BGGM Entry 15: Some Day and Month in 2027
This is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and happenings are solely products of the author’s imagination or fictitious retellings. Any likeness to actual events, locations, persons living or dead, is coincidental.
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I needed to know. I needed to know if my mother is still alive, just like I needed to keep using the MV Generator. Both gave me something good and something bad, but in this instance I am kicking myself because Kendall, my brother, and Valentine were right.
They weren’t right about Beau lying to me about my mother being alive, because that’s the truth. However, they were right about me not being able to trust Beau to have a trick up his sleeve.
After I left my father’s funeral with Beau, I was anxious and optimistic about what was to come. I knew I couldn’t fully trust Beau, but I also thought he was smart enough to know that he couldn’t do anything harmful to me or make me disappear by kidnapping me. More than a few people knew I was with him, so he had to know he would be the prime suspect if I were to disappear.
Husbands are always the prime suspects, right?
What I didn’t consider at the time was the possibility that Beau was certifiable. He’s beyond certifiable. There has to be some sort of mental disorder named for his behavior, for his obsession with someone he continues to hurt physically and mentally, and treats like he hates, yet proclaims that he’s deeply in love with.
By the time I realize how crazy Beau is, it’s too late to do anything about it. By the time I realize how wrong I was to do this alone, the drug Beau subdued me with is already working its way through my veins. By the time I realize why Beau agreed to take me to my mother, I’m waking up in a strange place with a metal cuff and chain around my ankle with an older version of myself staring back at me.
My word is a question asking if she is who I think she is. My word is a question asking why she’s not scrambling to unshackle me. My word is a plea for her to tell me I’m not going crazy right now.
On instinct, I pull at the heavy metal cuff wrapped around my ankle. As expected, nothing happens other than my mother taking a step back when I make a frustrated and angry sound. She doesn’t respond to the word I’ve said to her but asks, “How do you like your eggs?”
What the fuck?
“How do I like my eggs?” I ask incredulously. “Take this thing off my ankle,” I demand, making the chain clang against the metal cuff.
“I don’t have the key,” Elise Anson says flatly, still not getting any closer to me. She’s timid and standoffish, like she’s afraid of me, like someone has told her I might attack her. “The cuff is for your own good. It’s so you don’t hurt yourself or get killed trying to escape.”
“I don’t know what the hell that means,” I bark out angrily, sitting up on the bed I’m in to take in my surroundings. This is the first time I’ve been allowed to fully wake without being immediately put back to sleep. I don’t know how many times I woke up in this place, but I have some foggy memories of waking to this same room, possibly eating and drinking something. But then there are more gaps in my memory where I was probably unconscious after being drugged.
“Where am I?”
A sense of déjà vu assaults me making me feel like this isn’t the first time I’ve asked this question. However, I don’t think my mother is the one I asked because her face changes from unsure to happy. This must be one question Elise Anson can answer because her lips turn upward and she finally takes a step toward me instead of away.
“Somewhere in the Seychelles on a private island,” my mother explains as if we’re on a beach vacation and she knows I’ll love the place where we’re staying. “It’s beautiful here. I’m sure you’ll love the beaches and sand if you’re anything like you were when you were younger,” she says with a dreamy nostalgia that proves my thoughts. My face must show how incredulous I feel about her answer because she looks away from me.
She has some nerve to be excited about my imprisonment.
“The Seychelles?” I question. “How? That can’t be right,” I say, knowing there are security measures and passports and vaccination cards and some places even require a person to pass a background check before someone can enter the country. I don’t know how Beau could’ve pulled this off without getting caught with me in tow.
I groan because my anger, my worry, and my disbelief cause my head to throb. Whatever drugs I’ve been given to subdue me don’t agree with me because I feel nauseous and lightheaded and like I can’t focus on anything for very long. I feel like if I exert myself in any way I’ll pass out and have to go through this reawakening once again.
“Well, I can’t be sure since that’s only what I was told when I woke up here some years ago cuffed, chained and corded just like you,” she says like her initial imprisonment was a rite of passage or some sort of innocent hazing. “However, the climate, the weather patterns, the native people who act as staff all tell me that Laurent was honest about the location.”
The nonchalant way my mother says the name Laurent makes me shiver. It also makes reality slap me in the face because I realize that I’m stranded, I’m stuck, and if the amount of time my mother’s been missing is any indication, I will never see Valentine and the rest of my friends and family again.
Not that Valentine wants to see me ever again.
I groan again and I want to cry, but crying won’t make a difference. Wallowing will only make things worse, make me feel worse. Because I should be with Valentine right now. He should be holding me and telling me I’ll get through the pain of losing my father. We should be together, planning our future together while we fight the forces of evil with the help of the MV Generator.
It’s only after I’ve ruined our relationship that I realize I’m better with him than without. I feel whole, like Valentine is the other part of me, the part of me that makes everything make sense. He’s the part of me that has been missing for during the years we’ve been apart.
But I messed that all when I didn’t follow my instincts. I should’ve remembered that my Valentine isn’t the kind of man who needed to know if he was Breanna’s biological father or not. I should’ve known that my Valentine doesn’t care about blood. He’s the only father Breanna has ever known, and that fact will always be enough for him. He’s her father in every way that matters and he didn’t need to know the truth. He isn’t like those other Valentines on those other worlds and that’s probably why I’m drawn to him, why I love him so much.
Why did I think that as soon as I laid eyes on my mother she would see me and immediately want to plan our escape? I don’t know why I thought she’d still be trying to get back to her family more than two decades later. I don’t know why I thought my mother would be still trying to get away, still trying to get back to her family, still seeing the Lacostes as the enemies.
Taking my groan literally, my mother naively asks, “Are you in pain? We’re fully stocked with any sort of first aid care you might need. Antibiotics, pain relievers, salves, herbs, and if there’s something you need that’s not here, Laurent will get it for us.”
“Lazy scrambled,” I say instead of answering her question about the pain I’m in.
“My eggs. That’s how I like them.”
“Oh…” My mother chuckles. “Your father used to like them that way.”
I get my eggs exactly how I like them for days, maybe weeks. I know this ongoing routine is to make me calm down and not want to escape, but the desire to escape never goes away. I know I will try to escape the first chance I get, but I also realize I have to go long with whatever this is, and that I have to do whatever is expected of me or else I will never have a chance to escape because Beau will never come.
I get used to the chain and bungee attached to my right ankle, quickly figuring out how long it is and how far I can go. I can go all around this floor of the house, enjoy the luxury of the house, but I can’t go out to the beach and explore.
The chain has been perfectly measured, long enough to tease me with the ocean but short enough to continuously remind me I haven’t earned the privilege of going to the beach. The reminder niggles at me despite how much my mother tries to remind me that the confinement is only temporary.
I don’t know how long I’m on the island with my mother before I snap. One morning I’m tired of the routine, the fakeness, and the fact that I do not know who this woman is who serves me and takes care of me every day. She’s not the woman my father told me she was, the brilliant scientist and inventor. Hell, if someone told me she was a robot, I’d believe them. The only thing that convinces me Elise Anson is not a robot is the fact that she knows so much about me, my brother, and my father.
I know her knowledge is a tactic to make me comfortable with her, and to be honest, it’s working since talking to her is the only link I have to the real world, a world stranded somewhere around the year 2000.
Though, I guess I can’t complain too much since my childhood is a time of my life my father never talked about. He never told me and my brother about those times because it brought up too many terrible memories. I can understand why it was so hard for him to talk about, especially now. He knew she probably wasn’t dead, that she was possibly out there somewhere stuck on some other version of Earth.
“When are you going to tell them I’m ready to be unchained?” I ask one morning when a plate of eggs is set in front of me.
“What do you mean?” My mother asks innocently.
“You’re the one who decides when I get un-cuffed,” I say, coming to that conclusion a long time ago, but not sure until now. The look on her face says it all. “And there could be only a couple of reasons you’d want to keep me like this… One, because you’re morbid and evil and no better than the Lacoste’s. Two, because you fear me and don’t want me to have access to your side of the house. You think I might kill you in your sleep or something. Or three, you are desperate to be a mother again and me chained this way is the only way that’s going to happen, since you know I’d be far away from you if given the choice.”
She knows why I say that last one. When I told her I was sent to a slave world, given to that world’s Beau because of Beau’s jealousy, my mother didn’t believe me. When I told her Beau forced me to marry him and give up everything and everyone I loved to see her again, she was sure I was mistaken. When I told her the Lacoste family had my father killed, she said when she came to the island, Laurent said he’d never do anything to hurt her family. She said me being there, alive, with a career, and a marriage is proof Laurent kept his promise.
She’s brainwashed with a very severe case of Stockholm’s Syndrome.
I feel so dumb. I’ve said this to myself every day, but my situation never changes. Because I should’ve listened to Valentine when he said he didn’t trust Beau not to do something crazy. I hadn’t trusted him either but hadn’t predicted this outcome. Potential threats against the people I love. Possibly threats against me. Possibly sending me to a world where my freedoms are taken away. But now that he has me right where he wants me - married to him and confined to a place where I’m at his mercy - he’s nowhere to be found. Beau has left me here to rot even though my mother thinks he left me here for this long because he’s giving us time to get to know one another.
I’ve hurt her and I hate I feel guilty for doing so.
“No,” I interrupt. “You tell them to take this off of me. You tell them I’m ready. Because while I know there is surveillance, I have a feeling they’ll turn to you for the final decision,” I say. “If you love me at all and want to be my mother, then you shouldn’t have to force me to be your daughter.” I stand up and look around the room, yelling at whoever is watching and listening. “Get me the fuck out of these chains. Where can I go? Huh? I’m sure you are ready for her to get back to whatever lab you’ve had her hold up in for all these years. Let me go. I can take care of myself. Just get her the hell away from me.”
“Chrissy… But you need me here or you won’t take care of yourself properly.”
“I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time, Elise. I’m sure I can handle -”
“You’re pregnant!” My mother shouts. “You’re not sick every day because of the new climate or the food or the water or because you’re depressed. My guess is that you were pregnant when you got here.”
The next morning I wake up to my mother with a key on a chain that looks like it came from a gift shop on the main island. The little fob dangles from her fingers as she leans forward to gently place a hand on my ankle.
“I still go into the lab,” she says. “Every night after you go to sleep,” she adds. “I’m always making auxiliary devices, improving them, streamlining them. But in more than twenty years I have yet to make one that allows you to travel to anywhere in the world. It’s the biggest setback of the device,” my mother says with her hand on my ankle. She still hasn’t unlocked the chain. She sits next to me like we’re having a girl chat about a guy I like.
“So you want to add location coordinates to the world address? Why are you telling me this? Please, just unlock the chain.”
My mother takes her hand off my ankle. It makes me focus on her face and I realize that’s what she wants me to do. She then places her hand back on my ankle before she speaks again.
“I want to help you and your child in any way I can, Chrissy,” she says, reminding me she said that to me yesterday. “So I’ve asked that you be allowed to work in the lab and Laurent agreed to let you do that. “Please trust me,” she says, squeezing harder. “If I can’t trust you to trust me, then I can’t unlock this chain.”
After weeks, possibly months of being here, I think this is the only time Elise Anson has felt like my mother, like someone I can trust. I know there will be a bruise on my leg where she holds it once this conversation is over, but I now know this is the version of her she wants me to believe.
“I promised Beau you wouldn’t come into contact with anything dangerous,” my mother adds as if that’s what I’m thinking about. I want to get out of here, I don’t want a position on this diabolical team. “I told him I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his child’s life.”
My mother squeezes me again, probably asking me not to react to that statement. I can only think she says that to let me know how delusional Beau has become in the time he’s been away. He and I haven’t slept together since the first night he was in Anson Valley to visit me after we were engaged.
I know exactly when I got pregnant, and it wasn’t at my father’s repast. I was already pregnant by then, probably conceiving the very first time Valentine and I were together again after more than a decade. I feel good knowing we were married at the time and our child was conceived in love. I’m glad I will be able to tell my child that I loved his or her father and that he is a man I wish they could’ve known.
Though, I doubt I’ll get to raise my child as Valentine’s if Beau is convinced this child belongs to him.
My mother finally lets go of my ankle and unlocks the cuff. When the cuff falls away, I don’t move. I close my eyes, allowing the bit of freedom to wash over me.
I sit up and my mother leans in to hug me. I let her, and we embrace for a few seconds before I try to pull away. She holds me close, not letting me let go. I then feel her breath against my ear as she says, “I will get you out of here. It won’t be quick. But I’ll get you and my grandchild back to Valentine and away from Beau. He’s insane and delusional. Diagnosed. Be careful around him when he comes to see you,” she whispers. “And I’m going to need you not to react,” she says quickly. “You can’t let this get you emotional. They are always watching.” My mother pulls away. “You thought you’d never be like those Christmas’ on those other worlds.”
“And here I am,” I say and then force a smile onto my face. “The irony, right?”
Six Months Later
Once a month when it’s time for a check-up, I see Beau. He comes with a doctor he brings from the mainland. The doctor is forced to be my gynecologist against his will. I can tell by the skittish way he acts around me.
Six months ago, I didn’t know what my mother’s plan was. When she told me I was pregnant and then told me she would help get me out, I thought I would be gone long before now. But my mother is careful. She’s meticulous. And she’s been here long enough to know that a quick escape was never going to work.
“We should start thinking about a birth plan? Contingencies in case something goes wrong,” the doctor says to Beau, who sits in a chair next to the examination table in the island’s makeshift clinic.
Or at least it was a makeshift clinic until the equipment arrived to prepare for me to give birth. Now it’s a labor and delivery room. Fetal monitoring machines, gynecological supplies, and infant supplies arrive with each food delivery to the island.
And what a beautiful island it is. I’ve finally been able to appreciate my prison, the location often making me feel frightened and overwhelmed.
We are truly on a private island. In the months I’ve been here, I’m sure I’ve walked the perimeter in its entirety and there is only one dock where a boat is docked, waiting for Laurent, Beau, and the doctor to return to the mainland.
Deliveries come once a week, and when they leave, they take our trash with them. Beau comes once a month to see me and check on the baby. Thankfully, he’s one of those who fears sex with a pregnant woman, so I haven’t had to endure that fact. Laurent comes irregularly, visiting my mother mostly during odd hours of the late night and very early morning. He never comes while I’m in the lab like he wants to deny his part in any of this if I ever escape, not that escape is possible.
I’ve tried to see my mother’s angle. I’ve tried to consider what her plan is or if she has a plan at all. But the way she spoke to me the night she released me from my chains made me think my escape was inevitable and imminent.
After months, I no longer think my escape is imminent, but I hope it’s still inevitable. I want to escape and know if I’m left to live here for over twenty years, I’d still want to escape. My mother has never said as much, and I’m not sure she wants to leave. I think she might be in love with Laurent, but I don’t think she’s naïve to the fact that a lot of his actions border on evil.
“Nothing will go wrong,” Beau replies to the doctor.
“There’s always the possibility, Mr. Lacoste, and I would feel better knowing there is a surgery suite waiting on the mainland if we need it.”
The doctor’s words make me realize we must be close enough to the mainland that I could get there quickly if there’s an emergency. I’d guess that distance can’t be more than an hour’s boat ride.
“Tell me what you need and I will have it brought here.”
“That’s not possible, Mr. Lacoste. We’d need a NICU and a team of doctors to satisfy -”
“Women have been having children since the dawn of man and they didn’t have a NICU, Dr. Hammond. Make it work. If my wife or my child die… you die.”
“The only thing to do is for someone who can deliver the baby to stay here until it’s born. At thirty-six weeks, I would suggest that.”
The tension of the moment is broken by a knock on the door. A second later, my mother peaks into the room. “Beau, your father is ready to leave. He’s -”
“I’m not leaving. Tell him to go without me.”
I don’t know what this means. In the months I’ve been staying here, no one has ever spent the night. Not Beau, not Laurent, not even members of staff when there was a storm, and the water was dangerous.
Beau doesn’t look away from his phone, but I’m sure it’s just to check his schedule. My mother told me there is no signal out here. The people who come to the island for deliveries are also the ones who relay messages back to Beau and Laurent for Elise. But I’m thinking that the messages have to go farther than just to the mainland. Since I have been here, I’ve been looking at the stars and I’m almost positive this isn’t my universe. I think that’s what my mother was keeping me from seeing when she confined me to the house with those chains. She knew I’d notice, so she was giving me time to adjust before I found out.
The bad thing is that a lot of this stuff we can’t talk about. During brief hugs, we whisper, but we can’t go around hugging and whispering all the time. Most days, we don’t get to say anything of value, or at least nothing about leaving the island. We’ve only talked about the new auxiliary device and how to make it work. I’m no scientist, so all I have to offer is practical knowledge. In all honesty, I don’t think we’ve gotten any closer to any answers and only one idea has resonated with her. I once told her if we could merge an auxiliary device with a cell phone, you’d have the best of both worlds. Oddly enough, my mother hadn’t been briefed on the newest cell phones and no one told her about how we use them for GPS. She’d seen Beau and Laurent on their phones before, but they rarely used them since there was no signal. Beau and Laurent were always more concerned with her progress on the device and nothing else. It’s probably why they let us discuss cell phones and GPS. Any discussion that would’ve led to progress to the MV Generator and its auxiliary devices is always welcomed. Knowing Laurent and Beau, my mother and I aren’t the only Christmas and Elise working on this thing.
“Okay. I will. When would you like for the boat to return?”
“Tonight dammit,” Beau says. “I’m not getting stranded on this island. Tell my father to send the boat right back and make sure he gets Dr. Hammond whatever he needs for Chrissy to give birth. And then bring me the notes on your progress. Dr. Hammond, go with her and tell her what you need.”
“Have you thought of names yet?” Beau asks as we sit on the beach having a nighttime picnic that would be perfect if I was here with Valentine. But I’m not. I’m here, having to put on this act each time Beau visits.
The man I want to be in paradise with is probably back with Brenna by now. With people like me out there telling him his daughter isn’t his, I’m sure he’s keeping his family as close as possible.
I’m jealous of Brenna, irrationally angry with Valentine, and can’t help but think I don’t deserve any of what I’ve gone through.
“Not yet. It’s hard to do that when I don’t know what I’m having. Maybe something unisex. Like Jordan or Aubrey or Carson.”
“Beaumont Lacoste Junior.”
I chuckle because he’s crazy as hell. He thinks I chuckle because he’s so sure I’m having a boy. “What if it’s a girl?”
“It won’t be.”
Not liking his tone, I say, “I’m getting cold. I’m going inside.”
“How close is your mother to fixing the auxiliary device?” Beau asks, his tone suggesting I sit there until he tells me I am dismissed.
“You should probably ask her. I’m not the scientist.”
“Yet you came up with the cell phone idea because you recognized the holes in your mother’s knowledge about technological advances in the past twenty or so years,” Beau says. “We’d assumed she knew how our phones worked. We thought she needed to build a device from scratch in order to make it something new and better.”
I shake my head. “That’s not the reason. This Elise is from a world where cell phones haven’t advanced that far yet. She was way too interested and surprised when I told her about them. My real mother would’ve been interested, but she would’ve known what the devices were. This Elise had no idea the phones you carry could’ve been her ticket out of here a long time ago,” I say, having studied this island’s Elise Anson for months. “That Elise is not the woman who gave birth to me, is she? She’s the one you have left after my biological mother escaped somehow,” I say, thinking about how wide-eyed Elise got when I talked about cell phones. They’d told her it was a communication device, but they never told her it’s GPS enabled.
“You’re smarter than you look, Mrs. Lacoste,” Beau compliments and I cringe at being called that. He then follows with an insult, saying, “I once honestly thought it was all New York Fashion Week and Bloomingdales inside that head of yours. I was a little disappointed when I found out there were real thoughts in your head.” He doesn’t elaborate on why he was disappointed to find out I have real thoughts. Instead, he says, “No, she is not your Elise. Your Elise stupidly thought it was a good idea to try to escape and sadly she lost her life for it. She used a satellite phone. Stole the components one by one and put the thing together in her room at night. You know you’re sleeping in the bed she slept in for years. She gave birth to your sister in that bed, you know that?” Beau chuckles and I tense. My sister? He has to be lying. Why hasn’t my mother - Elise - mentioned that before now?
Why hasn’t she mentioned any of what Beau is claiming?
The words make me want to throw up. I take several deep breaths to calm myself so I don’t do something stupid like my real mother. She only had herself to think about, but I have the baby I’m carrying to think about as well. Though she was probably thinking about her child when she decided to plan an escape.
“Do you know who helped us find her?” Beau asks ominously and I already know the answer before he tells me. The only other person who has been on this island who could’ve tracked my mother is the other Elise that lives on this island.
That Elise is the one I’m supposed to trust to help me.
“Where is my sister?” I ask, breathlessly. My stomach turns and the baby tightens because of the stress I’m feeling. I’m also afraid of the answer Beau might give. If he tells me my sister is dead, I don’t know what I might do.
“She’s with an excellent family. Though she’s at least eighteen, maybe older. She might take care of herself by now.”
“Is she on this world or mine?”
Beau shrugs. “Who knows? My father took care of that a long time ago.”
As I do every day, I wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking. However, unlike any other day I’ve been here, I wake up with a naked body behind me playing the big spoon.
Beau’s body is warm and a little heavy against my back. His morning erection causes me discomfort and disgust because last night he finally gave in to his carnal urges. We didn’t have sex, but Beau threatened to take my baby and send it to another universe the way Laurent did to my sister if I didn’t make sure he went to sleep fully pleasured.
I brushed my teeth until my gums bled and rinsed with peroxide. It’s what I’m about to do again if I can disconnect from Beau without waking him up.
When I first got here, I slept late too. The difference in the air in this universe, or possibly the weather, made me tired for the first couple of weeks. Now I feel fine, but I see Beau is suffering the same effects.
I do my whole morning routine with no interruption from Beau. I find him still asleep and wonder if Elise might’ve given him something to kill him, but that doesn’t make any sense. When Laurent returns, he’d find Beau dead or gone and he’d kill me, Elise, and Dr. Hammond. We’d have no way off the island since he always shows up when any progress is made and takes the auxiliary devices away. Not that using them would do us much good when they can be tracked by some other version of my mother on some other world.
I walk into the kitchen, but the breakfast I expected isn’t there. The food storage containers are sitting in two piles, and one of the wicker baskets used to deliver produce from the mainland sits in two of the chairs. In front of one pile is a cell phone with some sort of battery pack attached to the back of it.
“What is this?”
I take a step back, thinking about what Beau said to me about this Elise. She pretended to be my mother, stole my mother’s stories about her past and used them as her own to trick me, and she turned over information that led to my mother’s death. She didn’t tell me about my sister and she kept me confined to this house for weeks, knowing she had the power to release me when I first got here.
I can’t trust her, can I?
The crazy thing is that I trusted her all the way up until last night and I would’ve trusted her with this ticket to freedom had this been twenty-four hours ago. But now I’m not so sure. Now I’m thinking this might be a test. Some sort of loyalty test. What if I fail the test and Beau takes my baby away from me as punishment? After all the other things he’s done to me to punish me, I wouldn’t put it past him to take my child and sell it to someone on the slave world.
I look behind me, thinking Beau might be standing back there somewhere, but he’s not. I turn back to Elise and ask again, “What is this?”
“It’s what I said, Chrissy.”
“No, it’s not. If I take any of that, it’s going to come back to bite me in the ass. You’ll gain favor with Beau and Laurent when you tell them how to find me like you told them how to find my real mother.”
“He told you,” Elise says, a niggle of defeat in her tone. Elise looks down at herself. She shakes her head in regret. But when she speaks, there’s no regret in her tone. “That’s the way we planned it. I don’t know where she is, Chrissy. Hopefully, by now she’s found your sister and is trying to find her way back to you and your brother, but the truth is I don’t know if you’ll ever see her again. As far as your world’s Laurent… he is dead. I needed his phone, and I knew he’d never give it to me if I asked,” Elise admits. “I plan to kill Beau as well.”
“Dr. Hammond is here.”
“Dr. Hammond has agreed to dispose of the bodies in exchange for this beautiful house.” I look over my shoulder again, but Beau is still not there. “He won’t wake up anytime soon. The sedative I made to put in his food last night will keep him asleep for at least another hour or so. That should be plenty of time for me to get you on your way.”
“You didn’t tell me you weren’t my mother. You didn’t tell me this isn’t my universe. You didn’t tell me my mother was here and I’m staying in her old room. You didn’t tell me I have a sister,” I say, backing up with each word. “You’ve been lying to me since I got here. You’ve had a hand in more than one person’s death. Why would I ever trust you?”
I don’t believe her. I don’t trust her. And I probably should be afraid for my life. I don’t know what this is, but nothing adds up, or maybe too much adds up. What Beau said resonates in a way I can’t ignore. I’m sure my mother trusted her with her life and her child and look at what happened in that situation.
“You should trust me because that auxiliary device is the only way you’re getting out of here,” she says, which is probably the truth. “Well, it’s not even an auxiliary device anymore. It’s a full-fledged MV Generator. It can go to random worlds and those programmed without the use of a central device thanks to dr. Hammond bringing me a satellite phone. All I needed was the satellite phone and cellular device and for there to be a reason for Beau to stay, so he wouldn’t go looking for his father. It gave me the time I needed to finish the device. You have to believe me Chrissy. I’m trying to get you and your child back to the man you love, back to Valentine.”
That’s all I want, but I don’t know what to do. I guess not taking this chance would be a stupid decision, but not if I end up dead on the other side of the portal.
I don’t trust her, but I still ask, “How would it even work? Can’t they track me?"
Elise tells me that erasing my last known destination as soon as I get to where I am going will prevent anyone from tracking me, which also means once I’m gone, I won’t be able to come back. It means that I’m stranded in the place I’m sent and then only way to leave is to program another destination into the device. She is sure erasing destinations will work, but she still has a plan for me to go to several places where I will stay for a few hours at a time, which is why there is a need for the food she fixed. She then shows me how to erase the destinations, how to access pre-programmed destinations, and which destination I should choose last, which is the one that will take me to my world to a place she chose from Laurent’s GPS history. She says he never clears his cache, so every place he’s been to for the last year is there.
“For the locations on your world, they will show up as names - most likely in the form of a nearby city or landmark. “If you’re not on your world, the locations will show up as numbers and letters.”
“Do you understand?” Elise asks and I nod.
I still don’t know if I should trust Elise even after her long explanation. It all sounds good, sound like the perfect plan, and her reasons for waiting this long are valid. She couldn’t have killed Laurent if Beau was depending on him to leave, and she would’ve needed time to configure the device. Honestly, after working in her lab for months, I’m surprised it didn’t take days for her to augment the phone and turn it into an auxiliary device. In the lab, everything seemed to crawl, but now I think she might’ve been stalling as she hatched her plan for me to escape.
“What about you?” I ask. “Why wouldn’t you come with me? You keep talking about where I’ll go and what I should do, but you need to leave too. No matter what you’ve done, you don’t deserve to be held against your will.
“I’m leaving too,” she says and then a soft smile turns up her lips. “I’m going to find my Chrissy, my Joseph, and my Noble. I’m not sure how I’ll get there, but Beau’s phone will help get me there,” Elise says, packing the food into the wicker picnic bag as she talks.
“Why didn’t you just kill Beau, too?”
“Because he was in the bed with you. You might’ve gone into labor if you woke up to a dead body lying next to you.”
I shake my head. “This is a trick. It has to be. Why now?” I ask, even though I know why. I’ve been working with Elise long enough to understand. Had I not been working with her for months, I might allow my doubts to take over, but I know how this process works and I knew what she needed to make her device work. Laurent had been providing her with GPS devices with no connectivity, so there was no way to know if they worked. He was sure of her loyalty, but obviously he didn’t trust her not to try to escape. Not that he wouldn’t have just gone and found another Elise or Christmas, but why put in that extra work if he didn’t have to.
“You know why. It’s why I wanted you in the lab. I knew you’d believe me only if you had knowledge of what a finished device might look like. You needed to be familiar with its workings and operation just in case something went wrong with it as you were traveling.”
I shake my head even though a part of me believes her and trusts her. I then examine the device she put in my hand and something inside me knows she’s telling the truth. Even so, something protective inside me wants to protect my unborn child from what could be a test, a lie, or some other trick staged by Elise, Beau, and Laurent.
“Now go,” Elise says. “Get as far away from here as you think is safe just in case he wakes up before I can give him the overdose to kill him.”
“My wife and child aren’t going anywhere with you,” I hear Beau’s voice say behind me, ruining the entire plan. Or maybe he’s been listening and waiting this whole time. But if he was working with Elise, he would’ve waited for me to give her my answer… so there’s no way this is a test.
It takes Beau’s appearance for Elise’s truth to register, and that’s when I react. I run, taking the device but leaving the food behind. I burst through the front door of the house and run toward the beach that encircles the island. I follow a path that’s been carved out by the maintenance crew. It’s a spot where I can see the dock, but no one arriving can see me. It’s my favorite spot on the island.
Muscle memory takes me there, but I’m barely seeing where I’m going. I’m looking back, knowing Beau is there somewhere and hoping Elise’s device isn’t a lie.
I’m already tucked in my spot when Beau runs past looking for me. I get scared when Elise doesn’t follow him after long minutes.
“Chrissy,” Beau calls out to me, shouting furiously. “Chrissy, when I find you, I’m going to chain you to that fucking bed and never let you go. You won’t give my fucking child to a meathead idiot like Valentine Trudeau.”
“Beau… let her go,” I hear a faint female voice say. I want to come out of my hiding spot to help Elise, but I can’t come out until I have a plan. “Her child isn’t yours and you know that.”
“Well, then, I’ll send the little bastard away and force her to give me a child.”
“Do you hear yourself? You and your father have done so much to change and control people’s lives you think it’s your right. I hope she’s long gone, back to Valentine,” Elise says breathlessly, like she’s hurt. “And I hope he is ready for you when you go looking for her. I hope he kills you and every other Beau on every other world.”
What does she mean? Elise said she was going to kill Beau. What happened? Why does she sound like that? What can I do to help her?
As if the thought conjures him up, Dr. Hammond comes running onto the beach, probably thinking his way off the island is in jeopardy.
“What did you do, Mr. Lacoste?” Dr. Hammond asks, his tone terrified. It’s that tone that makes me need to see what’s going on. “She was only trying to do the right thing, and you shot her. I don’t think she can survive this without proper medical help.”
I look down at the device in my hand and then drift toward the sound of the voices. Turning it on, I pull up the application Elise installed to activate the portal. I go to a menu of destinations and three places with names and several without are offered to me.
“Mmm,” I hum when my belly tightens. I don’t know if it’s the stress or an actual contraction, but I take several deep cleansing breaths before moving again like Dr. Hammond taught me. “Come on Baby V,” I whisper, calling the baby by the nickname I gave it since I can’t really name him or her until he or she is born.
I move out of the small, flattened area I’ve made as a private refuge from the house and out onto the beach where Dr. Hammond is dragging Elise back toward the house. I don’t see Beau and I immediately know he can see me, but I can’t see him.
“Chrissy…” Beau singsongs. “If you don’t get your sexy little ass back over here with that device, I’m going to kill every Christmas and Valentine on every world I can go to before I die.”
Beau’s threat isn’t one he’s made before, but it’s one I know he will carry out if given half a chance. However, I don’t think his threat has anything to do with revenge, but the fact that Elise says Beau is clinically insane and has delusions of grandeur. Nothing he says is to be trusted, even if it’s the truth. He says things only because the outcome will help him keep the power he thinks he has or if the outcome will boost that perceived power.
Honestly, I don’t care about any of that. I don’t care if Beau is insane and can’t help himself. I don’t care if he needs to be locked up in a mental facility…
I still want him dead.
But I know I’m no threat to him, especially in my condition. So I do what I know I need to do.
I think to run to the opposite side of the island and find another hiding space so I can activate the portal on the device. But Beau is quickly catching up to me, so I head to a closer spot - the house.
Beau doesn’t even try to catch up with me. He stalks toward me with purpose, but not running or walking fast. When I get to the house, Dr. Hammond is just carrying Elise over the threshold, but I know his task is fruitless. She has a large blood stain around her chest area and she’s unresponsive. However, I’m sure a doctor on my world could fix her injury if we could get her there in time.
“You’re supposed to be gone,” Dr. Hammond says. “She said you had a way out. Take it,” Dr. Hammond urges. “Get you and your baby to safety.”
“I do have a way out,” I say, looking down at the device in my hand. “But… I can’t leave her like this,” I say, even though Elise lied to me for months. “I can take her with me. I can -”
“Okay,” Dr. Hammond interrupts. “You can help,” he says. “I just need to check to see if the bullet came out the other side. Get that towel over there and press it against…”
Dr. Hammond trails off when Elise makes a noise. We realize she’s trying to talk.
“You need… you need to go,” Elise rasps out. “I deserve this.”
“No one deserves this,” I tell her.
“I do,” she says. “I’ve been looking out for me and only me for so long. I need you to be safe to make up for some of the things I’ve done.”
Dr. Hammond keeps trying to examine Elise’s wound, but she pushes him away. “Take the food basket. It has my notebook with a list of worlds and their coordinates for the device. Protect them. We’ll hold off… is that smoke I smell?” Elise asks, and it’s only then do I smell what she smells.
“I think it’s coming from the front of the house,” Dr. Hammond says.
“It doesn’t matter,” Elise says. “Chrissy, I need you to look in the basket I fixed for myself. Get the gun out of -”
Elise abruptly stops talking. Her eyes get wide as she looks at something behind me from her prone position on the floor. Of course, it’s Beau, and he probably has the gun pointed at me.
But I’m wrong. Beau doesn’t have the gun pointed at me because in the next moment Dr. Hammond makes a pained noised before he falls forward. He was on his knees so he falls onto Elise.
An involuntary scream forces its way from my lips. My feet move, but Elise is already pushing Dr. Hammond’s body off of her. I try to help, but Beau roughly pushes me away and I stumble, hitting my head on a chair. The basket on the chair falls to the floor, making food containers skitter across the floor. My hand lifts to my hairline where there is pain, and a warm wetness that tells me I’m injured.
“What did you do to my father, you bitch?” Beau asks, but Elise can’t speak because Beau has a hand around her neck as he holds the gun to her temple. He has his knees on her stomach, which has to hurt, but Elise barely reacts. “Speak,” Beau says before releasing some of the tension on her neck.
“I killed him,” she says like the words are the most amusing thing she’s said in a long time. Beau reacts, tightening his hand around her neck again.
I’m frozen in place, not knowing what to do next. If I move or bring attention to myself, Beau might just shoot me right in my stomach. However, if I don’t move, I’ll end up as Beau’s prisoner again, chained to the bed inside some other home on some other private island.
I cough, which snatches me from my thoughts. It’s no longer just the scent of the smoke in the distance. The room is filling.
Beau doesn’t notice my coughing because he’s yelling at Elise again. But I don’t pay attention to what he’s saying. I feel the metal object I dropped, knowing I have to find a way to use it now to get out of here. Elise’s admission just triggered something, and he screams at her. He’s not saying anything, just screaming in her face.
With slight movements, I creep my fingers over the device, but it’s not the device. It’s the gun from Elise’s bag. I freeze, feeling like Beau has to be looking directly at my hand wrapping around the barrel of the gun.
When I look up again, Elise’s body is lifeless, but Beau continues to squeeze. He’s dropped his gun, probably thinking he can just pick it up and shoot me if I try to get away, but I don’t care anymore. I pick up the gun, and the sound of me doing so is like a gong be hit with someone’s full strength. I pick up the device just as quickly as I did the gun, knowing I need them both if I am to get out of this alive.
I turn over to get up, but I hear Beau shift behind me. I freeze again, like my stillness makes me invisible. I know I can’t get up fast enough in my condition, so I crawl as fast as I can away from Beau and the source of the fire. My crawling is labored as I try to crawl and carry both items while coughing.
When I stop crawling, it’s not because I’ve gained my freedom, it’s because of the contraction that hits me at the most inappropriate time. My hand leaves the gun to grip my abdomen and I fall over onto my side. I curl into a ball and pull the device to my chest. A moment later, determination strikes and I tap the screen of the device. The choice I made out on the beach earlier is still ready to be activated, but Beau wraps his hand around my ankle. He pulls me hard, and then reaches for the device in my hand. He knocks the device away from us both, but the portal has already been activated.
Tears start falling and I don’t know if it’s from the pain or the defeat I feel being only a foot away from my freedom yet feeling like its miles.
“We end this. Right here and right now we end this as we watch the portal close together, letting me know you’re mine forever.”
I stare through the portal at the backyard of the last place I saw Valentine. The Mayor’s House is how the app labeled this location, which is where I last saw Valentine. He was there at my father’s repast with the other Valentine, wanting to see me. We had sex in the main bedroom of the house. However, I was there with Beau being defiant, thinking I knew more than Valentine and I didn’t need his help.
He walked out on me that day after I told him the truth about Breanna and I’m sure he never wants to see me again. But even if I don’t make it, if Beau shoots me, I’m going to do all I can to get through that portal. Even if I die, hopefully someone will find me on the other side and save my child.
I briefly wonder how Elise knew about the Mayor’s House, but push the thought from my mind to focus on what’s going on.
Beau drags me over to the open portal, teasing me with my freedom. He holds me near it with one arm firmly around my midsection. He presses on my child, making my cramping worse and giggling the whole time.
“It’s almost over now, Christmas. Time is winding down and soon the portal will be closed and your only hope of escape with it, Christmas. Without Elise, no one will ever find you. I think we’ll name his son Beaumont Lacoste Junior.”