C O P Y R I G H T
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
All rights reserved. Including the rights to reproduce this book or the portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.
Copyright © 2022 KittyKash92
* * *
I wish that life had a reset button, that way one could easily reset their life and start over. My life had been nothing but jumping from foster care to foster care and then when the state knew I was legal enough to take care of myself, the system had tossed me out to fend for myself. It was a good thing that I’d decided to study and at least get myself a degree so I hadn’t ended up on the streets unlike some of the other foster kids.
I was the kid who was never adopted and I tried not to feel bad about it. All my life I told myself that I wasn’t unlovable, it’s just that I hadn’t met the right people. No one had wanted to adopt a skinny girl with a little bit of Bugs Bunny teeth. They’d opted for the cute, adorable ones with fair hair and blue eyes. But no matter how many times I drilled the facts into my head, I continued to feel lonely.
I was still studying in the community college in Ashwell, a small town with a famous lake surrounded by lush green trees and a population of maybe a thousand. I worked part-time in a local bar called Tony’s. It was good money. I was still twenty, turning twenty-one in two weeks and figuring things out, and I couldn’t exactly afford to stay in the dorms so I’d found a cheaper alternative that included paper-thin walls and constant plumbing issues. But that’s okay because I planned to save every penny and open my art studio as soon as I was done getting my college degree.
“Today’s Breaking News. Three girls have gone missing in four months in the quaint town of Ashwell. Authorities claim that it is a case of kidnapping. The young girls were eighteen, twenty-two, and twenty-five respectively. Police and Detectives are still on the lookout…
I was cleaning a ball glass when I heard the news. I turned to the TV mounted on the wall, my eyes shifted towards the time. I had a few minutes until the bar closed.
“Have to be careful these days. Never know when you come across a Bundy or a Dahmer.” Gerald commented taking a sip of his drink.
He was a middle-aged man who was divorced and single, lived alone in a mansion in the posh side of Ashwell. The type of man who went to country-clubs on Sundays for golf and listened to Jazz. His daughter was married to some wealthy Texas businessman and lived on a ranch. You ask me how I know all this? Well, as soon as Gerald tipped his fourth glass of Jack, he recited his life story.
He usually frequented the bar during the weekends and liked to chat up with the bartenders so I was sure everyone at the bar knew his story by heart.
I liked Gerald, he was pretty chill.
“You’re right. Never trust anybody.” I agreed, “I could be a killer too. Who knows when I’ll put something in your drink,” I teased him.
Gerald grinned, “If you’re the serial killer, I’d be more than happy to jump into your van. There’s no need for you to roofie my drinks.”
I laughed, “Charming, aren’t you? If I was ten years older, I would have married you, Ger.”
“Age is just a number, my dear.” He teased me back.
I talked to Gerald for a while and since he was the last patron in the bar, we cleaned up and closed the bar after he walked out of the door. I was lone with my colleague Lindsay in the closing shift which was usually the case most nights.
Gerald had left me a generous tip; he usually slipped in a few dollar bills when I wasn’t looking since he knew I was running low on cash. He was such a sweet guy, and I almost felt guilty taking his money every time, but he always insisted and I usually just caved in.
The cool air of the summer night hit me as I made my way out of the bar with my co-worker Lindsay.
“Bri, I’m going to Crowns with Robert and his friends, you wanna come with?” she asked me wiggling her eyebrows.
I checked the time and realized that it was already late. I needed to study. Plus I didn’t really like Robert’s friends. Robert was Lindsay’s boyfriend who was a decent guy but I couldn’t say the same about his friends. They were sleazy extraordinaire.
“I gotta study. Maybe next time.”
“Oh, come on girl, Robert is bringing his friend Cody. I know how much you like him.” She winked, her eyes glinting mischievously.
That was good bait. Cody was a sweet guy, gorgeous with blond hair and green eyes and he was also soft-spoken. His eyes never slipped to my boobs when we were having a conversation and he was good at keeping his hands to himself even after we were drunk. I knew Lindsay would try to play cupid but I wasn’t in a mood to date right now, and I’d been straightforward about it.
“Next time, you’re coming with me,” she said with conviction. “And I’m taking you even if I have to tie you up and drag you bodily.”
I laughed as I said goodbye to Lindsay and decided to take my usual route home, a shortcut that saved me time and possible dangers of getting mugged. It was only a ten-minute walk and not a big deal; I plugged my ears with headphones, a Bruno Mars song began playing on the shuffle list. I started walking towards the building that led to the back alley which was a direct path to my studio apartment.
I dreaded my routine; I wish I was like Lindsay, happy-go-lucky, and carefree. She was the type of girl who would pack and travel all over the world without thinking of her future, and I kind of envied her for that. My dating life wasn’t any better either. All the boys in my college were horny pricks who just wanted to buy me dinner so they had the opportunity to get in my pants. Not to mention, none of them had ever sparked any feelings inside me.
A part of me fantasized about something exciting—kind of like the stuff they showed in the movies. The insta-love, the rush of being completely in love, and I continued to hope for silly things like that even though I knew it wasn’t possible for me. My life was anything but ’Exciting’, the chances of Taylor Swift turning into a rock musician were greater.
I turned the corner humming to ‘Just the way you are’ when a strong arm grabbed me.
I was so startled that I didn’t react at first and then I was screaming at the top of my lungs but knew in my heart that no one was coming to help me. It was a quaint neighborhood and crimes in this part of the town were common, so even if someone heard me yelling they’d rather stay ignorant or turn the other way than try to figure out what was going on.
Regardless I screamed and kicked.
My phone slid to the ground, the song still drifting faintly from the earphones.
I was hauled into a van.
And that was the start of my nightmare.