Deceitful Lies by Brook Wilder
My eyes slowly open as I wake up on a cold, hard floor. The cement feels wet and sticky under my hands. I move my hand away from whatever it is, but the sudden movement leaves my head spinning dizzily. A wave of nausea threatens to overwhelm me as I wipe away the sweat from my clammy forehead, trying to remember how I got in here.
The last thing I recall is getting out of Andrei’s Lamborghini. As soon as it stopped, rough hands yanked me out of the driver’s seat, and a damp cloth was put over my mouth and nose.
How long have I been unconscious?
My eyes slowly adjust to the darkness, and I realize that I’m inside a cage in a dimly lit cellar. The bars extend from the floor to the ceiling, and the space inside is narrow. The only place to sit is on the damp floor. There’s a row of cells just like mine against the wall, but the others appear empty.
My stomach churns from the metallic smell of vomit that hangs heavy in the stale air.
I’m not alone.
There’s a man strapped to a chair several yards away from the bars. His head hangs low, and his body is motionless.
I crawl to the bars and tug at the chained door weakly, but it barely moves. My hands grip the thick bars as I stare at the man, willing him to look up. It takes me another moment to recognize that he’s not Andrei.
Only dressed to look like him.
The suit is the same, and so are the shoes. His hair is thick and brown, but I know instinctively that it’s not him. I just know it. And it’s clear that whoever he is, he’s in no shape to help me.
My palms are slick with sweat, and my heart is busy trying to tear its way out of my chest. I can barely think straight, and I don’t know whether to wish Andrei were here or not. Half of me is hoping Andrei will show up and save me, and the other half is terrified of what might happen to him if he does.
“Sir,” I whisper. Nothing.
“Sir.” I say it a little louder.
I look around to see if anyone else is down here hiding in the shadows. No one, but that doesn’t mean we’re not being watched. I try to get the man’s attention again by rattling the chain against the bars, but he responds with pained moans. His voice confirms that he’s not Andrei. I feel my stomach churn again, and my body aches with fear.
I’m a prisoner of a woman who hates me, and I have no idea how to get away.
Heels click across the stone floor, and Talia enters, flanked by three massive and somber men.
She carries herself like an A-list star entering a premiere with her entourage. Her presence puts me on alert as I back away from the door. The bars may be keeping me in, but they also keep her out. Talia walks over to the tied-up man and smiles radiantly, as if she’s happy to see him. She yanks his head up by his hair. His face is bloodied, and his eyes are swollen shut from what I can only assume was a severe beating.
“I will teach you how to be a pakhan’s wife,” Talia announces, though she doesn’t look at me.
Talia fiercely grabs the man’s head and holds it against her chest as if she’s cradling a child. Someone hands her an open switchblade. The man screams in agony as she slips the knife into his lips and starts sawing open his cheek.
I taste bile in the back of my throat and start to retch as I watch the trail of blood running down his ruined face. Shuddering, tears blur my sight and I vomit on the floor—unable to hold back any longer.
“It looks like she can’t stomach it.” Talia laughs.
Her men laugh at her joke, unfazed by her cruelty.
“You should be tougher by now.” She wipes the blood off the blade onto the man’s jacket. “This is but a taste of what’s expected from you.”
My body feels too heavy as I slide to the ground. I lie there, my clothing soiled with vomit, too scared to move. I look up at Talia, who stands by the bars, and her eyes glint in the dim light.
“You’ll have to be tough to get out of here alive.” She places her hands on her hips. “Don’t you want to live, Mrs. Barinov?”
I don’t answer her. I force my nerves to steady, staring at a distant spot on the floor.
My hands reach for my belly and clutch my stomach as if I can protect my secret. If Talia realizes I’m pregnant … I don’t want to even imagine what she will do to me. I whimper as another wave of nausea washes over me. Let her think I’m weak if it will protect my baby from this fucked up bitch.
“Your soft heart will be your downfall.” Talia returns to the man and holds the knife to his throat.
I close my eyes and block out his screams for mercy.
“Open your eyes, Paige,” she commands. “If you don’t, I will cut him deeper. You must watch.”
“Will you let him live if I watch?” My voice shakes.
“This man burned down a house, and a boy died.” Talia looks from man to man as each one laughs. “He knew the boy was in the house, yet he did it anyway. The boy did nothing wrong. Should I let the innocent suffer while the wicked go free?”
I don’t know what to say. If it’s true, the man should be punished, but not by Talia. “You should turn him over to the police.”
They laugh even harder this time as I tremble on that cold floor with fear.
“What do you think he is, Little Ms. Lucky?” Talia smirks as she raises the knife in her hand.
I know what’s coming, and I am powerless to stop it. Her face turns into a cruel mask of rage. The blade strikes with precision, slicing through the man’s throat in one clean motion. He looks at me with wide eyes before his life slips away in a stream of blood, dyeing his shirt.
I huddle in a ball and pray that Andrei will find me.