Prey Drive by Jen Stevens
the lamb - 1 year ago
as I pull my car into the driveway. Once again, Gabe didn’t bother leaving a single light on for me, despite the countless times I’ve asked. When I reach the door, I'm surprised to discover that it's unlocked.
Flipping the light switch in the kitchen, I hear my mother groan from her spot at the kitchen table as the unforgiving bulb comes to life above her head. She blinks owlishly, slowly uncurling herself from the awkward position she was slumped into over the table. She fell asleep here. Or rather, passed out. Who knows how long she’s been lying there in the dark?
I want to kick her out, but Gabe guilts me about it every time I even mention the idea of sending her packing. I’m starting to think their relationship is getting a little too cozy, but I can’t bring myself to feel any sort of jealousy. I truly couldn’t care less, and that scares me worse than the idea of losing my boyfriend to my mother.
“What time is it?” she croaks, rubbing her forehead. There’s a clock on the stove right beside me, but she can’t be bothered to look at it.
“It’s past midnight. You should go to your room if you’re tired,” I tell her, my voice more gentle than she deserves. Especially when her nose curls up and her mouth tilts down in the scowl she seems to reserve only for me.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” she spits defiantly, grabbing for the pack of cigarettes sitting right beside her. A disappointed groan erupts from her throat when she turns the box upside down and discovers it’s empty. Then her eyes find me again, glaring as if I’m the one who smoked them all. I've told her more times than I can count that she can't smoke in the house, but it always falls on deaf ears. At this point, my entire security deposit is going to go to her addictions.
Refusing to engage in another argument with her, I huff out a frustrated breath and walk past her toward the living room just as Gabe walks through the front door.
“You’re home late,” I greet, not bothering to slow my steps down the hallway.
He glances toward the kitchen, where my mom is mumbling nonsensical words to herself, and then back to me.
“I got caught up. Are you going to bed?”
“Caught up”usually means he stopped for a drink with his friends. I’m sure my theory will be proven correct when he climbs into bed, reeking of whiskey. Hopefully, I'll be asleep before it can bother me too much.
When I nod, turning for the bathroom to take a quick shower, Gabe walks toward the kitchen.
“I’ll be right behind you,” he calls out, but I’ve already closed the door.
Twisting the handle all the way over, I lean away from the scalding-hot water and strip out of my work clothes. Steam fills the cold bathroom immediately, and I quickly jump in before the chilly air bites against my skin.
And I stand there. Completely and utterly exhausted. Debilitated. And safe, at least for the time being.
Twenty minutes pass, and I take my time washing all the scum of the day off my body. I had to work a double today, bartending at the gentlemen’s club to make enough to pay our electricity bill. After begging my boss for the extra shift, I managed to scrounge up just enough to cover my half of it. Gabe was supposed to come home tonight with his half, but judging by his state just now, I’d wager a guess that it went to tonight’s bar tab instead.
We'll have to ask for an extension. Again.
Just as I’m turning the water off, a hand snakes through the curtain and wraps around my middle, pulling me out of the tub. I scream as loud as I can, flailing around just enough for my assaulter to lose his grip. When I see that it’s Gabe, I relax the slightest bit.
But something about the look in his eyes makes my relief short lived. As soon as he’s standing straight again, he comes after me, wrapping his arms around my shoulders in a bear hug that makes it nearly impossible to escape from. Panicking, I kick my feet around, nailing him in the shins multiple times before he throws me onto the ground and my head smacks against the ceramic tile with a loud crack.
And everything goes black.
I’m not sure how long I’m out of it before regaining consciousness. My head lolls to the side, my eyes searching around desperately for some indication of where I am and what just happened. But everything is still a little too out of focus.
“This is the only way, Jovie,” Gabe coos from somewhere above me. “I promise you’ll be safe.”
The bathroom. I'm in the bathroom with Gabe.
And he hurt me.
I try to lift my arms and push him off me, but they’re being held down by something too heavy for me to lift.
“Hurry up and do it,” my mother urges in a rushed tone.
I feel Gabe’s hand wrap around my thigh, and I try to kick him away, but my movements are too delayed to reach their mark. My brain and my body are no longer working in sync. He grabs my ankles and shoves them against the cold tile, then I feel his weight settle across my legs.
“I’m trying,” he grinds out, sounding irritated.
Something bites into my inner thigh, and then a cold liquid floods my veins.
Everything slows all at one. My body relaxes faster than my mind—which is running wild with the comprehension of what they've just done.
They’re drugging me.
Why are they drugging me? Why the fuck are they attacking me?
Why, why, why?
“Grab the other one,” Gabe’s gruff voice says from somewhere far away.
Blood whooshes into my ears, drowning everything else out with a high-pitched ringing.
There’s a shuffle around me, and then more poking along my inner thigh. My mom mumbles something above my head. Gabe relaxes atop my knees. They exchange a few words, and then I feel someone’s lips against my forehead.
“Stay with me, baby. It’ll all be okay soon.”
Hours and seconds pass by in synchronicity. Time flows all around me. Fast and slow. In and out.
I’m not sure where I am or what happens in the time it takes for Gabe and my mom to leave the bathroom and the medics to come rushing in with a stretcher.
Words are spoken from somewhere above my head, but none of it sounds like English. It might not even be real. Maybe I made them up in my head.
Maybe no one came to save me from this nightmare.
My head lolls around against the hard tiles, and I try to open my mouth to tell my saviors what happened, but no words come out. Just a garbled mess of vowels move past my swollen tongue, and then I’m lifted onto a stretcher and carried outside with the flashing red lights.
They planned it all.
They attacked me.
They tried to kill me.
They’re going to get away with it.
the wolf- 1 year ago
“I know, I know, I'm late,” Sienna calls out to us as she weaves her way to us through our parents’ penthouse, gracefully dodging the mess of furniture our mother keeps scattered all around.
“You nearly missed the entire meal,” our father reproves as she breaks through the balcony doors, not bothering to glance at her before he’s shoving another piece of steak into his mouth. He knows he won’t be able to hold up his act when she gives him her signature look.
Our mother stands up and pulls her into a hug before pointing to the chair beside mine and her cold plate of food.
“We're glad you could make it at all,” she smooths, shooting a scolding look at our father for his rough greeting.
My sister turns to me and rolls her eyes, and we exchange a silent conversation about how irritating our father is. She truly has no idea. I've done my best to avoid him lately, since all he wants to talk about is The Order. The pressure has been put onto him to get me initiated, and he has no answers to offer his fellow brothers because I have no intention of joining them.
It's caused a lot of tension between us, though he shouldn’t be surprised. I’m not interested in doing anything the same way he does.
“This looks delicious,” Sienna compliments, and my mom beams at her proudly.
She sends the personal chef away to cook our family meals herself, and even if she served us cardboard, Sienna would accept it with a smile and make sure she feels good about it.
They talk casually across the table about Sienna's school schedule and what she'll do after graduation in a couple of months while me and my father stay silent, locked into our own standoff.
I wouldn't even come to these dinners if it weren't for my mother. There've been periods when weeks will pass without me seeing my parents, despite the fact that we live in the same city, mere blocks away. Sienna has gone even longer, milking the convenient excuse of grad school. But where my father is controlling and insufferable, my mother is sweet and comforting. She misses us—misses the chaos that came with raising us and realized too late what a mistake it was to send us away to school each year.
She set up a standing date for us all to meet twice a month to have dinner and catch up, and neither me nor Sienna wants to disappoint her, so we show up every time. Even if we’re two hours late, like Sienna was tonight.
“What are you doing for your last night of spring break?” she asks Sienna once all our dinnerware is cleared away, resting her chin on the backs of her hands to give her full attention.
Sienna shrugs, shoving a chocolate truffle in her mouth to avoid answering for a moment.
“Come on, you've got to do something special. It's quite possibly your last spring break ever.”
“Unless you decide to go back for more schooling. Again,” I jab in a playful tone, though my message is clear. I've never understood why she bothers with school.
She rolls her eyes at me, swatting my forearm with a little more force than necessary. “Actually, asshole—” she starts to say, pausing when my mom chastises her for her language. Without bothering to apologize, she straightens her back and goes on. “I was waiting to announce it until I figured out my housing, but I've been accepted into the Yale School of Medicine for my doctorate. I'm going to be a plastic surgeon.”
My mother squeals, propelling herself from her seat to round the table and pulling Sienna into a tight hug. I mumble my own congratulations that get lost in the mix of their excited conversation, while my father sits across from us silently, a rare, proud smile spread across his lips.
“I'm going out to celebrate with Mallory and the girls tonight,” Sienna explains once things die down, and for some reason, those words pique my father's interest enough for him to lift his gaze back up from his phone.
“In Styx?” he asks, his hopeful expression falling when she shakes her head.
“Jamie is in from L.A. for the weekend, and she wants to go to some new bar.”
“Maybe you should sit this weekend out…” he urges, his eyes pleading.
Sienna laughs, bringing her martini to her lips. “Come on, old man, you've taught me well. I can handle a night out,” she teases. “Besides, they're celebrating me. It would be weird for me not to show.”
Sitting back in his chair, his face still holds the same troubled look as before. “Just promise you won't stay out late.”
“Okay, Daddy. I promise.” She flashes her megawatt smile at him, the same way she always does when she wins an argument. Which, in my dad's case, is every time. He's never been able to deny his little princess a single fucking thing.
As we're leaving, Sienna invites me out with her and her friends, but I've got too much work to do by Monday to justify the hangover, so I decline, promising her that we'll celebrate her accomplishments another day. And with that, we kiss our mother goodbye and head in different directions.
Five hours later, I receive what would be my last call from my sister. And the last time her name flashes across my screen, I swipe the red button and ignore it.
It's ironic how many of us take advantage of the time we have with those we love. How we assume there's always more. Always a next time. If I knew the way the night would end, I would have made so many different choices.
Starting with insisting that she never step foot in that club.