Mother Knows Best (Novella): A Psychological Thriller Novella (4 page)

BOOK: Mother Knows Best (Novella): A Psychological Thriller Novella
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Chapter 8

Cody dropped to his haunches. “Here, doggy-doggy,” he said, holding his gloved fingers out towards the yapping pooch.

Eventually, the stupid dog came to investigate what Cody was offering and Cody punched it in the ribs with all his might. The dog yelped and raced from the room and up the stairs yelping all the way.

Cody chuckled before setting to work. He’d dropped Ruby’s shoes in the hallway when he’d fallen. He now placed them side by side next to the door, as though somebody had just stepped out of them. He tapped the left one and it fell to the side. Cody smiled and nodded.

Taking the phone from his pocket, he brought up every text Ruby had sent and received from her sister, reading every one. Then he composed his own using the same tone and words Ruby would have used.

 

  • Hey, Scar. Just letting you know I’m home. Had a great night – c u  tomoz, love Rubes xx

 

Cody had a quick look through the house, messing up the bed and closing the bedroom curtains. He placed Ruby’s phone on the docking station and Amy Winehouse began singing
Rehab
.

He left the music playing while he made himself a slice of toast and cup of coffee, leaving the dirty cup and plate in the sink. He wanted to make sure it looked as though Ruby had come home alone.

Once satisfied, he placed the keys on the hall table and left via the back door. The typical
Yale
type lock didn’t need a key to secure the door behind him.

In the small backyard, Cody climbed up onto the rubbish bin and over the top of the gate which had been bolted at the bottom. Whistling to himself, he strutted off down the back entry, to the end street where he found his car outside the shops. His dad had left his keys in the exhaust pipe as usual—something they always did.

Afterwards, feeling pleased with himself, he went round to Jed’s bar which, despite the late hour, was just ramping up. Cody had been a regular there since moving to town as it was only a couple of blocks away from his flat.

He made a point of chatting to everyone he knew and after an hour or so, and two JD and cokes, he walked home.

Kenny Mac sat on the doorstep looking decidedly worse for wear.

“Hey Ken, What’s up?”

“Oh, hey, Codes,” Kenny slurred.

“Had a skinful have ya, mate?” Cody said, laughing.

“I’ve had the odd snifter here and there.” He chuckled.

“Don’t bother coming in if you’re gonna throw up. I don’t intend cleaning up after you again.”

Kenny belched noisily.

“Fuck man, let me get in.” Cody shoved his way into the hallway and ran up the stairs.

Kenny’s girlfriend, Sam, and a girl Cody had never met before, were in the kitchen making pizza.

Cody bobbed his head into the lounge. Jez and Syd, Cody’s flatmates, were with two other men. Jez was rolling a spliff.

“Hey guys,” Cody said, before heading back to the kitchen. He made himself a coffee and listened to the two girls, who were obviously pissed off at Kenny. Sam’s friend, a plain looking, dark haired girl, was encouraging Sam to dump his sorry arse.

Cody took his coffee and sat opposite them at the table. “Aren’t you gonna introduce me to your friend, Sam?”

“Yeah, sorry. This is Kath. Kath—Cody.”

“Hi Cody,” Kath said, her voice suddenly taking on a sweet, girly tone.

Cody made a blatant play for her. She wasn’t his cup of tea really, but after spending the evening with Ruby, his cock was straining against the fabric of his jocks. And besides, what better alibi was there than a girl getting rogered in his bed all night.

It didn’t take long before he had her hanging off his every word. When he got up to leave, she looked as though she might burst into tears.

“Oh well, think I’ll crash. Nice to meet you, Kath. Maybe we could go out for a drink one night?”

“I’d love that,” she panted.

As he reached the door, he nodded his head and indicated with his eyes she should follow him. Within minutes, he had the dirty bitch stripped to her flimsy pink underwear, and sucking his cock as though her life depended on it.

 

Chapter 9

Ruby gasped for breath as Steve pulled away, groaning.

“I’m sorry. You’re just so beautiful.”

Ruby spat into the air several times, trying to get the taste of him from her mouth.

“Don’t be like that, sweetheart. Maybe you need something to relax you a little.”

Steve left the room, returning moments later with a bottle of whisky. He glugged from the neck of the bottle before holding it out towards her, then he laughed. “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot.”

He poured some of the amber fluid into the lid of the bottle and, after placing the bottle on the floor by the bed, he grabbed Ruby’s head and held the whisky to her lips.

Ruby tried to resist, clamping her lips tight together, but he poured anyway. Horrible, stinking whisky ran down her chin and chest, and when she protested, the fiery liquid made it into her mouth. Ruby choked.

She’d never been a drinker. The odd glass of cider was her limit. She’d never even tried hard liquor before and from the taste of it, couldn’t understand why anybody drank it willingly.

Steve took another drink, sucking on the neck of the bottle like a baby sucks on a teat, ending with a satisfied, “Ahhhh.” He handed it back towards her, “More?”

She shook her head.

“Suit yourself.”

He allowed his eyes to travel up and down her body once again.

“Please, please—let me go,” Ruby begged, totally exhausted.

“Shhh.”

Steve flashed hard eyes towards her. His demeanour seemed different from earlier.

“I’m not going to hurt you, I want to love you.” He ran a hand down her side, over her waist and hip, to her knee. Then he slowly lifted the hem of her dress and traced the outline of her underwear with his fingertips, sucking in air between pursed lips.

Ruby whimpered again as tears ran down her face. She held herself rigid. Silent prayers filled her head, wishing for someone or something to intervene.

Once again, Steve placed the bottle down. He leaned forwards and unfastened the top button of her dress exposing her small breasts encased in the simple lacy bra. He gasped. “You are totally perfect.”

Reaching for the bottle, he took another swig. “I suggest you get some shut-eye, my dear. We both should.” Steve got to his feet and produced a roll of tape from his jacket pocket. He tore off a strip.

Ruby tried to wriggle away as he bent forward again, but the struggle was useless.

He placed the tape firmly across her mouth.

A loud, inarticulate sound escaped her. She thought she might pass out as in her panic she struggled to breathe through her nose.

“Sorry, sweetie. It’s not that I think anyone will hear you—you’ve seen there’re no neighbours, but I need some sleep and I won’t get that if you’re wailing all night.”

She made a louder, angrier protest, but he ignored her.

“Sleep tight, Ruby.” He switched the light off and left, closing the door behind him.

Sobs ripped through her and made it even harder to take a deep breath.

How the hell did she get herself into this? She’d always been so careful. But Cody had seemed sweet and sensitive—his dad too. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now Cody had gone to sort her mother out, so Steve said. What the hell was that all about? Her mother was her only hope. Ruby had been relying on her mother’s over-the-top protectiveness to alert the police when she hadn’t returned home. Now she wasn’t so sure.

Shivering, she tried to use her knees to flick her dress back down, but she couldn’t. She figured the cold was the least of her worries right now.

 

Chapter 10

Cody couldn’t sleep. Kath snored softly beside him in his double bed, her head on his arm. He shuddered. She wasn’t his type—much too forward and sexually aware for his liking. However, he planned to keep her around for the rest of the night and most of tomorrow if he got his way. So he needed to keep her sweet.

He eased his arm out from under her and swung his feet out of bed, sitting on the edge. He wanted to call his dad to make sure everything was okay, but most of all to make sure his father had managed to keep his hands off Ruby. However, he would have a job explaining a call to his father at 3am while a hot and wanton hussy lay in his bed. No—he needed to be patient.

He thought back to the first girl he took home to his father—a French back-packer called Simone. He met her on the beach after she’d hitchhiked to the Welsh coast from the channel tunnel. He’d convinced her to go home with him, offering her room and board for a few odd jobs. She never even flinched when she realised the jobs they required of her were of a sexual nature.

After one rampant night, she left without a word, leaving behind one of her bags in Cody’s car.

Cody felt sorry for his dad, he hadn’t got over his wife vanishing—none of them had. But he never left the house anymore, never walking any further than the car and back. He hated open spaces and consequently, had never met any other women in years. Bringing women home seemed the only solution.

After the French girl, they began advertising in magazines—room and board in return for chores. They got a number of girls that way—always turning the males away. They were never disappointed, until the girls got tired of the strange set-up, of course, and decided to leave. They always left without a word in the middle of the night.

That’s when they decided to find a girl to keep.

Felicity Crew had been perfect—she had a sweet innocence about her that he and his dad both liked. When he met her on the coast road, her car wouldn’t start. The area was a notorious black spot for mobile phones and so convincing her to get into his car had been a doddle.

They’d already set up the room off the garage by then and managed to spend two wonderful nights with her, when suddenly, she vanished.

Cody blamed his dad for not fastening the ties tight enough. But the strange thing was Felicity never made it home. They spent night after night expecting the police to raid their place but nothing. Felicity’s image remained all over town on billboards and in local newspapers—her disappearance a total mystery.

Ruby was only their second guest—he thought of them as guests, not victims. She would be treated well, like any other guest would be, the only difference being, she wasn’t allowed to leave.

Why did women always leave?

“Come back to bed,” Kath groaned, reaching for him.

“In a minute.” He unhooked her hand from his arm and placed it back under the duvet. “Shhh, go to sleep,” he whispered.

He took a cigarette out of the packet she’d left on the bedside table and lit it, taking a deep drag. The room was briefly illuminated in an orange glow. He didn’t smoke all the time, just when he was stressed.

His mind raced. If he was going to pull this off, he needed to keep his cool.

 

Chapter 11

Ruby cried with relief when Steve arrived the next morning. She made urgent sounds as she writhed on the bed.

“Hey, hey,” he said, placing a tray down on the floor. He tore the tape off her face in one fluid movement.

“I need the toilet!” she gasped.

“Oh shit! I didn’t think about that,” he said. “Hang on.”

He left, reappearing moments later with a pair of scissors. “Now, if I release you, you’re not going to try anything stupid, are you?”

“No! Please hurry, I need to pee.”

“Alright, keep your hair on.” He cut through the plastic ties and grasped Ruby’s upper arm as she got to her feet. “Now the bathroom is inside the house and upstairs. If there’s any funny business, I’ll bring a bucket in here and that will be where you’ll do your business from now on. Got it?”

“Got it,” Ruby said, rubbing at her wrists.

He led her indoors. The house stank of burnt toast.

At the top of the stairs, Steve pointed to a door on the left. “Leave the door open. I’ll wait here.”

Ruby didn’t care about the open door at that point, she just needed to empty her bladder.

No sooner had she finished wiping herself when Steve stepped into the room.

“Do you mind?” Ruby said, pulling her underwear up and straightening her dress.

“Come on.” He seemed agitated.

“Can I wash my hands, please?”

“If you’re quick.”

Ruby scanned the bathroom, trying to find something she could palm and use as a weapon later, but squirty soap was the only thing on the sink. Her reflection startled her—streaks of black mascara were all down her face and her was hair wild and matted.

“Come on, come on,” Steve said, an impatient tone to his voice. He grabbed her upper arm once again before she had chance to dry her hands.

In panic mode, not wanting to go back into the cold white room, she resisted and struggled, but was surprised by Steve’s strength. She eventually allowed him to bundle her back down the stairs while she scoured every surface with her eyes looking for something she could use as a weapon. There was nothing.

She knew she needed to keep her wits about her if she had any chance of escape. Back in the hateful room, she once again pushed against Steve.

“Please, I can’t bear to be tied up again, can’t you just ...?”

“No-can-do, I’m afraid, love. But I’ll make a deal with you.”

Trembling, Ruby nodded.

“If you promise to behave, I’ll just tie one wrist while you eat your breakfast.”

Ruby was willing to agree to almost anything in order to prevent being fastened down again. “Okay—okay,” she said, suddenly breathless.

He eased her down onto the mattress. “Hand,” he said, picking up the chain and feeding a tie through it.

“Steve, I ...”

“Hand.” He gripped her right hand and with deft fingers, managed to secure her in seconds. “Okidoke, my girl. Eat up.” He lifted the tray onto the bed beside her.

She turned her head away, but not before she spotted the plate of yummy food. There was bacon, sausage, egg and mushrooms. Much to Ruby’s disgust her stomach betrayed her with a loud growl. She was starving and the sausage did look delicious.

“Go on,” Steve urged as he saw her take another quick glance at the plate.

She picked up the sausage with her fingers and bit. Wanting to hate it—to spit it back onto the plate, but she couldn’t. It was the nicest sausage she’d ever tasted and she devoured the lot in a few bites.

“That-a-girl. Go on, eat up. Now while you’re finishing that little lot, I’ll get you a drink. Tea? Coffee?”

“Coffee.”

“Sugar?”

“Just milk, please.” Ruby eyed him as he left the room. She was puzzled by his treatment of her. Apart from the strange cuddle, Steve had been kind—caring even. Maybe all that would change once Cody returned.

After a few seconds, Ruby snatched up the fork and stuck it down the side of the plastic tie and twisted. The tie didn’t budge except to dig into her sore wrist. She tried several times until she heard Steve’s shuffling footsteps. She stabbed a rasher of bacon and held it to her mouth as he entered.

“One cup of coffee.” He held a cup towards her.

Ruby placed the fork back onto the plate and took the cup from him. “Thanks.”

She wished she could throw the hot liquid into his face like they did in the movies, but she couldn’t wilfully injure another person, regardless of what he intended to do to her. And besides, there was still a chance she could talk him round, convince him to let her go.

They sat in silence as she drank, Steve beside her on the bed.

She emptied the last of the delicious coffee and handed him the cup.

“Finished?” He got to his feet and reached for her other wrist.

“No—not yet.” She lifted her arm away and grabbed a triangle of toast off the plate.

He sat back down.

“You’re a good cook.” She smiled, trying her best to appear sweet and grateful. Despite the fact that she still had mascara down her cheeks and probably looked more like a lunatic.

“That’s good. I like a girl with an appetite. Karen had a good appetite but never seemed to put on an ounce of weight.”

“Karen—was that your wife?”

Steve sighed. “Yes, my beautiful wife.”

“Cody told me what happened. That must have been terrible for you.”

Steve focused on a fleck of white fluff on the sleeve of his navy-blue sweatshirt. “You have no idea. Not a day goes by I don’t think about her.”

“I can’t begin to imagine what it felt like. The not knowing alone must be terrible.”

He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “I loved her so much,” he whispered.

Ruby picked up the fork and flicked the bacon off, before sliding it into the tied hand, hiding the handle under her arm. “I know you did,” she said, softly. “What do you think happened to her?”

He shrugged and shook his head. “The last time I saw her was when I left to take Cody to school, he was only doing mornings at the time. Kyle came with us to give Karen a break. As she waved us off, I remember thinking how lovely she was in her bright pink blouse and blue jeans. When I got back, she’d gone.”

Ruby gasped, encouraging Steve on.

“I didn’t think much of it at the time—just thought she must have popped out for something. She kept her car in the garage.” He glanced around. “This room actually. But I didn’t think to check. When she didn’t return by lunch time, I collected Cody from school and we drove around looking for her car. I thought she must have broken down somewhere.” He glanced at Ruby. “You see, it wasn’t like nowadays. Nobody owned mobile phones back then.”

“No, of course.”

“Anyway, when I didn’t find her, I called into the police station to report her missing. It wasn’t until I got back home I realised her car was in the garage all along. I panicked then—knew something awful had happened.”

He rubbed his eyes.

“The police thought she’d left me—blamed me for being the reason she’d run away. They searched the house. What they thought they might find was anybody’s guess, but they didn’t find a thing. Karen had vanished with no money, no car and only the clothes she stood up in.”

He pinched in between his eyebrows—his eyes shut tight as though in great pain.

“Are you okay, Steve?”

“Yes.” He shook himself as though just realising where he was and glanced at his watch. “Have you seen the time, I’d best get cleaned up. Cody might be back soon.”

Her stomach dropped.

He pulled a handful of plastic ties from his pocket.

“Please don’t tie my other arm and legs. It’s not as if I can go anywhere and I promise I won’t make a sound.”

He cocked his head to one side as he considered her question. “Are you sure I can trust you?”

“I swear—I won’t try anything.”

“Any funny business and that’s it.” He picked up the tray. “I’ll be back shortly.” He headed for the door, then stopped and turned back to face her, holding the tray towards her.

“I’ve finished thanks.”

He nodded. “Fork, please.”

Ruby gave him a worried smile. “Sorry.” She pulled out the fork and placed it onto the tray.

That-a-girl,” he said before leaving.

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