Home > Defying Eternity (Blossom in Winter #4)

Defying Eternity (Blossom in Winter #4)
Author: Melanie Martins

 


Prologue

 

 

Rotterdam, December 5, 2020

Tess Hagen

 

 

A small squeak catches my attention. I don’t typically sleep well at night, especially not on a night like tonight, and any little noise can easily wake me up. I crack my eyes open for the hundredth time, and turn to the nightstand to check the time. My room is as dark as it gets, with only the red light from the alarm clock flashing the digital numbers acting as a source of light. Oh gosh, it’s already 4 a.m. but the creaking sound is still present and it’s giving me goosebumps. I then recall Carice's insistence on keeping a gun by my bedside––at the time I found the idea totally ridiculous––but now, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched. I feel antsy as I swear that I keep hearing footsteps somewhere, but they are too low to be from inside the room. Maybe it’s just the wind blowing against the windows that is causing such strange noises. No, I should know better. It sounds more like someone tiptoeing across the tiles. They are barely audible, but I have good ears and they must be coming from somewhere else in the house—maybe the entryway? The living room? Yet there are no other sounds, nothing that would indicate that there is, in fact, a stranger in the house, just the wooden-floor creaking from time to time. There it goes again! My skin prickles with a shiver and I look around for my iPhone to call the police. But I draw out a breath in annoyance just as fast as I remember I left it in the living room to avoid texting Petra again to try dissuading her from marrying that monster. As Carice had told me, if Petra wants to go ahead after everything I’d told her, then I should also go ahead and expose her lovely groom to Jan and let him know what he did to his daughter. I’m sure the wedding at the cathedral will be very entertaining once Jan knows the truth.

Anyway, enough of that, I need to gain some courage and go get my iPhone. As I come to think of it, good grief, it’s most likely just the dogs that managed to get out of the kitchen. They are smart boys and I’m more than sure that they know how to twist the handle with their mouths. I leap off of my bed, put on a warm robe, and head outside the room rather slowly. I turn the lights of the hallway on immediately, and see nothing—just an empty hallway. Heaving a sigh of relief, I start walking, perfectly aware it’s most likely all in my head. Strange noises that we can’t identify usually fuel our wildest fears. Though my eyes suddenly fix themselves on the semi-open door of the living room, I see it’s just as dark in there as it had been in the hallway before flicking on the light. I roll my eyes at my own paranoia. I open the door a bit further, my gaze landing on the fireplace and the paneled-walls that stand on my left. Stepping in, I turn on the lights, and as I look to my right, I am startled immediately.

“Oh God!” I shout in shock, gasping for air, as my eyes alight on Margaret, who’s sitting on an armchair as if she was waiting for me there.

“Finally,” she says. “I wondered if I had to send someone to go and wake you up.”

I blink twice, then rub my fingers on my eyelids to make sure this is not a dream. “How did you get in here?” I bark immediately, my nerves boiling under my skin.

“Your security is non-existent, Tess…”

Her snickering is even more irritating than her voice. I squeeze my eyes tight, wishing I could throw bullets at her, and then, pointing my index finger at her, I shout, “Get out of my house!”

Despite the loud-pitched sound of my voice, Margaret doesn’t even bat an eye. “Or else what?” she asks, just as serenely as she remains calmly in the armchair.

I’m about to step back, but my foot touches a shoe and I nearly scream as I turn to look at the tall, bulky man that stands behind me in his long, greenish coat and black boots. His stern eyes make me swallow the lump in my throat and I instinctively glance around the room, trying to find a sharp object that I could throw at him. Yet his hands are now holding my wrists and despite me trying to pull them away, he isn’t letting me go. I don’t even know how he grabbed me so quickly.

“Don’t touch me!” I bark at him as I try to release myself from him. Then I look back at Margaret, who remains quietly sitting on the armchair, her face revealing nothing. No emotions, no fears, no rage. Nothing. How could someone be as monstrous as her? How?

She eyes her security, giving him a nod, and the man ushers me forward as he drags me toward her. Then he forces me to sit on the sofa beside Margaret. Even as I am sitting, he keeps within an arm’s reach––I suppose it is in case I try to make any sort of moves.

As I refocus my attention, my eyes narrow at the note that is resting on the low table in front of us.

“A very kind message from you, isn’t it?” Margaret takes the note and opens it for me to see. “If you thought I’d let you threaten me without facing any consequences, then you are very mistaken, my dear.”

“There’s nothing you can do to prevent Jan from knowing the truth,” I snap just as fast. “You can kill me, but he’ll find out soon, regardless.” My lips twist into a smirk as her anger grows. “His end is near.” And to my greatest shock, my throat gets squeezed right away by the stranger. My mouth remains wide open as I try to drag some precious huffs of air into my lungs, but I find myself gasping and failing to do so. My heart brisks, pumping faster at every second he keeps tightening around my neck.

“You’re testing my limits, Tess…” I hear Margaret’s mumbling despite feeling my face turning red at the lack of oxygen. Margaret eventually gives another nod at the man and he finally releases me. I gasp for air, tears starting to form in the crevices of my eyes. She then leans forward, her eyes cold and stern, remaining focused on me. “I’m not going to kill you yet. But your time will come soon.” She raises up from her seat and leaves. The man gestures for me to do the same, so I stand up, wondering what she is up to. Margaret goes in front and leaves the living room, and her security pushes me forward to keep walking. I follow because I’m pretty sure he must be armed, and as I step in the entryway, I see two more agents guarding the front door where Margaret is heading. I stop for a second, realizing they are taking me away with them. I try to run back inside, but the security that stands behind me, holds me again. So I punch him as much as I can, kicking him from right and left, my anger consuming me. “Stop it! Release me!” I bark. “Help! Help!”

Then I feel another man walking from behind me while I’m battling with the first one and screaming as much as I can. Yet I can see from over my shoulder that he’s carrying something. Oh gosh! No! “Don’t touch me! Help!” I keep screaming as loud as I can. But in a quick move, he slams a handkerchief over my nose and mouth, and despite battling as much as I can, my mind starts feeling dizzy and my body goes numb.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Manhattan, February 8, 2021

Petra Van Gatt

 

 

I still can’t believe I just sat and watched Eric take Alex to the police station. The pain I felt while hearing my husband pleading with me and being unable to answer him makes my heart reel.

“You did the right thing,” Carice says as she remains sitting beside me with Matthew. “It’s hard to see the man we love for what he truly is. But you did the right thing, I mean it.”

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