Archive for category sex

Excerpt 150

He looked at his watch.


“Why not? It didn’t happen on the plane.”

“There was extreme turbulence. And, I didn’t think it would happen on the plane.”

“I just want to be alone for a minute,” she said, taking his hand.

She led him through the crowd, ignoring the noisy announcements and bright ads blaring from the large screens overhead. She would have to decide what was going to happen in this restroom. It was the most private area she could think of in this overpopulated airport. She wanted to tell him what she read in the letter and hear his response.

They stopped short once Ala saw the line of women stretched down the hallway. Danno checked his watch again.

“Ala, maybe we should get you to the gate.”

“No,” she said. She could not board the plane feeling how she did. Something had to shift in order for her to have peace of mind. “Go see if the men’s room is empty.”

He scoffed and ran his hand through his hair.

“What? Why? What are we doing? This is crazy.”

“I was crazy to have dinner with you. Go look.”

He walked in as she surveyed for security.  She didn’t notice anyone wearing a uniform. Danno leaned hallway out of the entrance and waved her inside. The restroom was surprisingly clean with white tiled walls. Ala opened the first stall and he followed her in. She made sure the lock worked and hung her bag on the hook.

They heard footsteps come through and Danno clamped his hand over her mouth, which prompted her to start laughing. They listened to the stream of urine. If Ala confronted him in this stall, her life could be in danger. He was a lot stronger than she was. He could snap her neck and leave her in this stall. She wouldn’t be found until long after his flight took off. Everyone in her life would never know why she died in an airport in South Korea. The man turned on the faucet to wash his hands.

But really, what was in it for Danno this whole time? Of course there was the money, which is why they met in the first place. There was no arguing that. And he may have been surprised that he found her to be so attractive. And she did make herself easily available very early on.

However, he could’ve killed her the first night. It couldn’t be that difficult for him to find women to spend time with. He was powerful and charismatic. He had taken care of her when she found her way back home. They had so much beyond what was supposed to have happened that summer. She had everything with him.

The harsh overhead lights made her skin look grayish green and the dried sweat on her dress was now being reconstituted as she figured out what to do next. Before she could peak through the hinges to see if the man had left, Danno had lifted her against the stall door and kissed her. She kissed back, violently and hungrily. The adrenaline from surviving the flight kicked in for both of them, followed by the idea that they would be spending half a day apart.

He pushed her against the opposite wall and unbuckled his pants. She hopped up and wrapped her legs around him. The sound of her breathing filled her ears; it was all she could hear. Reaching up her dress, he tore off her panties and shoved them into his pocket.

She was terrified of getting caught. She had no idea what the laws were in this part of the world. This fed into her urgency and she pulled him closer to her, knocking her sandals off. She yanked his hair and, once again, his hand covered her mouth as he carefully lowered her to the ground. He held her close to him. She wanted to live in this restroom with him and never speak to anyone again.

“Do you want to change clothes?” He asked.


“I’ll wait outside.” He stepped out of the stall and used the sink.  Ala opened her suitcase and found fresh panties and a long dress. She stepped out of her sundress and wadded it into a ball. She gathered her purse and stepped out, throwing the dress in the trashcan.  She rinsed her face and the back of her neck.

He held out her ticket.

“Are you ready to take off?”

She nodded and let him take the suitcase.

“I have to tell you,” he said, guiding her to the terminal.” He was going to confess the whole story in the middle of the airport. He probably assumed she wouldn’t be able to react in front of so many witnesses. She braced herself.


“You’ve become my best friend.”

“Oh,” she looked down and kept walking. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she tired to wipe them away without him noticing.

“This is it,” he said, double checking the sign.  “They’re probably already boarding your group.”

“Alright,” Ala said, taking the suitcase from him.  He took it back from her and set it down on the ground.  He hugged her with his whole body.

“I’ll be right behind you,” he whispered.  She wiped her eyes against his shoulder.

He squeezed tighter before letting go.  She got into the boarding line. She saw him watching her in the corner of her eye.  She read the ticket and quickly looked behind her. He was gone.







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Excerpt 149

She slammed the pages down on the table.  Both hands shook uncontrollably and she feared she might lose control of her body.  She picked the letter back up and skimmed for keywords, tried looking it over to find where she misread.  The words stayed the same. Danno knew Bruno before he ever knew her.  He knew Emmanuel. He knew where he lived. He never would have come to her town if it weren’t to try to get Emmanuel’s money.

She stood, letting the papers fall to the floor.  Everyone was still working on their computers or talking on their phones.  Men were drinking beer with their suit jackets on the backs of their seats.  There was no earthquake happening except inside of her.  Everything inside was pushing her to go.  Every thought she had was prefaced with “Go now. Take your bag and go.”

If she left, Danno would be worried.  She knew he loved her, which was the worst part.  She knew he didn’t care about the deal or the money. She knew he would die if anything happened to her. She knew their time together changed him, as it had changed her.  It was the worst part because there was love.

She slumped back down in the chair.

“More tea, Miss?” a server asked meekly.

“No, thank you. Just the check.”

“It’s on the account Miss.”

“Yes, okay, thank you.”

He ran his world by signing his name.  His name took care of everything. He lived differently than people who had to apply for credit or hope they could save enough money to retire. He risked a lot, but the reward was living a life that wasn’t confining day after day.

Her chest tightened as she folded the pages and shoved them back into the envelope. She knew Emmanuel was telling the truth, but felt better trying to find holes in his explanation, to prove him wrong.  Why would he still pay her when he knew something, anything, had gone wrong?

She could confront Danno and ask him to tell her the truth. He o course would know that she already knew what the truth was to even ask in the first place. He would know she knew about all of it. What did he do to people who knew too much? Did he kill them or have someone else do it? He wouldn’t actually kill her if he loved her, she thought. The again, she had nearly forgotten that a man burned to death because of her. Self-defense or not, she had taken a life.

He could be the only kind of person with the only kind of life that she could actually build something with. They both did things the way other people didn’t do them. They both felt connected to one another. She wouldn’t be able to find anyone who made her feel that way he had. And he meant the most to her since she was left the country with him and didn’t tell anyone she knew that she was going.

She held her hands out and tried to steady them. When this didn’t work, she did her best to dry her eyes by waving them rapidly.  People began to look at her.  She was the most underdressed in her sundress, damp with sweat,  sandals and sunglasses. She took another cigarette out and lit it.  This time the smoked entered her lungs easier.

“Get up and go. Leave,” she whispered.  She zipped up her bag and swung it over her shoulder.

“Hey, are you smoking?” He said, coming up behind her.

She jumped, sending ashes all over the armchair.

“Just one,” she said, stubbing it out next to the first cigarette she had smoked.

He sat on the coffee table in front of her and took her face into his hands.

“This flight is not going to be as long. Just have a nice dinner, read a little and I’ll be at the gate in no time.”

She nodded and let tears slide down her cheeks, into his hands. He hugged her.

“Come on.  Everything is going to work out.”

He signed the check and took her hand, walking her out with his arm around her.

“I have to use the restroom,” she said.

“Sure. To the right. I’ll wait.

“Do you want to come in with me?” She asked, winking.



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Excerpt 140

He didn’t flinch, but took her hands and nodded.

“I thought I wasn’t going to see you again,” he said.

“How long was I away?” She asked, and then stepped away. “Never mind, I don’t want to know.” Finding out the days she lost would make her angry and she had to focus. “Emmanuel could be coming back today for all I know. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Go get your stuff together.  I’ll take care of everything else.”

Ala went from room to room, folding clothes she forgot she owned and stuffing them into her suitcase.  She was so relieved to be leaving this house. Danno stacked all of the mail and left it on the kitchen counter.  He then put on a shirt and started up the lawnmower, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

She left hot water steam the surfaces of the bathroom before getting in the shower.  Even though someone had bathed her at Bruce’s house, she had not felt clean in what seemed like weeks. She coated herself in soap, scrubbed until her skin was red and lathered up for a second time.  Her wet hair felt foreign in her hands, as it was a third of the length she was used to.

The lawnmower died down as she toweled off and dressed in clothes that hung on her svelte body.  Her stomach gurgled and even though she wanted to go to the airport as soon as possible, she feared fainting in the security line. She also wondered if she should let Gertrude know her plan to leave.

She sat down at the dining room table to begin a note to leave for Emmanuel.  She would have to say that someone in her family died and she was leaving town.  But then he would inquire with her parents and they would all know she had lied.  She needed another excuse.

Her phone rang in the bathroom and she answered without checking who was calling.


“Ala, it’s Gene,” he said quietly. It sounded like he was holding the phone away from his face.

“Oh,” she sat on the edge of the tub. “What is it?”

“I need to talk to you. Can you come outside?”

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Excerpt 137

Danno told her that “watermelon” would act as the password between her and the driver and not to get in the car with anyone who came to pick her up who did not know it outright. She nodded and hung up, and then waited under a nearby tree whose shadows swallowed her from street view. 
The car that came was black with tinted windows and gold rims.  The driver wore a gray blazer and stubble sprinkled his jawline and coffee can of a neck. Keeping his eyes straight ahead, he rolled down the window.

Ala approached, suddenly feeling ridiculous about having to ask him for a password, when she would obviously do anything to get out of the area at this point.  Bruce was probably awake and looking for her, calling the police to tell them he knows that Ala was involved in the fire.

“Did Danno give you a password?” She said, not knowing what to do with her hands and holding them behind her back.

“Watermelon,” he said. “Get in.”

She let herself in to the back, pulling the nightgown so it covered her knees.  The driver lit a cigarette and turned the radio on.  Whatever career path he had pursued most likely promoted more excitement than driving a girl with an awful haircut and no shoes around in the middle of the night.

A blues song vibrated in the back speakers, forcing her to bite down on her lip to keep from audibly crying.  She turned her face toward the window and let a few tears leak out before straightening out in the seat.  She had almost died.  And now another chance had come from someone who loved her and didn’t bother asking questions.

They passed the local library after twenty minutes. Bruce did not live that far away from her parents, yet his neighborhood had been unrecognizable.  He probably visited the same library. His mother probably shopped at the market that Ala’s mother shopped at.  They probably had seen each other before. A strong gulp managed to push the bile back down her throat.

She rolled down the window as the car turned onto the street where her parents had lived.  It looked the same as always when she had returned from a trip.  The houses looked smaller, cozier, as if she had conquered somewhere more important, and was coming home to recharge.  Now her heart banged against her chest with the thrill of being safe, of coming back from the dead.

Before the car came to a full stop, she opened the door and spilled out in front of Emmanuel’s house.  The car stopped sharply. Danno came out the front door and nodded, sending the car on its way.  Before Ala could comb through her hair with her fingers, she was in his arms.

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Excerpt 136

Ala left the kitchen. She didn’t want to hear anything else the senile lady said.  She didn’t want her own enervation and passivity to be mistaken for compliance to stay in this house. She didn’t want anyone to think that she was fine with Bruce bringing her here instead of straight home, as he said he would.  She didn’t want to admit to herself how reckless she was for getting into a stranger’s car.  She hadn’t had much of a choice after fleeing the fire, but as soon as she had woken up, would have been the correct time to get out.

Swiftly, she walked down a shadowy hallway, the wood under her feet giving with every step, threatening to split and send her falling to the floor below. She pushed thoughts of what could be under the house, out of her mind. The hall became wider and grand dusty oil paintings hung on either side, all old fashioned portraits. Under ordinary circumstances, she would have stopped to take a look. Whenever observing art, she would try to compare the subjects to people she knew or recognized.  Her parents had taken her to a gallery held in an estate in the outskirts of Memphis a few summers before.  While there was no likelihood of any of the portraits featuring her ancestors or friends, Ala roamed from room to room, squinting at each cracked face, fixed on recognizing one.

She reached a cluttered parlor that acted as a dead end. The windows were very high up and there were no doors to be found.  To avoid wasting energy in this maze of a house, she found her way back to the room she had slept in and closed the door tightly behind her.

Pressing her back into the wall, she let her feet slide out in front of her and the gnarly area rug felt warm against her bottom. She caught her appearance in a mirror hanging across the room and was alarmed that there were no signs that she had been part of a fire.  Crawling closer, she noticed her hair was brushed soft and glossy, her skin was clean and smooth, and her fingernails had been filed.

They had bathed her in her sleep.  How could she have slept through a bath?  Bruce must have drugged her. She thought of the cookie missing from the chicken shack receipt.  She pulled the nightgown away from her chest and looked down.  Her whole body was fresh and gleaming.  They had seen her naked. Those ladies, Bruce and most likely others had seen all of her.

The nightgown was making her skin crawl.  She opened the closet to find that is was empty, besides a folded quilt, and continued to the bureau, which was filled with folded sheets.  She looked under the bed, trying to find something else to wear. She didn’t want to speak to the women again.  She would not eat the blood sausage. She would not interact with them.

There was a bible on a shelf under the nightstand. Ala needed to write to Danno to let him know what happened. The back of her mind warned of no postage or envelopes or pencils in sight, but she tore out a blank page from the back anyway.

She opened to the middle of the book and sped-read the page until finding the letter “H”.  She had not been for years.  Her parents stopped attending church when her grandparents had passed away. The last time Ala had seen a bible was in college, when classmates ripped out clumps from the Old Testament to use as rolling papers. What she was about to do felt indecent, but her temples buzzed and she felt her body trying to brace for her completely losing her mind.

She had to communicate. She had to try to connect.  She folded the page and carefully tore out the letter. She bit her lip as she moved on an “I”, ripping slowly. She licked each dot of paper and stuck them to the blank page.  She continued ripping out letters.  When her hand slipped and a letter was torn, she found a substitute and took it out from another section.

Her eyes began to cross after a few minutes, but she was resolute in putting together enough words to complete a thought.  She needed to leave what had happened to her on paper behind in case she didn’t make it out.

A quarter of the way thorough, she coughed, sending a whole sentence fluttered across the page.  Tears well up in her eyes and she yelped, punching the wall with her fist, drawing a thin dotted line of blood across the knuckles. Taking a deep breath, she continued to work.

The room had blackened without her noticing.  The letter was complete.  The story began with her going for a run and ended with her sitting in this dark room.  She could not fold the page, as the saliva was not enough of a binder to keep the letters in place.  She gingerly lifted the paper flat and laid it on top of the bureau.  Danno would not be able to read it, but she had to hope that someone would tell him what happened.

She picked up the marred bible and closed it placing it back on the nightstand.  She whispered to herself that she would not go to Hell for ripping the it to shreds, because God knew that she needed to arrange her thoughts in order to survive.   It was the only book in the room and she used its words to find her own.

She opened the door and walked into the hallway.  She was going to get out of the house now.  She had already killed a man to save her own life.  Even though it was an accident, he died by her hand. And while she never wanted for a life to be cut short by her doing, she knew she was capable enough to follow through.

She could not leave without her phone.  If she didn’t have a phone, she would have to hitchhike, and refused to be in a position of feebleness again.

She opened each door on both sides of the hallway.  There was a sewing room with a wedding veil draped over an armchair, an office with stacks of atlases on a marble desk, a nursery with a mobile of dainty lambs; each room beckoning exploration, but Ala kept going.

The last room at the end of the hall had the ostentatious door with a shiny gold knob.  She opened it and walked inside.  The bedroom smelled of musk and burning wood. Bruce was on a king sized, gold rimmed bed, lying on his side reading a book. His face looked pink and puffed in the firelight, as if she was recognizing him through drunk eyes during a party. There was a tray of food at the foot of the bed and his shoes were lined up next to the mantle.

“You’re awake,” he said, smiling.

She wanted to straddle him and strangle him and poke out his eyeballs with her thumbs.  She smiled and nodded as he closed the book and sat up. He was still dressed in the clothes he had picked her up in.

“My mother said you weren’t hungry.  And my sister thinks you’re pretty,” he said.

“I wasn’t hungry,” she said.

“Maybe you’d like to eat now.  I have some cream of mushroom soup that Hannah brought up,” he said, gesturing to the tray.

“No.  I don’t think so,” she said, gaining bravado from the deflated look on his face.  Who gave me a bath?”

He stood up slowly and walked past her, closing the door.

“My mother did.  Look, I’m sorry, but you were shivering.  You needed some cuts cleaned up and something warm to wear.  We couldn’t put you to bed in the condition you were in.  I promise, I didn’t see anything.” She spotted her phone on top of the mantle.  The screen was dark, but she was certain of the shape and size that it was hers. “All I want to do is save you,” he said.

“Save me?”

“I know you’re a sinner.  That fire, I heard about it on the radio.  You running in the night, practically naked. I don’t need to know about the girl you were before I found you, I just want to help you.”

“Why didn’t you bring me home?” She said, hearing her voice escalate.

“We need to get you back on the right path,” he said softly, removing a thin gold pocketknife from his pants pocket.  He flipped the small, but sharp, blade out. “One girl we saved turned out to be my wife.”

Ala was not frightened of the knife. All she wanted was her phone. She knew he would not stab her, because he could have done so in the car, or anything else he wanted.

“What do you want me to do?” She said.

“Lay with me,” he said, climbing back on the bed.  She followed and lay down next to him on her back.  He turned on his side and pushed her hip up so that they were spooning.  He traced a circle around her belly button with the blade. “Start by telling me what you’ve done to soil your reputation.  All the nasty things.”

“Where is your wife?” Ala said, trying to keep him in a humane state of mind.

“She died a few weeks ago,” he said, caressing her stomach with his fingers.


“Drowned.  When we were baptizing her, she forgot to hold her breath.”

“That’s terrible,” she said, wincing.

“I know,” he said.  “All we wanted to do was save her, and her child. His voice trailed off. Ala could smell liquor on his breath.  He would be asleep soon.

“What were you doing driving around that night?” She said.

“Looking for girls to help.  There are a lot of junkies around there.  A lot of loose ones. So many to save before it’s too late.”

After another minute, his hand stopped and she looked back to see his eyes closed.  She wanted him to be in a deeper sleep, but didn’t have time to waste.  She lifted his arm from her torso and got up.

The wood creaked under her as she went to the dresser to retrieve phone.  He turned over and muttered in his sleep.  She could not risk walking across the room to open the heavy door.  And even once back in the hallway, the house was winding, leaving no point of reference as to where the front door could be.

She pushed some gingham curtains out of the way from the window, and discovered that it was unlocked. She pushed the window open slowly and stuck her leg out into the chilly night air.  She noticed that the gutter pipe ran the height of the house, but looked flimsy and If she used it to support her weight, it would collapse and wake everyone.  Relief came in not knowing how many stories up she was, because the only option was to jump.  The nightgown did not have pockets and while her instinct was to hold the phone in her mouth, she knew that her teeth would break upon hitting the ground.

Holding on to the sill, she brought her other leg out and let go.  She tried bending her knees before hitting the ground and while it was not a perfect landing, she was able to get to her feet and walk.  She paused, anticipating barking from a hefty beast, foaming from the mouth.  There was only quiet though.

She picked up her phone, which now had a shattered screen, and turned it on.  The reassuring blue beamed like lightning through the cracked glass and she jumped up and down with gratitude. Only a sliver of battery remained, and she could not risk going to Bruce’s car to get the charger.  Not to mention there would not be an outlet to plug the charger into, so she had to choose her phone call wisely.

She crept around the house to the front lawn, which looked normal enough, strewn dandelions and rosebushes.  The front gate was open and out she went into the street, trying to contain the brimming adrenaline from escaping and jumping out of a window.

She could not call the police and risk linking herself to the fire and the manslaughter.  Bruce now knew she was connected, but that wasn’t something she could concern herself with now.  She could not go into any diner or even gas station wearing the nightgown and no shoes.

She walked to the corner of the residential block. She would not call her parents, paralyzed with fear that they would not answer the phone. There were no people or cars in sight.  The clock on her phone read that it was around four in the morning.

She tapped Danno’s number and waited.  He answered on the first ring.

“Is this really you?” His voice was all of the single earrings, the doll clothes, the lipgloss, the socks; the treasure trove of everything she had ever lost in her life, coming back to her.

“Yes,” she cried in between gasps.

“Tell me where you are and then hang up. I’m sending a car.”

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Excerpt 131

The man driving asked where she was going and if she was all right. He wanted to know if he should call someone.  Ala shook her head, placing her phone in one of the cup holders.  The man handed her a cord, which was part of a phone charger that was plugged into his cigarette lighter. She plugged it into her phone and waited for the green light on top to go on, to indicate that it was working.  She then leaned back in the seat and fell asleep.  She dreamt of the fire, making her believe she was still locked in the room and dying from the black smoke.  She saw the man who burned alive, wearing a suit and holding an infant.

When she woke up it was morning, and the man driving the car had not murdered her..  She was tempted to pull down the passenger mirror, but did not want to have a panic attack in front of this stranger.  The blanket made her itch, but she remembered the holes in her underwear and did not want to expose herself by adjusting it. She held up her phone, which was now fully charged.  There were forty three missed calls and twelve voicemails.  She knew that if she started listening to them, she would break down in tears.

She wondered why the man had picked her up if he wasn’t going to try to harass or abuse her.  It would be a long time before she would be able to trust anyone again, and had she not been so exhausted and frightened that she would be captured, she would never have gotten into a stranger’s car. At the time, it seemed the safer of two very dangerous options.

“Why did you stop?” She whispered.

“You looked like you needed help,” the man said, brushing his bangs out of his eyes.  She noticed his upper teeth jutted out and there was a crescent shaped scare under his lower lip.

“How long have I been asleep?” She asked.

“About fours hours,” he said. His voice was steady and he did not seem alarmed at all by her condition.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to drop you off in the nearest town with a bus station, and then finish my delivery.”

“I don’t have any money,” she said.

“I’ll take care of a ticket for you,” he said.  She wanted to insist that wasn’t necessary, but there was no other way to pay for a bus ride. She thought of asking to be taken to a hospital, but felt fine. “What happened to you?” He said timidly.

“I was kidnapped by some men. They locked me in a room and stuck needles in me.”

“Are you serious?” He said, looking over at her.  She suddenly felt ashamed for not having makeup on and nodded. ‘Well, don’t you think you should report them, go to the police?”

“No,” she said. “I just want to go home. I don’t want to cause more trouble.” He was kind enough to pick her up and was willing to help. She wanted him to believe she had a home so that he wouldn’t worry about her once he dropped her off.  She did not want to incriminate him by informing him of what she would eventually do to those men.

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Excerpt 128

The smoke was building up.  Ala hurried to the huge window and saw the tiny lights on the houses tucked into the mountains.  People were home and still awake.  Someone would be terrified of the position she was put in and of her story, and would have no choice but to help her.  Although she was dehydrating and hateful, she knew there were good people within reach.

The man rolled on the ground, but the fire continued to spread over his body.  She walked as far back across from the window as possible.  She shook out her feet, one at a time, and ran as fast as she could. When reaching the glass she threw herself against it.  The severity of cold shocked her and she fell to the ground.  She got back up and drew her leg up, bent her knee and kicked the window as hard as she should.

Pain rang through her bare foot. She knew that if she had a shoe on, she would probably be able to break through.  She looked at the pile, now a heap of fused, smoldering rubber and cloth. The screaming had stopped, and to her horror, Ala saw that the man had rolled into the larger fire and was now burning to death.  She ran over and reached around him, trying to drag him out.

The smell of his body burning invaded her nostrils and she had to let go once her panties had a hole burned into them from a rogue spark. She crawled over to the phone, the only item she had not burned, picked it up and hit the glass.  It shattered. She hit harder and it cracked.  She stuck her nose through the opening and coughed, trying to suck in fresh air. Being careful not to cut herself, she stuck her head further out and looked down.  The window was flush with the mountain and it was a straight shot down the smooth rock wall.

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Excerpt 123

He mumbled words in his language under his breath.  She believed that she was more afraid because he did not speak English, or appeared not to.  If he didn’t understand her words, there was no way he could fully understand the pain he was causing her.  Her face could express her feelings to an extent, but to Ala, words had a higher capability for haunting someone later on, when they were alone with their thoughts.  Perhaps the man had agreed to this job because he didn’t have to listen to people beg for mercy.  He couldn’t stand to make people suffer, so he felt relieved that he could not understand their words.

Ala felt a surge of strength spread through her veins when she realized that if he had the shallowest pool of compassion, she had a shot at negotiating with him.  He removed one of her socks and she looked back to see that she had lost a shoe.  She couldn’t remember when or how.  It made sense to her now that she had been so cold during the night.  He removed her remaining shoe and other sock.

All that she was left wearing was her white running bra and a pair of black panties. All of her skin prickled from the cold air and humiliation.  She braced herself for him to touch her. He pulled her knotted hair that was piled on top of her head, toward him.  She heard a snap of the scissors and watched as strands of her hair landed all around her.

He made more snips without any calculation and she heard her voice begin to scream inside the walls of her head.

“Please, stop,” she said.

The man laughed maniacally.  Who was Emmanuel?  He could be a cult leader or a spy or some boss of organized crime.  He could be the devil, gaining her trust, testing her and punishing when she failed.  She wondered if she really knew her parents or Gertrude, or even Jase.  Danno was the one person she surely did not know, and still the only person she felt like herself with. She tried to focus on anything else, but the room’s wall and floor were white concrete and there was nothing to hear except the man breathing.

She looked back at the man, just as he lifted the wooden mask enough to expose his mouth.  His purple tongue jutted out between rows of brown teeth. He was on his hands and knees. She turned back and stared at the wall.  She felt the wet slime on the back of her thigh.

“Don’t do this,” she said, feeling the line trace down the back of her leg.  She squirmed, but there was no way to shrink away, as her hands and feet were still bound.  He lowered his head as his tongue reached her ankle.  She heard the scissors snap again as he cut the rope around her feet.  He pulled one foot away from the other, exposing her more.

He was not going to stop no matter what she said or how she cried.  He lifted her leg slowly and placed her first two toes in his mouth.  Her instinct was to laugh because she was so shamelessly ticklish, but she held it in.  She brought her knee closer in to her body, not enough so that he would notice.  She took a deep breath and kicked her foot deeper into his mouth.  Her heel hit the wood and she heard a crack that she figured must have been his nose breaking.

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Excerpt 114

The violence of the statement numbed her face.  These people were serious. And there hadn’t been any mistake.  She got the feeling that they had seen her before, and that she was not just a random pick up. Goosebumps sprang up all over her body.  They could be from anywhere; they could be from the town she lived in.  She clearly knew little about the neighborhood, since she wasn’t even aware that there was a group of swingers having their parties in her own house.

The van screeched and stopped.  She pulled her ankles apart as hard as she could.  The rope held tight and her outer thigh muscles burned with pressure.  The back door opened and she shuffled to what she felt was the front of the van.  A hand grabbed her ankles, pulling her back, forcing the sack against the skin on her face, leaving a trailing, searing rash.  Another hand grabbed the rope that held her wrists together, and tugged her out of the vehicle.

Someone lifted her up and over a shoulder.  She felt the bones digging into her ribcage and smelled perspiration.  There were footsteps following behind her.  Someone was making sure she didn’t get away.  She heard another door or gate rattle open.  She was then thrown so hard that her shoulder hit what felt like cement and she nearly lost consciousness. She struggled to keep her eyes open and take deep breaths to stay awake.

She heard a thud, a metal lock bolted, and footsteps on the gravel. An engine started and she heard the tires crunching the tiny rocks.  Everyone had gone.  She lay on her side, wrists and ankles still bound, with the sack over her face.  All she could see was black and she could do was let herself finally cry.

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Excerpt 113

She flexed and clenched her entire body, trying to wiggle out of the hands that were holding under her armpits and another set holding her feet.  It did no good.  The hands squeezed tighter, making her tired.  She wanted so badly to rest but needed to keep fighting.  No one was helping her.  No one was out, most likely, because it was still so early in the morning.  She thrashed her head back and forth, trying to see through the impenetrable cloth.

Both bodies that were carrying her halted. A fleeting moment allowed her to think that they had realized they had the wrong girl and that this was all a mistake. Sweat dripped into her eyes and the sack made her skin crawl with its itchy fibers. She heard metal sliding against metal, like a door was opening.

It was a vehicle door.  She thought of the rules she was taught in the self-defense class she and Gertrude had taken at the library; never let them take you to a second location.  She sprung with all her might and managed to kick one foot out of the fierce grip.  Just then, a hard object smacked her across the face. She had never experienced such a dull pain that exploded into all of her senses. Her ears rung lowly and she wondered if her nose was misaligned, as she tasted blood running into the corners of her mouth. Whatever hit her was very heavy and she thought it might be a gun.

She felt rope wrapping around her ankles and hands at the same time. There were more than two people involved.  The hands swung and heaved her body onto a hard metal floor.  She landed on one knee and the agony made her fall face first.  The door closed.  Some strident notes rang out from what must have been the car radio. She couldn’t recognize the song but it sounded of Middle Eastern origin.

An engine started and rattled as they left the beach.  She struggled to roll herself onto her back, but hand no success.  The sharp turns made her slide face first into the corners under the seats. It took a lot of concentration not to scream.  She knew it would waste her energy and worse, that no one would hear her. She wondered where they were going.  They could have passed her parent’s house.  Her parents, post coital from their block party, had no idea their daughter had been abducted.

She heard the familiar ringing of her phone.  Her bag must have made it into the car.  It must be Danno calling, saying that he had finished breakfast with Rainbow.  It was time to talk about where they could run off to together. He would think that she was ignoring his phone call.

She flayed about the compartment, trying to get the sack off of her head again to be able to identify who was responsible.  She felt the rope rub against the skin on her wrists, savagely scratching.  She decided it was too soon to cry and, making that very decision meant that shock had set in.  Still though, crying would make her more helpless.

“Please make the car stop,” she whispered. “Please let this be a mistake.”

“Shut up back there,” a low, crackling voice roared. She felt tiny hairs all over her body spring straight up. “I’ll cut off that pretty pink tongue and stuff it down your throat.”

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