The Manor House Ch. 18byvelvetpie©
Her feet weren't touching the ground. As the morning sunlight crept onto the ranch, Milo, Rob and Shandi returned, each taking their separate paths to return to their rooms and prepare for the coming day. Shandi skipped to her room, humming a Luther Vandross song as she quietly padded up the stairs but the song died in her throat when she reached the landing. Her door was open.
"What the fuck?"
Pressing the door open, she saw that her entire room had been ransacked and the precious few items that she owned had been destroyed. Clothing, books and toiletries were strewn across the hardwood floors and her bedding was ripped. For some odd reason, her skin was crawling and she didn't understand why until she saw the silhouette in the corner.
"This is from Donnie."
Everything went dark.
* * * * *
It was dinner time before Shandi was missed and it was Lisa that noticed. She asked Hannah about her who in turn questioned Milo. It was he and Rob who found the ruined room and the bloody tin box. Two minutes later, Hannah arrived with Jenna, the girl who now lived in the room.
"We'll replace it, Jenna. For the moment, can you look through your stuff and tell me if anything is missing?"
Milo helped Jenna search the room. It took fifteen minutes to sift through the mess and Rob was beside herself, pacing and mumbling as she waited. Finally,
"My journals. The ones that we have to write for our classes. They're gone!"
Milo and Rob immediately scrambled down the stairs, leaving Hannah and Jenna to try to straighten up the room and they both ran for Rob's quarters. Since Rob owned the place, she insisted on having her own two-story wing so that she could maintain her distance and have space while remaining close to the people. While Rob and Shandi had been at the inn, Milo had moved Shandi's things to Rob's house and then moved Jenna's into Shandi's old room.
Milo went right to the bookcase in Rob's office and found the journals. "There's too many of them!" Rob sobbed, taking the six books down from the shelf. "She could be dead already."
"Not yet." Mariane whispered, leaning against the door jamb, blood dripping from her forehead. Milo grabbed her, bringing her into the room and sitting her down while Rob went for a wet cloth. "I have to tell you something."
* * * * *
"Where are they?"
Slap! Shandi moaned in pain, her face swelling in response to the beating. Slap! Slap! Webs of pain broke out across her body and sweat poured from her skin. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You know, bitch! Where are your journals?"
"Stop, honey. She's not going to tell us."
Shandi spat, her mouth tinny with the taste of blood. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I told you," Donnie Colvin bent near his wife's tortured face. "You're not getting any of my money."
"And I know that you told Louella about Donnie's secret. And you wrote it down in your journal." Melba hissed, rearing back to slap her again. "Where are the journals?"
"Melba!" Donnie's shout startled Shandi and caused the young woman to whirl around, staring at him. "Did you check that woman's house?"
"Good, then let's look there, shall we?"
Shandi heard the door shut and lay still for a few minutes, making sure that they were gone before wriggling her hands against the duct tape. It hurt like hell but she could feel them giving way, slowly but surely. Finally, one wrist came loose and she yanked it free, sitting up quickly and just as quickly regretting it. Pain stabbed her head, threatening to split her forehead in two and she had to take several deep breaths before she could attend to the tape around her legs. Now she was free.
* * * * *
There was a knock on the door and Rob ran to answer it. "Milo? Is that you?"
"It's Melba, Miss Rob. I need to talk to you."
Rob opened the door and stepped back, her arms raised as Donnie backed her into the house, his silver .38 aimed directly at her forehead. "Melba, what is this? I don't understand ... "
"He's not going to hurt you, Miss Rob. We just need Shandi's journals and we'll go."
"Shandi's journals? Why would they be here?"
"Because you're fucking her, you bitch!" Donnie smacked Rob in the side of the face with the gun and snarled as she fell to the floor. "Now where are the fucking journals?"
"Don't hurt her, Donnie. If you want to hurt someone, hurt me. Rob's never hurt anyone in her life." Melba, Rob and Donnie turned toward the door, all surprised to see Shandi standing there. She hobbled in, ignoring the look of shock on Rob's face as well as the blood that was dripping from her temple. "My journals are over here. Take them. Take me but leave her alone."
"Isn't that sweet?" Donnie snarled as Shandi limped over to Rob's side, putting her arm around her shoulder. "You can forget about the settlement. No judge will give you a dime if you're fucking a woman."
"I don't need any of your money, Donnie. I can make my own." Shandi turned and pressed a kiss to Rob's cheek, catching her eyes. "I have something that money can't buy."
"Oh, yeah? Do you think she loves you? You've always been a stupid cow, Shandi. A great piece of black ass but a stupid cow. You should have run away when you got the chance."
Rob saw everything in slow motion. She saw Donnie pull the housing back on the gun and watched as his arm extended outward. She saw Melba arguing with him, desperately trying to grab the weapon and she felt Shandi push her behind her, shielding her with her body.
And then, the gun went off.