I couldn't sleep that night. My thoughts were on Arthur, where he was, what he was doing. Was he still ok? Did he have an accident? Did he make it where he was going? Where was he going? Question after question tumbled around my tired mind until I couldn't take it anymore. I had to go out and look for him.

I grabbed my keys, bolting out the door without bothering to close or lock it, lept into my little car, and sped off. I drove by his mother's house first, looking up the fairly large driveway for his car anywhere. There was no sign of him, though. I didn't expect him to be there, so I wasn't too disappointed. I was upset, yes, but not disappointed.

Next, I checked his dad's huge house. I had to drive up the driveway for that one; his mansion was bigger than some corporate buildings I'd seen in the past. I drove up and down his driveway three times. No sign of Arthur. Defeated, I pulled out, squealing my tires as I went. I knew of only a few places left to look, and I prayed he wasn't at any of them.

After checking every hospital and police station in the tri county area, there was still no sigh of him. I wasn't sure if it was a good thing that he hadn't been found yet or a bad one. I'd rather find him handcuffed in a cell than not at all. Exhausted and numb, I drove back to my house. I decided to get some sleep before continuing the search.

When I got back to the house, the door was still wide open. I frowned, unable to remember if I had closed it or not. I determined that I had just forgotten, and didn't think anything of it. I parked in the driveway and sat there for a little bit, letting Arthur's memory fill my head, fill the hole in my chest where my heart was. I had never loved anyone or anything more than I did him, and he was gone.

And it was all my fault.

I bit my lip to keep the tears from spilling as I got out. It stopped the tears in their tracks, but did nothing to stop the rain that burst from the grey sky over my head. I glared at the sky as I was drenched in a matter of seconds. The rain was mocking me. IT thought this was funny. I held out my middle finger to the biggest storm cloud I could see, and trudged inside so I could strip my wet clothes off and get dry ones. I locked the door behind me, fumbling in the dark for the lightswitch. As I flipped it on, however, nothing happened. I tried again. And again. And once more. Still nothing. My blood froze, and not because I was soaked.

I stumbled through the blackness, trying to get to the kitchen. There were candles in there. I made my way along the wall, looking around as I walked, though it did me no good. I couldn't see a thing. I heard a jingle off to my right and smiled. There was my kitty cat. I looked for her eyes in the abyss.

"Baby? Did you eat the power cords?" I teased her, listening for her mew of approval and her purr. There was nothing. I stopped my journey towards the kitchen as my stomach dropped. Something was very wrong.

"Angel?" I called again. "Are you there?"

"I am." a voice at my ear hissed. I screamed as something solid connected with my jaw, sending me sprawling to the couch. I hit my head hard on the wodden arm of my sofa, groaning as the white spots faded from my vision. I struggled to sit up, my hand over my head. I spit, the copper and salt taste of blood covering my tongue, the black room spinning. I had to get to a weapon. Or a light.

"Shocked, little one?" the voice whispered menecingly. Low octave. Male. That was all I could tell, though."After everything you've done, you're surprised to see me?"

"Who are you?" I choked out, closing my right eye as blood poured over it. Dear god, what did he hit me with? The voice laughed, a cold, cruel laugh that made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. I heard a click, then felt searing pain in my shoulder.

"I'm the devil." he said evilly. I screamed shortly before his hand slammed into my mouth, stopping all noise. I continued to scream into his hand as he twisted me around, slamming my face into the back of the couch, twisting my arm painfully behind me. I struggled blindly, panic rising in my chest and filling my head. What was he going to do to me? I felt something sharp drag down my back, then felt my shirt being peeled away from my skin. I struggled harder. There was no way in HELL he was going to do what I thought he was!

"Don't struggle, sugar." he breathed in my ear as he shoved something cloth in my mouth, tying it behind my head. I screamed into it, strugging to form the words to ask him what he wanted. He chuckled, cutting my pants off next as he positioned himself to sit on my legs. Damn men; I couldn't struggle in the slightest. "It's just business, I promise." I fought all urges to roll my eyes. How many bad romance novels have that line? With what I hoped was a fierce scream, I kicked out, bucking the man right off the couch. I struggled with the knot on the rag as I sat up, scrambling for the door. I began to get dizzy, fighting to keep the black room from getting darker. I pushed myself to my feet, jerked the door open, and tumbled out, falling down my front steps with a scream. The man in my house was up at this time, but rather than chase after me, he ran down the street, scared of being caught.

I sat up, looking around slightly as ice cold rain poured down on me. It helped with the dizzy feelings. I coughed, jerking the rag as roughly as I could til it ripped out of my mouth, taking a chunk of my hair with it. I cried out, but didn't scream. I was too numb to scream. I began running through the dark, following the same path I had taken to chase after Arthur. If I could just find him now...even if he pushed me away, I'd have the strength I needed to get help.

I pushed myself at a run for three miles, falling every block or so. My knees were skinned and bloody, there was blood pouring from my head and my shoulder, and my right arm was bent at a funny angle. My left eye was swelling shut, and my lip was bleeding. It hurt to move my jaw; I guessed he had cracked that, too. I found myself outside a gas station when I finally collapsed and was unable to get back on my feet. I didn't even have the strength to crawl towards the door. Instead, I sank down into the grass, cold wet and naked, and waited there to die. As I began to lose conciousness, however, someone somewhere decided to show mercy on me.

"Oh, my god! Miss?! Miss, are you alright?!" I heard a voice ask. I looked towards the sound as a pair of strong hands rolled me over, pulling me up a little in the process. My vision swam. I choked, spitting out more blood as I struggled to see who my rescuer was. From what I could tell he was a man. He didn't look much older than 20, with real dark hair and a light blue t-shirt on. He wore a ring on his left and right hand, and had on a cold metal watch. I didn't see whether it was silver or gold.

"Miss?!" he tried again. "Can you hear me?! Amber, call the police!" Amber? I struggled a little more, trying as hard as I could to see. Joseph's face blurred into view, his eyes holding nothing but concern, confusion, and worry. I opened my mouth to tell him I was fine, when I heard Amber scream.

"Oh, my god, Maria!" I didn't hear anything else after that. I blacked out.


Black. That's all I could see. I couldn't feel, could barely think. All I knew was darkness. I couldn't feel myself connected to my body, couldn't remember why it was so dark. Why was it so black? Was I dead? I thought surely I was. Only death could be so black. Suddenly a faint humming sounded in my ears. I wanted to wince, to turn away from the sound, but couldn't find the body to perform the action. Slowly but surely the humming turned into voices, voices that penentrated the walls of my dark hell.

"Check her vitals, doctor!"

"Her heart's not going fast enough!"

"We're going to lose her!" I knew they were talking about me, and I didn't care. I let Arthur down. I let everybody down. Who cared if I lived or died? What was life without the man I loved? I was trying to find my mouth to tell them to let me go when a new voice shot through my mind like a bolt of lightning.

"Maria?! Maria, can you hear me?! Don't you die, goddamn you!" My heart skipped a beat. I knew this voice. That was Arthur. Whether it was real or in my head didn't matter to me at that moment. All that mattered was that was Arthur's voice. I heard him. And he cared. I found my reason to be strong. Found my reason to pull out of this strange black hell. I had to be strong, had to pull through for Arthur. He was alone without anyone to love him. I had to prove he was loved.

Suddenly, I found my body.

With a gasp, like someone who had been under the water for too long, I crashed back to earth and opened my eyes.

NOTE: So, this is shorter than usual, and I'm sorry, but there will be another chapter tonight, I think. I just wanted this to be a chapter in itself. Well, off to write some more!

SF