just that, her name (the one from her old life) spoken in a familiar lackadaisical tone made her heart miss a beat. Two even if she were brutally honest as she glanced in the direction it came from. ‘It can‘t be’ she told herself. He’s supposed to have died and I’ve been so careful;’ Except who was she kidding? Nowadays everyone knew her as Abby, except for him. Because it was him, even though the police had informed her of his death in prison five years ago.
”There was a riot, inmates including your husband overpowered guards and set fire to bedding and furniture. By the time emergency services could breach their makeshift barricade it’d taken hold. The remains retrieved afterwards.....”
With the supposed demise of ex husband Jack Fisher Ellen’s time in Witness Protection had come to an end. A charmer with a penchant for criminality and violence he’d swept the teenaged Ellen off her feet, making eloping sound romantic and adventurous. For the young girl from a quiet, loving home it’d proven to be anything but. She’d spent 15 years living the latter part of for better or worse under the thumb of a brute with no conscience, She’d seen things that put most thrillers to shame, felt the impact quite literally of Jack’s violent streak. He was a man who didn’t like to be crossed, as her own parents had found out. It was their deaths in a boating accident that was anything but that’d changed her mind about giving evidence against Jack and his cronies.
Turning the wife had been a coup for police. In return Ellen received immunity from prosecution and a new identity under Witness Protection. She was relocated with a new back story a telemarketing job which kept her under the radar and a small flat. The parting words of her police minder echoed back now as her worse nightmare gave her that signature come on wink. That same twinkle in those menacing agate eyes had literally charmed the pants off her naive 17 year old self. What a fool she’d been and look what it’d cost her, Not just her youth and the chance to be a mother but her beloved mum and dad. To go there was still too painful. Now their penetrating gaze sent shock waves through her entire body as the busy street sounds faded away, along with her co workers concerned voices.
Like a cat with a mouse Jack appraised this rather toned down version of the girl he’d made over into a gangster’s moll. “It really is you although I have to say you look a fright. So what’s the look called? Op Shop Chic?”
”I....I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Who was she fooling? That amused expression was one she knew well. She’d seen it often enough directed at herself or an unfortunate underling he’d bested. “My name’s Abby and.....”
”A rose by any other name my dear,”
Except the way he said it was anything but endearing.
”You must have the wrong person.”
”I don’t think so Ellen.”
Then at her back she heard one of her co workers exclaim.
”Well well isn’t our Abby the sly one keeping a hottie like that on ice.”
”So much for going home to feed the cat.”
Jack couldn’t fail to hear, amused by their obvious interest.
He was liking Ellen’s discomfort, revelling in the knowledge that she’d been led to believe he’d died in that prison riot.
’As if’. It’d been a clever ruse both to cover his escape and lull her into a false sense of security. Half a lifetime in his milieu and she still hadn’t learned that everyone including screws and cops had their price. As if Witness Protection was bloody fool proof.
As for the cat that was a definite act of rebellion. He’d forbidden both pets and children as unnecessary liabilities. oSomething else he kept from Ellen until the knot was tied, Her parents wanted grandchildren, but soon learned not to press the point with a son-in-law they‘d never approved of.
“Mieow”, he chucked imagining her wetting herself. The fear in her eyes was palpable which he’d fully intended. He’d been in town for six months remaining under the radar, blending in so as to build up a picture of her life. It was pretty unremarkable, and best of all there was no competition. He liked the idea of having spoiled the little lady for anyone else.
While her friends chuckled at his pussy imitation she was glancing around nervously. Looking no doubt for a bolthole.
”So ladies”, he added flinging his arms wide. “how joining me for a drink? If I’m not mistaken that’s a wine bar you were headed for and at least one of you and me have a lot of catching up to do.”
His meaning was clear, her friends up for it ignoring her efforts at dissuasion, ”So how did you meet Abby?” , one of them asked, “And why do you call her Ellen?”
‘Think, think. You only get one chance. Play him at his own game for now. It’ll buy you time.”
“For goodness sake isn’t a girl allowed to reinvent herself? It’s not a crime and besides someone told me he was dead so I cut my losses.”
‘Talk about an answer to knock em dead. Excuse the pun, but if I can just fake it til I can give them the slip.’
She’d chosen the answer deliberately to pique their curiosity and get Jack taking. He thrived on female attention, and impressing her co workers would have him talking up a storm. During which time she’d feign resignation, lull Jack into thinking he had her cornered and take her chance at the first opportunity. It was just as well she knew the location of the local women’s centre. One of the contacts her minder had passed on just in case, They also had inroads into an underground network which she’d need if she was to shake this nightmare her worse one yet.