Don't Struggle (Sequel to Don't Scream)

Don't Struggle (Sequel to Don't Scream)

For Cassidy Hoskins and Eli Bensworth, their ordeal in the auditorium of Cliffton High School was only the beginning. This time, danger waits for them on the other side of the world.

P.S. I’m warning you right here and now. Any of you, anyone at all, dares copy my work as their own…I will personally send Rhonda Willis after you. In other words, DON’T STEAL MY STORY.

Read Book 1 of the series, Don't Scream, here:

Chapter 3

Eli trudged into his small, cramped apartment on Moxford Avenue. Home sweet home was filled with cluttered boxes, strewn clothes, empty beer bottles and busted up appliances.

Even before Rhonda’s death, Eli was never a good housekeeper.

He slumped onto his green leather sofa, which was torn around the edges. Grunting, he reached forward and jabbed down on the remote control, turning the TV on to the news channel.

“…the murders of Ponnie Adams and Sylvia Thorne have finally been resolved. The killers were revealed to be mother and son team, Scott Riverson and Rhonda Willis. Scott Riverson was a student also studying at Cliffton High whereas his mother, Rhonda Willis, was a detective working at the San Francisco Police Department, also the woman responsible for the deaths of Patricia Chang and Xavier Greene earlier this year. Scott and Rhonda kidnapped an unnamed high school student and senior detective earlier this week, keeping the pair hostage in the Cliffton High School auditorium. Both hostages managed to escape to safety, thanks to the brave sacrifice of one Jonah Whitley; a sophomore student previously believed to be Sylvia Thorne’s murderer but later proven innocent; who took down Scott Riverson single-handedly and lost his life so the unnamed detective could take down Rhonda Willis. Both Scott and Rhonda lost their lives in the crossfire. Back to you at the studio, Eve.”

Eli switched the TV off.

His telephone rang out of the blue, but Eli lay where he sat, too dejected to pick up the call. The line went straight to voicemail.

“You’ve reached the personal line of Eli Bensworth. Leave a message after the beep.”

“Eli? It’s me, Maria.”

Eli jerked up in his seat.

“I was watching the news and heard about your partner’s passing. I’m no genius but even I can figure out that you’re the ‘unnamed detective’ in the equation, aren’t you? I just want to say I hope you’re coping well, though you probably won’t be if you heard my voice. But I hope we can remain friends. I understand this is probably not a good time, so I’ll just hang up now. I’ll be back for my stuff on Friday. You can change the locks on the apartment after I’m gone.”

The answering machine let out a second beep. The message was over. Eli groaned.

He hadn’t thought much of it at the time. What with the Homewrecker, and Mr. Hoskins’ death, and Rhonda turning against him, Eli hadn’t given much consideration to his ongoing divorce with his soon-to-be ex-wife Maria Marsden.

Maria didn’t like living with Eli. She didn’t like his cramped, dinghy apartment. She didn’t like the fact that his job meant putting him and his family constantly at risk. She didn’t like…his performance at physical intimacy. This was just plain sugarcoating, but Eli accepted it.

With another groan, he got off the couch and slowly maneuvered his way through the discarded mess of bits and bobs on the ground, heading to his lonely bedroom.


“You sure you want to do this?” Cassidy asked, her brow furrowed, looking at Eli in mild worry.

The two of them were seated in Eli’s Nissan as they drove down the road to the Agency.

“Yes, Cassidy,” Eli said. “I’ll be honest with you. I’ve always wanted to have a daughter. But my wife left me earlier this year. She’s migrating to Austria with some hot shot businessman she hooked up with. I hate my current living conditions too. I can’t wait to live somewhere comfortable.”

“Detective of your capabilities, you could afford a new place easily,” Cassidy smirked.

Eli snorted good-naturedly. “Yeah, sure. Anyway, my mind is made up. I feel like we’ve bonded over time. I can take care of you, Cassidy. As headstrong as you are, you need an adult. Unless you don’t like my company…?”

“Nonsense. If you ask me, you’re really cool, Eli,” Cassidy muttered. “I’m just worried you might, I don’t know, not want to adopt me because you think I’m a spoilt brat.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve seen the size of your house. I know you’re a spoilt brat. So I think I’m mentally prepared for this,” Eli smiled. “So it’s settled?”

“Sure,” Cassidy said as the car slowed down to a stop. “Say goodbye to a solitary life, Eli. I hope you’re prepared.”


6 months later…

“Well done, Cassidy,” Mrs. Mackelroy praised, handing Cassidy her report book back. “You’ve actually scraped by with some decent results.”

Cassidy smiled to herself, taking the little book and walking back to her seat. It gave her a slight subconscious pang, looking down her row of desks. There were four desks, occupied by her, Sylvia, Ponnie and Scott. Now, it was just her. But there was still next year, when she would no longer be a junior student. There would new students, new classmates. Her row would fill up soon and she could bid the bad memories of this year goodbye.

It had been a whole six months since Sylvia’s death. Cassidy’s first year at Cliffton High was drawing to a close.

It had also been a whole six months since Eli decided to adopt Cassidy and moved into the Hoskins Estate. Now she had two legal guardians, Rosa and Eli. Eli provided her pocket money, Rosa provided her excellent meals, and the two showered her with care. Slowly, Cassidy was shedding her shell. She no longer wanted to be seen as the rich man’s brat. She wanted to make a whole new name for herself.

“Now, class, I have a piece of…interesting news for you,” Mrs. Mackelroy spoke up when everyone had collected their report books after the final year examinations.

“Two pieces of news, actually. Firstly, I think we’re all very upset to know that, yes, I will still be your teacher next year.”

There was a collective grumble around the class and Mrs. Mackelroy actually smiled and nodded emphatically.

“Yes, yes, I’m just as crestfallen as you are,” Mrs. Mackelroy sighed, a hint of a smile tearing at the edges of her lips. “I’d honestly hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with you lot again.”

A couple guys laughed. Cassidy smiled when she saw Jack, Sylvia’s ex-boyfriend, laughing among them. He’d seemed so heartbroken after her death that Cassidy worried if he’d ever get over his grief. But, of course, he’d done the right thing and moved on.

“Anyway, moving on to the second piece of news,” Mrs. Mackelroy continued. “At the start of the next school year, each class is meant to go overseas on a field trip. And guess where our class is going?”

Cassidy frowned. All of a sudden, she had a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“Japan?” Melissa, one of Cassidy’s classmates and acquaintances, suggested.

“Or New York?” Valerie Smarts asked.

“China!” Jack offered.

“Anything but China!” the guy next to Jack – Cassidy supposed his name was Owen or something – cried out, earning a handful of laughs from the class.

“Nope,” Mrs. Mackelroy said, sitting on the edge of her table. “We’re going to Finland!”

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