Betty goes into the bedroom to fetch some dry ice from the insulated container, so as to chill the beer she is about to serve. Through the bedroom door, I spot my Pa lying in a different position than before. How has he managed to move away from the foot of the bed? Has he crawled there on his own? Or else, has the thug kicked him off to the side?
There is no time to find out. “Here we go,” Betty whispers, on her way out. “Now, play dead.”
She plops a small bucket with two beer bottles in my lap and wheels me out towards the couch, till the thug comes into vision. I let my eyes fall shut in his presence—but not before catching sight of a steely shine sliding across his weapon. I know what this is: a Makarov pistol.
My boyfriend, Michael, told me not so long ago that this Russian semi-automatic piece became the Soviet Union's standard military and police side arm back in the fifties, and that it is still in use to this day.
I don’t want the thug to notice the glint in my eyes, nor do I want him to read my fear. So I keep my eyes closed, even though I’m dying to see his face. From this moment on, I must rely on my hearing alone, the way I did back in the hospital.
Betty must have handed him the bottle before retreating to stand behind the wheelchair. The way she uses me as a human shield is quite alarming.
The thug must be pointing at me. “The girl,” he says, “she gives me the creeps.”
“Yep, I know.” By the sound of it, her lips are trembling. “Wish I didn’t have to keep an eye on her all the time. Such a bummer.”
“I vill take care of it.”
The wheels rattle and sway under me, as he swings the wheelchair around, turning me to the wall.
She says, “Don’t do that.”
Which angers him. “Vlad bosses me around all day long, but I do not have to take it from you.”
Betty tries to placate him. “Sorry.”
“I vill do vat I vant.” He stamps his foot on the floor. “Got it?”
She says nothing.
To bring the point home, the thug picks me up from my seat, which knocks the air out of my lungs. Feeling like a fledgling I flail about, unable to find my feet, until he throws me into the corner of the room, where I collapse in a heap.
“Now you, honey, come sit next to me,” he tells her, while guzzling down his beer. “Vant some?”
“Sure,” she says, in a terrified voice. “But first, put your pistol aside. I don’t feel safe next to it.”
He slams the thing on the coffee table. “How’s that?”
“Not good enough,” she says. “Put it over there.”
“Away from us.”
He chuckles, as if delighted by hatching up some new idea. “I know! I vill put it on the girl. On her hand, see? Looks just like a hook!”
The thug props my back up against the wall and arranges my limbs, as if I were a clunky doll. Then he lets his piece dangle from my index finger.
Betty says nothing. Her jaw must be gaping open. Mine sure does. This is so unexpected. With his weapon weighing me down, I have suddenly acquired power.
Not that I know how to use it, exactly.
★ Love Suspense? Prepare to be thrilled ★
(Volume I of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
Paperback ★ Hardcover
Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it?
"It's that flirting with reality that makes this story such a compulsive read. Plot twists and suspenseful storytelling make this a book that you will have trouble putting down."