Touch Me 2

By: Skye Malone

The sedan rolls down the road with me trapped inside. Two huge guys sit on either side of me, like gorillas in suits, and no matter how I wrack my mind, I can’t think of a way out of this. The windows are blackened. No one can see me. Shouting for help is pointless. The luxury sedan is sealed tightly enough to go into outer space. And besides, everyone in the vehicle has a gun.

I can’t imagine that’ll go well.

My heart pounds. Keeping my gaze to the behemoths around me, I inch my hand toward the cell tucked into my jacket pocket.

“Don’t,” the gorilla on the left growls before my fingertips even brush the phone’s plastic case.

I feel like screaming.

And that won’t help anything either.

“Where are you taking me?” I ask, working to muster up as much bravery in my voice as possible.

They don’t respond. The sedan slides through the midday traffic like an eel.

“I haven’t done anything. You can’t just kidnap somebody off the street and—”

“Quiet,” says the suit-clad man in the front passenger seat.

“I haven’t done anything,” I repeat. “I don’t know what you—”

He draws his weapon from inside his suit jacket and points it at me over the seat, a look on his face like he’s asking me if I want to continue.

I swallow hard. “You’re not going to shoot me,” I say, hoping desperately that the words are true.

He cocks the gun.

I tremble, my insides clenching. His lip twitches.

The car slows and my gaze darts to the window. We’re downtown now, miles beyond campus, and pulling up outside the entrance of some high-end restaurant. An awning stretches out over the entry and the sidewalk, its velvety fabric the color of blood, while a stoic-faced doorman waits by the entrance like a statue. The windows are mostly reflective, though a hint of shadows from within gives me the impression they also have their curtains drawn. The sedan cruises to a stop before the entrance and immediately, the man in the passenger seat pushes open his door.

One of the gorillas grabs my arm and starts from the vehicle. I scramble after him, gasping at the crushing pressure of his grip, and stagger onto the sidewalk.

The doorman doesn’t even blink at the sight.

With my arm and the rest of me in tow, the behemoth strides toward the entrance, following the suit-clad man. The doorman moves with a robotic grace and opens the closest of the glass double doors. I stare at him desperately, but he simply returns his gaze to the street while the men haul me past.

Red velvet curtains flank the entrance and a mahogany host station waits to one side. The molded tin ceiling is distant, at least thirty feet high, and the gold-trimmed lights are dim. The air smells like cologne — thick and cloying and vaguely spicy. The men continue onward, walking past a long bar on the right, the stools devoid of any customers and the bartender missing as well. A tall archway lies ahead. The lights are brighter in there. I can hear voices from beyond the arch, the words too low to be understood.

The men pull me with them into the room. People are there, but they’re clearly not customers. At a round, maroon-covered dinner table in the center of the room, an old man sits. Other tables have been pushed aside ahead of him, leaving an empty space. Sunlight streams through the tall windows behind him, picking out the handful of other people. Their hands are folded in front of them in the manner of every bodyguard I’ve seen on television. I can just guess that they have guns too.

A door at the far end of the room opens, and suddenly, I can’t decide whether to be surprised or horrified.

Amar walks in. Two big guys are behind him. They head for the old man, stopping a few yards away. And I can’t help it. I just gape at him, my mind reeling. He set me up with… with whatever the hell this is? He—

My mind registers the tension on Amar’s face. The way his dark, normally guarded gaze darts from the old man to me. He appears as expressionless as I’ve ever seen him, but there’s an edge to it now, like he’s expecting something to explode.

By contrast, the old man simply regards me with a vaguely amused look in his eyes.

“Release her,” he says to the men around me. “I believe you’ve made our point.”

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