Max showered and dressed in record time, wanting to get to Liz. He was just grabbing his keys and wallet off his dresser when his phone rang again.
For a moment he considered not answering, but when he saw Liz’s name on the caller ID he quickly pressed the button.
“Liz?” he asked eagerly.
“I’ve taken care of your whore,” an angry voice hissed through the phone.
“Tess?” Max croaked, his throat suddenly dry.
“That’s right, lover,” Tess purred.
His knees nearly went out from underneath him. What had she done to Liz?”
Max swallowed hard. “What did you mean you took care of Liz?”
“I have her all tied up,” Tess said, “just waiting to get her throat slit.”
Max could hardly breathe as he asked his next question. “But she’s still alive?”
“For now,” Tess purred. “I thought you might like to come and see me kill her, and it would finally prove to you that I am the only woman who really loves you.”
“Yes,” Max agreed immediately. He needed time to stall her so he could save Liz. “Just tell me where you are.”
“Not so fast,” Tess said. “I’m tired of these games, Max. I know it’s not your fault, but these whores distract you. It’s time for us to be together.”
“Of course,” he said automatically. He’d agree to anything to save Liz. “But you have to tell me where you are, so we can start our life together.”
Tess sighed dramatically. “I knew you’d see I was the one for you, no matter what Liz did to get your attention. You don’t care that your whore is...”
“Right,” Max cut her off. “So where are you?”
“You’re so impatient,” Tess giggled, but sobered instantly. “You come alone,” she demanded. “I don’t want to see your bodyguards, or the police, or anyone. We need some time to ourselves.”
“Yes,” Max lied, “I’ll come alone.”
Already he was thinking about calling the police, the FBI, SWAT, and whomever else he could get.
“Listen to me Max,” Tess said. “If you bring anyone, if I see even one other person besides you, I’ll kill them and disappear again.”
Max’s heart nearly stopped, but he nodded. He didn’t have any doubts Tess would do exactly what she said. He’d just have to figure out how to save Liz when he got there.
“I’ll come alone,” he said, meaning it this time. “I promise.”
Tess put down Liz’s phone with a smile.
She had just meant to kill Liz, but when she’d seen Liz’s phone, she’d been curious.
Scrolling through the calls she’d seen that Max had called her repeatedly, and Tess knew that Liz had tricked him into staying with her. She had to break the spell Liz had him under, and what better way than to kill her and her bastard in front of Max?
Everything was working out better than she could have possibly imagined.
Liz woke up slowly, and her first sensation was pain.
Every inch of her hurt, but her head felt like it had exploded.
With her eyes squeezed shut, she tried to put her hand to her head, but her body didn’t seem to be working properly. She couldn’t move her arm. And then she realized she was tied up.
Her eyes snapped open and her vision swam as she tried to focus. She thought she might throw-up, and the word concussion popped into her mind.
She was tied to a chair on a dirt floor, surrounded by a large, weathered, wooden structure. It only took seconds to realize where she was, but she had no memory of how she had gotten there.
It was dim inside, but she easily recognized the barn on the family farm where Serena now lived. The main lights were off, and the interior was only being illuminated by an electric lantern, hanging near the front door.
Many times she had played in the barn with her sister…
Suddenly it all came rushing back to her; the power outage, her sister laying on the floor, and the flash of blonde hair before everything went dark. Somehow Tess had found them and attacked them.
Liz felt a rush of embarrassment that Tess had so easily overtaken her. Her only excuse was that she was still a bit groggy from the painkillers. And she didn’t feel much better now.
Her injured arm hurt, and the fresh blood soaking through the bandage made her pretty sure she’d pulled some stitches. Her head was killing her, but she pushed the pain aside in her mind, trying to assess the situation.
She looked around carefully, but didn’t see anyone else. What had Tess done with Serena? She remembered that her sister still had a pulse when she’d found her on the floor, and she hoped Tess had simply knocked her out.
The other possibility was too horrible to consider.
Automatically she started to struggle against her restraints. She was tied with simple rope, but it was very tight. It would take her a while to get free.
Suddenly she heard footsteps approaching, and made her whole body go limp as she pretended to still be unconscious.
Liz recognized the sound of the smaller, side door opening, and heard someone enter. She expected the footsteps to approach her but they didn’t. Instead they seemed to go to the front of the barn.
Carefully Liz cracked her eyes, and saw Tess looking out through a knothole in the wood.
What was she waiting for?
She was agitated, excited, softly murmuring to herself as she fidgeted around, like she was expecting someone. Liz also saw the huge knife she was holding. Tess seemed to be cradling it, caressing it like a pet, or a baby.
Liz worked at her bonds again, careful to stay quiet. If she was still tied to the chair when Tess remembered her, she was dead.
As Liz concentrated on freeing herself, she kept her head low, and both her eyes on Tess. If the blonde turned in her direction she needed to pretend to be unconscious again. Liz was sure it was the only thing saving her at the moment.
But Tess didn’t even look at her once. All of her attention was focused outside.
Max drove like a mad man. He was terrified that Tess would get tired of waiting for him, and kill Liz before he could make it.
Of course, he had no idea what to do when he got there.
He had a vague plan that he would be able to talk Tess out of killing Liz and her sister, maybe offering to take Tess somewhere.
Max assumed she had Serena too. Liz was staying with her. He just hoped that Tess didn’t hurt either of them.
Again he wished he had a gun.
He didn’t have access to one, and to ask one of his bodyguards for a gun would bring up a lot of questions he didn’t want to answer.
As it was he’d had to lose the two bodyguards who followed him, so he wouldn’t lead them to Tess.
It had been fairly easy. He’d just driven into a parking structure, and quickly gone the wrong way, heading for the exit as the bodyguards in the car behind him waited in line for a ticket.
His phone had been ringing since he lost them, and no doubt they were trying to contact him to see where he was. But every time it rang he checked it, to make sure it wasn’t Tess again.
He knew he was taking a huge risk going to meet Tess alone, with no weapon, but he didn’t have a choice. If anyone was with him he had no doubt Tess would follow through on her threat to kill Liz.
Gripping his cell phone, his thumb stroked over the face. Again he wondered if he was doing the right thing. He hadn’t told anyone what was happening or where he was going.
But now he was almost there.
If he did tell someone where he was going, they wouldn’t be able to get to him for an hour.
Suddenly he made up his mind. Someone needed to know that Tess had Liz and Serena in case he failed.
His phone rang again, but he let it go to voice mail when he saw it was the bodyguards again. He didn’t want them trying to talk him out of what he was doing.
Instead he dialed Michael. His friend might not approve of his actions, but he would understand.
Michael answered on the first ring. “Max, what the fuck are you doing?”
Max grimaced as he answered. “Tess has Liz and her sister,” he blurted out. “She told me to come alone or she would kill them.”
“Max,” Michael tried to break in, but Max cut him off.
“I have to do this. I have to save her,” he rushed on. “Tess has them at Liz’s sister’s house. I have the address.”
He rattled it off quickly. “I’ve got to go. I’m almost there.”
“Max!” Michael tried again, but Max didn’t wait for what his best friend was going to say, and hung up.
The phone rang immediately again, but he turned it off. He was nearing the house, and he needed to concentrate.
He still hadn’t figured out what he was going to say to Tess. He just hoped he said the right thing.
Liz pulled at the tight ropes, trying to work as quickly as she could, while keeping her eyes on her blonde captor. She couldn’t believe Tess hadn’t looked at her once, but all of her attention was focused outside.
She was obviously waiting for someone, but Liz couldn’t imagine who it was.
Tess suddenly straightened up, and reached to turn the lantern almost all the way down, so it was almost dark around them. And then Liz heard the crunch of tires on the gravel driveway.
For a moment she had a rush of hope, but it died quickly. Whoever it was would be no match for Tess and her knife.
Liz watched Tess intently, wondering what she would do to the newcomer. Tess almost seemed to be vibrating with anticipation, and Liz didn’t think that could be good.
A car door slammed, and the gravel squeaked under hurried footsteps. For a second, everything was silent, and then there was a pounding sound that Liz assumed was someone knocking on the door of the house.
The deep, masculine voice broke the stillness, and made Liz jump in her chair. It surprised her, but more than that, she recognized it at once.
Tess had lured Max here, no doubt by using her as bait.
She wanted to yell for him to go away, to save himself, but she was afraid that Max would ignore her warning and try to rescue her anyway.
Desperately she pulled at the ropes holding her. She had to save herself and Max.
Max’s car skidded to a stop in the gravel driveway and he leapt out, running for the house. He tried the doorknob, but it was locked, and he desperately pounded on the door.
“Tess!!” he yelled out.
He kept knocking as he looked around. “Tess, where are you?” He moved to the window and looked inside, but didn’t see anything in the darkness. “I’m alone, just like you said,” he called out.
There were no sounds and no lights, and for a moment he wondered if Tess had lied, or taken Liz and Serena somewhere else.
Then he heard a squeaking sound behind him, and turned to see Tess emerging from seemingly nowhere. He was surprised, but let his eyes scan over her quickly. She had a huge smile on her face as she walked toward him, and she was carrying an equally huge knife.
Max felt his whole body stiffen in fear. Had she used it already?
His only consoling thought was the fact that the knife appeared to be clean. But Tess might have used it and wiped it off…
He shook himself. He couldn’t let his fear take over. His head had to be clear.
More than anything he wanted to ask how Liz was, but he thought it would anger Tess. So instead he settled for a more neutral statement.
“I’m here,” he said, watching Tess carefully as she stopped a few feet from him. “And I came alone, just like I said I would.”
She bounced happily in front of him. “I knew you would. We’ll finally be together.”
Max nodded, quickly taking advantage of her words. “Then let’s just get in my car and go.”
Taking a step back, he thought Tess might follow him, but she shook her head. “I have to kill her first.”
Max’s breath caught. Liz was alive, and he had to make sure she stayed that way.
He tried again to lure Tess away. “Forget her,” he said, with a jerk of his head toward his convertible. “We can start our life together now.”
“No Max,” she said petulantly. She motioned toward the barn. “You have to watch me kill her. It’s the only way you’ll be free of her.”
His eyes flicked to the barn. Was Liz really inside? He wanted to see her more than anything.
“Come on,” Tess said walking quickly toward the structure, and calling back over her shoulder. “Watch me slit your whore’s throat.”
Max followed her inside, his eyes darting around in the near darkness, as he tried to figure out what to do. At first he didn’t see anything, but then Tess flipped on the overhead lights.
He nearly cried out when he saw Liz. Her head snapped up when the lights went on and she winced in pain. She was tied to a chair, her injured arm was bleeding and a nasty bruise was forming on the side of her face. She looked like she had taken a beating.
Instantly he wanted to kill Tess. He was bigger than she was, and more muscular, but Tess was fast and she had the knife. He couldn’t take the chance.
His eyes locked with Liz’s and she gave a small jerk of her head toward Tess. Max understood her immediately. She wanted him to distract the blonde, and he assumed she needed time to free herself.
Mind racing, he tried to think of anything to say to Tess, and then something snapped into place.
“Where’s the other one?” he asked suddenly. “The sister.”
Tess shrugged. “Tied up in the house.”
“Is she alive?” he asked softly.
“Of course,” Tess snapped. “You don’t think I just go around killing people.”
He was incredulous. She really was insane, but he shook his head to humor her. “Umm, no.”
She started to move toward Liz, brandishing the knife. “But she has to go.”
Max was panicking. His eyes darted to Liz and then back to Tess. He had to stop her.
“Tess, listen,” he tried again, touching her shoulder. “You’re a good person. You don’t want to kill Liz either. We should just leave her and go.”
Tess whirled on him, a horrible expression on her face. “You’re in love with her, aren’t you?” she asked, waving the knife at him.
She didn’t wait for an answer, but rushed on, moving toward him. “I can’t believe you,” she screeched, her voice getting higher and louder. “After everything I’ve done for you! For us! You go and fall for that bitch and her tricks!”
Max backed up. “I want to be with you, Tess,” he said quickly.
“LIAR!” she screeched,
She slashed at him with the knife, and he jumped back, but the tip still caught part of his shirt, tearing it open. He tried to remember some of the moves Liz had taught him, but he was too late.
Tess rushed at him, arcing the knife through the air, and he instinctively put up his arm. The blade cut through his shirt and into his forearm.
Roaring in surprise and pain, he clutched his arm, stumbling back, and fell to the floor.
She drew the knife back again, and Max knew it was the end. He’d try to fight back, of course, but he didn’t have the skills. He hadn’t failed only himself, he’d failed Liz too. He’d come to save her, and now they would both die.
Liz watched horrified as Tess raised the knife, preparing to strike Max again. She was almost free of the ropes, but she didn’t have time to finish, and seeing Max’s blood on the blade enraged her.
Getting to her feet with the chair still attached to her, she wobbled slightly from the sudden movement, the pain in her head overwhelming her for a second. But she used it, screaming in rage and pain, drawing Tess’ attention.
Tess whirled toward her and Liz rushed at the blonde.
A gleeful smile crossed Tess’ face and she held the knife, ready to attack.
Liz ran straight at her, waiting until the last second to spin, using the chair as a weapon. She put all of her strength into her swing and the wooden legs connected solidly, knocking Tess to the floor and sending her rolling a few feet.
But the rapid movement made Liz’s head erupt in another explosion of pain. She fell to the ground hard, landing on her side and her injured arm. She screamed in agony as the wound was torn open, but she used the motion, rolling to her feet to be ready for the next attack.
She was surprised when the chair didn’t come with her. It must have broken in the fall, and she quickly unwound the rest of the ropes from her hands as she watched Tess get up.
Liz dropped the ropes and started to reach for pieces of chair to use as weapons, but Tess rushed her too quickly.
“You bitch!” Tess screeched.
Instantly Liz spun out of the way of the of the large knife coming at her, using her momentum to shove the blonde away from her.
Then Liz dropped to one knee as dizziness almost overwhelmed her.
Concussion, she thought again.
Her head felt like it was on fire, throbbing with pain. Her vision swam, and she thought she would be sick. She had to get up or Tess would finish them both, but her reactions were slow.
Tess rushed at her again, the knife held high, and Liz only had a second to respond. Never taking her eyes off Tess, she grasped a piece of the chair, bringing it up to defend herself.
She used it like a bat, hitting Tess in the shoulder of her knife hand, putting all of her strength behind it.
Tess cried out, stumbling away, clutching her arm, and Liz took the opportunity to scramble painfully to her feet.
Taking a deep breath, Liz tried to clear her head. Again her vision blurred, and she knew she had to end it quickly.
She waited for Tess to rush her again, and dodged at the last second, but Tess anticipated her, moving the same way.
Liz swung the chair leg she was holding in a sharp motion, bringing it down on top of the knife, knocking it from Tess’ hand.
Tess screamed in rage, and lunged for Liz, slamming their bodies together, and knocking them both back. Liz struggled to keep her footing, but dropped her weapon while staying away from Tess’ scrambling hands. She turned them, trying to break free of Tess’ grip, but the blonde’s rage was making her incredibly strong.
In the end, Liz balled her fist and hit Tess squarely in the jaw.
Letting go immediately, Tess lunged for the knife, but Liz couldn’t let her get it. She dropped to the floor, grabbing the chair leg and swung it hard. She hit Tess in the knee, knocking her legs out from under her, and then quickly hit her again on the back of the head.
The blonde fell heavily to the ground and lay still.
Liz pinned her, and instantly Max was at her side. He reached for the near-by rope and they tied the unconscious Tess, hand and foot.
His eyes turned to Liz, and quickly scanned over her. She looked terrible. “Liz, are you okay?” he asked, reaching out to her.
Suddenly there were sounds all around them, and Liz’s team of bodyguards burst into the barn, guns drawn, with the police right behind them.
Liz felt weak with relief. They were safe.
“We need medical attention,” she said, “and my sister…”
But she didn’t finish the sentence because she slipped into darkness.
Saving Max Main
Back to Main||