She drove with steely eyed determination. She’d been planning to do this for months and she had no plans to fail. She knew she had to confront him, but did she dare do so at his place of work?
But, really, there was no choice. She had to do it here, without his expecting her, so she would be protected by his overwhelming need to keep up appearances. His having an office with a door on it was also her saving grace. She knew he would be at his desk completing a project due by the end of the day.
Paige couldn’t breathe as she walked up to the building. She felt like her heart was going to pound out of her chest. Throwing open the door, she threw up a prayer, took a deep breath and opened the door.
“Hi, Belinda. How are you?” She greeted the receptionist at the front desk.
“I’m doing well, Paige. Brice is in his office. Do you want me to let him know you’re here?”
She panicked. “No!!!” Breathe Paige. Breathe. Don’t blow this now. “Sorry. I just wanted to surprise him. Thanks, Belinda.”
Her legs felt like rubber as she approached his closed door. She paused and opened it slowly. Brice was at his computer facing the wall. “Just put it on the desk.” He didn’t even turn around.
She slowly stepped inside and quietly closed the door, watching him for a minute before she spoke.
He quickly turned around and smiled. “Hi, baby. You look beautiful. What brings you here?” The corners of his mouth barely curved up. Then he looked at her intently and his look intensified. He started to stand.
Stepping back, Paige held her hand up, palm facing him. His flattery and gameplay was not going to work this time. “I have something to say,” her voice quavered, but then grew stronger. “I’m leaving. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s getting worse instead of better. The bruises don’t even have time to go away before you add more. You said you’d get help, but you never did. I know now that you never will.”
He rose to his feet and started toward her. She grabbed the handle of the door and cracked it open. He froze. She wouldn’t dare. But he wasn’t so sure. He hadn’t seen this type of determination and fight in her since they’d just married and he lost control with her the first time. Then she was hurt as much as angry, but slowly he had taken the fight out of her and she now usually cowed at his presence. But not today.
“Paige…what are you talking about?” His anger was rising and he realized his voice was as well. He quickly lowered it to a hiss. “You won’t leave. Where would you go? There’s nowhere you can go that I can’t find you. I won’t allow you to make a fool out of me. You’re mine! I own you!”
He began to move toward her again until she opened the door a crack more and began taking her jacket off. She was wearing a sleeveless shirt he hadn’t seen her wear in years. She always wore something that would cover the bruises. How dare her. This was their life and it was no one else’s business.
“I would and I won’t hesitate if you even take the smallest step toward me. I’ll reveal you for the monster you really are if you don’t let me go.” Her voice was clear and even. “Goodbye, Brice.”
Paige turned, pulled her jacket back on, opened the door and walked out without looking back. Fortunately, Belinda was on the phone, taking a message, when she left and didn’t even notice her go by.
When she exited the building, she raced to her car and locked the doors. Fumbling with her keys, she turned the engine. It started and she started to cry. Get ahold of yourself. She didn’t know how much time it would take him to leave the office without anyone knowing there was a problem. She had to leave now.
After backing out of the space and pulling out of the lot, she took as many turns as she could to hopefully lose him if he was following her. When she had finally made it on to the highway and took the exit leaving the city, she looked in her rearview mirror and sighed deeply. I don’t see him. I think I made it. Relief flooded over her.
She drove for several hours as her mind felt the smallest taste of freedom. No more beatings, physically or verbally. She began to think of the next steps of the plan and even dared to imagine what the future might hold for her. She checked into her room at the hotel where she’d made reservations months ago.
Paige placed her luggage on the table and sat on the edge of the bed. I’m free. I’m finally free. She bowed her head to thank God and then grabbed her phone. He answered on the first ring. “I made it…OK…45 minutes.” With contact being made she felt a rush of relief.
She walked to the bathroom and ran a bath. Her body ached all over from the strain and stress and she needed to relax. She soaked until the water ran cold and her skin pruned. Slipping on the fluffy white hotel robe, she pulled the top cover off the bed and laid down across the it. The robe was so soft. She closed her eyes and sleep overtook her.
After only what felt like a few moments, she woke with a start. Then she heard what had woken her up again. Turning, she saw Brice standing above her.
“Wh–, wh–, what are you doing here? How? How did you get in here?”
“It doesn’t matter how I got in here.” He paused and an evil smirk crossed his face. “Did you really think you could leave me without my finding you. I’ve told you over and over, you’re mine! I own you!”
Her mind went blank. What is happening? I was so sure I wasn’t being followed.
“So, Paige, what do you think I should do now? I’ll have to punish you. I don’t know why you make me hurt you. I don’t want to, but you know the rules. I’ve made sure you know the rules. Yet you insist on making these selfish choices to make me look like a fool. I can’t let you do that, Paige. You know I can’t.”
He grabbed her by the hair and raised his fist over her. She clinched her eyes shut and turned her head away, bracing herself for the blow.
At that moment, the door flew open and a police officer stood at the door, gun poised at Brice’s chest. “Stop right there! Put both your hands up and step away from the bed… No, keep your hands up and move. Now!”
Brice released Paige and took a couple of steps away from the bed. “Officer, I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I was just picking up my wife to go home. She’s not feeling well, so I was trying to help her out of bed. There was some confusion as to our plans this weekend. She thought I was to join her at the hotel after work. See, I had to complete a project and…”
“Quiet! Now, put your hands behind your back.” Brice complied and the officer walked over to him, handcuffed Brice and turned him around. Paige could tell he was fighting to appear calm and cooperative, but she could see the rage just barely under the surface. And it was just about to be majorly tested.
“Paige, are you OK?” Officer Blaine looked at her with concern.
“Yes. Thank God you were here.”
“You planned this out perfectly by having us close. We waited and watched him leave his office and we followed him. By having us come later and then stay close but out of sight, we’ve secured a clear charge and probable conviction for your husband. You’re safe, Paige.”
At that moment, the room exploded. Brice shoved the officer back and pulled away as he screamed in rage! “I’m going to kill you, Paige!” Then he lunged for her.
The boom rang out and Brice fell forward into Paige’s lap. She screamed, scrambled to get off the bed and ran to the corner, staring with disbelief at her husband.
He never moved.
~ Joanna Lynn
(This post was written for The Daily Post prompt “flattery”.)