When he held me, I didn’t have nightmares. When his hands caressed me, the panic attacks ceased. With Derrick, I was able to forget what happened. I ached with the guilt of not telling him any parts of the ordeal. I knew it was killing him.
But I loved the way he looked at me now, like I was the key to his entire world. If I told him what Jason did to me, the things I’d done during the course of being held prisoner, that look would go away.
I couldn’t risk that.
I stepped onto the balcony, bathing in the moonlight. It was warm and there was a gentle breeze moving the clouds around. We moved to a new wing of the house and it was quieter here. The pool and pool house were right underneath us and I’d been dying to get back into it. Now that my ankle was fully healed, it seemed like a good idea.
There was no point in getting changed. No one ever swam in the pool anymore. I tiptoed down the stairs and padded across the grass to the stone slabs surrounding the sapphire tinted water. I let my nightgown fall off my shoulders and stepped gently down the stairs, wading out to waist level.
Spreading my arms out, I tilted my chin up, gazing at the stars as I fell back into the warm water.The temperature was perfect. I floated on my back, loving the weightless feeling it offered me.
God, how I needed to feel weightless. I didn’t allow myself to feel that way since coming home. There was too much blood on my hands, too many unanswered questions, too much left unsaid for me to spread that around for others to carry.
No, I would shoulder the weight of everything. It had to be this way.
I dove beneath the water, swimming a few laps before floating on my back. It helped soothe my grieving soul. My eyes burned from opening them underneath the water, so I stood in the shallow end rubbing them. Footsteps sounded on the stone behind.
Glancing over my naked shoulder, black boots stood at the edge of the pool near the deeper end. A smile tugged on my lips, assuming it was Derrick coming to join me. But I realized the body was different.
I began to tremble, my smile fading from my face.I recognized the all black outfit, complete with black gloves.
I opened my mouth to scream, but the man held a finger up to his lips, silencing me. Tears blurred my vision. I blinked at them, sending them splashing into the water surrounding me.
He found me.
He came back for me.
I wasn’t going to survive this time.
“Alina?” a voice called out.
Derrick walked out onto the balcony. He hadn’t come to the edge yet, so he couldn’t see me down in the pool. I swallowed, unable to form words from the sheer terror of what would happen next.
When I glanced back down, he was gone.
That was my warning.
He was never going to let me escape anyway.
He was coming back for what he owned.