Happy Good Friday!
Here is your weekly Friday Flash Fiction. This week we continue the mini-series with Part 3. As with ALL of my Flash Fiction, it is RAW and UNEDITED. I’m never really sure how this story will go. I just write whatever pops in my head. There is no planning, no outline…just ideas straight to paper.
“The Big Bad Wolf”
Grayson worked from his desk, watching Gabriella carefully as she sat in the bay window of his office. She’d been home with him for only a week, but the depression and fear wasn’t getting any better. Every sound, every creak in the place, caused Gabbie to jump or cower down in fear.
Jude had been arrested five days ago, but the little piece of comfort was of no use to Gabriella. Grayson had assigned her two female bodyguards, and that was only when he was away. He’d taken it upon himself to protect her. She was his to protect, and he’d already suffered with enough guilt for not being there when she needed him the most.
She was quickly losing weight, even though she didn’t have any to spare to begin with. Her long brown hair had lost all of its shine, its healthy volume. Her skin was pale, the color all but drained from her body. She looked like a creature of the night who wasn’t allowed to walk in the daylight.
At night, Grayson would hold her while she attempted to sleep. He was thankful that she even allowed him in the bed after what had been done to her. She trusted him to keep the demons away while she was awake and while she slept. When the nightmares came, he was the one to dry her tears. He was the one to provide for her, not his staff…no one.
Gabbie would scream into his chest as loud as her tiny lungs could push out enough air to make the sound. Every tear, every scream caused pain to his heart. Seeing the woman he loved in this condition was the worst sort of hell on Earth a man could live through. Give him the damn zombie apocalypse or the second coming of Christ…that he could handle. This, this was almost too much.
“Gabriella, dear,” he spoke softly. It took a few seconds for her to register his voice. When she turned from the window that looked out over the grounds of his home, she smiled weakly. There was no life in her eyes, just blankness…nothingness.
“Yes,” she croaked, clearing her throat.
“Want to come to the kitchen and have lunch? I’m starving.” He stood up slowly, holding his hand out for her to come to him. After another hesitation, Gabbie reached out and took his offering. Her grip was tight, like she was holding on to a life vest in an angry ocean.
She wore a long, white cotton skirt that touched her ankles. The sweater she wore matched, making her look like an angel. Gabbie’s feet were bare.
“I’m really not all that hungry, Grayson,” she whispered, as he pulled her to a seat at the bar. His maid, Flora, quietly excused herself from her station at the sink, wiping her hands on a white towel she kept tucked in her waistband. “She didn’t have to leave.”
“She’s giving us some alone time,” he smiled.
“I like her,” Gabbie admitted. “She’s sweet.”
“I made some soup while you napped earlier,” he said, ignoring her statement. “I think it’s delicious, but you’ll have to tell me if I’m just boosting my own ego or not.”
Gabriella sat down with an audible sigh. Her bruises were almost gone, but the pain in her broken ribs still bothered her when she moved a certain way. The doctor had been by the day before to make sure she was healing well. The time frame on her physical injuries was easy to diagnose, but the estimate on her mental state was still up in the air.
Grayson sat the bowl of hearty beef and vegetable soup in front of her, dipping a large spoon into the hot liquid. He pulled a stack of crackers from its sleeve and placed it on a saucer next to the bowl. He poured her a glass of perfectly sweetened tea.
“Gray,” she began, but a growl from his chest caused her to squint her eyes. “It makes me sick to my stomach to eat.”
“If you don’t eat,” he said, leaning back against the counter and folding his arms across his chest. “You won’t get any better.”
“I thought you were hungry,” she asked, looking at him with tender eyes. That little spark did amazing things to his heart. Did he just see a life flash in her eyes? Was she getting better? Her statement meant that she worried for him, and that was a start. She wasn’t dwelling on what happened to her.
“I’ll eat once you are done,” he admitted.
“It really does make me sick,” she repeated and took a sip of her tea. She hummed her approval at the taste, smiling weakly at him as he watched her every move.
“Eat,” he demanded, pushing the bowl closer to the edge of the table.
“You asked for it,” she muttered and took the first sip of her soup.
Gabriella wanted to scream at him as she retched into the toilet. Grayson insisted that she eat, and now he was behind her holding her hair so that she could empty the contents of her stomach.
“I told you,” she blurted out right before leaning back over the toilet. She cried out from the pain in her ribs with each breath. Her ribs were still broken, but on the mend. At least that’s what the doctor said, but to Gabbie, it felt that they hadn’t healed at all.
“You needed the nutrition,” he growled. When she started to get up, Grayson scooped her up in his arms and carried her over to the sink. He allowed her a few minutes to brush her teeth and compose herself before he returned to her side.
“Grayson,” she gasped when picked her up again. “I can walk, you know?”
“You’re sick,” he said through gritted teeth. “I called the doctor. She’ll be here within the hour.”
“You don’t have to do that,” she scowled. “I’m just nauseous.”
Grayson ignored her comment and tucked her in the bed, on the left side. That was her preferred spot since she’d moved in with him a few months ago.
He left her for only a minute and returned with his laptop. He flipped on a movie channel and turned the volume down, the sweet hum from the voices caused Gabbie to yawn involuntarily. Grayson smiled warmly and booted up his computer.
“You can go into the office,” she whispered, closing her eyes. “I’ll just be sleeping.”
“And I’ll be here to watch over you,” he admitted as he tucked a stray hair behind her ear. The gesture was simple, but very welcomed. “I have people to take care of things there. It’s not like I’ve never worked from home before.” He pulled the covers up over her shoulders, before slowly rubbing his hand up and down her arm. The friction caused her body to warm from his touch.
Grayson’s touch was perfect, needed. His soft hands and gentle words soothed her, giving her more strength every day that passed, unlike the brutally, calloused hands of the man who’d broken her. The man who’d taken Grayson away from her still ruled her thoughts, her dreams. Jude, the once trusted friend to her boyfriend, was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The man had taken his frustrations out on her. The way he changed while he beat her, and forced himself on her, was animalistic…demonic. She could still hear his evil laugh.
“Gabriella,” Grayson shouted, his eyes were frantic, his mouth moved but she couldn’t understand what he was saying. The world around her shook, and for a second, she thought that there had been an earthquake. In fact, it was her world that was tilted on its axis.
Grayson had discarded his laptop and pulled her into his arms, rocking her over and over again. He stroked her hair, kissed her forehead and whispered words of encouragement into her ear. It took a few minutes before his words registered in her panic stricken mind.
“It’s going to be okay. You’re having a panic attack, darling. Just breathe. I’m here….I got you.”
Gabriella’s gut twisted, and she pushed back away from him with all of her strength and ran for the bathroom. She cried as she heaved nothing but emptiness, her stomach empty from the earlier episode.
Grayson was shouting something into the phone. Gabbie recognized the doctor’s name and cried again. She didn’t know how she was going to tell him that she had a feeling that she could possibly be pregnant.
How could she tell him she wasn’t sure if the child was his…or the man’s who raped her?
To Be Continued….