by Anj
(a.k.a. Azurenon)


All disclaimers in Chapter One


        Although Brandon arrived home around two, he didn't come up until right before dinner to escort me downstairs. When we paused at the stairs, I glanced down at the attic door and smiled, knowing that Sara was up there somewhere. Brandon, of course, thought I was smiling at him and began his usual chatter about his business. I heard him, but my mind was elsewhere.
        After dinner he escorted me into the library, saying he had something he wanted to discuss with me. I didn't really want to talk to him, but I knew I should humor him. And besides, it at least kept him downstairs where he was less likely to hear Sara, if she moved around.
        He offered me a drink this time. I hadn't had anything since the night of the party, so I decided why not? It seemed he had something important to tell me and I might as well have a drink to wash it down with. Especially, if it was bad news or another lie. Hopefully, it would be the last of these I'd have to listen to.
        He left the room for a short while and when he returned, he had two glasses of champagne. He handed me one and then sat down on the sofa beside me. "I'd like to propose a toast," he said, as he raised his glass. "To you, Faith, my beautiful niece, may you make your family proud by being the first psychologist in the Neilson family."
        Oh, so this was his announcement. He had accepted my own choice of professions. "Thank you, Brandon." We touched glasses.
        "And that's not all," he declared, as I took a sip of my champagne. "I've seen to it that you will be enrolled at the University of Georgia next semester."
        "Next semester?" I asked, quite shocked at this revelation. "I wasn't planning on starting until the spring quarter. I assume it'll take that long before I'll be walking and looking normal after the plastic surgery."
        "I've already arranged the appointment for your surgery with the best plastic surgeon in town. He says you should be home in two days, maybe less. And your records are being transferred here. You can start back to college in January."
        My records are easily transferred, but not my clothes and other belongings? I wondered. And yet, I said, "Well, Brandon I... I appreciate the thought and all the trouble you went to, but... I haven't decided what I'm going to do, yet. First, I need to go home. After that..."
        "Home? Your home is here, where your family is, Princess. Jason and I are the only family you have left. I can take care of all of your affairs up there. Selling the house and..."
        "Having my clothes and some of my things sent here?" I queried, interrupting him.
        He looked at me rather strangely. "Your things were here. I thought you already received your clothes months ago."
        "No, you haven't said anything about..."
        "I distinctly remember telling Miss Bennington, because I ... I didn't want to tell you. I do so hate to see you sad and I knew how this would affect you."
        "You told Sara?"
        "Yes, Princess, I thought you had already went through those things and picked out what you wanted. I had one of those rescue organizations come by and pick up the boxes Miss Bennington said you didn't want anymore."
        "What?" I asked, quite perplexed now.
        "You never saw any of your things, did you? That woman!" he fumed.
        "Wait… my things were here and... they were given to a rescue organization? Even my stereo?"
        "I suppose, I didn't look in the boxes, I merely went on her word. I'm sorry, Princess, I never should have trusted her. That was my mistake… ever trusting that woman."
        "I never saw those things. Why weren't they brought to my room?"
        "I had them put in the attic, until you found time to go through them. They would only have cluttered up your room."
        The attic? Just the fact that he had mentioned it sent a chill through me. And also made me quite suspicious. Had there ever been anything of mine in the attic? Surely if he had informed Sara, she would have told me. She knew how I felt about my old clothes. Sara wouldn't do this to me! And come to think of it, I'd never known Brandon to let Sara handle anything that wasn't unmistakably her job, especially not family matters.
        "Princess... Princess," he said, pulling me back to reality.
        "Uh... yeah?"
        "I'm sorry about this, Princess, but... well, as you see I did do my part. And I can contact a good real estate agent and..."
        “Real estate agent?” I interrupted.
        “Why yes, to sell the house and…”
"No. No, that won't be necessary. I'm not sure I will be selling the house, I..."
        "What?" he asked, as he flinched.
        "At least not right now," I added, thinking of how Sara and I might stay there awhile, during our trip. My mind then wandered back to my things. How much had been given away? And more importantly why? Was he just making this up to try and turn me against Sara?
        "All right," he said, rather sweetly. "We can do that soon enough. But we have to start thinking of your future now. You can't stay behind these walls forever."
        "I am thinking of my future and... I haven't decided exactly what I want to do. Don't get me wrong I appreciate everything you've done for me. You've been very kind to take me in like this and cover all my expenses and… Well, perhaps the best way to repay you for everything, all the bills, etcetera… would be to turn over my interest in the company to you."
        "What? Part of your holdings in Neilson?" he asked, incredulously.
        "Yes." I wanted to add, My father never wanted any part of it, so why should I? I literally held my tongue with my teeth.
        "No," he said, as he turned away. "We are family, Princess. I will not have you repaying me for any of this."
        "But, I must Brandon. I don't want to leave here feeling indebted to you."
        "Leave here?" he asked, his voice rising in tone. He flinched and turned towards me rather abruptly, as if I'd just pricked him.
        The cat was out of the proverbial bag now. The bridge I had laid a course to cross tomorrow –via long distance as Sara advised- yawned before me now. Why I was afraid to tell him this, I didn't know. Was this due to Sara's warnings that it wouldn't be easy to get away from him? But, what could he do, short of physical violence? And why should I fear that? He'd never exhibited any signs of that kind of behavior.
        I decided to go with the flow, albeit treading lightly and see what happened. "Yes, I told you once before that I wouldn't be staying indefinitely."
        "But… you have to stay here. I mean... we're your family, Princess. And you need to be with your family. Where else would you go? Where else could you find anything better than here?" He sat his empty glass down rather hard on the table in front of him.
        Then he stood up and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. Something inside made a jingling sound, which he stifled. "I just can't see you leaving here, Princess," he continued, in a rather soft tone. "Aren't you happy here? I've... I've tried to give you everything you wanted. Everything you asked for. But, obviously...." He paused, as he walked around behind the sofa. "Obviously I didn't. Just tell me what you want, Princess. I'll give you anything... anything within my power, of course.
        "Do you want more parties?” he questioned. “More freedom to come and go? I'll hire another driver and put the other limo at your disposal. It should be yours anyway… it was your father's. Oh, and I'll have it updated of course, with every modern convenience you might want. You can use it to go back and forth to college. You'd never have to worry about the traffic or anything of that nature.
        "You can even have your own parties," he went on, his voice getting that excited, 'I have great plans for you', tone, as he put his hands on my shoulders. "We'll invite more suitable guests. Yes... yes, that's it. You'll be making new friends at college and meeting plenty of nice young men. I'm sure you'll have so many flocking around you I'll… have to lock the gates to even be able to spend any time with you. Oh yes, can't you see, it could be just wonderful, Princess?"
        For who? I wanted to ask, but refrained, as I took another sip of champagne. I stared at the glass, sensing an odd odor, as if it hadn't been cleaned properly.
        I could feel his strong hands on my shoulders applying enough pressure to keep me from raising up to sit the glass down. This was a bit disconcerting. "Brandon, I..."
        "I need you, Marion," he said, gripping my shoulders a bit harder, obviously unaware of calling me by my mother's name. I rolled my eyes skyward. I knew he was off on his spree with my mother's memory. "This place needs a woman's touch. Things are so drab. Before you came, I dreaded coming home to this big lonely house. But, now that… you're here, it's so different. I feel alive again. You're like a ray of sunshine in my dark and dreary life, Princess."
        Listening to him, I started to feel sorry for him. I hadn't given much thought to how lonely he must be. I had only seen the cheerful side of his personality, the one that spoke of his business, as if it fulfilled him, wholly. Only when he talked of my mother did he seem lonely. And I knew all too well that he was thinking of her now.
        "Stay with me, you'll see. I'll make all your dreams come true." His voice again taking on that excited tone. "After you finish college, we'll go on trips. Yes, we'll see the world. I can take you to all the wonderful places I've been to. And they'll be so much more special now, with you by my side." His voice lowered an octave to a very soft, soothing tone, as he placed one hand on the side of my head and slowly stroked my hair. "Then you'll be ready to settle down with… the man of your choice. And… I'll have your mother and father's whole suite redecorated for you. We can make one room a nursery. Perhaps even the one across the hall? Yes, of course. Doesn't that sound wonderful?"
        This proposal of his was not one I fancied. It was nowhere near my dream. While I might once have wanted to stay at Shady Grove –it had been my home for many months now and I knew I'd miss Celia and the servants I had gotten to know- I did not want him planning my life. Especially, concerning marriage, because I had my own ideas on who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And we had already made our plans.
        "Brandon, what if my choice is a woman?" I asked. I wanted to see what he would say.
        "Oh, good god almighty, Faith!" He quickly removed his hands. "I told you all you need is a good man and…"
        "But, I don't want a man."
        "Utter nonsense," he said, disgustedly, as he walked down the length of the sofa. "You'll get over this, you'll see."
        "Brandon, if I can't be myself here, I can't stay."
        He turned and glared at me from the end of the sofa. "She did this to you! Put these ideas in your head and turned you against me. From the very first time you opened your eyes, she did nothing but come between us. And now I know why! I should have fired that disgusting bitch the very first time she disagreed with me," he said angrily, as he began pacing the floor.
        "And that was over your mother, you know,” he continued. “Yes, they both advised me not to tell you. No, it will upset her, they said. But I wanted to, Princess. And I wanted to fire her then and there. But no, Dr. Rosemund said she was an excellent therapist. Always got results with her patients. She got results, all right. And I doubt you're the first patient she's seduced, either."
        "This is not her fault, Brandon. None of it," I said, angrily, knowing he was lying about not telling me about my mother. "Sara didn't seduce me, I seduced her."
        He turned and glared at me. I was unafraid of his angry looks, for some reason.
        "Oh yes, it was me, not her. And she is not the cause of me wanting to leave. The reason I can't stay is because you can't accept me for who I am."
        "Who you are? You have no idea who you are and that's the damn problem. You want me to accept this... this perversion, when I know your mother wouldn't!"
        That stung, but not for long. "She'd want me to be happy," I interjected, running my finger around the rim of my glass.
        "Happy?" he asked, as he abruptly stopped pacing. "How could you possibly be happy with another woman?"
        "I was happy with Sara."
        He glared at me again, as he shoved his hands in his pockets again. Whatever was inside jingled. "That can not be happiness. Women were made for men, not for each other. You can plainly see that, Princess," he pleaded. When I offered no response, his tone changed again. "No. No, I can't accept it and I won't! I will not sit idly by and watch, while you throw your life away because some... perverted whore turned your young head. No, we'll just have to fix this!"
        Fix it? I felt heat rush to my cheeks. "And just how do you propose to do that?" I asked, sarcastically to his demanding tone of voice, which seemed to say he, above everyone else, had the answer to everything.
        "I'll hire the best doctors money can buy. You'll see... they'll know what to do to make you... normal again. They'll know how to undo what that... that beast did to you."
        I could feel the rage building inside of me, as the word "beast" echoed in my ears. I sat my glass down on the table hard, sending some of the half full remains dribbling over the side. I quickly stood up to protest this insult. And then the room started to spin. I sat back down, slowly. I could hear Celia's warning concerning his ego, echoing in my head: "Be careful, 'mum… be careful."
        "She's a sick minded woman to seduce such a child," he continued on his tirade, oblivious to my plight. "She took advantage of you is what she did. Doesn't matter who made the first move. She precipitated it. I should have seen through her, when she had you putting your arms all over her out there in that pool. Such a sick beast. All her kind should be destroyed!"
        Damn his infernal ego! I thought. He had no respect for my feelings, so why should I have any for his? I rose up slower this time and made it to my feet. "She's not a perverted whore!" I shouted. "Nor a sick beast. When you start calling names, you best look inside your own heart, because that was a disgusting display you put on out there in the pool. Now, that's perversion. Rubbing yourself against your own niece. She never had to hold me like that."
At this point, I was saying anything that came into my head in order to hurt him, for I was on my own tirade and out for blood. "I don't doubt you'd wanna keep me here for some perverted reason or another. If you need another woman around here, find yourself one. Or is that too difficult? Of course it is, isn't it? No one compares to my mother, do they? That's why you never married again, because no one could fill her shoes, could they?"
        He didn't answer. He turned his back to me and faced the fire.
        "Is that the reason you want me to stay here, because I remind you so much of her? You don't want me here Brandon, you want her! You want a memory you could never have!" He gave a quick glance over his shoulder, as if he might say something, but didn't. "Or did you?" I inquired, wondering if this was what he had wanted to say.
        He spun around on his heels to face me with a look of utter surprise on his face.
        "You did, didn't you? You had an affair with your brother's wife... didn't you?"
        His eyes narrowed until they were no more than tiny slits. I could still see the anger and guilt written all over his face. I'd hit a nerve and I knew it. He was bleeding inside, just as he'd made me bleed.
        "How dare you smear your mother's good name!" he exclaimed, as he came around the sofa towards me, his dark eyes seemingly shooting daggers. "She was never anything but faithful to your father. She was extremely loyal."
        "And you, were you loyal to your brother? Or did you lust after his wife so much that you drove him from his own home?"
        Before I even saw it coming, he slapped me across the face, with the back of his hand. I stumbled backwards, my head reeling. The only thing that saved me from hitting the floor was the position of a chair close to the sofa, which I stumbled into. I looked up at him, my vision a bit blurry for a moment and my lips stinging from the blow. The coppery taste of blood shocked my foggy brain into alertness. I reached up to my stinging lips, to see what other damage had been caused by the severity of his blow. Upon removing my hand, I found blood coating my index finger. I scrambled to my feet, my head still spinning, weaving my way to the door and eventually the stairs. The taste of my own blood and the dizziness in my head, made me feel nauseous. I paused at the foot of the stairs afraid I was going to throw up.
        "Marion," he called from behind me. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I... I lost my temper, darling."
        Darling, my ass! I thought, and started climbing the stairs as fast as I could. If only I can reach my room, I'll be safe.
        "Marion... Marion, please," he called from the foot of the stairs.
        "I'm not Marion!" I exclaimed from the second floor landing. "And stay away from me! I never want to see you again!"
        I started off down the hall. I could hear him coming up the stairs. I increased my pace, hearing him getting closer with each long stride. All I could think about was getting to my room and locking the door. I tried for more speed, but my head was truly reeling now and I couldn't focus on anything. I was moving on pure instinct and adrenaline, reaching out to the walls for support.
        I reached the door to my sitting room just moments ahead of him. I slipped around the door, slammed it behind me, then backed up against it and locked it.
        "Princess... Princess, don't do this. Let me explain," he said, turning the knob.
        "Go away, Brandon," I moved away from the door. "I don't wanna see you ever again."
        "Princess, please don't say that. I... you made me mad with what you said and... I really didn't mean to strike you. I... I lost my head. Please, Princess..."
        "No, just... go away," I called over my shoulder, as I went into my bedroom and locked those doors behind me, also.
        My heart was beating ninety to nothing; my head pounding; it was hard just keeping my balance. I leaned back against the door to rest for a moment. I could feel my blood coursing through my veins, providing the necessary elements to keep moving. I reached up and touched my lip again. It was still bleeding in the corner.
        "Damn him," I said, as I straightened up and started over to the bed.
        I turned quickly as something jingled outside the door. I heard a sickening click and then saw a sobering turn of the knob. The door opened up with a spine tingling squeak of the hinges.
        "Princess, please forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt you," he said, closing the doors behind him.
        “What the hell are you doing… with a key to my room?” I screeched, taking a step back.
        His right hand stayed behind his back for several moments. “Why I have a key to every room, Princess,” he stated calmly, as he started towards me. “It is my house, after all.”
        “You carry them all with you?” I was getting scared now and started backing up in the direction of the phone on the nightstand. I wasn't sure who I was going to call: Celia or 911. What would I say to the 911 dispatch: My uncle is my room, come arrest him? What would I say to Celia? I had no idea. I just wanted someone to know what was going on up here. And I was hopeful that the mere threat of me calling someone would be enough to make him leave.
        “What are you doing?” he asked, still moving towards me.
        “I want you outta my room,” I responded, reaching for the phone and wishing like hell I could call the attic.
        I had the receiver to my ear when he lunged for me and snatched it out of my hand. “Wouldn't do you any good,” he growled, slamming the receiver back in the cradle. “They all have Tuesday nights off, remember?” He ripped the phone cord out of the wall. “Even Celia has a friend she visits.” He snatched the other end of the cord out of the base. Receiver and cradle hit the floor with a whack and a jingle of the ringer.
        “What are you doing, Brandon?!” I exclaimed, “You're scaring me!” I took a step back.
        “Scaring you?” he asked, his eyes glassy and wild looking as he started towards me with the phone cord in his hand. “Oh well, we wouldn't want that now, would we?” A devilish smirk spread across his lips.
        “Brandon, stop!” I pleaded, unsure of what he planned to do and feeling the bed touch the backs of my legs. This isn't good. I started crab walking down the side of the bed.
        His gaze fell on the turned back comforter and sheets. “Had yourself a find time in here today, didn't you?”
        “Oh yeah, I heard it all. After the fact, that is.” He was winding the phone cord around his left hand. “Your whore's been staying in the attic, hasn't she?” He arched his eyebrows suggestively. “Well not anymore. No, no, I expect she has a quaint little cell in the county jail by now.”
        “What are you talking about?” I feigned innocence, rounding the end of the bed now, never taking my eyes off him. My plan was to get to the open bathroom door. Surely he wouldn't have a key to that.
        He reached underneath the canopy top and felt around, then produced a small round object that looked like a magnet. “I put it here last night, after you went to sleep,” he said, as if answering the unvoiced question on my face. “Food missing… strange noises in the attic… she should have covered her tracks better.” He smiled slyly and slipped the bug into his pocket, as he started towards me again. “Let's see, now how did that go? Oh yes: 'You're the one that put the lighter fluid on the charcoal and stuck the match, so don't be complaining about the fire',” he said, in a high-pitched tone of voice, apparently mocking Sara.
        “Oh God,” I gasped, realizing he had indeed heard us.
        “Yes, quite a tape I have in my study. Hot stuff, little Princess. Frankly, I didn't know you had it in you.”
        I suddenly felt very sick, knowing he had listened to us making love. “That was a… a sick thing to do,” I hissed, taking one excruciatingly slow backwards step at a time down the end of the bed, towards the bathroom. “Placing a bug in my room as if you were some sorta spy.”
        “I had to find out what you were up to. I got more than I bargained for, I'll grant you.” That devilish grin was back. “Too bad it wasn't a video camera. I could let you watch yourself on TV. How would you like that, hmm?” Both eyebrows arched suggestively. “Watching yourself and your whore fuck each other's brains out, hmm? Oh, I'm sorry, excuse me, Princess, you prefer to call it making love, don't you?”
        I did feel sick now. “Brandon, stop this!” I pleaded, as he kept moving closer, the look in his eyes becoming more frightening with each step. I didn't dare turn my back on him in order to run for the door, because I knew he'd be on top of me before I could get the door closed. “I don't know what you're so upset about… we're leavin', like I said. I mean… you heard that too, right? You'll get your money back for all of this, I promise. Matter of fact, I'll… I'll write you a check, right now. And I'll… I'll sign over my interest in the company… I don't want anything to do with it.” I was saying anything that came into my head. All of which I was willing to do at that point to get away from him. “It'll all be yours. Just… just go downstairs and draw up the paperwork and I'll sign it, I promise. And then I'll be outta here and outta your life. You'll never have to lay eyes on me again.”
        “No, Princess, that's not exactly what I had in mind. You see, you don't need to sign anything over to me, cause you're not going anywhere.”
        His statement hadn't even registered in my brain when he lunged for me. I screamed and stumbled backwards. His arms wrapped around me tightly, pinning mine to my sides, before I could even voice another protest.
        “It didn't have to be this way, Princess,” he said, staring down at me. He didn't look so angry now, only determined. “I gave you ample chances to accept my offer. It could've been so wonderful.” He leaned over as if to kiss me and I turned my head away. “I had such grand plans for the two of us.” He rubbed his face against the side of mine. “But you just wouldn't listen. Why wouldn't you listen?” His voice had taken on a softer tone now. “All I ever wanted was to love you. Take care of you… keep you here with me. I would've given you everything. Everything your heart desired.” His lips pressed against the side of my neck and his hold loosened somewhat.
        I found myself able to move my right arm and jabbed the head of my cane into his groin.
“Oof!” he gasped, his grip loosening even more. I tried to pull away. “Oh no… No, you don't.” He spun me around, so that my back was to him now and he tightened his grip. “Ung!” he groaned, “You're a little fighter, aren't you?”
        “Lemme go!” I growled.
        “Never!” he hissed in my ear. “You're not going anywhere, Princess!” He jerked me off my feet and turned around, starting back towards the bed. “No one's ever gonna leave me again!”
        It finally registered in my brain that he was planning to kill me! For a fleeting moment, I couldn't accept this as being real. Brandon, kill me? Why? It doesn't make sense. Brandon's not a killer. And then it hit me, full in the face: Vivian died here -a supposed suicide; my mother and father had left here hurriedly, leaving things behind…! “No one's ever gonna leave me again!” he'd just said. Adrenaline surged through my body. I kicked and screamed and somehow managed to hit him in the shin.
        “Ow-w!” he cried out, then shoved me onto the bed, face first. His body weight crashed down on me, knocking the wind out of my sails. “And give me that thing,” he growled, his voice sounding like a 45 record being played at 78 speed for several moments. He stripped the cane from my grasp. “I thought you'd be pretty sleepy by now. But obviously… I didn't use enough tonight for what little you drank.”
I heard the cane slam against the wall behind us. And strangely enough, under the circumstances, I worried about it being broken, because it was something Sara had given me.
        “I don't like… fighting, ya know,” he continued, as I struggled against him, while he scrambled to get my arms over my head. “No, never have liked it.” He grunted, holding me down with his body as he tied my wrists together with the phone cord. “I much prefer my women quiet and subdued.” He grabbed hold of my legs and flipped me over on my back. I tried to kick out at him, but he was too strong. He moved quickly between my legs now, making them useless as weapons. “Last night I did it right, though” he went on, using his body weight once again to hold me down. “You didn't fight me at all.”
        My heart sank to my feet at the thought of him doing anything to me.
        "You must have known," he said, unbuckling his belt. "You bled like a true virgin. So, I guess she didn't do much damage, did she?" He smirked.
        I suddenly felt faint at the thought of him taking advantage of me while I slept. Had this been the only time?
        "Just for the record, you would've enjoyed it. I did." He chuckled. "But tonight you'll get to savor it. Oh yes, every precious moment, Princess, 'cause it's just you and me in this big ol' empty house," he added, as he unzipped his fly.
        I put all my strength into bringing my arms forward and ramming them upside his head. He grimaced, but quickly had control of me again.
        "Damn, you're a little fighter," he growled, as he reached down and pulled his belt off with one hand, then looped it through the telephone cord around my wrists. "Fix you," he said, with a grunt, as he buckled the belt around the closest bedpost.
        "Why... are you doing this?" I asked, close to tears. I was still having a hard time accepting this behavior from him. For someone who wanted to be a psychologist, why had I not seen this coming?
        "Why?” he mimicked, as he grabbed my blouse and ripped it open, buttons springing loose and dropping onto the bedspread. "'Cause it's pretty obvious now that you're no better than that whore you spread your legs for. I tried to reason with you. Make you see the error of your ways, but… no-o, you insist on being a… pervert! And so, if you can spread your legs for her, you can damn well do it for me.” He reached down to the waistband of my jeans. “Tsk-tsk, pants are not very becoming on you, Princess. These are men's clothes." He popped the fabric off the button and snatched the zipper down. Then he reached around me and grabbed the jeans from behind, raking his fingernails over my skin, in an attempt to pull them down. "Damn these are tight, aren't they?" He snatched downward, his fingernails clawing my backside, as he freed them from my hips, taking my underwear with them.
        I screamed, though it was a feeble attempt and sounded more like a squawk. I was helpless and I knew it. He had complete control and all I could do was watch, as he lifted my bra and pulled it up over my breasts.
        "Oh yes, you are beautiful,” he declared, licking his lips. “Just like your mother."
        I did manage to get out a scream this time, realizing he had probably done this same thing to her. He quickly covered my mouth with his own, applying pressure to the cut where he had hit me. He stuck his tongue so far down my throat I thought I would gag on it. I clamped down on it with my teeth.
        "Ow-w-w!” he exclaimed and pulled back. “God…damn you… you little queer!" He grabbed his mouth. His hand came away with a spot of blood on it. “You'll pay for this!” He backhanded me across the face. Pain shot through my skull. "Like it rough, huh? Okay, I'll give you rough." He grabbed hold of my breast and squeezed the nipple. I screamed as stinging sensations shot through my body. He quickly covered the throbbing nub with his mouth and squeezed it between his teeth. I screamed again in sheer agony. I'd never felt such excruciating pain in my life.
I felt him fumbling with his pants now, his breathing increasing, as if he were enjoying this. I prayed I would faint or something… anything so I wouldn't have to consciously endure what I knew was about to happen.
        "Leave her alone, you bloody bastard!" exclaimed an angry voice behind him.
        His head came up quickly and he turned, looking over his shoulder. "What the hell are you doing here? You're in jail.”
        “Am I now?” Sara retorted. “I don't think so,” she taunted, as she moved into the room slowly. Her hair was in disarray, white shirt speckled with dirt, black jeans smeared with red mud on one side, her feet dirty and bare.
        He glanced at the bathroom door behind her, then towards the sitting room door, which was still closed. “How the hell did you get in here?”
        “I once lived here, Father,” she answered snidely. “Oh, how soon they forget.” She slowly circled the bed, with her right hand behind her back. It was obvious she had something to use as a weapon, but what?
        “I'm not your father, you whore!” he growled, starting to straighten up.
        “Stop right there!” she exclaimed, producing a small caliber silver pistol from behind her back. “Or I'll blow your fuckin' head off. I swear to God!”
        He glanced from the gun to her. “You wouldn't dare,” he hissed.
        “Oh wouldn't I? I'm crazy remember? Spent three years on a nut ward.”
        His eyes grew wide. “No… no, it can't be. They said… there was no way you could've…” He paused, glancing down at me, disbelief written across his features. He obviously had not listened to the entire tape recording. “I heard you two discussing something, but... I didn't understand…” His gaze flew back to Sara, looking her over from head to toe and then concentrating solely on her face. Disbelief was giving way to shock. “The face is different… the hair… eyes…but, they were blue… Why…?” His facial expression changed dramatically. “Why didn't you come back home?" he whined, sounding like a parent now, whose child had ran away from home. “Where the hell have you been all this time?” Shocked parent was turning to angry parent. “And why did you deceive me like this?”
        “Come home?” she scoffed. “To what? So you could do this to me?”
        He gazed down at me. “Sara, would you at least let him move enough to get off me?” I requested.
"Uh, yeah. Get up,” she growled, aiming the gun at his head. “And if you make one false move, I'll put a bullet through your fuckin' head so fast you won't know what hit you." He pushed himself up off the bed and grabbed his pants. "No, let'em drop," she said, motioning with the gun.
        "What?" he asked, incredulously.
        "You heard me, let'em drop to the floor!" she ordered. He reluctantly let go of his pants and started to cross his arms. "Oh no, let's see your equipment. What you wanted to use on her. Pull those boxer shorts down!” She motioned with the gun.
        “Oh, so that's what this is all about? You wanted to join the fun?” he goaded, obviously stalling.
        “Fuck you!” she retorted. “Pull'em down, now!” The gun was leveled at his groin area and he reluctantly complied. “Hmph. That's the ugliest damn thing I ever seen,” she commented. He quickly covered himself with one hand, utilizing the tail of his shirt. “And the smallest,” she added. “Whatsamatta, guns don't excite you?" He gritted his teeth and growled, but seemed to have lost some of his bravado. "Come on, motherfucker," she taunted, "Gimme an excuse to send you straight to hell!"
        "Sara, please," I mumbled.
        "Shut up, Faith. This is between me and…” She paused for several heartbeats just staring at him. “Mister Rock-hard, wasn't it?” His eyes widened, answering for him. “Oh yeah, I remember the story now. Didn't think I would, did ya?” She was obviously answering the unvoiced question on his face. “Oh yes, Mister Rockhard and his motorcar… how could I possibly forget?” The anger in her voice intensified with each word. “Mr. Rockhard needs to find a garage in which to park his motorcar and… mine's the best garage in town, itn't that the way it went? Fuck you, ya slimy bastard, I oughta blow you to hell and..."
        "Sara, please!"
        Brandon glanced down at me. "You should listen to your cous..." He stopped in mid-sentence, his gaze alighting on my right arm. His brow contorted into a frown, as he stared at it. I had no idea what he was looking at. Bruises, perhaps? Was he suddenly feeling remorse?
        "Take your ass over there to that chair, slow and easy," Sara ordered, causing his attention to shift. He looked from her to me. "Do it!" she reiterated, motioning to the chair by the window. "Oh no, you don't,” she added, when he moved to pull his pants up. “Leave'em just like that."
        "I can't walk like this," he whined, covering his genitals again.
        "That's the whole point, asshole! You didn't think I really wanted to see that thing, did you?" she scoffed, and let out a cynical chuckle. “Knowing you, you probably did, though.” Her upper lip curled in disgust, eyebrows drawn together, as she waved the gun towards the chair again. “What is that anyway, a birth defect or something?”
        Brandon grumbled something that sounded like “botched circumcision” as he shuffled over to the chair, resembling a beaten man. Although I hadn't seen what they were referring to –nor did I care to- for a fleeting moment, I felt a twinge of sympathy for him.
        Sara turned and glanced down at me. "Oh my God, you sick bastard. You just had to hit her, didn'chu? Ooo, I oughta waste your ass right here and now!"
        "Sara please, get me loose," I said, trying to distract her, before she put a bullet in him and ruined both our lives.
        She turned back to me still holding the gun on him. "I'm sorry it took so long." She glanced back at him, as her left hand worked on the telephone cord. He sat down in the chair and she turned back to me. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart, look at your poor lip," she said, loosening the bonds.
        I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. "Sara!"
        "Sit your fucking ass down, pervert!" she exclaimed, pointing the gun at his head.
        "That's the pot calling the kettle black," he said, easing back down in the chair. "Look at you. You fucked your own cousin."
        "Have I now?" she asked, as she untied my wrists. "Then I've got nothing to lose by wasting you, do I?" She paused, as I sat up on the bed. "Get outta here, Faith. Go on downstairs and wait for me.”
        " "I'm not leaving this room without you," I countered, moving across the bed towards her.
        ""Touching," Brandon mumbled.
        "Fuck you!" Sara hissed.
        "Look who's talking about fucking," he said, rather calmly, as he stared at me. "You're both... perverted whores."
        "You have the audacity to call us perverts, when you raped your own daughter?”
"How did you...?" He glanced up at Sara and then down at me. His eyes darted back and forth wildly.
“Incest Brandon, that's what it's called. I wonder what your well-to-do friends will think of that, when it hits the papers."
        "You have no proof!” he scoffed. “No one will ever believe you. I'll tell them it's all lies," he declared, seemingly trying to maintain his composure.
        "Ah-h… but you won't be here," she said in a sinister voice. "Dead men tell no tales."
        "You wouldn't." His eyes grew wide. I could tell he was uncertain. So was I.
        "Oh, wouldn't I? According to the servants I killed my mother," she responded. "And threatened to kill you. But obviously I never carried through on that, did I? Now well... I have a second chance, don't I?"
        "You'd never get away with it, they'd catch you and fry you in the electric chair."
        "They didn't fry me last time… when I killed my mother. So, what makes you think they'll do so this time, hmm? Especially with my history. No, I think I could get away with it again. It'd be worth spending a few more years in the nuthouse to get rid of you.” She aimed the gun at his head.
        "Sara, no!" I exclaimed, afraid she had regained her memory and was really going to kill him.
        “Why the hell not, Faith?” she queried. “He was gonna kill you, wasn't he? And I've already murdered my mother, so why not my father, too? Hmm? Or…” She paused, her eyes lighting up. “…I could give those psychiatrists something to sink their teeth into.” She lowered the gun, leveling it at his groin. “Take your weapon away from you, hmm? That might be even better than killing you outright. Worked for that Bobbit woman, don't see why it wouldn't work for me. Only… I doubt they'd be able to find enough of yours to sew it back on.”
        He swallowed hard, as she took a step towards him. "You didn't kill her," he murmured.
        "What? What was that?" she questioned. “I don't think I heard you.”
        “I said… you didn't kill your mother,” he answered, sounding as if someone had let all the air out of his balloon. He propped his elbows on his bare legs and hung his head.
        “Oh really? Then how'd I get the gun in my hands, huh?” He offered no response. “How?” she demanded.
        “I… I panicked… put it there,” he mumbled
        “You what?”
        “Panicked… I was scared, alright!” he shouted.
        “Because you killed her, didn'chu?” she shot back. “You killed her because she was leaving you for Tom Randall, right?” He looked up quickly, surprise written all over his face. “Oh, I know about Tom,” she continued, answering the unvoiced question on his face. “She was leaving you and taking me with her, because I'm not your daughter, I'm Tom's, right? She knew better than to trust you with a little girl, didn't she?” He just stared at the floor. “Didn't she?”
“She was… crazy. She… actually thought I'd let her leave here with my child,” he grumbled. “No one takes my child away from me,” he stated.
“You're saying I am your daughter?” Sara's voice held a note of disappointment.
“No, you're not my child,” he confirmed. “Jason's my only heir. And she thought she was going to take him away from me. No one takes… anything away from me,” he asserted
I glanced up at Sara. “And so you killed her, didn'chu?” she accused. He shook his head. “Didn'chu?!” she screamed and fired the gun at his feet. The sound was terribly loud. He cringed, covering his groin, I jumped, but Sara didn't seem to flinch. Instead she smiled!
        "Alright, goddamn it. Yes, but… I didn't mean to,” he confessed. “It... it was an accident. I didn't mean for the gun to go off. You... you hit my hand and... it was a just a freak accident!" He placed his head in his hands, as if he were about to cry. “If only she'd never… pulled that gun on me…” He paused, shaking his head ruefully.
        Sara glanced down at me briefly. “So, you were gonna frame me, weren't you?” she accused.
        "I… I decided against it... later."
        "When? After I threatened to kill your ass?"
“I couldn't bear to see you in jail.” he mumbled.
"How touching,” she said, mimicking him, previously. “Truth is: you decided against it, not to save me as you say, but to save your good name. A suicide was much less scandalous than a murder, wasn't it? And besides… if I was involved in the shooting and they questioned me long enough, I mighta told them the truth, right? And they mighta believed me. So what did you do to keep me quiet, Brandon?"
        "You were in shock."
        "Why did they keep me for three years, if it was only shock?"
        "You wouldn't respond to treatment."
        "Bullshit! What did you do keep me doped up with these?" she asked, as she produced a bottle of pills from the waistband of her jeans. "Tranquilizers aren't they, Brandon? No label… must pay some pharmacist a shit load a money to get you these without a prescription. And you've been giving them to her, haven't you?” She tossed them on the bed. “A little every night in a glass of milk, gradually getting her used to it, so she doesn't suspect anything and then... one night you up the dose and..." She snapped her fingers. "…she's out like a light and putty in your hands, right? What happened tonight? Was she too smart for you? Didn't drink what you gave her?" She paused as she aimed the gun at his head again and went back to her original question. "Why the hell did they keep me in the hospital so long, Brandon? Tell me, goddammit!"
        “You… were suicidal. Every time they set a date for you to come home, you'd… try to kill yourself or… threaten to kill me.”         “And we both know why I didn't wanna come back here, don't we?” she hissed, as she backed up towards the bed.
"Oh Sara," I said, as I put my arms around her waist. I knew he'd done the same thing to her that he said he'd done to me the previous night: violated me without my knowledge. I couldn't imagine how many times he might have done so to Ashley. To Sara.
        “So how did I end up back here, hmm?” she further queried. “What? Did I suddenly have a change of heart? Hmm? And why don't I have memories of all this? Huh, why? Tell me, dammit!”
        “Shock treatments,” he answered.
        “Oh no,” I gasped.
        “Well, that explains a lot. Shock treatments, head injuries, amnesia… no wonder I have Swiss cheese for memories.” She sounded tired suddenly and reached back, putting her left arm around my shoulder. “You alright?” she inquired, softly.
“Yeah, I'm okay. Let's… let's just get outta here, okay,” I whined, laying my head against her body.
"You sick bitches!" Brandon shouted, as he got up from his chair. “I've had all I'm gonna take of this!”
“Oh, sit down asshole,” she grumbled. The gun in her hand was still pointed at him, but not at his head. Sara seemed to have lost some of her steam.
He glanced at the gun, as if sensing it no longer held any threat. "You gonna use that thing… go ahead. Shoot me, bitch!”
“Come on, Faith,” she said, offering me her arm, so I could get to my feet. “I think we got enough on Mr. Fancypants here that he won't be standing in our way anymore.”
“I'm calling the police," he stated, as he reached down, pulling up his pants.
“Don't bother, they're already on their way.”
“What?!” This seemed to surprise him. “We-ell… no one will believe a word of this anyway,” he grumbled. “I'm having both of you put in jail. Sodomy is still against the law in Georgia, or didn't you know that?” He was looking at me.
        "Celia, you wanna step in here with that tape recorder," Sara requested. "Let's show Mister Fancypants just what kind of proof we have, hmm?"
Celia walked out of the bathroom with a small black rectangular box in her hand.
Brandon's mouth dropped open. “Celia! Why aren't you…?” He paused, his hand quickly moving to cover his groin, where his pants were still unzipped. “That's mine!” he stated, obviously referring to the tape recorder and seemingly trying to regain some sense of control and dignity in this situation. “You know you're fired, if you don't give me that, don'chu?” He discreetly zipped up his pants, while maintaining eye contact with her. “You'll never be able to get work in any other fine home in this city. You'll be out on the streets… homeless… and at your age, Celia, you know you won't last a month.” I could hardly believe he was attempting to hold sway over her, after all he had admitted moments before.
“Sod you, ya bloody bastard!” Celia growled.
        Sara turned and looked at her, as did I; for, neither one of us could believe the Celia we knew and loved had said this. Sensing Sara's lapse, Brandon made a mad dash for her.
“Miss Sara!” Celia called out, but it was too late.
Brandon plowed into her. They pushed me back on the bed, knocking the air out of my lungs. Sara squirmed and they rolled off me onto their sides, struggling for control of the gun. Brandon grabbed her by the throat with one hand and the gun went off between them. Sara flinched and gasped for breath. He continued choking her.
        "Oh God!" I cried and looked up in time to see Celia bring my cane down across Brandon's head. There was a sickening thud and then he went limp, blood oozing from his temple.
        "Sara... Sara?!" I rolled her over. The front of her shirt bore a large crimson stain. Tears sprang from my eyes, spilling down my cheeks. "Oh God, no!" I blubbered.
        "Faith," she said softly, reaching up and touching my face with her bloody hand.

Part 20

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