The story so far:
Silent Jimmy's eyes flew open, his rage pounding behind them and tinting the world red. What in the world did Charlie think he was doing? How dare he! That little moron was going to ruin everything!
The unbridled fury building inside him constricted his chest until he couldn't breathe. But after a moment, his regular calm returned, the cold, detached manner he'd learned to use when dealing with other people. Breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. He could adapt. He always had.
He'd known from the beginning that letting the scumbag in on the plan was risky. He'd met Charlie when he was exploring, searching to see how far his mind could get from that cold jail cell. Charlie had been the first one who had ignored his push, and then, to Jimmy's shock, had actually spoken to him. He'd found a kindred spirit in this man, largely in the fact that they both loved the control, the power they could exert over the unsuspecting apes around them. Charlie had delighted in hearing about Jimmy's exploits, and had eventually offered a suggestion. There's a woman, he had said. The only woman he had never been able to control.
And now Charlie's recklessness was rearing its ugly head. Charlie had always treated the gift like a game, a toy for his personal amusement. It was like watching an overgrown man play a gameboy. Jimmy, on the other hand, was a maestro, tugging strings here, swelling the notes, the chords, the dying screams, into one beautiful harmony. Every little detail played an essential role in the master plan.
That was what Charlie had never been able to see.
But he would adapt. Closing his eyes, he settled back to observe where Charlie's latest screwup would lead.
My heart pounded as Charlie leaned back against the door, grinning that awful grin of his. It had seemed charming and confident when I first met him. It hadn't taken long for me to discover the evil that always accompanied that grin.
Ignoring the files scattered on the floor, I carefully stood, keeping my eyes on him. I knew better than to look away, even for a moment. My mind raced and I steadied myself on the corner of my desk. The paperweight - where did I put that blasted paperweight?
My heart stopped as I spotted it. It sat unassumingly in a chair. Where I had dropped it when I was talking to Esparanza. Right next to the door. Right next to Charlie.
He followed my gaze and saw it, too. Picking the paperweight up, he lightly tossed it, feeling its weight. Thou shalt not kill, Adara.
My eyes widened and I would've fallen over if I hadn't been gripping my desk so tightly. It wasn't the same voice, not quite, but it was close enough to set cold waves running through my entire body. As I met his eyes again, I knew. He knew everything. And he was somehow involved.
Flames of wrath replaced the terror so swiftly my stomach lurched. I'd heard people talking about a mother's adrenaline enabling her to lift a city bus. Well, I was fixing to pick up a whole metropolis. I stood steady, my fingers tightening painfully into fists. "Where is she?"
Charlie, to his credit, actually looked a little startled at my low, cold tone. He'd never seen me like this before. "What?"
"My daughter! Where is she? What did you do to her?" My voice was nearly a scream as I lunged for him, hands stretched toward his throat.
Unfortunately, if there was anything Charlie knew, it was how to batter women. He knocked my hands aside and punched, a solid blow to my stomach that winded me. It didn't matter, though. I was running on pure rage. Charlie found himself unable to get in a second blow as he struggled to keep my fingernails away from his eyeballs.
But adrenaline only lasts so long, and I'd been running on empty for the last several weeks. His hands finally managed to wrap securely around my wrists and he twisted, forcing me to my knees. He was panting heavily. I felt a sick sense of delight at the glimmer of fear in his eyes.
"Let me go!" I demanded, yanking against his grip.
He held tight, shaking off the fear. "Not on your life. You've got a real wild side to you, Adara. That could've been real fun if you had let it out now and then."
My rage built again as he gave me a leering grin. "Let me go!" I shouted, this time "pushing" with all my might. It wasn't anything like the gentle nudges I'd given Esparanza. This was real power, like a vicious beast tearing from my mind and bearing down on his.
Charlie let go.
It took a moment for me to get a grip on what had just happened. Charlie stared at me. The grin was fading from his face and he looked paler than I had ever seen him before.
He had dropped the paperweight in the struggle. I grabbed it off the floor and stood, keeping my eyes on him, then slowly backed away. He still did not move.
I took a deep breath. "Where is she? What did you do with Paige?"
He blinked. It was the first time I'd ever seen him so shaken. "I don't know."
"I - that wasn't me!" He truly was frightened, I could see that. "I don't know where he put her!"
My grip on the paperweight tightened. "He? Who is 'he'?"
The pain hit, worse than the blow Charlie had delivered only moments before. I doubled over, barely hearing the click of the lock and the slam of the door as Charlie fled from the office.
Charlie's hands shook so badly it took him three tries to get the key in the ignition. Hatred swelled as he gunned the engine and peeled out, tires squealing.
Adara. The word was like a curse to him. Adara, Adara, Adara. His mind filled with visions of what he wanted to do to her, each more bloody than the last.
His heart was still pounding. The humiliation only served to fuel his fury. How dare she turn his game back on him?
What will we do now? he asked.
You're a moron.
Shut up! Charlie took a deep breath. Come on, man. What are we going to do now?
Seems your little mouse has teeth.
I said, shut up! Charlie's hands were shaking again. He suddenly hated Jimmy almost as much as he hated Adara.
You've ruined the plan, you know. But no matter. I was going to let Methra teach her how to fight me, but I see you've done her job for her. Woke up a beast you couldn't handle, did you?
Charlie almost missed seeing the car pull out in front of him. He swore as he slammed on the brakes, pressing with both feet to stop in time.
Upset, are we? I can hardly blame you. Jimmy's voice taunted him. He felt his muscles tightening involuntarily. You've been most entertaining, Charlie. Downright amusing. It's almost a shame to see you go.
His eyes narrowed. You can't touch me. You know that.
Perhaps I can't, but now I've found someone who doesn't quite have your practice in blocking it. Someone who can touch you.
Charlie felt the blood drain from his face.
Franco looked over his shoulder and saw that Paige had finally fallen asleep. The poor child. His heart broke at the thought of what she had endured. He only wished he could've come in sooner, to protect her from all this. To protect Adara. But his superiors had a reason for holding him back. He trusted that, though he couldn't help thinking that it had better be one extremely good reason.
Methra remained focused on the road, her fingers tight on the steering wheel. Her face was calm, but her eyes reflected the fear that gripped her. "Do you think he got her?" She kept her voice low.
"I'd have felt that," Franco replied. "It's something else. Something big happened." He shook his head. "I can't quite focus on it. It's like..." He stopped as he finally locked on it. It had taken a lot of energy and concentration, making him grateful that Methra had agreed to drive. "Methra, she's got it."
Methra's eyes widened. "You mean..."
"We have to get to her. Now."
Fools, the lot of them.
Jimmy couldn't help but smile as he leaned back, resting his head on the thin, stiff pillow. Those simpletons actually thought they could do something to help Adara. And Adara still seemed to think her 'amazing discovery' would somehow allow her to make everything all right.
At least Charlie was beginning to grasp the full nature of what he was facing. That was the moment Jimmy treasured the most, that instant when the victim finally realizes the hopelessness of the situation. Those moments were Jimmy's bread and water, nourishing him, sustaining him. And there would be many more to come before the night was through.
Jimmy closed his eyes and wrapped his hand around an imaginary conductor's baton.
It was time to begin the symphony.