It was Ranger who woke up Mark by pushing his cat nose onto Mark’s nose over and over. The cat was meowing and stepping around on the bed as Mark blinked into the room.
He had no idea what time it was and lazily he pushed up on his elbows and looked over at the alarm clock. It showed almost noon and he remembered the sleeping pill he had taken in the early morning.
Chiara wasn’t in the bed next to him and he also didn’t hear any noises coming from the bathroom.
Ranger kept meowing. Mark pushed himself all the way up on his hands. He looked down the bed, his legs were still covered. When he peeked under the blanket, he was surprised for a moment at his nudity but quickly he remembered the night before and he smiled. Fortunately, everything was still dry under there. He was relieved about that. If Chiara would be staying in his bed from now on, he would have to let her in on the things he dealt with when it came to his spastic bladder and how he really couldn’t go without the incontinence briefs at night. With her sleeping next to him from now on he definitely didn’t want to wake up in a wet bed in the morning.
He looked to his wheelchair and with his hands he pushed himself over some. He moved the blanket off and pushed his legs over the edge of the bed. They dropped down with his feet falling onto the floor. He pulled his TiLite closer to the bed and focusing on his position for a moment he then transferred into it. He hooked his hand under his right knee and lifted his foot onto the foot rest, then did the same with the left leg.
Ranger jumped off the bed and kept meowing as Mark wheeled to the bathroom. He closed the door behind him and emptied his bladder. After he was done, he washed his hands, looked into the mirror for a moment, let his hands run through his hair, and grabbed a towel off the rack. He draped it over his lap.
Since Chiara seemed to be up already, he was hoping a little bit she had made breakfast again like the day before and with a smile he wheeled out of his bedroom. Ranger followed him and Mark wondered if Chiara had fed him yet. She had seemed so keen about taking care of Ranger the day before.
Mark came into the kitchen but Chiara was not there. Thinking she may have moved to the couch during the night he glanced over into the living room but she was not there either. His eyes travelled to Ranger’s bowl and there was no sign of his being fed earlier.
He wheeled over to the small guest bathroom and knocked on the door, “Chiara?”
There was no answer and when he opened the door, he didn’t find her in there either. His smile had faded from his face and he didn’t know why but he quickly wheeled back to his bedroom. In his bedroom he looked over to the bed again, somehow thinking for some strange reason he may have missed that she was still sleeping in his bed. But she wasn’t there.
He pushed his rims again and rolled out to the kitchen. Ranger was getting impatient, meowing and getting into Mark’s path.
Mark called out her name but there was no answer from anywhere.
In between his kitchen and living room he scanned with his eyes over his apartment for any signs of Chiara. He then quickly pushed his rims over to the apartment door. The chain was unhooked and the door was unlocked with the key still in it. Mark swallowed at seeing this but still opened the door. He pushed his chair out enough to look up and down the sidewalk and over to his Challenger. No one was in sight.
He felt his heart beat speed up and wheeled back into the apartment closing the door but staying right there scanning his apartment again. His eyes ended on the kitchen counter when he saw a piece of paper.
He felt his body charged and he felt his heart race in his chest. Anxiety crept up at spotting the single piece of paper on the counter. With trembling hands, he prolonged his wheeling to the counter as to avoid the paper but he eventually made it there and with quick breaths and a shaking hand he picked it up, swallowed and read the note with his eyes:
Mark, don’t forget, you’ll always be in my heart. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you. I’m so very sorry about this. You’re the only other man I will have ever loved. You’ve made me so happy and I’ll keep on dreaming about you and me. You’re amazing and beautiful and I’ll never forget you. You’ll be in my heart forever. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, Madison Chiara.
Mark let the paper drop onto the counter again. He stared at it in complete shock and he heard Ranger meowing. His eyes travelled over to his car keys and wallet on the counter. He saw his wallet had been opened and he didn’t even have to investigate because he knew it was most likely empty, stripped off the two hundred dollars in cash he had had in it.
He couldn’t move, he was frozen in his spot as he sat there hunched over with his hands trembling so badly, he interlocked them on his thighs but it didn’t stop them from shaking. Ranger meowed but Mark didn’t acknowledge him. He felt like he was underwater and he couldn’t hear right anymore. His heart beat drowned out every other sound in his ears and even Ranger’s meowing sounded like it was very far away.
He didn’t move, he felt as not only half of his body was paralyzed but his whole body was now still and immobile. The only motion he perceived were the nerves vibrating through him and his mind racing so much he felt dizzy.
But he was fixed to the spot and the tensions he felt seemed to tear him apart. His voice was trying to come out but he choked. The apparent knot lodged in his throat seemed huge. And his vision became blurry.
He squeezed his eyes shut and he swallowed but the clump in his throat remained. He swallowed again. His chest quickly moved up and down as he was trying to breathe. His lips were pressed together and he inhaled and exhaled quickly through his nose. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t. He heard nothing but his heart beat in his ears.
Ranger’s meowing eventually echoed through again and Mark slowly opened his eyes. Ranger appeared distorted through his eyes filling with tears. His body crumpled and his head hung as a few tears could not be contained anymore and dripped out onto his hands. Ranger appeared in front of him meowing and standing up on his hind legs clawing Mark’s knees. The cat was able to reach Mark’s nose and pushed against it a few times, then brushed around his legs and feet on the foot rest.
Mark shook his head in disbelief but he couldn’t speak. With all his strength he tried to hold it together but it was difficult. He was breathing quickly and tried to contain more tears from pushing out. He didn’t remember the last time he had cried. Tears had been estranged to him for a long time.
He sat hunched over with his face almost touching his hands. He didn’t move for at least ten minutes. A few tears had found their way out of his blue eyes and had landed on the floor, on his feet and even on Ranger, who had stopped meowing and instead had settled down right by Mark’s feet next to the TiLite's caster wheel and closely and very alert watched his human who seemed to be breaking into a thousand pieces.
Right about this time Chiara sat in her bedroom on the fifth floor in a small apartment in South Seattle with the door locked and outside the door Trey was pacing back and forth thinking about how or if he should punish her. His rage was limitless and unpredictable but since she had come back to him, he debated how to react about this. He didn’t want her to get any stupid ideas of trying to kill herself, he really didn’t want to deal with the mess. He also didn’t want to kill her, not yet anyways. She was too valuable and his mind was racing at what to do with her. Very deep inside he did care about her in some way but greed, selfishness, a deeply manifested insecurity and hating himself for way too long had not left much room to actually feel anything even close to love. Whatever was left of the money she had brought with her was on the table, about one hundred dollars, next to the red hoodie with a Nike logo on it.
Apparently, she had taken a taxi to come home. He had been surprised when the doorbell had rung and he had heard Chiara’s voice through the speaker. He had let her come in and when she had walked into the apartment, he hadn’t said anything to her. She had thrown her small purse with money on the counter and had gone straight to the bathroom without saying anything. When she was done, he had ordered her to go to the bedroom and inside he had told her to strip down so he could make sure she didn’t have a gun or anything on her.
He then had allowed her to put on some clothes again.
Now he stared at the hoodie on the table, he didn’t recognize it and picked it up. He held it up to his nose but didn’t smell any Cannabis on it. He really didn’t recognize any of the clothes she had been wearing when she had walked in. The last time he had seen her was when he had dropped her off on Evans Street Friday evening and she had definitely not been wearing a red hoodie, size L with a Nike logo on it.
He snatched the hoodie and opened the bedroom door. Chiara laid in the bed and was covered with a comforter. She had her back turned to him and he could only see the top of her head.
He stayed by the door and asked harshly, “Whose fucking clothes are these?”
Chiara didn’t turn around and didn’t answer. She was awake though staring at the wall in front of her.
Trey tossed the red hoodie over to her and it landed on her head. She pulled it off and left it right there next to her face and for a moment she felt pain in her heart. She caught a distant scent of Mark’s cologne.
“I asked you a question! Whose fucking clothes are these? And where are your boots? Those fucking thigh high boots cost me an arm and a leg.”
Trey now came around to the bed and stood next to it looking down on Chiara, “So you’re not going to talk to me?”
She didn’t say a word and she didn’t look at him.
He now pulled the comforter of her body and she lay there in just a thin tank top and shorts. She was startled at his taking the comforter off her. He took his T-Shirt off and unbuttoned his jeans.
She was scared now because she knew what was going to happen. He pushed his jeans and boxers down. He grabbed her by her hair and pulled her up on her knees and off the bed. She tumbled down somewhat bracing herself and landing on the floor next to Trey’s feet in the heavy boots.
He then pulled her by her hair again and shoved her face to his privates, ordering, “Get your slut mouth on there and blow me.”
He held her head right there in front of his crotch and she saw his cock in front of her eyes, getting larger already. She wanted to squeeze her eyes shut but he leaned on the wall and he ripped her head back some forcing her to look up at him and he hissed, “Get with it already.”
Hesitantly her mouth touched his cock and she took it into her mouth. And Trey held her there, she had no way to escape, her hair and scalp hurt as he had a thick wad of hair in his hand and made sure she felt it.
And she did what he demanded and he grumbled over her in between moaning, “How often are you going to do this? You’re so fucking lucky you came back to me. I still don’t know what to do with you.”
He moaned of pleasure and rage simultaneously as Chiara was attached to him in his merciless and forceful grip and did what she had done countless times and usually always when he was angry with her and full of rage.
He pounded her to him and she actually was more okay with this than Trey actually getting on top of her or behind her like he had done hundreds of times.
And her eyes filled with tears as she tried to avoid gagging and adhered to his demand and submitted to his force.
Trey moaned and groaned above her and right before he came, he said with a low and angry growl, “If I find out that you were with some other motherfucker, I’ll kill him and you’ll be watching while I do.”
And with those words her tears were running over her face while Trey came but didn’t let her get away and she fought the gagging and the nausea in her stomach, swallowing in disgust as she finished the task.
Trey let go of her and pushed her away from him and she landed in the corner by the bed. She balled herself up and didn’t look at him, keeping her eyes down and trying to not get sick.
He pulled his boxers and jeans up, zipped and buttoned himself and grabbed his T-Shirt off the bed and walked away hissing, “Fucking slut.”
She didn’t look up and she heard how he slammed the door and locked it again. And she grabbed the red hoodie off the bed and she buried her face in it and her tears soaked it quickly.
It had taken Mark a while to collect himself and he really couldn’t believe it still.
He eventually had managed to feed Ranger and then wheeled back into his bedroom where he sat again staring at the bed. He glanced at the brand-new Nike sneakers on the floor, the fluffy slippers from Maya and in his bathroom, he saw three bottles of shower gel lined up by the sink.
The only items missing were the black leggings, the green shirt, his red hoodie and the flip flops.
He was really in a daze. He was hoping to wake up from this nightmare but he didn’t wake up because he was already awake and this wasn’t a nightmare. He sat in his wheelchair next to his bed, staring at the disorderly blanket and sheets that had covered up a person he cared for so much just a few hours ago. He pulled his wheelchair up to the bed and he hit his fist onto the mattress in uncontrollable rage and anger.
And he wanted to scream but he couldn’t, so he just took quick, trembling breaths as he hissed through his teeth while pounding the bed, “No fucking way…no fucking way…”
And the word “fuck” came out of his mouth in all forms.
Overwhelming was the longing to get up from his wheelchair and run outside, run after her or run to his car and turn the ignition and speed through town with his foot on a gas pedal instead of his hand on hand controls. There was the urge to prepare for a mission to solve a problem but it was a mission different than any missions he had ever been on while in the military. This was a mission to find the woman he loved and eliminate everyone that would come in between him and her, no matter what it would take.
But in reality, he was far from being able to prepare for a mission at the moment, he was far from feeling strong and ready. He was devastated and had no idea what he was going to do. He sat there in his bedroom and eventually stopped hitting the bed and was overcome by sheer hopelessness. He had no plan, he had no clue what he would do.
Mark barely got into the bathroom to take care of his morning routine and take a shower. His mind was restless and he kept thinking about the situation. He really couldn’t believe that Chiara had just left him like this. The night before had been so unbelievable with all the things she had confessed to him and when at first, he had been confused and overwhelmed the more he had thought about it while lying awake the more he had felt that Chiara and he were meant to be together. Everything had seemed so amazing after she had opened up to him but now she was gone and he had no idea where to even start looking for her.
He sat on the shower chair and just let water run over his face and body and he had his eyes closed thinking about everything and trying to sort out his thoughts.
When he eventually sat dressed in his living room, he still felt like he was in a dream. He looked over at the table where the wine glass and beer bottle were still sitting from the night before. He glanced over to the couch where the bag with Maya’s clothes was, and on the couch next to Ranger sat the stuffed animal cat named Maddie.
Mark rolled over to Ranger and the cat opened his eyes and glanced at his owner. Mark took the stuffed animal and looked at it for a moment, thinking back to the time they had spent at the Arcade the day before and how much fun Chiara had seemed to have. He then flung the stuffed animal straight across the room and it landed in a corner somewhere by the dining table. Ranger seemed a bit startled at his owners’ action but didn’t move from the couch.
Mark then pushed his rims and wheeled over to the pile of clothes and Chiara’s boots on the floor. He looked at the clothes for a moment and then took the short fluffy jacket she had worn the night he had picked her up. He put it against his face and he could smell her scent on it and then he put his hands into the pockets but found nothing but a pack of gum.
He then looked through the rest of her clothes but there was nothing else. He saw the stuffed animal cat in the corner and picked it up from the floor, then wheeled back over to Ranger and set the cat next to him, “I’m sorry man, here you go, take care of Maddie for me.”
Mark felt tense, agitated and restless and the only thing he could think of was where Chiara possibly was and how he could find her. He had no number for her, no cell phone, no trace of where she could be, or where he could actually start looking for her.
But there was no way he could stay in his apartment because the walls seemed to be closing him in and he got dressed and soon sat in his car and took off.