Have you noticed how often I've been woken up by somebody knocking on my door lately? Because it's been happening a lot…
It was impossible to say for sure how long I'd been asleep, since the room had no windows, but it didn't feel like long enough. Kimberly and I both sat up like somebody had stuck us with a cattle prod as the woman from last night's voice hollered at in between knocks.
“My man says he wants breakfast," she was saying. The tone of her voice made it clear that, even if D.K. was the alpha, she still considered herself above the two of us- like, so high she was practically in orbit. “You better get yo lazy butts up and make him something!"
“Hold on," I said groggily, still coming to my senses. For a second, I couldn't figure out where I was. This wasn't my bedroom. It wasn't Majestic, either. Why was I surrounded by trash? “Give me a minute."
“Oh, I know you did not just say that," the woman said, and I could almost hear the finger wag in her voice. Her footsteps carried her away from our door, but I could still hear her clearly. “Honey boo, she said she ain't gonna make you no breakfast!"
“Wait, what?" I exclaimed, getting to my feet just as the door swung open hard enough to slam against the wall behind it. D.K. stormed into the room, and before I could react, I was on the floor again, my cheek stinging where his hand had struck me.
“Woman!" he shouted, towering over me, “I told you I wanted breakfast!"
I wanted to explain that I hadn't said that, that Kailey had lied to him, but I couldn't. Kimberly scooted away into the corner, cowering in fear. Luckily, D.K.'s attention was all on me. He squatted down and grabbed me by my hair, pulling me back to my feet again.
“I'm yo alpha, you hear?" he yelled, showering my face with spit. “If I tell you I want breakfast, you make me my freaking breakfast! You get yo lazy white butt up off the floor," he commanded me, “and you make me breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Got it?"
I hastily nodded me head, hot tears spilling down my cheeks.
“I take you into my house, and this is how you treat me," he grumbled, the worst of his anger already burned away. He turned and swaggered out of the room to where Kailey was waiting, and draped his arm possessively around her shoulders. Tyler was standing in the hallway too, impassively watching the scene unfold. D.K. gave me one last contemptuous glare, and then stalked away- but not before I caught the smug grin Kailey sent my way.
For a few seconds, I sat on the floor, gulping down frightened breaths, trying to keep myself from crying. The only reason I didn't break down right there was because Kimberly was still sitting in the corner, watching me. I had to stay strong for her. I had to…
D.K. still wants his pancakes!
That thought flashed across my mind, and in an instant I was on my feet, running through the house until I found the kitchen. More garbage crunched under my feet as I crossed the dusty linoleum floor to the fridge. In the other room, I could hear the Kailey cooing sweet gibberish to D.K., which he accepted with knowing “mmm-hmms."
A pit formed in my stomach when I opened the refrigerator door. A three-quarters empty jug of milk, a few crumpled up fast food bags, and three eggs. Pulling out one of the drawers, I found a package of bacon. That made two of the things he wanted, but I couldn't make pancakes out of eggs and bacon. Closing the door, I went to the adjacent pantry, and breathed a sigh of relief when I found a box of pancake mix. It was so old that the image on the front had faded, but I grabbed it anyway and set it on the counter.
“You done yet?" D.K.'s voice hollered at me impatiently from the living room, almost drowned out by the rap music that they never turned off.
“Not yet," I answered, and immediately flinched.
“Hurry up!" he yelled, and I relaxed when I realized he wasn't going to hit me for speaking.
My cheek still tingled as I got the milk, eggs, and bacon out of the fridge, but it was starting to fade. In an hour, I wouldn't feel a thing. After a bit of searching, I found three pans and set them on the stove, which managed to start up after a few seconds of sputtering. I was beginning to realize that cooking was not something that happened very often around here. I cracked the three eggs into one of the pans, making them sizzle, and then slapped a few strips of bacon into another. While those cooked, I picked up the box of pancake mix, but found I had to squint to read the faded instructions.
“One cup of milk makes five pancakes," I was finally able to decipher. After a quick search through all the drawers and cabinets, I came to the conclusion that there was not a single measurement cup to be found and had to substitute with a shot glass I found, hoping that I would get the right amount.
As I mixed the batter, I heard the sound of soft footsteps coming into the kitchen, and I turned to see that Kimberly had joined me.
“Hey, there," I greeted her, trying to act as if nothing had happened earlier. “How are you feeling?"
She didn't say anything, but the way she kept shooting glances at the wall between us and D.K. told me all I needed to know. I sighed, but didn't stop stirring the batter.
“I'm making breakfast," I said, nodding toward the eggs and bacon on the stove. “You want some?"
She looked from the stove to me, and nodded.
“All right," I gave her a little smile. “It'll be ready in a few minutes."
I had just poured the first spot of batter into the frying pan when the phone rang. It was a landline, connected to the kitchen wall like you never see anymore.
“Get the phone, Tyler!" D.K. ordered from the living room.
The massive man lumbered into the room, barely giving me and Kimberly a passing glance before picking up the phone.
“Hello?" he asked. I shivered a little when I thought of how much his low, rumbling voice sounded like a wolf's growl. He was silent for a few seconds before putting the phone down on the counter and going back into the living room. “It's for you."
D.K. took Tyler's place, and I wish I could say the look he gave us was as placid as Tyler's had been. He picked up the phone, keeping his eyes on us as if he thought we might try to jump him while he was distracted.
“What?" he demanded into the phone. Normally, my hearing is so good that I can listen in on both sides of a phone conversation from across the room, but the wall-rattling rap music in the next room made D.K. the only voice I could make out.
“Yeah," he said, his voice smug and taunting. “Yeah, I know you got it. You a smart guy, right? That means you have it when I tell you to have it. I'll be there in half an hour to get it."
He hung up the phone without saying goodbye, and shouted, “Swag Pag, move out!"
Immediately, as if they had been expecting the order, Tyler and Kailey came through the kitchen door, shoving past me as if I weren't there and leaving through another door in the far wall.
“I wanna sit shotgun next to my man!" Kaylie shouted, and I smelled the musty smell of a garage coming through the door.
“Car's out there," D.K. said to me, as if I was stupid. “Get in."
“But your breakfast…" I began, but silenced myself when his eyes widened in anger. He raised his hand to slap me again, but stopped. Instead, he reached out and swept all three frying pans off the stove, scattering metal, eggs, bacon, and half cooked pancakes onto the floor.
“When I tell you to do something, woman," he said, jabbing me threateningly in the chest, “you do it. Now get in the car!"
Completely cowed, I nodded feebly and made my way to the door as fast as I could, only pausing to take Kimberly's hand on the way there. D.K. was only a step behind us, and he slammed the door to the garage shut as soon as he was through it.
“Just so you know," he spat bitterly as he made his way to the driver's seat of the junky old car, “you'll be cleaning that mess up when we get back."
I nodded again, wordlessly agreeing with my new alpha, as I climbed inside the car, scooting as far into the middle seat as I could so Kimberly could get in after me. Tyler was in the back seat too, and he took up so much room that it was all I could do not to squish Kimberly against the side of the car after she closed the door.
Before we'd even had the chance to buckle our seatbelts, D.K. had thrown the car in reverse, careening out of the garage and across his driveway without a second glance at the old woman he nearly ran over in the process. The tires squealed as he sped away from the house, rap music already pulsing out of the trunk hard enough to vibrate the entire car. It was at that moment, watching the world fly past me four times faster than it should have, that I realized that this was as good as life in the Swag Pag was ever going to get. Every day from here on out would be spent cooking, flinching whenever D.K. so much as twitched, too afraid to even speak without permission… It was enough to make me want to curl up in a little ball and die.
NEXT TIME: The Swag Pag sucks. Seriously, how could it get any worse? Um... just wait until you find out how they make their money.