“Mary listen to me, it's too dangerous for you to stay in that house!” the voice on the other end of the line said.
“What are you talking about Colin?” Mary asked confused.
“It's your stepmother. I have reason to believe that she may have been involved in your father's death.”
“Are you saying that my father didn't drown?” she inquired puzzled.
“Look, I can't go into details over the phone. Meet me later tonight at the bar and I will explain everything. Just get yourself out of there fast!”
The line went dead.
“Colin?......Colin? Are you there?” she yelled into the phone but there was no answer.
Colin had just confirmed what she already new.
His words of warning had been playing over and over again in her mind.
“I need to get to the bottom of this. I need to confront her. I need to find out!” she said to herself as she stood gazing out the window of her bedroom, her tall frame silhouetted by the moonlight streaming in through the glass. Her long dark hair flowing in waves as she turned around and walked towards the door, exiting it, clad in a pair of jeans, a black turtleneck sweater and sneakers, her blue eyes sparkling with determination.
Mary Duncan was the sole heir to her father's fortune. He was the owner of a chain of restaurants in each state and a cattle ranch in Texas, his new business venture which he undertook four months ago, before his tragic death.
Her mother had died when she was ten years old. It's a day she tried so hard to forget but couldn't, as every room in this lonely house reminded her, of her mother. It has become lonelier now with her father gone.
She had been the apple of her mother's eye since the day she was born. Her father had wanted a boy. He showered her with gifts and provided a comfortable life for her and loved her, but deep down she knew that he would have preferred a boy.
Her father has had a certain reputation as a philanderer. He had a weakness for blonde haired women as he frequented some of the local strip clubs regularly. It was this behaviour of his which had sent her mother to an early grave, she recalled sadly as she remembered all the nights she lay in bed listening to her parents arguing in the next room.
Just six months after her mother's death her father had shocked her by announcing his engagement to Stella Howard whom he claimed to have met during one of his business trips. At least that's what they told everybody. Back then Mary was unaware of the truth about her stepmother's past as a stripper.
Her stepmother had returned home early from a cocktail party at the country club, which was unusual even for her, as she usually stayed out late, or so Mary was informed by one of the maids.
She made her way down the wide wooden staircase and headed for the study. Once she approached it, she hovered for a moment and placed an ear to the door. The lights were on inside. Her stepmother must be in there, she told herself as she reached for the door knob and opened it and walked in.
She found her seated behind her father's desk sipping a glass of champagne.
“What the hell do you want?” she bellowed in anger as Mary approached and stood just a few feet away from the desk with her hands clasped behind her back.
“I need you to come clean with me. I need you to tell me the truth about my father's death!” Mary said locking eyes with her.
“What the devil are you talking about? Your father drowned in the lake! That's how he died!” Stella yelled.
“That's not what I have been told lately. There are stories going around that you may have been involved!” Mary yelled back.
“Who is feeding you all these lies. You weren’t there that day. I was helpless as I watched your poor father drown. It was horrible. I could have jumped in to save him if only I‘d known how to swim!” she said softly, batting her fake eyelashes at her.
“That's not true is it? You know how to swim. You were a champion swimmer back in high school!”
Stella glanced at her in surprise as Mary continued.
“Yeah, that's right, I have been doing my own investigations into your sordid past!”
Mary paused for a moment as she tried hard to prevent herself from shaking and finally lashed out at her stepmother.
“Stella, for heaven's sake tell me the truth! Did you or did you not kill my father?” Mary yelled, her anger rising to the surface as she stood in the middle of her father’s study, fingers clenched, glaring at her stepmother.
She rose from behind the desk and stealthily walked towards her stepdaughter with a menacing glare, like a lioness, about to move in for the kill. She came and stood just inches away from her and hissed like a venomous snake saying, “So what if I did? What are you going to do about it? You little twit!”
“I will report you to the police!” Mary yelled back as tears trickled down her cheeks.
“Go ahead report me, I dare you! I can assure you nothing will come of it Stella retorted as she threw her head back and laughed.
“So it wasn't an accidental drowning?” Mary inquired through gritted teeth.
“No, it wasn't!” Stella sneered still holding her stepdaughter's gaze.
“Oh my God!” Mary could only whisper the words as she stared at her stepmother, horror stricken and continued. “How could you do such a thing? Why did you do such a thing? He was a good husband to you. Provided you with every luxury imaginable and this is how you repaid him?”
“Hah! Good husband my ass!” she yelled laughing as she walked passed Mary and seated herself on the couch behind them. She crossed her legs and placed her perfectly manicured and bejewelled hands on her lap. She was wearing a long black silk strapless evening gown with her long blonde hair falling about her shoulders, her makeup done to perfection.
“Your father discarded me years ago as he suddenly found me undesirable. He told me I was getting too old for him. He started going after women young enough to be his daughter!” she hissed as she bent down to unfasten the straps of her shoes and slowly removed them.
“I wasn't going to stand by and watch him pass me over for a 'Twat', your age!” she continued resuming her posture on the couch.
“You’re nothing but a vile, evil gold-digger you always have been and you always will be! Tonight will be the last night you spend in this house, I can guarantee that!” shouted Mary as she turned around and dashed for the door.
Colin was right. She wasn't safe here anymore not till she sees her stepmother behind bars! She ran outside into the courtyard where her car was parked and got in, fumbling nervously with the keys. She managed to start the car and drove out in haste through the wrought iron gates.
Meanwhile back at the house Stella was pacing up and down inside the study nervously, cursing herself for not getting rid of the little trouble maker as well, just like she did her father. “That girl has been a thorn on my side ever since I came to live here!” She muttered under her breath. “There is only one thing to be done now” she told herself as she hurried towards the desk and grabbed her cell phone and dialled a number. After a few rings a male voice answered.
“I want you to do something for me darling” she said in a sultry voice. “She knows too much, I need you to have her taken care of. She's headed your way as we speak!”
“Consider it done!” The voice on the other end said as the line went dead.
The blindfolded man put his cell phone down carefully on the table and addressed the masked figure standing before him pointing a gun with a silencer attached.
“Are you going to shoot me now?” he asked nervously.
“Only if you give me a reason to” replied the masked man.
“I will do anything you want, just don't hurt me, please!” the man begged.
“Alright....alright, just stop your whining!” the masked man yelled as he walked towards the door, opened it and called out to one of his buddies who were standing guard outside.
As he entered, the masked man said, “Rob, tie him up and gag him. I want to you to keep a close eye on this scumbag till I return. Don’t let him out of your site. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, boss” replied Rob with a nod.
He walked out the door of the safe house. As he was heading towards his car he called out to the other guy keeping watch. As he drew near he said.
“Dan, I am heading out. I need to be somewhere, to take care of something. If things go according to plan, expect this message from me” he said as he whispered the coded message in Dan's ear.
“Will do, boss” replied Dan with a grin as he watched his boss get into the car and drive out along the dirt road. As he watched the tail lights of the car disappear in the distance he muttered to himself saying, “I hope things will go according to plan too, for all our sakes!”
The intruder climbed over the high wrought iron gate with ease and made his way slowly through the courtyard bathed in moonlight. All the lights were out inside the house.
“Good” he whispered to himself as he walked forward and made his way towards the side entrance to the study. He peered through the glass doors to make sure it was empty. Once he made sure he took out his little instrument and started picking the lock. It turned with a click. He slowly opened it and went inside, closing it shut behind him.
He was dressed in all black, black jeans, black turtleneck sweater, black gloves and black sneakers, with his face covered by a black ski mask. He walked towards the door to the study and carefully opened it, walked out, glancing around to make sure none of the staff are about.
It was around eleven. By now everyone should be in bed, he thought to himself as he made his way to the broad wooden staircase and ascended it ever so quietly. When he reached the second floor, he turned right and headed towards her bedroom. As he approached it, he took a deep breath and exhaled before opening the door and walking in.
It was dark inside the room with only the moonlight streaming in through the windows providing him with enough light to manoeuvre his way around. As he reached the bed he could hear her breathing heavily snuggled under the covers. He took his gun out with the silencer attached and leaned and shot her once on the side of her head without hesitation.
The moment the deed was done, he ran to the glass doors leading to the balcony, opened it and stepped outside, closing it behind him and climbed over the railing and jumped on to the ground below spraining his leg and scraping his cheek in the process from the impact. It took him a moment to scramble to his feet again. He limped his way towards the front gates and started climbing, muttering under his breath. He was able to climb down the gate on the opposite side wincing in pain.
He managed to reach his car, climb in behind the wheel, started it and drove off down the street towards town. He knew he was behind schedule. He took off his mask and threw it into the glove compartment along with the gun. He sent the text to Dan who was waiting for it back at the safe house, with a satisfied grin planted across his face.
He had made a promise to himself, years ago, that, whatever happened, he would be by her side, watching out for her, protecting her. He wasn't about to break that promise. He made a decision to do the unthinkable. Just so he could protect her from the people that were hell bent on destroying her.
She had no idea of what was happening. What's been happening around her, unbeknownst to her. He had made sure of that. He had her followed everywhere she went. Who she met, who she talked to, he knew all about it. He has kept his true identity a secret all these years. At times he felt like Clark Kent, living a double life, he thought to himself as he drove along.
Tonight she will know the truth. Tonight she will find out his true identity. He had kept her in the dark for so long. “It's time to come clean, Colin West” he said to himself as he neared his destination.
Mary sat at the bar glancing nervously at her wristwatch every five minutes and glancing towards the entrance every time she heard it being opened. She picked up her cell phone and looked at the screen, no messages, no calls. The last message received from Colin was an hour ago saying that he's going to be late and for her to stay put till he gets there.
It was getting late. She was on her second glass of wine when her phone started buzzing. She picked it up and looked at the screen. It was a message from Colin. She opened it and read the contents. It said, ‘meet me outside, I am parked down the street, watch out for the blinking headlights.’ She got off the stool and hurried out of the bar.
Once outside she looked up and down the street. There were several vehicles parked on both sides. She looked both ways again and saw the headlights blinking on one, parked at the far end, on the right. She ran towards it and peered through the glass as Colin unlocked the passenger side door and motioned for her to get in.
“Colin, what happened? What took you so long? I‘ve been sitting at that bar for nearly two hours!” she said the moment she got in, with an irritated expression on her face as she studied his dishevelled appearance and continued.
“What happened to you? You look like you've been run over! Do you have a tissue or something so that I can wipe that blood stain off your face?” She asked as she opened the glove compartment and gasped when she saw the gun and the black ski mask.
“Colin, what have you done?” she asked holding the ski mask and the gun in front of him with a shaking hand.
He looked at her concerned face and asked, “Can you keep a secret?”