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Captured by Mr. Wild: Chapter 30

Daisy

    Blake shouts down the phone.

“Blake! He’s here. Mickey’s here.”

My head spins as a wave of dizziness rushes through it. I stare at the pile of stalks, every petal torn off and scattered across the porch. A massacre of white, blowing around in the breeze.

He’s been here.

On this doorstep.

Right where I’m standing.

My heart hammers in my chest as a cold sweat breaks on my hairline and I suck in ragged breaths.

This can’t be happening. He’s in England. He doesn’t know I’m here. I never told him about my aunt. It’s like my subconscious knew that I may need this place one day.

Away from him.

“Daisy? Daisy?” Blake’s frantic voice is calling me down the phone.

“Y-yes. I’m still here,” I whisper, my eyes watching the petals as a gust of wind picks them up and swirls them about. One lands on my foot, and I kick it off with a shriek.

He’s touched it.

He’s been here.

“Are you okay? He’s there? What are you talking about?”

“He’s been here, Blake.” I grab hold of the doorframe to steady myself. “I know it sounds stupid. He doesn’t even know I’m here, but he must have found out somehow. He must have! The petals…”

There’s no other explanation for it. No logical reason why there would be a giant bouquet of long-stemmed daisy-like flowers laid on the doorstep, with every single petal torn off.

It’s a warning.

My stomach heaves and I clasp my hand to my mouth.

“I believe you.”

“You do?” I whisper.

“You’re not crazy, Daisy. That reporter that was outside waiting for Jay and Holly… he got photos of us, too. Cindy told me when I went into Herbies to ask after Betsy.”

“But that’s just a photo, surely—”

“She told him who you were. That you were here from England fleeing an ex-boyfriend. I’ve not seen anything, but it’s possible the photo got posted online somewhere.”

A sudden chill hits me in the core like a shot of ice.

He always said he’d find me.

It was a joke, really. Back in the beginning. When things were good. He would tell me if I ever left, that he would track me down. I’d laughed. I thought he was being romantic, hinting that he didn’t want to be without me.

Now the joke’s on me.

Mick knows people. Bad people. If there was a way to find me, then he, or someone he knows, would have discovered it. I’m so stupid. I should have thought of it before. It probably wasn’t even the photograph. He probably has friends who can trace my passport, or found out Maria registered me to work at the spa. Isn’t that how all these organized criminal gangs operate? Favors for each other. Bribing or threatening those who can get you the information you need.

“I’ve been so stupid.” My voice sounds like it belongs to someone else as I sob.

“It’s not your fault.” The sound of a truck door slamming carries down the phone.

Why would Mick come now? Has he only just found me? Or is it… I can feel my heartbeat pounding in my throat.

The trial.

He thought he had gotten away with it when some of the evidence got thrown out. The case was weak. But then I decided to go back. I decided to face him. Make him pay for what he’s done. He would be told the prosecution had a new eyewitness. He must have worked out who.

Me.

My eyes dart up and across the garden, down to the jetty, and over to the lake.

Nothing.

My shoulders relax slightly, but my heart continues to pound so hard I wouldn’t be surprised if it burst right out of my chest.

“It’s okay, babe. I’m coming! I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Blake says.

“Please hurry.” The earlier unease I felt when packing my case has returned. I need him here now.

“Ah, fuck!”

“What is it?” My eyes widen at his sudden outburst.

“My tire’s flat. Fucking hell!” he shouts. “Daisy. Go inside, lock the door, and call the cops, okay?”

“Blake?” My hands shake as I hear the urgency in his voice.

“Do it, Daisy! Do it now!”

“Okay, okay.” I step backward into the house and shut the door, pushing it hard until it clicks so I know it’s closed properly. Then I put the safety chain on and give the handle a pull to double check it. “I’m inside. The door’s locked.”

“Okay. Good.” Blake’s puffing, his voice strained as though he’s running.

“Now, babe. You’re going to have to put the phone down and use the landline to call the cops, okay? I’ll stay right here on the other end. Tell me when you’ve done it.”

“Okay.” I run to the kitchen and my fingers tremble as I place my cell phone down on the counter and pick up the handset for the landline.

Silence.

I hit the button on the cradle, jabbing it with my finger.

No, no, no.

“Blake, it’s not working! There’s no dial tone.”

A sob breaks from my lips, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I dart my eyes around the kitchen. I don’t know what I’m expecting to find, but everything looks the same. Everything is exactly where it should be. A low rumble of thunder sounds outside. The sky has darkened, and the kitchen is now a gloomy gray. I know the storm is working its way down from the forest.

It must be the weather, putting the phone line out.

Unless Mick cut it.

“Shit.” Blake is panting now. There’s no doubt he’s running. “You’re going to have to use your cell.”

“No!” That means hanging up on him. That means he won’t be there.

That means I will be alone.

“You can do it. Then call me straight back, okay?” I picture him running down the road from the forest. He’s fast, I know he is. But he still won’t even be a quarter of the way back yet.

“I’m scared,” I whimper, swiping at my eyes with the back of my hand.

“Daisy. You’re the strongest woman I know. Now hang up the phone. Make that call. And ring me back.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Tell me.” His voice is solid. Dependable. Grounding. Giving me what I need.

I draw in a deep breath. “I’m going to hang up. Make the call. And then ring you back.”

“That’s my girl,” he says.

“I love you,” I whisper, squeezing my eyes shut, tears spilling from them as I hang up before he can say it back.

There’s silence, and for a split second, I freeze. Unable to do anything except listen to my blood rush in my ears.

Get it together.

I fumble with my cell phone, trying to dial 9-1-1. The screen lights up as I dial, but my hands are shaking so much I drop it, and it falls to the floor, skittering along the tiles and underneath the big oak dresser.

“No!”

I fall to my knees and press my cheek to the cold tile floor, stretching out a hand. But the gap’s so small I can barely get my fingers underneath.

“Shit! Please!”

A strangled sob comes out as I spot a light through the small gap. I can see it. It’s so close. I need something to slide underneath and scoop it out with. I pull my hand back out as an idea hits me. I can get a spatula, or a long spoon. That will fit underneath, and then I can use it to knock my phone out. They’re in the kitchen drawer under the cooker. I’ll grab both and see which works.

I scramble to my feet and turn.

The sight at the back door makes me stop dead, a silent scream sticking in my throat.

The blood in my veins turns to ice and the temperature in the room drops. Every nerve ending is crackling as my stomach lurches, then plummets.

I shudder as I look at his face through the glass. Dark hair, dark eyes.

Black soul.

I stand, rooted to the spot as he stares at me. His dark features and black t-shirt, coupled with the stormy sky behind him, make him look like a monster of the night. He stares me down, his eyes unblinking, burning into me like acid. He was so good at hiding himself. I never saw this side of him when we first met. Never suspected a thing. But now it’s all I can see. Darkness, cruelty, evil. Any trace of good I once thought he had, has vanished.

It died that day with Rocket.

I hold my breath, every tiny hair on my arms and neck raised to attention.

The doorknob turns slowly, like something from a horror movie.

Please be locked. Please be locked.

I let out the tiniest whisper of a breath as the door stays shut.

Thank God.

An ear-piercing sound makes me scream, and my hands fly up to the sides of my face. A mix of giant missiles and tiny glistening splinters crash all over the tile floor, shattering and spraying across the kitchen.

He reaches his hand in through the broken glass pane and calmly flicks the lock between his thumb and finger.

Click.

I watch, paralysed, as he draws back his hand, the knuckles covered in old cuts and bruises.

Punishing someone who got in his way?

Someone like me.

The door swings open, and he stands in the doorway, his tall, dark presence sucking the air from the room. My skin tingles as though I’m being assaulted by a billion tiny needles. All wanting blood.

Just like the look in his eyes tells me he wants mine.

Mickey has come for me.

Just like he promised.

“Don’t you know it’s rude not to invite your guests in?”

“W-what are you doing here?” I take a step back and bump into the kitchen side.

A cruel smirk passes over his lips.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you the same question?”

He steps into the room, his wet muddy boots crunching on the broken glass and leaving a smear of brown behind them. I bring my eyes back up to his face, and his eyes roam over my body and up to my face. A bitter laugh leaves his lips.

“Decided to go back to being blonde, then.” His laugh stops abruptly, and he fixes his eyes on mine, narrowing them as he studies me. “It makes you look cheap.” He pops the ‘p’ and waits for my reaction. A satisfied smile spreads over his face as I wince, his words hitting me like a fist to the face.

I know he’s only saying it to hurt me.

To get a reaction.

I’m giving him exactly what he wants. But it’s easy to feel strong when the creator of your torment isn’t standing in front of you. Larger and colder than you remember.

He walks into the room, casting his eyes around, his lip curling up in disgust.

“So, this is where you ran away to? This is better than what I gave you in England?”

I watch, my mouth dry, as he strolls around the room, inspecting every surface. He stops when he sees a couple of jars of body butter I and Blake had left over from helping Maria. He blows a breath out of his nose as he smirks at them, tapping their lids with a long finger.

“Started playing your little beauty shop game again, have you?”

I shuffle my feet, edging my back along the counter in the direction of the hallway. If I can make it to the front door, I could get out and run.

I could get away.

Before he has the chance to kill me.

Will he really go that far? He’s hit me before, and I know what little regard he has for animal lives. Surely taking a human one is just another step up the twisted, evil ladder to someone like Mick. Someone I thought I knew once, but never truly did.

How could I have gotten it so wrong?

I freeze as his cold eyes lock on my face. I used to think they were a warm brown. Like hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night. But now I can see they’re darker. Like the depths of a cave. One that once you fall in, it’s almost impossible to claw your way back out of the darkness again.

But I have.

I’m back out in the light, and there’s no way in hell I’m going back.

Seeing him now, roaming around like some psychotic king, makes me more determined. He may be stronger than me. I may be terrified of what he might be about to do to me. So terrified, I’m not sure whether I’m more likely to faint or be sick.

But I know one thing.

I’m not going down without a fight.

“What if I have?” I say, referring to his comment about making my own creams again.

It’s something I did when we first met. He never really appreciated when I made things for him as gifts. In time, I made less and less. I always seemed to spend all my time with Mick instead, doing what he wanted.

Just how he liked it.

He turns, a light blue vein bulging in his temple as he glares at me.

“What the fuck you say, weed?” he hisses.

I swallow the giant lump in my throat. My confidence suddenly feeling more like gross stupidity as he strides across the room and stops, his face inches from mine. He smells like cigarettes, and I hold my breath as he lifts one hand and trails the nail of one finger slowly down the side of my face.

His dark hair falls forward over his cheekbones as he smirks at me.

“Bet I still make your cunt wet, don’t I? That’s one thing you got right, at least.”

I gasp, turning my face to the side so I don’t have to look at him. My chest heaves as I suck in a breath to stop my legs from giving away underneath me.

“Thought so.” He chuckles to himself, ignoring the repulsion on my screwed-up face. Even just the thought that he once touched me has bile rising in my throat.

He keeps his face close to mine, rolling his lips.

“If you like it here so much, with your hair and your jars of shit, then tell me, Daisy. Why are you coming back to little old England?”

I swallow down the nausea. Hearing my name coming out of his mouth sounds so wrong. He could take the happiest word in existence and make it sound like a curse on your soul.

“I’m coming back for the trial.” My voice betrays me. And despite my earlier surge in confidence, I know I sound scared.

am scared.

He smirks, and I cower back against the counter, the edge of it digging into my spine as I try to put some distance between us.

“Oh, right? The trial.” He nods, smacking his lips together. “You know I’ll get off, don’t you? Not enough evidence.” He laughs. “I’ve got a lot of friends in high places, Daisy. More than you’ll ever know.”

I look at him sideways. “You don’t deserve to be free. Not after what you did.”

“What I still do.” He grabs my chin, an evil glint in his eye. His fingers squeeze hard until pain lances up through my jaw, making my entire skull throb and my vision blur. “You can’t stop it. It’s business. We’ll just move to another place. Pay some other cops to turn a blind eye. Find some other Rockets.”

A gargled sob escapes from my squashed, distorted lips.

He laughs again. “You liked that little runt, didn’t you? Too bad you started getting whiny and annoying. I might have let you keep him otherwise.”

He lets go of my jaw and I grab my throbbing face with my hand, pain coursing through it as the blood returns to my flesh.

“I thought you were seeing someone else. That’s why I followed you.” As I rub my face, my vision returns to normal.

He cups the side of my face in his palm. The gesture is almost tender; it makes my skin crawl.

“Aww, you were jealous? Little Daisy thought I was filling another cunt instead of hers.” He tips his head to the side and gives me a condescending smile.

I close my eyes so I can’t look back into his dead ones. That’s the only way to describe them. When you do what Mick does and don’t even feel a drop of remorse, you must be dead inside.

My mind drifts to Betsy and my body tenses.

“Hit a nerve, did I?” Mick grins, then takes a step back.

The extra space means I can finally draw in a proper breath without taking in his own expelled air, or his scent.

“What did you do to her?” I whisper.

He frowns as I turn my face toward him. If he thinks he can say nothing. Say nothing while she’s somewhere suffering, or God knows what… then I’ll… I’ll…

“Who?”

“You know who.” I grit my teeth as my eyes meet his. “Where is she? Where’s Betsy?”

He purses his lips, his brow creasing as he looks at me. He seems to consider something. Then he tips back his head slowly and smiles to himself.

“The guy with the black truck. His dog, you mean?”

“Her name’s Betsy.” I stare at him, hatred oozing from every pore. He won’t care what her name is. She’s just another tool to him. Something to use for his own gain, and then to discard when he’s had enough.

Please don’t let it be too late.

“Ah, yes. Lovely shiny coat. I considered skinning the bitch and keeping that as a souvenir.”

I clasp a hand over my throat and heave. My stomach churns, but nothing comes up. Instead, my eyes and mouth water.

Betsy.

“You bastard.” I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping to God he’s just making it up to torture me. After what I saw, though, anything is possible with Mickey.

He laughs then. A horrid scratching laugh that makes my body feel like someone is dragging rusty nails over my spine.

“Tell you what, Daisy.” He sneers, and I feel a bead of sweat run down my chest, followed by another, then another. “You do what I want, and I’ll make sure you get Betsy back. In one piece.”

“One unharmed piece.” I look at him.

His jaw clenches as he looks down his nose at me.

“Sure.” He shrugs.

I have no idea if he’ll keep his word or if that’s just another lie. But what choice do I have? If he’s put Betsy somewhere, I have to try.

“What do you want me to do?”

“I would have thought that was obvious. I want you to retract your statement.” He steps closer again, taking a clump of my hair between his fingers and holding it in front of my face.

He reaches into his pocket with his other hand and holds something down by his side.

Click.

It’s as though every muscle in my body goes weak, on the verge of collapsing, as I realize what the sound was.

The click of a flick knife blade extending.

He brings the blade up between us, looking at me with amusement in his eyes.

“Tell them you got it wrong. Tell them you made it up because you found me with another woman. I don’t care what shit you make up. Just tell them you won’t be giving evidence.”

The whites of his eyes have a yellow tinge, and the corner of one is twitching. It’s slight, so subtle it’s almost invisible. But it’s there.

He’s worried.

My mouth drops open as I study him. He was always clean shaven. But now, the dark, wiry hair covering his chin and neck looks scruffy. That, coupled with his eyes—I bet he hasn’t slept properly in weeks.

As if sensing I’m figuring him out, Mickey pulls my hair in his hand and holds the blade up to it. The glistening metal narrowly misses the tip of my nose as he jerks his wrist and cuts right through the light strands. He slams his fist down on the kitchen counter and pulls his hand back. Leaving my hair lying there.

I tear my eyes away from the cut strands and back to his face. He smiles at me. It’s a cold smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. The smile of a bully who thinks he’s made a point. Who thinks he’s shown how much better than me he is.

Bigger. Stronger. Cleverer.

“Fine. I’ll do it,” I spit, narrowing my eyes at him.

A smug smile creeps over his face. “Good. I thought you’d see sense if we had this chat in person.”

He retracts the knife blade back into the casing, but instead of putting it in his pocket, he runs the case down the side of my face. Pausing at my jaw and then continuing excruciatingly slowly across my throat. I fight the urge to swallow, or blink, or do anything that may give away the suffocating vise-like crushing that’s taken over my chest.

He’s warning me.

Warning me he will kill me next time.

“Now, why don’t you make us a drink and we can toast our new agreement.”

All I can do is nod as I try to find a breath to fill my empty lungs.

Finally, he drops the knife case and laughs. Laughs because he thinks he’s won. Laughs because he thinks I’m weak. Laughs because he sees the fear in my eyes.

The way he saw the fear in all those poor dogs’ eyes every time he sent another to an agonizing death.

The memory lights a fire in my core.

I turn to the kitchen counter to fix us both a drink, hating that he’s behind me and I can feel his eyes on my back. I get two glasses out of the cupboard and avoid looking at my clump of hair as I set them down on the counter and reach for a bottle of gin.

“Make it strong.” Mick’s voice makes me jump, and he laughs again.

My hand falters, hovering over the bottles on the side.

Once I’ve poured two large glasses, I turn around and hand one to him. His eyes hold mine as he takes it and knocks half back in one large gulp. I sip mine and watch as he finishes it.

“Another.” He thrusts the glass at me, and I refill it for him. Watching as he knocks back the second one just as fast.

“Do you like it? I made part of it myself.”

He eyes me coolly over the rim of the glass before lowering it down.

“It’s all right. At least you can drink it. Better than this shit you make. Smells like old ladies.” He lifts one of the body butter jars and opens his hand, letting it fall to the floor and smash, joining the glass from the door. “Oops.”

“You said you’d tell me where Betsy is.” I ignore the stinging in my calf and warm trickle making its way down to my ankle from where the glass hit me.

“Oh, yeah. I lied.” Mick shrugs.

I stare at him, hatred coursing through my veins. He’s vile. He’s every vile thing wrong in this world.

“What did you do to her?” I stare at him.

“I didn’t do anything. She was gone when I came back.”

“You were here?” Another bead of sweat runs down my chest as my throat grows tight.

“Last night.” He smirks as my eyes go round. “I saw you. And that guy. The one with the black truck. Where is he now, eh? Where’s your Mr. Wild?”

He laughs as I grip the kitchen side to keep myself up. He knows who Blake is.

“I saw the photos of the two of you. Very cute.” Mick sneers. “By the way, what do you think he’s teaching people to eat out there in the forest in the name of survival for a TV show?”

“H-he teaches them how to live, shows them what to do. They don’t really catch anything.”

Mick chuckles. “How stupid are you, Daisy? I bet he’s killed animals with his bare hands. Maybe he and I ought to go for a beer. We’ve got a lot in common.”

His eyes drop over my body and I cross my arms over my chest self-consciously.

“He’s nothing like you,” I whisper.

“You keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.” Mick sounds bored as he looks out the window at the lightning in the sky.

I can feel heat rising through my body as I fight to make sense of his words. Blake is nothing like him. He loves Betsy. He would never hurt an animal for pleasure like Mick does. I swear he doesn’t trap animals on the show. Just shows people how they could if they needed to.

To survive.

That’s all. If he needed to survive, then maybe… would he? I shake my head. I can’t imagine Blake doing that. He’s not evil.

Not like Mickey.

I glare at him as his eyes come back to my face. He’s trying to manipulate me. Just like he always does. Trying to plant seeds of doubt in my mind. First about myself—grinding me down, so I was almost too scared to leave him—and now about Blake.

“Is that how you found me? The photo?”

“I already knew you were here, Daisy. I’ve known for weeks. Like I said, I know people.”

My eyes dart to the window, praying to see Blake, but also knowing he will still be too far away.

“He’ll be here soon. Any minute,” I lie.

Mick laughs. “Will he? Pretty sure slow punctures don’t mend themselves. I think seeing as you live way out of town, it’ll take him awhile to get here from wherever he is.”

I feel the blood drain from my face, taking the color with it. He punctured Blake’s tire. He planned all this. He planned to come back here and get me alone. But Betsy? I let out a deep breath. From what he says, he doesn’t have her. There’s one thing to be thankful for.

Mick picks up the second jar of body butter.

“Why do you like making this shit, anyway?”

I don’t even flinch as the glass explodes on the kitchen tiles. I’m expecting it.

“It’s amazing what you can make with time and practice.”

Mick’s eyes turn glassy, and he shakes his head, swaying a little.

“What the?” He lifts one hand to his head and blinks his eyes, as though struggling to focus. “What the fuck?”

I seize my opportunity and spin, racing through the hallway to the front door.

“Fuck! Come here!” Mick bellows behind me as I fight to pull the chain off and turn the handle.

The door flies open, and I race through it, my eyes on the lake. My head snaps back painfully as he grabs my hair.

“You fucking bitch!”

I lift my elbow and force it back, connecting with something that causes Mick to yell out loud and let go. My heart hammers in my throat as I try to move away. This time, he grabs me around my waist and we both fall. My lip connects with the top step of the porch, and the air is knocked from my lungs as pain takes over my head and I taste warm metal, sticky on my tongue.

“What the fuck did you give me?” Mick slurs as he rolls me over and straddles me. His weight crushes my stomach as his hands wrap around my neck. “I said, what the fuck did you give me?”

He squeezes, and I claw at his hands with my nails. Scratching, drawing blood, fighting for air. I wriggle and push. I fight. And fight. And Fight.

But he’s stronger than me.

I want to tell him I can’t breathe. But his hands are too tight. I stare at the sky rather than at his face. I don’t want the last thing I see to be the eyes of the man I despise.

A flash of lightning forks across the dark gray clouds and I feel a calmness wash over me as my hands still. I can feel the rain on my cheeks. See each drop as it falls from the sky. It’s stirring up the earth and sending the scents of my aunt’s garden to me in the air. My eyelids grow heavy as I think of her.

God, I miss her.

A clap of thunder makes my eyes pop open. Now I’m remembering something else. This time it’s Blake. It’s Blake and Betsy in the thunderstorm. It’s falling on my ass and Blake pulling me up into his arms. It’s Blake kissing me, even though I was covered in mud and filthy. It’s Blake looking at me with his deep green eyes. Wanting me.

It’s all Blake.

It takes every ounce of my strength to lift my hands and dig my fingers into Mick’s face. I find something soft, and I push, not stopping, even as he lets out a gurgled cry. Just as I think I can’t survive one more second, his hands leave my neck.

I grasp at my chest, pulling in deep, wracking breaths, my ears filled with the sound of my lungs wheezing—screaming out at how long they’ve been starved. I turn and crawl, tumbling face first down the porch steps.

I raise my face from the ground, dragging myself along the grass with my fingers, building up the strength to get to my feet. Everything is a throbbing blur. I can barely make anything out.

A hand grabs me around the ankle. Then another on the same calf. Pulling their way up my body as I see the earth underneath my fingers sliding away.

And I know if I let him pull me back to him, then that’s it.

This time I won’t get away.

I draw in every grain of strength in my body and turn, kicking Mick in the face with my free leg. I scream with the effort, making my lungs sting and my chest shudder.

But it works.

He lets go and grabs his face, groaning like an injured animal.

I roll back to my stomach and claw my way along the grass again.

Get up! Get up!

I ignore the pounding in my face and stagger to my feet, falling to one side as my head spins. I can’t see and I’m disorientated. But I know I need to get away. I need to hide.

I stumble forward and realize where I am.

Relief washes over me.

If I’m going to live, then this place will help me.

It’s my best bet.


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