The Cold Darkness of the Night: Chapter 12
Haley’s cooking was excellent as usual. The rib-eye steaks were juicy and tender, and Michael’s was medium-well, just the way he liked it. They were marinated in chipotle barbeque sauce on one side, and honey garlic sauce on the other, and fried with olive oil. He could taste the satiating spices, coconut milk, and butter in the mashed potatoes, and the result was delicious. The mixed vegetables were steamed and mixed in sea salt, garlic, and sage.
Michael loved the fact that Haley was a phenomenal cook. He remembered being pleasantly surprised the first time he discovered this. On one of their first dates, she made him the most delicious butter chicken he had ever eaten. He was originally attracted to her beauty, personality, and genuine kindness. Add a terrific cook to that list, and you had the perfect woman; the one he loved. When he discovered that she felt the same way, the rest was history.
He looked up from his lavish meal and glanced lovingly at Haley. Marrying her was the best decision he ever made. She returned his expression with equal affection.
The second Natasha finished her last mouthful of food, she exclaimed, “Can we go get ice cream now?” as her fork clattered to her plate.
“We’ll go in a few minutes, as soon as I’m done,” replied her father.
“Okay,” she sighed.
Her parents laughed. Their daughter fidgeted impatiently until her dad finished satisfying his hunger. After rinsing off their dishes and putting on their shoes, they climbed into Michael’s car, and went to the nearest Baskin and Robins.
Natasha jumped out of her seat the second the vehicle stopped, and sprinted into the building. By the time her slow-moving parents got to the ice cream, she was intently surveying each option.
As she contemplated what kind of cold creamy confection to consume, Natasha glanced back at her parents. “How many scoops can I get?” she looked as enthusiastic as a dog about to go for a walk.
“You know you’re only allowed one,” responded Haley, with a slightly scolding tone, but a smile on her face. Even though she knew that her daughter had already figured out her answer, she still enjoyed her persistence. She also anticipated what happened next.
“Dad?” Natasha tried her luck with her father, as she always did when attempts with her mother failed.
“I agree with your mother,” Michael answered in a tone almost identical to his wife.
“Aaaaaw! Pleeeease? Just this one time, can I have two scoops? Pleeeease?” Their daughter beseeched them pathetically. She even attempted the “puppy dog” routine. This involved tilting her head, making her eyes as big and sad-looking as possible, and thrusting her bottom lip outward.
“Sorry sweetheart,” replied Haley, melting inside as she refused. She maintained her conviction as a parent, but just barely.
Michael’s daughter levelled her endearing expression at him, appealing to his vulnerability to her cuteness. He shook his head, mentally fighting to maintain his composure. His smile never faded.
“Okay,” Natasha rescinded her attempts, sounding trounced, and turned around to face the tempting display. She shuffled back and forth in front of the flavours. When she decided, she spoke to the man waiting patiently behind the counter.
“May I please have a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream in a waffle cone?” She politely asked the clerk, her small voice matching her size and body language.
“Of course you may, little girl,” the man responded equally graciously, grinning.
Michael and Haley’s daughter blushed at being called a little girl. Since she was too shy to protest, the clerk mistook this for enjoyment, so he beamed even wider. His smile remained while he filled a cone, and Michael paid for it.
Natasha lagged behind her parents, moving slowly because she was absorbed in her ice cream. As her parents reached their car, she paused on the edge of the sidewalk, taking a large lick.
She was less than ten feet away from her mom and dad when a dilapidated black van pulled up to the curb. Arriving out of nowhere, Haley and Michael didn’t notice it until they heard a barely muffled engine. Half a second later, the van backfired, and quickly squealed away. Natasha was gone, her ice cream cone lying upturned on the ground.
Her parents sprinted after the vehicle, yelling, “Stop! Stop!” at the top of their lungs. The van jerked violently around a corner and disappeared, like a starving leopard clutching an unguarded baby in the dense underbrush of the jungle.
Michael and Haley crumpled in the middle of the road, leaning on each other. Panting to suck in oxygen, they had run faster than ever before. The adrenaline boost of trying to save their daughter made them exceed their natural speed limits.
Haley collapsed into a weeping fit that wracked her entire body. Michael half-dragged, half-carried her off the road. He held and comforted her, gently caressing her back as she burrowed her face into his chest. His expression was an amalgamation of shock and contemplation as he stared off into the distance.
After dismissing the idea of pursuing the kidnappers in their car, since the van was out of sight, he tried to clear his head.
‘What can we do? What can we do?’ he asked himself repeatedly.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the revenge-stricken father knew what had to be done.
“I’ll talk to my uncle,” he said in a quiet but firm voice.
Haley looked up at him, and stared into his eyes. Michael looked like he was in a faraway place. Haley recognized this expression since she had seen it frequently in the past. She had not witnessed this look in a long time.
“Are you sure, Honey?” she asked. Tears streamed down her face, but her sobbing had momentarily subsided.
“Of course I’m sure, babe. This is Natasha we’re talking about. You know I would do anything for her,” he replied. A distinct lack of emotion played across his face, and revealed itself in his tone.
The gentle family man looked dangerous, like someone with a haunted past, full of regrets.
“I’ll find out who did this. We’ll get Natasha back. Whoever was fucking stupid enough to think this shit would work is gonna suffer the consequences.”
Behind his eyes lurked a crazed predator, locked in a cage, foaming at the mouth, and itching to break free and tear its captors to shreds.
Originally published at mindgasms.theblogpress.com on August 1, 2017.