The Ringer

Vote by March 3, 2014!

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In the previous episode, readers voted that the man who caught Scarlett in her hotel room was a male acquaintance whom she’d only met a couple of times but who always gave her the creeps. 

Episode 14

“Scarlett! Scarlett, are you okay?!” He said, frantically trying to ensure she’s alright.

She quickly recovered from her dizziness as the room began returning to its rightful position and she cursed silently at it for moving around like that. She sat up quicker than she probably should have and before she even got the chance to ask herself what the hell just happened, her attention was turned to the tall, goofy looking man whose scruffy face was far too close to hers.

“Scarlett, are you alright?”

James Hanover… She had met him at a few of her art galleries and although she had to give him credit for being the only person to buy something at every showing, he always stood a little too close and stared a little too long for her liking, often avoiding him unless absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, she had to admit she was slightly relieved to see a face that wasn’t trying to either kill or betray her.

After a moment, she responded to his question, “Yeah I’m fine. Sorry, I don’t know what happened . . .”

“You scared me! I was on my way out in the parking lot and saw you walking up so I figured I’d catch up with you but as soon as I got to the door, you were just about on your ass. Maybe it’s fate. I always knew one day you’d fall for me,” he said with a smile and wink that sent chills up her spine.

She let out a pity chuckle at his attempted joke then remembered the papers all over the floor. She began to apologize for the mess and pick them up then jumped back up towards him when she realized he was trying to help as well. She didn’t want him knowing her business but by the time she leaped in his direction, it was too late.

“Divorce papers? Something happen with you and Clay?” He asked. He sure is awfully nosy for someone who barely knows me.

“He . . . Uh, yeah well . . . we were having some problems that got the best of us it seems like.”

That answer appeared to satiate his curiosity; however, figuring she needed at least one person she could rely on now, she explained that their troubles were why she was stuck in this awful motel.

“You can’t stay here! This place is horrible. Look, I have a house on the lake that no one is using right now. You can stay there until you’re back on your feet! And there are clothes and food and internet, everything you could need. It’s all yours.” He said.

She was taken aback by not only his offer, but also the fact that he had all those things. She never realized he was so well off. But then, she never really took the time to talk to him. As much as she hated having to stay at yet another person’s house, she hated the idea of staying at this hotel even worse and really needed everything he was offering to figure out what her next move was going to be. Reluctantly, she accepted his offer and before she knew it, they were off.

It was about a 20-minute drive from the hotel before they got to the house and considering she had endured many invasive questions from James on the way up, she was elated when they finally arrived. Even more so when he didn’t stick around longer than the time it took to show her where everything was. After he left, Scarlett took a much-needed shower before lying on the bed to clear her thoughts. Next thing she knew she woke up to the sun setting and realized she must have fallen asleep for a couple of hours.

Scarlett took advantage of the next couple hours to get clothing picked out, eat something, and used the internet to email Clay about getting the rest of her things and her car at which time she would gladly drop off the divorce papers, signed and eager to move on. Anything that she’d left at Clark’s she was counting as an unfortunate loss.

Returning to the kitchen she noticed there was a bottle of her favorite wine with a note attached saying “Take a night to relax and give me a call if you need anything. –James” Of course she thought it was odd he just happened to have that but assumed he saw her drinking it at her showings and, recalling the last few days she’s had, decided a drink sounded amazing. She poured herself a large glass and moved to the bedroom where she clicked on the TV, sunk into the pillows and drank the first few gulps as though it were water and she’d been stuck in the desert for days.

She only had a few minutes and a couple more takes from the wine glass before she started to get dizzy again, but not the same kind of dizzy. This time, she just felt dazed and weak, so much so that she actually dropped the glass, spilling its remaining dark red contents onto the ivory bed spread.

She could barely make out what she heard next over the TV but realized it was a knock on the door, to which she could not make a loud enough sound to respond. Then she heard the lock click open and footsteps coming towards the room as James appeared in the doorway.

“I see you found the wine,” he started, a hungry, wicked grin spreading across his face as he unbuttoned his shirt, “I’ve waited a long time for this.”

Seconds later he was on the bed moving his lips down her jawbone and she started to cry with the realization that he must have put something in the wine and she was now too weak to fight back. All she could do was look forward to the darkness she felt coming over her.

Scarlett opened her tear filled eyes one last time to see Clark standing in the doorway, panting, fists clenched as he startled James off the bed and, through gritted teeth, said, “Get. Off. Of. Her.”   What does Clark do next? Please return to the top of the episode to vote on what happens next!

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