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Power Struggle

The smell hit her first. It was buttery.

Then she heard him, his voice teasing. “Cat, wake up. I’ve got some goodies for you.”

She cracked her eyes open to see him holding a plastic cup full of water and a plate of pasta with vegetables, salmon, and a bread roll. It took a moment to register, but as soon as she realized what she was looking at, she sat up and quickly reached towards the water.

Michael allowed her to take the cup and she drank from it greedily. When it was empty, Cat looked at the plate and slowly reached out for it. Michael chuckled as he relinquished it to her. “Would you like more water?”

She nodded and took a bite of the roll, consciously having to refrain from moaning in pleasure. When she swallowed, she said, “Please.”

The pasta was mixed in with zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, and Parmesan cheese. The salmon was smothered in butter and herbs. Despite everything, Cat could not deny that Michael was a talented chef, though it didn’t occur to her until after she had taken several bites that the food could be drugged.

“This is so good.” Her mouth was full and her voice was quiet, so she wasn’t entirely sure if he heard her, but the smirk on his face as he handed back the plastic cup said otherwise. She took another long sip, savoring the feeling of cool water passing down her esophagus.

“I’m glad you like it.” Cat tried to ignore how his eyes bored through her as she ate. “I always thought about what food I’d make on our first date.”

She struggled not to choke at the thought, but she chewed more slowly and glanced up at him. Once she swallowed, her mouth was dry. She took a sip of water. “You’ve thought about this?”

“Oh, absolutely.” She knew he thought he was being romantic. His smile made her skin crawl.


He almost let his smile slip, but he forced it to remain on his face. “I thought you’d be pleased.”

Cat had to swallow as bile rose in her throat. “The food is very good, thank you.”

He reached out to stroke her hair, presumably, but she flinched and the smile faded while his hand lowered. “Well, I believe you’ve had enough to eat today.”

She shook her head vigorously. “No. Please, no, I’d like some more.”

“No. Unless-”

“Unless what?”

“Unless you give me a kiss.”

Cat shook her head and before he could take it from her, she quickly shoved what was left on the plate into her mouth and then chugged what was remaining in the plastic cup.

“Shame on you. Do you see a toilet in here? You’ll soil yourself.”

Laughter bubbled up from her chest. “Now, that’s a solid strategy to get me to fall in love with you: let me shit my pants.”

He took the dishes from her and walked up the stairs without another word.

“... Fifty-nine bottles of beer on the wall, fifty-nine bottles of beer. Take one down, pass it around, fifty-eight bottles of beer on the wall.” Her voice was quiet, but it reverberated in her ears due to the lack of noise upstairs.

The song didn’t distract her from the fullness of her bladder, but she continued to sing nevertheless. She was determined to make eye contact with Michael as she relieved herself. It was the only rebellion she could think of, unpleasant though it may be.

It wasn’t until she got to “twenty-three bottles of beer on the wall” that she heard footsteps on the floor above her, and she stopped singing. Other than the footsteps and the refrigerator hum, there was only silence.

For a moment, Cat thought she heard the click of the deadbolts unlocking, but when the door didn’t open, she realized she must have imagined it. Her breath caught in her throat when she thought she heard it again- no. She did hear it. The locks were being unlocked and then locked, then unlocked again. Michael was messing with her.

Frustrated, Cat yelled. “If you’re coming in, just do it already!”

She thought she heard him laughing on the other side of the door before it finally swung open and he descended the stairs. “Miss me?”

Cat smiled. “May I use the bathroom?”

Michael smiled back at her. “I warned you.”

“Yes or no?”

He rolled his eyes. “No, you may not use the bathroom.”

Her smile widened as she allowed her body to relax. Warmth spread between her legs and Michael’s eyes filled with horror.

Clean pants felt nice.

It had been genuinely surprising when Michael came down the stairs with a clean pair of pants and allowed her to change. He handed her the clean clothes, turned away, and allowed her to remove the piss-stained jeans and don the sweatpants. He also placed an empty bucket near her.

She didn’t express any gratitude, but he didn’t give her an opportunity to do so either. The moment he was able, he grabbed her jeans and quickly ascended the stairs, then shut and locked the door behind him.

She sat on the floor, staring up at the ceiling and relishing the feeling of clean, dry pants.

Cat smiled at the win. Prisoner 1, Captor nada.

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