THE LAST THING Devora could remember from the day she was kidnapped was that he was making fun of her name again.
A boy that starred as the male lead in her daydreams; the prince charming of her fairytales; the beloved star of their high school. Liam Pine, despite being a glorious dream was only just that— a dream. In reality, he was nothing but a brutally rude boy that hadn’t grown up.
Even though Devora knew that simple fact well enough, it still utterly crushed her heart.
Liam was the epitome of perfection in Devora’s eyes ever since she was young. He possessed gorgeous slicked-back golden blond hair and sparkling eyes that held the skies within. His smirked rivaled every other heartthrob that walked the Earth. His outer appearance was a gift from the gods, meant to bless the rest of humanity. However, for what he had in outer beauty, he lacked in his personality.
It was simply made with everything putrid and foul.
He preyed on the weak and only hovered around the strong. Together with his like-minded friends, they’ve terrorized the entire student body, forcing them to bow from their low positioning in the social hierarchy.
Devora had sworn that after this day, she would never harbor a crush for that wretched man again. Liam took it a little too far this time, laughing about her name, which had been inspired by her grandmother’s before her death. He even took it further and pushed Devora aside when they crossed paths in the hallways of their school, leaving a nasty bluish-black bruise on her shoulder.
It was just last week in which the poor girl had moved away from her home town in an attempt to move away from the snide remarks regarding her name. However, it seemed as though the cruel comments followed her everywhere she went.
Her grandmother had been her best friend growing up, and it was only just a few years back, on Devora’s thirteenth birthday had she passed away peacefully due to old age. The name of ‘Devora’ was a play on her grandmother’s name, Deborah, and she grew up mighty proud of it until she reached the wretched creation known as high school.
High school had been particularly hard for Devora. She was a singularly gifted student, and yet she was often looked down upon just because of her school smarts. She was athletic and could hold up in a competitive sport rather well. The only thing was that she wasn’t blonde, nor was she a cheerleader. And hence from there on, she became the victim of all too many backlashes and critical insults.
All too many times had Devora lay alone at home with a good book in her hands, her nose buried within the precious words of a story that took her off to a far off land with characters of the author’s wildest imaginations. They became her only friends, and the words of a good touching book became that to her as of a bible to a religious man.
The constellations of the night sky soon became her guardians, those that advised her and listened to each and every bit of her woe and worry. She knew deep in her heart the stars were ever constant; they do not give proper advice that could possibly fit the questions she wished to ask. However, it provided her with great comfort that there would be someone, something that was willing to listen to each and every night.
It became particularly hard to find someone she could confide in. It used to be old grandma Deborah that listened and baked sweet aromatic cookies that would calm the young girl down before an anxiety attack even began. But now with her parents busy with their ever-growing company and her aunts living states away, she could only request for the company of inanimate objects she knew she could count on, no matter what.
That day, without any shoulder for her to lean on, Devora locked herself in a stinky little bathroom cubicle in school and cried herself into oblivion. The pain was not just from her bruises but also from the crack in her heart.
This wasn’t a scene from a chick-lit book. There was no possibility of Liam harassing Devora just to get her attention due to his unrequited love. The thought alone was impossible.
The truth of the matter was that Liam Pine knew very well what he was doing. He noticed her presence and knew that she always had a crush on him but he took a wrong approach to it. He wasn’t romantic like in the books Devora loved nor did he turn her down properly. Liam only knew how to be downright awful and he strove to make Devora feel worse about herself more each day just because it made him feel a sense of satisfaction.
She knew that she shouldn’t give him such a sense of satisfaction. It wasn’t worth making herself hurt over such a guy. However, Devora’s personality had always been demure, the stark contrast of Liam’s. There wasn’t anything else she could do but allow herself to be weak.
“Just this once,” she thought. “One last tear and no more after.”
It was well after midnight when Devora left the local park after a one-sided conversation with the stars. It wasn’t about much this time, just the heartbreaking truth that perhaps Liam wasn’t the one meant for her after all. That should’ve been something she had seen long ago.
The girl’s heart was lighter, much freer when she stood up as compared to when she had sat down.
Unfortunately, that peaceful aura around Devora didn’t last as nothing good ever lasts forever.
Devora hadn’t noticed that she was being trailed until she reached a dark alley, a shortcut for her to reach home. It was one of the risks she had to take daily just to reach home a little sooner and until now, nothing had ever happened which made her a little complacent. Perspiration dripped down the sides of her forehead as her eyes darted around left and right in hopes of seeing who was behind her without making it too obvious. The image she caught froze her heart.
A hooded man, much taller and larger than she was, was barely two feet away from her. If his hands had reached out, fingers stretched a little and feet faster than hers, she would be in his grasp. Yet, he walked silently, hands tucked in the pockets of his hoodie, walking with a pace that matched hers perfectly.
Taking a chance, Devora sped up. She thought that maybe, just maybe, everything was just a result of her being too stressed out in the day and that she was over-thinking things. Perhaps the man behind her was simply taking a similar route home and wasn’t intentionally after her. However, her optimistic thoughts were for nothing. With her increase in speed, he followed, seemingly even more urgently than before. That was when Devora knew that she was done for if she didn’t take any action. She kicked off and ran as any other panic-stricken girl would.
She scurried off in the dark of the night, allowing her feet to hit against the hard concrete ground beneath her with each step she took without a care in regards to noise. With much thanks to school physical education lessons, Devora easily swerved corners and skipped through the shorter barriers in her way, almost like flying effortlessly through the air. Her body had easily glided over the walls, legs and arms moving with perfect synchronization as she paced herself and estimated the distance between her and true safety.
The man, however, was much fitter than Devora had expected and though he wasn’t nearly as fast and nimble as she was, he was hot on her trail, easily catching up with each movement she made. It only took one simple mistake on Devora’s part, which was to trip and fall on a rotten banana peel two steps away from a dumpster had the girl fell behind. The hooded man easily caught up, picking the girl up from the ground in one swift movement.
She wasn’t one to back down, however, and kicked her leg up, tackling the man right across his cheekbones. It hardly affected him as her kick wasn’t nearly strong enough. The most damage it had made would probably be a nasty scratch from the rough sides of her studded shoes. He winced at that, small trickles of blood emerging from the scratch across his cheek.
“Stop struggling, you bitch.” The man grunted once before he reached into the pockets of his jeans and out came a piece of white cloth.
Fear struck Devora hard as she tried to twist her way out of his strong grip, resorting to her teeth and chomping down hard on the man’s arm in an attempt to break free.
The hooded man gave out a short curse, momentarily letting go and Devora took the opportunity to start running again. His long arms, unfortunately, had been his advantage as he only needed to simply reach out, and he was able to grab the back of her hoodie within his grip once more.
Easily, his large tattooed arm glided over her body and his hand along with the cloth soaked in chloroform was placed over Devora’s nose and mouth area. She held her breath, fighting the increasing burning need to breathe.
Her lungs scorched brightly as if set on blaze and seared by the sun, but she held it in, not willing to give in just yet. Using whatever last ounce of strength and will she had left inside her, she began to thrash wildly, hoping, praying that she would be able to go off unharmed.
“Take a deep breath, gorgeous. Just breathe,” the man soothed, his words a cursed lullaby in Devora’s ears.
The heavens up above ignored Devora’s prayers. All too soon, darkness began to cave in just as the first breath of air entered her aching lungs.