This is part 5 of ‘Mince Pies and Murder’ if you need to catch up before reading: click here.

The door swings open and Patrick pulls his mouth into a wide smile that make his teeth appear like fangs in the dark room.

“Heard moving around. If you’re not sleeping you may as well come and sit with me.” He gestures for her to leave the room and she does, making sure to face him as she passes. “I could do with a drink… got any liquor?”

“Nah, I’m clean out.”

“Yeah right, it’s Christmas. Get me a drink Em.” Only the slightest pretence of friendship remains in his blue eyes that now glint with the frostiness of an ice burg. She crosses the room and opens cupboards at random, hoping for the dregs of a bottle of something to offer to her former friend who has clearly now become her captor. A bottle of whisky with a few glasses left is her saviour, a knight in a murky brown armour on the bottom shelf.

“So that crime, you know the murder from today… what do you think happened? Lover’s tiff?” She pours a measure as she speaks and crosses the room to hand him the glass.He smiles as he accepts the glass with that same frosty smile he’d given when he entered her room.

“Don’t worry yourself about that dear.” He takes a sip of the whisky and blows out a deep breath, staring at the black screen of the television.

“It is if I’ve been framed for the murder Patrick, don’t you think?”

“Listen Emmeline. You weren’t born to be a detective, or lawyer or writer or adventurer. You were born to be a princess. Don’t you know that? You worry too much about these things, it damages your brain sweetheart.Don’t trouble your little mind about it any more dearie, I’ll end the mystery. It was me of course. Stupid girl took me back to hers, played the sweet and innocent cards and then rejected me. Spurned me. After offering herself on a platter she changed her mind. She had to be shown the weakness of her sex.”

His voice is flat as he speaks, emotionless, lacking remorse. He almost smiles as he tells her to sit beside him again on the sofa that she’ll throw out if she survives this situation herself.

“We’re going to be great together Em, did you get my messages? I assume you did… I saw the bauble, me and you together as children as we could never have been. But we’re together now, and I’ll never leave you. Never let you weaken your mind by thinking too much again. All you need to do is trust in my devotion… and get me another drink, there’s a love.”

She stands again and takes the glass from him, careful to control the slight tremble in her fingers. She walks to the counter and picks up the bottle, pouring the remains of it into the cut glass tumbler he’d been drinking from . But she keeps hold of the bottle, unable to let go. Somehow it makes her feel safe, powerful even, which he would no doubt despise. Either way she keeps a tight hold of the bottle, right hand slightly above the other as her dad had taught her with a cricket bat all those years ago.

“I don’t think I want to run Patrick, running will only make me look guilty. Besides, I’m not quitting my life for something I’m innocent of.”

He still hasn’t looked around but she sees his shoulder shake a little as though this had made him chuckle.

“Don’t be ridiculous Em. Where’s that drink?”

She takes a step toward the door and glances around for her keys which are absent from their place in the lock. She takes another step and a deep breath before responding.

“Oh it’s just on the side, I’ll bring it in a moment. I’d just like to know why you decided to frame me if you don’t mind. Why you’re keeping me here?”

She takes another step toward the door,  not far now. The keys are hanging on their hook a few feet away. She reaches her arm out. Not quite. She takes another step.

“Well my dear I couldn’t think of getting you to myself any other way. It worked anyway so I’ve got no regrets. Besides, I needed someone to take the blame once I’d ended up killing that girl. You should’ve kept those chairs, the broken leg was handy.”

“Why do you hate me Patrick? I thought we were friends!”

She takes another step. Loose floorboard. A creak escapes from the ground that may as well have been a screaming alarm. Patrick stands up and spins around in an instant to face her, crossing the gap in a few long steps and ducking as she launched the bottle at his head. His face transforms into a beast of anger as he slams her into the wall and bares his teeth in a smile that wreaks of whisky only inches from her face.

“All I did was love you and you didn’t have it in you to be grateful?” He is shouting now, in a booming gruff voice that is raked from his throat in painful, gravelly syllables. “A powerful woman, needing rescuing from herself. You weren’t made to be powerful so I was going to save you… ungrateful bitch!”

He drags her head into the wall with a handful of hair. She screams, lifts her fist up and into his chin with a crack. He shouts, almost a growl like every human cell was losing a battle with the beast within.He grabs her wrists and slams them into the wall with one hand, slapping her across the face with the other and punching her in the stomach. She doubles up in pain, focuses, brings her knee up between his legs with a shout and as he bends over she uses his own momentum and her fist to bring a pool of blood from his nose. They tumble to the ground. Rolling in a deathly tangle on the old carpet. He has her, legs buried beneath his knees, hands pinned to the ground. He smiles at her then, all warmth returning suddenly to his face.

“I’ll let you go and we’ll be friends. Together forever my beautiful Emmeline.”

He kisses her then. Forehead, cheeks, chin, she accepts them, plotting. He smiles, taking this as her submission, bring his lips toward her mouth. Kisses her long and hard. She bites his lip, and while he shouts in pain she smashes her head into his nose, furthering the earlier damage. He’s loosened his grip on her wrists in shock, she brings a fist into his stomach, then another. Pushes him over and straddles him, reaching for a part of the bottle which had remained intact. It shatters on impact with his bloodied head and the battle is done. She jumps to her feet and slots the key into the door, hands shaking she fumbles with the lock and runs down the stairs. Down the street. Stops at her neighbour, Eliza’s house and bangs on the door until her friend answers it in a dressing gown, just as the lights begin flashing in their regular blue strobes.

“God, Emmeline, it’s cold outside. Get in here.”

 

 

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