Pretence by Georgiana Petec

“I’m so sick and tired of your ex and her shenanigans.”

“One more year, sweetheart.”

“’You know, if you drop drama into my life, I’ll put it and you onto the page.’”

“Well, Naomi certainly deserves it.”


Naomi assessed the situation: the boat leaked and her belongings were on it. If only she could figure out where the leak was and plug it with some cloth like they do in the movies. Maybe quarrelling with Ryan wasn’t the best idea of all, but with no phone signal in the middle of the lake she couldn’t adjust that. Gone were the days when he’d run to her rescue within minutes of her being out of sight. That’s how in love he was, or, in heat.

She smiled thinking of her tight parts. Puckering her lips, she arranged her hair to float with the wind and took a decent number of selfies. It was a unique opportunity. The dusk hid most of those nasty wrinkles which no amount of anti-aging anti-aged. She’d make a ton of money if she sued those companies. Did she know a lawyer? Tom, yeah, Tom. Did she sleep with him? Almost certainly. Was she with Ryan at the time? She couldn’t risk what was left of her marriage. He owned almost half of the house still. Well, his parents did. Although, they were old, and accidents do happen so often on the 401. If they died all went to Ronnie, whose guardian she was.

Naomi removed her shoes noticing they were getting soaked, and then thought of trying the engine one more time. She did throw away the paddles to accommodate the matching lamps she wanted.

At least Ronnie wasn’t with her, the whiny bugger. She didn’t remember Leia, seventeen now, being so horrible at age five. He could have screamed though.

Carefully putting her phone into her backpack, she managed to get behind the engine. Her fingers were swelled from her efforts to pull the engine back to life. Did she lose fuel too?

The conviction that someone will be getting to her rescue started to sway. The dark will swallow her whole, soon. The howls coming from her throat surprised her, but what else could she do?

“Shut up, you stupid bitch.”

Was someone hiding in the water? Who’d dare call her ‘stupid bitch’?

But then the mutter was almost in her ear,

“Who do you think you are, coming here to scare my fish?”

Help, she knew it! Naomi wanted to jump with joy. She distinguished the silhouette of a man almost up to his shoulders in water, camouflaged to the nines, one with the lake. Could he drag the boat to the shore? Was he one of her neighbours? She did make a point of saying hello to all of them by personally delivering bottles of rum to each household. If he got the rum, he’d help her.

His face was half covered by a dark coloured mask, and his head was in a deep hood, so she couldn’t tell.

“Help,” she murmured.

She heard him move through the water. The dusk had suddenly become darkness and she could now barely see the back of her boat. She felt it move and a twinge of satisfaction made her yelp. Yes, of course she’d get help. They were not barbarians on this side of the lake, they were her neighbours. True, they didn’t want a road built, but surely that was to protect wildlife. It would take time to gentrify the area.

She swore she’d take as many boat trips as necessary to make the cottage decent, and sellable, of course. She’d expect a swift profit at some point. Those morons had to move back to England and were so happy to practically give it away. They did tell her to have the boat checked, but bloody Ryan couldn’t be bothered. He kept pestering her with questions about the owners, why did they have to move? Was it sudden? A very low price is always fishy, and on and on… She bought the cottage without asking for his permission.

A bump shook the boat and she moved to jump out on land, her backpack ready on her shoulders.

The man grabbed her and twisted her arms, zipping them tight behind her back. Did he have the zip ready? How?

“Wait, what are you doing?” Naomi shouted.

“Shut up, cunt.”

She felt the taste of some putrid fabric pushed into her mouth, right up to the very back of her throat. She wanted to signal she’s choking, but that made it worse. He shoved her from behind, nudging her to walk. She was being kidnapped.

Good luck reaching Ryan. He must have taken Ronnie to his parents, in Ottawa for the long weekend. Not much phone signal at the farm. Her ex had Leia and still paid Naomi a hefty monthly sum even though Leia preferred to stay with him and his family. He’d laugh so hard. Or maybe, maybe for Leia’s sake, but Leia despised her and as she put it, ‘hated her guts’. Her friend Sarah? No, she always borrowed money and paid Naomi back in plane tickets.

And this cretin, what was he thinking, kidnapping her? At least couldn’t he let her have the weekend, last of the summer, blissful time alone? She’d be at her cottage, trapped anyhow.

Two swift cuts, and her backpack fell to the ground. Rope materialised from nowhere, digging into her waist. He was tying her up to a tree. What in the name of—

“Crispin, mate, is this the rum bitch? How in the name of God did you manage that?”

“She’s been bothering my fish.”

More than ten people gathered around the tree, some bringing blankets, thermoses… Was she the show? Ha! She breathed out, relieved. She was fine. As soon as they let her speak, she’d invite them over.