Keep in mind, this is a work in progress. Editing issues will be addressed later.
Hagan licked her lips as she slowly awakened. A heavy metallic taste coated her mouth and the smell of sulfur mingled in the air. She struggled to force her eyelids open. Each time they gave a little, their weight eventually sent them crashing down again. Only intermittent flashes of light broke through before the darkness inevitably took control.
“Why is it always the last damn match that lights?”
Leonard. Her chest tightened at the sound of his voice. She held still and allowed her eyes to relax. No sense in fighting her body when the real threat loomed so close. As she lay silent, listening to her surroundings, her reality began to settle in. She’d been kidnapped.
“What else did you give her? She’s been out for hours.”Not Leonard. This new voice was low, controlled. The man in black, maybe?
“Ah, come on, Slick, it ain’t gonna hurt her.” Heavy footsteps clomped forward.
“There are rules.” The other man’s voice grew louder, more insistent. “If you can’t—”
“Shut the hell up. That’s my rule numero uno. And numero two, you don’t get to tell me a goddamned thing. How ’bout that?”
“I’m warning you.”
“Warning me?”Leonard laughed. “I’m the one with the most risk in this chicken shit outfit. She’s seen me. Shoot, they’ve all seen me and my car. I liked that old car.“
She tensed her fists beneath the scratchy blanket draped over her body.
“You knew what you were getting into when we hired you. If I have to—”
“Why don’t you do us both a favor and take your scrawny ass outside for a smoke. I’ll stay with our girl.”
Our girl? She waited for the man’s refusal, but after a moment of pause, she heard a door open and close. Her body tensed. As strange as it was to wish for her other captor to stay, she didn’t want to be alone with Leonard. He was right. He had the most to lose: no disguise; the bookstore employees could identify him in a line up; and Hagan had taken down his plates in the logbook the first night she’d met him—a standard procedure for all suspicious lurkers of the bookstore.
“Hey,” Leonard yelled, “make me a turkey sandwich.” He muttered something about respect then shuffled closer to where she lay. “Don’t let the kid scare ya. I just gave ya a little somethin’-somethin’ to keep you relaxed. It’s good shit too.” He snorted what sounded like a thick glob of snot. “A girl like you knows her way around pharmaceutical. Am I right or am I right?”
Such a pig. She didn’t move. Maybe if he grew bored, he’d leave her alone. Why couldn’t it be as simple as that? He’d eventually leave and she’d find her way out of wherever she was. She’d be okay. She’d be—
“Ha-gan. Why don’t you wakey wakey so we can have ourselves a little chat?” Thump. “Hagan Hagan Bo Bagan . . . Remember that one?” Thump. “Chuck Chuck Bo Buck . . .” He yawned, exaggerating the sound.
What was he doing?
“I bet if I came over there and”—thump—“touched those titties of yours”—thump—“you’d wake up.”
She swallowed. Go away. Please.
“I’m a leg man myself, but your rack could change a fella’s mind.” Thump. “I still have dreams about that little black tank top of yours. The one with the sparkly skull on it.” Thump. “Tight enough to show just how round and firm those babies are. Loose enough that the straps fall off your shoulders . . . damn, girl.” He whistled. Thump. “Didn’t you’re daddy ever warn you what happens when you dress like a tramp?”
His footsteps grew louder, almost as if he was pacing right in front of her. The intermittent thumping sounds sent her mind racing with wonder.
“Old slick probably won’t be back for a while . . .”
What did he mean by that? Should I open my eyes?
A thick, calloused hand cinched around her ankle and sent her skin afire with a million goosebumps. He applied steady pressure as he pulled off one shoe, then the other.
She held her breath and listened for the sound. A ball? The sound came from a ball! For a fleeting moment, she felt something other than defeated—her senses had won. But the image of her captor tossing a ball around the room quickly washed away any trace of her meager triumph. Her nostrils flared as the musky smell of sweat and yeast grew potent. His breathing became louder, more labored—he was near. She could sense his leering eyes all over her body. Silence toyed with her mind. His breathing. His smell. What was he doing? Just go. Please just go. Go.
The blanket slowly drifted off her body almost as if he was trying not to wake her. His hand brushed against her skin at her navel. Oh, my god. He fumbled with the waistband on her jeans and as the clasp popped, she opened her eyes, drew back her legs, and kicked as hard as she could at the shadowy haze at her feet.
“No,” she screamed. Her eyes fluttered through the fog, while her hand instantly went to her head in attempts to mask the sudden throbbing.
Leonard groaned. Stomped his foot. “Stupid bitch!”
She scooted against the wall and sat upright. Her head thundered from the quick change to a sitting position. She could barely make out his shape before he lunged and clutched her throat in his large hand.
“Don’t make this easy,” he seethed, his rank breath hot on her skin.
She clawed at his hand, gasping, flailing. She tried to scream, to plead for her life, but only her garbled pleas answered back. I can’t breathe. Help me.
“Consider this a freebie. Next time, I will slit your throat. Capish?”
His spittle peppered her face. She couldn’t nod. Couldn’t speak. Yes. Yes. Please. I don’t want to die.
A far off look darkened his eyes, and as she stared into them, a rush of warmth filled her pants.
He lessened the pressure he had on her throat, pulled his hand from her neck, and stared at the growing wet spot on her jeans. “Looks like we understand each other.”
She collapsed onto the mattress and began coughing, deep and painful coughs. Her face and throat burned from the strain. “Please.” She took several breaths. Her eyes locked on Leonard.
He bent over at the waist, hands on his knees. He took several breaths of his own. “I should’ve known you . . .” He stood taller and grabbed his crotch. “Stupid bitch.”
She hugged her knees to her chest. Waves of nausea rolled in and out. She would’ve thrown up if she had a moment to process what had happened.
He turned toward her suddenly as if he’d charge again and pointed a finger. “You’re lucky.”
“I’m sorry.” She wasn’t sorry. Would never be sorry. She hugged herself tighter, the smell of her own urine reminding her just how bad her situation was.
He glowered at her for a moment then cocked his arm back and chucked the ball hard against the wall behind her. She jumped at the loud thud, then watched the ball bounce and roll backwards on the dirty wooden floor. He scooped up his ball and silently walked out of the room. The only sounds remaining were her whimpers and the door locking behind him.
She sobbed into her knees. Thoughts of her family snuck through her fear and panic. Fight. You have to fight. She sniffed and wiped at her tears as she sat upright. She looked around her shabby surroundings. Weathered, wooden walls and floorboards mirrored how she felt inside, worn and broken. The room was the size of a small bedroom with only the dingy mattress she was sitting on and a lopsided metal folding chair as furnishings. Add a workbench and some tools and it could’ve passed as her father’s carpentry workshop.
She pressed a hand to the wall for stability and slowly stood on wobbly legs. She took a breath and began wandering the room. From a support beam in the center of the room, a lantern hung on a rusted and upturned nail. She stared into the modest flame of her only source of light. Her mind focused on the steady flicker while her thoughts drifted to survival. How far would she have to go to stay alive? What would she have to do?
“Hel . . . hello?”
Hagan gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. She turned toward the voice—waiting, listening. This was a trick. A reaction from the drugs.
“Is someone there? Anyone,” the voice called out again.
She held her breath as the words melted over her. A female voice?
Hagan walked toward the wall from where the voice carried. She stared at the barricade for a moment, then gently laid a hand against the splintered wood.
She was not alone.