Author's notes, disclaimers and other warnings: So I was on twitter the other night wondering if there were any good kidnapping stories. I was pointed in the direction of a few, but some enablers suggested I should write one.
See, this is what happens when I then relate this story to GinnyW who pulls plot bunnies out of my head like a magician pulls rabbits from a hat. SIGH. I love her. I do. And she's a genius, as she will often tell me. Hehehe.
So fair warning. This is gonna be dark. I choose not to put detailed warnings in my a/n's, but if you have a question please feel free to ask.
I am not Stephenie Meyer; I am merely playing with her beautiful toys.
Dinner was going surprisingly well. At least, Bella Swan wasn't hating it as much as she expected.
Her date, Mike Newton, was nice enough - generic, but nice. He was moderately attractive and mildly interesting. She wasn't particularly intrigued but she wasn't bored either.
"It's all a little strange, to be honest," she mused at one of his questions. "I'm not a big fan of dating on the Internet." She wasn't really a fan of dating period, but that was another story. "It still seems odd to me. No offense."
The blond man waved his hand. "None taken. I've never gotten one of my girls from an online dating site. It's going to be a new experience for me, too."
Odd, Bella thought, blinking because his words didn't quite make sense. But before she had time to dwell on his bizarre choice of words, Mike began to ramble on, discussing the different surveys the site they met on had them take. Bella had spent more nights than she cared to remember just trying to puzzle out the algorithms - how the site claimed to match people based on common interests.
Her mother had always told her good relationships should be based on common interests above everything else.
"See. Even Sleeping Beauty and her Prince were interested in dancing with total strangers in the woods. Sometimes, that's all it takes, sweet pea!"
But, her mother had added, love took a spark that could never be explained away by anything logical.
Bella still remembered her mother's voice in her ear as they read fairytales at bedtime. Her heart twisted painfully in her chest, and she quickly shook thoughts of her mother's creative stories away. Now wasn't the time for that particular ache.
"It cuts out so much work, doesn't it?" Mike asked, leaning across the table slightly.
"What's that?" What were they talking about? Bella scrambled to remember the last thing he said.
"Well, we know we agree on so many things right off the bat. We have so much in common."
His ice blue eyes were so earnest, what could Bella do but smile and nod? This guy is a little weird.
Bella inwardly admonished herself for that less than charitable thought. Everyone was just a little bit weird, weren't they? She'd promised Rose she would give this guy a chance.
Either way, it would get her best friend off her back for another five years or so. Bella kept trying to tell Rosalie she didn't need a significant other to be happy. That never seemed to deter her friend.
All in all, while Bella couldn't say she was having a terrible time, she wasn't particularly impressed.
Rose often lamented that Bella was jaded in love without having any reason to be. In truth, that was very far from the case. If only because her mother's voice was never far away, Bella absolutely believed the magic of love existed. But as much as her mother instilled in her a far away belief in fanciful ideas, her steadfast father had kept her grounded in reality.
She saw the world through both her parents' eyes. Like her mother, she saw the power and magic of love, the endurance of the human spirit, the power of mystical things. But her father's firm grip on reality meant she also knew love didn't stop the world from being so real. People would still be imperfect. Love couldn't keep people from making mistakes or being hurt. And sometimes, the good guys were going to lose.
Life wasn't all magic and happy endings.
So Bella simply preferred not to live with her head in the clouds, dreaming like Sleeping Beauty of the day a person just perfect for her would waltz into her life once upon a dream. She had other aspirations besides love, and her life was happy even if her bed was empty.
Maybe it was silly, but Bella had no desire to nurse a lukewarm connection just for the sake of not being alone.
When her date with Mike came to an end, she had every intention of wishing him a good night and never seeing him again. She hoped he wouldn't expect anything, that if he felt a desire to ask her out again he would wait until they were safely behind their computer screens. It would be less awkward and easier to let him down gently when they weren't face to face.
Outside the restaurant, Mike turned to her, taking both her hands in his. She tensed, about to yank her hands back, but he held her in an alarmingly strong grip. Her eyes darted to his, and Bella was momentarily befuddled by his absolutely serene expression. His smile was gentle.
All at once, Bella felt so entirely overcome by fear, she was utterly frozen, her thoughts too muddled to process why she suddenly wanted to run away far and fast. She stood still as he leaned in, brushing her cheek with his lips. "We're going to see each other very soon. Very, very soon, pretty Bella," he whispered against her ear.
Then he let her go, wishing her good night and walking away, whistling, without looking back.
It took Bella a few seconds to realize she was trembling. She rubbed the back of her neck self-consciously, confused that she was so shaken. Ridiculously, tears pricked her eyes, and it was a minute before she remembered how to walk. She stumbled to her car almost drunkenly.
As she drove home, Bella couldn't quite shake the eerie feeling that had come over her. She was covered in gooseflesh, her thoughts tinged around the edges with paranoia.
But surely she was being ridiculous. It wasn't as though Mike had hurt her. For pity's sake, he'd only kissed her cheek.
Why on earth was she so creeped out?
And she was, too. It felt as though her flesh was crawling, like she was covered in some invisible slime that made her feel filthy. It was the furthest thing from pleasant, that feeling.
By the time she pulled up to her little house, she'd convinced herself she was just a touch crazy. Mike hadn't done anything untoward, and she would never have to see him again besides. Whatever this was, it was an overreaction to Mike's minor invasion of her personal bubble space.
Taking a deep breath, she got out of her car. Though she'd never before been scared of the blackness of the forest that surrounded her house, it seemed oddly sinister now and she glanced about nervously, her mind making frighting shapes out of the dark shadows.
It was all she could do to keep herself from darting to her front door like a child running away from thunder. She made herself take a deep breath. She took a step, determined to keep her pace to a normal gait, only to clap a hand over her mouth, smothering a yelp when she heard a commotion in the bushes.
Just a cat. Get a fucking grip, Swan.
Shaking her head, she dug out her phone. She sent Rose a quick text, being vague.
Date was fine. Home. Yes, alone. See you Friday.
Just as she was putting her phone back in her purse, beginning to search for her keys, she heard another rustle and the unmistakable sound of quick footfalls a split second before she found both her arms pinned to her sides. She gasped, feeling a prick and a sting at her neck. Just as she geared up to scream, a hand came up, grasping her roughly over her mouth.
"It's okay. Calm down. Just breathe deep."
Bella's blood ran cold as she recognized the voice.
She thrashed, trying desperately to loose his arms from around her.
"Take it easy, Bella. Just take it easy now, sweet girl. You're gonna get sleepy in just a few seconds here. Just relax. Don't fight it."
She fought it. She fought it ferociously for as little good as it would do her. He was right. Whatever he'd stuck her neck with was burning through her veins, but she could feel her body getting sluggish. She shook her head hard, her screams muffled against his hand.
"There you go. Yeah. You're okay, sweet girl. It's gonna be just fine. I have you now," he continued to coo at her nonsensically as her spastic jerks dwindled. Her vision was blurring around the edges. She was slumping - slumping in his arms down toward the dirt floor of the forest that surrounded her house.
When had she gotten so far away from the drive?
Bella struggled, but her eyelids felt so heavy. Thoughts were turning to mush in her head. Even her panic was fading away. Everything was fading away.
She was on the ground and he was touching her face. She could see his ice blue eyes. They were so calm. It seemed wrong. So wrong. "You and me, Bella girl. We're going to have such a good time together. You'll see. You're the one. I think you really are the one."
She wanted to scream out her terror, but her tongue was too thick in her mouth. The sound came out as more of a groan.
The blur encroached on her vision and everything faded to blackness.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who encouraged me. This is going to be a very bumpy ride.
Thoughts? Fears? Hopes? Reactions?