The key didn’t work, along with several others that she tried.
She looked for the original, but Christopher hid it well like he suspected she would break into the medicine cabinet. If he only knew how strongly that bottle of Morphine was calling to her. ‘Dad!’ she uttered in desperation. She looked around for a hard object to break the glass with and shook her head vigorously when she realized how disappointed Christopher would be.
She was in the hospital for a week, after Sarah’s near brush with death. During this time, Christopher had very little rest. Sometimes, he would spend the night by her side when she battled for control, holding her hand and assuring her that she wasn’t alone. She knew she wasn’t. Her little sister was always here in the mornings with new crayon drawings and tales of what she wanted their Christmas to be like when she returned home. They told Penny she had a fever; it was better than the truth. The little one didn’t need to deal with that too, but Daisy’s resolve to get better strengthened when she noticed how much Christopher was affected by the situation. There was a slight drop in his shoulders, and dark circles were forming under his eyes. It couldn’t have been easy, spending half of his days in the hospital, looking after mother and daughter, and spending the little time he had left with Penny. She had to try to return some normalcy into his life. She informed Christopher about her decision to continue her rehabilitation at home. He was reluctant at first but understood her desire to spend Christmas with the family. He told her she would struggle with her urges, and he wouldn’t always be with her, but she was confident she was going to be ok.
The first few days went well because she ate her meals and spent most of her time in her bedroom when Christopher was in the office and was content with Mrs. Donohue’s hourly checks. She took short walks around the house when she needed to stretch her legs and restricted her movements when she was indoors to avoid triggers. On one of her walks, she listened in on one of Mrs. Donohue’s conversations. ‘I understand Dr. Wallace doesn’t want to get another help because of security reasons, but if this continues, I might not be able to keep up with my work here,’ Mrs. Donohue said to a caller Daisy suspected worked in her agency.
Her mother wasn’t home, and she had made it a habit to disappear in the afternoons, Daisy deduced from what the housekeeper said. Sarah was an enigma. They were out of the clutches of the devil and had another shot at happiness, but she was going to screw it up again if Daisy didn’t do something fast.
‘Mrs. Donohue, please don’t leave us. I will share the tasks with you,’ she said from behind the housekeeper.
She turned around sharply and hid her phone. ‘I didn’t mean for you to hear that, Daisy,’ she said with a guilt-ridden voice. ‘I can’t let you do that because you are supposed to be on bed-rest. I will manage.’
‘Dad doesn’t need to know,’ Daisy assured the woman. ‘Penny and I did chores in our former house. I’m sure we can help, and I promise to speak with mum when she returns.’
‘Your dad won’t be happy if he finds out,’ the housekeeper added. ‘He won’t. We won’t tell him,’ assured Daisy. ‘Dad also needs a break from all our troubles. We also need to look after him.’
Mrs. Donohue smiled, ‘You have your father’s kind heart,’ and Daisy returned her smile, even though she had a strange feeling inside her chest. That evening, she decided to get some answers from Sarah. She was taking a bath, but the attic door was open, and there it was; a big, full bottle of painkillers in between her mother’s clothes. Daisy turned around and ran down the stairs to her bedroom, pulling the covers over her head in fright.
There was no sleep to be had that night. Instead, she stayed up, thinking of ways she could acquire that bottle for herself. ‘I need that bottle!’ she cried, breaking into cold sweats. ‘Just a pill will make me ok.’ She knew she couldn’t sneak into Sarah’s room. The latter hardly slept herself, so she would apprehend the bottle when Sarah took off the next day, and no one would know.
In the morning, she came down for breakfast the first time since her discharge and regretted her decision almost immediately. All it took was seeing Sarah looked at Christopher to send her spiraling out of control. The woman had no shame! She wanted back in his life after everything that had happened. Now, she had enlisted Penny in her plans to woo their dad, knowing what Penny meant to Christopher. Her dad’s reaction was predictable and worrisome. What if he kicked them out when he couldn’t handle this charade anymore? After all, Daisy wasn’t his.
The moment Christopher and Sarah were out of the house, she made sure Penny was out of sight and went for the bottle. She found them by the bedside table and popped several in her mouth without remorse. Who cared? They would be out on the streets in no time. She thought about taking the bottle, but she didn’t because she didn’t want Christopher to know. Mrs. Donohue didn’t seem to notice. She was happy Daisy was helping with the chores her mother ignored. Her deception didn’t last long because the housekeeper caught her stashing some pills in the breast pocket of her pajamas when she was doing her rounds. ‘Daisy, what are you doing?’ Mrs. Donohue asked, bewildered. ‘What do you care?’ Daisy asked sharply.
‘Your dad is going to kill me,’ the woman said, attempting to take the bottle of Daisy’s hands. ‘Yeah, he’s too busy to notice,’ Daisy pointed out. ‘So he won’t kill you if you don’t tell him.’
‘You promised you could handle this,’ Mrs. Donohue reminded her.
‘Yeah, well, I lied. My family is sick. Well, my dad isn’t, but he isn’t my dad, is he?’ Daisy answered as her pupils dilated.
‘I can’t do this anymore. Before Dr. Wallace fires me, I need to get out of here,’ Mrs. Donohue announced, throwing the mop on the floor.
Daisy seemed to sober up after that statement. ‘Please don’t go. What will happen to Penny and me?’
‘Tell your dad what is going on. If you don’t, I won’t come back here,’ Mrs. Donohue threatened. ‘This is more than I bargained for.’
‘I can’t! If I talk to him, he will know,’ Daisy cried out. ‘It will break his heart. I always pretend I’m asleep when he comes back from work, so he doesn’t find out. If I tell him, he will kick Sarah and me out of the house. Please, don’t go. I won’t take them anymore.’
Mrs. Donohue shook her head. ‘Your mother promised she would help me look after you. She broke it and begged me not to tell your dad, and you are doing the same thing. If you want things to get better, stop keeping secrets from him. What is the matter with you people? Your actions won’t allow your dad to live a normal life, and it’s not fair on him. I can’t watch this happen to a man who’s looked after my family for many years, and I won’t be the one to break his. I’m leaving.’
‘Just as you don’t want to break my family, I don’t want to have to leave my dad,’ Daisy added. ‘If you leave, it will stress him out more, so don’t go.’
Mrs. Donohue smiled and placed a hand on Daisy’s chin. ‘It’s so unfortunate that you had to grow up like this. You are still a little girl. Deception will get you nowhere.’
With that, the housekeeper left.
Daisy fell to the floor, wailing. It was all her mother’s fault. She called Sarah out, in front of Christopher, at the breakfast table the next day, asking her where she ran off to in the afternoons, as punishment for causing her regression and pushing the housekeeper away.
Christopher gave Sarah a talking down, and Sarah’s anguish delighted her but did nothing to help her get clean.
She returned to the attic after Sarah and Penny left, looking for the bottle, but it appeared her mother had hidden them well this time.
What was she to do now?
There had to be one or two things she could put together in the kitchen; some herbal brew of some sort. Daisy sent packets of tea flying from the cupboards hoping to find something that could kill her urges. She thought about food but had no interest in the wraps Sarah made.
Then she saw them.
Her mother’s pills; tucked away behind jars of spices. ‘Thank you, mum!’ she said happily, reaching out for the bottle. It paid to have a mother as dense as Sarah. Just as she was about to pop some in her mouth, she thought she heard two loud gunshots and jumped in fright. Gunshots! Here? Daisy thought as she tip-toed to the window overlooking the street.
The bodyguards’ car was still there, but she didn’t see anyone come out, then she opened the window for a better view. They were no longer in their positions. Instinctively, she locked the windows quickly and moved to the center of the kitchen, trembling as she looked for her phone, but before she found it, then she heard a familiar voice.
‘Little minx, daddy’s home!’
No! No! No! It can’t be! Daisy thought in horror. Where could she hide? If he found her, it was over.
‘Come on, Daisy. Don’t make me look for you, or there will be hell to pay!’
She froze. She couldn’t hide because she was going to get the belt if she did. She had to obey.
‘There you are!’ he said after busting the kitchen door open. ‘Miss me, honey cup?’
His hands were bloody, and he looked unhinged.
‘Please, dad,’ she pleaded as he approached her.
‘You abandoned your job. You’ve been a bad girl. I’ve been through too much because of you. You will pay.’
She could feel warmth spreading down her legs, and his sheepish grin told her she had wet herself. ‘I .. I’m sorry!’ she cried, pleading with him.
His hands were on her neck as he drew her close. ‘You see Daisy, that won’t do. You ruined Daddy’s reputation with Madam Brenda, and you need to fix it. Now, tell Daddy you won’t make a fuss. and you want to come with him.’
Daisy struggled to breathe.
‘Say it!’ he yelled, tightening his grip on her neck.
‘I…I won’t make a fuss, and I want to come with you,’ she stammered.
‘Now that’s my little minx!’ he said, dragging her out of the kitchen and pushing her onto the living room floor.
‘Where’s does the pretty boy keep all his money?’ he asked, rummaging through all the cabinets, desks, and cupboards he could find.
Briefly, Daisy looked at the front door and thought of making a run for it but squashed the idea when she thought of what he would do when he caught up with her.
‘Are you deaf or stupid?’ Herbert asked, kicking her face.
‘I don’t know where he keeps the money. I only have my pocket money, and Penny keeps hers with her,’ she replied, handing over some squeezed hundred dollar notes to him.
‘Useless!’ he muttered, tucking the bills in his pocket.
He made a quick call. ‘Come in and search the place for valuables. We can’t leave here empty-handed, and I have an appointment to keep.’
Shortly after, two men entered the house and were wreaking havoc, putting some items in sacks and breaking others. ‘Hurry up!’ Herbert ordered when he heard police sirens in the distance. ‘Blasted fools!’ Herbert cursed, dragging her out of the house. They passed by the lifeless bodies of the bodyguards on their way to a moving van. ‘Christopher, Christopher, I have a surprise waiting for you,’ he mocked, restraining Daisy and hurling her at the back of the Van.
‘The pretty boy’s going to rue the day he messed with me,’ he told Daisy before slamming the boot shut and condemning her to darkness. She heard the police cars zoom by them on the way to the house and shut her eyes in an attempt to deny her reality. Her nightmare had returned.