Believe it or not, this wasn’t that uncommon.
When you did what I did for a living, it was merely a hazard of the job. Something you had to prepare for, sure, but most of the time, easily dealt with.
You know how it goes.
A bit of flirting here. Some cleavage shots there. The next thing you know, you’re walking away scot-free, beer in hand, ready to hit the town. It was amazing how far a little memory loss could get you. And that was mostly the case here. Jake wouldn’t remember. Of that much, I felt certain. But the big beef cake in front of me? He could cause some trouble.
I’d have to spin this.
“Hey!” I said, adding a bit of slur to my voice. I swiped the pack of cigarettes out of his hand and lit up. “So, this is awkward…”
Beef Cake stiffened and Jake walked up beside him. He was still staring at me, but it wasn’t just a “Hey, I think we had sex once,” stare. No. This was different.
Something wasn’t right here.
I glanced around and took some comfort from the others in line. These two might be wastes of space, but they weren’t stupid. They wouldn’t start anything with this many people around to witness.
As if to test my theory, Beef Cake stepped closer. He must have been at least six foot four, two-fifty. I’d been in worse situations, sure. But if he was going for menacing, it was working. “I think you owe us some money,” he said, then added, “slut.”
My eyes whipped up to meet his. It felt like I’d been slapped. Not from the word – I’d been called much worse – but from the suggestion. Did they know? How could they? And what did he mean, owe us? None of this made any sense.
I didn’t even have to fake confusion.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “It was just sex – and bad sex at that.” I flicked my cigarette to the ground, glaring at Jake as I did, and snubbed it out with the bottom of my shoe. Then I walked away.
At least, I tried.
Beef Cake grabbed my wrist and squeezed. Hard. “You stupid bitch, we -”
Suddenly, it was as if the music had cut off. The couple beside me stopped making out and looked over. The others in line started to take interest as well. Beef Cake shrugged off their glances. He leaned in close, dropping his voice to a low growl. “We know. Now give us the money.”
A shiver ran down my spine. All at once, I noticed just how loud the music was, how disorienting the strobe lights were.
How empty, my pockets.
It’d been years since I carried anything with me on these runs. Mace, knives, tasers. I simply hadn’t needed them. Things had gotten so…easy, so certain. And now here I was. Cornered, frightened. Hoping others would do my fighting for me. I wanted to believe I’d left all this behind.
The trouble was – I was beginning to think I never could.
I shelved those thoughts and leveled my best death stare at Beef Cake. “Let go of me,” I said. “Now.” I tugged at my arm, but his gorilla fingers didn’t let up.
Instead, he turned to Jake, who seemed to be having some kind of silent fit, and nudged him. “Get a grip, moron. You know it’s her. You saw the video.”
And then it all made sense. When I’d gone to the bathroom that night – the asshole – he must have taped me. And if that was the case, if they really had a recording of it all, then they’d know everything. They’d know I’d drugged Jake. They’d know I’d stolen his money.
Everything had just gotten a hell of lot worse.
“I…” Jake said, “I don’t…” His eyes shifted from me to Beef Cake, his forehead creased with uncertainty.
I knew the look. I’d seen it before, on other post-hookup run-ins. He was trying to connect the dots, trying to reconcile the girl he saw in front of him with the bits and pieces of last night. Me with the girl from the video.
He stared right through me, as if he were looking at a ghost. And really, he was. I was something lost to his dreams. Something he couldn’t quite grasp. Under different circumstances, I might have felt bad for him.
But right now, pity wasn’t high on the list of things I needed to worry about.
This was bad.
And it could only get worse from here. I chanced another look at Beef Cake. His eyes met my own and I saw it there. Certainty. Not just about last night, about who I was and what I’d done, but also about now – what I was going to do.
I raised my voice a little louder than necessary, playing to the room.
“I said let go of me, asshole.”
A trio of guys from the front of the line looked back at us. They’d been watching my exchange with Beef Cake and I’d wondered what it would take to get them involved. This seemed to have done the trick. They left the line and walked toward us.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Check mate.
“Is there a problem here?” the guy in front said. He was tall, about six-three and well built. He wore tight fitting gray jeans and a button down half-tucked into his belt.
Beef Cake glanced between us and smirked. He knew he was beaten. Slowly, and with a bit of flair, he let go of my hand and raised his own in the jive for relax. “No, no problem here, man,” he said.
“Good. Now why don’t you step away from the girl.”
I rubbed my wrist. It was raw where the goon’s fingers had dug into me. I looked back at him. He was still watching me with that stupid smirk plastered across his face, as if to say, “Yeah, I know, sweetie. Better watch your back.”
I felt a hand on my shoulder and it took me a second to realize who it was. The new guy. My White Knight. He seemed genuinely concerned and I knew I should have been more thankful – he had, after all, just saved my ass – but I couldn’t be bothered. I was still reeling over what had happened. I’d been found out, and there was a video of it, to boot.
After years of sliding by without a hitch, I wasn’t prepared for something like this. For once, I didn’t know what to do.
My only thought was to run.
“Yeah,” I said, not taking my eyes of Beef Cake. “Thanks.”
I walked back down the hallway until I was sure I was out of sight, then I broke into a run. My head was spinning. My composure broken. I barely noticed as I shouldered past people, squeezing my way through the crowd toward the exit of the club.
I couldn’t remember ever being claustrophobic, but right then, I felt the weight of everyone around me. They pressed in from all sides, loud and drunk and toxic, their mere presence suffocating. Suddenly, I couldn’t get out fast enough.
I needed to leave. Skip town. I wouldn’t be able to pull any more jobs in Jacksonhole. As for the video? I’d have to hope Jake was too nervous to show it to people. It was, after all, an attempted sex tape. There had to be some law against that, right? The last thing I needed was for that to go viral.
I broke through the crowd of students at the door and breathed in the night air. It smelled faintly of chocolate. Some peculiar side effect of the downtown factories, I figured. I hugged myself tight against the cold and looked around. I knew I was only a mile or two from the hotel, but I hadn’t counted on it being so dark out. Everything looked the same. Even the cross signs looked foreign.
I tried to focus, but failed miserably. I kept getting flashes of Jake, of last night. The frat house. His room. The laptop? How had I missed that?
Overhead, the street light changed from red to green and I caught sight of one of the downtown lofts. I had no idea why, but it seemed familiar. Either way, it was as good a lead as any. I was getting antsy just standing there.
I took off down the street, angling between apartment buildings. Two blocks away, some construction forced me to change directions. I looked up, checking to make sure I was at least getting closer to the loft, then cut into a nearby parking lot.
It was pitch black, the only lighting at all coming from the nearby work site. So as I walked, I squinted, barely catching glimpses of the cars as I passed them. Really, the only indication I was making any headway at all was the grainy crunch of my shoes against the gravel.
I guessed I was about halfway through the lot when I heard something that made my stomach turn.
A second set of crunches.
I glanced over my shoulder, but couldn’t make anything out in the darkness. My heart raced. The crunches grew louder.
Whoever it was, I could hear him now, breathing, panting. He was close. Almost on top of me. I pumped my legs harder, but it was no use. I felt fingers rake acoss my shirt. There was a tug and I was whipped onto my back, hitting my head against the gravel.
Then he was on me. It was Beef Cake, and he was laughing. I kicked and scratched, screaming for him to get off me, but he didn’t stop. Instead, he wound up and slapped me full across the face.
I went silent. Blood leaked into the corner of my mouth where he’d cut my lip. I could taste it, bitter and metalic.
“You sure did a number on Jake,” he said, wagging a finger at me. “But you don’t fool me.”
“Look,” I managed to say, though his weight was making it hard to breath. “I don’t have the money on me.”
He smiled. “No?”
“I can get it. Okay? Just let me go.”
He pretended to think about it, but I knew the truth. This wasn’t about the money. I could smell the liquor on his breath, could feel his excitement through his pants, pressing up against me.
He’d never let me go. The thought hit me like a sucker punch.
I shouldn’t have been rational then. I should have been a quivering shell of a girl, ready to beg, or maybe, to give up. But in that moment, caught at wits end, I started to think straight. At least, more clearly. Maybe it was the head-jolt knocking some sense into me. Maybe it was simply fear of what was to come if I didn’t get away. Whatever the reason, suddenly, my brain started working. I knew what I needed to do.
I searched the ground with my hands, as Beef Cake looked down at me, eyeing my way-too-short skirt.
“I think we can find a different way to settle your debt.”
I smiled up at him and said, “I think you can go fuck yourself.”
In one fluid motion, I grabbed hold of the rock and struck Beef Cake across the jaw with it. There was a loud crack and he fell to the side, cursing.
I didn’t waste any time. I rolled out from beneath him and scrambled to my feet. My mind was racing. I could barely process it all, barely felt my feet beneath me. So when I ran, ignoring the blood dripping down my cheek and the sight of Beef Cake getting up behind me, I was thankful my instincts knew what to do.
Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last.
Despite his size, Beef Cake was fast. He caught up to me and threw me into the nearest car.
“You stupid bitch,” he said, his voice slurred. “Now you’re gonna get it.”
Before I could react, he grabbed my hair and spun me around, bending me over the hood. His other hand snaked its way around my mouth, turning my scream into a muffled whimper.
Without mercy, memories, old and horrible, flooded my mind. A dark alleyway. An old restaurant. Another hand, dirty and sinister, clutched around my mouth. Stop! I couldn’t focus. Image after image sped past my eyes, a slideshow I couldn’t look away from.
I started to beg and he laughed, his hand shifting from my hair to my ass. I felt him tug my skirt up to my waist, felt the chill air on my exposed skin. And when his hand slid between my legs, I truly wanted to die.
I was ready to give up, then I heard it.
Someone running on the gravel.
“Hey! Get the fuck away from her!”
Beef Cake lifted himself off me and I slid down the hood. I looked up just in time to see Kevin take a wild swing. He missed badly, losing his balance in the process, and when Beef Cake returned the punch, he wasn’t ready.
It was over in an instant. With a sickening thump, Kevin went limp and collapsed.
But I hadn’t been idle.
Beef Cake turned around and I saw his mouth open in surprise as I whipped my leg forward and kicked him in the knee. It snapped backward at a grotesque angle and he fell to the ground.
“Fuck,” he screamed, trying to get to his feet. “I’m going to -”
I didn’t give two shits what he was going to do. I took a running start and lashed out with my leg, kicking him straight in the face. This time, he went down for good. All two-hundred and fifty pounds of him.
It was over.
I walked back to the car and slid down the side. I wanted to cry, but I bit my lip to stop myself. I was stronger than that.
Next to me, Kevin started to moan. I knew he’d wake soon, so I got up and kneeled by Beef Cake, suppressing the urge to spit on him. I padded down his jeans. His wallet was there, in his back pocket, but there was something else, tucked neatly into his waist. A baggie of some sort.
“Ow. Shit… Rainey?”
I glanced over my shoulder. Kevin was getting to his feet, clutching his jaw. Quickly, I slid the baggie and the cash from the Beef Cake’s wallet inbetween my cleavage. Then I walked over and helped Kevin up.
“Damn,” He said, looking at me and then at Beef Cake. He whistled. “Nice work.”
I tried to smile, but it came out as more of a grimace. I reached out and touched the side of his face. It was already started to swell. “You okay?”
He laughed. “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be asking you that,” he said.
I shrugged. “How did you find me?”
“Mark saw you leave the club. He said you looked upset, so I went after you.”
Kevin grew serious. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“What do you think?” He said, as he dialed three numbers and placed the phone to his ear. “I’m calling the police.”
I grabbed the phone out of his hand and ended the call, ignoring the look of utter surprise he gave me. How could I explain this? I’d made it this far by laying low, flying under the radar. The last thing I needed now was the police to be involved. And that’s not even to mention the money and what I was pretty sure were drugs stashed between my tits.
Police? Yeah, screw that.
“Look,” I said slowly. “I don’t want the cops involved.”
“Are you crazy? That guy just tried to -”
“I know. I know.” I raised my hands. “I just… I can’t deal with it right now, Okay? Just get me out of here. Please.”
Kevin looked at me for a long moment, then finally nodded. “Alright,” he said. “But we’re going to at least report it to the school tomorrow.”
I gave him a sad smile. Tomorrow would be too late. When he woke, his jaw would hurt like a bitch and he’d have a splitting headache, but he wouldn’t remember anything about tonight.
I only wished I would be so lucky.
He seemed satisfied. I handed him back his phone and he slipped it into his jeans. Then he looked at me and said, “Where do you live? I’m walking you home.”
I shifted uncomfortably. “Can we go to your place? I, ah… I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
It was the truth, and I hated myself for it.
Kevin put his arm around me and I beat down the urge to flinch.
“Sure, Rainey. Whatever you want.”
Hey all. Just FYI, but this chapter has been changed. I’ve been doing my best to stifle the urge to go back and edit since this is, after all, a web serial, but this needed to happen. I think this new version is much, much stronger (it’s also twice as long). So if you’ve read 1.03 before this post, then you might want to take a shot at what’s posted now. If you’re a new reader, then I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
Oof. That’s rough. She… Is she gonna rob him? It will determine what sort of protagonist we really have.
Rainey is over-reacting about being filmed. What did the laptop see? Her coming out of the bathroom, giving Jake a drink, and then him passing out and her stealing money. It just looks like she slipped him a mickey and then stole four hundred bucks off him.
It’s hardly a federal crime. There won’t be an APB put out for her. The cops probably won’t even bother with the expense of DNA testing her panties or dusting for fingerprints in the room due to the high expense of the procedure and the generally minor crime. I see the cops advertising that they use DNA testing at break-ins, but I’ve never seen them do so in real life. In reality I strongly suspect they’d only bother if there was evidence of a string of crimes and they wanted to catch the perp [thus solving a dozen crimes in one go]. So long as she skips town she’ll be fine. And maybe change her hair and clothes incase the flim gets traction online.
> the street light flickered from red to green
I’m not sure what you meant there.
Street lights are white or yellow-ish.
Traffic lights don’t flicker, but they are red/amber/green.
> only lighthing at all
She’s not worried about the cops, really. More about the video getting out and people putting two and two together. Being able to ID her. Plus, she was just threatened, so I figured she would be a little on edge. But I think I know which paragraph makes her worrying seem a bit excessive though – I’ll make some changes. Thanks, that’s really helpful.
Got me with the lights – meant street lights. Flickered is probably not the best word. Cheers.
it was already started
started -> starting
utter surprise he (multiple spaces)