Roswelllostcause - I think you might be right (about the "no boyfriend"-thing) Thank you for the feedback!
Carolyn (keepsmiling7) - I think they'll find a friendship in there somewhere. Thank you for the feedback!
saori_1902 - Thank you!
Eve - It's just hard for Liz to talk about the details. And there are a lot of details that have been repressed… for now. Thank you so much for the feedback!
And now… the plot thickens….
The pain pierced through her abdomen, hot and all-consuming as she doubled over. It was by will alone that she remained standing.
“Oh please, stop, please…”
She wasn’t aware of the hot tears running down her cheeks as she saw the green sky reflected in the puddles formed in the mud; the oddity of the color of the sky momentarily grabbed her attention.
Where am I?
Another wave of pain ripped through the core of her body, making her thoughts scatter and her will go into hiding. She crumbled to the ground, her hands sinking into the cold mud.
The word (or was it a name?) floated through her head, spoken in a man’s deep voice. Though it was spoken, it was like a subdued scream echoing into her very being. She had the intense feeling that she should remember something. Someone.
“Wake up.” She had to wake up. It had to be a dream. The sky wasn’t real. Its green color was fake.
She had heard those words before, spoken to her in a child’s voice. As if commanded by the words, her surroundings started to waver and went in and out like a bad TV reception.
She was on the ground. The soft and wet mud had been replaced by hard frozen concrete. But the pain remained. It had spread and was now encompassing not just her abdomen but her arms, legs, head, even out in the very tips of her fingers.
“Stop bleeding, please.”
Her eyes flew open and she was in her apartment. Safe, dry and warm in the comfort of her bed. But her heart was beating an erratic rhythm in her chest and she couldn’t stop shivering. Her teeth were clattering and she fumbled to get the comforter off her, the feeling of being entrapped engulfing her.
She ended up standing in the middle of her bedroom floor, hyperventilating, trying to convince herself that she was home. That she was whole, unhurt. Not in pain.
Sinking to her floor, the only residing pain from the nightmare was the realization that it had started again. The nightmares were back.
She jumped at the question, being exceptionally on edge the morning after the return of the nightmares that had plagued her as a child. It didn’t help matters that the man staring down at her, with two cups of coffee in his hands, was David Perkins.
She managed to remind herself to stay in the present and replied to the question. “I couldn’t sleep.”
He stared at her and she felt darkness creep inside her. Then he moved and the darkness momentarily lost its grip on her. He offered her one of the cups of black caffeinated liquid. “Coffee?”
She shook her head, wondering if the man in front of her was capable of empathy. “I’m more of a tea drinker.”
He was smiling. Not the sympathetic smile of someone that could relate to having a bad night of sleep, but the gloating smile of someone wishing you harm.
“Right,” he said, apparently in good spirits. Little did Liz know that his happy mood was due to the fact that he’d fucked her last night. Well, not Liz exactly, but the fantasy of Liz. Portrayed by the lovely Theresa Harding. Even though it had been good, (chasing the fake Elizabeth through the apartment, tying her up, tearing off her clothes and forcing himself inside of her) he was expecting the real thing to be much better. And he intended to make that fantasy come true. “You ready to get started?”
Liz wasn’t ready for anything. She wanted to curl into a fetal position in the center of her bed, pull a thick blanket over her head and cry. Instead she nodded. “Sure.”
David put the cups of coffee down beside her and came around the table, taking the seat right next to her. Why he didn’t opt for sitting opposite her, which would have made working through the plans easier, was beyond her. Her throat constricted as the strong scent of his cologne (had he dropped the bottle on himself this morning?) eradicated a majority of the breathable air. He was sitting so close that his elbow was rubbing against hers.
“Um, maybe it’s easier if you sit on the other side,” Liz said, not wanting to be impolite. She did, after all, want a good working relationship.
“Easier for whom?” David asked, leaning in close to her cheek. So close that she could feel his breath against her skin. “This way it’s easier to…instruct you.”
She was holding her breath and was feeling faint. Maybe even nauseous. It was hard to think, hard to function, with him invading her personal space. She tried to pull in a deep breath without him noticing (but from his knowing smug smile, she suspected that she had failed), and forced authority into her trembling frame, “You don’t have to instruct me, Mr. Perkins. I realize that you have a couple of years of experience on me,” from the way she saw his eyes darken out of the corner of her eye, she figured he was placing a double meaning on her ‘lack of experience’, “but I’m perfectly capable of handling myself. I would prefer it if we could work at this as a team, with equal parts.”
A small smile crept onto his lips. “Of course, Ms. Parker.” He pointed to the other side of the table. “So you would prefer me on the other side of the table?”
She couldn’t hide the relief in her voice. “Yes, please. I think that would make it easier.”
She was a bit surprised, to be honest, that he had granted her suggestion. Maybe working together wouldn’t be so difficult after all. And maybe she only imagined the feel of his fingers brush across the back of her neck before he moved to reposition himself in front of her.
Isabel chose this moment to interrupt. She had an impeccable ability for good timing. Or, as David Perkins saw it, Isabel had impeccable bad timing.
“David, sorry to interrupt.”
Liz would later tell herself that she had made it up, but at that moment she was certain that she had seen death in David’s eyes. Directed at Isabel. It was Isabel’s indifference to David’s reaction that made Liz later question her sanity on the matter.
“There’s a George Campbell on the phone. He says it’s urgent.”
David groaned. That was a phone call he was not able to ignore. He shot Liz a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. None of his smiles ever really did. “Please excuse me, Ms. Parker.”
Liz gave him the ghost of a polite smile in return.
As soon as David had left the conference room, Isabel took David’s seat and grabbed Liz’s hand. “What’s wrong?” There was a deep concerned urgency in her question that managed to warm the chill that David’s presence had created. “You’re pale as a sheet.” She looked behind her, as if checking so that no one could hear her. “Did he say something to you?”
Liz swallowed and shook her head. “No, no. I just…I had a bad night.”
“You sure?” Isabel asked and added in a whisper, “Because he can be quite…pushy. David, I mean. You just have to ignore him. He did the same thing to me in the beginning.”
Afraid that the discussion might get her into trouble at her new job if it were to get out, Liz insisted that she’d only had a bad night. She had after all had a bad night. David had just made her day even worse.
“I just didn’t get much sleep, but thank you for your concern.” Liz hoped that Isabel understood how grateful Liz was about the concern. She didn’t have many people around her that worried about her and it was refreshing.
Isabel did not look convinced by Liz’s statement. The dark circles under Liz’s eyes and the unruliness of her hair was not how Liz usually presented herself.
Isabel let go of Liz’s hand and looked at her, rather sternly. “If you need to talk, I’m here for you. It will be in total confidence; I won’t tell a soul. I’m the queen of keeping secrets.”
Liz managed a smile and there was real warmth in her voice as she said, “Thank you, Isabel.”
“Okay,” Isabel nodded and with a final glance over her shoulder at the shadow of the person she’d had vivid conversations with just two nights before, Isabel left the room.
Liz’s resolve briefly crumbled, her hands starting to shake so violently that she had to pull them up against her chest and press them down under the table. Relax, Liz. Relax. She couldn’t let David return and see her like this; weak and vulnerable. She had a feeling he would descend on her like a shark. She tried taking deep slow breaths through her nose. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exh-
David re-entered the room, looking happier than a clam. “Now, where were we?”
Liz had never been the hateful type and had never wished harmed to a single human being in her life, but right that second she wanted David Perkins to burn in hell. Or at least she wanted to smack that grin off his face. Instead of resorting to uncharacteristic violence, Liz cleared her throat. “We were just starting.”
“Right,” David agreed. “I had moved to the other side of the table.” He winked at her, as if she had been a silly child to suggest such a thing and her hands tightened into fists underneath the table.
A green screen flashed before her eyes. Liz inhaled sharply, but the green tint was gone with the next blink.
“Elizabeth?” David questioned, looking at her strangely, his annoying smile slipping.
She was about to reply that she was fine when it felt as if her hands were covered in something cold and wet. She looked down at her hands clenched in her lap and saw them coated in dark damp mud. Her next breath got stuck in her throat, her trachea constricting with the beginning of a panic attack.
She turned frantic eyes towards her colleague and as she did her hands warmed and dried. Her gaze flickered back to her hands, only to find them clean and dry. Just like before.
“Are you alright?”
She closed her eyes momentarily. I’m losing my mind. She tried to reign in her emotions. She was just upset, tired and stressed out. She was fine. She was fine. Try telling yourself that.
She opened her eyes and met David’s dark ones. He was looking at her, not with concern, but how a doctor might observe a person having a mental breakdown (if that person was on the other side of a window, inside a padded room, wearing a restraining jacket); calmly and with straight pity.
Liz felt utterly alone. David Perkins was freaking her out at a point when she was at her most fragile. She would not give him that power over her. She forced herself to square her shoulders and raise her eyes to meet his ridiculed glare straight on. “I’m fine. Thought I saw a spider, that’s all. I’m not on the best of terms with spiders.”
David narrowed his eyes and unbeknownst to Liz, found her regained resolve to be a strong turn on. To see the weakness in her watery and frightened eyes turn into fierce willpower almost gave him an instant hard on. He could imagine it then. How she would look restrained under his weight. How she initially would be afraid and how she would later decide to fight him. It was in her nature. A gorgeous mixture of weakness and survival. David knew that he could never make Elizabeth Parker come to him willingly, he was good enough at reading people to figure that out. But David Perkins always got what he wanted, it was almost more exciting when it had to be taken by force.
Liz was unaware of the plans sifting through her colleague’s head as she tried to sort out the papers in front of her. Had she caught a single glimpse of his thoughts, she wouldn’t have hesitated in handing in her letter of resignation that very same afternoon.
TBC on Sunday…