By: Bella Jewel

Bill is one of the voices that haunt Jimmy.

“What did he tell you, Jimmy?”

“He told me how to escape. He showed me how to kill the guards and get out.”

Slightly concerning, but mostly talk. It would be extremely difficult to escape. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s impossible.

“But you know what would happen if you escaped, Jimmy. Don’t you?”

He shakes his head from side to side. “Bill will keep me safe.”

“Have you talked to Mandy this week?” I ask.

He presses his cuffed hands to his chest, suddenly changing the subject. “It hurts right here, like I can’t breathe.”

Jimmy also suffers from severe nightmares. Jimmy’s mother tried to drown him in the bath when he was five. He remembers it clearly and tells me often, repeating her exact words.

“My momma tried to drown me,” he says, his eyes going vacant as he repeats the same words she told him, words he’s told me so many times over. “Jimmy, you’re a bad child, and bad children go to hell. I can’t look after a bad child anymore. You make me angry because you’re such a bad, fat, ugly child. I am doing you a favor. This is where you’re meant to be.”

The words still give me the chills, and it breaks my heart to know that a child of only five could be treated so badly.

“I’ll talk to Mandy, okay, Jimmy?”

He nods. “I like Mandy.”

“She likes you, too. Have a good day,” I say, staring at him for a second longer before leaving.

We continue down the halls. We finish up with the last six prisoners in the ward. By the time I’m done, it’s already lunchtime. I make my way into the break-room and see Tristan right away, coffee cup under the machine. My stomach grumbles as I walk up and stop beside him.

“Do me one while you’re there,” I say.

“Ash,” he murmurs, turning to look down at me. He looks edgy about something; his jaw is tight and his eyes fly past me a few times before he focuses. “How’s it going?”

I shrug. “The usual day. How are you? You look stressed.”

He shakes his head. “Just a stressful day.”

“Hey,” one of the newer guards says, turning up the television. “Check it out.”

I turn and watch the screen. There are police cars and crying people standing outside a building. I squint and see it’s a local café, just down the road from my house. My heartbeat picks up as I listen.

“This afternoon, tragedy broke out in a local café. A gunman, believed to be from the Jokers’ Wrath Motorcycle Club, killed four innocent people who were enjoying their lunch out. Witnesses say it was a bloody massacre. Security cameras were down, so information at this point is still sketchy. It is said the victims were a family, the father being multi-billionaire businessman, Johan Reed.”

My throat tightens as the reporter goes on.

“Nobody else was hurt and investigations are underway.”

“Shit,” the guard at the table says. “What the hell would cause someone to go in and kill an innocent family?”

I shake my head, still staring at the screen. “The question is, why only the one family? It’s as if he knew them.”

I turn to Tristan, who is still staring at the screen, his jaw tight. Luke enters the room and the two give each other what seems to come across as a secretive look – their eyes are stern and their mouths are tight. Tristan even gives a sharp little nod. I narrow my eyes and step closer to Tristan. “Is everything okay?”

He jerks and turns to me. “Fine. I just hate fuckers like that.”

My eyes widen. “Ah, yeah, it’s never nice.”

“No,” he mutters. “I gotta run.”

That was weird, but I shake it off and turn to the other guards. I don’t feel hungry anymore. “Well, back to work, then.”

“Later, Ash,” Jock, one of the other guards says as I exit the room.

Just another hectic day.


I spend the remainder of my afternoon in the dining hall with the prisoners. It’s fairly quiet and my shift ends on a good note after the disturbing news earlier.

After I’ve packed my things, I make my way out. Commotion catches me at the exit, and I turn to see guards bringing in a new prisoner. I step to the side, making sure I’m not in anyone’s way. Tristan approaches me as six guards lead a handcuffed man down the hall.

“That’s the shooter,” he growls, glaring at the man.

As they approach, I catch a glimpse of the man head on, and my breathing stops. I’ve spent a lot of years in this prison, but I’ve never witnessed a man as beautiful as he is. Criminal or not, it jumps out and screams at you to look at him. He’s tall, at least six feet, and is a hard wall of muscle. Thick shoulders, a lean narrow waist . . . he’s all male, strong and sturdy.

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