Week three, I made it. God I just want to go home.
I did sleep better now that I wasn’t in the Queen’s Room, even though Tara snores loud enough to wake the dead. I saw Taylor slip a small orange bottle to Diana after the Friday elimination. I found out later it was a medication called Trazodone, which can be used for sleep.
This week we had a new task- create our dream date with Donovan. Plan everything from what we eat to where we go, within reason of course. I was lucky number one on the docket. I wanted more time to plan, but I wasn’t going to ask anyone to swap with me.
In the end, I stuck with what I would sincerely want to do, if I wasn’t dating a heart eating monster.
“Take out and movies?”
Donovan was clearly trying not to laugh as I handed him a stack of DVDs the crew gave me. “We were told to plan our dream date. Honest to god, this is it. Pizza, movies, snuggle on the couch… we don’t have to snuggle if you’re not into it though.”
Please don’t be into it.
“I think I won’t mind snuggling.”
“So I get to pick the movie?” Donovan asked as he began to sort through them.
I nodded as I sat down on the couch next to him. “That’s fair, isn’t it? I picked pizza for dinner, so you get to pick what we watch. When we do this again, we switch choices.”
Donovan grimaced as he picked up IT Chapter One. “Oh, no, definitely not,” He said, shuddering and practically tossing the DVD case across the room.
I couldn’t help it, I laughed. “Oh my god, are you scared of clowns?”
“Absolutely terrified. I’m not much of a horror fan either,” He admitted.
“Get too much of it in your every day life?” I asked.
Donovan paused for a moment before glancing up at me. “You could say that,” He said quietly before he picked up another DVD. “But I do like classics. The Princess Bride is a classic, right?”
“I think it is! I love that movie!”
The pizza was delivered by Monica, who winked at me and told me to ‘keep it up’. Apparently to whatever fucked up audience they’re going to show this to, I will have a lot of appeal.
“Half pepperoni, half cheese. I’m not sure what you like on your pizza,” I said as I pulled free a slice.
Donovan picked up his own slice. “I’m the boring one who likes plain cheese. I don’t get pizza often anymore though. I did when I was in college.”
“What did you study?” I asked, taking a bite.
“I was a psychology major. Graduated with a master’s. I practically lived off of pizza,” Donovan chuckled before he sneaked an arm over my shoulders. “Let’s watch the movie, shall we?”
I was stiff as a board for the first several minutes of the movie. Sure, I knew I was safe, but you try getting snuggly with a murderous Mr. Right.
I did relax though. Pizza, one of the best movies ever made, and by the time the credits rolled I was practically curled up against his chest. He was warm, he smelled good, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until Donovan moved. I cleared my throat and backed off. “I could actually watch that movie every day,” I said with a nervous laugh.
Donovan cocked his head to the side. “You’re afraid,” He said.
I nodded, rubbing the back of my neck. “I can tell when you’re getting pissed, you have a few tells, and I know no eliminations take place before Friday. But…” I swallowed. I couldn’t finish that sentence.
“Look at me.”
I looked up just in time to see Donovan change.
It is more than just the tail, there are some slight changes to his features when he shows what he really is- brow is more prominent, his eyeteeth and canines are sharper, there’s another set of eyes on his temples and all four are bronze in color with no pupils or whites. But that tail, the many jointed scorpion tail, that was still what had my attention.
The tail flicked closer to me. “This is what I really am, Paige. Child of monster and human. I can look and feel like the latter, but this always is beneath the surface,” He said.
My fingers trembling, I reached up and brushed my fingers his tail. It was cool, smooth. “Can I…” I didn’t need to finish the question.
Donovan’s eyes widened but he nodded. I ran my fingers up to near the tip. “Is this poisonous?” I asked as I tapped my finger against the final segment of tail, the one with the thorn like tip.
“No. It’s just very sharp.”
“No kidding,” I grumbled as I rested my hand against the back of it. Just a week before I watched as it tore out someone’s heart. And now here it was, inches away from me, passive and harmless.
Donovan finally pulled his tail away and it vanished, and there he was again, just a man. “I am what I am. I cannot change what is literally a part of my DNA… but around you, I feel… tame. The beast inside is quiet and I don’t have any desire to see you hurt.”
The mood was almost broken from where I could see Monica out of the corner of my eye, jumping up and down and holding back childlike glee. “Well, I suppose that bodes well for me. Give me a few weeks, we’ll see how I feel about you? You got to see me, learn about me for a whole week before I even saw you. And my first impression of you was terrifying.”
“I understand.” Donovan got up, brushing a few crumbs off his lap. “You know, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about such a simple date, but it may turn out to be one of my favorites.”
I headed back to my room knowing I was going to live, but terrified about about who was likely going to die.
Diana’s date was next, and god this girl is going to win. She chose a date to a local coffee shop, they spent the whole time laughing and enjoying each other’s company. She was the only other person to see Donovan’s true form, during the car ride home. She didn’t touch his tail but instead touched his face, letting him know it was what on was on the inside that mattered to her. Clever way to word it, I gotta say.
Tara took Donovan dancing. They enjoyed drinks, they got quite passionate on the dance floor, and although there was a brief moment I thought Tara was going to make a break for it, she didn’t take it and instead kissed Donovan for quite a passionate moment.
Shannon’s date idea was quite sweet, if I’d picked a date out in public I probably would’ve gone with her idea. She went to a museum with Donovan, and they managed to catch a show at the planetarium. However, anytime Donovan attempted to hold her hand she jerked it away. She didn’t really engage in any conversation either. It was clear her mind was somewhere else.
Taylor… Taylor actually went third, but her attempt resulted in disaster.
It started with dinner, and it was going well. Taylor was calm, she cut back on her bad jokes and managed to be quite charming. Halfway through dessert she got up to use the bathroom… and then she didn’t come back after ten minutes.
We could see the irritation on Donovan’s face when he realized that Taylor pulled a runner. A quick questioning of the staff and it was revealed she’d asked to use the back way out, as the date she was on was absolutely bombing. She’d ditched her heels for sneakers she’d kept in her purse. Bruce swore so loudly his mic peaked and then the live feed cut out.
Shannon was hopeful. “Maybe she’ll get help for all of us,” She said as we headed back to our rooms.
Tara shook her head. “If she can outrun the crew and Donovan, I don’t care if she catches the next flight back to Britain. She got out, she doesn’t owe us shit,” She said.
I agreed with Tara. If even one of us got away, it would be amazing.
But Taylor didn’t get away. Shortly after midnight I woke up to hear her sobbing to Tara. I pretended to be asleep as they talked, but through my mostly closed eyes I could see Taylor’s ripped up nylons and a bruise forming on her face.
Taylor managed to get a bit of distance and was almost in the clear when Donovan caught up to her.
“I thought… I thought I was gonna die…” Taylor hiccuped, “But… but all he did was wrap his tail around me and growl like some wild fucking animal as he dragged me back to a car. He didn’t say anything, but god, Bruce told me I broke my contract. Tomorrow it’ll be me. Fuck, it’ll be me.”
The next morning at breakfast Shannon put one eye on Taylor and bolted back to her bedroom. Diana looked disappointed but still gave Taylor a tight hug and thanked her for trying. Taylor didn’t touch a crumb of food but I didn’t blame her. I didn’t know what to say to comfort her. This was a woman on death row and nothing could change that.
It was elimination time and Taylor looked so pale I thought she might faint. We all sat on the couch as Bruce impatiently tapped his foot.
“Where the hell is Sarah?” He grumbled.
“Her name is Shannon,” I said. God I hate this man.
“Well, one of you go get her,” He shooed us, “It’s time to eliminate a contestant.”
Tara snorted. “Oh, don’t even. It’s a fucking execution, you creep,” She snarled, wrapping an arm around Taylor’s shoulders.
Diana got up. “I’ll ask if she wants to come, but I won’t make her. If she doesn’t want to see this, that’s her choice,” She said, giving quite a nasty glare at Bruce before walking off.
I held Taylor’s hand as I saw Donovan walk in, leaning against the wall with quite the unenthusiastic expression. “I wish I could switch with you,” I whispered into her ear.
Taylor sniffled and muttered, “You try and I’ll beat your head in. You’re a great friend though, love. You too, Tara. I’m glad I got to meet you both.”
Tara shushed her and ran her fingers through Taylor’s braids. “I wish we could be friends for longer-”
She was cut off by Diana’s bloodcurdling scream.
I bolted after the sound, Bruce tried to grab my arm but I managed to shake him off. Donovan and Tara were right on my heels as we made it to the bedrooms. Diana stumbled out of Shannon’s room into the hall, white as a sheet and continuing to scream.
I ran into the room and saw Shannon’s body hanging from the ceiling fan, white sheets forming the noose around her neck. Her eyes were still open, staring lifelessly down at me from her blue face.
I sunk to the ground, legs turned to jelly. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream like Diana still was. I heard Tara turn her rage on Bruce, screaming at him for not keeping a better eye on the contestants and not realizing one was a suicide risk.
I was lifted off the ground and helped out of the room by Donovan. “You should lie down,” He murmured into my ear as he helped me to the Queen’s room.
That’s where I am now. Once again, I was top girl. Lucky fucking me. There was no execution this week, Taylor has another week. According to her, Monica pulled her aside and let her know the slate was wiped clean. As long as she doesn’t try to escape again, she has another shot.
Someone get us fucking out of here.