Ch. VIII: Uncertain Heart
by Whispersecret ©
Copyright 2000 by the author. All rights reserved.
Fiona had tried to convince Rockwell to stay with her under the stars for the night. Their lovemaking had created a sort of magical circle around them that she was reluctant to leave. If they returned to the mansion, she would be forced to remember the things she had purposely ignored. But he told her that if they did not go back, Whitcomb would send out a search party.
So, they rode quietly back to the mansion as twilight approached. With each moment that passed, Fiona felt the warm enchantment of the afternoon fade. A brisk breeze kicked up as the temperature dropped, and the sunshine scents of the meadow vanished to be replaced by encroaching nightfall. The questions that plagued her before the picnic crept again to the forefront of her mind. The closer they got to home, the more fidgety she became.
"What happens now?" she asked.
He gave her a smile that made her heart skip a beat. "Itís funny that you ask, because Iíve been thinking about that. I think we should get the horses taken care of, snatch whatever food we can from the kitchen, and closet ourselves in your room. We could pretend youíre Cleopatra and Iím your love slaveó"
"Rockwell, Iím serious."
"So am I." He grinned at her again, but when he saw the look on her face, his carefree smile dimmed. "Whatís wrong?"
"I need to know why you hurt my father."
She saw a muscle twitch in his cheek.
"He said you threatened to have him killed."
"Do you actually think I would do that? Christ, Iím not a fucking mobster, Fiona. I donít take contracts out on people."
"But you monkey around with planes."
He looked at her blankly and then closed his eyes when he realized what she was referring to.
"That was an empty threat. I would never hurt your brother. My God, Fiona. You have to believe me."
"What about the tape?"
"Whitcomb told you about the fucking tape?" Rockwellís outburst was so harsh that Goliath tossed his head nervously. The horseís skittishness didnít stop Rockwell from continuing a stream of angry cursing.
"Yes. Whatever is on that tape, he thinks I should know about it."
Rockwell tightened his grip on the reins and scowled. He didnít say anything for a while.
Then he sighed. "Just remember that I didnít want to tell you."
He waited until she nodded.
"In a way, itís all my fault," he said. "I honestly had your best interests in mind."
"Just tell me."
"I made your father listen over the intercom while I took your virginity." He cleared his throat. "I thought if he heard your pain, he would feel guilty about selling you to me. I thought if he had any shred of human decency left, that he would regret his actions and that after I was gone, he would be a better father."
Fiona snorted in derision.
"It sounds ridiculous now, I admit, but I swear to you that was my motivation. I talked with him over the intercom. He sounded defeated, and I thought that I had succeeded. But I was wrong. When I went to check on him lateró" he glanced at her, his brow furrowed.
"Go on," Fiona said through gritted teeth.
"When I went to check on him, I found he had recorded us. And he was masturbating to the sounds of us in the shower."
For a moment, Fiona couldnít think.
"Youíre lying," she whispered. "My father would never..."
Rockwell pulled a micro-cassette out of his pocket, and held it out to her. "Iíve been holding it for safe-keeping."
She felt numb as she took the tape and stared at it. He just had to be lying.
"I didnít want to tell you, Fiona, but I probably would have had to sooner or later. Heís sick and depraved. He gets off on the sounds of his own daughter being taken against her will. You canít live in that house with him."
"Who the hell made you guardian of my well-being?" she cried. "Youíre the asshole who bought me in the first place! "
"Oh, come on, Fiona! Your father would have found someone else to pimp you to and you know it."
"No! Youíreóyouíre wrong. Daddy couldnít haveÖ" She shook her head adamantly. "I canít believe you would make up something like this. Why would you make up something like this? Why canít you stop playing these mind-games with me? This afternoon I thought--"
She pressed her lips together and choked back a sob.
"Fionaó" Rockwell nudged Goliath closer and reached out to touch her, but she jerked away.
"No! Just leave me alone. I donít want to listen to anymore!"
With that, she thumped her heels on Cinnamonís flanks and left Rockwell behind in the wake of her disbelief.
The next day when she awoke, she found Rockwell dressed and packing his satchel.
"Iím sorry, but I have to leave, Fiona. There was an fire in my building in New York. Some of janitorial people were hurt." He zipped up the leather bag and looked at her. "Iím sorry. Thereís so much I want to tell you. I want to stay, but I canít. Iíll come back as soon as I can. I promise."
She turned her head away and said bitterly, "Well, Iím paid for until tomorrow at midnight. Maybe you can get back in time for a farewell fuck."
She wouldnít look at him, but she could feel him standing there staring at her. Finally, he gave up and left the room, closing the door behind him.
After he left, she felt empty. She didnít know what to do with herself. Half of her was glad he was finally gone. The other half wanted him to come back.
She showered and ate. She vegetated in front of the television and watched soap operas sheíd never heard of. She sat and tried to read, but found she was too fidgety to sit still.
She wandered around the house. Everywhere she went she was confronted with memories of Rockwell.
In the study, she found he had left papers and files there. His laptop sat on the desk awaiting his return. There was even a little notepad where he had doodled, perhaps while talking on the phone. When she saw her name there with little swirls and curlicues, her heart gave a little zing in her chest. She curled up in the enormous chair and comforted herself with the thought that the last person who had sat here was Rockwell. With a sigh, she traced the letters of her name where he had written them. So he had been thinking about her while he was in here working.
When her eyes fell on a tiny cassette player, she crossed her arms over her chest and stared at it for a moment or two. Should she play the tape, or not?
With a shake of her head, she started for the door. No, she would take Cinnamon out for a long hard ride. Maybe the wind in her hair would clear her mind.
But she stopped, her hand on the doorknob.
Damn it. She went back to the desk and snatched up the little machine. She had to know. Back in her room she got the tape and slipped it into the player. She wasnít sure what she wanted to hear, or if she wanted to hear nothing at all; she was really screwed either way. When she pressed the button, the quality of the recording was poor, but her voice was readily recognizable.
"What are you doing? I thought you said I could take a shower."
With shaking hands, she turned off the tape. Rockwell had told her the truth.
She felt physically sick. She thought back about how her father interacted with her. Had she ever seen any lasciviousness in his eyes? Had he ever brushed against her inadvertently? Snuck into her room and peeked at her perhaps as she showered? The idea made her skin crawl. Her own fatherÖ
She went directly to his room. His guard was missing. The key was in the lock. She turned it and flung the door open.
Her father was curled up on his bed, sleeping. At the sound of the door slamming against the wall, his body jerked. He twisted in the bed to look at her.
After one look at him, Fionaís anger deflated a little. In an undershirt and pants, he looked so tired, so old. His gray hair was mussed and along with the purplish bruises he still had on his face, he had heavy bags under his eyes. His shoulders slumped in a rounded hump, and his eyes looked empty. He was nothing like the vital, confident man she was used to.
"How did you get in here?" he asked. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. "Whereís the guard?"
"I donít know," she said truthfully. "I donít know anything about that. I came here to ask you about the tape."
"The tape?" Slowly he got off the bed and looked at her quizzically.
She held out the small recorder. He frowned and shook his head, still puzzled.
"Rockwell said you taped us andó" she closed her eyes, unable to utter the words.
"Taped you? Why on earth would I want to tape you?"
"He said youóyou liked listening." Just saying it made her want to throw up.
Her father gasped in outrage. "The man is a lunatic. Heís the one who came to me, Fiona. He offered an insane amount of money for the company and even more for you. The whole thing was his idea. I refused him at first, but he was obsessed with you."
Her fatherís face looked tortured, and his voice was riddled with regret. "That was my fault, baby girl. I was the one who showed you off to him. I only wanted to distract him--you know, like we always do--but heís sick, Fiona. He got fixated on you and threatened to ruin me completely. He has the means to do it. He could ruin me, and then you and Conrad would be left with nothing. I couldnít let him do that.
"I know what I did was wrong, Fiona. You have every right to hate me. But I did it for you. You and Conrad. Everything Iíve ever done has been for the two of you."
Fiona didnít know what to believe. Everything her father said was plausible.
"But what about the tape?" she asked.
Her father took the tape player from her and turned it over in his hands. "He told you I made the tape? No. Itís probably some sort of trophy for him. You know, like those serial killers who keep some little memento from their victims. Heís obviously a sick man. Heís trying to corrupt my own daughter against me! I almost feel sorry for him."
"What the fuck!" Gusí booming voice startled Fiona as he burst into the room. He took a few steps toward her father, who cowered and backed away until he stood by the bed.
Turning to Fiona, Gus reached a meaty hand out toward her. "You shouldnít be in here, miss. Get out right now."
Fiona hesitated a moment. She wanted to ask her father what they were going to do, but she couldnít as long as Gus was there. She resolved to come back later. Gus had to sleep sometime.
"Iíll be all right, Fiona. Itís all right," her father said in a shaky voice.
Still uncertain in her heart, Fiona nodded and left.
To Be Continued...
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