The day before the kidnapping
I should have remembered to bring my phone with me. I can be such an idiot, I thought and felt like banging my head against a wall as if that might help me to remember in the future which I knew it wouldn't, I had the memory of a goldfish and I doubt that would ever change.
I was currently standing outside Costa coffee on an empty side-walk, impatiently tapping my foot and peering around the street corners for the sight of the familiar face of my boyfriend Adam, however, the streets were fairly empty apart from an old man with his walking stick, sitting patiently at the bus station and a boy around my age – perhaps older – leaning against the wall of the store opposite me, holding a cigarette to his mouth with a steady hand. I would occasionally look out of the corner of my eye and catch the boy staring at me intently after blowing a billowing cloud of smoke in front of him.
Most people I could only assume were safe and cosy in their homes except for the select few who sat inside Costa, either staring emotionlessly into their cups or laughing with some close friends or relatives. Sometimes I would hear the irritatingly cheerful ring of the shop door opening or closing as a customer walked in or out. I had contemplated storming into the store several times already; I was cold and angry at Adam for making me wait so long on my own. As if remembering how cold I was, an involuntary shiver came over me and I wrapped my arms tightly around my chest to stop the shaking.
The sky was dark and gloomy, hinting of the oncoming storm, perhaps today wasn't the best time to meet up with Adam but we'd been arguing a lot lately and I felt I owed it to him – and myself – that we sorted it out our problems in person. Talking through the phone or online never felt the same.
I glanced anxiously at my watch. I had been standing here waiting for Adam for over half an hour now. Had something happened to him or had he decided he was too mad to speak with me and wasn't going to bother making an appearance? I shook my head as if by doing so I was also shaking away all feelings of worry. He would turn up, I told myself. Maybe if I had my phone I would have seen he had left me a message to explain what was taking so aggravatingly long.
I looked away from my watch and instead stared into the shop, longing for a coffee to warm me up inside. After what must have been five minutes I heard the sound of footsteps on the pavement, I turned around and saw Adam, walking at a pace that was neither fast nor slow towards me.
"What took you so long?" I yelled and then took a hesitant step forward. I wasn't sure where I stood with him now, we were obviously dating but things were so tense between us at the moment it didn't feel right for me to hug or kiss him. I settled on playfully punching his arm.
"Sorry, my dad's car broke down so he couldn't drive me here. I called you but you never picked up." He stared at me accusingly, probably thinking I had been ignoring him. I didn't blame him. "I've had to walk most of the way."
"I left my phone at home so I didn't get your calls," I explained. "I've been standing here thinking you'd stood me up." I sighed quietly, and then looked back up at him. His face softened from the harsh look it had previously been set on. It felt awkward being with him and it seemed like we were both struggling with what to say, I think we were both remembering every mean word that had passed between us over the last month.
"So, should we go inside now?" I asked and tried for a smile.
"No." He brought a hand up to his head and ran his hands through his neatly combed, brown hair. "I'm not planning on staying long; I don't have much to say."
"Oh," was all I could say. I could sense he was building up the courage to tell me something important and I didn't take it as a good sign.
He stared at me, probably wondering how everything had gone so wrong between us so quickly.
He seemed to realise I wasn't going to say anything anytime soon and that I was waiting for him to tell me what was obviously lingering in his mind.
"Things haven't been working out between us lately," he said simply, to start the conversation off.
"Yes, that's why we're here now, to sort things out," I reminded him, nervously shifting my weight from foot to foot. At least, I hoped we were going to sort things out.
"No, not for me," he replied with an indifferent look.
"Why? I thought you wanted to sort things out as well?" I could practically hear the frustration coming out through my voice. I didn't wait here for half an hour for him to act all mysterious and elusive.
He didn't reply, just stared at his feet instead. I felt like forcing him to look at me. We needed to face our problems.
"Why else would you agree to come and see me?" I spoke louder, with an edge to my voice.
I told myself to calm down; I was over-reacting and being rude. The wait in the cold had made me snappy. I didn't want to start another argument, not when we were planning on sorting things out.
"Because I know we need to talk… just not about what you wanted." He looked like he was chickening out from saying what he really wanted to say.
"Okay, so what do you want to talk about?" I snapped. My voice must have been loud because Adam looked surprised. I peered around his shoulder and noticed the old man and the boy opposite me on the street were also watching us, intrigued by our argument.
I guess my idea of keeping the peace wasn't working.
"Violet, don't make this any more awkward than it already is. I think you already know what I'm going to say," he mumbled, looking distressed.
"No," I lied, biting down hard on my tongue to shut myself up.
A bus drove around the corner of one of the streets, heading to an abrupt stop at the bus station. The old man got up to get on, turning his head one last time almost regretfully at missing the rest of the argument.
"I'm sorry, I know I've been holding back from you," Adam started again. "I should have told you earlier instead of letting things go on so long and then making you think we could sort out this relationship, but we can't and…" He looked like he was really struggling with the right words so I said them for him.
"You want to break up," I said for him, almost turning it into a question. I waited for him to say no. I wanted him to say no.
That was the opposite to what I wanted to hear.
He had led me on and now wasn't even giving us a chance to mend what I felt used to be a happy relationship. I was disappointed although the breakup was expected. I felt confused and conflicted and I wasn't sure if I wanted to kiss Adam to forget everything and start anew or punch him in the face for putting me through all this.
"Are you mad?"
I hesitated before answering. Why should I drag this on any longer?
Yes, I'm mad! I wanted to say.
"No, I think understand."
I silently cursed myself for saying it.
I could now see that we weren't the happy couple we used to be and that it would be difficult to go back to that but it was hard for me to accept. I didn't want to fight anymore, neither did he. It was time for us both to go our separate ways. I hated myself for thinking it but I knew it was true.
Adam stared searchingly into my eyes; it looked as if he was hoping my eyes would reveal every single emotion or thought inside my head. I stared directly back, wondering what he saw there but at the same time not caring. "Well, I'm going to go inside, I've been waiting outside in the cold for a while now." I pushed the door open roughly and cringed at the sound of the bell. I didn't look back to see if Adam would follow me in, I was trying to pretend he wasn't there, that he never turned up.
I sat down in the nearest chair and put my head in my hands. Would a coffee make me feel better, even now? I wasn't sure so I got back up out of my seat, deciding to go home. Adam would be gone by now, I hoped. I pushed open the door, ignoring the ring and any stares I might be getting from the customers or staff in the shop and walked out. Just my luck, it started to rain. Not just little droplets of water but like a full on shower.
I hated life in that moment.
I had no umbrella on me and the cardigan I was wearing would soak all the way through in this weather, there was no point in me walking home, I'd get a bad cold which would only worsen my day. My only option was to go back into the shop so I did.
I walked back in. I was angry now and I was frustrated and I also just wanted to curl into a little ball in a corner and cry. I heard the ring from the door from behind me, someone else must have had the same idea as me, to wait out the rain in the shop. I felt around in my pocket, I had bought some change with me to buy a coffee this morning, back when I thought me and Adam were going to sort things out and live happily ever after. Stupid me. I held the change tightly in my hand, feeling the coins dig into my skin but not bothering to do anything about it.
Up at the counter a man with an unfriendly face gruffly asked me what I wanted. I wanted it to stop raining. I wanted to go home. I wanted life to stop being so goddamn awful. "One medium latte, please," I said instead, putting the change on the counter while he got the cup and coffee.
I grabbed a tissue from the tissue box on the counter and stuffed it up the sleeve of my damp cardigan. I wasn't sure if I would need it but I took it just in case.
The grumpy worker came back. I read his name tag which said his name was Dave. Dave held my coffee cup securely in his hand while he counted the change on the counter.
Someone coughed behind me but I didn't look to see who.
"You haven't got enough change." Dave glared.
His glare told me I better get the rest of the money out and quickly. He looked at the coffee, then back at me as if he was contemplating throwing scolding hot coffee in my face. I didn't have any other change though, if there was not enough change there then it meant that some must have fallen out of my pocket. I could feel the gaze of some of the other customers boring into my back. I felt like crying, this was enough bad luck for one day.
"I'll pay for it," a voice behind me said. My apparent saviour.
From behind me, the boy with the cigarettes, who had been watching me intently outside, came forward and put some spare change on the table. He smiled at me as he did it, his icy blue eyes staring into mine. The gesture should have been seen as friendly but the shock of seeing such cold looking eyes sent a chill down my spine. He ordered a coffee for himself as well, all the while Dave looked increasingly more fed up with his job.
The boy took my cup with his before I had a chance to grab it myself. He indicated with a tilt of his head to a table and carried our cups over with him to it. It was a table for two, right next to the window. He sat down on one of the chairs, offering the one next to it to me. I took his offer up and sat down, grateful for his help and the firmness of the chair that felt like the only steady, reliable thing in my life at the time.
"Thank you," I mumbled, "for the coffee."
"It's no problem," he assured and smiled. He had one of those rare, genuine smiles that I so often looked for in a person but never found. "My name's Nicholas," he added as an after-thought.
"I'm Violet," I told him, to be polite.
I didn't know how he knew but before I could inquire as to how he knew, he asked me how my coffee was.
I hadn't taken a sip yet but I did so then, cautiously. "Great," I said and closed my eyes, enjoying the way I could already feel the caffeine bring my spirit up and warm my throat and chest. I sighed, thinking about Adam and life, temporarily forgetting Nicholas sitting at the same table as me until he spoke.
"I was watching you from across the street," he admitted and I opened my eyes abruptly to look at his, curiously. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that to sound creepy," he apologised. "I meant that I heard you and that boy arguing, you seemed pretty upset."
I knew that he had been watching me before Adam appeared but I didn't comment on it.
"Yes I was. That 'boy' was my boyfriend, and we just broke up." I stopped myself from continuing and bit my lip. Nicholas briefly looked at my lips but it was done so quickly, I had to wonder whether I might have imagined it. I gulped and continued. "Things haven't been too good between the both of us lately. I wanted to meet him today so we could sort things but you can see how that went…"
Why was I telling him all this? I suppose he looked trust-worthy and caring so I dared to hope that he was.
Outside I could see sudden flashes of lightening; they were afterwards answered by the roars of low thunder. I jumped at the suddenness of it all.
"If it helps," Nicholas said, bringing me back to the real world, "you can talk about it to me."
I examined him closely then out of curiosity. He was very handsome, I realised, I hadn't noticed before because I'd never paid much attention. On the street I'd only seen him out of the corner of my eye and so far I'd only ever looked into his eyes, I'd not had the benefit of a close-up view. He had hair that was messy and dark which reminded me of the feathers of a raven. His jaw was firm and square and his cheekbones were prominent on his fairly pale face. His eyes as I have already mentioned looked icy but now that I looked at them, they reminded me of the core of a flame, perhaps it was the lighting that did this but I could not be sure, all I knew was that they were the most beautiful eyes I have every come across. His body as well, added to the full wonder of him, it looked strong and muscly under the fabric of his clothes. He looked aged nineteen, that's two years older than me.
Nicholas had an amused smile on his face that made me realise, horrified that he had noticed I was examining him. I felt my cheeks warm with the familiar feeling of a blush, which only made me look even guiltier. I could not understand why someone as handsome as himself would take interest in someone like me. I noted grimly that I must look like a drenched rat. My usually wavy, dark curls were soaked from the rain and any make-up that I might have been wearing would have washed off by now.
I still hadn't replied to him but we stared silently at each other for a few moments with just the sound of the rain dripping down the windows and the distant chatter of the rest of the shop. It was a nice silence, not an awkward one. I felt myself relax for a second.
"I don't really know what there is to talk about." I shrugged.
"Do you see yourself getting back together with him?" Nicholas inquired.
"No, I don't," I admitted, gripping my coffee cup tighter to release the tension within me.
"I apologise for my prying. You see… it's only polite to enquire if you are definitely not taken before I…" He gave me an amused smile and I felt my heart beat a little quicker than usual.
"Do you like the rain?" I asked, trying to avoid the topic of myself and Adam.
Nicholas brightened at the mention of the rain. "Yes I do," he answered. "I love the sound of it. It's so comforting and peaceful."
I laughed and he smiled back.
"Do you like the rain, Violet?"
I wanted to tell him I did, as if that would make him like me more because we had something in common. For some reason I wanted to impress him. He seemed nice and friendly, just what I needed at the moment. I supposed though, that I did like the rain, just not today, today it felt as if the world was out to get me and the rain wasn't helping this idea. I told him this.
"That's a shame," he said with a sad smile. "I guess it can be a bit depressing."
I looked at the window, away from Nicholas's piercing gaze. I watched the raindrops slide languidly down the glass and slightly willed a particular raindrop to beat the others in a race to the bottom of the glass.
I watched my raindrop reach the bottom first then turned back to Nick. He pointed to his empty cup and then mine.
"Your coffee's getting cold."
"Oh! Yes. I forgot I had it."
I poured it all down my throat, barely tasting it. Nick watched the whole time with a strange look on his face, one that a scientist might give an experiment of his.
We watched each other for minute, saying nothing until I felt a dull throbbing in my head. I put a hand up to my forehead and rubbed it. It felt like the start of the world's worst headache. Brilliant.
"Anything the matter?" Nick asked me.
I didn't answer his question, instead I stood up.
"I think I'm going to go to the bathroom. My head hurts." That was an understatement.
I tried taking a few steps, and then noted that I couldn't walk. My legs were too wobbly, making it hard for me to even stand. I put my hands on the table to keep myself upright. My legs felt like gelatin and my arms were starting to shake, making it impossible to steady myself.
It was then that I realised there must have been something in my drink. I looked at Nicholas, scared all of a sudden.
I started to feel sleepy. My brain wasn't functioning probably; I could barely think one coherent thought.
I looked around the shop; no one was looking at me but Nicholas. I wanted to scream for help, sensing that I was in danger, but my tongue felt heavy in my mouth. My eyelids fluttered just as Nick stood up and put his arm around my waist, steadying me. His face was straight, expressing nothing of his thoughts. He spoke softly into my ear, "follow me, Violet."
With that he dragged me out of the shop.
I had been drugged and now I was being kidnapped. The worst part was that no one was noticing.