September 25th: You toss your phone into a public garbage can.
Victoria casually tossed her cell phone into a passing dumpster.
The resounding clatter echoed off the brick walls on either side of the alley.
She paused, turned around, and strode the few steps back to the dumpster. She carefully popped out her blue-colored contact lenses and flicked them into the garbage as well. She impatiently wiped an errant tear off her cheek left behind by the irritant lens. She wiped the reddish-brown lipstick off her lips with disgust as she continued to walk toward the street.
She stepped into the circle of light cast by a street lamp when a car came to a screeching halt in front of her.
She smirked and grabbed the handle.
“You’re late,” she spat as she slammed the door closed.
“So, it’s done?” Her driver asked.
Victoria reached up and carefully peeled off the auburn wig. She paused a moment to comb her fingers through her short, black, spiky hair.
“It’s done.” she replied, her voice emotionless.
“How do you feel?”
“Vindicated,” she barked. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Three hours earlier …..
“Allison! Hey Allison!”
She twisted around to see who was stupid enough to call her by her real name here, of all places.
The person swept past her and gathered a middle-aged woman with bleach-blonde hair into a hug.
“Who was that?” her fiance asked beside her.
She turned back to give Jacob a sweet smile. “I have no idea.”
“You turned around like you knew him.”
She swallowed and lifted her head confidently. “We’re at our engagement party. Don’t we pretty much know everyone?”
She wanted to smash his cocky grin with her knuckles.
Jacob laughed and slipped an arm around her waist. “Of course. Though I’ll be honest. I don’t know half of these people.”
“It’s because half of these people come from my world,” she said while trying to keep her voice from betraying how annoyed she was with him.
Just one more hour, she thought to herself.
“So. When is this thing over with? I’m anxious to get you to myself,” he said while nuzzling her neck.
“Hey now. You two will have the rest of your lives to do that. I want to dance with my future daughter-in-law!”
“Dad,” Jacob ground out between clenched teeth. “You’ve had too much to drink. The band is not even …”
The band picked that precise moment to start their next set.
Jacob’s father laughed while tugging on Victoria’s hand. “Let’s go, kiddo. Let’s show them how it’s done.”
Victoria allowed herself to be pulled out onto the dance floor while shooting Jacob an apologetic smile over her shoulder.
She didn’t exactly like Jacob’s father, but she could have hugged him at that moment for getting her out of that public display of nauseating affection.
“You know, Jacob can be a dick sometimes.”
She sputtered a laugh in surprise, though she definitely wasn’t planning on disputing him on that fact.
“But he means well. He really does have a heart of gold. And I can tell he’s hopelessly in love with you. You’re good for him, Victoria.”
She squashed the white hot thread of anger that wrapped itself around her throat and forced a smile. “Thanks Ralph. We all have our moments.”
“Not you,” he said with a smile while twirling her around the dance floor and grinning like a fool to those they passed. “You are smart, beautiful, even tempered and the perfect complement to Jacob’s hot temper.”
“Well thank you, Ralph. I appreciate you saying that.”
“Call me dad. After all, we’ll be family in one more week!”
“Okay dad, you’ve hogged my future wife long enough, my turn!” Jacob cut in and virtually yanked her out of his father’s grasp.
She slammed into Jacob’s chest and let out a puff of air. She felt a headache coming on and she suddenly wanted to be any where but there. She just wanted it to be over.
“Jacob,” she forced a soft tone of voice, “I need to sit down for a bit. Why don’t you mingle?”
He nuzzled her neck and she had to swallow a lump of disgust at the smell of his sour sweat.
“Sure. We have the rest of our lives to dance,” he chuckled before slapping her ass and strutting over to his group of friends.
She fought the urge to roll her eyes and walked over to the open bar. “Whiskey sour,” she said. She checked her watch. Twenty minutes. She turned to look over the room at the pretentious assholes she had no intention of ever seeing again. She watched Jacob punch one of his friends in the chest, hard, and laugh at his buddy’s red face. So infantile. She watched Jacob’s parents hobnob with their snobby friends. She watched a group of stuck up teenagers try and act cool. And she watched the elders gesture and turn up their noses while spewing heated opinions about current events.
“What a bunch of losers.”
She heard laughter behind her and stiffened.
“Here’s your drink, miss.” The bartender handed over her drink. “That’s sort of harsh to say about your future family, isn’t it?”
She studied him over her glass. “Where does it say I have to like the family I’m marrying into?”
He laughed again and shrugged. “I guess you have a point there. I can’t stand my girlfriend’s parents. Is your family here tonight?”
She shook her head. “No. They couldn’t make it. But they will be here for the wedding next week.” She took a large swallow of liquor, effectively swallowing the huge lie. “Excuse me,” she said. He nodded and turned to help a young girl who couldn’t have been more than seventeen.
“Open bar, right?” The girl giggled while twisting a curl around a finger.
“Uh,” the bartender looked across the room hoping for an adult to intervene.
Victoria walked off with a smirk.
She reached their table and sat down, She kicked off her high heels, pulled her purse over to her then reached inside and tugged out her phone.
“I’m in hell. Shoot me.” She text. She took another large swallow of liquor and welcomed the sting as it traveled down her esophagus. She watched Jacob grab one of his buddies, put him in a headlock and give him a noogie. “Idiot,” she muttered under her breath.
Her phone dinged.
“Don’t you dare blow it now. You’re so close! Besides, I don’t have to shoot you, you’re in hell, so you’re burning to death. Do I smell burning hair?!”
Her stomach growled. She flagged down a passing waiter. “Hey. Would you mind bringing me a piece of that marble cake on your way back, please?” She smiled.
The waiter blinked at the sweetness of her smile and offered a grin back. “Would love to. Be right back.”
“How is she doing?” she text.
“Okay. She was able to keep a little food down today. She’s nervous something is going to happen to you.”
“Nothing is going to happen to me. But I can’t promise the health and well being of the jerks here tonight.”
“Here is your cake,” the waiter said while placing it in front of her.
“Thanks.” She picked up her fork and cut off a generous bite. She popped it in her mouth and was getting ready to text a reply back when Jacob interrupted her.
“How many pieces are you going to eat?” Jacob asked while pulling out a chair and plopping down.
She darkened her phone, placed it calmly on the table and looked at him. “As many as I like,” she responded coldly.
“Wow. You don’t even have the ring yet and you’re already eating for two,” he grumbled then abruptly stopped. “Wait, you’re not pregnant are you?” His eyes widened in horror.
Her eyes mirrored his, equally horrified at the thought. “Good God, no.
“Good. No wife of mine is going to get fat on my watch.” He grinned while snapping his fingers to get a waiter’s attention.
She narrowed her eyes at him and pictured impaling his skull with an ice pick.
“Okay everyone, grab your seats. It’s time for the toasts,” Ralph said into the microphone on the stage. The band members walked off behind him, eager for a break.
Victoria glanced at her watch. Five minutes.
There was a general scuffle as people began heading back to their tables. Jacob’s mother, Margaret, sat down on the other side of her son and tenderly kissed his cheek. He grinned at her like a little boy.
Victoria felt a momentary stab of guilt as she smiled at Margaret. She was one of the few people she actually liked throughout this nightmare and she would regret hurting her. She honestly didn’t think Margaret knew anything about her husband and Jacob’s dealings. Margaret’s nice, tidy little life was about to get straight up messy.
“It’s a shame your parents couldn’t make it,” Margaret said while reaching over to grasp her hand. “I was looking forward to meeting them.”
“Yes well, daddy has a hard time taking any time off. I had to practically threaten his life to promise to come to the wedding next week!” She offered a gentle smile to the woman. She actually had no idea where her parents were and didn’t really care, truth be known. “But my sister promised to come tonight. I just got a text from her earlier and she should be here any minute.”
“Oh good,” Margaret said while patting her hand.
“Well, if she’s as pretty as you, maybe I can hook her up with one of my friends,” said Jacob.
Victoria’s hand clenched into a fist and she gave Jacob a hard smile. “She’s way too good for your friends.”
Margaret laughed while Jacob’s face hardened. He didn’t like when she got sassy with him. At least, that’s what he called it when she dared to disagree with him.
“Okay everyone, quiet down, quiet down,” Ralph said while tapping on the microphone to get everyone’s attention. “Why don’t we start with a little backstory. Jacob,” he gestured to his pride and joy. “Come on up here and tell us the story of how you and Victoria met.”
Jacob’s face turned a soft shade of red and he glared at his father before offering a false smile to those around him. He started to get up from his chair when Victoria wrapped her hand around his wrist and forced him to lean down to her level.
“Yes Jacob. Why don’t you tell them the real story and not the bullshit version you’ve told your whole family?”
He jerked his hand free then lowered his head to give her a hard, warning kiss. “Shut up, beautiful.” He laughed then turned to lift a hand as if to wave to his adoring fans and moved toward his father.
Victoria glanced at her watch. She leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms and smiled her first genuine smile of the night. She couldn’t have planned this any better if she tried.
Jacob took the microphone from his father’s outstretched hand. Ralph proudly clapped him on the back and stepped a few feet away to give his son the spotlight.
“It all started one hot, sultry night in the Caymen Islands,” Jacob began.
Her phone chimed. “SHOW TIME!”
Victoria’s heart began to race and she could feel pure rage building in her chest. Six long months of catering to this asshole, pretending to hang on his every word, forced to endure his sexual appetite, a doormat to his every whim, was finally coming to an end. This was the moment she dreamed about. The moment she vowed would happen. She started shaking and before she could second guess herself, she stood.
“Actually, dear,” she said, her voice dripping venom. “Allow me to tell the story.” She walked up to Jacob and snatched the microphone out of his hands.
“Victoria, what are …”
“We actually met in a strip club,” she chirped. She grinned as several mouths dropped open. “Your precious Jacob paid me for a private lap dance and let me tell you, it was NO big deal.” She smirked at Jacob before continuing. “The club, which is owned by yours truly over here,” she pointed the microphone at Ralph, “was a front for his disgusting human trafficking ring.”
Several women gasped and a few cried out. She couldn’t bring herself to look at Margaret but she was pretty sure she was one of the ones that cried out.
The sound of several doors opening with such force they slammed into the walls caused several people to jump in alarm.
“No one move! This is a raid!” said an officer holding a megaphone.
Several officers dressed in tactical gear stormed into the room. They looked like ants scurrying around the tables holding guns in front of their bodies.
Tables were jostled, glasses were overturned soaking tablecloths and plates crashed to the floor, food turning into mush under the feet of the officers.
“What the hell is this!” Ralph roared.
Three officers stood guard around Ralph and Jacob.
“You are both under arrest for recruiting, harboring, selling and transporting girls for human trafficking purposes,” said the officer standing in front of the men. “We have a warrant for your arrest. You have the right to remain silent…”
Victoria leaned over and whispered into Jacob’s ear. “This is for the girl you called Scarlet who you kidnapped and terrorized. My sister,” she hissed then reaching back, she punched him in the face. “And this is for all of the times your filthy hands touched me.” She lifted a knee and smashed it into his groin. “You sick son of a bitch.”
“That’s enough, agent,” barked the arresting officer.
“Oh, trust me, I’m done.” Victoria walked back to her table, snatched her purse off the table and paused to look into Margaret’s watery eyes. She opened her mouth to say something but decided it wasn’t worth it.
She walked out without a backward glance.