• She could feel it. She could feel the steady but distant thumping of foot falls beating down rhythmically above her coming closer and closer each and every time. Every step was like a beating of her own heart as she hid in anticipation to be found, to be caught and thus punished. Her head throbbed as the musky stench of stale blood pooled all around her, as she clenched her eyes shut in a feeble attempt to block out the pain, the suffering, and the absolute monstrosity of her past, present and apparent future.

    “Holly....oh Holly Jay....where are you?” Her captor's taunting voice drifted down from the floor boards above as she bit her lip viciously in an attempt to not call out to him – to not respond and give herself away once again.

    Time seemed to drag on and last a million lifetimes as she sat curled up in her tiny, filthy, little spot of sanctuary – perhaps the only location where he couldn't reach her. Her heart hammered in her chest as her dirt and blood spattered face drained of blood waiting...just waiting to be found.

    “Holly! Damn it, Holly! Get out here!” His gruff voice got louder and angrier as he approached the floorboards right above her head.

    She held her breath and ducked her head trying desperately to hide within herself doing anything and everything she could to escape her torture. She feared he'd hear the loud banging against her rib cage as his foot steps stomped on above her.

    It was as if these foot steps controlled her life, and in reality, it very well could have. Breathing a sigh of relief when he was gone, Holly Jay picked up the broken golden chain next to her. Carrying it gingerly in her hand she touched it with such a gentleness that it was as if she were caressing a new born babe – it was the last and only connection she had to her old life.

    Sitting under the floorboards of her own house like a tattered little rag doll, Holly let tears roll down her face as she flung her past against the wall.

    'How on earth did this happen?'

    His name was Hayden Prince and just as his name implied, he was of royal status – or at least, that's what all the towns folk believed. He was a traveling merchant – so naturally, wealth and success accompanied him where ever he went. The day he strolled into town in all his glistening fine jewelry and magnificent coats was the day Holly Jay's life changed forever.

    Holly Jay had always been a kind sweet girl, she'd pick flowers for the elderly and wrap presents for the young and though she'd always listen to what her mother had to say, she never did like to follow the rules. It was as if she was lost in her own little world – or so the neighbors would whisper – with the way Holly Jay would always be seen dancing and singing in the rain. Holly Jay lived a happy life, though she and her mother didn't have much they had each other and for them, that was enough.

    She lived in the little town of Shurington and she always believed in the word of others, so it was no wonder Hayden Prince managed to so easily entrance her with his stories of adventure and promises of their future. His elegant words and poisonous serpent tongue lulled kind Holly Jay into a false sense of security; she soon followed him where ever he went and soon after, her days of picking flowers and gift giving were a thing of the past.

    Hayden Prince and Holly Jay were a pair to be remembered, he like the Greek God Apollo – all reason and logic – and she like the Goddess Aphrodite – beautiful, charm, grace and of course, innocent as a lamb. Their differences were striking, and everyone who looked could see but what did it matter when they made the perfect pair?

    Shurington soon forgot about Holly Jay – she left the day Hayden Prince bought her hand in marriage. Her mother's last words were to be a good girl and that this was for the best – money was scarce in the little town of Shurington and what did it matter when sweet little Holly was happy?

    Together they went, traveling all over the country as Hayden Prince traded his treasures for even greater things. At the beginning, Holly Jay continued to be her same giving self, she'd give little gifts to the children of each town and at the end of the day, her loving husband would embrace her as she slept. But as time went by and business went stale, Hayden soon forgot his love to his wife that had once rivaled that of the ever famous Romeo and Juliet.

    His only expectation was for her to be a good cook, but oh what woe, sweet Holly Jay never did stay indoors enough to learn – her mother was the one that kept them well nourished. Hayden who always had a picture perfect life, was appalled by his cumbersome wife, and so he – like many others before him – turned to the Devil's drink. It no longer mattered that he had a beautiful wife waiting for him at home, Hayden soon sought nightly closure at the Inn down the street.

    As his loving ways disappeared, Holly Jay became much more reserved. Her smiles were gone, her voice weakened dearly, as she sought out ways to hide amongst herself. Her hero was gone and her breath of fresh air soon turned to a haze of poison as his serpent tongue was used to destroy her beliefs and to tear down her esteem. Depressions sank in more and more every time he raised his voice – and even more so when he raised his hand towards her. Bruises and scars came and went as Holly Jay cried herself to sleep night after night.

    In his drunken state, she always questioned her judgment; Why oh why did she choose him? He was so handsome on that one fateful day, his charm and his wit had her captivated so long ago, whatever happened?

    One night terror ran high, Holly Jay woke up to the heavy foot falls of her dearly beloved accompanied with his every present cursing of her name. Every thump closer to the shut door, brought her one step closer to the heavy stench of the other women as well as the liquor he was prone to consume. Like a splash of cold water, fear ran through her veins – he was in that mood again. Sitting up in bed, Holly made a quick grab of the blankets and yanked it towards her chest. She clenched the fabric in her tiny little fists and held it against herself like a shield against her husband just as he nearly pulled the door off its hinges.

    Seconds ticked by but no one moved until suddenly...he exploded. Yelling and screaming, Hayden stormed into the room towards Holly as she tried to get as far away from him as possible. Seeing her crawl to the other side of the bed, Hayden grabbed her by the ankle and practically dragged her towards him until she was half on and half off the mattress. Still trying disparately, Holly clawed the blankets all the while kicking and screaming just to get away from his drunken assault. Grabbing her once more, Hayden pulled her back to the edge. Then, thrusting roughly against her, he held her captive under his massive body, pinning her down with his arms and chest.

    Whispering in her ear – a mockery of their past – Hayden sent chills down poor Holly Jay's back; “Don't fight it Holly...You know what you did wrong and I'm going to make you pay for it.”

    Threat issued, Holly's struggle increased twofold and even more still as Hayden brought out his pocket knife. Snapping it open with one capable hand, Holly Jay froze as her eyes widened against the gleam of the metal against the moonlight. Her heart hammered against her chest as she pushed back against him trying desperately to get away from that blade – that shining, gleaming...razor sharp knife.

    Taking her small little struggling hand, Hayden sliced her palm as he slowly brought the blade to her neck. Biting her tongue against her scream, a fresh wave of tears streamed down her face as she tried to fight her way out of this nightmare. The cool edge of the knife finally reached her throat and for a second, Hayden stilled. Holly, thinking she was in the clear, lowered her shoulders a fraction of an inch...but the next second, Hayden ran the blade from the junction between her neck and shoulder all the way to her chin. Blood oozed out more profoundly than ever before as Holly Jay cried out in agony only to be met with her dear, sweet husband's mocking laughter.

    “Stop crying Holly, I'm not done yet.” With that said, Hayden Prince forced himself on his lovely battered young wife.


    Hours later Hayden passed out on the bed as Holly curled up on the floor. Rising slowly, Holly grabbed her clothes and quietly crawled out of their room – away from her rapist of a husband and those hours of horrifying memories. Reaching the hall, she got dressed all the while wincing at her fresh new wounds, then, as quickly as she could, she ran to her sanctuary.

    Underneath the floorboards, Holly would never be found – Hayden would never lower himself to that level, he'd never sink so low. In the dark, she felt around for her broken gold chain, searching...still searching...until her body ceased to move.

    The End