“Hey Mom, sorry I didn’t call you back.” I start off with a smile and then my body turns to ice.
“Hello, Erica. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you, my love.” Oh my god… it’s Luca.
Instant panic takes over and Jared notices my change in behavior right away.
“Please don’t hurt her! I’ll come back! Just don’t hurt her!” My voice is raised and I motion for Jared to let me out of the booth. He does and starts getting his friends to move. I can’t catch my breath; I’m gulping in air that’s not air. It feels like dust. I can’t breathe as panic grips my throat.
I hear a scream and I know it’s my mother. I know he’s killing her. I know that her life is ending because we weren’t careful enough. I should have stayed and married him. I should have listened when they threatened me. I should have been good and obeyed.
My hands shake and the phone drops to the floor. Jared is yelling something I can’t exactly make out. I’m nodding back and forth as I scream incoherent words.
“Babe, breathe!” He takes me in his arms. He then grabs the phone.
“Who the fuck is this?” His face contorts in anger and I know he can hear the screaming, because that’s what they do. They torture the ones that have crossed them.
My dad died brutally and the thought of them doing the same to my mother makes me want to vomit. Which I do, and I don’t even care enough to be mortified by my actions. I am spilling whatever I have left in my empty stomach. My life is being ripped to shreds and there is nothing I can do about it.
I must have blacked out, because there is more than one scary man surrounding me. Grady, Jared, and three other men are hovering over me.
Jared’s face is filled with worry.
“Where’s my phone?” I shout
“I have it, babe; you need to relax for a minute before you end up in the hospital.”
“I can’t fucking relax! Oh my god!” I wail.
“He killed her!” I choke out a sob. My cries turn into hard sobs and I’m being carried over to his bike.
“I need to go,” I gulp.
“Who killed her?” he asks, and I can’t even believe this is happening.
“The man who’s after me.” I cry, and watch Jared’s face turn red with rage.
“Where is your mom?” he enquires, and thank god he is here to help me because I can’t even function.
I give him my address and I tell him we can’t call the police. He nods in agreement, like he understands my situation, but how could he possibly know?
He barrels down the road and my hands are gripping his middle so tightly but he doesn’t seem to mind it. He sets one of his hands on mine reassuringly. That one motion makes me feel a sliver of hope, but in all honesty I know I’m about to walk into a murder scene. Just like in California.
When we pull up to my house I jump off the bike and hurry inside.
“Erica, wait for me!” he orders, but I can’t stop my feet from moving.
The first thing I notice and smell is blood. Lots and lots of blood. Jared barrels through my home like a madman on a mission. He has a gun pointing in all directions. How the hell did I not notice him carrying a gun? I am scarily unobservant.
“Mom!” I scream. “Mom, where are you?”
The house is trashed. I follow the blood trail, shaking and crying, scared to death that I’m going to find her dead.
I hear moaning as I reach the back hallway. She is lying naked in a pool of her own blood, and all you can hear are my screams. I check her pulse. It’s weak but it’s there.
I see a note on the floor. With trembling hands I read ‘I will be coming back for you, wifey.’
I dial 911, not even caring about the consequences I may have to pay and pray that my mom will survive this. Jared is kicking doors open and searching for someone. When he makes his way over to me, his face contorts in anger. Jared bends down to my level, gently taking the note from my hands. When he reads the words on the note I can’t help but feel guilty that he may think I’m actually married, when I’m not.