I was speechless, frozen with pure and utter shock for a good few seconds.
‘Luke?’ I spluttered. ’What are you doing here?’
‘He’s here,’ was all he said, before he grabbed my wrist and started leading me down the stairs.
‘Who’s here?’ I tried pulling out of his grasp but was reminded of how unnaturally strong he was. ‘Let go of me Luke! Let go or I’ll scream!’
‘Oh that wouldn’t make any difference,’ he laughed humourlessly.
‘Luke, who’s here?’ I repeated my earlier question, ignoring the chills slowly making their way down my spine.
He came to a stop before turning to look at me earnestly. He spoke in a low voice: ‘You’re lucky I’m here Tara.’
I just blinked at him. We had come to a completely standstill and this was my perfect opportunity to either call for help or to run for it, but I was slightly intrigued.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Roman was here tonight, Tara. Do you realise how close you were to him? He was sitting right behind you.’ His voice was deadly serious and there wasn’t an ounce of humour in his eyes. He started leading me out into the cold, night air but I dug my heels in the ground.
‘You’re wrong! He’s forgotten about me! It’s been a year and I haven’t seen him once!’
‘Well he was here tonight, okay? Now come with me!’ He was absolutely adamant; I couldn’t fight him off. Pure panic surged straight through me, tightening my body, constricting my breathing.
It felt like the world was spinning. I dug my heels in the ground and bent over, feeling sick. I just needed to calm down. Calm down. You’re not going anywhere. Just breathe and relax.
‘Tara?’ Luke was looking at me with concern in his eyes. ’Are you okay?’
‘What do you think?’ I hissed, still bent over. He still had a firm grip on my arm and loosened it slightly. He crouched down and looked into my eyes.
‘Relax Tara, you’re safe. I’m not going to hurt you.’
‘I…don’t….want….to be taken…away…please,’ I resorted to begging, in between the sharp stabbing pains that were shooting through me.
‘Tara, just breathe,’ Luke pulled me upright and he did the last thing I ever expected him to do, he pulled me closer and wrapped his arms about me. I was too shocked to respond. The pains had stopped though and my breathing had returned to normal.
‘Are you okay now?’ Luke murmured. I pulled out of his arms.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ I turned on him. ‘Don’t ever touch me like that, ever again. You have no right, not after what you did to me.’
He raised his hands in the air defensively.
‘Fair enough. I’m not gonna hurt you okay?’ He paused. ‘But you really do need to come with me.’
I whirled round to see Rose standing in the doorway, a puzzled expression on her face, her eyes flicking between me and Luke.
‘Rose!’ I ran over to her side and grabbed her arm.
‘Who’s this?’ she asked, her gaze focussed on Luke. A smile was playing at her lips.
‘No one, come on, let’s go back inside.’
‘Tara, I can’t let you go back in there!’ Luke persisted, urgency colouring his tone. ‘Seriously, you need to come with me!’
‘Tara’s not going anywhere…’ Rose started to grow wary. She turned round and started to lead me back inside, when something dragged her back, breaking her hold on me. I spun round to find her trapped in Luke’s grip, his arm around her throat.
‘What do you think you’re doing?! Let her go!’ I yelled, running towards them.
‘I’ll let her go if you come with me!’ Luke growled. I had never seen this side of him before, I’d always thought he was calm and gentle, I was obviously wrong.
‘Get off me you freak!’ Rose shouted, pulling on his arms. His grip tightened and I could see her starting to struggle for breath. He dragged her backwards, round the side of the cinema and out of sight. I fumbled in my pocket for my mobile and started dialling for the police.
‘I wouldn’t do that,’ his voice came from within the darkness. ‘If you want Rose to live, I’d follow me.’ After a moments hesitation, I ran into the shadows, towards an uncertain fate.
Running my hand along the rough bricks, I stumbled through the darkness. As my eyes slowly grew adjusted, I stopped when I saw a dark figure crouched over something on the ground.
‘Rose!’ I yelled, running blindly, collapsing on the ground in front of the motionless body of my best friend.
‘What have you done to her?!’ I cried.
‘She’s fine,’ Luke’s voice was cold and uncaring. It was very different from the voice I remembered. ‘I told you to come with me.’ He grabbed me by the elbow and yanked me roughly to my feet, dragging me along next to him.
‘GET OFF ME!’ I screamed wildly, lashing out at him. He pinned my arms by my sides and lifted me over his shoulder like I weighed nothing. He ran quickly to a nearby van and bundled me inside, while I tried fighting him off unsuccessfully; he was too strong. As soon as he slammed the door shut, I pounded on it with my fists yelling at the top of my voice.
‘HELP ME! GET ME OUT!’
‘Shut up!’ Luke hissed, getting into the front of the van. I was trapped like an animal, no way out; the doors were locked the windows were carefully tinted to prevent being seen. The van started moving and in one last attempt, I threw myself against the side of the van, but all I did was hurt my shoulder, there was nothing I could do. In the end, I sagged against the side of the van, and began to accept defeat.
Nobody said anything for a very long time. I was mentally calculating my chances of escape as soon as the van stopped, or whenever we got to wherever the hell he was taking me. I prayed it was the same house as before, at least I would know my way home if I did manage to escape. The possibility of that though was unlucky; Luke struck me as the type of person not to make the same mistake again.
‘Shoot,’ I muttered under my breath as I realised my bag, containing my phone, was left in the cinema.
‘Did you say something?’ Luke glanced up in the rear view mirror at me, smiling.
I ignored him.
‘Aw, come on, I only did what I had to!’ he tried again, but he wasn’t being serious. Now that I was with him, he was much more relaxed. ‘Besides, you’re gonna thank me, I promise you.’
‘Oh thank you Luke, thank you for kidnapping me! I really appreciate it,’ I commented dryly. He just tutted and rolled his eyes. And so the silence descended on us once more.
After a while, I began to become aware of how much I needed the toilet. We were still driving and I had no idea where we were going; all I could see was the inside of a van. It was a relatively smooth journey though, and I stayed hunched up in the corner, my chin resting on my knees.
‘We need to stop off for petrol,’ Luke finally announced. He pulled over and came round to the side of the van, pulling the door open and grabbing me by the wrist.
‘Don’t think I’m going to let you out of my sight for even a few seconds,’ he warned.
‘Where would I go?’ I scoffed. ‘I don’t know where the hell we are.’
‘I’m not taking any risks,’ he said, although he loosened his grip on me ever so slightly. While he was feeding the van petrol, I let my eyes wander, taking in my surroundings. It was night time, but I wasn’t too sure what time it was, probably nearing midnight. It was a normal petrol station and it was deserted, except for a man standing behind a till through the glass window in the shop. I spotted a sign for the toilet. As Luke was paying for the petrol, I told him I needed to use the toilet and he raised one eyebrow.
‘I don’t trust you.’
‘I don’t care, it’s a tiny room with one toilet, how am I going to escape? Through the drain?’
After a moments hesitation, he told me I had one minute. I could hardly imagine he was going to count each second but I hurried nonetheless. As I was washing my hands, I took a look in the mirror, regarding my reflection. My red hair tumbled in messy waves past my shoulders, sticking up in places; my eyes looked black, the pupils had widened considerably and only a thin circle of dark blue showed round the edges. A tear started to fall silently down my cheek before I wiped it away furiously. I was not going to show weakness. I was going to march right back out there and show him I wasn’t afraid.
Someone knocked at the door. Presuming it was Luke, I gave one last final look in the mirror, before opening the door. I was startled however when I saw it wasn’t Luke, it was a complete stranger who looked at me for a second before he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside, through a little side door. Before I could cry out for help, he clamped a hand over my mouth and whispered in my ear.
‘Tara, shush. I’m here to help you. Don’t say anything though otherwise he’ll hear me.’ His voice was urgent but hypnotising and I found myself instantly trusting him, despite him being a complete stranger. He lowered his hand from my mouth and I turned around to get a better look at him. As well as being insanely good looking, he also appeared to be slightly familiar… Where had I seen him before? Those big, dark eyes, smooth olive skin and slightly tousled black hair…And then it hit me.