The cardboard box in Marie’s front seat jingled as the car came to a halt. It had recently been filled with her personal items from a cramped desk after she was emailed a layoff notice. She sighed as she yanked her purse from beneath it and left the car.
Woody’s was her normal haunt on the weekends, a means of celebrating her often short-lived weekends with her friends. During the week, like this particular Wednesday, the place resembled a ghost town.
“Whiskey, please. Make it a double,” she said, perching on one of the lesser worn stools at the end of the bar. The bartender, one of the weekday workers, poured the drink swiftly and slid it in front of her. Marie downed the drink in one gulp.
“Another one, please.”
“Looks like you had the same kind of day I had,” said the man several seats away.
She hadn’t noticed him, at first. She’d been too preoccupied with her drink choice before deciding it didn’t matter; it wasn’t as if she had to work in the morning. Now, looking at him, he was far more attractive than his surroundings. “Well, I just lost a really cushy job. Of course, they wanted me to finish the day first,” she said, taking a sip from the fresh glass in front of her.
“I guess we both learned how little we matter today,” he said. His words stung a little deeper than she expected.
“I’m sorry. My girlfriend…she left me today,” he said, shaking his head before sipping the clear drink in front of him.
“Her loss,” Marie said, raising her glass and taking a sip as well. The man wiped his hand on his jeans before extending it to Marie, leaning across the seats between them.
“Jefferson,” he said with a grin.
Marie’s foot didn’t quite make it over the threshold, sending her tumbling into Jefferson’s back. They both burst out into drunken laughter at her blunder, reaching out and holding one another up for stability as they crossed the parking lot.
“Miss Watson, I do believe you are sauced,” he said in a faux accent, sending Marie into a fit of laughter.
“And you, you’re completely fine,” Marie said, swatting his arm playfully.
“Hey, I’m flying,” he said, his hand running over his face.
“There’s my car,” Marie pointed, before steering him in the Accord’s direction.
“Oh no, you need a cab,” he said, yanking her hand back. She bumped into him again and leaned into his chest.
“We can always go back to your place,” she said before pulling him into a heavy kiss. He kissed her back before she fell limp into his arms, unconscious.
The rabbit looked back at her with empty button eyes, an oddity Marie didn’t recognize. Her head had lolled to the side and as she straightened, she realized she’d been strapped to a chair in a stange basement.
“Hey…hey! What the hell?!” She struggled against the thick, black straps to no avail. The thudding above made her even more desperate to escape. She’d alerted her kidnapper that she was awake. She quickly surveyed the room for a way out when he appeared in the doorway.
“I thought you’d sleep all night,” he said with a grin.
“What is this?” Marie plead, yanking on her restraints.
“This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” he said, running his hands through her hair. She tried to move away but he grabbed a fistful of her hair and turned her head towards him roughly.
“Has anyone told you that you’re incredibly beautiful? Of course they have, that’s why you’re here,” he said, releasing her roughly and moving away.
“You don’t have to do this, Jefferson. You still have a choice to walk away here,” Marie said, shifting into survival mode. She’d watched enough documentaries to know that screaming and crying often angered hostage takers and turned them into murderers.
“Oh, I’ve already made my choice,” he said, adjusting the tripod in front of her.
“You can let me go. I promise I’ll just go home. This will be our little secret. No one has to know,” Marie said, losing control of her tears.
Jefferson laughed as he turned to face her, sending pangs of pure fear through Marie.
“That’s not how this works.”
The bride took another shot of tequila before she approached the clean-cut man, her heart pounding in her ears. Her friends loved torturing her and the dare game only gave them more ammunition to make her approach a good-looking stranger. “Hi, I don’t mean to be forward, but my friends and I were wondering if you’d like to join us. Looks like you had a rough night,” she said. He turned to her and smirked slightly.
“It could be better. My girlfriend left me,” he said.
“Our gain, right? I’m Alicia,” she said, reaching out to shake his hand.