Her bad-boy lover is no good for her, but she doesn’t realize how much until her house is ransacked and she’s left for dead. Overcome with grief, Ripley begins seeing her life as hopeless. Dreams that were once within reach become unfathomable, replaced with nightmares and horrifying flashbacks.
Her father, a well-known airline CEO, steps up, finding a subtle way to help. But he doesn’t anticipate his plan backfiring as it does. Inadvertently Ripley’s heart is on the chopping block again. Ripley loses the drive to move on, but suddenly her life changes, and it happens when a young man named Will knocks at her door.
Ripley learns of Will’s secret, which makes her question everything about his feelings toward her, but a tragic yet precarious bond keeps them together….for how long is anyone’s guess. Soon, Ripley has to break his heart in ways she never dreamed, and she’s forced to ask him the one thing she’s terrified to ask.
Ripley Mackenzie sat on her bed, kneading her nylons through her fingers. She pulled them on over her toes; first one then the other. The cashmere blouse she’d chosen lay on the silk sheet; a goose-down duvet remained folded over since she awoke.
Suddenly the bed bounced, and she was greeted with a hungry kiss on the neck. “Ian! You scared the crap out of me!” She shrieked.
With the wave of movement, Ian’s long hair was swept onto his forehead. He laughed. “Were you expecting someone else?”
Ripley gave him a knowing look. “Of course not.”
Ian picked up her blouse. “What’s this? What are you getting all dressed up for?”
“My parents are having a dinner party tonight.”
A clicking noise came from his mouth. “Thanks for sparing me.” he said appreciatively.
Ripley’s parents lived on the upscale side of Los Angeles, close to South Beach. Ian’s long, greasy hair and leather clothing didn’t suit the ideals the Mackenzie’s had for their Ivy League daughter. During the first year of their relationship, Ripley’s parents had approved of Ian, but once he rode his Harley to their place, her father forbade her from seeing him. Ripley had continued seeing Ian secretly; only her mother knew since then.
“Besides, I’m heading out to Billy’s tonight.” Ian explained, pulling on his leather riding chaps.
“Billy’s?” Ripley sighed disapprovingly.
“Yeah, Billy’s.” Ian barked. “Is that a problem?”
“Just make sure he doesn’t send you home in the state he did the last time.” She insisted.
Ian coughed. “Listen, if I wanna go out and drink with my buddies, what’s that to you?”
“Nothing. It’s just that whenever you go out with Billy, either something gets broken, ruined or you end up in jail.”
Throwing his overnight bag on the bed, Ian stomped over to the spare drawer that Ripley had assigned to him. “You know what? I don’t have to take this shit from you. It’s bad enough your daddy doesn’t approve of me, but maybe you don’t, either.” He growled. “So I broke the damn lock on the door, you know it was an accident; I couldn’t go back to my parent’s place the way I was.”
“So why did you have to drink so much? And why didn’t you just call me if you were too drunk to use your key? I would’ve unlocked the door for you.” Ripley argued.
“Are we gonna have this same fight for the rest of our lives?” Ian threw his clothes into the bag. “Dammit, Ripley! I can’t please you!”
They were both silent for a few moments. Then Ian spoke as he zipped up his bag. “Maybe we should take a break for a while.” He suggested. “I mean, you just finished school, and I know you want to start up your practice.”
Ripley had studied to be a paediatrician. Her father fronted the money so she could open a practice inside UCLA’s medical centre. She shook her head. “That’s irrelevant, Ian. I just want you to stop hanging around with Billy, that’s all. I don’t see why you can’t respect my wishes.”
Billy chuckled sarcastically. “Yeah, first it’s Billy, then it’s Nathan, then sooner or later it’s just you and me, is that it?” He shook his head, lifting the bag off the bed. Placing a cigarette behind his ear, he walked to the front door of the two bedroom bungalow, and opened it. The lock mechanism was still broken, so he had to fiddle with it.
“I’ll see ya when I see ya.” Ian said, closing the door behind him. The lock didn’t properly engage so Ripley pushed the door with her knee, forcing the metal pin in place. Blowing a piece of hair away from her face, she said to herself for the hundredth time, “Yeah, I’ll see ya.”
Ripley lay in bed, tossing and turning. Why do I have to try and make him better? Why can’t I just love him for who he is? She thought to herself. But the same argument had emerged time and time again. Ian was simply a weekend drunk, and he only drank when he was with Billy. He was a good guy otherwise; even though they didn’t have much in common. Ian was rough around the edges, didn’t have a high school education, and he worked seasonally as a roofer. Ripley was well-educated, her parents well-to-do; Mr. Warren was the owner of an aviation company and he spent most of his time travelling for business.
Finally sleep came. The last time she peered at her alarm clock it read two o’clock in the morning. She awoke to a strange sound coming from the front door. Thinking it was Ian coming back in another drunken stupor, she turned onto her back and waited. Her eyes sprung open as a man’s cold hand aggressively covered her mouth. As she tried to scream, she stared into her assailant’s eyes, which were dark and wide. The man said nothing; he didn’t have to: the sound of his switch blade silenced her.
As she swallowed the lump in her throat, she felt her breath being cut off by the pressure of the man’s hand against her throat and nose. His leather glove tasted like salt against her lips, and his weight against her body was imposing, making her feel like she would smother. She was pinned down; a prisoner in her own bed. As she lay there, shaking almost convulsively, she listened and watched. There were three other men inside the house; one was keeping watch outside and two others were randomly rummaging through her belongings.
Ripley didn’t have a lot of valuables; a television, laptop and some jewellery; all of which was replaceable. What was of most concern to her was her body; would these men physically harm her? She’d worked hard to have the frame she did, and her fair complexion complimented her deep blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. As far as she was concerned the men could take what they wanted; just as long as they left her alone.
They wore ski masks, so Ripley would never be able to identify them; she prayed this would bode well for her. Desperately, she wanted to bargain with them. She wanted to beg them to let her go; Ripley had no intention of ever calling these walls home again after this terrifying encounter. The criminals could have it all, even the house and her car, as long as she could be left unharmed.
“Did you bring the rope?” One of the bandits hissed. He had a husky voice, low and throaty like he’d just contracted bronchitis.
Ripley’s heart lurched. She could only guess what the rope was for. Remembering she’d left some bungee cord in her bedroom closet, she hoped they wouldn’t search for resources. When the other man shook his head no, the husky-voiced criminal swore under his breath. He opened her underwear drawer and withdrew a pair of socks. Pulling apart the matching garments, he approached the man who still sat atop Ripley and lifted her head. Tying the sock around her head, attaching it from behind, he’d created a makeshift gag.
The husky-voiced bandit dismissed the man on top of her and used the other sock to tie her hands behind her back. The sock wasn’t quite long enough, so he returned to her drawer and pulled out a pair of nylons. When Ripley was successfully tied and gagged, they left her in her room, but not before aggressively pulling the telephone jack out of the wall.
Ripley heard the men ransacking her house. They were dumping out all the kitchen drawers, dragging all her belongings out and taking what they wanted. She heard one man walk out the door, possibly to deposit their findings, and then he returned a minute later.
“Check the fuckin’ dresser man!” Another man hissed.
Ripley’s heart began to pound in her chest again, thinking they weren’t finished yet. As the man stormed into her room, she felt herself rigid with fear.
“Where is it?” He said, as if she knew what he was talking about.
Shaking her head, she moaned, trying to convey that she didn’t know what he was asking her.
He came closer and hissed. “Where the fuck is it?”
Her eyes widened as tears poured from her eyes. Lips moving and frightened, she tried to ask him what he wanted. She felt a blow from the side of her head; something hard had hit her. The room went blurry and she was suddenly nauseated even more than she’d been. When she came to, he was standing there with a switch blade in his hand. He held it upright so the moonlight shone across its sharp edge.
Sobbing, she lowered her head. He placed the blade against her throat. “You tell me where it is and you live.” He seethed. Then he looked her up and down her person with an expression that made her sick. “You’ve got a sexy body. I’d hate to scar it all up.”
His voice was gravelly, like he’d just awakened from a nap. He stared at her legs peeking out from under her silk pyjamas. Running a gloved hand up her skin; from her knee to the top of her thigh, she winced as if in pain.
She heard the husky-voiced man enter the bedroom. “Yo, did you get it?”
The knife-baring man leaned in closer to her and said evenly. “Not yet.”
Suddenly they heard sirens. “Time to go, man!” The criminal who was manning the windows said.
“Is it for us?” The husky-voiced man asked.
“You wanna stick around and find out?” the other man asked with his hands outstretched, as if it was the most ridiculous thing he’d heard.
The knife-baring man kept one hand on the knife and caressed Ripley’s breast with the other. “I like you. I think I’ll come back for more later.” He said seductively. When she thought he was going to do more, the man swiftly punched her on the side of her head, knocking her unconscious.
Ripley awoke to a throbbing head, and she was choking on her gag. Lifting herself from the bed she tried desperately to remember where her cell phone was. As she walked from her bedroom, she tripped and fell over the mess the criminals had left. There wasn’t a clear spot on her living room floor. Ignoring the scene, she focused on finding her purse. The door began to creak open, sending Ripley fleeing to her bedroom in a fright.
As she fled to the bedroom, she lost her footing and tripped, hitting her head on the side of the dresser. She was knocked unconscious.
Ian’s head inched its way inside the door. “Ripley, baby.” He slurred. “Baby, I forgot my keys.”
He pushed the door open, sliding items across the floor. Peering inside, he saw his girlfriend lying on the floor, and the terrible disgrace her house was left in. He craned his neck and turned on his heel right back out the door, leaving her there alone.