Chapter I: Blindfolded

My first Romance story! You have the right to flame...

I found myself in front of my neighbours' house, with a feeling akin to nervousness.

I needed to borrow a shovel from the Parkers'.

Okay, that doesn't sound as bad now as it did then. I hardly have a phobia of shovels – in fact I'm something of a gardening freak. Just ask the lazily sprawling pumpkins in my backyard. But I do have a phobia of the Parkers.

The Parkers' are our neighbours from the house opposite. Sorry, the castle opposite. I've always wondered why our cute, suburban neighbourhood had a castle in the middle of it, complete with huge grounds and surrounding woods. Their castle is like something from a cheesy Halloween film. It scared me to walk under those weeping branches. Still, I remember coming here quite often as I used to be pretty chummy with their kid Lyle. If you can call being bullied friendship. Our make-believe 'games' are still vivid in my head (I can almost smell the salted ocean when I think about 'Walk-the-Plank'. I did the walking). And then five years ago – bam – Lyle's dad walks out on the family. No reason stated.

I haven't been bullied by Lyle since then.

So you can understand why I was feeling a little apprehensive about the shovel. I mean, I had hardly even seenhim these past five years. It does sound pretty fishy considering we're neighbours and all, but if you ask me Lyle is probably nocturnal. Creature of the night and all that. As my finger moved to the doorbell I was dreading that Lyle would open the door.

Please be Mrs Parker, or Steven I desperately thought to myself, or even the ghost of a murdered guest! Still, what was the worst a deranged bully could do? The door slowly swung open after what seemed to be three eternities.

"Steven?" I hesitated. Steven was Lyle's older brother, a bit of a weirdo in his own unique way.

The serious man at the door simply stared on. That was pretty unnerving. He's probably taken with my overflowing charm, I tried to convince myself.

I concluded that he definitely wasn't Steven. Steven smiled more, and he was not as angry or surly looking.

"Lyle Parker?" I tried again, feeling stupider as the seconds passed. I then noticed how much taller Lyle had grown. He made me feel smaller than a bean sprout. He had lost his immature, childish looks. Unfortunately they had been replaced with impassive ruthlessness. He seems awfully like a creature from the netherworld when I describe him. You would never believe that he had been selected as Sparrowick's Hottest Teenager!. I had no idea who the judge was, but whoever it was needed to be tested for astigmatism.

"Hey!," I started sunnily, "It's been a while, eh?" Five years could pass off as a 'while', I convinced myself. He went on staring at me with a slight frown. I did not want to broach on the subject of his father. For the same reason you do not poke a python between the eyes (unless you're Mowgli I guess).

"Umm...Remember me? I'm Lea Dupont from the house opposite. We used together when we were kids," I continued when he remained silent. The calm before a typhoon colliding with a hurricane I'm sure.

"You are a girl," Lyle finally said. Well I couldn't deny that.

"Yes...Could I borrow something? All the other neighbours are on holiday and..."

"I could use you."

Ok...what? Use me for one of his surely illegal experiments? Use me to do his Maths homework? The possibilities were endless...and none of them were doing any good to my heartbeat.

All in all though, there were worse ways of greeting an old friend. He could have just dragged me in and peeled my skin off. Actually, Lyle was being quite affable! Maybe my terrible memories of him were a tad exaggerated.

"Could I borrow a shovel please? I need it for our vegetable patch."

"Get it yourself. It's in the shed."

I walked in and through into the garden. Nothing much had changed in here since five years ago. It still felt like the garden had been used in a recording of The Addams Family. If anything it had gotten even more unruly ever since Lyle's father left. I guess Mrs Parker felt less inclined to keep it tidy after her husband mysteriously left the family. I felt a slight urge to tidy it up. It looked like a haven for wildlife, especially for the legendary type, of which 'Acromantula' sprang to mind.

Why was he following me? He crept into the shed after me…and then closed the door.

"Lyle? Don't do that, it's dark and I can't see…"

Swiftly he was behind and tying something over my eyes. A blindfold? Then he pushed me violently onto a rickety chair. Just when I thought he had changed his jerk-like ways! I was so overwhelmed I could not even protest. He started binding me with what felt like thick ropes. I did not like it. They were itchy and rubbed harshly against my skin.

I read somewhere that most rapes are committed by people you know.

"Lyle, I only wanted a shovel - "

I tried to move my face away, but Lyle's nails started to dig into it. I squirmed against the rope but that bruised me more. Not being able to see what Lyle was doing made me feel even more vulnerable.

"So this is what a girl feels like. Well, if I'm not mature enough for Lillian, I can always use you Lea. We used to be such good friends after all! Don't you agree?" Lyle said in his characteristic hypnotic voice. It had become much deeper though, enhancing the mysticism.

Use me eh? And how could I not agree? I learnt the hard way that saying 'no' to a psychopath is not good for one's health. My eyes widened under the blindfold.

I felt him approach me again, alarm bells went off in my head. The ropes were very tight. Loose splinters from the chair were digging into my bare skin. He began to run a hand along my body, and I flinched. He did it ever so softly and slowly, in a way I would not have thought Lyle capable of. I could not handle it any more. Was I really the same doormat as I had been all those years ago? No way! I was now a doormat who could stand up for itself! Hooray for doormats, without which one would enter the house with filthy foot prints! Hooray for doormats, without which there would be no place to store the spare house key!

"Lyle you ass, stop it! What is wrong with you, you jerk?!" I hurled a few more insults at him.

The shed door banged open. Lyle and I momentarily froze.

"Just what do you kids think you're doing?!" demanded a masculine voice. Steven! I sighed with relief. He'll untie me!

"Honestly, why is the one tied up doing the insulting? If you are going to engage in S&M, do it properly! Jeez…" Steven continued. I heard him rummage for something, and then he left. Leaving me a victim once again…was today 'Dash-Lea's-Hope Day' or something?

"What is S&M?" I asked hesitantly.

Lyle ignored my naive question with his supercilious attitude.

"Please untie me? I'll do anything!" I begged my captor, returning to the more pressing issue

"Not a chance! You are my girl. I need to gain more experience for Lillian. And girls in general."

"This is not an RPG, Lyle"

Lyle looked thoughtful (at least, I think he did. Hard to tell with a blindfold on). "Maybe you could help. Alright, I'll untie you."

As he cut the ropes around my chest, feet and wrists, I felt free.Even exhilarated. I was finally released from this nightmare with Lyle. As he took the blindfold off with his calloused fingers, he whispered into my ear, "That was fun. Rope is a great invention..."

"I'm free!" I proclaimed as I made my way to the shed door, ignoring his comment. Escape was at the top of my agenda believe it or not.

"Not so fast Lea."

I sank as I felt his familiar iron grip on my wrist. He threw me onto that rickety old chair again. I massaged my wrist. Yep. I would have a total of seven bruises tomorrow morning. Lyle crouched down beside me. His hair was still that dark, midnight colour. It matched the general atmosphere of the Parkers' house.

"Lea, you are the only one who can do this," he looked at me with imploring eyes.

"Does this have something to do with 'Lillian'?" I had never met her in my life, but she was probably my best friend. So monsters do fall in love. I could not help smiling smugly to myself.

He looked away, refusing to answer. Then he pointed a kitchen knife at me as if threatening me to tell anyone. I wondered why he was carrying something that dangerous when I remembered - This was Lylewe were talking about.

"Can I have the shovel first please?" I asked innocently.

Lyle passed it to me and I struck him on the head with it.

So what did you all think? Please let me know!