Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

CHAPTER ONE

LILY

A dead bolt has a very specific sound. Lily was an expert at recognizing certain sounds—the creak of the floorboards signaling his arrival, the mice scurrying across the concrete in search of food. But Lily always braced herself for the sound of the dead bolt, listening as metal scraped against metal. The lock was beginning to rust, so it always took him several tries. But inevitably, she would hear the click, the sound that meant they were trapped for another week, another month, another year. But tonight, she heard nothing. Only deafening silence. Hours passed, and she couldn’t stop thinking about the lock.

Beside her, Sky stirred in her sleep and sighed. Lily stroked her daughter’s jet-black hair, her gaze lingering on the stupid yellow stuffed monkey that Rick had given Sky for Christmas. Lily despised that monkey, but she couldn’t deny her daughter a toy. Not when they had so little to begin with.

But the lock—why hadn’t she heard the lock?

Stop obsessing and go to sleep, Lily told herself. She couldn’t be tired when he returned. She knew how angry he would be if she were tired. Obsessing was foolish. But tonight she couldn’t seem to stop. She’d been on edge these past few weeks. She hoped that it was just the aftermath from the stomach flu she’d been battling. But that didn’t explain why she hadn’t heard the lock.

The problem was, Rick didn’t make mistakes. He was too precise, too meticulous. Maybe he was testing her again. There were so many tests in the beginning. But she’d proven herself. He believed she was his. She’d made him believe.

Maybe that’s why he’d forgotten. What if he’d finally trusted her? What if this was their chance at an escape? There were so many what-ifs they left her paralyzed. She was still weighing the odds when Sky stirred again, and that was all Lily needed. She summoned every ounce of courage and gently slipped out of bed. She inched up the steep wooden staircase, her stomach clenched in a million knots. What if he was on the other side of the door? She could already picture his Cheshire cat grin, wagging his finger, eyebrows curled in that calculated manner. Tsk, tsk, Baby Doll. Didn’t I tell you what would happen if you disobeyed me?

Lily hesitated at the top of the staircase. What was she thinking? Her last attempt at freedom had nearly gotten her killed. Could she really defy him? She almost made her way back down the stairs but her gaze landed on Sky, radiating innocence, and Lily realized that she couldn’t fail her child. Do it for Sky, she told herself. Lily turned the knob and just like that, the door swung open. She tentatively stepped into the perfectly preserved winter cabin. Plush fur rugs lined solid oak floors. An ornate vintage desk tucked into the corner, a well-stocked bar on the opposite wall: an ordinary room for a man who was anything but.

Lily held her breath. Nothing but silence greeted her. She glanced toward the windows, moonlight streaming in through the white silk Italian curtains, massive pine trees stretching out as far as her eyes could see. She forgot about Rick and his threats and raced toward the front door and suddenly, Lily was standing in the doorway, staring out at the vast, white, snow-covered horizon.

Outside. She was outside!

She hadn’t been outdoors in so long. There was a different kind of silence now, nothing like what she’d grown accustomed to. This was peaceful and content. An entire world was unfurling around her, and somewhere out there in the distance