Monday, November 29, 2010
New book on Wednesday!
What the fuck had her mom gotten her into? That was all Reggie could think as she ran deeper into the woods of the national park. She’d been worried when her mom’s letter had arrived, begging her to come, saying it was important. Her mother’s phone was disconnected and a new address was listed. So being the daughter she was, Reggie had dropped everything and left.
For the longest time it had been just the two of them and Reggie still suffered from guilt issues at having left home a year ago at twenty. But she had finally made herself believe that she deserved a life of her own. So she’d packed up and moved for all the good it had done her. She was just like her mother. She worked from home as a medical transcriptionist and did most of her shopping by mail. She’d barely gone out in the year she’d been on her own and had no friends.
So there was no one to miss her now. She should have run when she pulled up to a gate guarded by two men with guns. Especially when they recognized her on sight and greeted her by name. But they’d told her that her mother would be so excited that she was finally here, they had laughed and smiled and tricked the hell out of her. She had left the car with her bags at the gate, and taking only her purse, had followed one of the men to find her mother.
Her mom had looked gorgeous. She had positively glowed, looking years younger. She’d been wearing a formfitting dress that seemed to be the style for every woman who Reggie saw. Her mom wasn’t sick, wasn’t in trouble, actually seemed better than she’d ever been. When they’d finally found a private place to sit and talk, Reggie had felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. From everything her mother was saying there was no doubt that this was some kind of cult.
Her mother had asked Reggie to freshen up, offered her one of the dresses that Reggie had politely refused, preferring to keep her jeans, t-shirt and running shoes. Then they had gone back to where the others were so that Reggie could meet some of her mother’s new friends. And with each new woman Reggie had felt her anxiety increase. The women were content to be subservient and Reggie didn’t think it was just the cooking, cleaning and child-rearing that they were expected to do.
Reggie had been taking everything in when a sudden silence fell over everyone and she watched as they all had bowed their heads. Glancing around, her gaze landed on a man dressed in loose-fitting, white linen-style pants and an unbuttoned white shirt. His eyes took her in from head to toe and when he met her gaze he didn’t seem too happy but quickly tried to hide his displeasure.
“Daffy, you did not offer your lovely daughter the time to freshen up before leading her to meet everyone?” He phrased it as if it were a question but Reggie could hear the reprimand in his voice.
“Mom offered,” Reggie said. “But I preferred to stay as I am since I’ll be heading to the hotel soon.” She hadn’t planned any such thing but it seemed important to keep that information to herself. Something just didn’t feel right here.
“But of course you will stay here with your mother,” he said. “Isn’t that so, Daffy?”
“Yes, yes.” Her mother grabbed her hand and squeezed. “Regina, you must stay here with us, with me.” The tone of her mother’s voice made her even more uneasy.
“Well, it is settled then,” the man said. “I will see you later at the evening meal.”
Reggie had feigned fatigue and her mother had taken her back to where she slept. It was in a big building that reminded Reggie of a dormitory. There was one big communal bathroom that everyone used. Her mother explained that a lot of the women shared a room but her mom had one to herself so that Reggie could stay with her as long as she wanted.
“Mom, why don’t we go out for dinner?” Reggie asked. “Just the two of us, like old times.”
“Oh, we can’t do that,” Daphne said, shaking her head frantically back and forth.
“Why can’t we do that?” Reggie asked. “Aren’t you allowed to leave, Mom?”
“Dinner is a big event, Regina,” her mom said. “We’ll be dining with Brother Michael tonight. That is a big honor and not to be denied.”
“I didn’t come here for him, Mom,” Reggie shook her head. “I came to see you, to make sure you were okay. I was afraid that something was wrong, that you were sick.”
“Oh, Regina,” her mom gushed. “I’ve never been so happy. My life is so perfect here. Brother Michael takes care of all of us. I’ve only a few specific duties to see to and everything else is taken care of for me.”
“What do you do, Mom?” Reggie asked
“I take care of helping with the morning meal,” her mother said excitedly. “It is the most important one of the day. Then I go with two other women and clean the worship center. When we are done there it is time to help with the lunch preparations so that some of the younger women can take the refreshments out to the men. Then I have the afternoon to read or sew before starting on the evening meal.”
Her mom loved to read, sew and cook. She had been meant to be a housewife, which was what she had been before her husband, Reggie’s dad, left them. Her mom had never really seemed to recover. But looking at her now was like going back in time to the younger, more vibrant woman her mother had once been.
“That sounds wonderful,” Reggie said. “But if you are so happy then why the letter to me?”
Her mom looked away, refusing to meet Reggie’s eyes and a chill went down her spine. She definitely felt like something wasn’t right now.
“I just wanted to see you, Regina,” her mom insisted, still looking anywhere but at Reggie.
“Mom, you haven’t called me Regina since I was six,” Reggie said. “Why are you calling me it now?”
“Brother Michael says that Regina is a beautiful and fitting name,” Daphne said.
“And yet he calls you Daffy?” Reggie asked with a laugh. Daffy made her think of the cartoon duck.
“Brother Michael said the name fits me perfectly,” her mom said with a smile and a dreamy look.
“Mom, you’re not sleeping with this guy, are you?” Reggie asked and her mom finally met her gaze, an appalled look in her eyes.
“Of course not,” her mom gasped. “Don’t speak of such things out loud, Regina. I am not worthy of one such as Brother Michael.”
That didn’t make Reggie feel any better. The women here were all subservient in manner and it hadn’t escaped Reggie’s notice that when her mom had offered her a dress to wear she’d been told to just throw “all” her clothes in a pile in the corner of the room. The longer Reggie was here the more creeped out she got.
“Here,” her mother said, handing her a glass of what looked like tea. “You look hot and tired, Regina. Drink this. I just love the tea here. It is perfectly brewed.”
Reggie took a sip and it was perfect. Not too sweet and no trace of the bitterness that sometimes came with tea. She really was thirsty so she drank it all down.
“Mom, I’m glad that you are happy,” Reggie said and she meant it. Perhaps this was the life that her mother needed. She would have to stop at the police station in town and find out what she could about this group. And then she would work on getting her mother out of here. Maybe she would have to get word to her mother that she was sick or something. That thought made her feel guilty. Her mother was a grown woman and Reggie had never seen her look happier.
“I am happy,” her mom gushed. “The only thing that could make me happier is if you were to join me here.”
Reggie shook her head. “I can’t, Mom. I have a job, friends, and they’ll be expecting me to check in soon.”
“No, you don’t,” her mom said with a laugh. “Brother Michael checked. You work from home and have no visitors.”
Reggie blinked. She was getting really tired and was fighting to keep her eyes open. “How would Brother Michael know that?”
“He checked on you,” her mom said. “When he saw your picture he told me that you were the one whom he’d been waiting for.”
“Waiting for?” Reggie asked. That didn’t sound good to her.
“You’re the one,” her mother stated with awe. “You’ll be the one to give birth to Brother Michael’s son.”
Reggie was shaking her head now in denial as well as an attempt to clear her vision. “I’m not having his child,” she vowed.
“You will, Regina,” her mother told her. “It is God’s will.”
Two things clicked in Reggie’s mind at once. First was that her mother was lost to her. They had never been that close, probably because Reggie had always felt like more the parent than the child. She would never be able to persuade her mother to leave here. The second thing was that her mother had drugged her drink, or at the very least given her a drink that was drugged.