Wherever I am when I wake up, it's dark.

Can't see your hand in front of your face dark, blind as a bat dark.

The muscles in my shoulders pinch and ache, and my hands are numb. When I try to wiggle my fingers, I understand the reason.

My hands are tightly bound behind me, wrist bone to wrist bone, at the small of my back with something that feels a little like fishing line.


Probably not of the good.

I pull a little on my restraints, checking for any sign of weakness or elasticity. They don't budge, and all I succeed in doing is driving the fishing line-like material deeper into my wrists.

Not of the good at all.

I stop struggling and inhale deeply, which is when I realize that there's tape over my mouth.

Trying not to panic, I take another deep breath in through my nose, drawing as much air into my lungs as I can and exhaling in what I hope is a calming manner.

I wrinkle my nose up.

There's a smell. It's so strong that I'm not sure how I didn't notice it right off the bat. It's a combination of a lot of different things, but the strongest is cigarettes and that oaky, astringent scent I remember from my dad's Bourbon phase.

There's a hint of leather, and also a sort of wet dirt smell.

And I'm moving. Or rather, the sticky cushion I'm laying on, which I'm pretty sure at this point is the backseat of a car, is moving.

I whip my head from side to side, searching for something, anything in the pitch black to help me get my bearings.

It's at this point that I realize why everything is so dark.


I'm blindfolded.

I do a quick re-cap in my head of everything I've learned in last fifteen seconds.

Oh, boy.

I rack my brain, thinking back to earlier in the day. I have no way of knowing how long I've been out, and my brain is too muddled to remember much past these last few moments


Work brain.

I can't remember anything. It's like someone sucked out everything in my head with a vacuum cleaner.

I mentally retrace my steps.


Oh, no.

I remember. I remember how I ended up here. I remember how I let it happen. I remember who I was with before.

I remember who my kidnapper is.

I know him.

Isn't that what they say? 90% of kidnappees know who they're kidnapper is?

Or is that murder victims?

Ok, let's not with the murder victim.

Calm down.

I hear his voice drift back to me, softly, barely audible over the sounds of the stereo in what I'm assuming is the front seat. I recognize it.

Except I don't. Not really, It's hard to know for sure.

Everything's dark and muddled and hazy and I'm trying hard to keep myself firmly in the land of not panicking, but it's not working.

I'm on the verge of the world's biggest wig.

What have I gotten myself into?

"Dad, I'm leaving!" I call out as I barrel down the staircase, trying to slip on my pumps as I go and failing miserably. I have to stop at the bottom of the stairs and slip them on.

My dad walks around the corner coming from the kitchen and eyes me up and down.

I roll my eyes when he frowns.

"It's a little low cut, isn't it?"

I give him a look, raising my eyebrows, and fluff my hair one last time.

"It's a turtleneck."

"A see-through turtleneck."

I have to laugh.

He has a point. Although to be fair, it isn't see through. It's just a little sheer.

Sheer lace.

Sheer black lace.

"Only a little." I say, smiling sweetly at him, then Vanna White my top. "And hey, wearing a camisole."

"Thank God for small favors." He grumps.

Dad has a history of being the world's strictest parent. After I graduated high school, he practically begged me to stay in town and live at home, attending UC Sunnydale. Then again, after graduation, he'd demanded I come and work for him, claiming it was the smartest way for me to save money and gain work experience.

I've never minded spending the extra time with my Dad. He'd been lonely, I know, raising me on his own. Ever since mom walked out...

But we never talk about mom.

"Well, it is the third date after all." I tease him,smoothing the hem of my black lace dress down over my legs. I appraise myself in the long mirror beside the front door.

Dad scowls at me in the reflection.

I smile and turn around to face him.

"Buffy," he warns.

I come up to him and tug on his arm lovingly. "Oh, relax. I'll be perfectly behaved." I grin at him. "Behaving Buffy."

He's still scowling, but his eyes are bright. I lean over and peck him on the cheek.

I'm running late. Really late.

The thing I said about it being the third date was only half a joke.

I would kinda like to know what a girl has to do to get a solid kiss on the lips.

"So, you'll be home by midnight?" Dad asks my back as I turn to the coat rack and grab my black shoulder bag.

I heave a sigh.

Overprotective really doesn't even scratch the surface of this man.

"I'll be home when the date's over." I clarify. Then shrug, winking at him. "Whenever that is."

He looks like he's about to argue with me, so I cut him off before he can with a gentle squeeze of his arm.

"I'm twenty-four years old, Dad." I smile warmly. "I'll be fine."

I turn away from him, rifling through my bag to make sure I have my phone and wallet. "Besides, you liked this guy, remember?"

"Just don't forget to check in." He reminds me, handing me my missing phone.

I smile, place it in my bag, agreeing to check in if it gets too late.

But I assure him again that I'll be just fine.

I give him a final hug and dash out the door, throwing a promise over my shoulder to again check in if my plans change.

When I arrive at the restaurant, I see him immediately.

He's already seated at cozy looking booth by the window, his hands folded together and placed on the tabletop in front of him. He's fidgeting, as I've noticed he tends to do. He looks just the slightest bit more nervous than usual, and I wonder what it could be that has him so twitchy.

He hasn't seen me yet, but from where I'm standing I can see what looks like a bottle of champagne chilling at the center of the table.

I have a smile on my face as the hostess guides me around to our table.

He has this sweet, slightly sheepish grin on his face when he stands up to pull my chair out for me. He leans in and presses a small, chaste kiss to my cheek and I tamp down the little surge of disappointment I feel that he didn't aim for my lips.

But he's just so shy, and I should have expected this.

"You look lovely tonight, Buffy." He says, reaching for the already uncorked champagne bottle and tilting it to my glass.

I smile, taking in the sight of him.

Starched white dress shirt, navy jacket. Horn rimmed glasses frame blue eyes, and his platinum colored curls are resting across his forehead, as if he's placed them there on purpose.

"You don't look half bad, yourself." I say, smiling. "William."

This night is not going exactly as I'd like it to.

Willam is being his usual overly polite, gentle self.

Which is great, really.

But also a little boring.

One of the things that had first attracted me to William had been his polite demeanor. He'd apparently found my umbrella, saying that he'd seen me leave it beneath my seat at the local coffee house, and had chased three blocks after me to give it back.

He'd been stammering and breathing hard, pushing his glasses up his, mop of platinum curls falling in his eyes. Endearing, and charming in his own way.

So, even though he wasn't my normal type, I'd agreed instantly when he'd asked me out to dinner the following night.

And when he'd asked me out again, after that.

And again after that.

I had kept thinking, each time we'd see each other, that he'd eventually come out of his shell.

I'm starting to think I was wrong.

I smile at him and let him order dessert for us, taking another sip of champagne, hoping if he drinks a little more of his he'll finally loosen up.

He turns his eyes back to me, and I can see how very blue they are behind the lenses of his glasses.

Not for the first time, I wonder what he'd look like with contacts.

"Are you having a good time?" He asks, giving me a small smile.

I smile back and nod. "Yes, very much."

It might be a lie. I'm not sure.

I do like him.

Maybe I just need more time?

He's the first man I've gone on any real dates with since college, and the first man I've met that dad has actually approved of after meeting him.

Probably a little something to do with him being of the non-threatening variety.

"Have you been having any luck at work recently? Make any new world changing discoveries?" He asks me, smiling, leaning back to take a sip of champagne.

Something…different flashes in his eyes, but it's gone before I can think too much about it.

"Not really," I sigh, exhaling through my nose.

More work talk?

"Still sorta stuck on trying to re-create those chemical compounds. Dad and I've been doing some extra work with them lately, but nothing's panned out so far." I shrug, wrinkling my nose. "They sort of explode a lot."

I frown, looking down at the table. William's always taken an interest in my work, which I've never really understood.

"It's really not all that exciting." I say, hoping to steer the conversation in a different direction. Dad's told me so many times, over and over again since I started working for him, that the work we're doing is basically top secret.

Strictly need to know.

William is decidedly of the not needing.

"I think everything about you is exciting, pet."

My eyes whip up to meet his, and there's that flash again. This is the first time I've ever heard him use this tone of voice.

I've never heard him purr before.

I swallow hard, my mouth dry now. "Really?"

I manage not to sound completely lame when I respond.

He smirks at me over the rim of the champagne flute he's holding, his long fingers draped almost delicately around the stem. I watch as he leans forward and sets it down on the table, tilting his head slightly.

I can't tear my eyes away from his lips, twisted in that knowing smirk, and suddenly I'm leaning forward, too.

"Yes," he purrs again, his accent thickening, voice like molten honey, "really."

So quickly that I think I might have imagined the whole thing, his usual gentlemanly smile slips back into place and he leans back, leaving me bewildered as our waitress returns and places the small tray of beautifully decorated berries in between us.

She asks us a question but I don't hear her, mind reeling, too busy reevaluating everything I've come to think I know about the man sitting across from me.

Maybe not so boring after all?

The teasing words to my dad from earlier float back to my ears.

It is the third date, after all.

I start to feel dizzy, a hot flush warming my cheeks.

"Are you alright, Buffy?"

And just like that, he's back to the William I'm used to. Overly polite, brow furrowed in concern as he gazes at me from behind the rims of his glasses.

But his eyes are sparkling, and the blue is darker now.

The room tilts in a funny way, and I watch him closely. For a moment I swear his eyes turn black.

"Y-yeah," I stammer, shaking my head to clear it. "I'm f-fine. I just—" A wave of nausea hits me out of nowhere, cutting me off. I inhale sharply and brace my hands on the edge of the table.

William is up and out of his chair in an instant. His hands are on my arms, lifting me up out of the chair so quickly I'm on my feet before I can think to tell him what's going on. He's murmuring something to our waitress as we pass her, his arm a steel band around my waist. He's half dragging me with him through the restaurant.

He's so strong.

My head is spinning by the time we reach the street and the nausea has only gotten worse and any second now I'm sure I'm going to vomit pink champagne all over William's expensive suit if he doesn't loosen his grip on me.

And then suddenly we stop, and we're in the dark of an alleyway about a block down from the restaurant.

I have no idea how we've managed to move so fast. I'm heaving in deep, ragged breaths and he's whipping me around to face him. Hiis hands come to rest on either side of my head, tilting it to the right and then to left.

For a moment I think he's simply going to cradle my face in his hands but instead he begins using his fingers to force my eyes open.

I hadn't even noticed that I'd closed them until now.

His hands are rough as he holds my head still and looks back and forth from one wide eye to the other, muttering curses under his breath. I'm more confused than I was a moment ago, and his eyes are so cold, and the sidewalk is spinning, spinning, spinning and I can't breathe.

I can't breathe.

By the time I realize that the reason for this is because William has both his arms banded tightly around my ribcage in a vice, I'm already losing consciousness.

He's crushing me to him in a mockery of a lover's embrace.

I try to scream and can't. There's no air.

Through the haze and my blurred vision I manage to lock eyes with him just once more before everything goes black.

His eyes glow golden.