- Hunted: Prologue
- HUNTED: Chapter One
- HUNTED: Chapter Two
- HUNTED: Chapter Three
- HUNTED: Chapter Four
- HUNTED: Chapter Five
- HUNTED: Chapter Six
- HUNTED: Chapter Seven
- HUNTED: Chapter Eight
- HUNTED: Chapter Nine
- HUNTED: Chapter Ten
- HUNTED: Chapter Eleven
- HUNTED: Chapter Twelve
- HUNTED: Chapter Thirteen
*Parental Warning – langue and graphic content*
I sat there completely frozen, unable to move as Cory’s words slowly crept into my veins. His black eyes bore into mine, neither of us are blinking and I am pretty sure that I am not breathing either.
Last month I wouldn’t have thought much about the act of murder. It was something you see on TV, or read about in a book, or some sort of murder-mystery party game. Now though? I couldn’t laugh off Cory’s words, dismiss them as some kind of weird joke. Now, I took his words seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I slowly back up away from him, threw open the truck door and took off running the moment my shoes hit the snow-dampened pavement.
I didn’t make it far before Cory’s arms were around me. “Let me go!” I screamed.
“Stop it!” Cory gruffly said into my ear, he was holding me from behind and because he was a good foot taller than me and one hundred pounds heavier, I didn’t have much chance escaping. “Len — you know me. I know your scared but it’s me. I’ve always been there for you. Let me explain, please.”
He was right, it was Cory who held me together after Waylon broke my heart because Juliet and Jax where too focused on each other. It was Cory who took me to junior prom because I was left dateless due to Waylon’s wonderful timing. And when Juliet and Jax first got together and were in the honeymoon stage, we spent a lot of time together. God, I loved Cory. He was like a brother to me. I needed to calm down.
I turned around and looked up into his eyes, “Ok, let’s talk.”
He sighed in relief, “Come on I’ll drive you home.”
We drove in silence for a long time before I remembered my dad’s car was still at Jax’s house. Had I really been running around all morning? “Take me to Jax’s — my dad’s car is still there.” Cory merely nodded and turned the car around.
Five minutes later we were pulling into Jaxon’s drive. No one was home, his parents were at work and Jax was at school.
“Let’s go inside.” I said. We all had a key to Jax’s house but that was only because his basement bedroom had it’s own separate entrance into the house.
The air was heavy between us as we sat around the coffee table. I took my usual place on the loveseat and he took his usual place on the floor, propped against the futon. I curled my knees to my chest and started to trace my teeth with my fingers while I waited for him to say something. Anything.
Cory ran a hand through his muss of black hair. Then he put his face in his hands and began to shake. I didn’t know if I should move closer as a good friend would do or stay far away as any sane person would do after someone admitted to murder.
“Cory…” I started, deciding to move closer.
But, Cory stopped me, “Don’t — stay where you are.” I sat back down on the loveseat and re-curled up into my little ball of comfort.
“Fuck!” He shouts and I jumped back a little. I watch as he digs the palm of his hands into his eyes.
Was he crying? Or trying not too?
“You can’t say anything, LB, promise?”
“I can’t promise that Cory.”
“You have too. My family has kept this secret for years — Gramps… would fucking have my head if he knew I opened my damned mouth, ok?”
“How has this been kept a secret?”
He lifted his shoulders and then dropped them, sniffing, “Fuck if I know, Gramps and Dad said that they ‘took care of it and that I was never to speak of it again.’”
“And you listened?”
“Oh course I fucking listened, Lennox! I was ten — shit— it was the only time…”
“Only time what?”
He looked me dead in the eye, “The only time Gramps ever laid a hand on me. Dad stopped him and told him that if ever touched me again he’d kill em’ and in my family, you take threats like that seriously, LB.”
I shuttered slightly, “The marks on your back?”
“Yeah — The four-wheeling accident was the cover story.”
“How did I not know this about you?”
“Nobody knows, Len. Nobody.”
We fell into another silence then. I had so many questions but also needed a minute to adjust to the new colors in my life. My world was completely different then it was a month ago. The attack alone was enough to to change me forever, but this? Learning the dark secrets of the Watson family? Of one of my closest friends? I was having a hard time adjusting.
“My dad had an older brother. He was never around much, kind of the black sheep, you know?” Cory starts.
I watched him, not saying anything, flicking my thumb nail against my two top teeth, waiting for him to continue.
Realizing I wasn’t going to speak he starts talking again, “When I was nine he showed up at our door claiming he needed a place to stay. He had been living on the streets, I guess, so dad agreed to take him in. My mom hated him for doing it. Dexter was always leering at my mom, watching her, touching her, and all this other crazy shit. I was young but I remember hating the guy, he was slimy.”
Cory bit down on his lower lip and sucked in a breath, he was trying so hard not to breakdown. He was biting so hard that blood started to pool in the corner of his mouth.
I hopped of the couch and sat before him, “Stop that, you are making yourself bleed.” I said, tugging at his chin.
“Sorry— it’s just, I’ve never talked about this before.” His eyes looked haunted, broken.
“Cory…” I started, knowing that somewhere inside of me there were words of comfort, but at the moment were nowhere to be found.
“Well, on my tenth birthday my mom threw this big bash, she even rented a blow up waterslide. It was crazy. I was having the best day of my life. All my friends where playing in the water and eating burgers, but after awhile we were ready for some cake. So I went to find my mom, you know to ask her why she hadn’t brought the cake out yet. I couldn’t find her anywhere. She wasn’t in her room, or the kitchen, or the living room. So I thought maybe she went into the basement. My parents store alcohol down there so I thought maybe she went downstairs to get some drinks for the adults. Well when I went down there I heard my mom screaming. With all the party music it was hard to hear her until I got closer.”
Cory stops speaking, looks away, and a lone tear escapes his left eye. I suck in a breath of my own because I understood completely what he was trying to say.
“You saw your mother being violated.” Still unable to say the word rape. I whisper, saying it for him, knowing how hard it is to say that word, to get the image out of your head.
“Yeah.” He says understanding he doesn’t need to say anymore about what he saw.
“So what happened?” I say grabbing a hold of Cory’s hands hoping it brings the same comfort as it did when Finn held my hands. Looking down at our hands, Cory immediately tore them away, not wanting to be touched. I understood that too. The double edged sword of being both broken and needing.
“I freaked the fuck out, starting yelling at him to get off my mom.” Cory had his fists in a ball now and rolled his neck a few times before continuing, “You know what he said? He said ‘what are ya’ gonna do about it boy?’” Cory scuffed at the memory and shook his head in a bitter, disgusted laugh.
“So what did you do?”
Cory’s eyes turn to ice again, “The gun safe is in the basement too. I knew the code because I had been out shooting with dad plenty of times.”
I knew this to be true, the Watson men where known for there hunting skills. Plus they were all in the police force so knowing gun safety was a big thing for them. Cory was shooting guns since the day he could say the word.
“I can’t explain it, Len, but something came over me. Even as a ten year old boy. I went to the gun safe loaded up dad’s nine millimeter as fast as I could. Which was fucking fast because dad used to drill me on how to do that shit — I rushed back into where I found them. Mom was laying there sobbing, her dress torn, and Uncle Dex was smiling down at her, zipping up his pants.”
Cory and I had a silent understanding between us then. We both knew what it was like to whiteness something so violent, so disgusting, something so vile that you are completely intoxicated by fear. Reacting to something on instinct rather then with logical thought.
“So I shot him.” Cory concludes, “The rest is a blur to be honest. I kind of went into a state of shock. I just remember my dad freaking out and Gramps taking off his belt. He lashed me until I swore I would never speak of it again.”
“You’ve carried this with you you’re whole life?”
“Where did you shoot him?”
“The chest. Why?”
“Is there any chance he survived? How did you guys explain his death?”
“I honestly don’t know what Gramps and my dad did to clean up the mess, they said the less I knew the better.”
“Is there a chance he could have survived?” My voice is meek, because even if he did survive, what would he want with me?
“I don’t think so LB, there was so much blood. After that day I was told to act like he never existed. My whole family took measures to completely erase him.”
“Cory, he had to have survived somehow, it is the only way to explain why he is in this photo.” I say handing the photo back to him.
“I don’t know, Lenny Bee, that seems far fetched. Are you positive this is the man that attacked you and Jules?”
“Positive.” I whisper meeting his gaze.