Coming back to this story after nearly three years, having first begun it five years ago, I've realized that I've matured a lot, both as a person and a writer. Beginning stories has always been a weak point of mine, so before returning to where I left off three years ago, I've decided to re-write at least the first chapter. Every story needs a strong beginning, and the original beginning of my beloved Perfect Strangers was anything but. I apologize in advance for the inconsistencies my re-writing will cause later in the story.
I'd like to issue a huge 'thank you' to all of my readers old and new. Without your support, I might have given up writing for other pursuits long ago.
Hanging up the phone with a sigh, Vivian flopped back onto her bed. It was her seventeenth birthday, and she had managed to convince her parents to let her take a road trip and spend two weeks camping in the mountains. It had taken weeks of coaxing and pleading, but they had finally relented. After all, she was strong and independent, and it was summer break. She had been hoping that two or more of her friends would be able to go with her, and when they had talked about it in the past they had all been on board. She had just finished calling the last of them now, though, and they all suddenly had 'other things' that they were busy with, though none could tell her exactly what those all-important 'other things' were.
Disappointedly, and with another sigh, she got up off her bed and picked up her last bag. She had already packed most of her camping gear and supplies into her car.
Determined, she shook off the sour mood her friends had put her in. She was going on the trip of her young life, and she wasn't going to let a few flaky friends dampen the experience for her. She was looking forward to being away from people and her family for a while. She loved her friends and family, but sometimes a girl just needed to get away. These next two weeks were going to be wonderful.
With a grin, she bounded down the stairs and out the front door, pausing a moment to lock it behind her. She was glad that the members of her family were all away from home right now. IT meant there were fewer distractions and obligations before she could hit the road. And her mother couldn't rope her into any last minute chores.
She clicked the button on her key fob to unlock her car and it chirruped happily at her. After tossing her bag into the passenger seat, she started the car, hooked in her iPod, and pulled out onto the road.
Several hours later, around lunchtime, Vivian made a decision that would change her life forever. She didn't know it at the time, of course, but then, who does?
She stopped at a small, family run diner and had an uneventful lunch before returning to her car, which she'd parked near the back of the parking lot. Her mind was focused on all the adventures she planned to have during her two-week vacation. She didn't hear the footsteps behind her, realizing she was in danger far too late, after someone had grabbed her from behind and slapped a foul smelling rag over her mouth and nose. She struggled in vain, but before long, the sunny day faded into darkness and she felt herself falling.
Vivian awoke several hours later, feeling ill. Her head was pounding and her thoughts hazy and sluggish as she slowly came-to. Gradually, she became aware that the motion she was sensing was more than just her head spinning. She was moving. She took stock of herself. She was sitting in an uncomfortable position with something foul tasting in her mouth. Her hands were pinned behind her and she couldn't feel her fingers, and her legs were at an awkward angle underneath her. More concerning than any of that, though, was the fact that she couldn't move. Her eyes opened in a sudden panic, but it was too dark to see. Slowly, painfully, her vision adjusted. She could barely make out anything, except that there were slivers of light around the edges of the walls and door.
Trying to corral her thoughts to figure out what had happened and where she was felt like trying to weave strands of cloud together to fashion a toothbrush. Finally, she was able to deduce that she was in the back of a truck, like a semi-truck, only smaller. Her wrists and ankles were tied together, and the foul taste in her mouth was a gag. She could feel the knot pulling at the hair on the back of her head which had gotten tangled into it. Something like a u-haul moving truck, perhaps. Feeling a bit calmer now, Vivian managed to shift forward onto her knees and scoot toward the door. She didn't know what exactly she planned to do once she got there, but she would think of something, surely. Before she had gone far, she ran into cold metal bars. Dark terror welled up in the pit of her stomach. She tried to contain it, to hang onto her rationality, and quickly shuffled to first the left and then the right, but she could find no gap in the cold iron bars separating her from the door and what little of the outside light leaked in. The pressure of panic inside of her continued to build, and eventually, she couldn't hold it back any longer. A soft, muffled sound of frustration escaped her gag, though she had meant it to be a scream. Vivian began to sob and wished, not for the last time, that she had just stayed home.
Hours later, the truck rolled to a stop. Vivian opened her eyes, swollen as they were from crying. She was lying on her side and all her muscles ached, but she forced herself to sit up. The back door of the truck opened and Vivian had to clench her eyes shut at the sudden influx of light. As soon as she was able to, she opened her eyes again and looked around at where she had been for the past several hours. A shudder went through her. It was indeed a moving truck, but instead of boxes and bots of furniture, this one was packed with several metal cages, like a miniature jail on wheels. There was an aisle down the center, where several men were now moving to the first cages. She hadn't thought it possible, but her stomach filled with even more horror when she saw that she wasn't the only captive. There were others, though she hadn't noticed them making noise at all earlier. Most of them were young women, like herself, but there was a young man, too. They were all tied and gagged, just like she was. The fear on their faces amplified her own.
Much of what happened next was a hazy blur of fear and panic, but she was vaguely aware of scrambling as best she could to the back of her cage when the men came for her. The dragged her out anyways, and any attempt she made to free herself was futile. Any attempt she made to attack the men was answered with a fist.
They hauled her into a building and through several rooms before cutting her bonds and replacing them with handcuffs, stretching her arms above her head and hooking the chain of the manacles to a hook suspended from the ceiling. Vivian couldn't see much through the tears in her eyes, but she could tell the men were leering at her. Most of them left, presumably to get others out of the truck, but one remained, running his foul hands down her body, groping her breasts and crotch before drawing a knife and cutting her clothes off.
She screamed into her gag, and tried to kick the man, but she wasn't able to put any force behind the kick, and he caught her leg with ease, pulling it up alongside his hip and pressing his crotch against hers with an evil smile. Releasing her leg, he squeezed her breasts roughly before his hands began to roam her body again. Vivian closed her eyes, shuddering, and trying to block out everything around her, wishing she could wake up from this vile and perverted nightmare, hoping that it was all just a terrible dream.
A man spoke nearby in a language she couldn't understand, and she flinched, opening her eyes. She hadn't thought she could feel more fear, but another wave of it crashed over her as her body responded to yet another threat approaching. The man groping her grinned evilly and responded to the newcomer, again in the language she didn't recognize.
With one last slap on her rump, the first man reached up and unhooked her manacles from the chain dangling from the ceiling. As her arms lowered, her strained muscles screamed at her, and for a moment her vision clouded. When she was able to concentrate on her surroundings again, the two men were propelling her along a dark, dingy hallway, each gripping one of her arms tightly. Vivian focused all her attention on trying to remember the way, so she could find her way back out of this hellish place when she escaped. She had to escape. Left at the second door, then three doors later another left, then right, then left again after a long, empty corridor. Finally, the two men yanked her to a halt in front of a door and took the manacles off her wrists. She noted, with mild surprise, that her wrists were bruised, cut, and bleeding from the mistreatment they had been receiving. Dimly, she realized that they should probably hurt, but she felt nothing. She couldn't feel the cold, either.
One of the men released her arm to open the door, and she struggled, lunging back the way they had come, trying to break the grip the other man had on her shoulder. He held her easily, laughing as he pulled her against him and then shoved her through the now-open door. Completely off balance, she went tumbling through the doorway, landing painfully on the rough concrete floor. Her palms and knees stung as she scrambled to get up again, but before she could, the door slammed shut, leaving her in utter darkness.
For several long moments she simply sat there, her own racing heartbeat the only thing she was aware of. Cold seeped into her bones from the floor and clawed at her insides, squeezing her stomach and ripping at her lungs. A choked sob escaped her, and Vivian tried to suppress the hopelessness welling up within her. Slowly, she crawled toward the place where the door had been. Before long, she connected with a wall and gingerly felt along it, reassuring herself that the door was still there. Even to her, the gesture seemed silly, but she needed it anyways. She pressed her forehead against the door, mentally cursing the solidity of it, wishing yet again that she would wake up. Slowly, the darkness and cold ate away at her fears and pain, leaving her with only fatigue.
There was a rustle of movement behind her, and a soft exhalation of air like a sigh. Something warm grazed her shoulder, and then what she recognized as a hand settled on her, tracing along her neck up to the knot of the gag at the back of her head. A few gentle tugs later and the gag loosened. Vivian spat out the disgusting fabric gratefully, and took a deep breath, savoring the cool air against her tongue.
There was another rustle behind her, followed by a man's voice.
"Stand up," he said, quietly and forcefully.
A shiver ran through her, and she obeyed, getting to her feet as quickly as she could, cold and fear making her clumsy. She heard the man step back to give her space to rise. Her legs protested the events of the past few hours, her muscles and joints aching, and the rest of her body murmured agreement. A soft whimper escaped her lips, a sound of combined pain, fear, and exhaustion.
Vivian hugged herself, acutely aware of her nakedness and the cold chill of the room. She turned to face the man, the door to her back now. She shivered, and even though the room was pitch dark, she still got the impression that the man was sizing her up, staring at her.
She stood there, trembling, for what seemed an eternity before her knees unexpectedly buckled. Vivian flinched and put her hands out, expecting to find the stone floor rushing toward her. Instead, her hands found cloth and warm flesh as strong arms caught her, pulling her against a broad, well-muscled chest. She regained her footing and pushed at the man's chest, shaking all the more now, though now with fear rather than cold. The man didn't budge. She tried another small shove, experimentally, and this time he shifted, scooping her knees out from under her with one arm, lifting her without apparent effort.
She kicked and flailed, trying to break free, or make him set her down, but he didn't even pause as he strode across the room, which seemed larger than she had previously thought. When he stopped, she was about to try hitting his face, but before she could, he set her down on something soft and springy. A moment later, she realized that hitting him would likely have been foolish, in her current situation. A moment after that, she realized that she was on a bed. Horrified, she scrambled backward, away from the man, seeking the other side of the bed so she could put it between them. Before she got far, she rammed into something cold and solid. Her heart sank as she realized the bed was against the wall. She turned, her back against the wall, and the man leaned down, bracing an arm on either side of her. She could hear his breath, and feel the shadow of his warmth looming over her.
"Here's how this is going to go," he said quietly, his voice as dark and cold as the room. "You're going to stop fighting me, and things will go easier between us. I won't hurt you, and you'll stay put. I won't leave you to those other goons when I'm done with you if you're a good girl. Sound good?"
An unhealthy surge of defiance flared within her at his words, and she didn't have the strength to stop herself from showing it. "If it doesn't?" she challenged quietly.
"I'm afraid you don't have many options. You can fight me and I may turn you back over to the others, or you can be good and I'll go easy on you," he replied, his voice firm, but not harsh.
Vivian closed her eyes, her fists clenching at her sides, wrestling back the tears that threatened to come.
"Which will it be, sleeping with me, or letting those others have a go?"
She thought of the men from before and shuddered. There was no good option. She had no way out, no weapon, no clothes, and no idea where she was. She was naked and pinned to a bed by a man after being locked in the room by two others. This man at least seemed gentle enough. He had taken her gag off, and hadn't hurt her in any way… yet. She could fight him, but he was bigger than her, and more powerful. She couldn't see any way out of here without getting raped. Perhaps after he was done, he would fall asleep and she could take his clothes. He might have a key, or knife or something that she could take.
Another shiver ran through her and she heard herself say "I'll stay."
The man straightened, his warm presence withdrawing suddenly, and Vivian could hear cloth rustling as he removed his clothes. A few moments later he was near again, an arm slipping under her, scooting her toward him and lifting her while he pulled the blanket out from under her. When he released her again, she slid away from him again, under the blankets now though, and put her back to the wall again, wishing it would evaporate so she could run.
The bed shifted under the man's weight, and she could feel the heat radiating from him as he joined her under the blanket. A hand found her bare stomach and slid along her skin, leaving a trail of slightly less frigid skin behind it. She stayed perfectly still, hardly even breathing.
"Put your back to me," he said, and she couldn't tell if it was a demand or a request. She obeyed, reluctantly, but she didn't have a better option. His arms wrapped around her and pulled her against his warm body. Skin to skin contact was a shock, and he seemed to be burning hot against her chilled skin.
"It won't be as enjoyable for either of us if you're cold," he explained against her neck, though she hadn't asked. He drew the blankets up farther over them both. Vivian shivered and her ragged breathing slowly settled. It took a while, but she warmed up, except for her feet so she drew them up closer to the warmth being generated by the two of them. As she did so, the man hissed and said something in a foreign language that sounded rather nasty, pushing her feet away. It registered that her cold feet had touched him in a place cold toes should never venture.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, growing tense against him again. She wasn't sure when she had relaxed. She hadn't meant to.
The man didn't answer, he only intertwined his legs with hers, catching her cold feet between his warm ones.
When her feet were no longer so icy, the man's hands began to roam her body. Vivian tensed under his hands, and he rolled her onto her back, leaning over her and pushing the blankets down to her hips. His head descended to her chest and he laved one of her breasts with his tongue, her nipple hardening under the combination of his touch and the cold air. Vivian struggled to remain calm and still underneath him, gritting her teeth. The man drew her nipple into his mouth, rolling it between his teeth and biting down gently before doing the same with her other breast. After a few minutes of this, he moved back up and claimed her mouth with his.
Vivian turned her head to the side, trying to escape his mouth. Letting him touch her was hard, but having him kiss her was not what she had expected. She almost wished he would just get it over with already and stop drawing things out. All she wanted was to go home.
The man withdrew a little at her refusal, lifting his head he seemed to debate with himself for a moment. Then one hand gripped her chin, forcing her head back. He kissed her roughly, nipping at her lips to gain access but she refused again and his other hand pinched her nostrils closed. Vivian struggled to free herself, squirming and kicking at him, but he was too heavy and too close. She couldn't get any leverage, and he didn't budge.
Finally she had to breathe. Her mouth opened desperately for air and he released her nose, his tongue filling her mouth. She was about to bite his tongue when the hand on her neck flexed, warning her against it.
He parted her legs with one strong hand and she knew that resisting was pointless, even if she wasn't pinned to the bed helplessly. There was nothing she could do to stop him. A finger slipped into her and she struggled again, hoping unreasonably that he was distracted and she could escape. Of course, he wasn't.
Another finger joined the first, easing in and out of her, then a third. He released her from his kiss and she turned her head away again with a small whimper. He had been expecting it and began to lick her earlobe. His weight was hot and heavy, pressing her into the bed, and for a moment it felt suffocating. She drew in a deep breath, trying to remind herself that she could still breathe, and the pressure in her chest was fear.
The man shifted on top of her and nudged her legs wider apart. His fingers retreated and something else, something larger, entered her slowly. The feeling of being suffocated grew more intense, though his weight had shifted to put less pressure on her.
"Relax, damn it," the man said, for the first time sounding strained. After taking a breath his voice dropped to a coaxing purr. "You have to relax for me baby... C'mon, it's not that bad."
Vivian shuddered, and focused all her attention on breathing. She didn't want to faint, or die here of a heart attack or some such. Concentrating on just her breathing was difficult, but after a few breaths, the panic began to ease. The pressure grew less with each breath, and she slowly relaxed as best she could. When he decided that she was as relaxed as she was going to get, he pushed all the way in, catching her cry in his mouth, kissing her until she was quiet again. He stayed still for a bit, lying on top of her and letting her get used to his size, then he began to move.
When Vivian awoke next, she was still immersed in darkness and was once again in a moving vehicle. Panic welled up inside her again, and some distant part of her mind noted how familiar the feeling was becoming. Shifting around, she discovered that she couldn't move, and panic overtook her. She thrashed pointlessly for what seemed forever before running out of stamina and air. She laid still again, panting, slowly calming down. After a bit, she tried to move again, more carefully this time. Gradually, she was able to work one arm loose from the constriction around her and groping about, decided that she was wrapped in a blanket in a very small, confined space, likely the trunk of a car. From the road and engine noise, it sounded like they were traveling quite fast. There was fabric covering her face, so she shifted around to reach it with her free hand, finding a cloth bag secured around her head. She shuddered and clawed at the string holding it around her neck, but couldn't find the knot or break it.
She could feel the blanket against her bare skin, and along with the realization that she was still naked came the memory of what the man had done to her. Her skin began to crawl, and helpless fear threatened to choke her again. She had never had sex before, and had wanted to wait for someone really special before taking that step. Now that was gone forever. Tears coursed down her face, and she tucked her arm into the warm blankets again, listening to the road noise and trying to forget again. Closing her eyes, eventually she focused on trying to feel each curve in the road, each incline and decline so that she could find her way back from wherever she was going now. Some time later, she drifted off into sleep again.
Vivian woke with a start when the car rolled to a stop, and remained still with great difficulty. Biting her lip, she did her best to keep herself limp as she heard someone get out of the driver's side door. She relaxed slightly as the ensuing footsteps retreated into silence, but before she could find a way out of the trunk they returned, walking around to the back of the car where she was. The key slid into the lock and turned, light filling the trunk, filtering through the bag over her eyes and her eyelids. There was silence for a moment then strong arms lifted her out of the trunk. She hoped it was the pair of gentle arms that had held her earlier, and not someone else. She didn't like her rapist at all, but he had been fairly gentle throughout. 'Better the devil you know, anyways,' she thought to herself. The trunk closed and she was carried for a ways, then up a few steps, through a door into a building, up some more stairs, around two corners and through another doorway. Vivian made sure she stayed limp throughout, letting whoever was carrying her think that she was still asleep. Perhaps she could catch them unawares once they took the bag off her head.