I decided to continue my story from last week. You may remember Tess from last week's story. If you'd like to catch up you can read more about her here.
Tess: A Fiction Friday Series II
Tess climbed the steps to her building. In the early dawn she could hear the squealing machinery of the garbage truck as it crawled down 3rd Avenue. The sun was beginning to rise, painting a veil of pink over the East Village. She loved watching the city wake up, but this morning all she cared about was yanking these heels off her blistered feet. She fished her keys from her handbag and hurried inside.
Once in the lobby she braced herself against the wall, slipped off the offending shoes, and winced as the blood rushed back into her toes. Tess walked flat-footed to the elevator, relishing the cold tile floor beneath her soles. She pressed the up arrow and waited.
“Not bad for a Thursday.”
Tess spun around. Her eyes widened and she had to push down the urge to run. A shot of adrenaline rushed through her body and she could hear the sound of her pulse racing, a thunderous roar in her ears. She hadn’t noticed anyone following her, but now she saw him. A man’s figure in the shadow of the foyer. Who could know? Who could have seen her? How much did he know?
The man stepped from the shadow into the lobby. Tess let out a breath when she recognized her neighbor, Jim. She willed herself to keep it together. Just another college student returning from a long night.
“Not bad at all.”
“Busy night?” Jim looked down at the shoes dangling from her right hand.
“You could say that. On the prowl.” Tess tossed her head, flicking her hair over her shoulder. She pasted on a coy grin. Jim returned the smile.
“You wild woman.” He gave Tess a quick smack on the ass as he veered toward the stairwell.
Tess feigned shock and then devolved into giggles. She kept the smile until she heard the stairwell door click.
The elevator dinged and the door slid open. Tess climbed inside and pressed the number 16. She could still feel the sting of Jim’s hand on her ass. She closed her eyes and visualized the blood dripping down her last conquest’s chest. The thick fluid had rippled over his cut abs, soaked into his thin cotton boxers, letting the limp lump beneath show through. She could feel the edges of her mouth curve into a grin.
The elevator stopped with a jolt. Tess shook off the sinking feeling in her stomach and exited. She walked the hall to her apartment. She turned her key in the knob only to find that the door wasn’t locked. The feeling of being followed returned. Tess felt the fear creep back into her veins. She reached into her handbag and curled her fingers around the knife. It was still slick with blood and she struggled to gain a tight grip.
Tess turned the knob and pushed the door open. She closed it behind her before reaching for the light switch. In the dark she searched the shadows. Nothing. She flipped the switch. The apartment flooded with light. Nothing. Her heart continued to pound.
The familiar voice came from behind her. It was right in her ear. She couldn't believe he was here, that he'd actually found her. Tess felt the cold, steel blade against her neck and the warm, muscular body against her back. The smell of old spice and cigarettes. She started to gag. The knife dug into her skin and she choked back the vomit, swallowing hard.
“Drop the knife, sweetie.”
Tess obeyed. She let the blood-coated knife fall to the floor. He loosened his grip and pushed her forward out of the doorway and into the main room. He pulled the knife back and shoved her hard. Tess felt a sharp pain in her arm as she tried to catch herself against the ivory chair. Her hose slipped on the hardwood floor and she lost her balance, leaving a smeared bloody handprint on the pristine upholstery. One of her heels landed next to her. The other skidded across the tile before crashing against the baseboards beneath the kitchen sink.
The intruder walked towards her, still brandishing his knife. Tess scrambled. She pressed her back against the side of the chair and pulled her legs up to her chest. Tears began to stream down her face, leaving black rivulets on her pale skin. Watching her cower, he stopped to pick up her handbag.
“Let’s see.” He dug in the bag. He pushed aside the tube of lipstick. He pulled out the pill bottle, gave it a quick look, shook his head, and then replaced it. “Here it is.” Finding her ID case, he tore at the plastic card until it came free.
“Tess Masterson is it? So we’re still posing as a college student?” He frisbeed her NYU Student ID. It glided across the floor, coming to rest next to Tess’s toes. She looked down at the card and noticed the tears in her hose. A run had started at her big toenail and was forming a thinning vee up the top of her foot towards her ankle.
“All these years bouncing from school to school. Think you might of learned something? The big city made it a little harder this go around, with so many lost souls to sift through. But here we are again.”
Tess forced herself to look him in the eye. They were the same empty, dark pools. The last five years had managed to deepen the creases across his forehead and lengthen the crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes. His dark brown hair was sprinkled with glints of grey and he had put on a few pounds.
He dropped her handbag and reached into his coat pocket. Tess couldn’t shake the familiar paralyzing fear as he pulled out a syringe. He uncapped the needle, crossed the few feet between them, and squatted down in front of her.
“Please, Daddy, no,” she said as the world turned to blackness.