Snip from The Engagement

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want to read a little before you buy? here is a snip of the first story in the Newton Town series

The Engagement

 

With a subtle flick, Sally moves the hair obscuring her vision of her computer science textbook. Finishing the last paragraph of coursework, she stares in awe at her boyfriend, Derek, running down the basketball court. He stood an incredible near seven feet tall, which along with his talent playing basketball, put him top of the class in college. Sally felt safe with Derek. Not so much to do with the fact he was so tall, but because he looked after her. Here, on the court, he had a clear advantage over the other players, who were less than six feet, and with only a few over six feet, Derek was their Goliath.

The game ended with Derek’s team, The Eagles, soaring high on twenty points to the rival Jackals’ twelve points. The Eagles jumped into the coach and head to Windsor for a pub crawl. Sally wasn’t keen to join the fun; Derek had the tendency to become unpredictable, violent after just a few drinks. Derek never thought he had a drinking problem; since his parents split when he was fourteen, his father held him responsible.

The drinking and fighting soon started after Derek’s fifteenth birthday, when a kid in school made a joke about his parent’s breakup. Suspended for a week, Derek didn’t care. The day he returned, a group of boys were waiting at lunch time to attack Derek after he had beaten their friend the week before. Derek, being close to six and a half feet tall at fifteen, was barely touched. The group of six were lucky to only have broken wrists, feet, and ribs as the headmaster caught the end of the action, believing Derek was behind it all.

Sally had heard many tales of Derek’s childhood, how he was beaten with baseball bats on the last day of school, how his father used to beat him when he went to visit, the names he called him, how he reeked of whisky. Derek drunk wasn’t a pleasant sight. Sally knew all too well what he was capable of and had the mental scars and the missing tooth that came with it.

            Asleep in bed, Sally is awoken by repeated loud bangs on her door. Half asleep, her eyes struggle to focus on the clock. One in the morning, who could be at the door at this time? The knocks kept coming. Sally puts on her robe and opens the door.

            “What are” Derek pushes his way past Sally, not giving her time to talk. “What are you doing here so late?” Derek sat on the couch, hands clutched together as he fidgets in his seat.

“Sally, I’m in trouble.”

“Trouble? What do you mean, what happened, Derek?” Sally asked, taking a seat across from him. Derek reeked of beer and whiskey; he wasn’t slurring his words; he was sober enough.

Lowering his head in shame, Derek mumbles: “I hit someone.”

“As in… got into a fight? I’m not saying it’s a good thing. you don’t need…”

“No, I mean really hit someone.”

“Derek… what are you saying?”

“The fuck, do you think I’m saying? Stupid bitch. I hit someone; I ran over some fucker.”

“…Did you… check if they were still alive?”

“Sally, I was doing eighty in a thirty. He hit the car then cracked my windscreen. I slammed on the breaks, and he… rolled off the car. He was dead; trust me.”

“How can you tell? You just left a dying man in the middle of the road. Derek, we must go out there and find him. He needs the hospital.”

“Were not going out; you’re staying right here. If you try to leave, you know what I’ll do.” Sally knew, she knew all too well.

“So what do we do, Derek?”

“We dump the car.”

“You could get it repaired, say you hit a deer; there are loads in the local area.”

“Sally, shut the fuck up.”

“I’m only trying to help.”

“I said shut up. Do you want me to shut you up?” Derek shouts Sally shook her head vigorously. Her heart began to race, and Derek was twiddling his fingers still, with his head down, probably thinking of what to do next or contemplating his predicament.

“…Derek, you need to tell the police.” Derek raises his head; his eyes fix on Sally, giving a sinister stare. Sally starts moving off the chair. Lunging forward, Derek’s long arms catch Sally’s robe, yanking her over. Sally stumbles over the rug and falls to her knees.

“Bark dog, bark like the bitch you are.” Sally looks up at Derek, tears running down her cheeks; she did as she was told, scared of what he may do. She barks then barks again. Derek pats her on the head and laughs in amusement. Leaning in close, Derek yanks the robe again, “Don’t say a word to anyone. If you do… I will kill you.” Sally was certain he wasn’t bluffing.

“I promise not to breathe a word to anyone.” Sally wipes the tears from her face, Derek starts opening the robe and pulls it off over her head.

“Good, now get on the fucking bed.” Sally didn’t want to. She was scared. Part of her loved Derek and thought he could change. Until that day came, she wanted to stand by his side. He was domineering, abusive, repulsive, at times, but he was also kind, caring, loveable, funny, and passionate. The big problem was he was more evil than good. Sally picks herself up off the floor, only to be pushed back down again. Hard.

“Crawl. Crawl like a dog. I want to see your ass as you crawl.” Crawling along the floor towards the bedroom, Sally could hear the distinct sounds of Derek moaning in pleasure and mumbling things to himself she couldn’t hear. She climbs onto the bed; her rear being felt by Derek. Within a few seconds, he was naked and on the bed behind Sally, slapping her arse with his big hands. His big hand prints brand her for several minutes as he proceeds to penetrate Sally violently.

            He slaps her again, yanks her hair back, and with it, her head jars back. She could only remain as still as possible, waiting for Derek to finish. She closes her eyes, trying to blank out everything. He held her waist tight and fucked faster and harder. Stopping for a moment, Sally yells out as Derek attempts anal sex. Gripping the bed and biting the pillow, followed by an intense, agonising scream, Sally can do nothing as Derek holds her in place and forces himself inside. Within a few minutes, it was over. Derek, exhausted, removes himself from Sally and slumps onto the bed, leaving Sally to clean herself, feeling violated and degraded.

            Derek was gone soon after nine in the morning; Sally awoke soon after to a note saying, “Thanks for last night, babe. It was great fun.” Sally scrunches her nose in disgust, tears up the note, and throws it away. The thought that Derek was involved in a hit and run couldn’t be erased from her mind. She promised not to talk to anyone about it. Her best friend, Melissa, would be able to keep it secret, wouldn’t she?

The more Sally thought about telling her best friend, the more she grew scared of her own thoughts as her imagination ran wild. Thoughts of Derek beating her to a pulp, stabbing, shooting, maybe strangling to death. There was a knock at the door. Sally jumps, startled, and looks through the peephole. It was Melissa. Sally couldn’t say anything; her life depended on it.

“Melissa, what brings you here?”

“My car.”

“Haha very funny.”

“I was just in the area…ok, fine, I was with this guy last night, and he lives close to you, so I thought I should come see my bestie.”

“I always have time for you. Come on, get your arse in here. Let me put the kettle on, and you tell me all about last night.” Sally was hoping Melissa didn’t ask her about her night. She needed to think of a good lie and fast. Sitting at the dining room table, Melissa openes the photo album and places her phone on the table.

“Well, I got a few photos of him; here, have a look.” Pushing the IPhone 5 across the table, Sally openes her eyes, stunned, impressed, and a little aroused by the images of Melissa’s recent sexual encounter. “Nice, isn’t he? Five foot ten, swept-back dark hair, few tattoos, muscles all over, and comes with turbo tongue.” Melissa flicks her tongue in and out rapidly demonstrating as best she could the incredible oral skills the man had.

“Had a good time, then?”

“A good time doesn’t even come close to describing it. He was like a wild animal. I didn’t get much sleep; look at the bags under my eyes. He came, then a few minutes later, he pokes me, and next thing I know, my legs are against my shoulder, and he’s at it again. Not that I’m complaining.”

“Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever heard you complain.”

“I did three times. The first time was when I lost my virginity to Andrew, Andrew Hall.”

“High school Andrew?”

“Yeah, well, first time certainly did suck; he finished in five minutes. Second was Tyler Coller. He was just too weird; he almost always wanted to tie me up. Third was Gary Menson. All he wanted to do was fuck me in the ass.”

“You do know how to pick them, don’t you? And no, we’re not talking about my past experiences.” Melissa chortles. She knew Sally’s sexual experiences were far less perverse and not nearly as numerous. “Are you going to see this guy again?”

“I’d like to. He was a bloody good shag. Enough about me. How’s things with you and Derek the giant.”

“Very funny, things are fine, thank you.” Sally took a sip of her hot tea; Melissa could tell her friend was lying; she was avoiding eye contact and was quieter than usual.

“Liar. Sally, I have known you seven years now, so I like to think I know you quite well, especially when you lie. So what’s wrong?” Sally turns away, her lip quiveres as she remembers last night.

“Ermm… he abused me last night.” Sally burst into tears, covering her face, embarrassed and ashamed to talk about it; Melissa cuddles and reassures her friend.

“You can tell me anything; don’t keep secrets. You already told me he hit you that time, and that’s why you lost your tooth. Did he hit you again? I'd kill him if he did.”

“No, he didn’t hit me.” Wiping the mucus from her nose and tears from her eyes, Sally decides to tell. “I was asleep; it was about one in the morning, and I woke up to banging on my door. Derek barges in, and he was upset about something.”

“He was upset? What was he was upset about?”

“…He didn’t say. I had nothing on but my robe. He yanked me around and pulled it off me. Made me act like a dog, told me to crawl like a dog. A fucking dog. I got to the bed, and he fucked me. It was horrible. Then he forced himself on me.”

“You mean he…” Sally nods to acknowledge what Melissa was thinking. “That bastard. I hate him; you should get rid of him. Don’t stay with him. He’s crazy.”

“It’s not that simple; I really like him.”

“You like that beast of a man. He fucking hit you; you lost a tooth. He abuses you; you don’t deserve that. Are you sure he didn’t say anything about what was troubling him?”

“Yes, I’m sure.” Sally was tempted to tell the truth, but the fact Derek made a death threat, Sally knew she had to take him seriously. Melissa left feeling sad and scared for her friend, but she needed to go home to clean up after last night’s one-night stand. Derek came over soon after, sober this time.

“Sally, I’m sorry about last night. It was inexcusable for me to act that way. I love you. I’m sorry.” Derek threw his arms around Sally and held her tight. At that moment, she realizes she didn’t love him back. There were no feelings of love; hate, regret, disappointment, and anger had taken its place. She closes her eyes, feeling betrayed by his lies; she tries to hold her tongue, which wanted to shout fuck off, leave me alone. But all she could say was, “I love you too.” She didn’t mean it. Derek flashes a leaflet in front of Sally’s face. It was for the opening night of Fancy Food Dreams, a new restaurant in Newton in the furthest quietest corner. Opposite was The Old Hag, a Wicca shop, which was quite old. The Orange and Tomato, a small convenience store, sat next door with an old post office next door, which was in need of repair. The secluded area these shops were located in meant they didn’t get much service.

“I got one of the few tickets to attend the opening night; please tell me you will come with me.”

“Yes, I’ll go. I just need to get ready.”

“Great, I’m going to go home for a bit. I’ll be back to get you about eight tonight.” Derek left excited, while Sally was reluctant to get ready. She didn’t want to go anywhere with him, but for now, the best thing to do was play along. Play the game and work out how to get away. Sally tries to work out what to do to make the time pass faster. The flat needed cleaning, shopping needed to be done and possibly a call to her parents, which would almost always last nearly an hour. But in her current emotional state, she knew it best not to call tonight.

Eight came, and with it, a knock at the door, no ordinary knock. It was a bang, much the same as the night before. Sally wasn’t sure what to think. Was he excited, drunk, was it him at all? Taking a look through the peep hole, she saw it was Derek. Sally opens the door. Derek staggers forward, knocking into Sally, forcing her further into the room, allowing him to slam the door. Derek gave Sally a shove; she trips over the old rug, but manages to regain her balance.

“You s-shouldn’t have done t-that Sally!” slurs Derek. The drink had taken over his mind again.

“Derek, I didn’t say a word to anyone. Didn’t you stop to think the man you hit told the police? You really are a stupid drunk.” Derek’s fist crashes against Sally’s jaw, like a wrecking ball. She didn’t get to finish talking. She hit the floor spitting blood; Derek wasn’t finished. Her heart races, she quivers with fear, and tries to scurry away. Reaching down, he grabs Sally’s leg, pulling her back. Sally kicks back in retaliation, only to receive punch after punch to her thigh and calf.

Derek lunges, grabbing Sally’s long brown hair and wrapping it around his hand. Turning her head, he pushes it to the floor, like a bully in the playground, and hit her head against the wooden floor. A cut above her left eye starts pouring blood; her nose cracks against the floor with the next barbaric smash.

“Who d-did you tell? The p-police came… came to m-my house asking questions. I could be going to jail… b-because of you. You fucking… bitch, whore, I hate you.” Derek shouts in a flurry of spit as he stood over Sally. His huge, almost seven-foot-tall frame, towers above her. Winding his leg back, he unleashes a barrage of malicious kicks to Sally’s stomach and face. The wind burst out of Sally’s lungs; her face burns with fire, unlike anything she had ever experienced.

            “I can’t b-believe I even told you…but I m-must do t-this,” slurs Derek once more. Leaving the room, he pours with sweat. Clanging, banging, and then a quick drawn metallic swish cut the air. Sally touches her swollen, beaten face. Blood covers her face and hand. Barely able to see, she made out the faint dark, towering shape of Derek coming closer.

            Coming down over Sally, Derek put his knee and full weight onto her chest. Sally gasps as a mammoth punch hit her stomach, followed by several more. The pain remains. It lingers, but soon intensifies as Derek stands. His feet stomp around the room for a few seconds, before finally leaving the house, slamming the door behind him.

Sally lays on the parquet floor. Blood surrounds her. Feeling around, she clutches something. There was a carving knife protruding out of her belly. Sally reaches for the handle; the knife was stuck in deep. Clasping it with both hands, the blade slid out. Dropping it, she presses her hands against the deep cut, trying to slow the flow. The pain was excruciating; her life was fading into the pit of eternal darkness. The abyss awaits, and all she could do was embrace death's cold touch as he crept closer.

A voice, faint, but full of panic, drew nearer. Barely able to hear or make out what was being said or even who it was, Sally tries harder to listen. A warm hand clasps her blood covered hand and then the voice came through, loud and clear.

“Fucking hold on, Sally. You hold on, you hear? Don’t you dare fucking die on me, you bitch. It’s not your time, not now, not today. Come on, Sally, don’t you leave me. The ambulance will be here soon; I promise. Hold on, girl.” Melissa shouts hysterically down to Sally, patting her blood soaked hand. Melissa’s tears drip, washing away the tiniest drop of blood. The pool of blood covers Melissa’s white leggings, acting like glue, sticking the clothes to her skin.

The siren was getting louder. Melissa turns her head towards the door, fearful Derek may come back to get her, too.

“Come on, Sally, you’re going to be fine; I promise. Can you hear that?” Melissa sobs and wipes the snot and tears from her face. “They are nearly here; you’re going to be ok. Just hold on, Sally, for fuck sake, just hold on for me.” Melissa shouts again; tyres screech outside; the ambulance was here.

 

            It took Sally three months to recover from the malicious attack. Derek’s wild stabbing pierced Sally’s stomach and intestines, causing digestive juices to eat away at her organs. Her uterus had been torn. After numerous operations, the doctors weren’t sure if there was anything left they could do. Sally’s uterus wasn’t healing. Two years later and after trying to conceive, a miscarriage occurs. Heartbroken and scared, she was unable to keep her boyfriend Ben happy. Sally attempts to take her own life.

            Finding Sally in the bath, empty pill bottles floating around her, Ben took Sally to the hospital, where after a stomach pump, she had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The trauma of the miscarriage had taken away a part of Sally, and it was never coming back. Sally was admitted to a psychiatric ward for six months, so she could be in a safe environment, until she got better.

            The six months’ crawl by, but she was better and ready to put her life back on track. Remaining single for the next two and a half years, Sally focuses on her education and a possible career in law. The fact remained she could never mother a child; reluctantly, Sally had a hysterectomy. She knew it was going to save her life in the end.

 

            Sally’s friend, Amber, calls one night to say she has two tickets to a Slayer concert in London on Halloween. Amber knew Sally quite liked the band and with them both being heavy metal fans, there was no one else she would rather take. The venue was packed full of fans; the band played their classics, Raining Blood, Bloodline, and many others, plus some from their newer albums. It was here, during the concert, something happens. Something Sally never expected.

She found love. Sally accidently headbutts Matt as he leans over, trying to catch his falling phone after taking a picture. The attraction was instantaneous; Sally had a strange sensation in her belly, like butterflies fluttering.

He was sweaty and smelled like honey; his Slayer t-shirt was wet from sweat, and he wore black jeans. His hair was waxed into short spikes that solidified into hedgehog spikes. His breath smelled of beer and chewing gum, yet he was a gentleman, although slightly drunk. There was something about Matt that made him different from the other men; Sally couldn’t quite work it out.

Matt and Sally were together six months, and they were madly in love. Since the concert, they had been inseparable.  Matt said it was her laugh that had him hooked, a laugh so dirty it was contagious. The young lovers were enjoying a romantic meal at their favourite restaurant, Frankie and Bennies. Desert and a bottle of Champaign had just been ordered. As the waiter walks away, Matt approaches him and engages in a short conversation. A few minutes later, when the waiter returns with the desert and Champaign, Sally almost fell off her seat. 

Sally’s eyes instantly notice the twinkling of diamonds in the bottom of her glass. Her heart starts beating faster as she forks out the ring. It was a luxurious ring in eighteen karat gold, set with three diamonds; it had an inscription inside, saying ‘I will love you always and forever.'

Matt went down on one knee in front of everyone in the restaurant.

“Sally, I know it’s kind of crazy. We haven’t known each other very long, but I feel strongly in my heart that you’re the girl for me. So, Sally, will” Matt starts to ask his very important question, but Sally butts in.

“Yes.”

“Will you marry,” Matt starts, but Sally cut in again.

“Yes, yes I will.”

“Will you let me finish? Will you marry me?” Finally, he manages to ask the big question.

“Yes, of course, I will.” Tears fill Sally’s eyes. Matt’s face beams as he put the ring on her delicate finger and gave Sally a hug so strong she could hardly breathe. It was at that moment Sally knew she had been right all along. From the first moment she laid eyes on him, she said to herself that he was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Even though they had only been together a few months, and they didn’t know each other, they both felt they had the rest of their lives to find out.

“Do you like it?” questions Matt. His deep voice seemed to linger in the air and your ears whenever he spoke. He could tell by the ear to ear grin she loved it.

“I love it. It’s so beautiful. Thank you so much,” Sally replies, her eyes start to water. This was the happiest she had been in a long time.

“Is it too soon? I wasn’t sure; I just went with my gut feeling, and it said, you love her, so why the hell not?” Matt responds, and he reaches across the table, holding Sally’s hands. The smile never left her face; her eyes fix on the diamond ring, each diamond sparkling in the light majestically.

“No, I don’t think it’s too soon. Shall we go and celebrate Saturday?” Sally acknowledges.

“Yeah I’d love to… oh no, this Saturday is the sixteenth. I can’t baby. I got a work meeting. I’m so sorry, but I’ll make it up to you. I’m sure, once you mention this to Melissa, you will all be out Saturday,” Matt replies, trying to console Sally.

Once the meal was over, Matt went back to Sally’s apartment; they made wild passionate love through most of the night. In the morning, as Sally woke, she grins, yet again. Looking down at the ring, she couldn’t help think how lucky she was and about how much her life had changed in seven years. As Sally went to the kitchen, Matt was in the middle of making breakfast, scrambled eggs, toast, and beans, and a cup of tea.

“Morning, beautiful. Take a seat; breakfast will be ready in a minute or two,” Matt announces as he turns on the TV.

“Did you have any ideas for possible wedding venues or food ideas? I know I only proposed last night, but I was always under the impression that girls planned these things when they were still in school.”

“That’s sort of true for some. When I went to my aunt's wedding at Tylney Hall in Hampshire, I liked the look of it, but… then I saw Lillibrooke Manor in Berkshire and fell in love with it.” The pause signified to Matt it was an expensive venue.

“Ok, well, there is no real rush. Take your time and pick the place you want. It’s your day as much as it is mine, but I’d like you to pick the venue.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet of you. Food wise, I have no idea. I don’t think I could ask my friend Jayne to cook, but colour scheme, I think red and white. Possibly, blue and cream, but I don’t think that will work as well. A summer or winter wedding, that’s the question. When do we get married what will the weather be like? Oh my god so much to think of,” Sally states quickly, without taking a breath.

“Bloody hell, breathe Sally, breathe, take a break before you pass out. We will sort it together. That’s what couples do.”

“Matt, are you sure you want to marry me? You know I can never give you a child. Doesn’t that put you off?” Sally questions, taking the last sip of tea from her cup.

“Sally, I love you with all my heart. Nothing will ever change that. So we can’t have kids. Doesn’t stop us from adopting in the future if you want to. Or we can find a surrogate. I know in my heart, all I want, all I need, is to be with you,” Matt replies honestly.

“Do you have to go to the work meeting, today?” asks Sally. Matt nods and pours more tea into their cups.

“I’m really sorry, babe… it’s Alex’s fault that I have to go in. He was off sick all week, and I took over his work. Now, I have finished the report. I have to hand it in today. I’d much rather be out with you, having a good time. But I know, once the meeting is over, I’ll have to go out with the boss to discuss next week’s work. I think he’s getting rid of Alex and giving me his job,” Matt explains. Sally wasn’t going to argue. She knew Matt had been working hard and deserved a promotion for his dedication.

With breakfast finished, Matt rushes upstairs to get ready to return to his flat to get ready for work. Sally couldn’t fight it any longer. She had to call her best friend.

“Melissa, I have some news,” Sally says excitedly.

“You're pregnant, oh my god, you’re…” Melissa blurts out, but Sally snaps in to put her right.

“No, don’t be silly. You know I can’t get pregnant. Matt and I… are engaged!” Sally retorts.

“Ahhh, no way, wow, that’s amazing news. Wow! I am so happy for you, Sally…you have been through so much. You deserve to be happy,” Melissa screams down the phone…she was so excited. The two best friends spoke for a further hour, until the conversation ended.

“Ok, Sally, you get ready, and I will get the girls; trust me, I’ll get them. It’s been too long since we all went out together. Amber’s birthday last week doesn’t count, as we weren’t all there. Any idea what you’re going to wear tonight?” questions Melissa. She always had to know what everyone was wearing, mainly, so she could brag about what she was going to wear.

“Probably, my blue pleated skirt and white blouse. How about you?” asks Sally, but before Melissa could talk, there was a knock at Sally’s door. It was her father, Doctor Francis Hall. He was a psychiatrist and a very pushy parent.

Sally excelled in University and got her degree in math and English, but that wasn’t enough. The diploma in computer science from college hadn’t sparked Sally’s previous plans of being a graphic designer or her ambition of working for SEGA. Seeing psychology as a great opportunity for further success, Francis pushed for a psychology degree. As thrilled as Sally was at the prospect of becoming like her father, she decided to study law and aspired to become a solicitor.

Sally’s father was naturally cautious of any boyfriend. Sally was his only child and had been beaten and stabbed just seven years ago, and naturally, he was cautious.

“Where’s Matt? I was hoping to talk to him,” Francis exclaims in his authoritative voice; his tone was stern and firm.

“He had to go to work. Someone was off all week, so he covered for him, and now he has to go in to hand over paperwork to the boss,” Sally replies, standing her ground.

“How’s my little girl?” Francis asks, changing the subject in his attempt to extract information from Sally.

“Dad, I’m twenty-five. I’m not a little girl, anymore!” Sally snaps, frowning up at her father. He towered above her at six foot three, his hands giant by comparison, as he reaches out to hug Sally. He pulls her close; her tiny body was lost in his thick grey blazer and burgundy shirt as he hugs her.

“To a parent, their child will always be their little boy or girl, no matter the age.”

“I’m fine; well, I’m ecstatic, actually, Matt proposed to me last night,” Sally tell, outstretching her hand to show off the diamond ring. The smile on Francis’s face became a deep frown.

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” Folding his arms, Francis resembled a cross teacher.

“Last night, we went out, and Matt proposed to me,” Sally announces proudly.

“I see you said yes,” Francis gestures towards her hand.

“Well yeah, I love him daddy. We are in love.” Sally put her head down and played with the ring for a few moments, staring at it, watching how the light caught each diamond.

“Sally, you barely know the boy. He could have serious psychological problems you don’t know anything about. I can’t say I’m happy about this, and I’m not going to pretend to be happy when I see you both together. This has all moved too fast…this could ruin your chances of a decent career.”

“Dad, I’m not going to change my mind.”

“I know. You're stubborn, just like your mother. When will Matt be back?” Francis asks sternly.

“I honestly couldn’t say; it could be a weekend thing.”

“I’d like to talk to him about this, just to be sure he isn’t a psychopath, like Derek.”

“Dad, Derek had a drinking problem. You know that. Matt is nothing like him; I trust Matt.” Sally raises her voice. To even mention Derek made her blood boil.

“Is it too much to ask that I want you to be safe? You nearly died. Melissa saved your life; you’re lucky she was driving past and saw that bastard.”

“I owe her my life. I would sacrifice myself for her. She is and has always been my best friend. We have been through a lot together.”

“I wonder if she can talk some sense into you. It's madness, all of it. What has it been, six months? Six months and now you're engaged. Just please don’t tell me you're pregnant, and that’s why you’re doing this. I don’t think I can deal with that, too.”

“No, Dad, I’m not pregnant.” Sally didn’t have the heart to tell her father she could never mother a child. Derek had taken away the one thing she always dreamed of being- a mother.

“I’m going to go now; I have to go tell your mother the news. She will side with you, as always. All I want is what’s best for you.”

“I know, Daddy,” Sally replies, a hint of a grin showing.

“Bye, Sally. Please… think about your future,” Francis orderes once more, his stern voice showing through.

The argument, though it was upsetting, Sally didn’t let it spoil her mood. There were still several hours to go, before it was time to go clubbing. Knowing she was probably going to be hungover Sunday, Sally got to work, cleaning the flat. As usual, Matt had left some clothes scattered around the bedroom, socks thrown about the room, a blue shirt drapes over the corner of the door, and a pair of muddy trainers kicked into the corner behind the door. He was clearly in need of domesticating.

A note sat on her pillow. It was from Matt. It was scribbled this morning, during his rush to get ready, but it was legible. “Morning, my beautiful girl. I’m sorry that I can’t be there with you tonight to celebrate our engagement. Nothing would please me more than to be with you; I’m so sorry for leaving the mess behind, especially sorry about the muddy trainers hiding behind the door. I will clean up the mud. Love you, baby; can’t wait to see you again.” Sally’s grumpy mood elevates into a deep sigh of a loved-up teenager receiving a love letter.

It didn’t take long for Sally to tidy and get ready. Pleated blue skirt, white blouse with blue John Lewis square toe pumps, and Ted Baker clutch bag. She straightens her shoulder length hair. As she buttoned the blouse, her eye caught the scar in the mirror. Sally avoided touching it as much as possible; the sight would cause a shudder and make her blood run cold. That night was best left forgotten.

Jayne, Rachel, and Amber called within a few minutes of each other to congratulate Sally on her engagement and to confirm the meeting place. It could only be one place, The Goat’s Head Pub, followed by The Bleeding Ear club. Newton had some nightlife, but the place to be was this club.  

The club was packed, as usual. It had four floors, so it could cater to lots of different music genres. The ground floor was old school Pop, Rock, and Indie. The first floor was R&B and Rap; the second floor was Trance and Garage. The top floor had the Rock, Metal, and Alternative music.

The girls each had their own preference, but didn’t really want to split up, seeing as it was a celebration. They started on the ground floor for Melissa; she liked 80’s music; her long blonde hair was up in a ponytail, and she danced like she owned the dance floor. This was her space, and after a few years of varying dance lessons, she had the moves.

She knew how to get the guys’ attention, and she loved getting it, all eyes on her, and out of the group, she was the leader. She wore her dark blue dress, the same dress she had on when she got her job at the bank. The same dress she wore when she had her first threesome. To Melissa, it was her lucky dress, and a lot of good luck had happened when wearing it. 

“Hey Sally, look over there. That guy has been giving you the eye,” Melissa points towards the tall man standing with his friends.

“Soooo… what do you want me to do? I’m engaged,” Sally snaps.

“Fuck… look at him. I would ride him like a stolen bike!” replies Melissa. Everyone laughed at her dirty remark. Melissa didn’t care what she said; the most inappropriate joke or comment meant nothing to her. Melissa knew how to offend and how to make you laugh. If you were upset, she would be the one to cheer you up.

“Melissa, how’s your boyfriend?” questions Amber as she brought over a round of drinks.

“He died… the bastard ran out of batteries,” Melissa remarks cheekily, the table roars with laughter again.

“Hey, Amber, where’s your sister, Lisa? I thought she would come,” Sally questions.

“She’s out with Justin; it’s early days, but she likes him. They are having a meal, but after that, I don’t know the plan. Probably bowling or cinema,” Amber replies.

At about quarter to ten, they venture up to the first floor for Jayne and Rachel. Jayne had spent ages curling her blonde hair and trying to pick the right outfit to wear, but also picking the right underwear, should she get lucky. After much thought and trying on most of her wardrobe, she decides on a black thong with a push-up bra and a tight white blouse with a red mini skirt. Maybe, it was the heat from being the chef in one of Surrey’s top restaurants, or maybe she was just sex mad. Jayne loved to show off her body. Jayne and Melissa were often in competition on nights out.

Rachel, on the other hand, was a teacher in a secondary school, also in Surrey, but she was the wildest of the group and the tallest, at five foot ten inches. She didn’t compete with Melissa and Jayne… she was tall and beautiful with a delicate face and shoulder length dark hair that, most of the time, was tied back. She was the one the other girls competed against. All eyes may have been on Melissa or Jayne, but Rachel had this seductive look that could steal a married man from his wife. As Rachel, Amber, and Jayne dance, a young man approaches the table, where Sally and Melissa were resting.

“Hi, I’m Dean. Do you mind if I sit with you for a bit? You look like such a happy bunch, and I’m not trying to pick anyone up. My friends left a few minutes ago, and I didn’t fancy leaving early,” Dean states, then gave Melissa a cheeky wink.

Dean was quite tall, around six foot. It wasn’t easy to tell as he was wearing boots. He had short, spiked, dark hair and wore denim jeans with a few wear marks on the knees and a chequered shirt; he looked like he was a builder or a weight lifter. His voice wasn’t very deep, and he had what seemed to be a slight northern accent.

Melissa moves closer to Sally and took a long chug on her beer and replies, “We didn’t really want guys joining us. We’re celebrating our friend getting engaged, but if you’re trying to pick up girls, there are loads in the club to pick from,”

Sally turns to Melissa, rolling her eyes at how rude her friend was, and announces, “Leave him alone. Ignore her; she’s run out of batteries for her vibrator.”

Dean laughs and turns away, embarrassed, to swing his beer.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude; it’s just we, sometimes, work weekends, and we don’t get to meet or go out like we used to,” Melissa apologizes with a deep grin and reaches out to touch Dean’s hand.

“It’s ok. It’s the same with my friends and me. We don’t get to meet that often; I’ll go for now. I’m sure we will meet again, tonight,” Dean replies. The disappointment could be heard from his tone.

“I guess you could stay for a bit and buy me a drink,” Melissa remarks in her cheeky way. Dean nods and walks to the bar, only to come back with drinks for everyone, like a true gentleman.

As it reached quarter to eleven, the girls stagger to the second floor; Dean said he had an important call to make and left the girls. Rachel was into garage music, and trance, but no one else cared for it. This area of the club was surprisingly quiet, compared to the other floors, so after one drink, they venture up to the top floor.

This was where Sally and Amber were most at home…the top floor was full. There was nowhere to sit. Rachel walks over to a group of guys sitting at a table; no one could hear what she said, but within a few seconds, her top was up, and her breasts were out for a few seconds. The men stare, mouths open like babies waiting for a dummy, before Rachel covers herself and the men gladly vacate the sofa.

“What just happened?” questions Jayne as she took her seat with her friends.

“I asked them nicely to let us have these seats. They said yes, but only if I showed them my tits,” Rachel replies with a smug look.

“Fair enough,” chortles Jayne. The girls went through another round of drinks, shots this time. Amber, as usual, had something to say about last night’s unusual dream, trying to start a new topic of conversation.

“Last night, I had the weirdest dream; even for me, it was weird. I was in one of my usual sexy dresses, and I was holding this lantern. I was in this big house, stately home, probably. Anyway… so I walk into this room, and I see this mirror, and as I look into it, I come out of it, like I come out of the mirror and tell myself to go in. The mirror version walks back in and leaves her hand out for me; the lantern light makes my fingers look skeletal. So I reach out and touch my hand, but then I woke up.”

The group wasn’t too interested in Amber’s nightmares, as they were always a little extreme or weird. “What about you, Jayne?” asks Rachel.

“Well, last night, I had one, scary as hell. I was walking through this graveyard, and the dead were coming up. You know troubled spirits and all that. I ran as fast as I could, but I was lost in the fog, and I fell over and hit my head on a headstone. Coming through the fog was… my father. He wanted to help me and was pointing the way out; his face was still mangled from the car crash. His stomach still had the hole in it, where the tree impaled him. I couldn’t move. He came closer and got right in my face. His smile… that smile he would give me after he would, well, you know, with me. I woke up screaming and covered in sweat; I’m glad he’s dead…pig!” exclaims Jayne.

The group fell silent; a single tear ran down Jayne’s cheek. They knew what Jayne had been through during her childhood and teenage years and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even their worst enemy.

“Rachel, what about you?” asks Sally. Rachel usually had quite good dreams and even her nightmares turned erotic.

“Well, without going into too much detail, I was a pirate on this ship, and Orlando Bloom was the captain. Mmm Orlando Bloom… the Flying Dutchman was coming to get him, and we had to fuck a lot. Actually, I don’t remember why, but sex was going to help us survive. I’m telling you, now, if Orlando Bloom were my boyfriend, I’d fuck him in half.”

“Jesus Rachel, you need to lay off the blue cheese at night,” Amber quickly blurts out, not wanting to hear more.

As they got increasingly drunk, the topics became how much they regretted things they had done. It also seemed that everyone had become very philosophical after all those drinks. Climate change, deforestation, and animal rights were next on the list, and with Rachel being an animal rights activist in her spare time, she had a lot to say. 

The table was littered with shot glasses, wine glasses, and beer bottles. Amber was the wild card of the group. She may have been only five foot five, but she had a wild side and a really bad temper if you crossed her.

Amber had long, dark, red hair that reached halfway down her back. Quite often, it made her stand out the most in the group. Tonight, she had worn a short tartan skirt and white shirt with a tie and had her hair in pigtails, making her look like a school girl, which drove men wild. That and her large breasts, which she enjoyed showing off a little.

She knew just showing a bit of cleavage could get her drinks all night, and she knew how to play it.  In this room, most of the eyes were on her. She fit in the most and was grinding against a few men and had the attention of one man, who she kept close and danced with.

Sally opens her handbag and checks herself in the mirror; her shoulder length brown hair was ok, considering the amount of dancing they had been doing and the sweat they had built up. Still, she gave it a quick brush and took her phone out of her bag and has a quick peek at the screen. Typing a quick text to Matt, Melissa’s hand comes across, blocking the screen.

“Hey, no boyfriends and no phones. This is a girl’s night out, and no guys allowed. It’s just a few hours out with friends; you’re here with four other girls, and no one would mess with us. You’ve seen Amber fight and Rachel… well, look at her. She’s nearly six bloody feet and does kickboxing. Just relax and enjoy tonight. God sake, I swear if I don’t get laid soon, my vagina is going to devour the next guy I meet and end up eating him like some kind of praying mantis,” slurs Melissa. She could usually handle her drink quite well, but tonight, she was tipsy quicker than usual.

“Melissa… that’s like really fucked up,” sally sighs and puts her phone back into her bag as the other girls came over, with Dean, holding Amber’s hand. 

“Look who I found. He’s been hiding from us.” Amber grips Dean’s hand tighter and rests her head on his arm.

“Welcome back, Dean,” Jayne shouts. The music seemed to be louder in this room. Maybe it was the bass or the choice of music or the effect the alcohol was having on them, but it seemed everyone now had to shout. Dean happily sat between Amber and Jayne on the large curved leather sofa. He offers to buy drinks for everyone and even helps carry the drinks back to the table. He was quite the gentleman, and around 1 a.m, his friends came over to the table.

“Where have you been? We have been looking for you, like… all night?”  Blurts one of them. Dean turns to see who it was and turns back. Everyone at the table became uneasy as the tone in his voice wasn’t a pleasant one, nor was his body language pleasant as he proceeds to punch the palm of his hand.

“I have been here all night, guys… you said you were going, and so I went to all the floors, having a good time,” Dean replies cowardly, with his head down like a scalded child.

“Yeah, then you found me,” giggles Amber like a teenage girl. The five men look at Amber then the other girls, and finally, at Dean as if sizing them up for a fight.

“Ian, you did say you were leaving with Stephen. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I had fun, and I met these lovely ladies.” Ian takes a step closer.

“I’m mad… mad that we didn’t find you and these beautiful girls earlier. Can we join you?” Ian sneers and now looks more like a joker than the rude, bad guy he did moments before. But there was still something about him and the others that Sally wasn’t sure of.  Sally nods, and the men shot off to grab chairs. Everyone was laughing and telling jokes and flirting, apart from Sally, who was engaged in a deep conversation with Dean about what they did for work and the destruction of a local forest to make way for ten new homes. They both agreed strongly that the planning wasn’t thought through enough. The local wildlife was going to suffer, and they were only homes for the rich.

“Can I get you another drink?” asks Dean as he swiftly downs the last half of his beer. Sally nods and checks her watch; it was 2:25 am. Dean came back sooner than expected with the drinks, and once more, Sally swiftly starts and finishes her large glass of white wine and starts another; the wine was slightly different since the group of guys joined the table, but Sally dismisses the idea that they would spike their drinks. Believing it was probably a different wine than she was used to drinking, she never raises her possible suspicions with the rest of the group and put it down to having too much to drink during the course of the night. The wine tastes strange. Maybe a little more bitter than usual. The different taste was coming through, the more wine she had. These drinks had been spiked.

Hours Later

Sally struggles to open her heavy eyes. She had to open them to find out what was wrong. Think. She sat on something hard. A chair, but not at her home. As terror fills her heart, she pries open her eyes. Why wouldn’t they focus? As she tries to wet her parched lips, she found she couldn’t open her mouth. What was wrong with her mouth? She jerks her arm upward to touch her lips, but something prevents her from moving it.

The strange, bitter taste from last night’s drinks remain in her mouth. Sally’s head was spinning, probably a mixture of alcohol and the drug. There was no way to be sure. Sally felt hungover, but at the same time, this was a worse feeling. 

The bright light spears her eyes, causing tears to fill them. Sounds of boot-clad feet clomping around the room sent another frisson of fear down her spine. The man, at least it sounded like a man, whistles while he works.  The dampness of the room sent a chill into her bones, and the stench of urine assails her nose, causing her eyes to water more.

She struggles against her restraints, but they didn’t budge. Someone, maybe the man whistling, had tied her feet and used old wire to bind her hands to a wooden chair. It creaks with each move she makes.

Sally’s vision came back. She remembers she was at the club last night and was talking to some guy. Could this be that guy, she thought?  Still, Sally couldn’t scream and starts to find it harder to breathe.

Sally’s eyes began to focus; there was a man coming closer. Sally tries to scream, but it was no use. He came over, taunting her with the sight of a knife, then gliding the razor sharp blade across her neck and face.

Watching her squirm and trying to scream, he breaths heavier and faster.  The wire used to tie her up was digging into Sally’s skin. The more she struggles, the more it cut as she desperately tried to escape this torture chamber.  Her captor ran the cold steel blade down her blouse. With a small, quick flick, he cut the buttons off, one by one. Sally squirms and looks away; the wire digs in deeper.

Sallie’s blood drips from the small cuts to the floor and covers the arm of the chair. The more she moves, the more the taut wire cut into her flesh.  With all her buttons gone, her attacker uses the blade to open her blouse gradually to expose her black bra.  The blade rests against her neck with little pressure and snakes its way down her body, running down her cleavage and making its way to her blue pleated skirt. 

The masked man starts to lower the blade under Sally’s red skirt, taking it closer to her red cotton knickers. She struggles even more as he inches the blade up and down each thigh. Attempting to scream with pure terror, she nearly swallows her tongue as she tries to scream and heave in disgust and terror. 

Seeing the terror in her eyes and the tears running down her face, he drew the knife back and leans over her, keeping eye contact as he brings the knife back further. He drives the knife back down between Sally’s legs; the force felt like a strong gust as he stops just in time. The tip of the blade rests a few inches from her knickers. Sally urinates and shakes uncontrollably and pours with sweat. Her urine runs down her legs, forming a small puddle on the floor.

Her sick captor laughs in her face as he brings the knife back up and rests it against her throat.  Looking down, he notices an engagement ring on her finger. Pinning her hand down, the twisted sadist sets the blade on her slim, feminine finger. He savagely cuts off her finger in a series of slow slices as if to make sure she felt every bit. The blade slices through her skin and bone with ease. There was no effort required.  There was a crunch and a crack as the knife severs the bone from flesh and cut into the wood. 

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