The Beauty of Grey

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Chapter 10

On the eighth day of my abduction, the man bought me a pretty dress.

He threw it beside me, looking down at me as I sat cross-legged near the edge of the bed. He had told me to sit there specifically, because he said he had a present to give to me in accordance to my upstanding behaviour. He thought that he was finally beginning to break me—to get through to me. I was only trying to earn his trust. And apparently it was working despite my selective outbursts.

I had no motives other than self-gain. My kidnapper was keeping me on too tight of a leash; restricting my liberty by choking it out of me. I had little right outside of the bedroom or bathroom.

In the mornings when he would leave, he’d wake me up and let me use the washroom while he grabbed my preprepared breakfast from downstairs. He’d lock me back in the bedroom with my breakfast while he left for work, and he’d take my plate and let me out when he got back. He would then lock me in the bathroom to shower while he made dinner, waiting for my three knocks to signal I was ready to get out just to lock me in his bedroom before joining me with dinner after it was ready. After we ate, he kept me locked in his room while he did his nightly routine and came and joined me again when he was ready.

It was all very drab and mundane. It was sickening that after maybe the fourth or fifth day of this routine I would grow excited when I’d see his face, only because his face meant freedom. It meant a few minutes outside of the bedroom. I could wash myself clean of a day of isolation for a night of company, even if I wasn’t fond of the company.

But I wasn’t fond of being lonely, either. To be alone all day, left solo to dwindle my thumbs and stare at the coniferous trees through a shatterproof window, was not an easy thing to grow immune to. To be alone is to think, to interpret, to conspire. To be alone was to call upon hours of endless thinking—of the good, the bad and the ugly.

But tonight was going to stray away from the path I was forced to follow. This dress was a step in the right direction. I hadn’t been wearing any clothing except for what the man gave me—and the clothing he gave me was his clothing. He was planning something with this gift.

“I guessed you were a small,” he said—and guessed correctly—, acknowledging the dress with a flick of his head, indicating to me that I should be looking at it. I glanced at it to satisfy both of us; my curiosity and his pride. “I want you to wear it tonight.”

But if he planned on getting me to wear it only to lock me in his bedroom again, the fabric looked delicate enough to rip with my bare hands. I’d tear it to shreds even if only to spite him. I felt compelled to question him. “Why?” I asked, raising a brow.

He was amused at my mistrust of the unknown. “If I were to tell you, it would ruin the surprise.”

“If you bought me this dress,” I looked up at him, defiance gathering in my eyes and voice. “Only to lock me back in here to frolic around in it, then I refuse.”

He flashed me a crooked grin, running a hand through his windswept hair. “Are you laying out an ultimatum?”

Appearing more like a spoilt brat rather than a woman fighting back, I crossed my arms over my chest as I responded. “Yes.” I stated with confidence, like I wasn’t completely stupid for trying to bargain with my kidnapper.

“Huh...” he wondered aloud, his tongue rolling against the inside of his cheek.

He, mimicking my actions, crossed his arms over his chest and tapped his foot against the ground. There was something gruelling and tormenting about watching and waiting for which direction his response would head. I hated that I had to depend on him for food and water and freedom. I was too proud to depend on him for anything else.

“Fine,” he said, and I blinked up at him. I was surprised he agreed to my demand instead of trying to make me beg him. “I won’t lock you back in here. But you have to make a covenant with me.”

I flinched with apprehension, but agreed on the basis that I’d still get to roam around—even if I was being monitored. “Okay.” I caved.

“After dinner, you will dance with me.”

My face went blank. I couldn’t deny that his request was unusual; or maybe just so dissimilar from the last thing he had requested me to do—wash him. This seemed so innocent and harmless. It seemed like he had already had his answer thought out, like this was his plan to begin with.

What was he going for? Was he trying to be suave and debonair? I didn’t know what I could pull from this, or if anything could be pulled from it at all. Maybe I was reading too much into this. Maybe he was just in the mood for dancing. I suppose I couldn’t least he hadn’t asked me to dance for him.

But I couldn’t help but ask. “Okay...but why?”

“I just want to,” he shrugged. “A favour for a favour.”

“Yeah,” I replied, aloof as I stood up and turned my back to him. I folded the dress in half lengthwise and took it into my arms. My shoulder bumped against his as I walked away from him. “Right.”

He let me walk away with my attitude still tucked in my sleeve as I went into the bathroom and turned on the light after closing the door. As I took off his clothing, I heard the familiar scraping of the chair being wedged in between the outside handle and the floor. I loathed the fact he continued to make me knock on the door three times when I was ready to come out.

But it was better than being left in there to rot, I supposed.

So I showered and did my usual thing, and when I came out I slipped into the day old boxers before grabbing the sleeves of the dress and holding it out in front of me. I glared at it as I admired it. It truly was a lovely dress; nothing I ever would have bought, however, only because it seemed far too classy and elegant for me to pull off.

It was an a-line dress made up of floral white lace. It had thin straps and a modest skirt, and when I held it against my body I was thankful that it actually fell past my knees. This would leave some aspects of my body to the mans imagination, even if it was only limited to my legs.

When I slipped it on, I was peeved that it was the perfect fit. It made me realize that he knew me better than I thought he did—knew my body size mostly by sight instead of touch. It lead me to worry about what else he knew about me; my nervous habits, my insecurities, my moments of cowardice.

I ran a comb through my wet hair and hauled my clothes up to my chest, keeping them tucked with one arm. Trepidation gnawed at my nerves and made my fist reluctant to rap those three knocks on the door. I felt like I was being ridiculous.

But it didn’t explain why I threw the clothes onto the sink counter, telling myself over and over again that I couldn’t leave the bathroom until I found exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t know what it was I was looking for, but I knew I’d find out once I found it.

It was an inner voice channeling me forward—one meant to be either useful or detrimental. I suddenly had no control over my body, my motivation taking over. I rummaged through the wall cabinet and double checked the shower until I opened the cupboards beneath the sink. I began taking things out, making sure not to throw anything to create too much ruckus. This was the only part of the whole bathroom that I didn’t know like the back of my hand.

And when I took out the garbage and saw what hid behind it, I knew that I had hit the jackpot. The first aid kit. As I took the kit out from the cupboard, I remembered all of the syringes he had kept in it. I felt so doltish not having thought of this sooner.

But then again, I hadn’t felt so optimistic in days. I was beginning to regain my confidence that I could escape from here again. And what a feeling it was—hopefulness. It thrived in my veins, stronger and more blissful than any high these drugs could have ever given me.

Opening the kit, I grabbed a syringe and inspected it to see if I could decipher what the liquid was from a label. Each individual syringe had a label but they were written in their chemical names without the simplification of their generic names. I wasn’t a pharmacist, nor did I have much medical or medicinal knowledge, so I couldn’t translate what I was reading. It wasn’t like I could test what it was on myself, or discover what it was by scent.

My face flushed when I realized I was playing with fire. I became a new component in a dangerous game of undetermined prospect. The syringe weighed a million pounds in my hands, and I was so unsure that this drug would be able to do what I needed it to do. I didn’t know if there was a broader range of effects in this kit, and it made me anxious to know that my kidnapper was going to be my test dummy.

A part of me wanted to just put the syringe back into the kit and forget I ever considered this, but the other part of me was a thrill seeker that was willing to take chances. I willed my hand to release but instead it clenched shut, betraying me. To stop my internal war, I put the heavy hand up the skirt of the dress before shoving the syringe in the pocket of the boxers. Out of sight, out of mind.

I put everything back underneath the sink the way it was and stood up to my feet, smoothing the dress. I took a few deep breaths, meeting my reflection in the mirror and not looking away until the redness in my face toned down so I could look inconspicuous. Once the raspberry hue dissipated, I gathered my clothes into my arms and rapped on the door.

The man was dragging the chair away seconds later before he returned to let me out. I stood and waited patiently like I did every night, but I felt like my posture was off. I hated concealing a secret, because I felt like he could read right through me. Maybe the man mistook my nervousness for embarrassment because of the dress. If he asked, that’s what I would tell him. It was the dress.

It was all in the dress.

When the door opened, the man took my clothes from my arms like he always did. He looked me up and down slowly, eyes lingering on my rapidly rising and falling chest. I grimaced as I crossed my arms over my breasts, perfecting the method of hiding them instead of boosting them.

“Come,” he told me, flicking his head in the direction he wanted me to go. I shut off the bathroom light as I followed him, playing good little abductee until the bitter end. He lead me down the pitch-black hallway and down the stairs before he turned back to me. “Meet me in the kitchen.” He ordered before turning in the opposite direction of it.

I couldn’t afford to get out of his good graces, so I did so without hesitation. With my weaving hands and my stomach in knots, I entered the vicinity of the kitchen and swallowed down a lump in my throat as the scent of garlic blasted me. Just being in there triggered my fear, my vulnerability, my dimwittedness. Had I have stabbed the man while he was a wolf, I might have gotten out of here sooner.

There were used dishes in the sink and on the counters, followed by food that was discarded but not trashed. He was a messy cook, I was able to gather. And he hadn’t cleaned up. There was a reason for this. A reason that became apparent when the man walked back into the room.

“I want you to clean up my mess.” He said, voice rumbling like thunder from behind me. I jerked as I whipped around to face him.

I fretted that being too acquiescent would succeed in getting me under his radar, so I didn’t refuse the opportunity to argue like I often did. “Why? Have I upgraded from captive to servant?”

He raised a brow; shrugged. “You should be grateful I’ve even allowed you down here. I could’ve kept you locked up in our room again.”

“You had an ulterior motive for purchasing this dress,” I countered. “And personally I don’t think it was so you could lock me in your room again and store me in there like you usually do.”

“You make it seem like I ignore you.”

“I never said that you ignore me,” I replied coolly, turning around to do the dishes like he asked. “But you’re not swell company.” I was argumentative, but not unswayable. I wouldn’t stand there and wait until he dragged me by my hair to the sink and forced a dishrag into my hands. I was capable—albeit agitated—of doing it myself.

“Don’t get too ahead of yourself, Edie, you’re not always enjoyable either.” He snapped, only biting because I had bit first. He wasn’t too intolerable as long as I cooperated, but it was seldom I did so immediately.

“I’m not trying to be enjoyable,” I said as I picked up the dishrag. I dipped it in the soapy dishwater, reminded of how the man had made me bathe him a week ago. I shuddered, cringing. “I’m simply adapting to my environment.”

His fists slammed on the kitchen table from behind me. “You’re condemning yourself to a life of misery. You claim that our home is so miserable, but you bring the misery upon yourself.”

I began to wipe down a dirty cutting board, stained crimson by red meat perhaps. “You’re probably right,” I agreed. “But you’re a fool if you think that one day I’ll wake up and feel satisfied enough to be your obedient little housewife. I am miserable, and I know I’m making you miserable. But if you bring me into misery, you get misery in return.”

He growled. “I haven’t brought you into misery, Edie, you brought the misery into here.”

I put the cutting board in the drying rack, before I looked at him over my shoulder. “I contributed to the misery, sure, but I didn’t create it.” I said before I turned back around, cleaning out a large glass bowl.

There was a deadly edge to his voice when he spoke again, sounding nearer than before. “What are you suggesting?”

“Misery loves company.”

His heat warmed my back as he pressed himself against me. I instantly stiffened, the bowl and rag slipping from my hands and falling into the sink as my hands gripped the edge of the counter.

I clenched my eyes shut and bit my cheek. “Get away from me.”

He closed any millimetre of gap room we had between us. “Why, Edie?”

“I still have dishes to do.”

“Oh, for fuck sakes,” he cussed, grabbing my bicep as he spun me around, replacing my hands on the counter with his own. He caged me in front of him, thrusting his hips against me. I opened my eyes wide as I looked up at him, caught off guard by my sudden one hundred eighty degree turn. “To hell with the dishes.”

“To hell with you.” I muttered.

“Indeed, to hell with me,” he said absentmindedly as he lowered his head to press his lips over mine. I didn’t recoil with disgust right away, not until his breath fanned over my face. “You make me burn with desire. I don’t think you understand how much you make me need you.”

And as he inched forward to close the distance between us again, I pressed a finger in between our lips. He pulled back quickly, looking down at me with both anger and denial; denial that I had just rejected his affection. His green eyes narrowed into slits. “I’m about to make you need me more.” I promised.

I put both hands on his chest, pressing the front of our bodies together as I pushed him backwards. He allowed me to, with the impression that I was planning on seducing him. Green darkened into black, and my hands began to grow clammy; leaving stains on his ashy grey dress shirt.

He ran into the kitchen table, letting out a grunt of displeasure as he dug his fingers into my hips. I winced at the pressure but allowed it, relieved that he hadn’t rested his hands over the syringe. He would’ve felt it for sure, and I would’ve been in deep shit.

Which would’ve been all the more painful because I could see his keys hanging on the key rack by the front door. I would have shot myself in the foot.

His hands tensed on my hips as I turned my head to face him. “Don’t even think about it,” he warned, his midnight eyes sending tides of hot and cold throughout my body. “You are mine.”

As if to show my agreement through my body language, I voluntarily gave myself up to him to increase his neediness for me; hoping that it could distract him enough to give me time to grab what I needed to and plunge it into his neck before he could even begin to fight me off. Exhaling, purposely fluttering my eyes shut, I dropped my head back as I bared my neck to him.

Wrapping my arms around his nape, I directed his face into the crook of my neck. I still felt unsteady and reckless, paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to pull this off. I was worried he was already growing suspicious of me. I didn’t want to discover that he had been playing along the whole time, just to turn around and break my wrist for ever daring to pull a fast one on him.

But he played along very well—exactly according to script. His hands slowly moved up from my hips, dragging the fabric of the dress with them until it draped back into place. His calloused palms, their roughness and largeness still obvious through the dress, creeped up the side of my waist; trailing dangerously close to the sides of my breasts. His lips were even and warm on my skin.

When I whimpered, he stopped his hands in place. It was the only time he’d appease me, when I appeased him by completely submitting myself to him. He poked my fiery side but catered to my vulnerability.

I slowly removed my arms from around his neck, making the notion to brush his shoulders with my palms before I dropped them to my sides. His hands were death-gripped onto my waist, and if the apocalypse were to happen right then and there I knew he would not let me go.

I allowed myself to sink away from him, relying most of my weight onto him; only because I knew he could take it. He didn’t seem at all bothered by my lack of supporting myself, and he didn’t seem to notice as I put one hand up my dress and shoved it into the pocket of the boxers, popping the plastic off of the needle as I took out the syringe.

But the syringe was more deleterious than an apocalypse, because the moment I shoved it into his neck he stopped his assault. As his reflexes kicked in, it was already too late. I had emptied the syringe into his body. The damage was done as he pushed me away from him; not hard, but hard enough.

I backed up to the sink as he ripped the syringe from his neck and threw it onto the floor. Unlike with me, he didn’t seem to be feeling drowsy right away. He didn’t stagger, collapse, or loll his head around. I brushed it off as his massive size causing the drugs to take longer to kick in. I blindly reached in the sink for a heavy dish, settling on a cast iron frying pan.

When he lunged at me, I swung the cast iron frying pan at him and hit him in the side of the head. He was dazed for a moment, clearly surprised at my choice of weaponry, but was even more unprepared for the second strike with much more blunt force than the first. I felt ten feet tall and bulletproof when he finally fell onto the floor, blood dripping down the side of his face.

I dropped the frying pan and scurried around him, even though I was nearly positive that he wasn’t going to be chasing after me anytime soon. I raced to the front door, grabbing the only set of keys as I unlocked the door and ran outside, slamming it shut behind me as the man let out a monstrous roar.

I hit the unlock button on the remote, red and yellow lights flashing at me as the truck turned on. I opened the driver side door and threw myself inside, closing the door behind me as I shoved the keys into the ignition with shaky hands. I couldn’t quite tell why I thought it was so important in my mad rush to escape to put on my seatbelt, but I saved three seconds to do so.

Adrenaline kicked my motor functions into overdrive. I reversed his truck out of his driveway before putting it back into drive and getting the fuck out of there. I pumped the gas, speeding past every single cabin indistinguishable from the next. I was not going to miss this place.

My headlights found the gravel road and I took a quick left, not bothering to sit and wait in case one of the mans minions decided to chase after me with a tank. I skidded and recovered, spitting up gravel as I floored it. I wanted to put miles and miles of distance between the hellhole and I before I slowed down.

The radio played softly in the background, but I couldn’t focus in on the music as I drove. I had always viewed driving as a chore, but now I viewed it as a blessing. I would forever be in debt to automobiles, only because they had given me the one thing I couldn’t have achieved on foot.

But I was still a mess, despite how elated I felt. I kept checking in the rearview mirror, each time left feeling unsatisfied, and so I’d shoulder check just to make sure I wasn’t being followed. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t. Like a desert wanderer, I was all alone.

Yet I refused to accept it, this flee too good to be true.

But I tried to ignore my reoccurring pessimism by laughing it off. A small, quiet, timid laugh ruptured into a big, loud, crazed guffaw as I tried to convince myself that I was home free. I had put some good distance between that territory and I.

I checked the rearview mirror again, then did a shoulder check and felt content as I looked forward again. My heart galloped in my chest the further I drove because I knew that I must have been getting closer to civilization. Maybe my town, or maybe not.

If it wasn’t my town, I would work around it. If I had to pound on random doors just so I could be directed to a police station, then so be it. I had heard of people evacuating to their homes after escaping a kidnapper, but I refused to do that. I needed the authorities—I needed the law. I just needed help, comfort, witness protection program.

I did one last glance in the rearview mirror before I shoulder checked again. When I turned back around, a pair of headlights shone from my right. When I looked to see, I realized then that their vehicle wasn’t attempting to slow down; despite the fact that they had to yield to me. I cursed as I hit the breaks, trying to stop before they could crash into me. But I, like them, was going too fast.

I wouldn’t be able to stop in time. It was obvious, then, that the other driver on the road was foe. I hadn’t danced with my kidnapper, but death was offering his hand as a replacement.

And it was proven as they slammed into the passenger side of the truck full force, shattering the windows and windshield as the vehicle began to roll violently into the ditch. My body bounced around like a rag doll, my limbs nothing but a pawn to this accident. My abscond was abruptly cut short as I blacked out, the vehicle still rolling...


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