Page 10 of Corrupt Kingdom

“Why am I here?”

The silence that descends upon the room is deafening.

Talk to me. Answer me. Acknowledge I’ve spoken.

Anything.

But instead of giving me what I look for, he steps back into the shadows.

Closing the door. Locking it again.

With him now gone, I sit back on the bed and pull my knees into my body. I wrap myself up in a protective cocoon. It’s hard to stop the tremors that run through my body at what just happened. Who is this man, and what does he want?

I continue to shake as fear knots inside me.

A gasp escapes as realization hits; there can only be one reason I’m here. I’ve been kidnapped probably because he wants to rape, and maybe even kill me.

Disturbing thoughts start to play out, building images in my head that I can’t stop. A sob escapes as water cascades down my cheeks. No. I shake my head back and forth. I can’t cry. I won’t cry. Reaching up, I wipe my damp cheeks.

There has to be a way. I look back to the door. The locked door.

I’m trapped.

I’m in a cage. A gilded cage, but a cage, nonetheless.

5

Ivy

When I open my eyes sometime later, my head shakes back and forth in confusion.

The door is now open. I must be seeing things that aren’t really there. But as my eyes adjust to waking, there’s no mistaking the gleam of light penetrating the crack in the door right now.

It’s open, and a light in the hall reflects into my room.

What the hell is going on? Why would he lock me in, only to then leave the door open?

It makes no sense.

Is this the twilight zone? An alternate universe? I’m so confused by this new turn of events that I just sit here, staring like an idiot at the route I can use to potentially escape.

Yet when my limbs don’t move, I shake my head. What am I doing? Move. Taking stock of my surroundings, I note that I’m still dressed, still have my sneakers on, and am still wearing a coat. Nothing is stopping me from walking out that door. Except fear.

I need to leave. This is my chance. I will my body to go, and with that, I propel myself as if I’m a runner in the Olympics.

I lift off the bed. My shoes hit the floor, and I’m out the door before I can think better of it. By the time I’m in the hallway, I realize my mistake.

I could find anything out here.

This could be a trap.

I halt my movements, taking slow, meaningful steps. I don’t want the sound of my feet to alert anyone to my presence. That’s my worst nightmare, to come so close, only to be stopped by stupidity. I need to be careful to make sure there will be no sound as I make my way out.

In the distance, I see the stairwell. It’s grand, but no lights are on in that part of the house. Not one.

I have no idea what time it is, but I have to be careful.

I can’t risk him seeing me, finding me, hurting me.

My heart thumps in my chest like a stampede of elephants. It ricochets off my breastbone, rattling. If I don’t calm down, I’ll hyperventilate.

Lifting my shoulders, I take a soft breath and then move toward the stairs that lead to the front foyer.

Before taking them down, I stop, listening for any signs of life.

There’s nothing.

The house or, by the look of the hallway and stairs, the mansion is empty. No one is here. But then why would he leave the door open? Was he in a rush? Was it a mistake?

Is this a trick?

Maybe I should head back to my room?

No.

I’m not that girl. I’m not the type to hide in the corner and wait for the villain to arrive. I won’t be a victim. I won’t be a helpless lamb waiting for the predator to kill her.

I have to see if I can escape. Or at the very least, find someone to help me.

By this point, I’m not even sure how long I’ve been here. A day?

One thing I’m sure of is, no one is looking for me. My mom probably doesn’t know that I’m gone. Dad wouldn’t care, and Trent is too busy.

I’m not scheduled to work until next week, so my boss won’t even wonder where I am.

I can’t sit around waiting for someone to help me. I have to help myself.

So I do.

I don’t allow my fear to stop me.

As I tiptoe down the stairs, each step is more precarious than the last. When I finally hit the bottom, I see the front door. It’s grand and dark and ominous. It’s the door in a scary movie that led to a house of horrors. I know that if I open it, the sound will be terrible. It will squeak, or worse, it will alert him to my escape. This is the part in the movie where the scared heroine runs for her life. Hopefully, in this story, I get away. I’m not dumb enough to think it won’t be hard, but the thing is, I have nothing to lose.

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