The Mansion

Within the walls of a highly enviable mansion with an amazing white water view is a secret.
A bad secret.
Paul's son was kidnapped from his cradle six years ago. And whoever took him... is back.

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1. Prologue

Stupid whore.

“What was that, Paul?”

“Nothing.”

Lara gave him a cold, neutral look. 

Had I really said that out loud? Paul thought, but then he grinned at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. Good, the stupid whore should know her place.

“You know what? I give up!” Lara threw the sat-nav at the dashboard and cringed when it re-bounded and hit her in the jaw. Paul tried to stifle a smirk. Failed.

Lara stared at her husband, white-lipped and her eyes morphed into slits. “Oh you find this funny, do you?”

“Of course not, Dear.”

Lara laughed. Verging on a sob. “I can't believe this. I cannot believe this!”

Oh here we go, Paul thought and rolled his eyes.

“You promised that you would follow Lorraine's advice. You promised and now - ”

“And now I'm not.”

Lara pursed her lips and frowned before leaning back against her seat. She closed her eyes and massaged her temples. Took three deep, cleansing breaths.

Paul turned up the radio so loud that each drum beat reverberated through his body. Each stroke of a string on the electric guitar sliced through his mind. And he was thankful for it. He was thankful for anything that would drown out his wife and her ridiculous calming techniques. Courtesy of Lorraine, their therapist.

The volume of the music suddenly dropped. Paul turned just in time to see his wife's immaculately manicured fingers drop from the radio.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” Paul yelled and abruptly went to turn the volume back up.

“Loud music will damage our hearing,” Lara said and tried to push Paul's hand away.

“That's what I'm hoping for!” Paul shouted. “So then I don't have to hear your whiny voice!”

“Oh this is perfect!” Lara laughed and shook her head in disbelief, her perfect blonde ringlets bouncing around her shoulders.

“Yeah, first you break my sat-nav and then try to kill my radio.”

“I didn't break your sat-nav; it was already half-broke and that's why I had to hold the stupid thing!”

Paul leant his head back and laughed. “Half-broke? Ha! Are you retarded?”

“This is perfect!” Lara repeated. “We're what? A mile from home? And we're already fighting!”

“You know what? Fuck this! I'm dropping you off back home and we're not going to be scammed by Lorraine any longer.”

“Scam? What the hell are you on about?”

“For god's sake, why do you have to be so thick?” Paul rolled his eyes. “We might as well eat our money instead of throwing it all at a woman who sits there whilst cramming a load of crap into our heads.”

“She's just trying to help!”

“Help, ha!” Paul swung the car in an illegal U turn.

Lara screamed. Paul stepped on the accelerator slightly to beat the red light. Only just made it. He pulled into a quiet estate lined with neat brick houses and landscaped gardens. Not a cigarette butt end or a piece of dog shit in sight.

Even as the black Audi A7 Sportback with the newest number plate cruised down the perfectly laid road; the light breeze sweeping making the trees tremble, the whispering of their leaves... Peace was not restored. Not that there had been a whiff of any in a long time.

Paul turned the Audi off the road and up a long, wide drive way leading to a magnificent piece of architecture with a manicured garden full of tropical plants and an amazing white water view. As soon as he killed the engine, Lara was out of the car. Without a word, she slammed the shiny door and walked towards the house, her red Louboutins clip-clopping. Paul waited until his wife had entered the house before he climbed out of his car, his pride and joy. He stared at the mansion but did not smile. Yes, it was beautiful, but it was also where... where...

Paul dug his thumbs into his eyes to stop the salty tears from leaking. He took a deep breath and removed his thumbs as he released his breath. The impressive white structure before him used to be a happy place. Lara would host dinner parties whilst he invited some friends round to play tennis on the courts behind the house, near the swimming pool. It was also where he could watch his ten year old twin daughters prance about on their horses whilst dreaming of claiming gold at the Olympics.

But this was also the place where his son was kidnapped. Snatched from his cradle when he was barely ten months old. He would have been six years old today, that was why Lorraine had suggested that he and Lara get away from home for the evening. But that didn't work. Of course that didn't bloody work!

Paul leant against his car, weighing over whether he should or shouldn't go for a drive... drive until he felt that he could return home. Yes. Yes he would. He opened the door and made to climb in.

A blood-curdling scream. Paul froze, felt a chill scraping up his spine.

It was a woman's scream. It was Lara. Lara was screaming.

Paul ran. He took a short cut through the garden, not caring that his home-made Italian leather shoes were gathering dirt. He did not notice when he kicked a gnome and sent it soaring through the air. Losing its head and mini shovel upon impact with the ground. He leapt onto the porch and barged through the large double doors.

“Lara!” He yelled. “Lara, where are you?”

Yes, the bloody woman got on his nerves, but she was screaming. She was scared.

And their daughters were inside.

“Lara!” He tried again.

“Paul! Paul I'm in here!” His wife was frightened, that he was sure of.

He followed where Lara's voice came from. Upstairs. He ran up to the first floor and heard his wife shout his name again. He went into one of his daughters' bedrooms.

And gasped.

His wife stood by Imogen's neatly made bed. Lying by her feet was the baby-sitter that they had hired. Her tangled mousy-brown hair was matted with blood and her blue eyes were wide, glassy, expressionless. Dead.

“Oh god,” Lara's whimper broke Paul's trance.

Paul did not go and comfort his wife. He ran from the room.

“Where are you going?” His wife shrieked, hysteria rising in her voice.

“Finding the girls!” He threw over his shoulder.

“Wait for me!”

He didn't wait. He ran.

“Imogen!” He screamed as he ran down the stairs. He vaulted over the bannister and landed on the laminate flooring. His feet cringed. He did not notice. “Rosie!”

He went to the rear of the house and into the vast garden.

“ImogenRosie!” His daughters' names merged together. “RosieImogine!”

He turned right and headed to the stable. He was greeted by two mangled corpses of prize-winning horses. Their huge eyes had been gauged out, their necks had been sliced open. Assorted organs lay in puddles of blood.

And behind the horses, almost hidden in a mound of hay was Imogen. He climbed over the bloody, mutilated horse corpses and dug his daughter out of the hay. He cradled his daughter's limp body and sobbed.

On the wooden wall before him, were the words: Rosie is dead.

In blood.

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