“Tarnished” Part 7

Out of the hospital, Hannah is trying to resume her normal life. Unfortunately, something keeps getting in the way.

 Once dismissed from the hospital, Hannah and Bernie went back to his townhouse. Hannah had insisted upon separate dwellings, though he wanted her to move in. Against her protests, he called her landlord and a mover, and had her belongs packed.

“No protests, Hannah,” he insisted. “The big things go to storage, the rest comes here. You’ll be moving in after the wedding in any case. I want you where I can keep an eye on you, Hannah-banana.”

She was too tired to protest, so finally agreed. Bernie put her to bed and she fell into a troubled sleep. Visions of the woman and Kier kept floating through her dreams, doing a wicked dervish dance as others tortured her flesh.

Waking in a cold sweat, she sat up in bed. Bernie lay beside her, sound asleep. He stirred slightly as she moved around, but didn’t wake. Hannah got up and went to the bathroom.

Staring at herself in the mirror, she saw the red marks on her body looked worse instead of better. There were more of them and the pattern had changed.

Screaming, she tore off her clothing. The marks were fresh. It wasn’t her imagination, it couldn’t be.

Bernie sat up in bed, groggy and muddled. “Hannah? Hannah!” He stumbled to the bathroom to find her dressed only in her panties.

“What’s wrong?” His eyes grew round as he examined her body. “By God, Hannah. What’s happened?”

“I don’t know,” she wailed. “I don’t know. Help me!”

“How could they do anything? I was right beside you all night!”

“I don’t know,” she wailed. “I don’t know!”

She ran to the bedroom, pulling open drawers and her closet. She flung clothing into a suitcase.

“What are you doing, Hannah?”

“Leaving.”

“You can’t leave. The wedding….”

“I’m—leaving! Don’t try to stop me, Bernie. This is unreal! How could this happen? Who the hell are these people?” She kept packing.

“Where will you go?”

“I don’t know. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter now. I’m going. This nightmare will end when I’m far away.”

“I’ll go with you.” He started pulling his clothing out of the dresser.

“No.”

“Hannah!”

“I said no, Bernie. I mean it. If you know where I am, then they can find out where I am. I’m going somewhere no one knows me. Somewhere safe.” She kept repeating that.

“Okay,” he said calmly, putting his things back in the dresser. “What do I tell people? I’m assuming the wedding is canceled?”

“Postponed until they find these lunatics.”

“But what do I tell our guests? I have to tell them something.”

“I don’t care, Bernie. Tell them I’m dead.”

“Oh, haha, funny, Hannah.”

She stopped packing, giving him a baleful look.

“You mean it? I tell people you’re dead? Your mother? Your sisters?”

“Tell them whatever you want. They were only coming because it’s the right thing to do. They don’t even like me. I’ll e-mail you when I’m safe. Don’t try to find me.”

She ran to the elevator. The doors opened revealing three other people. Hannah opted for the stairs. She trotted quickly down the four flights of stairs to the lobby. She asked the doorman to hail a cab for her. He did so. Opening the door for her, he smiled.

“See you later, Ms. Simpson?”

“How do you know me?”

“I know all about you, Hannah,” he said, the smile fading. “Get in the car.” His eyes took on a steely expression.

“Help!” Hannah screamed. “Help me! Please! Help!”

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