Genres: Horror, Thriller
Editor(s): Lon Sarver
Cover Designer(s): D.M. Atkins
Cover Art Credits: Photo by Maria Gerasimenko at Dreamstime.
Production Editor(s): Erika L. Firanc
Proofreader(s): Todd Michaels
Length: Short Story (4,500 Words)
Publication Date: July 20, 2013
Serialization Date: February 12, 2017
Archive(d) on February 19, 2017
Tags: m/f/m, Short Story
Content Labels (What they are and why we use them)
Ray stood better than six feet tall, towering over Gloria. She couldn’t tell if the thick dark hair that fell to his shoulders was black or brown in the dim light of the entry. His blue eyes stared holes into her skull. She tried to cringe away from his gaze, but the other man had her firmly in hand.
Tears spilled from Gloria’s eyes and she trembled.
“She can’t answer if you don’t let go of her mouth, Keith.” Ray wiped one finger under her eye and looked at the moisture glistening there. “She’s too scared to scream, aren’t you, Gloria?”
Gloria didn’t know which frightened her more–the fact these men knew her name, or they let her know theirs and didn’t care if she saw what they looked like.
Keith pulled his hand just far enough away from her mouth so she could speak. His palm faced her, ready to clamp down again. His right arm still pinned her against his muscular chest and kept her from drawing a full breath. She’d have bruises on her arms in the morning. If I’m still alive.
Gloria sobbed and gasped for air.
“Don’t know. He never came home last week. Haven’t seen him or heard from him since Tuesday.” As she had a million times in the past six days, she wondered what kind of trouble her lover had gotten himself into and how far down he would drag her with him.
“You don’t expect me to believe that, do you?” Ray wove his fingers into her straight, shoulder-length, brown hair and jerked her head back so she stared up at him. “You and Jason been together for what, five years? You give him any reason to run out on you?”
Gloria moved her head a little, unable to speak without choking or shake her head without tugging the hair from Ray’s grasp.
“Hold onto her.” Keith covered her mouth again and Ray disappeared from view. Gloria heard the rattle of blinds dropping in the dining and living rooms and the brightness at the edge of the hallway disappeared. With her nose running, her mouth covered, and an iron band crushing her chest, she struggled to breathe. Blinds in the kitchen and bedrooms dropped, not that her neighbors would notice. Everyone in the area mostly minded their own business.
“You going to tell us where Jason’s stash is, or do we have to rip the house apart?” Ray stood in front of her again.
Gloria looked at him, wide eyed. Keith moved his hand away from her mouth.
“Stash? You mean his cash?” Jason complained frequently about credit card and mortgage interest rates. He paid cash for everything and always seemed to have a thick wad of bills in his pocket. Gloria didn’t know where in the house he might keep any cash hidden.
“Don’t play innocent. You know what Jason does. Where’s the crack?”
Dizzy waves of nausea washed over Gloria. Losing her footing, she slumped against Keith.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I didn’t know.” She’d always been afraid to question Jason. Although he claimed to be in sales, he refused to talk about his work and didn’t keep a regular schedule. But he paid the bills and bought her nice presents. He always made sure she had plenty of cash for groceries and clothes and never questioned how she spent it. She hadn’t wanted to believe he was involved in anything scuzzy.
“Going to play hard to get?” He ran a finger along her cheek and Gloria shuddered. “If we have to search the house, we’re going to stick around for a while. If we do that, we might need some entertainment.”
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