Read A Night To Remember Online

Authors: Paige Williams

A Night To Remember (5 page)

"You ... you mean he's done this before?"

"
Well, he's
tried
.
You
--
we
--
won't be the first to die because of my father's
insane
will."

"
His w
ill?" I looked at him, boggled. "And I thought
my
family had issues."

Jonathan grinned and started to talk but I held up my hand. "Look, I'm sure it's fascinating, but forget the
backstory
,
you can tell me all about it after we've gotten out of here, preferably somewhere with a raging log fire and lots of people.

"I hate to tell you this, but we're not getting out. My brother meant what he
said,
he's left us down here to die."

I shook my head and felt the beginnings of a smile tug at the corners of my mouth. "W
e're not going to die.
Since I haven't been able to get in contact with my family they are going to be frantic by now, and will have started looking for me
... "

Jonathan
rolled his eyes, "Yes, I know, they will be calling the police, the
firemen
and probably a couple of television stations.
I'm
sorry
,
but my demented brother was right, the police aren't going to be out looking for you, at least not for another 24 hours, and even then there isn't much they can do.
No one knows you
are
locked
down here. They may suspect, but
Franklin
would never allow anyone
to explore the house
without a
search warrant
and, even if the police had enough evidence to get one, that takes time
.
As
my brother so thoughtfully
informed
us, a person can
only
survive three days without water. They would reach us far too late to be of any help."

"Aren't you just sunshine and roses?" I said, feeling snarky.
"Seeing as this is
all your
fault you could at least be cheerier."

Jonathan sat down and sighed. "
It's not all my fault.
My father died close to
a
year ago, leaving his estate to me and my brother but only under certain conditions."

"Conditions?"

"Yes,
conditions
.
My father was what people politely call eccentric. He got it into his head that simply inheriting his wealth would be too easy. He had this castle built and said we had to live in it for a year. If we both stayed the entire
year
we each would receive half his estate. However, if one of us fled before the year was up the
brother who remained
would receive everything. If both of us fled then my father's entire estate would be given to charity."

"But ... why?
Why would he want one of you to run the other off? "

Jonathan
shook his head
.
"I do not believe my father was entirely sane toward the end, but what I believe doesn't matter. We challenged the will
,
but the courts upheld it and so for the past
11 months
my brother and I have tried to survive this prison without going
insane
, a
battle which I fear
Franklin
lost long ago
. Last month he hired a girl to come to the door, pretend to be in distress, all in an effort to trap me."

I frowned. "Trap you? What do you mean, trap you?"

"I mean, he
paid her to pretend to be in distress and then drug me and drag me outside the castle gates so that I would forfeit my share of my father's inheritance.
"

"
But you didn't fall for it?
"

He scowled at me. "
No. I did not.
But
that's why I thought
you were working for
Franklin
.
I thought he hired you
, just like he hired the other girl."

I nodded and swallowed. "What ... what happened to her? Franklin said he had killed before, that there were
others
, other girls." I was
pretty sure
I didn't want to know the answer, but I couldn't
not
know.

Jonathan looked down and nodded. He sig
h
ed. "
Franklin killed her. At first I thought it
had been an accident
." Jonathan closed his eyes and shook his head. "I should have known better.
"
W
hen he was young
, one of his girlfriends went missing.
My family hushed it up, I was at boarding school, but
I
always
suspect
ed
there was more to
the
girl's disappearance than my family let on."

"You mean ... your parents covered
up
that he was a murderer
?" I said, shocked.

Jonathan nodded. "Please don't think
poorly
of my parents. My mother would have done anything for her children.
Anything
.
She couldn't bear to think of
Franklin
locked up."

"Even if he should have been?"

Jonathan flushed. "Yes.
Even if he should have been."

We sat in silence a moment. "There's still something I don't understand. If he kills you, he won't have won and he'll still get only half
your father's money, rather than all of it
."

"No," Jonathan said.

"No?" I asked.

"No
,
"
he said.

"
Ummm
.
And
why would that be? And, please, use more than one syllable."

Jonathan signed and ran a hand through his hair. I took some consolation in the fact that it looked almost as bad as
mine
. "It's because I'm an idiot. I should have made a will before I entered this damn castle, one
which
left everything I had to charity. As it stands, if I die he'll get everything since he's my only surviving relative."

I raised my eyebrows at him in silent agreement of his assessment of his mental faculties.

"It never occurred to me that he'd try to kill me. I mean, we're
family
."

I sigh
ed. I guess I could understand.

Jonathan
turned and looked at me for a few heartbeats, studying me.
"You really had no
idea,
you just landed in the midst of this insanity, this contest of wills between he and I."
He regarded me for a moment
longer
and I felt the weight of his gaze.
"I am truly sorry."

My
cheeks
felt
tingly
.

"Well, that's that, then," Jonathan said, sighing.
"I guess if I have to
die
I'm glad to have your company."

I laughed, the tension making the sound explode out of me.
"Thanks.
I think."

He reached for me then and
took my hand in his
.
"Not that I want you
t
o die, of course
," he said, his mouth twisted into a rye half-smile.

I raised one of my eyebrows at him and grinned.
"Of course," I said,
and went to
sit beside him
.

Absently running a lock of my hair through his fingers he said, "May I say that you seem to be taking our impending demise rather well?"

"You may, but as I've told you all along, we aren't going to die. My father will find me."

Resting a palm across my forehead he said, "Nope, no fever."

I pursed my lips together and glared at him.
"I am
not
delusional.
Both my car and my phone send GPS signals, my Dad knows this and
he'll
use the information to track me down. He's probably on his way now."

"Your dad.
You know how crazy that
sounds?
It's
nice to have a high view of your father and his abilities but he's not superman. Without the police helping there isn't much he can do."

Finally giving in to irritation, I folded my arms across my chest and glared at Jonathan. "My father is Dario Romano," I said and squinted into his eyes for any hint of recognition.

"I take it that name is supposed to mean something to me," he said, nonplussed.

"Let's just say that my father is to convention centers what Ton
y
Soprano is to sanitation."

Jonathan raised his eyebrows at me, "Tony Soprano is a fictional mob boss."

I leveled my gaze at him.
"Well, my father
isn't
fictional
.
"

Jonathan was stunned for a moment, "So you're ..."
His eyes had gone wide.
"And you're just mentioning this
now
?"

"Well, I didn't want to scare you," I said defensively. "When I tell people about my family connections they either treat me like a leper or suddenly want to be my best friend."

If I sprouted a third
eye
I don't think Jonathan could have looked more stunned.

"So I guess you'll want me to tell my father that you had nothing to do with drugging and kidnapping me, huh," I g
rinned
at him, barely suppressing a giggle.

"Why you little ...," he began, and
didn't
finish until much, much, later.

*  *  *  *

That was two years ago
and Jonathan and I are still together. Now instead of nagging me to 'bring home a nice boy' Dad keeps asking when Jonathan and I are going to tie the knot.
I'm
glad Dad likes him.

In case
you're
wondering,
Franklin
managed to escape. I guess when scary looking men with guns
assaulted the house
he
saw the writing on the wall
. We never heard from him again, but there was a news report of a juicy
thigh bone
found in the hills west of there with human teeth marks in it. Maybe the
Anderson's got
him.

A girl can hope.

-- The End --

 

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