Anticipation

 

The closet door burst open with a bang, and before he realised what was happening, Lucas’s arms were around him, pulling him away from me. I threw myself off the bed as planned, and rolled under it. I could hear their struggle above me: the crunch of a fist connecting; the grunts of pain; the swish of a pocket-knife flicked open. The scream, muffled by a hand, as the knife cut deep through flesh. The creaks of the bed as someone thrashed around. I shut my eyes tightly, imagining everything happening on the bed from the sounds. I hoped that everything would go according to plan. I prayed hard; it had to.

There was no controlling my breathing now.

Finally the thrashing stopped and there was silence. I let a minute pass before crawling out of my hiding place. I could just about make out Lucas’s dark form, chest heaving, sitting astride my husband’s still form.

“Lucas?” I whispered, walking around to the other side towards him.

My voice seemed to knock him into action. Getting off the bed in one swift motion, he reached for me and gave me a once-over. Planting a kiss on my forehead, he said, “Good, you’re unhurt. Get ready to go and open the window. We need to leave quickly.”

He took a folded note out of his pocket. Careful not to let any blood get on the paper, Lucas placed the note on my husband’s corpse, right next to the hilt of the knife protruding from his heart. Pulling out the knife, Lucas cleaned it on the bed-sheet and closed it, tucking it away in his pocket. The note was addressed to my late husband’s family, demanding a hefty ransom as payment for the release of Richard Stone’s wife, the failure of which would result in her – mine – death. It was a red herring, to ensure that the family believed a kidnapping had taken place. I had no intention of ever returning.

 

We had been planning this for a long time, Lucas and I. Ever since my husband beat me with the belt for a trivial matter, two years ago, and made a regular practice out of it. Richard Stone was one of the richest and most influential men in the country. I had no hope of winning a case against him in a court of law, so we made a plan. Every step was meticulously planned and prepared; the extended weekend at a secluded old mountain lodge came exactly when Stone was in the mood to celebrate his company’s latest successful venture. More than a little tipsy with drink, he had come to our room after I’d sent the servants away. Intent on having his way with his wife, he hadn’t given it a second thought when I hadn’t fought like I usually did. And now he lay dead, stabbed in the heart by my lover. He wouldn’t be discovered until the next morning, when Lucas and I would be halfway across the country, safely out of the way.

Lucas finally pulled the surgical gloves off, tucked them inside his pocket with the knife, and helped me out of the window. As we crept out of the window, the room inside looking like an actual kidnapping had taken place, I smiled for the first time that night.