Vera’s terrified eyes can’t look away from Natalia as Slim Charles gets into the car and speeds off, just as the frantic screams climax.
Jay jolts up from bed, panting. He takes a moment to regulate his breathing before he glances at his wristwatch; it reads “08:46”.
He steps out of bed, and, just in his underwear, quickly walks out of the room. The house is still eerily quiet. He stares across the hallway to Alan’s room. The lights are still on and the door is still as open as it was last night.
He walks down the stairway, heading for the kitchen, but first he peeks into the living room. It’s empty and still tidy, so evidently Alan hasn’t yet returned home, and that surprises him. He shrugs and walks to the kitchen to prepare breakfast – oat porridge and a glass of orange juice.
He returns to the living room and settles on a sofa to eat the porridge. He switches on the television and flicks through several channels until he gets the news. He places the remote on the coffee table beside a half full glass of orange juice, which Alan had left on the table from the morning before, and he smiles as he stares at the glass.
The doorbell buzzes, and he shakes his head and his smile gets wider as he’s sure it’s Alan at the door, probably very groggy.
He bounces off the sofa and walks to the door.
‘Don’t tell me …’ he says as he opens the door, and is stunned to see Natalia, still in the black dress and wearing his jacket, standing in the doorway.
She glances momentarily at his ripped torso, then up to his face, and its evident to her that he is surprised by her presence. She smiles softly.
‘Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you,’ she says.
‘It’s not …’
‘Alan gave me the address. He’s in the hospital …’
‘Is he okay?’ he demands, incredibly anxious.
‘Yes, Alan is fine. It’s all fine now. But …’ she pauses for a moment. ‘Do you have somebody with you?’
‘No, I’m sorry.’ He gestures for her to enter the house. ‘Please come in.’
She walks into the house and is momentarily enthralled by the hallway decor. She turns to him and watches him shut the door and turn to her.
‘There is no easy way to say this,’ she says softly. ‘Stephen was stabbed early this morning.’
‘It’s okay. He’s stable now. Alan and Derek are with him. I’ve been there all night. It was never life threatening.’
He nods and struggles to hide his vengeful rage as he asks, ‘Who did it?’
She is surprised by the question and his coldness, and he can see that in her eyes.
He softens his demeanour and asks again, ‘Who stabbed him?’
‘The guy from the restaurant.’
‘You know him?’
‘No,’ she says without hesitation. ‘But I hear he’s called Slim.’
‘Alan’s been trying to call you,’ she continues. ‘Your phone is off.’
‘Ah, yes,’ he says, remembering his battery was extremely low before he slept the night before.
‘He couldn’t leave, cos Derek is … you’ll see when you get there. Alan asked that I come tell you.’
‘Thank you. What hospital is it? I need to call a …’
‘I could take you. My car’s outside.’
He hesitates for a moment and says, ‘It’s okay. I’ll …’
‘No,’ she says commandingly. ‘It’ll be my pleasure.’ She slowly glances at his torso. ‘So, you look really good right now, but you might want to …’
‘Yeah, I’m sorry.’
‘Oh, not for me,’ she says, and smiles. ‘You look perfect. But the nurses MAYBE wouldn’t take too kindly to your dress sense.’
They smile at each other for a long quiet moment.
‘I’ll go …’ he begins to say, and turns to walk away, but she softly holds his hand and he stops.
He turns back to her and they gaze intently into each other’s eyes. Suddenly, they kiss passionately. As they kiss, he smoothly removes her jacket and tosses it as she kicks off her heels. She embraces him tightly and he grabs her bum and lifts her off the floor. She wraps her legs around him and he carries her off into the living room.
The hallway remains quiet for a long moment until the loud noise of shattering glass in the living room pierces the silence, followed by a wild pleasured moan from Natalia.