I couldn’t see anything. The thick black sack that was over my head made it impossible for me to see. I could hardly breathe. I twisted my hands, trying free them from behind my back. Twenty minutes later I was able to loosen the knot enough to get my hands free. I yanked the sack off of my head and gasped for a breath. It was pitch black inside the trunk. I suddenly could smell something familiar. A scent that I swear I had smelled before. It was faint but sweet and spicy, as if it was an exotic aroma. I tried to sit up but the road became bumpy and uneven, causing me to bump my head on the ceiling.
“Ouch!” I grumbled, rubbing my head and laying back down. I willed myself not to cry as I felt the car move faster along what felt like a dirt road. “Where am I? Who would do this to me?” I asked myself out loud. I squeezed my eyes shut trying to recollect what happened. I was leaving to get to Tiffany’s graduation party. I was really surprised my helicopter parents allowed me to go to a party just before my internship interview. I shook off the thoughts of my parents and continued to think about what happened. It was almost eight o’clock and I was running late. I began sprinting towards my car when suddenly darkness blinded me and I was thrown in a car trunk with my hands tied behind my back.
I felt the car halt to a stop, causing me to tumble. I scooted back to the far wall of the trunk, thinking that would protect me. I shook violently when I heard someone get out of the car and make their way to the back. I held my breath when the trunk door popped up. No light was outside, so I couldn’t see anybody, but I felt a hand reach in and grab my leg, pulling me towards the opening. Then I had an adrenaline rush.
With my other leg I kicked at the arm. I heard a groan as whoever had ahold of me let go of my leg. I scooted back trying to get away, but it was futile. Two hands reached in and grabbed my feet, dragging me out of the trunk.
“Let go of me!” I screamed, trying to squirm but to no avail. When I was on my feet, I took a deep breath and kneed whoever had ahold of me in the stomach. The man let me go and fell to the ground in obvious pain. I quickly jumped over him and began running.
“Cleo, stop!” he cried out.
I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard that voice. The smell! The smell that I thought I recognized. It was his cologne. I slowly turned.
My mind filled with questions as I flashed back to the last few months. I remembered when I first saw him. It was my first day of senior year. He walked in our calculus class, looking like he had just graduated from college. My best friend Tiffany nudged my shoulder.
“He’s cute!” I laughed and rolled my eyes at what she said.
“You would say that.”
Tiffany typically said that about everyone she met, even a teacher.
As time went on, though, my association with him became stronger, especially after my grandmother passed away. My grandmother was the only one I felt like I could be myself with. She encouraged me to study music, despite my parents pushing me to study animal medicine. Now that she was gone, my dreams of playing with a symphony were gone.
I was in a fog for days after I found out my grandmother had died. Mr. Peke noticed how absent I was becoming in class. At first I thought it was because he was concerned that one of his best students was slipping and he just wanted to know if everything was okay. I admit, I was flattered. We would casually talk after class for no more than two minutes, but one day he slipped me a card with his number on it.
“Cleo, if you ever need to talk more, give me a call.” My eyes widened as I pushed his hand back.
“Umm, Mr. Peke, that’s very kind of you, however I don’t think that is a good idea, with you being a teacher and all…” but before I could finish he grabbed my hand and put the card in my palm.
“Cleo, this is only if you need to talk,” he insisted, closing my fingers around it.
My first instinct was to throw it away but I could smell his cologne on the card. I liked it, so I put it in my bag. That was my first mistake. The second mistake was calling him.
“You’re the one who kidnapped me!?” I screamed.
Mr. Peke, still clutching his stomach, stood up. “Certainly isn’t the way I thought you would react when I pulled you out of the trunk.”
“Why?! Why did you do this?” I cried not moving from where I was standing.
“Cleo, I though this is what you would want.” I raised an eyebrow. “I thought you said that you wanted someone to take you away from this life? Away from those controlling parents of yours?”
My mouth went dry. “You’re insane!”
“No I’m not! You told me that you wanted to this. To live a life where you had a say. Well, that is what I’m doing.”
“By kidnapping me!?” I shrieked, pointing at the car.
Mr. Peke ran his hand through his hair. “Cleo, I had to do it this way. After what happened in January, I wasn’t allowed to be near you.”
“You mean after you ruined everything and told me that you loved me?” I shuddered, remembering that day.
“Cleo, I know how I told you wasn’t the best way, but…”
“You shoved me against the wall and pinned me there saying you wouldn’t let me go until I admitted the same thing.” I cringed, remembering my body being slammed against that brick wall.
“I did that because you were saying that you wanted to discontinue our phone calls without an explanation.” I looked at him, dumbfounded.
“Because it was wrong. I should have never called you. You should have never given me the option. The only thing that came from us talking was you losing your job, and me being under my parent’s microscope twenty four hours a day!” My voice began to crack.
“If it was so wrong, then why did you even call me? I didn’t force you to,” Mr. Peke asked, clearly getting frustrated.
I didn’t know what to say at first, mainly because I didn’t want to admit the truth. Finally I said, “You made me feel like I had an opinion when it came to my life. When it comes to my parents, you know that I have absolutely no say. You made it possible for me to feel that I did in fact have a say.” Mr. Peke smiled slightly but it faded when I said, “But that was never supposed to lead to this…never to this!” My voice cracked completely, along with my will not to cry. Tears drained down my face.
I covered my eyes with my hands, feeling slightly embarrassed that I was crying like a small child. I heard slow footsteps start to approach me. I started to grind my tears away with the palm of my hand when suddenly my hands were taken from my face. Mr. Peke gently wiped away the remains of my tears with his thumb.
“Cleo, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it came down to this,” he whispered cradling my face.
“You have to take me back,” I sniffed. Mr. Peke stepped back and dropped his hands to his sides.
“I’m not taking you back, Cleo. I won’t.” his voice dropped an octave and his eyes turned dark.
“Nothing good will come of this. You have to see that!” I cried. Mr. Peke shook his head angrily.
“I don’t have to do anything, Cleo! I’m not taking you back to that sad excuse for a life. I don’t care if it’s wrong, I will never take you back home!” His voice was harsh and very deep.
As scared as I was I felt my body become hot. My hands became sweaty.
“Well I’m not going one more mile with you. So either let me go, or force me back in the trunk. Either way, you won’t get what you want in the end.”
Mr. Peke smiled slyly. “I’m not going to force you to do anything, Cleo. I’m going to give you a choice.”
I stared at him, perplexed. “Did you not just hear me? I’m not going anywhere with you. It won’t matter what you say or do.” Mr. Peke reached behind his back and pulled something out of his pocket. I sucked in my breath when I saw that it was a long switch blade.
“Oh I think you will, Cleo.” He said testing the point with his finger tip.
“You’re going to threaten my life?” I could barely utter out the words. My throat was so tight, I felt like I was suffocating. But he shook his head.
“No Cleo, I would never threaten your life. I love you.” I winced at his words. “But I’m willing to threaten someone else’s if I have to.” he stared right into my eyes. “You have a brother and a sister, right?” I broke out in a cold sweat and my heart seized in my chest.
“You cold-blooded son of a bitch! They’re six years old!” I felt my whole body start to shake from my anger. “You wouldn’t!” I screamed. All Mr. Peke did was smile manically.
“Like I said, Cleo, I’m giving you a choice. You can get in the car and start a new life with me, or I will go to your house, and use this knife to cut…”
“STOP!” I cried out, not wanting to hear another word. I fell to my knees, feeling all at once desperate and defeated. I couldn’t do anything but stare at the dirt and weep silently because I knew what I was about to do. I heard the crunch of the dirt as Mr. Peke walked up to me and knelt down. I again could smell the cologne. He reached over and tilted my chin so my eyes would meet his.
“Are you ready to come with me?” he asked, his voice no longer menacing. My lips trembled but I nodded my head.
“You must promise me one thing though,” I whispered through my tears.
“What is it?”
“If I go with you, you must leave my family alone.” Mr. Peke smiled and pulled me to my feet.
“I promise, but you must promise never to try to escape.” His words were calm, but his eyes were as dark as a nocturnal predator about to pounce on his prey. If I hadn’t known it before, I knew it then. He was always going to get what he wants.
He tugged at my arm, pulling me towards the car that was still idling by and allowed me to get in the front seat. When he shut the door, it felt like it was a prison door locking me into a sentence I would never be free of.
He came to the other side of the car and got in. “I promise you will be much happier with me, Cleo.” He shut the door and the overhead light went off.
“I will never love you,” I whispered in the dark. I glanced over in his direction and to my surprise he was smiling.He put the car in drive and said, “You will Cleo. It will just take some time.”