He clenched his jaw and went back to eating his food.
A part of me was curious and wanted to know what he’d wanted to say, but I thought better of pushing him for
We ended up eating the rest of our meal in silence after that. I wasn’t sure what to talk about or whether I should even try to start a conversation or not, and so I let him be.
When he was finally done, he placed his utensils on the table. “That was delicious, thank you. Please tell the cook they did a great job.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” I said, genuinely relieved everything had gone as planned.
“Do you think I could trouble you for a cup of tea?”
Oh, he wanted tea? I suppose I could make him some.
I stood up and began walking to the kitchen.
“Winona, what are you….”
I stared at him confused. He said he wanted tea? I was getting him tea….
“… Nevermind,” he said again, leaning back into his chair.
I paused another moment, still unsure over whatever that was, but proceeded on my way to the kitchen anyway. I asked the attendant there to boil me some water as I prepared the tea leaves. They, too, gave me an odd look that I still couldn’t decipher.
Several moments later, I was on my way back with his tea in hand, walking straight up to him.
I was about to place it on the table in front of him when suddenly his arm shot out towards me.
I jumped, not expecting him to have moved so quickly, and dropped the teacup…
…Right onto his leg.
He stood up immediately and cursed in pain. I realised too late that he had actually just been reaching for the cup in my hand, but I hadn’t expected it. I hadn’t thought he would move so abruptly.
“Oh, Goddess, no…,” was all I could say. Instinctively, I had already begun pacing backward until I found myself up against the wall. “Please… no, I’m so sorry.”
He was patting at his leg with a napkin, wincing from the pain, when suddenly his eyes looked up to meet mine.
I had messed up. I had messed up so badly.
“I’m sorry, please, I’m so sorry,” I kept repeating, my body beginning to shake.
“It’s fine,” he said. But I could barely hear him as I was so scared over whatever he would do to me.
He saw how I was, how my face had completely paled.
“I said it’s fine, Winona,” he repeated with a tone of irritation
And then he started walking towards me, looking unsettled by my reaction as I continued to apologise over and over again.
“Are you not listening to me? What’s wrong with you?”
I recoiled away but there was nowhere to move. I was already trapped by the wall.
And then finally he’d had enough.
“Why do you always have this reaction to me, Winona?” he snapped, frustrated. “I don’t get it! What have I done to you? What could I possibly have done to always make you fear me this much?”
I stared at him mutely, unable to find my voice.
“Before you became Beta heir, we literally had only spoken maybe five times growing up. So, what the hell did I do?”
And then I saw him. Really saw him for the first time since coming back.
This wasn’t the adult man who had gone on a killing spree. This wasn’t the man who had trapped and used me. This was a teenage boy who was probably still learning who he was himself. He had the same midnight curls and green eyes, but his face didn’t have the same lines from battle he’d acquired over the years. He was younger, purer. I’d been so caught up in the past that I’d been unable to look at him in the present.
“Help me understand, Winona, because I can’t take it
He looked at me then with a sad desperation, as if this had been something piling up inside him for a long time now. “Because whenever I look into your eyes, all I see is a reflection of myself, seen in the form of some kind of monster. And it makes me feel sick. Like I need to be
apologising for something when I don’t even know what I’ve done wrong.”
I wanted to say something, to give a plausible explanation for why I was so scared of him. But there was no good reason I could think of that didn’t involve mentioning my past life. What could I possibly tell him? Because he glares at me in meetings? Because he was sarcastic at me that one time? Because he gets angry when other men carry me off?
“Winona! Please, talk to me,” he said and grabbed at my arms, gently. “Help me understand what it is I’ve done. I’m sick of having to feel so disgusted by myself whenever I’m near you. What did I do, Winona?”
I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t think anymore. My head was spinning… and my vision was beginning to blur.
And I realised then what was happening… but it was too late.
This wasn’t trauma anymore.
No… now, I was having a vision.
I clenched my teeth to hold it off as long as possible. I knew I couldn’t let him see me when I eventually appeared to pass out. Too many questions I didn’t want to share answers to.
“Winona?” he called again, still waiting for me to reply.
He didn’t even realise anything was off about me. Benjamin probably just assumed I was ignoring him.
But I could barely see him now, struggling against whatever it was,that caused the visions. It was pushing at me, trying to overpower my body, but I held on as much as I could.
I shook my head. It was the only thing I could muster as there was no way I could reply with actual words. Not now anyway.
He sighed in annoyance, finally letting me go.
“I don’t know why I even tried to organise dinner,” he said before I heard his footsteps begin to leave.
Benjamin… organised the dinner? Not Leo?
I didn’t get time to think on it further though, as suddenly I felt myself falling, and my eyesight evaporated.
…And then… there was blood.
So much blood. All over me.
I couldn’t see it but I could feel it. The hot sticky sensation on my hands I knew could only be one thing. I was sure that if I looked down that I would find it everywhere.
But that wasn’t all. I was standing with the weight of someone leaning against me, their neck against my shoulder. I couldn’t see their face, or even their head, but I could feel they were heavy.
And then I realised this wasn’t like any other vision I’d had previously. No, I wasn’t watching it happen to someone else this time. I was here, present at that moment. This was happening in my future.
But it was strange though… it was like my vision was frozen, a snapshot in time, allowing me a moment to get a grasp on what was happening. I couldn’t move or speak and everything around me was eerily paused in motion.
I tried to keep calm and looked around, hoping to figure out where I was, but I didn’t recognise the area at all in the dark. I could only see the tree line of a forest and a pathway leading from a dimly lit area at night. None of this was helpful.
Suddenly, the person against me groaned out in pain and everything began to move again; time resuming.
They grabbed at my shoulder and pushed themself off me, falling to the ground in front of me. And it was then that I realised what was happening. What my vision was showing
Because in my hand was a knife. A hot, sticky knife that had caused the source of all the blood.
…And in front of me laid a dying Benjamin, slowly bleeding
I understood why I was here this time, why I was a participant and not a spectator.
…Because I was going to kill Benjamin.