Blindly, I run across the lot. As I round the corner, I run smack into someone as they are coming the opposite direction.
“Tessa? Are you okay?”
I glance up through the stream of tears to see a blurry image of Gerald. “No, no. I just want to go home.” I push off his chest and stumble backward, then turn and flee the opposite direction without saying a word, ignoring Gerald’s plea of confusion as the distance between us widens. I pray he won’t follow. I just want to get away from this place.
I keep running until I’m at least a few blocks away. Winded, fatigued, and little sick to my stomach, I stop. I lean against the wall of a building, taking in sharp gasps of air, and look around. Thankfully, Gerald didn’t follow. Where am I? Terin. I left Terin back at the club. I can’t go back there. I’ll have to call her and let her know I’ve gone home. She’ll be fine.
My phone? Where is my phone? It was in my handbag. I had my handbag when I left the club with Tom. Shit. It must be in his car. Fear, pain, shame, anger, guilt, all well up tight within my chest and rise until I feel as if I will go mad. I run my fingers through my hair and cry so hard I start to gag again. I want to puke. Get that man out of me. Get him out!
“Can I help you? Are you okay?”
Startled, I spin around. The man from the library is standing at the corner, maybe fifteen feet away. My crying wanes as muddled thoughts spin around in my mind, trying to make sense of it all. Why is he here? Did he follow me from the club? His brow is pinched with a look of concern. He takes a step forward. “Are you okay?”
My knees and hands are trembling violently. “I’m…I’m fine.” I drag both hands across my face, swiping away the tears.
He takes another step forward. “Are you sure? You seem upset. Are you ill?”
I take a step back. I don’t want any further interaction tonight. I’ve had more than enough. All I want to do is go home. And this guy…he seems friendly, but he freaks me out. “No, really. I’m fine. I’m just on my way home.”
Another step forward. “Do you need a ride?”
Another step back. Why won’t anyone listen to me? “No. I’m fi…”
Something is pulled over my head from behind. The world is dark and muffled. I scream. Hands go around my waist. My arms arc outward, side to side, hoping to hit anything in my path. What is happening? Fear, stark and white, drains the blood from my head to my toes. I’m dizzy.
Voices bark out sharp orders but I’m flailing about and screaming so I can’t make out what they’re saying. Another set of hands grab my legs and pull them out from under me so now I’m being carried by two men…one by my waist and the other by my legs. I writhe and twist. I have to get out of this. I need to get away. What is happening? My breath plumes in and out in short, hot gasps inside the small bag over my head. Claustrophobia flares up. A stronger wave of panic follows. I’m…going…to pass…out.