Shattered Hearts(9)

By: Marissa Farrar

Would it be better than whatever was waiting for me at the other end of this journey?

Some kind of stiff cloth surrounded me from head to toe. It was a bag, and I saw that I wasn’t in complete darkness. As my eyes had grown used to the small amount of light filtering through the black material, I noted the teeth of a zipper right in front of my face. Through the miniscule gaps in the teeth came more light. I took what tiny amount of comfort I could from the illumination. I didn’t like the dark. It seemed like something stupid to be frightened of, considering my current situation, but ever since everything happened with my father, I’d had to sleep with a nightlight on. I was twenty-two years old and still refused to sleep in a completely dark room.

Over the top of the humming engine, footsteps approached.

I froze, sucking in a breath through my nose.

The man who had taken me must have realized I was awake—all the thrashing and moaning would have seen to that. Internally, I kicked myself. I should have stayed quiet, and he wouldn’t have known. At least then I’d have had time to piece together what I was going to do next.

Hell, who was I kidding? I was taped up in a bag, most likely on an airplane. My choices had been well and truly taken out of my hands.

What the hell was he going to do with me?

I was an educated woman. I knew what human trafficking was. I’d never expected it to happen to me, however. I assumed it was something that happened to refugees or lone backpackers, not someone snatched from a busy New York City bar. That was the only reason I could think of as to why this man had taken me. He hadn’t laid a hand on me in a sexual manner yet, but I didn’t think things would stay that way. Had he simply come to the talk I’d given and decided he liked the look of me, or had things been planned before then? Would he keep me for himself, or was he doing all of this at the orders of someone else?

I tried to swallow down my fear, but it was impossible. I’d never been more terrified in my entire life, and I’d spent a lot of my life being scared. I’d been scared when the police showed up at our house with guns and arrested my father. I’d been scared when yet more police had turned up on the doorstep and told me and my brother that my mother was dead. I’d been scared when, after my father was arrested, people had come to the house and graffitied the walls, and thrown eggs and rocks at the doors and windows.

My life had been far from easy up to this point, and now, it seemed, it was about to get even harder.

I tensed in terror as a shadow passed over the top of the bag, and I sensed someone leaning over it. Hands were at the zipper, and there was a high-pitched rasp as the person pulled it down.

Bright light hit my eyes, and I squeezed them shut, trying to look away. I blinked a couple of times, my eyes already wet from crying, and squinted as I gradually became accustomed to the glare.

“You’re awake.”

Immediately, I recognized his deep, gruff voice from when he’d asked me if I felt guilty back in the university’s auditorium. It sent my skin prickling in a rash of goosebumps, and I cowered away.

Even though I knew it would do no good, I cried out against the tape on my mouth and squirmed to try to put more space between us. There was nowhere I could go, and, as my eyes grew used to the light, and I was able to take in my surroundings, I realized my instincts about being on a plane were correct. Even if I managed to get free, which was unlikely, it wasn’t as though I could throw myself out of the plane or take down the pilot and fly myself to safety.

The man must have noticed my gaze flicking around him, as he glanced over his shoulder.

“Yes, that’s right,” he said, turning back to me. “You’re on an airplane—my airplane—so don’t do anything stupid. There’s nowhere you can go, and screaming for help won’t make any difference. The only people on board are men who work for me. They won’t help you. Got it?”

I nodded, frantic.

He reached down, and I flinched, certain he was going to smack me around the face, but, instead, his fingers caught the edge of the tape covering my mouth, and he ripped it off. I whimpered, the tape having pulled out all the fine hairs around my mouth, and my eyes watered anew.