Chapter 1: A Roommate's Unwanted Favor

Elizabeth Stone shuffled around her room in her flat last minute. She was throwing clothes into a worn, green military duffle. She would be going home to Florida for about a month during the winter hols at URI by way of Greyhound bus. Shoving the last of her clothes into the pack, she threw in some novels and a sketchbook inside before zipping it shut. She glanced around and made sure that she had everything she needed.

She stuffed her feet into her battered All Stars and quickly tied her shoes before going into the living room. Pulling a tee shirt and flannel shirt over her tank top, she put on a light jacket and hooded pullover over that. She turned to grab her ticket and realized she would probably have to take one of the jackets off. She went back to check her room again and took off the hooded pullover.

Outside the apartment, she heard giggling and smacks but knew that it was all playful flirtations on her roommate's part. Heather Moore and AJ Hooker stumbled through the door, despite the fact that Heather knew Beth would be there packing. Beth rolled her eyes at her roommate and her boyfriend whose last name fit him perfectly. AJ often received money to sleep with different guys' girlfriends so they could break up with them and have a 'legit' reason.

"Do you mind?" Beth asked as they began to lose their shirts. "I'm standing right here."

"So leave then." came Hooker's reply. His hand moved to Heather's jeans.

"It's my apartment." Beth replied. "You can go have sex in her bedroom and not on our sofa."

"If you don't like what you see…"

"I don't like what I see so leave."

"It's her space too."

"I really don't want to—"

"Go away!" Hooker yelled. Heather was too preoccupied to notice.

"Fuck you! Hooker, this is my apartment, you asshole. You can leave and go to your own place, but oh wait…that's at your parents' house isn't it? Do you still suck your thumb and crawl into bed with them during thunderstorms?" Beth spat, cursing herself afterwards for speaking so unkindly to him. It bothered her that she could speak so meanly to others despite their actions towards her. "I'm sorry AJ I shouldn't have said that. I'm going to go now so I can get to the bus station in Providence in time. I'll see you in about a month Heather."

Beth grabbed her bag and was halfway out the door when Heather's words finally registered. "Oh silly Lizzy, you don't have to catch the bus anymore. My dear, sweet AJ is going to drive you. Isn't he sweet?"

"He's what?"

"I'm what?"

Beth and AJ looked at each other in horror but Heather seemed to pay them no mind. "I mean he's already going to Miami to see his mother so he can drive you to Tampa."

When Beth opened her mouth to negate Heather's belief in AJ's mother's location, he sent her a death glare that shut her up immediately. Beth wondered why Heather thought Mrs. Hooker lived in Florida. She knew for a fact that AJ's mother lived in upstate New York. She's met the woman and wondered how AJ could have come out of such a sweet lady.

AJ plastered on a charming grin and drew Heather into her arms. "Sure I'll drive you to Kansas."

"Florida." Beth replied.

"Whatever." He gave Heather a quick kiss before moving past Beth in the doorway while bundling up and called over his shoulder. "I love you Heather, I'll see you when I get back in a week or so. Let's go Betty."

"It's Beth." Beth said but she was drowned out by Heather.

"I love you too baby! Have fun!" Heather screamed waving enthusiastically like the oblivious twit that she was.

Beth shook her head at her roommate being so completely clueless. She hitched her sack higher before following AJ. She caught up with him on the stairwell. "You really don't have to drive me Alan. I can take the bus and you can go wherever for a couple of days."

"I said I'll drive you so I'll drive you Beatrice." He snapped as they walked to the parking lot. They came to his death trap of a vehicle and stopped. "Get in."

Not freaking likely. "I really don't think I should Alan. It doesn't look safe."

He stalked around the hood, snatching her bag from her and throwing it into the back seat against the cracked, maroon leather seats. He opened her door and pushed her inside before slamming it closed. As he walked to the driver's seat again she realized that she had no seatbelt, a spring poking her in her back and rear, there was no actual operable door handle and there was a hole in the floor covered by a vomit-stained rug.

"Um…Alan…this isn't really…this really doesn't—"

"Stop calling me Alan! You're not my mother for fuck's sake!" He started the car and back out of the parking space, zooming out of the lot. "Look, I said I'll take you so quit bitchin' and hold on!"

Beth mentally smacked her palm against her forehead as her fingers dug into the dilapidated seat. She looked down at her attire and muttered a curse as the freezing winter air tore through the barrier of her clothes. She brought her legs up in the seat and wrapped her arms around herself, wondering how she would survive the trip.

What has Heather gotten me into, she thought as a beer appeared in AJ's hand. Shit.

Hours later for Beth and six beers later for AJ, she awoke when her head slammed into the window as AJ swerved drunkenly throughout the lanes. She clutched her head in pain and shivered as she realized just how cold she was. Her teeth chattered as she noted that it was night and looked at her watch with the help of headlights behind them.

Nine-thirty.

She rubbed her eyes and ignored the shivers racking her frame. Nine-thirty! They'd been on the road for nearly six and a half hours. "Where the hell are we AJ?"

He grunted and lit something between his lips. "Go back to sleep okay? I can get us to Indiana."

"Florida, you moron! Florida!"

"Whatever!"

"No Alan! It's not whatever! I'm not trying to go west I'm trying to go south! Where the hell are…Is that a joint!? Alan Jackson Hooker are you smoking a joint after drinking God knows how many beers and driving!? Let me out right now!" Beth screamed leaning over so that she was inches from his ear. "Do you hear me? Let me out!"

"Gladly." He jerked them to the emergency lane nearly smashing into a minivan in the process and screeched to a halt. Beth braced her hands on the dashboard and sighed when the vehicle stopped moving. "Get out."

"Instead of leaving me out on the interstate in the snow," she shrugged and tried for nonchalant. "Maybe I could drive us back to Kingston or wherever you wanted to go."

The next thing she knew, her head was being slammed into the cracked dashboard. She felt blood streaming down her face. He drug her across the seats and outside of the car effortlessly. He shoved her into the snow and pulled her bag from the backseat before throwing it at her. He jumped back into his car.

The last thing she heard was the sound of tires peeling off into the night to the sounds of AC/DC. The freezing night air licked violently at her body and shook her. Her eyes closed as her breathing became shallow. Nearly an hour later a hand touched her face and checked for a pulse.


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