Sarah Aisling’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Got a Secret . . . Can You Keep it? (Part Fifteen)
Ciel tilted her head and eyed Janice dubiously. “Your aunt? I don't understand.”
“My Aunt MJ. My parents haven't spoken to her in a long time. She's . . . really fucked up.”
Janice's comment drew a rude snort from Ciel even as certain things clicked into place for her.
The mentally disturbed aunt who bore a striking resemblance to Madeline Strohm—and apparently Janice herself. A woman on the fringes of their family for years, so far removed Mr. Strohm didn't seem to be aware of the accident that disfigured her or the fact she was married to Professor Jeffries.
“Oh, dear God,” Ciel whispered, pressing a hand to her mouth. How painful must it have been for Melinda Jeffries to find out her own beautiful, nubile niece was in the midst of an affair with her husband?
“What is it?”
Ciel grabbed Janice's hand hard and leaned in close, unsure how much of their conversation would be overheard. “Your aunt is Paul's wife. Do you realize how sick all of this is?”
Ciel pulled away, and Janice reeled as if slapped. She covered her face with shaking hands and remained perfectly still for a few minutes, leaving Ciel to wonder what was going through her mind.
Janice's head snapped up, her blazing gray eyes meeting Ciel's troubled blue ones. A high keening that dissolved into an outraged sob streamed from between her blue-tinged lips. Two red patches bloomed over the translucent skin of Janice's cheeks, and a huff of air that reminded Ciel of a bull readying itself to charge blew through her nostrils.
Janice hopped off the cot and began pacing back and forth, her hands curled into white-knuckled claws. “That bastard! How could he?” She stopped and faced Ciel, jamming balled fists against her hips. “He said he loved me! But I was—what?—a substitute for his demented and disfigured wife?”
“Shit! Did he know all along who I was? Did he seek me out for some twisted fantasy?” Janice clawed at her own face, thin lines of blood beading up in their wake.
Ciel lurched up from the cot and grabbed Janice's wrists. “Stop! Janice, stop it!”
Janice snapped out of it and blinked. “Sorry. It's just . . . I love him.”
“We're sixteen years old!” Ciel shrieked, shaking Janice. “Wake the hell up! What he did with you was wrong!”
Janice's face fell. “It didn't feel wrong. It was beautiful.” A wistful look misted her features.
The flicker of anger that had come to life earlier inside of Ciel ignited into rage, and she slapped Janice across one blood smeared cheek. “Really? Even when he pushed you to your knees in the janitor's closet and made you feel like a whore?” When Janice gaped like a fish, Ciel was encouraged to go on. “His crazy wife has us both locked away in this bunker in case you haven't noticed! Who gives a shit if he used you? Will it matter when we're dead?”
“Dead? Aunt MJ wouldn't hurt us.”
“Oh, no? What do you think she's going to do with us then? Huh, Janice? Did you drink her funny Kool-Aid or something? 'Cause from where I'm standing, we're in a shitload of trouble.” In her mind, Ciel pictured Melinda Jeffries wiring up the bunker like a bomb. There would be nothing left of them but scraps of flesh and rivulets of blood amongst the rubble.
A steely determination filled Ciel. If Janice didn't realize what a danger Melinda Jeffries was, then Ciel would muster up enough cunning to get them both out of this alive.
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Sarah Aisling hails from the East Coast of the US and loves living by the ocean with her incredibly indulgent husband and precocious daughter. She’s currently editing her upcoming novel, The Weight of Roses. When Sarah isn’t being enslaved by her characters, she can be found with her nose in a book, obsessing over nail polish or anything leopard, biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. Twitter: @SarahAisling Facebook