Dark Love - A Darker Shade

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Chapter 7

Zee’s eyes grew huge with alarm and when she looked at the rear-view mirror, the car was nowhere in sight. It seemed to have disappeared into thin air. What she saw behind her was an approaching Peugeot.

It felt like she was reliving the last few minutes as the group of trailers that had made her stay behind the mysterious beetle, slowly approached. She did not realize that she had slowed down until she began to hear the impatient blare from the Peugeot behind her.

“Come on, step on it.” She heard a man’s voice yell from the vehicle but she was still too shocked by what had just happened to move any faster.

Buried in shock, she managed to keep driving until the trailers finished passing by her, and then the Peugeot fell into line beside her with the driver cursing out at her.

“Damn you!”

As he drove past her, Zee could not respond. She did not even bother to try because he was the least of her problems right now. At this point, shock at the familiar dark words was all she could think about and she could feel the cold hands of fear, gripping her and letting her know that disaster was in the air, for she was in deep trouble.

Zee was still driving at a slow pace until three cars that seemed to be moving in a convoy breezed past her.

The harsh breezy sound they made as they sped past her was enough to jolt her out of her state of shock. She took a glance at the time on her dashboard. It was hard to believe that fifteen minutes had already passed since the last time she had checked.

Zee took a deep breath and tried to calm herself from her fears driven by the ugly episode of the last dare’s warning.

She would have words with that damn spiritualist. The old bat probably left important details out. She had thought that she was free from the game but from what had just happened, she was far from free.

Her mind drifted to Inara and she felt a pang of guilt stabbing at her stomach. Where the game was concerned, she had not been entirely truthful to her friend.

She had been selfish. To save her skin, she had gone behind her back and found a way to cheat the game, or so she thought she was doing. Nevertheless, it seemed like the act had only bought her some time while her friend was forced to dive headlong into the game. Luckily for Inara though, despite all she had suffered, everything had turned out well for her and she was entirely free of the game. And hers was just beginning.

A couple of cars sped past her and an approaching lorry blasted its horn, the sound, loud and piercing. The noisome sounds were enough to jolt her out of her gloomy thoughts a second time.

Zee cast her gaze on the time again and swore under her breath. Despite the disturbing event that had just played out, she had to be strong and focus on achieving her purpose for leaving the house. She was already late by an hour.

She stole a glance at the back seat of her truck to confirm that she had brought her proposal with her. It was a relief to see the small brown envelope lying back there. After coming out of her hangover, she had prepared and left the house in a rush. She remembered grabbing it from her bedside table but it was only human to check again and ensure that everything was in order.

Exerting pressure on the accelerator, she gathered speed and propelled the truck forward. She had to achieve her major goal for the day and see if she could use her creativity to good use.

Thinking outside the box was the only thing she seemed to be good at and she must make good use of it. It’s not like she needed to work, anyway. Her parents made enough but if she didn’t do anything with her life, boredom would kill her.

It took her about seven minutes of reckless driving to reach her destination which was a nameless restaurant that had just been built alongside the expressway for the benefit of travelers who often used the road.

The structure which was a large bungalow stood to give life to the otherwise lonely expressway on that axis. It was located a few yards off the road with a low gate that was currently open.

The large parking lot was currently empty except for a couple of cars. One was a Range Rover, the other, a Camry.

The sight of the cars gave her some hope. Perhaps, they belonged to people she could talk to. She just hoped that they were people who mattered where the restaurant was concerned. It would be such a shame if she had cracked her brain in vain.

Zee drove into the parking lot and parked the truck beside the parked cars. As she killed the engine, she noticed a middle-aged couple emerging from the restaurant.

Quickly, she reached for the envelope at the back seat of the truck and opened the door, letting herself out and shutting it. She hurried towards the couple who were already headed her way and began waving the envelope at them which caused them to pause until she reached them.

“Hi, I’m here to submit my proposed name for the restaurant.”

“Sorry, we are closed.” The man responded dismissively. “We already have a name among the submitted ones.”

“Why did you come so late?” the woman asked and Zee spent a few seconds thinking of a reasonable excuse, but none was forthcoming.

“It’s a long story.” She finally answered.

“Honey, don’t pay any attention to her.” The man said to his wife. “Just look at how she’s dressed. She is unserious. I doubt that anything intelligent can come from her.”

As he was speaking, Zee’s eyes had fallen back to her outfit. Damn, she was wearing her grey dress backward and her legs were in two different flip flops.

“Shit!” she swore.

“Mind your language, young woman.” His wife cautioned.

“Sorry, Ma’am, Sir, but please, give my submission a chance. I know I’m late, but I didn’t give up, did I? I still came, knowing I probably won’t get a chance. Please accept my submission, please?”

The woman looked at her husband. “It won’t cost us anything.” She told him.

“Honey, we’ve already decided on one of those names. It’s just to contact the winner so he knows that he won and then we send him his money. This girl is wasting our time.”

“I know what you both want,” Zee said, unfazed. “You want a name that speaks to the driver as they ride by, probably exhausted from their travel. You want it fun and natural. You want it down to earth, spontaneous, and somewhat humorous.”

“Yes. And we’ve already picked one.” He answered. Then he smiled in a self-satisfied way. “Tell her, Honey. When she hears how perfect it sounds, she’ll give up and return to wherever she came from.”

Her smile mirrored his and Zee could tell that they already liked the name that they had chosen. At that point, she didn’t care anymore whether she won or lost. All she wanted was for them to at least look at what she was submitting.

“The name we chose is perfect.” She informed Zee. “We are calling it the last dare will no longer wait.”

Zee gasped, shocked to the marrow with trepidation.

“What?”

“Wayside Restaurant. It suits the place.”

“Perfectly.” Her husband added. “What a brilliant submission.”

Zee painfully accepted that somehow, the last dare was still haunting her. It was haunting her more aggressively. She tried not to let it affect her as she struggled to concentrate on the couple.

“Sorry, I didn’t get that.” Damn, she had truly forgotten the name she had just heard.

The couple exchanged exasperated looks.

“Tell her, Hon.” said the man, tiredly.

“No, you tell her.” The woman responded.

Zee threw them her best smile. “Please?”

The couple exchanged looks and the woman rolled her eyes.

“Wayside restaurant.” She said.

As far as Zee was concerned, it wasn’t a fun name. It was just a normal name.

“It’s fine, but not humorous or spontaneous as I believe you expect.”

“Good. So why not tell us yours?” the man taunted.

“I have two suggestions. Belly Time and Pause and Eat.”

The couple stood silent for a beat. Zee could tell that they liked her suggestions as they started smiling at each other. And next, they were hugging.

They disengaged and drew her into their arms. Zee started smiling.

“You are a genius, girl.” The woman praised.

“A creative and brilliant young woman.” The man praised.

“Thanks. So, which would you take?”

They freed her from their embrace.

“Belly time.” They chorused excitedly and the woman held out her hand to Zee. Zee was confused.

“The envelope, please.”

“Oh,” Zee said and handed it to her.

“Congratulations.” They both told her.

“You are the winner.” The man added.

“Thanks.”

“We’ll wire in the pay according to the terms already outlined.” The woman informed her.

“I look forward to that,” Zee replied. “I guess I can go now.”

“Sure.” Answered the man.

“What’s your name?” asked the woman.

“Elizabeth Daniel.”

“Okay, Elizabeth.” the woman said in an ominous voice that troubled Zee. “You should hurry. The last dare will no longer wait.”

Zee quickly put herself under control. She already knew it was the game, so she pretended like all was normal and waved them off. Then she left them hugging each other with excitement and hurried to her car. Inside, she pulled out a contact card from her wallet.

Violet May The name read. Spiritualist. Zee’s eyes took in the address. “You old hag, it’s time you got a visit from me.” She mumbled. Then she nosed the car off the building and drove her way back towards town.

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