Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Willow’s life was crumbling around her and all she could do was watch. Once upon a time, she lived a life of normalcy. Now the only normal aspect of her life was work. It was the only place she had a sense of power—of control. So she worked. She was the first to arrive and the last to leave—often in the early hours of the morning. Time was no longer a concept she abided by. She used it as a seemingly logical excuse to spend nights at her parents’ house because it was much closer than her own. She could confidently say that she hadn’t been home in four days. She knew what—and most importantly, who—awaited her there.
Today began as a normal day. She woke up, took a shower, got ready for work, left her parents’ house, and went to work. George, her boss, called a staff meeting to discuss progress on the upcoming Spring Buds adoption event. All of the major players assigned to the event were seated around the long conference table and took turns presenting the audience with new updates—successes and snags. Willow Carter was among them physically, but mentally she was elsewhere. She stared into space with her mind trapped inside of a torturous limbo. She blinked tiredly while she chewed on her bottom lip. She barely got any sleep last night as well as the previous ones.
That tended to happen when you discover your newlywed husband murdered an innocent man for you. That tended to happen when you press a gun to your husband’s forehead and demand that he tell you every dark sickening secret he hid from you. When she tried to close her eyes, images of Simon getting his head bashed by a baseball bat wielded by her husband—her Sebastian—gave her the jolt she needed to stay awake. She had concluded during her sleepless nights as she laid in her old bed while staring at the ceiling that she didn’t deserve sleep. An overwhelming guilt ate at her and she wondered what she would do when it finally consumed her. She swayed dangerously between the choices of going to the police or putting a bullet in her head.
She blinked her eyes a few times and jerked her attention to the familiar voice that said her name. George, who sat at the head of the conference table, watched her with an arched eyebrow. All eyes were on her now.
“Hm,” she sounded, straightening up in her seat. She cleared her throat and said, “Yes?”
“I asked how things were going on your end,” George repeated, gesturing with his hands to encourage her to talk.
“Um, everything is going…um, great. Staff t-shirts will be ready for pick-up at the end of the week. All promotional items for the adoptee family gratitude bags will arrive next week. I talked to a few local news stations for a mention of the event as a segment, but two news stations are willing to cover the actual events,” she informed. Everyone smiled about the bit on the news stations. A few even clapped.
George smiled proudly at her and said, “Excellent work, Willow.”
“Thanks,” she smiled weakly. Even as her life burned around her, it was good to know that this part of her life was untouched by the flames of consequences.
About ten minutes later, George concluded the staff meeting. Willow returned to her cubicle and sat down in her computer chair. She closed her eyes and sighed heavily, using her hand to rub her left temple as she felt a dull throbbing there. She then heard a muffled vibrating sound coming from her bottom desk drawer. She leaned down and opened it, revealing her cellphone lying on top of a junk pile of various office supplies.
She retrieved the device and peered at the screen. There were seven missed calls and nine text messages—all of which were from an unknown number. She knew who it was and she was glad she made the choice of leaving her cell in that drawer.
Willow placed the device on her desk, not wanting to investigate the left voicemail messages or the received text messages. She decided that she didn’t want to know. All she truly wanted was time to adjust to the reality of loving a killer—of marrying a killer. However, the real question was could she truly adjust to it or was she just fooling herself?
She dodged her own problem and decided to down in work—effectively blocking out her thoughts and other outside influences. She was a robot with a singular purpose.
“Hey,” Darlene greeted as she appeared at the entrance of Willow’s cubicle. “Me and some of the girls are going to The Corner Restaurant.”
“Thanks, but no thanks,” Willow said with a weak smile. “I’ve got a lot of work on my plate.”
In actuality, she was very hungry, but she didn’t have the strength to have lunch with Cara. Every time she looked at that woman, vivid flashes of a hoodied man standing over Simon’s lifeless body dominated her senses. An overwhelming guilt punched her hard in the gut afterwards like clockwork. So she decided to avoid all contact with Cara until she was able to stomach the role she unknowingly played in Simon’s demise. But could she truly?
Instead, she opted for Darlene to bring her back a mandarin orange salad with grilled chicken and walnuts. The decision was the best of both worlds. It pacified a worried Darlene and prevented an episode of Willow having a mental breakdown at the restaurant for merely looking at Cara. After her best friend left, most of the office left for lunch until Willow was one of the few people that were left. This led to silence and silence was merely an opportunity for horrible memories to resurface. So she decided to get out her cell and plug in her earbuds. As she listened to some hip-hop music, she eased herself back into working.
Soon after, the urge to use the restroom came. She left her cubicle and went to the women’s restroom. Upon returning to her workspace, she halted at its mouth and stared at her husband who sat in her computer chair. Déjà vu washed over her at the sight. Once upon a time, a naïve Willow stared at this man that she once practically worshipped as a god. She knew better now. She hadn’t yet given upon the ideology that he was a god. In her eyes, he still was—just an unmerciful one.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Willow said, the words tasting sour in her mouth but they had to be said. They needed to be said.
“Where should I be then?”
“You should be home.”
“As should you.”
Willow narrowed her eyes at him in response to his retort. “I don’t have time for this, Sebastian. I have lots of work to do. You need to go before someone sees you.”
A slight grin tugged at his lips. “So I’m your dirty little secret now, Will?”
“You really want to talk about dirty little secrets, Nathaniel,” she countered, emphasizing his real name in a bitter tone as she crossed her arms over her chest and cocked her head to the side. His grin crumbled off of his face.
“I told you all of mine.” That was true. He did tell her all of secrets and the revelation of his sins ate at her bit by bit—weakening her mind, body, and spirit.
“And you still aren’t sure as to why I haven’t come home yet?”
His lips pressed into a fine line and his green eyes darkened at his words. Sebastian rose from her computer chair eliminated the small bit of free air between them before he pulled her into a hug before she could even comprehend what was happening.
Willow absorbed herself into the tight warmth of his embrace, unable to stop herself from relishing it. She closed her eyes, pressing her cheek against his clothed chest and listened to his heartbeat. A fast irregular rhythm echoed in her ear, notifying her that he was nervous. Her own heart was pounding just as rapid. She shivered as she felt his dark beard scrape against the side of her face as he tilted his head, planting a soft kiss at the crook of her neck. “I know I’m a bad person,” he said in a low tone, his warm breath fanning against her neck, “but you’re the only good thing in my life. You got me going crazy waiting for you to come home like I’m a dog.”
“I need time, Sebastian,” she whispered. “I need time to accept what you’ve done.”
If I can accept what you’ve done, she added within the depths of her mind. He released her from his embrace and framed his calloused hands around her face, cocking her head up to look at him. The rough pad of his right thumb caressed the curve of her cheek.
“I can take you to a place where there’s plenty of that.”
She lost herself in the depths of his green eyes, hating herself for pinpointing every flicker of pain and guilt that lurked within them. She cut herself away from him and stared at her computer for a momentary distraction. “Being here gives me time,” she said, but it was a lie dressed up as a confession—a declaration more for herself than him.
“Being here is nothing more than a distraction. What do I have to do to convince you to come with me, hm,” he queried. “Do you want me to beg? Is that what you want, Will? I’ll do it right here and I don’t give a damn if your coworkers see.”
Her eyes began to burn as hot tears bubbled up in them. She cut her attention back to him. “Going with you means I forgave you for what you’ve done,” she said, voice quivering as she pulled her face from the grasp of his hands, “and I haven’t. And honestly, I don’t know if I ever will. Now I have to get back to work, so I need you to go.”
She took four steps back, creating a void between them—leaving him enough room to exit the cubicle. However, he stood his ground. The landscape of his face held no emotion while his eyes revealed a churning storm as he stared her down. His defiance prompted an explosion of frustration and anger inside of Willow. “Get the hell out now, Sebastian,” she snapped loudly, not caring if she drew the attention of her coworkers. “I don’t want you here! Don’t you get that?”
Finally, he stepped out of the cubicle and stood with her toe to toe as he gazed down at her silently.
“Is everything alright, Willow,” Tate, one of her male coworkers, questioned in a cautious tone as he approached the couple who played a dangerous staring contest.
“Everything is alright, Tate. My visitor was just leaving,” she said.
After a few lingering tense moments, her husband left without another word, but deep down, she knew that he was far from being finished with her.
Later that evening, Willow decided to leave her job promptly at closing alongside her other coworkers—safety in numbers. There were two qualities about Sebastian she had come to accept: his watchfulness and persistence. She knew that somewhere from afar, Sebastian had kept a watchful eye on her and identified a pattern in her schedule and activities. Over the last few days, she worked herself to death as a lone soldier in the otherwise empty and dark headquarters building because she thought she was protecting herself that way. However, in actuality, she now realized that she had put herself at risk and unknowingly left open a window of opportunity for a confrontation with Sebastian.
With that being said, she was very surprised that he didn’t do that. Sebastian was a very private man—the kind of man who lingered in the shadows and waited until nightfall to strike. Instead, he went with a very public approach and waited until the majority of her coworkers went to lunch. To plead for her to return to him with the potentiality of her colleagues hearing him therefore ruining his cloak of anonymity—that he, his Mephistopheles father, and that cruel puppeteer Juliette laboriously crafted and perfected—showcased an act of desperation. An act of desperation she did not know how to process or swallow.
Upon leaving the parking lot, she soon became caught in rush hour traffic and did not arrive back to her parents’ house about a quarter after six o’clock.
“I’m home,” Willow called out into her spacious luxury childhood home.
“In the kitchen,” her father called back. Willow walked into the dining room and then into the kitchen. Edison was stuffing a meat and cheese mixture into bell peppers he had cut the tops off of at the kitchen island while he wore his ‘Dads Cook Best’ apron that Willow and Faith got him for his birthday when they were kids.
Willow smiled weakly, “Hey, Daddy.”
“Hi, sweetheart,” Edison said as he smiled back. “Making one of your favorites.”
“I can see that,” she replied, her smile widening even as a weariness weighted at the corners.
“You extra hungry tonight,” he asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Not really,” she said as she plopped down at the kitchen table, “but I’m not going to turn down one of your famous stuffed bell peppers.”
“Well, does the idea of some moscato with one of my famous stuffed bell peppers sound alright to you,” Edison queried with a grin. Willow’s eyes light up at the mention of moscato.
She replied, “You won’t hear any complaints from me.”
Her father chuckled and then a comfortable silence fell upon them as he finished the task of stuffing the bell peppers before he put them into an already-heated oven.
“What’s the special occasion,” Willow then asked, lifting her right eyebrow slightly. “You’re cooking one of my favorite recipes and you bought a bottle of my favorite wine? Why are you spoiling me so much tonight, Daddy?”
“It’s been a while since we’ve had some quality time together. After seeing your mother off to go to that annual Colorado spa retreat with her college friends, I figured this was the perfect time to spend some alone with my baby girl,” he admitted as he washed his hands at the kitchen sink.
“That’s sweet, Dad,” Willow said. “After a day like mine, I think this is just what I need.”
Edison turned around to face his youngest daughter as he dried his hands with a towel, approaching her. “Seems like you’ve been having a lot of days like this lately. Is everything alright at work?”
He sat down on the other side of the kitchen table and tossed the towel onto it, eying his daughter carefully as he waited for her answer. Willow bit down onto her bottom lip for a moment and casted her attention with her busy right index finger that decided to draw invisible shapes into the glass kitchen table.
“Work seems to be the only thing that’s alright in my life right now,” she decided to admit, hoping that her father would just leave it at that.
Edison rubbed his thick-bearded chin with his hand, nodding his head. “So this is about a boy then?”
No, it’s about a man, she wanted to say but held her tongue.
“Something like that,” she said, clearing her throat.
He leaned back in his seat and shook his head slowly, sighing. “Your mother is always right.”
Willow flickered her attention to her father and cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean Mom is always right?”
“Your mother and I had a discussion of the reason why you decided to come back home to us. I thought you came back because you missed us. She suggested you came back because you ended things with that Jasper friend of yours,” her father explained. Jasper was merely a piece of the bigger picture, but he wasn’t the main feature. That man was only a puppet used by Juliette to get to Sebastian. Willow was merely collateral as usual.
“Me being here as nothing to do with him, Dad,” Willow assured.
“So it’s the Sebastian boy then,” Edison stated.
Willow opened her mouth to speak, but no words would come out. Her lips quivered as her brain scrambled to think up a response to send to her mouth. “I think I’m going to get ready for dinner,” she said finally in a soft tone. She rose from her seat and turned to leave.
“Well, you don’t have to tell me whatever he did until you’re ready to, but I just wanted you to know that he sent forty dozen chrysanthemum arrangements for you and I had no choice but to put them into your room,” her father informed. Willow froze in her footsteps at the news. “Would you like for me to throw them anyway?”
“It’s alright, Daddy,” she said as she went to leave the kitchen. “Why should beautiful flowers have to suffer?”
“The real question is why should you have to,” Edison countered, his voice following her as she departed.
When she arrived to her old bedroom, she opened the door. The sight of the floral arrangements hitting her senses all at once. The arrangements were breathtakingly gorgeous and all hers. He sent them to her because he knew they were her favorite. In the time she had known him, he had never flaunted his wealth or splurged on expensive gifts to impress or woo her. It was his strong but quiet personality that won her over. It was also his vocal want of her—despite her overweight figure and sloppy appearance—that won her over.
Now that she had distanced herself from him and the threat of their budding marriage’s death looming over their heads, he was beginning to do all of the things she did not believe was in his nature. First, the surprise visit to her job during daylight hours and now this. Was this a form of bribery or an act of seeking forgiveness? She had never been in this position before therefore it was difficult to cope or react properly to the muddle of emotions that were seeped deep inside of her.
The arrangements were scattered everywhere. From her two nightstands situated on either side of her bed to her shelves and the floor. She carefully stepped around them to get to her bed. She climbed onto it and sat crisscross. She stared around her room, switching between admiring the flowers and attempting to despise the man who sent them.
Eventually, it was dinnertime and she returned downstairs. The food was delicious and the conversation was pleasant. Her father avoided discussing the sender of the flowers and she was grateful for that. The wine helped loosen her tongue to be an active participant in their conversation. They discussed her job, his impending return to the hospital, and ideas for a well-needed family vacation after Farrah’s wedding. When dinner concluded, Willow helped her father clean up and kissed him on the cheek before bidding him goodnight.
She prepared herself for bed by taking a long hot shower, brushing her teeth, and dressing herself in an old giant t-shirt of hers that was four sizes too big. She went to bed with the scent of flowers lulling her to sleep.
It was much later into the night did her cell began to light up and buzz. She groaned aloud at the device disrupting her first decent night of sleep. Blindly, she reached for the phone and answered it, too tired to determine who was calling her.
“Hello,” she asked, her voice irritated and raspy with sleep.
“It’s not over, Will. I need you to know that.”
A jolt of electricity coursed through her body twice over at the sound of his voice, officially awaking her. She sat up in her bed quickly, her heart racing violently in her chest. “That’s not your choice to make. You had a choice—lots of choices in fact. Now it’s my turn. You’re on my turf now,” she said as sternly as she could.
There was forty-five seconds of silence; she counted and waited with baited breath for his response. “I am on your turf more so than you think.”
Willow scrunched her eyebrows together. “I don’t understand, Sebastian.”
“Come downstairs and into the kitchen, I’ll explain myself for a clear understanding,” he stated. Her racing heart stopped dead cold at his confession. He was somewhere downstairs in her parents’ house? Willow quickly ended the call and dropped her cellphone as if it had burned her. She scurried off of her bed, nimbly walking over to her closet. She opened the doors and rambled through it until she found her golf club set from her highschool days and retrieved a driver from it. The bulky bulb end of the golf club was the perfect weapon.
She exited her bedroom by carefully opening her bedroom door, she tip-toed down the hallway until she reached the stairs. With caution, she made her way down the stairs until she reached the first floor. Holding her golf club like she was holding a baseball bat at the plate, she journeyed into the kitchen. Within moments, she realized that there was no one there.
From the corner of her eye, she watched a hoodied figure advanced towards her from behind. She swirled around on her bare feet and held the golf club like a sword, backing deeper into the kitchen.
“What are you doing here, Sebastian,” she demanded to know, watching with narrowed eyes as he peeled back his hood.
“You know why I’m here,” he replied. “You’re my wife.”
Willow shook her head. “No, I’m not your wife. I’m just a fool—a stupid damn fool for not realizing that you were nothing but trouble.”
He stood a step forward. “You’re my wife, I’m your husband, and that’s not going to change.”
“Don’t you get it? I don’t want anything to do with you,” she hissed.
“Give me one chance to right my wrongs.”
“You want to right your wrongs? Then go back in time and bring Simon back. Oh, better yet, I wish you would have just let that crazy motherfucker mug me at the park and never came to my rescue,” she snapped, hot tears spilling down her cheeks as she felt herself breaking down. “Then I’d be dead and Simon'd be alive. God, I wish I was dead.”
She dropped the golf club from her grasp and covered her face with her hands, muffling a loud sob. “I want to die,” she cried, shuddering as she drowned in her emotions she tried to bottle up and bury. She felt strong arms wrap her and immediately she attempted to struggle in his hold, pounding her fists against his chest until her knees buckled. He held her against him and she had no will to stop him. She tilted her head back and stared at the ceiling with eyes spewing with tears.
She couldn’t lie to herself or fight it anymore. She was a monster’s wife who was just as monstrous as him because she still loved him. God, she loved this man and hated every fiber of herself for it.
“Please,” Willow choked out in a sob. “Take me anyway from here. I can’t take it anymore. If I stay here a moment longer, I know I’m going to self-destruct.”
It's been a while. Had to get through teaching summer school, pre-planning week, and the first two weeks of school. I am getting into the flow of the school year.
With that being said, I know there might be some confusion or frustration from readers towards this version's Willow. In the orginial story, Willow was very much ride or die. I am not going to deny that, LOL. When she learned that Sebastian killed Simon, she confronted him and then accepted it with very little thought after. I didn't feel like that was very realistic.
In this version, she marries Sebastian then learns that he killed Simon because she wished it in a moment of weakness while she was unaware of his occupation. She feels terrible. She feels like she shouldn't love Sebastian even though she does. You have a normal woman entangled in this dark twisted world of violence and murder. That alone can drive anyone mad if you don't know how to cope with it.
I hope you understand my reasoning. If you don't then I can completely understand and I appreciate the time you invested in this story so far. If you decide to stick around, the next chapter is the start of the healing process.
Hope you enjoy this update. Have a wonderful Saturday evening!
I know tha