This post continues with Mav’s Story. This is not a part of a prompt like the others, but was written to include the sin “greed”, should it ever be revisited. If you’re new and would like to read her story in chronological order, read the previous parts HERE before you read this. It can also be read as a stand alone. This immediately follows “The Mask“.
His face hid in the dark, the only light shining from the hallway behind him. His silhouette cast mine in shadow, shielding my reaction.
The five words rendered me speechless as a myriad of emotions seeped through the holes in my shield.
I grabbed the last one, a life preserver in a stormy sea.
“I matter to you?” I tried to keep my tone even, in control.
I laughed again, bitterness creeping in. “Wow, I hate to see what happens to people you don’t care about.” The anger’s energy strengthened my façade.
He stepped towards me. “Mav, I-”
“No, you don’t get to do this. You don’t get to try to make this better. Right now you’re going to answer my questions or I am gone. I don’t care if I have to walk out of here wearing only this sheet. Do you understand?”
Again, his lack of argument surprised me. “Well, okay then.”
“Don’t Mav me. I’m asking the one asking the questions. I don’t want to hear a single word from you that isn’t an honest answer. Got it?
The silhouette shrugged. “No problem.”
I eyed him warily. “Why are you agreeing so easily?” The John I’d known was a fighter. He didn’t capitulate without reason.
“Because I won’t let you walk out the door.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” My volume rose with each word.
“You aren’t leaving. So I either play your game and convince you to stay and play nice, or you end up in restraints until I think it’s safe for you to go.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Fear escaped into my words. To be trapped. No control.
I gulped, my bravado vanishing. “You’re an asshole.”
He shrugged again, unconcerned. “You wanted honesty. Don’t ask for what you can’t handle.”
“Is that a question or a command?”
I bit my tongue. He wanted me to take the bait. I took a deep breath, reigning in my frustration. “Why won’t you let me go?”
“I told you, they’d use you to get to me.”
“Well, who the hell are “they”?”
“I’m not sure.”
“You’re blaming “them” for everything and you don’t even know who “they” are? What the fuck, John?”
“I’m tracking down leads, or was, until I met up with you.” He crossed his arms. “It’s going to be a bit more complicated now, since they know I’m alive.”
“Why me? I’m an ancient ex-girlfriend you haven’t seen in over five years. Why not your brother or your parents?”
“I haven’t spoken with them since the day I left.”
“Now I know you’re lying.”
“Why would I lie about this?”
“I don’t know, but you still talked to Nathan. He even mentioned it in your…” I stopped.
“Eulogy.” Was it just a week ago I’d sat at his funeral, clutching Amanda’s hand so hard I’d left marks?
“I don’t know what my brother said, but if it mentioned us speaking, it was a ploy to hide our estrangement and his wish for my inheritance.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Appearances were important to him. It makes perfect sense.”
Something didn’t click right. “But if everyone thinks you’re on good terms, wouldn’t whoever is after you target your family instead?” My eyes had adjusted, and I just barely made out the tensing of his jaw and the clenched fists. I’d hit a nerve.
“No, I’m right. It means I’m not in danger. I can go back to my life!”
“No, Mav. You can’t.”
“Why the hell not? I’m a nobody.”
He shook his head. “You still don’t get it.”
“Then explain it to me.”
“They didn’t use my family as bait. They used you, Mav. Maybe they took a wild guess, maybe they were close enough they knew I’d never seek out my family. They played a hunch and know it worked.”
“So, because I drew the unlucky straw and read a stupid postcard I have to go on the run with you?”
He was closer, his movement performed without detection. Nearly within reach. “No, it’s my fault. Even if you hadn’t shown up, you’d be in danger.”
“Why? Now that they know you’re alive, why wouldn’t they just switch and go after your family?”
“Because I fucked up, alright! I knew better than to fall for this shit and I fucking did it anyway. They know you’re my weakness because I broke the number one fucking rule!” His shouts echoed off the tile, his body so close I could feel the heat radiating off his skin.
I swallowed hard. “What’s the number one rule?”
This time he had the bitter laugh. “If you fake your death, you need to stay dead, not meet up with people from your past.”
The back of my knees bumped the toilet as I tried to increase our distance. “Why would you d-do that?”
His thumb traced my jaw, following it back to my ear. He tucked a loose piece of hair behind it and I shivered. “I had to. In case the email was true.”
I bit my lip again, this time trying to stop my jaw from trembling as his thumb traveled down my neck. “Wh-what did it say?”
He leaned even closer and whispered into my ear. “I’m in danger. I need you.”
If you missed some of the beginning, you can find everything before this on the Mav’s Story page.