April slipped her phone back into her pocket, the screen illuminated with a reply as she paced her bedroom.
She was distantly aware of the absence of the pounding in her chest as she ran her fingers through her hair, listening hard to hear where those footsteps went next. They echoed around the cool marble hallways of the ground floor. The sound reverberated obscurely so she couldn’t pinpoint the location. Was she imagining it, or were they ascending the stairs?
She had to get out of there. Whoever it was, when they discovered what she’d done…
Why had she come up to her room? Now she was trapped. Think, April. There must be a way out.
As silently as she could, she crossed her room to the escape of her balcony, turned the key and gently eased the large glass door ajar, just enough to slip through. Hand clutched tight to her chest, holding a breath that wasn’t there, she tiptoed across the tiles and peered over the edge.
It seemed much further down than she remembered.
She climbed up on the balustrade, her weight rested against one of the ornate columns. The heel of her boot slipped slightly on the slick stone surface and she steadied herself, swung her other leg up and over, feeling below for the start of the wooden ivy trellis. Finding a sure footing, she lowered herself and began to climb down.
The trellis survived for a few seconds and then April watched in horror as it peeled itself from the wall, sending her to the ground much faster than anticipated.
Travis was grinning to himself as he crossed the hallway and placed his front door key into the bowl. It had been good day. He had a new client and he couldn’t wait to settle down to his dinner and tell his wife all about it. She wouldn’t care, of course, but regardless, he enjoyed the feeling of having something to say.
The house seemed quieter than usual. It was mid-afternoon, he would expect to hear April at the piano or Sandy at the wine. He opened the door to the kitchen and peered in. No sign of Broof either.
The music room was next along the corridor. He peered in but could not see his family. Then, as he turned to leave, something red caught his eye.
April shakily got to her feet and dusted herself down.
Now what do I do? The sun seemed particularly bright today; she scratched at her skin as it prickled in the light. It would take Faith an hour or so to get here, Willow Creek was two buses from Del Sol Valley. April felt that she couldn’t stand in the sun that long; she had to find some shelter.
Travis looked down at his wife, disbelieving.
Had Broof done this? Travis wasn’t oblivious to what his wife did with the butler, or any man really, when she thought he was out of earshot. As the years had passed, Travis had just come to accept that he couldn’t give Sandy what she wanted. At least someone had.
He lifted Sandy’s wrist and felt for a pulse and his heart sank.
In that moment, Travis didn’t know how to feel. This woman was the whole world, after all. He gently held her hand; how long it had been since he’d last done that.
He thought back to the day he had met her at a bar in San Myshuno.
He had been so blinded by her, he couldn’t quite believe it when she’d accepted his clumsy advances instead of laughing in his face. When she had told him she was expecting, he felt like he’d burst with happiness and when she had proposed he hadn’t even hesitated with his answer. His whole life had revolved around her and, even though she terrified him, he would have done anything for her.
Not that he really ever had much choice in the matter.
Now as he took in her neat nose, her chin that he didn’t think needed any changes in the first place, he cupped her cheek for the last time.
As April lingered as best she could in the shadows, she thought about where she was going to go, what she was going to do. How would she blend in to a world that knew her face? When news travelled about her mother – because it would – they would look for her.
Perhaps she should stay. Then they would surely blame it on an intruder, perhaps some disturbed fan with a vampire fetish. Should she slip away for a few hours now, long enough to get herself an alibi, to wait for the police to come? She thought about them taking Sandy away, imagined them searching the house.
A sudden panic flashed through her. The book was still under her bed.
She placed her hand on the latch of the service entrance door and lifted it. It was unlocked; Broof often left it that way when he ran errands, he was terrible for losing his keys. She mentally mapped the route from here to her bedroom and slipped inside.
In the absolute void of the house, Travis heard the latch lift and his heart raced. Was Broof returning to the scene of the crime? With a bravery that took him by surprise he got to his feet and made his way into the kitchen, coming face to face with his daughter.
April froze as her father appeared before her. Both of them looked at each other, the years of silence heavy between them. His expression unreadable as he took in her features like he’d never seen her before.
Travis took a step towards April and she instinctively stepped back. Cornered. Travis’s eyes were wild, she had never seen that look on him before. He knows what I’ve done.
“Daddy,” she whimpered and he visibly shook. She hadn’t called him that for years. “It was self-defence, she… she…”
He had stood by and watched Sandy belittle his daughter.
He had tuned it out, ashamed that he was relieved when Sandy turned on April instead of him. He hated himself every time he watched Sandy raise a hand to April, every time he watched her get cut down a little bit more by her mother’s sharp tongue. As much as he thought he loved his daughter he had completely failed to protect her. Too afraid to stand up for her.
There was nothing for him to be afraid of now.
His voice had an edge, a conviction April didn’t know it could have.
“April,” he stated. “I’ve killed your mother.”