I try to contain the shock that stiffens all of my muscles as I watch the men grab my Lane in broad daylight. I have to move fast, and I have to be clever to not let them know that I’m following them.
As I shift my gear to drive, my fingers shake as I reach for the buttons near the volume nozzle. Within seconds, I’m calling Damon.
“Hello,” he greets, out of breath. He’s probably still at practice.
“Hey, I need you to to call your cop friends. Lane’s in trouble.” I can’t even tell if I’m really speaking. My ears are succumbing to the tension and I can feel the stress of the situation tightening my throat. I want to choke.
“What? What happened? Where is she?” His voice sounds half angry, half worried.
“I just saw her get grabbed and thrown into a black van. I’m following it, so I’ll text you the address where they stop once I get to it,” I’m starting to sound calm over his uneven breathing on the phone.
“Why weren’t you with her?” he yells into the phone, but I just lower the volume in my car. I hear loud sounds of doors closing and silent tapping. “Okay I texted my cop buddies and I’m in my car. Which direction are they headed?”
“They’re on Wilson Drive, heading toward the intersection with Gillian Avenue, coming from Melvin Boulevard.” I try to picture us on a map and silently pray they don’t take her too far.
“What if they see you? They might hurt her!” I hear his engine start as he yells.
“I’m two cars behind and I’m laying low. It’s fine. Wait, they’re turning into a small street. Bumble Drive.”
“Be careful. They might see you snooping. Keep a safe distance. I’m going to call my guys.”
“I’m parked like five houses down.” I feel the tension wanting to burst in my left eyebrow, and without thinking, I say, “I’m going to try to sneak in.”
“WHAT? Don’t do that! They’ll hurt her!” He’s probably right, but I have a good reason.
“What if they’re already hurting her? If I come in, it might delay them on that so your boys can get here.” I know my reason is good enough with the silence that he gives me. “Good. Okay, I’m going in.” I hang up the call and switch my phone on private with no vibration. Criminals prefer silence.
The van looks smaller than it did from the outside. There is still a gloved hand over my mouth and the anger that overcomes me advises me badly.
“Ow!” The rather large man behind me shakes his hand off from the pain as he yells in agony, muffled by the pathetic ski mask on his head. It looks like they bought a bunch of overstretched beanies from the swap meet and cut ugly holes on them. “This bitch bit me!”
He slaps me straight across the face and I whimper from the sting that follows on my cheek.
“Shut up and hold her down!” I recognize the driver’s voice. Where had I heard that voice before. It was familiar, but unpleasant…
Jeff is the driver.
The drive was faster than I thought, or maybe I had just been praying for it to be longer, so that they couldn’t get to wherever their destination was. I just wanted it to be in the van, so they wouldn’t do more to me than a slap across my face.
We stop and they work to carry me in as quickly as they could, with my tied fists flailing everywhere and my legs double kicking their faces. I couldn’t yell, because it was useless. Mr. Gloves did his job properly this time and all my screams turned into muffled cries for help.
Once inside a seemingly abandoned old house that sat in a deserted neighborhood, they drop me on the ground, faced down. One of them slaps my bottom, prompting me to turn and face up on my own. I gather my strength to lift myself onto my knees and then rest my back against the wall behind me.
The man I recognize to be the driver whispers something to his buddy and I can’t help but to speak up. “I know it’s you, Jeff. I know your voice.”
Even behind the mask, I can sense his surprise. He pulls off his mask to confirm my already solid suspicions. Jeff. Jeff kidnapped me.
“You know my voice? That’s hot,” he teases as he steps closer, kneeling down so that our faces are leveled. “I’ll show you some more of me in a bit, sweetheart.”
All the blood that was in my face drains and I turn pale. Still glaring at him, I retort, “No, thanks. I’ve seen all there is to see last time and there wasn’t much.”
At this response, he seems offended, but not enough to throw him off the rails. He flashes me a wanton smile. “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take you right here later, but I’m going to do that while thinking of someone else. Because even when I’m taking you, you’re still not good enough.”
“Who’ll you be thinking of?” I hear the man who was in the passenger’s seat ask.
“That bitch that paid us. God she was hot, but I don’t bite the hand that feeds me,” Jeff tells them, and then turning back at me, he continues, “Maybe I’ll just bite what I’ll be fed.”
I make a face of disgust, but curiosity and anger drives me to ask, “Who? Who paid you to do this?!”
He smiles deviously, “Natasha. I would explain who that is, but from the looks of your face, I’d guess you already know.”
“So who has the camera so we could get started?” One of them asks Jeff as he starts unbuckling his pants. The other two do the same. Oh my god. I just realized what they’re planning on doing. I start to panic. My breathing becomes uneven and I feel myself growing dizzy.
“I don’t have the camera,” Jeff responds, and the rest of them stop what they are doing.
“I think the camera is in the van. I’ll get it,” says the big one who covered my mouth earlier. He jogs off and the rest of them halt their stripping. Thank god.
From where I sit, which was on the floor by a wall in the kitchen/dining room, I could look down a hallway and see out through the front window.
As he runs out the front door, I watch Silas come up to him from behind and knock him out with a baseball bat. Silas turns around and sees me through the window. He puts a finger on his lips for me to be quiet and I show relief through my eyebrows.
My Superman is here.
After a while, Jeff starts getting impatient. “Where the fuck is he? Dan, go get him.”
Dan, who was the one in the passenger’s seat, follows his order. As Dan walks out the front door, I watch Silas take a swing at his head. It looks like a hard swing. I hope Dan lives to remember this day being the first of many for him to live as a human vegetable.
“Wait, I forgot the condoms in the car,” says the last man standing beside Jeff. “I’m gonna go get them.”
“Why would you need condoms? She’s probably a virgin,” Jeff answers, pointing at me.
“Yeah, but I don’t know where the hell your dick’s been.” He walks off to follow Dan’s fate.
Jeff and I wait for another ten minutes, and while I should be nervous about my impending doom, I can’t help but find it hilarious that Jeff spent this time scrolling through his phone. It’s like that one really action packed scene in a movie when there’s suddenly a lull.
“POLICE!” I hear a man yell as a sea of uniforms come pouring into the home from all directions.
I turn and see Jeff try to come up with an escape. He tries taking his first step and I swing both my legs to trip him. His heavy legs drop on my ankles from his fall, which would probably leave a bruise, but it was worth it.
Damon comes rushing in and unties me while whispering reassurances under his breath. They sound like they’re more for him than for me.
“You’re okay, Tammy. I’ve got you.” He unties my legs and I turn my ankle to see if it was hurt from tripping Jeff. “You’re safe now. They won’t hurt you.” He unties my wrists and I throw my arms around him in gratitude. He wraps his arms around me in return and I can’t help but feel incredibly safe. I breath in his scent and close my eyes, knowing I won’t have to feel the desperate paranoia that I seem to have always had.
Come to think of it, I’ve never felt afraid when I’m with him. Damon’s been the most solid thing in my life besides my friendship with Vinh. I’ve never for a second doubted his loyalty to me, and he’s always so comfortable to be around...
“Lane!” I open my eyes to see Silas running to me and I feel Damon’s hold loosen, so I do the same. Damon helps me to my feet and as he lingers, holding my hand, I feel him slipping away as Silas pulls me into a deep embrace. “I thought I lost you there. From now on, I promise I’ll do everything to make you safe and happy. Starting with Pam-”
“It’s alright,” my voice is muffled in his chest.
“What?” He loosens our hug to look down at me, a question mark in his eyes.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re here now. That’s what counts,” I wrap my arms around his neck and turn to rest my head in the crook of his neck, standing on my toes.
Before I close my eyes, I see Damon, whose expression is drenched in relief, but also sadness. I wish I could comfort him, but there’s nothing I could do to change the way things are. I’m with Silas now and he treats me right. Damon understands that and can only watch from afar. I feel my heart clench for him.
The whole afternoon went by pretty slowly, with the statement I had to give the police, them calling my mom, Silas holding my hand the entire time.
By the time my mom arrived, everything was just about done. They just needed an adult with me, someone in my family. My mom freaked out, thinking I had done something wrong, but as she saw the handprint on my face thanks to Mr. Gloves and the marks on my wrists and ankles, she put two and two. She even pulled my legs onto her lap and lifted the hem of my jeans to examine how tightly they tied me.
As they moved Jeff and the rest from the interrogation rooms to the cells, my mom sprung on her feet and somehow managed to slap every single one of them with one go.
Besides the laugh I got from seeing my mom whoop those assholes, I was incredibly calm. While my mind still had some remnants of the horrifying possibilities that could have happened, I was very aware that I had Silas sitting beside me and standing on his other side was Damon, who would glance down at me every now and then to see if I was still there.
That night, I had my window open and ready for Silas to come in.
“Hey,” he says as he’s finally made his way in. I respond by patting the space beside me on the bed. I am lying in my onesie that looks like a panda costume.
He climbs into bed and reaches to grab my hand, which is limp on the mattress. He pulls it to his lips and kisses it ever so slightly before he holds it with both his hands over his chest.
“How’s my panda doing?” His voice is soft and I giggle quietly.
“I’m fine, really,” I reassure him.
“I’m not buying it. You’re not at least shaken by this?” He runs his thumb back and forth over my fingers.
“No. They didn’t get a chance to do anything before Superman swooped in and smacked them senseless,” I smile as I squeeze his hand. “Thank you, Kent.”
“I don’t know why you’re thanking me, when you just said Superman saved you. I’m just normal-guy Clark Kent,” he jokes as he taps my nose. I wrinkle it at him.
“I don’t even want to think of what would have happened if you hadn’t come,” I hear my voice weakening at the thought.
“Then don’t. Let me distract you,” he says with a gentle voice as he tugs me into his chest. I feel his arms wrap around me, stroking my back as he starts singing.
After a while I recognize that it was a dragged out, dramatic version of the Batman song and I burst into a voiceless laughter. “Batman? Really?”
“You’re not supposed to mock my choices, na na na. I just happened to be thinking of this song, okay.” He pretends to sound hurt as he makes another joke.
Our breathing matches and I feel myself relax in his arms.
“I’ll never let anyone hurt you, Lane,” he whispers when he was sure that I was asleep. “I love you so goddamn much.”