“Why, you conniving little bitch!” he said.
My thoughts are back to the evening I blackmailed the VIP. I wasn’t scared of him, despite his fury. I was holding all the cards. He looked cornered. Defeated. The feeling of power that washed over me was intoxicating. The seconds ticked away. Then minutes. Then he looked up.
“I have your guarantee that you will get rid of the baby?” he asked.
“I swear on its life,” I said with a smile.
He didn’t respond to my attempt at humour. He grabbed a chequebook and wrote three cheques, ripped them out and handed them to me.
“Get out of here, you c**t,” he hissed.
I did not respond. Quit while you’re ahead. I headed to the door.
“Samantha!” he called out as I grabbed the handle.
I paused at the door and turned towards him.
“About the other thing… What you saw when we were in Mombasa… What I told you…” His voice trailed off.
I slowly walked back to him. “I want you to know on everything that is holy, that I will never betray your confidence about that,” I said. And I meant it.
That was then. Did he believe me? Who knows? If he put me in here, clearly not. The door opens and Bill walks in.
“Please tell me what’s going on,” I say, a little relieved to see him and not the other creepy man.
“My colleague has been taken away,” Bill tells me. “It seems you accused him of hurting you.”
I shrug. “He would have eventually,” I say.
Bill narrows his eyes and a slight twitch betrays irritation.
“Getting hurt is precisely why you are here, Samantha,” he says. “Some just pay for the privilege of a clean canvas to work with.”
An unpleasant emotion comes over me at his words. He continues. “You know what you owe. Once we have recovered it from our clients, you will be released.”
“What I owe? To who?” I ask.
I knew it! This is the work of one of the men I blackmailed! But to what end? If they release me I could do it again!
“I have money in my account. Just take it!” I say.
“Oh, I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” Bill says. “You need to learn a lesson, I’m told.”
The anxiety that has filled me is making me nauseous. “These clients…. Wh- what will they do to me?” I ask.
“They’ll hurt you,” Bill responds matter of factly. “They’ll hurt you very badly.”
I collapse on the mattress, my knees giving in.
“There are a few things you need to know,” Bill continues. “These men believe you are here willingly and you cannot tell them otherwise.”
My head is ringing, I can barely hear him.
“If you tell them you have been kidnapped, you will never leave here, do you understand me?” he asks softly.
Where is that ringing noise coming from?
“Do you???” he asks again more forcefully.
I nod, paralysed with fear.
“Good. The first client will be here tonight,” he continues. “He is the one that likes a clean canvas. We sent him your pictures and he is satisfied despite the small scar you blamed on my colleague.”
He passes me a box. “That’s what he wants you to wear. We will give you whatever you need to get comfortable. Alcohol. Drugs. Whatever.”
He says it casually but there is an underlying urgency in his words.