Warm,furry, squeaking bodies scurried back and forth over Jen’s bound arms and legs, causing her to wake up with a start and scream. Her scream never went further than her parted lips which, she realized with a jolt, were covered by a dirty piece of cloth tied at the back of her head. The cloth smelled of perspiration; an odor so strong she nearly passed out again. But she couldn’t. Not now.
Panicked and drenched in tears, she let her eyes roam the dark room that was now her prison as she attempted to free herself from her bindings. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust, but there was nothing familiar in that room and very little
light to give her some hope. All the while, she racked her brain for some hint, some sign of how she had ended up here in this predicament. The last thing she remembered was being at the club with her fiancé, Mark. There had been others there too, she recalled: Darlene, Alexi and Ben, Mark’s best friend, had been there as well. Jen remembered that they had gone to club to celebrate Darlene and Ben’s engagement. Honestly, Jen hadn’t wanted to go. She had a sneaking suspicion that Darlene, who she had always had a rivalry with,
was just doing all this to show Jen up by getting married first. Still, Jen was a socialite and knew first hand that for wars such as theirs, open displeasure was never the best course of action.
That was all she could remember though. All her other memories seemed hazy and out of reach, as if she was viewing them through the fog of the club’s dance floor while standing in the building across the street. The unexpected sound of a key trying to find to find purchase in a lock nearly made her jump out of her skin and brought her jarringly back to the all too frightening present. She was about to see the face of whoever had brought her here and done, God alone knew what, to her. Jen wished she had a weapon. Sure here hands were tied up behind her back, but she would feel a lot safer knowing she could defend herself if she ever managed to get free.
She waited with for the door to open, hardly daring to breathe, and wriggled to move her hands from their uncomfortable position, then froze at the sight of an all too familiar face as he stepped inside. It was Mark! Tears of joy streamed down her face. Her Mark, her knight in shining armor had come to save her. It was then she noticed that something was off. Mark, carried only a flash light, made no attempt to free her. Instead, his usually cheerful face was drawn, and host to a number of conflicting emotions.
The force of sudden understanding hit her like a speeding car and she screamed again; the sound, a muffled squeak easily mistaken for one of her four-legged friends. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.
Mark’s voice trembled; strange for a man so usually confident and composed. He was crying too, and the force of his tears marred the usual handsomeness of the man’s face.
“I’m sorry Jen. I’m so, so sorry but I had to. You have to believe me, there was no other way.”
A flash of memory burst through the corridors of her mind, illuminating her senses in a moment of clarity. Finally the pieces came together. Last night, at the club, she had over heard Ben and Mark talking near the bar, and in her mind’s eye she
watched the scene play out:
“Do you have enough?” Ben had asked, his tone heavy with concern.
“Not yet,” Mark had sighed, “The bank says my credit isn’t
good enough for a loan that large. And unlike a certain lady friend of mine, I don’t have a billionaire daddy.”
Neither man had realized that Jen could hear, assuming that the headphones she had
jammed in to block out the clubs obnoxious, pounding music would keep her from hearing. And they would have, if her ipod hadn’t died a few seconds before. Still, she hadn’t thought anything of the conversation. She knew Mark had money trouble and she assumed that the loan he was talking about was to purchase the house on the bourgeois side of town that she had been dropping not-so-subtle hints about.
It didn’t make sense though, not until another man walked through the door. He was practically an older version of Mark. He was covered in facial hair and marked with blotches and bruises, but there was no mistaking those cheek bones, the downward tilt of his eyebrows and those warm brown eyes. This man was Mark’sfather.
He walked past his crying son, laying a hand gently against his back and he moved
towards Jen and removed the gag.
“I know this is hard for you to understand, but…”
“Stop! Just stop! Jen yelled at him, her voice strained from screaming, “I already understand.”
She had understood the moment Mark’s father had entered the room, and she mentally
cursed herself for being too into herself to have noticed. A few weeks earlier she had found Mark reading a newspaper with a troubled look on his face, his eyes boring into an article about a soldier held for years by a terrorist group. Apparently, they wanted a ransom for his return. She too had paused,
momentarily, noticing the resemblance but quickly shrugged it off since Mark had always told her that his dad was dead. Besides, they had different surnames and more importantly, there were wedding plans to be made. Jen remembered rolling her eyes and making some comment about Mark becoming too overly concerned with other people’s business. How wrong she was. How wrong she was. It was his business. And she was his
He had always joked, calling her a spoiled princess. Then there was the time he had remarked that she had everything and didn’t know it. But most of all, she remembered the look of longing on her fiancé’s face as he watched her with her father and expressed his desire to see his just one more time.
It was chaos; utter internal chaos. Mark had taken advantage of her, ruined the lovethey had. But deep down, she couldn’t hate him. She just couldn’t.