Is that a gun? My mind is reeling as I try to figure out what the hell is going on. Is my dad okay? Why is this man at my house? Are there more men like him? There had to be since there are two vehicles parked here. Are they robbing my house? Where is my dad?
I put my old Jeep into park and hesitate. Should I call 911? Isn’t that what the rational person would do? Except the way this man is looking at me through the windshield, I get the feeling that calling 911 will do me no good.
Instead, I sit very still in the Jeep, wondering what his next move will be. His eyes roam over the house and then come back to my car. Time stands still for a few seconds before he comes walking toward the Jeep. My heart is beating out of my chest, and my eyes keep glancing down to my cell phone. I should call 911. What if these people are robbing us? What if they already killed my dad? I reach for my phone, knowing it might be my only chance…
“Get out of the car, and don’t even fucking think about calling the cops,” the man growls at me through my open window. Damn it, I should have closed my window! His voice is loud and sends shivers down my spine. There is a dark, evil look in his eyes that tells me he won’t hesitate to shoot me if I try to run or be heroic.
“What is going on?” I demand. I don’t want to be hurt or seen as weak, so I put on a brave face and try to act tough and unafraid. Before I can blink, the gun that was by his hip is now pointed directly at my head. Oh shit. This guy means business. Serious, deadly business.
My breath catches in my chest. What the fuck is going on here? I come home from college and am staring down the barrel of a gun?
“Get out of the fucking car and don’t ask questions,” the man gruffly orders.
I shut my mouth immediately. I mean, a fucking gun is pointed at my face, so of course I’m going to do exactly as I’m told. For now, at least. I turn my Jeep off and slowly push the door open, hoping it will encourage him to ease off me a little bit. However, it just made him angrier.
With his free hand, the man yanks my door open as quickly as he can. For a moment, all I hear is the creaking from the rust build-up.
I slip from the car with ease, my eyes never leaving him. What happens next is right out of a fucking movie. He grips the back of my head, pulling my hair. My scalp burns with his attack, and my eyes begin to fill with tears.
“Let go of me!” I demand, going loose in his hold. I won’t allow whoever the fuck this person is to hurt me. His grip tightens, and I feel cold metal against my lips. My eyes grow as big as saucers the second I realize the barrel of the gun is against my lips, his finger on the trigger.
“Zerro has come to collect his debt.” A sick smile crosses his face and if I weren’t so incredibly terrified, I would’ve puked all over the ground. In that instant, I realize that whatever is about to happen isn’t going to be good.
With the barrel still against my lips, I am afraid to even ask what debt he is talking about. When Mom died, her life insurance policy left Dad and I enough money to get by. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t struggling either. Dad always told me our finances were fine. This man must have the wrong family, and he will be sorry he treated me this way when he realizes the truth.
The gun slips over my bottom lip as lust and hunger fill his eyes.
“Zerro will have fun fucking every hole in your body. Then when he’s done with you, and you’re ready to be killed, I’ll fuck you one last time…”
I sneer at him, anger building deep within me. Why does this man think he has a right to say such cruel, nasty, vile things to me? And who the hell is Zerro?
“I don’t…” I begin to respond hotly.
“Shut your mouth!” he roars, his grip tightens as he pulls me up the steps to my home. The front door is kicked in, hanging on one hinge. Fear courses through me, making the anger I had been feeling just seconds ago disappear.
As we round the corner through the kitchen, my mouth almost falls open. I stare in disbelief at the scene in front of me: appliances ripped apart, cupboard doors hanging loosely on their hinges, food, and other items strewn haphazardly around the usually immaculate room. It looks like a tornado has gone straight through the house! Pushing me forward, the man and I come to a halt just on the edge of entering the living room. My heart beats out of my chest when I hear my father’s voice and see the puddle of blood on the floor.
Please, tell me that isn’t his blood. Please. I want to cry out, begging and pleading…
“I am so sorry! I didn’t have a choice, Bree!” my father chokes out when he sees me. There is a man holding him in place in one of the wooden dining room chairs. I want to cry as I take in his swollen face, the blood dripping from his lips, and the bruises that are already forming around his eyes and on his cheeks. His hands are tied securely behind his back, his wrists bleeding. I desperately want to go to him and comfort him, protect him from what is happening. My dad looks like he hasn’t shaved, showered, or changed his clothes for quite some time. He seems to have stopped taking care of himself. The man sitting before me is just the shell of my father. The man before me is tired, worn out, broken, defeated, and hopeless. What the hell happened to my inspiring, courageous, easy-going, fun-loving dad? I was only gone for a few months! How could this have happened? Why didn’t I know what was going on?