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Authors: Amber Lynn Natusch

Tags: #Fantasy

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BOOK: Caged
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I watched as they flashed clips of people dancing, bartenders fixing whatever drink was en vogue, and a montage of interviews with delighted patrons.
Maybe I really should try going out, it looks like fun…but drunk people always look like they’re having a good time.

I loved to dance, but the bar scene completely intimidated me. I’d never had the guts to go more than once. In college it was too difficult because someone had to be with me constantly to guide me through the melee so as to avoid injury from a variety of sources. Apparently drunken people were accidents waiting to happen. The one and only time I went I managed fifteen whole minutes in the bar before some idiot backed into me. He knocked me into a waitress; she fell into a group behind her, which started what could best be described as a procession of human dominoes that ended with a very pissed off bouncer and us getting tossed.

How bad could it be? I can always leave if it blows.

I caved and decided that going out for the first time ever by myself was the plan. I then frantically tried to find appropriate attire. My style was best described as delightfully random. I relished the opportunity to mix vintage with boutique finds and high fashion with Goodwill bargains topping it all off with the perfect accessory. I was always complimented on the originality of my outfit. I suppose they could have been backhanded compliments. I wasn’t very good at reading expressions. I never worried about it. I loved the freedom of being able to choose what I wanted to wear.

Before I got too far into the process, I sought inspiration from Gwen Stefani’s “What u Waitin 4”. I liked to go through life with my own little soundtrack blaring both internally and externally; I thought it was good for the soul. Since nobody on the news feature looked overly dressed up, I settled on some low-rise jeans that were skinny enough to toss on my favorite (and oh so expensive) chocolate brown, faded, four inch stacked heel, knee high boots with the buckle on the side.
I SOOOOOO love Jimmy Choo.

As if it were important what top I wore (because my boots were so amazing), I grabbed a long sleeved, grey and navy, mini-striped top that came down low on the hips and covered me when I bent over. My boots were showstoppers, but I didn’t want to run the risk of mooning the bar-goers every time I bent down, or sat in a chair; I liked to try to keep my bits to myself. The slight transparency of the top demanded that I put a camisole on under it because I wasn’t into flashing the girls either.

If my dressing went seamlessly, my hair and makeup were a whole other story. Sometimes you go into battle knowing you’re going to get your ass handed to you on a platter. I tried my best to tame my shoulder length, platinum-blond, curly hair, though I was convinced it was possessed and had a personal vendetta against me. The potential for greatness was there, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to extract it. I had been told on numerous occasions that it looked like Sarah Jessica Parker’s in
Sex and the City’s
early seasons, only bigger. Having never watched it, I had no idea if that was good or bad. I managed to get the frizz out of it using some kind of expensive goo that I was certain just weighed it down slightly. Since it took the edge off, I considered it a wildly successful encounter. As for makeup, my strategy was simple-try not to look like a ghost. I’d learned that being obscenely pale was not generally socially accepted. Society 1, me 0.

I did my best to apply a little stain to the apples of my cheeks and clear gloss to my lips. The intricacies of eye makeup application still eluded me. My fair complexion didn’t pull off a lot of color well, so I never tried. I didn’t want to upstage my ocean-blue eyes, so I kept my eye shadow neutral and accentuated with highlighter. Eyeliner and mascara were an ER excursion waiting to happen. I tried my best to not get the liner in my eye or on too thick. If I kept mascara to the general region of my lashes, it was a wild success. Luckily for me my lashes were impossibly long so I had a big target.

Once the ritual was completed, I gave myself a once over in the mirror.
Not too shabby.
Beauty was a funny thing to gauge when my blindness had left me without societal cues for nearly my whole life. What I found attractive wasn’t necessarily what others did. Sometimes I found myself completely baffled by the movie stars, sports gods, and socialites in the media who were worshiped by the masses. I didn’t see it. Sure there were those that you just couldn’t argue (Brad Pitt for example), but only one face had ever stopped my breath and I was very certain I’d never see anything that compared to it for the rest of my existence. Some treasures were only meant to be found once.

. I assumed that was an acceptable time to head out. I didn’t want to be too early and look stupid arriving alone.

I stopped at the door to load my favorite magenta leather handbag with my wallet and keys. I rifled through the clutter on the console table, looking for my platinum band. The ring was the final of the three things I owned with any connection to my parents; I rarely ever took it off.
Maybe I left it in the shop.
Not wanting to stall my going-out momentum, I decided to look for it when I got home. I locked up the apartment and headed downstairs. I broke out into the crowd of people meandering through the streets and locked up behind me. A girl could never be too careful, even in Portsmouth.

The club was only a few blocks away from my place, so I filed into the crowd of people going my direction and kept pace. For entertainment on my trip, I listened in to conversations that were entirely too private to be had in the busy streets. I learned all about how difficult it was to treat Chlamydia, especially the third time around, from the group of early twenty-something women directly in front of me.
Perhaps someone should have the “friends don’t let friends get STD’s” discussion.

Behind me were the drunken ramblings of some middle-aged businessmen discussing whether the size, shape or texture of a woman’s anatomy was her most important quality. It sounded like shape was ahead for awhile, but size made an amazing push from behind to come through victorious in the end.
Men really are that predictable.
I crossed the street, not only to escape the increasing anxiety I was feeling while listening to them, but also because I needed to make a left at Market Street.

As I approached the club, I was disheartened to see a line flowing from the entrance down the street.
What is this, Boston? Great.
I sighed audibly and joined the rest of the cattle in the queue. I hoped with any luck it was going to move quickly. I felt so exposed being by myself when everyone around me had friends or significant others with them.
I’m so lame
. If I’d had my cell phone I could have pretended to be texting while I played games on it. While I was lost in thought, somebody elbowed me from behind to indicate the line was moving and I’d better catch up. I frowned back at the owner of the elbow in question and he smiled wickedly at me.
I made a mental note not to look in that general direction again.

As I started to reflect on why this was the world’s worst idea, the bouncer came out and started picking people out of the line to go in.
There’s a selection process? I don’t remember seeing that shit on the news.
As I turned to duck out of line a hand caught my elbow and gently spun me around.

“Don’t you want to go in?” the bouncer asked.

I half-smiled and nodded.

“Well then, today’s your lucky day, Chica.”

Indeed it is.

“Thanks” was all I managed to mumble as I walked past him to the entrance. I felt the cold looks tear through the back of me as I passed everyone waiting in line. I looked back to see Creeptastic arguing with the bouncer and pointing at me. I didn’t wait around to see what that was about and put on speed as I went through the door. I flashed my ID and a smile, and then I was in. Not wanting to relive my domino disaster of undergrad past, I made my way very quickly to the bar. I found the back corner where it connected to the wall and tucked myself into the last seat. I figured if I surrounded myself with as many stable surfaces as I could it would greatly decrease the odds of a repeat performance.

I wasn’t a big drinker, but the scene there would have driven anyone to it. There was barely enough room to pass between individuals without grossly encroaching on their personal space. Being very attached to mine, I decided that in order to loosen my grip on it I would require some liquid courage. Thirty minutes, twenty-five dollars and three G&T’s later, I was ready to rock. My dancing shoes were ready to go cut some rug all over that place. Just as I was getting off of my perch at the bar I got a strangely uncomfortable yet familiar feeling. My breath started to come rapidly and I felt all the blood drain from my face. It was at that moment I felt an unwanted hand on my shoulder. I choked down a scream.
I’m in public. I’m fine. Nobody here is going to hurt me. Breathe.

I slowly turned to face Captain Touchy-Feely.
The Captain was none other than Creeptastic.
How did he get in here?

Feeling slightly relieved for the moment I asked, “How the hell did you get in here?” People skills were not my forte.

He put his hand around the back of my neck and drew me towards him. “I thought you were going to leave me out there in that line. I had to convince the big guy that you were hard of hearing and didn’t realize that I wasn’t behind you while you went in,” he said.

My pulse was in my throat. He was smiling at me, but the look was predatory and the energy and intent behind it was nothing short of malicious. I tried to keep my shit together when every fiber of my being was yelling “get the fuck out of here”. Since no overly untoward gesture had been made, I opted for diffusing the situation.

“Guess I am. I never heard you and I wasn’t aware that I should have notified you of my entrance approval, dear.”

He laughed abruptly and moved closer still until our toes were in danger of touching and my back was pinned up against the wall.

“Dear, is it? I was hoping our pet names would take on a more… flavorful quality.”

I struggled to gracefully evade both his position and hold on me. My poker face was alarmingly close to failing and I needed to get some distance between me and the psycho. As I ducked my head around his hand in a fluid dance-like move to the downbeat of whatever song was playing, I said, “I don’t do flavorful, and I certainly wouldn’t do you.” So much for the diffusion game plan.

His eyes flickered something I didn’t understand as he violently grabbed me by my shoulders.

“Who said I was giving you a choice?”

I not only saw, but felt, what he intended.
Not again. Please, God, not again. No, no, no, no, not again.
I was paralyzed by my fear. I didn’t shout. I didn’t run. I stared into the face of a psycho and did nothing. I felt the tears stinging the back of my eyes and then it happened again. My vision started to narrow and go dark. I was going to pick that time to blackout.
Classic. That would give him exactly what he wanted; an easy excuse to carry me out of here unquestioned and go do whatever sick things he was planning on. Focus. Focus! Do not do this. Fight!
But it was no use. There was no fight in me, giving truth to the old adage: those who don’t learn from history really are doomed to repeat it.



That single thought resonated through me as I felt a warm presence envelop me from behind. I slowly regained my vision and saw two strong and heroic hands reach around me, grabbing the offender’s wrists to pry his hands off of me.

“She doesn’t seem to want to buy what you’re selling,” my savior said. I couldn’t see his face but something about him was commanding. He compelled my restrainer to do his bidding with an energy so powerful the hair on the back of my neck raised to attention. He emanated power. There was no threat of violence in his aura, though judging by the size and strength of his hands he was no doubt capable of it. Captain Creepy slowly withdrew his hands without taking his eyes off of my hero.

“It seems as though you’re interrupting our conversation,” Creepy growled.

“I think your conversation is very much over. I think you’re going to leave here immediately and never come back. I think if you don’t, there will be a price to pay, and you can’t afford it. Am I making myself clear?” Hero asked.

Something new flashed through Creepy’s face.
He’s afraid.
He paused for a moment, flashed me an evil grin, then turned slowly and walked away without a word.

I hadn’t realized that I was shaking until one of those amazing arms reached around across my chest and gently drew me back to his wall of strength. It was a friendly gesture with no hint of sexuality. Comforting. It took me a moment to realize that he had been talking to me. He leaned over my shoulder and spoke directly into my ear.

“Are you OK?”

I nodded.

“Did he hurt you?”

I shook my head no. He chuckled and his chest shook against my back.

BOOK: Caged
12.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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