Authors: Glenna Mayanrd
“Good, I’m going to get you out of here, and then you can explain to me what in the hell is going on.” The room goes black and my white knight has vanished.
When I come to I am no longer tied to a chair but lying in a bed. “What the? Where am-?” I start to ask, but Parker tells me to sleep. I don’t understand why I am with Parker. Was I not dreaming about him rescuing me? Did he save me? My muscles ache and I feel so weak.
“You need your rest, we’ll talk soon.” Parker kisses my forehead and once more I am sleeping.
I’m not sure what time it is when I awake or where I am but one thing is clear— I was not dreaming about Parker being my savior. I am in a luxurious bedroom. The bed I am lying in is bigger than my entire apartment. Is there such a thing as a custom double king bed, because I am pretty sure that’s what this one is. On the night table to my left are a glass of water and a bottle of aspirin. The bottle is sealed letting me know that it is safe to consume the pills. When did I change clothes? I wonder as I look down at the white silk negligee I am dressed in. Looking at my wrist it is safe to say I have been unbound for a few days. The raw chaffed skin has started to heal and has been treated. I peel back the bandages to find my skin a healthy pink.
Getting up from the bed I do a once over trying to find a phone. I need to call Kline and find out what in the hell is going on. No phone, so I try the door. There has to be a phone here somewhere. To my astonishment the door is locked. Am I a prisoner here? Pounding my fists against the door I scream for someone —anyone to answer my cries for help, but no one comes.
There is a set of French doors that seem to lead to a terrace. I try to open them but they seem to be locked from the outside. What is going on? Did I imagine Parker? Have the Garretti brothers decided to keep me in luxury. Is this where Tiffany was kept? Royce said she was very comfortable.
My head hurts… there are too many thoughts and memories coming to the surface at the same time—all of them demanding my attention. I pop the cap on the bottle of pain medication and peel the foil back before tossing two pills down my throat. Chasing the pills with the water reminds my stomach how hungry I am. When was the last time I ate?
Frustrated and starving I begin combing the room for anything of use but I keep coming up empty handed. Finally, there is a knock on the door and a click of the lock. Parker enters the room. “You’re awake.” It’s more of a statement than a question.
“I want to call my brother I want to go home.”
“Of course you do, but you’ve been through a traumatizing series of events. You need to eat then we will talk.”
“Are you telling me I’m not free to leave? Because that would mean you are holding me here against my will Parker.” The throbbing pain in my head is beginning to dull, the fuzz is beginning to clear and I can now focus on one thought at a time.
He chuckles lightly, is he mocking me. What about this situation is funny? I do not like him very much right now. “Brandi, you are my guest. I merely meant that you should eat something and then we can talk about how best to handle the delicate nature of your situation. The cops have not been involved up to this point. I am sure you can understand that a man with my stature would like to keep such things quiet. I get enough of a spotlight from the press as it is. If they caught wind of this…well it will only be a matter of time before you are the topic of a made for TV movie.”
Parker’s words should comfort me but they don’t. The way he talks down at me really infuriates me. “Though I do suppose you will want to change your clothes first,” His gaze lingers over my breasts. Typical male behavior, I sigh bringing his attention back to my face. “I am sorry if the locked doors alarmed you. I was only thinking of your safety.” I nod to acknowledge his apology. I should be thankful for his rescuing me, but he seems to just piss me off every time he opens his mouth. “I’ll leave you to change. There are clothes in the closet that should be to your liking.”
He wasn’t kidding. The closet is like a dream, it is fully stocked in designer clothes and accessories. But what is he doing with them? Deciding on comfort I pick out a pair of jeans and a tank top. Finding a whole drawer full of hair twist and bands I sweep my hair into a low ponytail. Before joining Parker to dine I make my way to the bathroom and take care of my other pressing needs.
Stepping out of the bedroom door I am met by the elderly gentleman from Parker’s office. “This way, Mr. Garrett is waiting for you.” Now I know where I am—Lucky 7 Promotions. I recognize the décor from his office. This floor matches. Knowing I am so close to going home makes me feel slightly better. A few weeks ago I dreamed of being taken, seduced by Parker Garrett, but now I can’t wait to get away from him. I want to go home and hug my brother’s neck. I want to see Royce and demand the answers I deserve. Most of all I want to know that my best friend is alright. The butler or whatever he is leads me into a dining room where Parkers is already having breakfast. His choice in food reveals the time of day.
“Please sit, eat, I ordered for you.”
"Parker, really it isn’t necessary. I am only curious to know how I arrived here and what your role in all of this is.”
“Well you might as well eat. I have quite a long story to tell you.”
“Okay.” Clearly he isn’t taking no as an answer. If eating with him gets me closer to home, then fine, I’ll play along for now.
Parker takes a drink of his juice and begins his account. One that is familiar, but this is a different take on the story entirely. “Years ago I was engaged to the love of my life, Elizabeth, she was everything I could ask for and more. But I wasn’t the only one who cared for her. My best friend at the time or so I thought—Royce— who I have learned you are intimately familiar with, he loved her as well. He boundlessly tried to steal her away from me to no avail. The morning we were to be married he convinced her to go for a drive with him, to give him a chance to say goodbye to her. That day my life changed in the most horrible way. Well I am sure Royce has told you his version of what happened...” He pauses and takes a bite of sausage, in turn giving me a moment to compare the differences between his version and Royce’s.
“I apologize for telling you a narrative you seem to already know, but I believe it only fair to give you my side of things so you can fully understand my part in Royce’s grand scheme.” Nodding is the only response I can give him; my heart hurts too badly to speak. “Elizabeth was pregnant, and to this day I don’t know if it was my baby or Royce’s she was carrying.” Hurt flashes across his face at mention of the unborn child. “Anyway, back to the point. Royce claims she was leaving with him that day, but I know in my heart she was prepared to marry me. You are sitting here today because of a grudge between Royce and me. Each of us blaming the other for the love that was lost, and the child we will never know. You are Royce’s revenge on me for Elizabeth. He wants to take you away from me like he thinks I took her from him. If you haven’t figured it out yet Brandi, I am Parker Garretti, head of the Garretti brother’s mob.”
My fork hits my plate with a loud clank. “When you started pursuing the cage girl career, Royce dumped you didn’t he?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Do you know why he dumped you? Did he ever tell you that you look a lot like Elizabeth? That is why he was attracted to you in the first place. Here I’ll show you her photo if you don’t believe me.” Parker slides his cell phone across the table to me, and as I look at the screen I am shocked by how much we resemble one another. Her hair is different than mine, but even her eye color is similar to my own. Before I can try to contact anyone the old man appears from thin air and takes the phone from my hand.
“Royce said he was afraid you would use me against him.”
“He would have said that. All a part of his plan Brandi. Royce ended things with you so that I would be free to pursue you. He knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay away from you once I laid eyes on you, because of how much you resemble her. And he was right. I saw the similarity immediately, and began pursuing you. I came into the gym every chance I got to watch you, to be near you. I just about thought you were her at first. I believed that fate was playing a hoax on me. Possibly you had faked your death, or Royce had faked your death. Perhaps you had amnesia, and didn’t remember me. So many scenarios played in my mind. But after talking to you once I knew you weren’t her, that didn’t stop my attraction to you though. I kept chasing you. Once I finally got you, Royce stepped back into the picture to snatch you away. He wasn’t finished there though. Royce hired Brad and Jake and implanted them in my organization. They set up the whole debt with Charlie. Charlie was never really in debt to me it was fabricated. Charlie was just easy to play and your brother. Of course he would do anything to protect his sister.”
“I need a moment, please.” Excusing myself from the table, I nearly collapse in the floor before I make it to the bathroom to throw up the aspirin, and little bit of food I have eaten. After a few tears, I compose myself, and return to Parker to hear the rest of what he has to say.
“May I continue?”
“Yes, please carry on,” I sneer. He’s enjoying this all too much.
“Your kidnapping was all just a rouse to make me look bad in your eyes, and make him out to be the hero. He planned on using my family's name to scare you and your brother. He created a fake threat, and you were an easy prey. He wanted you to think I was behind your brother having to fight to protect you, so you would think I am a monster, and want nothing to do with me. But his plan backfired; Brad and Jake sold this information to me. Money talks Brandi, always.”
“But why go to so much trouble?” His story makes sense, but I have my reservations. I dated Royce for three years. Why do all this now? It just doesn’t add up to me, but I don’t want Parker to think I suspect that he could be lying to me. That this could all very well be his revenge against Royce. Devil’s advocate and all.
“I am sorry Brandi, I should have told you that you looked like her—Elizabeth— the moment I first talked to you, but I didn’t want to scare you away. You can’t imagine what it was like for me to be near you, and feel close to her. It was wrong. I hope in time you can forgive me.”
“No harm no foul right? I really would like to call my brother now.” The look he is giving me is making me uneasy.
“I’m afraid that isn’t possible. Your brother is in the hospital; he’s had an accident.”
“What…wh—attt do you mean?” I scoot back abruptly causing my chair to turn over and hit the floor with a loud clatter. Parker gets up immediately, crossing the room, wanting to comfort me. “I have to go Parker! I need to get to my brother, please.” Tears are streaking down my face. I need to get to Kline. I plead with him to take me to my brother.
“Of course, I already have my car ready downstairs to take you.”
“I do have one question Parker, where did Tiffany fit into all of this?”
“Who’s Tiffany?” He asks as we step onto the elevator. I feel faint, if Parker doesn’t know who Tiffany is, does that mean he is telling me the truth about Royce.
At the hospital, the attending nurse informs me that Kline is in intensive care and being kept in a drug induced coma. She tells me that I just missed the police and my parents.
Entering the sterile room on shaky legs, I come to a stop just inside the door. Steadying myself against the nearest chair I take in a deep breath. The boy lying in the hospital bed can’t be my brother. This boy looks fragile and weak...nothing like the strong man I am used to seeing. If I had just ridden to the fight with him instead of leaving him to go on his own, he might not be laying here lifeless and dependent upon machines to breathe. I wipe back my tears, my brother has always been tough, and watching out for me. Now it is my turn to be the resilient one and take care of him.
Parker is watching me cautiously from the hall. I am afraid to touch my brother…afraid I will hurt him. Gently I take his swollen hand in mine, caressing his thumb with my own. When we were children and Charlie would take his frustrations out on us, Kline and I would lie in the bottom of our closet together cheek to cheek. I would hold his hand just as I am now. He would say “Sis, one day I’m going to be big and strong, and I won’t let Charlie hurt you anymore.”
“Charlie,” I spit his name out through gritted teeth. This is his entire fault. Kline did grow to be big and strong and he did put a stop to Charlie hurting me, but if this is the price he has to pay, I would rather take a lifetime of beatings from my step-father than see my brother in this condition. Charlie may not have thrown the punches or landed the kicks that put Kline here, but he brought this on all of us with his choices.
My time with my brother is interrupted from shouts coming from the hall just outside the door. Walking to the door I crack it slightly to get a better take on what has caused such a ruckus. What I am not expecting to find is Royce standing toe to toe with Parker spitting vicious accusations in his face.
“This is your fault. You could have put a stop to this Garrett. Does she know this is your doing? Does Brandi know that you’re the monster who has her brother fighting for his life?” Royce looks like a completely different person; he looks like he does in the ring—he looks like the King of the Cage.
I step out in the hall as hospital security starts making their way down the passage. “Did you do this Parker? Is he right? Is what Royce is saying true? You put Kline in the hospital.” My heart wants to cry, but my head is angry.
Parker takes a step in my direction, his eyes look empty. “Brandi, we already discussed this. I’m not the enemy here.” He’s not denying the harsh things that just left my mouth. I am unable to speak. The words are on my tongue, but they won’t leave my lips. I want to confront them both now that they are here face to face.
Royce is back in Parker’s face as security reaches our party in the hallway. “You promised no harm would come to Brandi. Does she look untouched to you?” He bumps his chest against Parker’s. What is Royce talking about? I feel faint. Did they plan this together? My last thought as I hit the floor is I thought he loved me...
Waking up and not knowing where I am at seems to becoming a habit of mine, one that I am not happy to be developing. My head hurts again and I am lying on an exam table. Then it all comes back to me—where I am and why. A nurse smiles down at me. “You took quit a spill a moment ago. Are feeling alright? Any dizziness? Do you feel faint again?”
“I’m fine. I just need to see my brother.” I try to get off the table, but the nurse orders me to lie back down.
“You can see your brother soon. We just need to make sure you are okay first. I am going to check your vitals, and then I will personally take you back to your brother’s room.”
“The guys who were with me, where are they?”
“Oh dear, I am afraid security escorted them from the property.” She continues to check my blood pressure, once she is happy with it, she walks me back to my brother’s room.
“Oh Kline.” I lay my head down on the edge of his bed. This is my fault, if I hadn’t been messing around with the wrong men. If I had listened when he told me to stay away from Royce, he wouldn’t be here now. And where in the hell is Tiffany for fucks sake? I lay here at my brother’s side sobbing, and throwing a pity party for one, until the nurses kick me out. They let me know I am welcome to come back tomorrow during visiting hours.
Kline is suffering from several injuries—including broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and his right knee has been shattered. Not to mention all the ugly internal bleeding he is suffering from. The doctors don’t think anything vital is punctured but they are waiting for more of the swelling to go down, before they give any real assessment to the extent of it all.
When I walk outside of the hospital I realize I have no phone, no car, no keys or any money to get anywhere. I feel so useless and helpless. I look across the lot to see Parker and Royce standing on opposite ends of the parking lot. Oh great, more male egos to deal with. I have a choice to make right now, either I believe everything Parker said to me as true, or I give Royce a chance to explain his part. Right now I choose neither and turn away from the two of them. Walking back towards the hospital. I call Sug, she will come take me home.
Sug is in the lobby to take me home in no time. She has a million questions for me that I can’t answer right now. I redirect all of her questions to Kline’s condition. She makes several weak attempts to make me laugh by saying she will be moving in to be my brother’s private nurse once he is able to return home. I laugh at all the right punch lines, and it seems to make her happy.
Once I get to my building, I am able to get our super to let me into my apartment. I explained to him that I have lost my purse and he understands thankfully. Sug wanted to stay with me, but I sent her home with the promise to call her when I have any news on Kline. Never in my life have I been so happy to be in the tiny apartment I share with my brother. A bath in my own tub, and a night’s sleep in my own bed is what the doctor ordered.
As I lie in my bed I try to piece together all of the puzzle, but no matter which angle I look at it from none of it makes any damn sense. I still can’t figure out which one of them was seeking revenge on the other, and for the life of me I don’t know what part Tiffany played in the whole thing. I’m so fucking confused. I fall asleep with everything that Parker said ringing in my head.
The next morning, I come to life feeling refreshed from resting in my own bed. A glance at my clock tells me I have slept for ten hours straight. Scared that I will miss visiting hours with Kline, I jump straight up from bed and fall right on the floor. Apparently my body hasn’t caught up with my mind. Fuck, that’s going to leave a bruise on my hip bone. I crawl my way to the bathroom to relive my bladder and give my teeth a brushing of a lifetime. I never knew how much I have taken the little things in life for granted like brushing my teeth, and running my own brush through my hair, until now.