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The proposition, p.16
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       The Proposition, p.16

           Jessica Schlafer

  Chapter 15

  Nick carried me out the back door, handing his valet ticket to one of the guards. His car was brought around and he put me into the passenger seat. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was in shock. Nick drove me straight to his house, making phone calls the entire time. I was sure he spoke to Paul to tell him about what happened. All I wanted to do was to wash the feeling of Ben off me.

  Once we were back at his house, Nick parked the car and carried me inside. He put me on the couch and went to the kitchen. I don’t think he quite knew what he was supposed to do in this situation. I set my purse down, took my shoes off, and went into the bathroom. I turned on the water, as hot as I could stand, and went inside with all of my clothes on. Nick got into the shower with me, holding me on the floor while I cried.

  When the hot water had run out, Nick silently shut the water off and helped me out of the shower. He took my clothes off, never taking his eyes from mine, and covered me with a towel. He did the same with his clothes and walked me to the bedroom. He had laid a tee shirt out for me, with some boxers, that he helped me put on.

  I climbed into bed and waited for him to get in beside me. I wept while he held me, sleeping from time to time. I wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to stay in his arms for the rest of my life.

  I woke late the next evening, feeling exhausted and emotionally drained. I started toward the living room, but I could clearly hear two voices; Nick and Paul.

  “We should’ve NEVER brought her here,” Nick said.

  “Well, tough shit, she’s here, she’s gotta finish the job we’re paying her for.”

  “You didn’t see what happened last night. If I had been two minutes later, I would’ve walked in on him RAPING her.”

  “But you weren’t. And tell me why the fuck she was alone in the first place?”

  “I was 15 feet away from her.”


  “She was out of my sight for two minutes. Two fucking minutes!”

  “Right, and you almost got her killed because you had to go to the bar.”

  “I was getting a water for her, not just for me.”

  “Nick, I think we all know who fucked up here.”

  “Fuck you, Paul. Where were you?”

  “I was at home, where I should be now. But I have to come out and clean up your messes.”

  “It’s been dealt with.”

  “Ben? Yeah, no shit.”

  “If Merritt hadn’t come in, I would’ve killed him on the spot.”

  “I’m sure,” Paul said. “You just need to keep her here for a few days. Lie low, make sure she’s feeling better.”

  “What if she wants to go home?”

  “Well, she can’t.”

  “She’s not our prisoner, Paul.”

  “She agreed to do a job, Nick. She needs to stay until it’s finished.”

  I heard the front door slam and I jumped a mile. I heard Nick yelling and something smash against the wall, shattering to the floor. I screamed and started to cry again. Almost immediately the bedroom door burst open and Nick came in.

  “Abby, oh, no, I’m so sorry.”

  I let him pick me up, he was taking me back to bed, “No, Nick, I want to get up.”


  He carried me to the living room and we sat on the couch together. I saw that a lamp was smashed.

  Nick caught my eye as I looked around, "I'll clean that up."

  He got a broom and swept the remains of the lamp and threw it out. I was holding my legs to my chest and sitting on the couch.

  "Do you want something to eat?"

  "Do you have soup?"

  "Um, I don't know, lemme look," he said, going to the kitchen to look around. "Abby, you're in luck! I have one can of chicken noodle soup! Must be from when my Mom came to visit."

  "You have a Mom?"

  "Uh, yeah I have a Mom."

  "I didn't mean that, I meant you never talk about your family."

  "Not much to talk about. I was raised by my Mom, she's a saint. She worked two jobs to put food on the table. My Dad only came around when it was convenient and, after I turned 15, he stopped coming around all together."

  "When did you start stealing cars?"

  "When I was 13, I was breaking into cars and stealing things out of them. People just leave whatever in the car. I got caught doing that a few times and got locked up."


  "Yeah, I was quite an asshole."

  "And that's changed how?"

  "Ha, ha, Abby," Nick mocked as he stirred the soup on the stove. "While I was inside I learned how to boost cars. I started doing that for a while, just to go joy riding. One night, I got into this car and just as I was about to drive off, this guy jumped in with me and made me drive to a warehouse where they were stripping cars. He offered me a job. Said he'd give me a list and I'd have a week to get everything on that list. I made it my personal goal to be the best. I would have the list done in the first two days, three at the most.

  "That's when I met Paul. I was like 18 and making a shit load of money and I needed a place to cover it up. They told me about this guy who owned these dry cleaners and he'd let me buy in so I could move my money. Sure enough, Paul let me buy into a place in Gresham and I was able to spend my money."

  "You couldn't spend it before?"

  "No, not much. Wouldn't it look strange for a 19 year old kid, with no job, spending thousands of dollars?"

  "Oh, okay. I understand now. So, how did Paul get to be where he is?"

  "He watched everything about the operation. He learned it inside and out and decided he knew how to make it better. After I got shot, he was the only one who came to see me. We talked about things, he wanted to take over and do things differently, make it a business, and not just in Portland. He had a lot of overseas connections that we could deal with on transporting the cars. So, we started up."

  "What happened to the other operation?"

  "We bought them out. People still got to work, if they wanted to stay."

  "And then Merritt came to town?"

  "We had a few good years, no arrests, no injuries."

  "And your plan now is the distract and sneak?"

  Nick laughed, "Something like that. There's a lot going on that you don't know about. I hope it'll be all done soon." He paused and sighed. "You said you feel like you're a prisoner here sometimes?" I nodded. "I feel like Paul is holding you prisoner at this point."

  He brought my soup and a bottle of water and sat beside me on the couch.

  "Thank you," I said, eating a spoonful. "This is perfect."

  "You can stay here as long as you want, Abby. We don't have to leave at all."

  "Okay," I whispered.

  I finished my soup in silence, Nick distracted himself with a magazine. I cleaned up the dishes, after a short, muted argument with Nick and made my way to the bathroom. I braced myself at the door, thinking about the mess that must be on the other side, with my wet clothes and water everywhere. I made a plan to clean it all up.

  I pushed open the door and the bathroom was spotless. My clothes were gone, I hoped they were in the trash. I managed to brush my teeth before I noticed my face in the mirror. I was horrified! Both of my eyes were bruised, my right eye more so. My face was puffy from the crying. I couldn't help myself and I started crying again.

  Nick came into the bathroom and dragged me back into the living room. He held me, stroking my hair, until I was completely cried out.

  "I'm going back to bed," I said, sniffling.


  Nick didn't say a word. He just let me go and watched as I went back to bed.

  The next three days were much like the same. I would wake up, have something small to eat, and go back to bed. I spent several hours each day crying, too. Nick didn't say much, just letting me get it out of my system. I knew I couldn't go to the police about what happened and I assumed tha
t when they said they “dealt” with him, they had killed Ben.

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