She was still tingling with happiness as she watched the taxi drive off. This was the first time in her life when she was absolutely certain that she was really in love. There had been times before, mostly when she'd been a teenager, that she had thought she had found "the One," but now she was almost completely sure. So sure that she was already planning out the conversation with her mother on Sunday and it made her smile to think of how happy her mom was going to be for her.
It was about then that she realized she was alone on the side of the street and she knew she had to get to her car and head home.
Her dad would have a lot to say about her standing on the side of the road at night in the city. He was just so paranoid about her being kidnapped and murdered or something by the terrible "city folk." It always made her laugh at him while telling him he worried way too much.
She had just started to step off the curb when she heard a voice call, "Excuse me!"
She turned and saw the young man from earlier standing in front of the shop door. Her heart beat a little faster and she couldn't help the nervous way her hand tightened on her purse. The leather strap was cutting into her palm, but she figured it would make a good weapon if she had to use it.
"Hey, it's a good thing I saw you," he called. "Your friend forgot his book here earlier. Do you think you can give it back to him?"
She gave him a nervous look considering they were the only people on the darkened street, but after a second decided that he wasn't much of a threat. She saw him practically every day and he was about as unassuming as one guy could be. Besides, she thought she could probably take him in a fight. He really didn't look that tough at all.
"Sure," she said, strolling toward him.
He smiled at her, flashing her a slightly crooked front tooth. "Cool, let me go get it." He pulled a keyring out of his pocket and quickly unlocked the shop door. The little bells jingled when he pushed it open. "You can come in if you want."
There was that flutter of nervousness again, but she thought that if James had left his book here he was probably going to want it back. So she stepped in behind him, hovering near the door just in case while he went behind the counter.
She felt an indescribable feeling of relief when he popped back up with a large paperback book in his hand. She felt a little stupid for being so nervy. He'd always been a perfectly nice man. Definitely not her type, but still a nice guy.
"Here you go," he said, coming closer and holding it out to her.
Janeane smiled and reached toward the book.
She never saw his other hand swing out from behind his back, but she did feel the needle pierce the side of her neck. There was a jolt of pain, then she felt her body slip forward into darkness.
This isn't supposed to happen to me, was the last thought she had before she lost consciousness.
He was in the sun room playing with his cars, muttering back story to himself. He had missed his toys while they were on vacation, especially his favorite red convertible with the real white cloth top. He hadn't meant to leave it behind, but his mom had hurried him out the door and it had been forgotten.
"Vroom, vroom, rrrrrr-vroom. There we go, and then this blue truck comes outta nowhere and runs into the front, yeah. Oh no, Jack Steele is mad about that, oh yeah, he's gonna mess somebody up," he said, then giggled as he rammed the truck into the car, careful not to scratch the shiny paint for real.
He sat back on his haunches and thought a moment, his hands pressing fists up under his chin. Then he reached forward to scoop up the convertible and fit it into the launcher that would send it careening down the twisty track he had set up earlier. He just had to be careful not to scrape the floor or he was going to be in trouble.
He had just pushed the release on the launcher when the door burst open and his father came rushing at him.
"Come on, hurry up," his dad panted, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him to his feet. He could feel his sneakers slipping and he almost tripped over his untied shoelace before his dad caught him.
"Wh-what's goin' on?" he cried.
"No time, no fucking time!" his dad yelled. His dad never cursed, not when he was around at least. Something was very wrong.
As his dad hauled him out the door, he glanced back to see his red convertible fly off the track to go spinning across the hardwood floor to smack into the wall. Part of him wanted to protest, to run back and grab his toy, but the grip of his dad's hand on his shoulder kept him from trying to get away.
They were halfway down the hallway before he noticed that there was blood spattered on the side of his dad's face. "You're bloody," he said.
"Not now," his dad panted, pulling him through the door of the Special Room, the room that no one was allowed to play in because it had the secret door in it, the door into the panic room.
His mom and dad had sat him down when he was five years old and told him that if anything ever happened he was supposed to go into the panic room and not come out until they told him to. He would be safe in the panic room because nothing could ever get him.
He still remembered the trouble he'd gotten into when he had hidden from the monster under the bed in the panic room. His mom had been yelling at him through the intercom to open the door, but he'd been too short to reach the number pad and he'd been too scared to follow her directions. She'd had to call the security company to get him out and after kissing him tons of times, she'd actually spanked his butt and sent him to bed without dinner. It had been the worst day of his life.
"Where's Mommy?" he asked. He wasn't even embarrassed about calling her "Mommy," something he hadn't done since he was six. He was more scared that she wasn't there, that daddy had blood on his face, that he was suddenly hearing the thunder of feet up the stairs and mens' voices yelling and cursing.
"Shut up," his dad whispered harshly, pushing him ahead of him toward the panic room door. "We need to get in there right now."
He reached out for the secret panel, but his dad pushed his hand out of the way and opened it first. "Get in, get in, get in!"
The mens' voices were suddenly right behind them, and as he was shoved through the door, he heard a "pop-popping" sound that he'd only heard on TV and there was a splash of warmth against the back of his neck and shoulder.
His dad made a strange grunting sound, but still managed to push the rest of the way into the panic room and slam the door behind him.
The boy was crying and didn't know when he had started. He turned to look at his dad, his eyes going wide when he saw the small, bloody hole in the stomach of his dad's shirt. "You're shot," he said dumbly, his hands pressing against his mouth.
His dad stumbled forward to fall sideways on the couch. "It's all right, it's all right, it's all right," he whispered, his eyes fluttering and his breath coming in shuddering pants that twisted his whole entire face. His hands were pressed to the wound in his stomach, but red still leaked between his fingers.
The boy hurried over to the dresser against the wall and pulled out a handful of clean towels before rushing to his dad's side. "I got it, I got it," he said. He pressed the towels down on his dad's wound, trying to hold all the blood in. "Security should be here soon. It's going to be all right, Daddy. They're going to shoot those bad men and it's going to be all right."
"It's all right, it's all right, it's all right..." his dad just kept whispering. His eyes were open, but he didn't look like he was seeing anything.
The boy knelt at his dad's side, pressing the towels down until they soaked through with blood. Tears were streaming down his face and he was muttering nonsense words to try and sooth himself, but there was nothing else he could do.
All he could wish was that he had run faster, that he hadn't resisted even a little bit when his dad had tried to get him into the panic room. If he had just done what he was supposed to, his dad wouldn't be lying on the couch bleeding all over the place, soaking the upholstery until it ran down the sides.
If he had just done what he was supposed to do...
The first time he saw her, he knew that his life was somehow changed forever. No matter what he did, things were never going to be the same again. And really he didn't even mind that much, because he had already been changed far past the realms of what he had known as normal.
She said her name was Lily, but he knew that was a lie just by looking at her. She was trying so hard to be something she was not. It made the darkness in him want to laugh at her innocence. It had been forever since he had been that young.
The monster in him insisted on pointing out that she would taste delicious. Her pale skin would look beautiful bathed in blood. But he refused to let himself do that kind of thing anymore. Be that kind of thing.
He was a man now. A human man.
Oh, but she would taste so sweet.
It should have been harder to get close to her, but she almost made it too easy. She was just so open to the world around her, it made him worry about her. The world was filled with untrustworthy people. She needed someone to watch after her, keep her safe from the bad people out there.
It was a good thing that she had him.
Watching her at the bookstore, browsing the shelves, he couldn't help the little smile that curved his lips. She was just so cute standing there, a tiny frown of concentration twisting those cupid-bow lips. Her long brown hair was drawn up in a high ponytail and her glasses perched on the tip of her nose. She was adorable.
He leaned against the bookcase of graphic novels, peering at her over the edges of a nameless Marvel comic. He watched as she smiled and chose her novels - two science fiction and one fantasy - and headed toward the cashier. Her ponytail bobbed behind her as she walked.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out two crumpled twenty dollar bills and followed after her. He didn't want her to get too far away.
Watching her wander around the mall, he was captivated once again by her beauty. She was the most perfect girl he had ever come across in all his searching. She was intelligent, perky, outgoing, and pretty enough that it was hard to believe she had been born into this filthy world of sin. She was an angel upon the earth and it was impossible for him to understand how no one else could see her perfection.
He had to have her before anyone else could think to sully her beauty.
It was almost painfully easy to catch her, his beautiful butterfly. Just a smile, a wink, and a needle full of ketamine in the parking garage.
Bundling her up into his car was the hardest part of catching her, and that only because her body was all lolling and loose-limbed. But once he got her in the trunk of the car, it was the simplest of things to leave the parking garage and make the leisurely drive home.
There was a warm feeling in his lower belly at the thought that soon all of his love would be rewarded.
"My name is Lily Beckett! I'm twenty years old. I'm a student at CalSci. I have my whole life ahead of me. There's so much I still want to do. Please, you don't need to do this! Please! I promise I won't tell anyone, please!" Her begging-screams were starting to get on his nerves.
"Sh, it's going to be all right, I promise," he whispered. "I'm going to keep you with me forever. Always a part of me."
The way she wriggled in her bonds was exciting in itself, but he didn't really have the time to completely enjoy the situation. He had an appointment at seven in the morning, which meant he was going to have to cut his fun-time short so he could have at least six hours of sleep.
Leaning forward, he pressed a butterfly kiss against her forehead. "You are so beautiful," he whispered, his tongue flicking out to brush feather-light against her skin. He could taste the salt of her sweat and it made him pant a little in arousal.
She was his angel in chains, her arms raised high above her head to support her weight, with her dangling toes barely brushing the floor. The way she hung ensured that her body was displayed to perfection: the stretching arch of her back and legs, the way the flesh had been drawn tight over the bone.
He brushed a hand against her bare ribs, just letting his fingertips trail across her breasts. He liked the way her nipples hardened and she whimpered in her throat.
"Please, please don't," she cried. "If you let me go I promise I won't tell anyone. Just please... don't hurt me."
"I would never hurt you," he said. Then he reached out and took the ball-gag off the small table next to him. "I just can't have you making a lot of noise while I'm trying to work."
She tried to jerk away when he fit the gag to her mouth, but the way she hung meant that her feet could get no traction and she was already having a hard time just catching a breath. She was utterly helpless... just the way he liked it.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he said, even as he reached for the filleting knife. "Not for very long, anyway."
She tried to scream, but there was nothing she could do. The gag was tight in her mouth and her arms were chained above her head. And experience had had him strap weights to her ankles to keep her from being able to flail her feet at him.
There was nothing she could do to stop what was coming, and nothing he would allow her to do. It was the most perfect of moments.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered, his knife flashing in his hand.
By the time he had finished with his shower and was towel drying his hair, the fifteen neatly wrapped packages in his walk-in freezer were already beginning to harden amongst the rest. He wished he could have enjoyed her more fully, but there just wasn't enough time. He would have to save her for later.
Rubbing his hair one last time with the towel, he tossed it over the back of a kitchen chair and padded barefoot down the short hall and into his bedroom. He really needed to get his rest if he hoped to function tomorrow at work.