:
I step in front of the elevator and a man is standing inside with his back to me. He turns, and my heart lurches at the sight of a Michael Myers mask covering his face. As if I’m trying to relive a stupid Halloween movie, I turn and fall flat on my face. Then, he’s over the top of me, and a needle is jabbed into my arm.
I come back to the present with a sharp inhalation of air that I hold and then force out, my state of undress undoing me. My hands run over my naked skin, looking for bruises or tender spots. I find nothing but I’m naked. If not for that, I’d think Randall or my brother masterminded all of this. But the mask and my lack of clothing, along with me ending up in bed; those things read like York’s doing this to me. And like I was raped while I slept and I start to tremble. I need my phone. No. I need to make sure I’m alone. Why have I not even considered that I might not be? I shove aside any thought of rape. I refuse to be weak. I refuse to let York do that to me.
I push off the counter and head to my nightstand where I keep a gun I bought after a crime wave last year, that is thankfully where I left it. I grab it, the heavyweight and classes I took, cold comfort I don’t want to need. With quiet cautious steps, I inch out into the living room, where I find no other person. I sweep the rest of the apartment and then go to the front door to find the lock broken. I don’t even know what to think about this. Did someone break in to put me in my own apartment? I grab a kitchen chair and shove it under the knob, searching for my phone. I find my suitcase and my purse, but my cell is missing. So is my MacBook. Someone didn’t want those things to be used to track my location.
I need to call Jax.
I also feel disgusting.
Someone undressed me.
Someone touched my body.
Suddenly I need to shower.
Hurrying into the bathroom, I turn on the water, step underneath and I can’t scrub hard enough but I force myself to be quick. Thirty minutes later, I’m in jeans, a T-shirt, and boots. I even dry and flat iron my brown hair to a silk around my shoulders. I go so far as to put on makeup, going through the motions of living, when I should be running for the door. All the while, I flashback to the mask, the elevator, the plane, the second mask. It’s like the process of getting dressed is my mind’s way of finding order in chaos, in stabilizing my mind that keeps trying to go off the deep end.
Finally, I grab my purse and slip it over my shoulder. I still can’t get over the fact that whoever did this brought me and my suitcase to my own apartment. It’s like I’m in the twilight zone. One thing I grow more confident in is that York didn’t do this. York wouldn’t bring my suitcase back and he wouldn’t just leave. He’d stay to taunt me. My brother wanted me back here. My brother did this. Randall probably did this for my brother, and then that pervert undressed me. I glance at the clock. It’s nine in the morning, but I don’t know what day of the week it is. How long have I been knocked out? I think it’s Sunday. I just can’t know for sure.