“Look at all the mice run,” the woman thought watching the emergency room light up with activity. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. It couldn’t get any better than this she thought unless of course they had found her dead. A frown flickered across her brow as a familiar young man exited the elevator. He shouldn’t be here she thought, he should still be hiding like the little rodent he was.
Standing she moved to follow him. Auggie was due for a little reminder. Her tongue split her lips as she pondered the best method to deliver it. She held the door open for an elderly couple. Smiling briefly as they mumbled thanks for her thoughtfulness.
Hurrying to the parking lot she was in time to see Auggie talking to Uncle Matt who was holding a beautiful little girl in his arms. She gasped as shock bolted through her as Uncle Matt handed the little girl to Auggie. The little girl’s squeal of delight as he lifted her in the air sent a piercing pain to her heart.
She leaned heavily on the stair railing as her mind transported her to the distant past. She used to sound like that when daddy picked her up. His eyes dancing with joy matching her giggles. A strangled sob escaped her clenched teeth. She caught the concerned stare of a couple coming from the hospital carrying a newborn in their arms. She had to get out of there before she brought anymore attention to herself.
She turned in time to hide her face as Katrina exited the hospital. She brushed past without looking. She had been so close Kara could have reached out and touched her. Hands curled into fists as she watched Katrina run up to Auggie and kiss his cheek. The delighted toddler yelling mommy made Kara wince as if she had been stung by a million bees. How dare they disregard her demands. She told Auggie to never come back. Yet here he was playing house with the one person she despised almost as much as her mom.
Impotent rage gave her feet the energy to move from where they had been frozen. She couldn’t change the fact they were together. If it weren’t for that little girl she’d teach them a lesson they wouldn’t forget. Walking swiftly to her car she got in and slammed her fist into the dash. That horrible little girl changed everything.
Tossing the light hospital blanket aside Garrett swung his legs to the side. Holding his head as the change of elevation messed with his equilibrium. Gulping in air he put his feet flat on the floor slowly standing up. Closing his eyes he took several deep breaths as he adjusted to being vertical after lying down for so long.
He shuffled to the door. Hesitating a moment listening for a moment in the outer corridor. He popped his head out glancing both ways before leaving his room behind. The bright lights hurt as his eyes struggled to adjust. Leaning against the wall he made slow progress towards his destination. He hoped that no one would stop him before he made it.
Stopping outside the door similar to the one he just left he pushed it open. His breath caught as he caught sight of her lying motionless amidst tubes and machines. Her long hair messy and dull lacking the shine he remembered. Moving inside he let the door swing shut behind him.
“Mom,” he choked out between the lump in his throat. Eyes swimming with tears he made slow cautious movements towards the only chair in the room. He dropped into it, cradling his head in his hands. He prayed to whatever powers that were listening.
Sometime later he felt a hand land lightly on his shoulder. Jerking awake he looked up into the concerned eyes of the one person he least expected to see. She smiled down at him. Her voice hushed “I knew I’d find you here.”
Blinking back tears Garrett nodded leaning back in the chair “I had to see her.”
“She’ll be alright,” Verity assured him sounding convincing despite her own doubts “the doctors say she’ll be alright one she wakes up and is able to eat to get her strength back.”
“She almost starved to death,” Garrett growled through tight clenched teeth. His hands doubled into fists “how could Kara do that to her own mother?”
“I don’t know,” Verity said kneeling beside his chair. She took his hand unable to find the right words to comfort him. It didn’t seem like enough. She had to find his dad. She had to bring him home.
Silence fell between them as they became lost within their uneasy thoughts. Garrett moved restlessly in the chair as his muscles protested their long inactivity. “What am I going to do?” he asked sounding like a lost little boy.
“You’re going to let me help you back to your room,” Verity told him. She smiled gently at him as his mind warred with his body and lost.
“Alright” he mumbled looking away as his cheeks began to burn at the admission of his own weakness.
Without thinking Verity put a tender hand up to stroke his cheek “it’s going to be alright. I’m not giving up. I’m going to find your dad.”
Tears ran from his eyes like a river as if a dam had broken inside him. “I’m so afraid” he admitted as his body was racked with shudders.
“I know,” she soothed pulling him into her arms “you don’t have to be anymore.”
After making sure Garrett was tucked away in his bed asleep Verity sat beside him letting her mind wander. What was Kara’s motivation? Did she want control? That wasn’t it. Didn’t feel right. If she wanted control she’d have kept tormenting the family. Making them do things to make their lives miserable.
Her eyes drooped as she leaned her chin into her hand. Control wasn’t what she wanted. Kara’s motivation went deeper than that more obsessive. Yawning Verity got up. Pacing the floor trying to see through the murky depths of what she knew about Kara. Somewhere in all of what she knew was the answer. Once she asked the right question. She’d have the answer. Once she had the answer she’d find Ian.
Everyone was giving up Verity thought as she watched Garrett sleeping. He tossed restlessly becoming tangled in his sheets, lips moving as he mumbled something in his sleep. A nightmare? A suppressed memory? If she found the right question she find the answer. She had to look at the situation from a different angle. Kara wasn’t born a monster. Something happened deep inside her, something crucial had snapped.
Nodding with renewed determination she went to Garrett’s side bent and lightly kissed his lips. “I love you,” she whispered. She watched as a small smile replaced the frown that had been there almost as if he had heard her. “One day when this is all over,” she promised “I’ll tell you everything.”
Turning she left the room. When the door closed behind her she leaned against it. She needed to delve into the mind of Kara. The place to start was with someone who knew her as she grew up. She wished she could talk to Celia but that wasn’t an option. She walked the empty halls towards the one person she hoped could enlighten her.
He woke with a jerk the metal chain clanking around his ankle reminding him he was someone’s prized pet. Tethered so he couldn’t escape. Cut off from everyone and everything he ever cared about. Unable to sleep he swung his legs over the edge of the bed the chain tugging on his leg.
Restless he got up and prowled his cage. Everything he could ever want was crammed into the small space. A TV where he watched the breaking news that Celia had been found.
Overcome with joy when they announced that she was alive. In critical condition but alive. He hadn’t believed it possible. The last image he had of her was her unconscious body tied hand and foot on the living room floor. The explosion. He thought she was still inside as Kara made him watch as Garrett walked towards the house. He struggled against his ties trying to call out to his son. Warn him. Helpless tears streaked his face as he watched his son’s lifeless body catapult through the air when the explosion took place.
How could the little girl he helped raise do this to the family who loved her? How long did she intend to keep him as her prized pet? She’d feed him three times a day like clock work. Once he was finished eating the tasteless slop she’d give him she’d crawl into his lap.
After so many weeks he knew exactly what she wanted to hear. His mouth would form the words that made him want to vomit afterwards. He knew the words well. They were the ones he had said the night the police brought her home from John’s. How could his words of love become the basis of her twisted hate?
Glancing at the clock on the wall dreading every second that brought him closer to feeding time. His leg began to throb in anticipation of her arrival and her tender loving care.
As if right on cue the door opened and Kara breezed into the room. “I brought you a present,” she announced happily pointing at the wheelchair she rolled into the room with a bright red ribbon around it.
Ian stared in horror at her gift then at her pleased happy face. “Sweetie I don’t need a wheelchair anymore.”
“We’ll take care of that soon enough,” she told him as she threw her arms around him “tell me how much you love me.” He mumbled the prerequisite words. “Tell me I’m your favorite and how you’ll never leave me” she demanded.
Ian stammered to comply. It was off pattern. He was supposed to eat first. Mind wrestling with the implications. He tried to keep calm while doing the things he knew she wanted, no demanded of him.
“I’m going to take care of you daddy,” she told him taking a step back. She picked up a long solid object she kept hidden behind her back. “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.”
He seriously doubted that he thought as he stared at the long metal bat she held steady in her hands. Her eyes dancing within their sockets as she moved towards him. The heavy chain dragged on his leg a reminder he had little room to maneuver.
She swung low attempting to hit his leg “once this is over” she said as if she were discussing the weather “we can get rid of that cumbersome chain.”
“I prefer it to the wheelchair,” he grunted as the bat connected with his shin. Pain shot through him as he tried to dodge and failed.
“I’ll take care of you,” she told him swinging again frustration making her reckless swinging at anything she could reach.
A small cry of pain escaped him as the bat connected with his kidneys. He fell onto the bed face down where she delivered several more blows.
“Why can’t you see this is for your own good? I’ll take care of you forever and ever” she cried as she delivered one blow after another.
“If you really loved me you’d let me go,” he mumbled falling into a pit of darkness where only pain existed.
Verity spent several hours listening to Gene and Aimee reminisce about their grandchildren. She’d prompt them with the occasional question overall she had a pretty clear picture of two parents who did the best they could. Of course there had been mistakes. The biggest being when Celia let John take Kara. Gene insisted there had been signs before but it became worse and more intractable after that. Something had snapped inside her causing her to obsess over needing all of Ian’s attention to the exclusion of everyone else.
She hadn’t singled Garrett out until he became a teenager. She hadn’t become truly dangerous until after he turned eighteen. Had her warped thinking prevented her from hurting anyone until after Garrett was old enough to care for himself? Even the baddest criminals had a soft spot for something. Could Kara’s soft spot be defenseless children?
Where did this new understanding leave her? She wasn’t sure if it helped or hindered her to know how Kara thought. Having an understanding of her thought processes might help her determine what she might do next. It was time she dug deep into the adult Kara now. Find out her habits, her hobbies, her schedule and where she called home. She smiled catching Gene watching her with an inquisitive expression in his dark eyes.
“What’s you’re next move?” he asked.
“I’m going hunting” she told him “I’m not coming back until I’ve found what I’m looking for.”
Gene took her hand “be careful” he patted her hand “knowing Kara she’s been watching us. By now she’s figured out your feelings for Garrett.”
“Haven’t told him,” he gave her a knowing smile “we all know. Be careful. You’re as much of a target as the rest of us.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. It’s not going to stop me from doing what’s necessary.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek “I’m going to bring him home.”
Moans filled the room as Ian tried to pry open his eyes. He hurt in areas he didn’t know existed. Once he had passed out Kara must have continued to administer her brand of tender loving care. He put a hand up to feel the tender spots on his scalp. Hissing in pain he jerked his hand away. His fingers smeared with blood.
Feeling battered he wanted to close his eyes to the pain his step daughter had inflicted upon him. He pushed himself up. Swaying as his vision swam before him. Swallowing he fought to remain conscious. The simple movement caused a chorus of pain to shout within him. Biting his lip he tried to push past the torment his body was going through. He swung his feet to the floor. Stood for a brief moment before his knee buckled under his weight.
Panting in pain he struggled into a sitting position on the floor. He clutched his knee. It was hot, swollen to twice its size straining against the seams of his pants.
The chain was still wrapped securely around his ankle. Ian could feel the blisters where the chain had rubbed the skin away. Holding his breath he hoisted himself to his feet leaning his weight on his one good leg. He dragged the other behind him. He made slow painful progress to the sink that he used to give himself sponge baths.
Without bothering to undress he leveraged his bad leg up running cold water over his knee. He hoped the cold water would help the swelling go down. His eye wandered around the room taking in the damage. His gift lay on its side dented and mangled. The bright red ribbon shredded into several small pieces that lay scattered throughout the room.
Gulping Ian wondered if he looked as bad as the room did. There was no doubt in his mind that Kara had completely lost whatever shred to sanity she had left. If he hoped to survive he had to find a way to escape.