For Better or Worse

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An eerie silence drowned out all constructive thought in Alexia’s mind. The tape cut into her wrists and ankles, the knot in the blindfold was bruising the back of her head and the gag in her mouth threatened to suffocate her with every breath she took. Faint traces of something lingered in her nostrils – chloroform? She couldn’t remember what had happened. All that she felt was panic and a deep sense of foreboding that if she didn’t break free in the next few minutes, she would never see another day. She would never look into Danté’s beautiful blue eyes again, never hear him say he loved her, or feel his strong arms around her. She tried to remember the events leading up to her current predicament. It was difficult because she didn’t know how long she had been here, or even if it was morning or evening.

Not now, piecing the puzzle together would need to wait. She had to get free and she had to do it now. She wriggled her wrists; the tape felt like it would give way. Just a little more… yes! One hand slipped out of the bind. She pulled off the blindfold and felt as if a lightning bolt shot through her eyes and out the back of her head as the sudden brightness hit her. She pulled out the gag and breathed in deeply as she looked around. She was in the middle of a field. The sun shone on, unaware of the woman lying exposed beneath its life-giving rays. Exposed… she was naked! What had happened? She heard a not too distant whirring and scrambled around to find something to cover herself with. Nothing. The noise was getting closer, so she steeled herself and stood up to have a look. She was standing directly in the path of a mechanical plough, great big metal spikes ripping up the tall grass and earth. Horror struck her. She had been left here to be mangled and left unrecognisable. She had been stripped bare to be camouflaged and left unidentifiable. She turned and ran. She didn’t know where she was going but she ran with all the stamina and will she could muster.

Danté… where was he? Her protector, the man she adored? Please, please, she prayed to whoever was up there listening, please let him be alive. Whoever had done this to her probably had Danté as well.  As she ran she tried to summon the memories. She could remember getting dressed for an evening out.  Something significant… Danté had told her he had a special evening planned and she had taken great care with her hair and makeup – they had been together five years – had he been about to propose? She couldn’t remember if they had actually got to a restaurant or not. The last she remembered was getting in the car.

She carried on running and eventually found herself on a highway. A car screeched to a stop as Alexia stood wide-eyed, bewildered, and nude in the middle of the road, huddling to cover herself. An elderly woman sat behind the wheel, shock registering on her face as her hands began to tremble on the wheel. Slowly she got out of the car and approached Alexia. “My dear girl, what happened to you?”she stuttered as she removed her coat and wrapped it around Alexia, ushering her towards the car. “I don’t remember… Danté… I need to find him… please help me”,Alexia began to sob. Her body wracked with her tears as the adrenalin began to wear off in the aftermath of her ordeal and she felt herself slipping into unconsciousness.

When Alexia woke, she was home, in her bed. Danté was lying next to her asleep. As she stirred, he rolled over and wrapped his arm around her. “Good morning beautiful. Did you sleep well?” She threw her arms around him and clung to him with all her strength. “Hey angel, what’s wrong? Did you have a bad dream or something?” Embarrassment hit Alexia. A nightmare? How silly of her. She kissed Danté and slid out of bed sheepishly. The room spun as she took a few steps towards the bathroom. Wow, perhaps she had had too much wine the previous evening.

Alexia stood at the bathroom basin and splashed water on her face. As she opened her eyes she noticed red marks on her wrists.  Her head shot up in shock and then she saw it,reflected in the bathroom mirror – the cold glint in Danté’seyes…

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