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I twirled my chestnut hair around my finger while I waited outside the bar. A movement to the left drew my eyes. A man emerged from the shadows. It took all the will power I possessed not to drool. He was beautiful, so beautiful half cloaked in shadows. A chill ran down my spine and though I couldn’t see his eyes I knew he watched me.
I bit my lip and contemplated going over to speak to him, but my mother’s warnings resounded in my head. “Never approach strange men, Anabelle, they may not be as nice as they appear.” Well, Momma, this man looks pretty darn nice; it’d be a shame if he turned out to be another worthless loser. I continued to watch him watching me for a moment before the sound of sirens startled me from my reverie.
I stood debating what to do when the sight of blue lights reflecting off of the dingy bricks decided me. I took off running down the alley. My converse clad feet pounded against the pavement and my breath wheezed out through abused lungs. The sirens began to fade as I headed down to the polluted river that ran through the city.
I slowed to a walk and made a mental note to cut back on the cigs. I had barely gotten my breath back when an arm closed around my throat and I was jerked back into the shadows. My hands instinctively clawed at the arm pressed against my windpipe. I felt warm breath against my ear and I was forced to fight off a shudder of disgust.
“Precious little runaway, don’t you know this city isn’t safe after dark?” The voice was unnaturally high pitched.
The arm tightened enough to cut off my air. My struggles slowed and my legs turned to rubber as I fought for breath. As my vision grayed The beautiful, dark man from outside the bar stepped into the alley. I dimly heard High Pitch say something and then air was rushing into my lungs again. The thickly muscled arm slid from around my throat. High Pitch stepped away from me and I slid to the ground gasping.
My vision was filled with spots and my throat burned with every breath. The beautiful man stepped over to me and crouched down. Even there on the moderately well lit street he seemed to be shrouded in shadow. I couldn’t see his eyes, his hair color, the shape of what I was sure would be an amazing mouth, even though he was only inches away from me. He reached out and twisted a lock of my hair around his finger.
“Tell me, girl, are you a runaway? Is there anyone at home waiting for you?” His husky voice washed over me and had my thoughts running rampant.
Was anyone sitting at home waiting on me? Where Momma and husband number four wild with grief over my disappearance? Did Daddy and his replacement family even know that I was gone yet? The old resentments surfaced with anger quickly following. The great thing about anger is it’s a beautiful antidote to fear.
The obvious thing not to say here was the truth. After all, telling Mr. Tall, Dark and strangely Beautiful that I was indeed a runaway and that after six months all anyone was waiting for was a body bag would probably end with my rather gory, and untimely demise.
“Yes, my father is waiting for me to get home. He’s probably quite worried by now. So if you don’t mind I’ll be on my way.” My words came out as a raspy squeak. Yeah way to sound confident Bels.
His laughter echoed around the empty street. He released my hair and stood up. He gestured to the big, burly, unsurprisingly ugly man that I assumed was High Pitch.
“She’s perfect, absolutely perfect. The master will be pleased with this one.” His provocative voice coupled with those terrifying words had me, once again, fighting for breath.
I struggled to my feet and while the two men conversed I edged toward the side street. Once I felt that I was far enough away I started to run. For the second time that night I listened to the sound of my feet slapping the pavement and reverberating around me. I heard no one following me and when I hazarded a glance behind me I saw no one. When I turned back around, however, High Pitch was standing there.
I slid to a stop and turned to run the other way but the dark stranger blocked my way. I glanced uneasily between the two. The vicious smile on High Pitch’s face had goosebumps rising on my skin. I was effectively trapped between them. I had no way to escape, no way to get free.
“Poor, little soul, you seem to have lost your way. But worry not, my sweet, I know a place where your kind gather, other lost souls who feel the way you do. Let me take you there, little one, let me take you.” His voice was doing funny things to my brain, causing it to fog and haze.
I shouldn’t go with him. Going with him was a terrible idea. I should try to get away, try to run. But why? Why would I run from this beautiful stranger? Why would I run from his seductive voice? Why run when he said he could take me to others who feel what I feel? Why run when what I really wanted to was stay?
He gestured High Pitch back and moved forward to sweep me up into his arms. My frazzled brain briefly flashed to Rhett and Scarlett. We walked for what seemed like hours but could only have been minutes. He stopped on the highest part of the crumbling cobblestone bridge that connected the bad part of the city to the renovated good side.
I looked around in confusion. I thought we were going to where the others were. We were the only ones standing here on this lonely bridge. He glanced down at me and I had time to register that his mouth was indeed as amazing as I’d expected before he jumped up onto the side of the bridge.
My confusion deepened even as my heart beat a panicked rhythm against my ribs. He set me on my feet next to him and clasped my hand in his surprisingly cold one. He looked down into my eyes.
“You come with of your own free will, Anabelle. You chose to come did you not?”
Did I? Did I choose to come here? I couldn’t remember. Shouldn’t I have been able to remember? He was watching me, waiting for my answer. But I didn’t know the answer. What if I gave the wrong answer?
“Anabelle? You came willingly, didn’t you?” His voice held a hint of impatience.
I frowned, “I, well, I’m not sure. I suppose I might have.”
He nodded and once again gathered me into his arms. The dark water rushing under the bridge on taken on an oddly translucent appearance. He smiled down at me and holding me tight against his body, jumped from the bridge into the freezing water.
The scream froze in my throat when we landed on solid ground. The water seemed to have simply disappeared. The dark man released me and I fell to ground. From my hands and knees I stared around me in astonishment. Where was I? And how had I gotten here? There were people standing all around, half covered in shadows.
My foggy brain cleared and I looked back at the dark man. His eyes, a deep, depthless brown, watched me with cool detachment. My hands shook and my eyes watered as a brimstone tinted wind swirled around me. The beautiful, dark man looked down at with disgust before walking away.
I once again looked around me at the lost souls trapped here. One in particular drew my gaze. His wavy brown hair fell into his downcast eyes. What I could see of his face was smeared and smudged with soot and blood. He stood with his back pressed to the black brick wall and his hands clenched into fists at his sides.
A cloaked figure moved past me and grabbed a blonde haired girl and began to drag her down the dark street. Her high pitched, hellish screams echoed around me. At the noise the boy raised eyes as green as emeralds to mine. Another cloak stepped onto the street and moved toward me. When I realized that it was me he was coming from I tried to stand, but my legs refused to hold me.
“Help me. God, please help me!” My screams died as the cloak reached down to grasp my hair.
“Why do you ask for God? Don’t you know that he don’t come here?” The boy’s sweet voice seemed to follow me as I was dragged away.





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